Thursday, September 30, 2010

Less Freedom In Newfoundland Is Less Freedom Everywhere -Chalk Up One For The Blackshirts

In what is called an effort to stop drunk driving Newfoundland police will will be able to stop drivers without having to give a reason. (have to take the Habs flag off the car in case the officer is a Leafs fan.) The law in being amended because apparently the police are having trouble coming up with reasons to pull people over.

Government Services Minister Kevin O'Brien said"We brought that forward because the police were having a problem in regards to having a specific item to pull a driver over, had to be visual and if you didn't have a specific item to pull them over and they were impaired or under the influence of drugs, or whatever, there is a perception that it wouldn't hold up in court," O'Brien said Thursday. One would think that if a person was impaired they would be driving irrationally, hence a visual item. Not carte blanche to act out Leaf frustrations.

St John's criminal lawyer Bob simians said, "Right now for police to stop people, they have to have a justifiable objective cause. Why is that? Because if we don't have a reasonable rational reason for police to stop someone then the powers can be misused. That's the law as it presently sits," he said in June.

In it's unending battle against the Taliban and Al Qaeda U.S. government has increased its drone attacks inside Pakistan. Reminiscent of the U.S. governments insurgents into Cambodia in search of the Vietcong relations between Pakistan and the U.S. becomes more frayed by the day.

During one such strike coalition helicopters killed three members of the Pakistani border force. This was the fourth attack in Pakistan in the week. In retaliation Pakistan closed a vital supply route for used by NATO forces to get to the troupes in Afghanistan. 



The U.S.government not known for choosing the best of associates, General Augusto Pinochet, Saddam Hussein (off and on), Anastasio Somoza etc. there could be one more not so great bed fellow with the Pakistani army being accused of executing civilians. A video released on Wednesday, shot on a cell phone shows the shooting.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Links Galore! (not a story about a stripper)

Liberal MP Marc Garneau introduced a motion in the House of Commons Tuesday calling on the federal government to reinstate the mandatory long-form census, despite continuing insistence by the Conservatives that it is intrusive and unnecessary. Unsurprisingly the Conservatives pull out the scary, scary word "coalition," as they try to beat back the momentum of the opposition in reinstating the long-form census. "Scary stuff!"


Maybe if the Tories passed out 3-D glasses the idea of a coalition would seem a lot scarier.

Sticking with the census, the Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities of Canada has asked the court in Ottawa to void Harper's bill and filed a complaint with Canada's official languages commissioner about the census change. And you can bet that the economist in Harper has great reasons for wanting to kill the census.

A report was published from Justice Canada that lends support to critics claims that Bill C-25, the so-called Truth in Sentencing Act, unfairly targets the poor, the illiterate and Canada's aboriginal community.

The PM has a new chief of staff -- surprisingly he's a Bay Street guy. Who could have predicted?

He's Nigel Wright and he's worked for hard-right politicians such as Ontario Premier Mike Harris and Canadian Alliance Leader Stockwell Day. Also worked as Executive Assistant to policy adviser Charles McMillan in Brian Mulroney’s Prime Minister’s Office, and as a policy coordinator for the Kim Campbell leadership campaign where he was considered, according to conservative analyst David Frum, on the right of the party even then. (Financial Post, June 12, 1993) Was in attendance at the Canadian Alliance’s founding policy convention in 2000 where he supported a regressive, flat-tax proposal that would have favoured wealthy earners at the expense of middle- and low-income earners. (National Post, January 31, 2000) Just another Tory moderate, right?

The Liberals attack the Tories for their mad spending on the G-8 and G-20 summits -- go peruse the database of expenditures for yourself.

Lastly a story about the governement falling short of living up to its obligation to insure Canada's returning, injured veterans are well taken care of. My radio show guest tomorrow morning will be William Ray, former member of Canada's PPCLI and we'll be talking about this and other veterans and Afghanistan War related issues -- you can stream at CJLO.com.

The Continuing Trials of Omar Khadr

When is a 15 year old boy not a 15 year old boy? This one's easy! When he's Omar Khadr. Canada's Federal Court of Appeal has refused to hear his case immediately effectively handing the Harper government a win in its fight against Omar Khadr. Have a look at the timeline of Khadr's capture, imprisonment and interrogation as a reminder of some of the things wrong with this prosecution:

November 13 2001 - Bush issues a military order “Detention, Treatment and Trial of Certain Non-Citizens in the War against Terrorism”, directing that Al Qaeda and the Taliban were non-state actors and protected Prisoner of War Status did not apply to captured combatants.

January 11 2002 - First prisoners arrive in Guantanamo.

Summer 2002 - Omar allegedly attends Al Qaeda training camp were he receives weapons training.

June 15 2002 - The US has alleged that during this time, Khadr conducted surveillance and reconnaissance against US forces and joined an Al Qaeda team that converted land mines into IEDs and planted them in places where US troops were expected to travel.

July 27 2002 - Omar captured by US forces after a lengthy firefight in which it is alleged that a wounded Omar threw a grenade that killed Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer and injured Sgt. Layne Morris. US soldiers open fire on Omar, hitting him three times in the chest. Omar pleads for soldiers to kill him; instead, he receives medical attention for his severe wounds. Omar loses sight in one eye as a result of these wounds

July – October 2002 - Omar transferred to hospital at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, where he undergoes aggressive interrogation immediately after regaining consciousness. Khadr states that interrogators withheld pain medication, forced him into stress positions, threw cold water at him, made him stand with his hands tied above a door frame for hours, interrogated him with a bag over his head in a room with barking dogs, and interrogated him for so long that he urinated on himself.

October 16 2002 - Omar transferred to Guantanamo Bay

December 2 2002 - Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld approves interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo. They include 1) use of stress positions; 2) detention in isolation for up to 30 days; 3)deprivation of light and auditory stimuli; 4) forced grooming; 5) removal of clothing; 6) interrogation for up to 20 hours; 7) use of detainee’s individual phobias to induce stress.

A month and one half later the above order is rescinded. Go look for yourself at the various summaries of the timeline of his arrest and move to trial by Military Tribunal (kangaroo court). What they don't say is that his family is seen in Western eyes as completely unsympathetic not only because of their ties to bin-laden before 9/11 murders but because of their appearance. Regardless of these things the fact remains he was a child on a battlefield and at worst was defending himself. Every other addmissionn he made was under duress and suspect.

Stalled Talks As Progress!

Jim Prentice, Canada's Environment Minister is busy lowering expectations that countries will come out of the Cancun UN climate talks with a deal. By all appearances the Cancun conference will end much as Copenhagen did, with more than 190 countries putting off a binding climate deal. It's a shameful state of affairs when talks are stalled and that is considered to be progress from last week's admission by a top U.S. climate official that the negotiations leading up to Cancun are going backwards.


 In the face of overwhelming evidence of global warming and the toxicity to our environment of spewing some 30 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere yearly, the Tories are content to do nothing.

One of the more short-sighted positions the Harper government has ever taken was to tie their actions on climate change to the U.S.'s. Obama and the Democrats are unable to pass even a tepid bill on the climate through Congress. Since the ruling on Citizens United American politics are now completely dominated by corporate interests and propaganda and they have no desire to see a bill of any sort pass and so their relentless campaigning to muddy the waters of climate science continues unabated.

The Conservatives have argued that moving forward with climate legislation before the Americans do puts Canadian companies at a disadvantage by placing burdens on them that aren't on their U.S. competitors. Yet a recent report from Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development urges the Harper government to press ahead with its own domestic policies arguing that, "...acting unilaterally would result in domestic and international credibility gains. Canada should thus remain vigilant and not import avoidable climate-policy uncertainty from its neighbour.”

The lack of action and urgency may well one day be viewed as criminal when the potential consequences are considered. Mark Hertsgaard in a new book, Generation Hot, argues that,  the battle to prevent climate change, feeble as it was, is over. Now the race to survive it has begun. If humanity is to win this race, we must change the way we think about the climate problem. ...the traditional goal of climate policy -- limiting global emissions -- is more important than ever but no longer sufficient.

There apparently is no amount of evidence sufficient enough to move our government on this issue -- not even in the midst of a gold rush for Arctic resources whose sole cause is global warming. Blind, deaf and stupid are the only polite words that come to mind.

UPDATE: Those hippies in the US Military are targeting 30 years from now as a necessary date to get off oil. The United States military must entirely get off oil by 2040 if it wants to reduce operational vulnerabilities, reduce costs, stop new security risks caused by climate change and avoid the coming peak oil supply crunch. That's the word from the Center For a New American Security, whose Fueling the Future Force report details the hows and whys of the situation.

Burnt Offerings

News reports say that in 2009 the poverty rate in the U.S. “skyrocketed” to 43.6 million -- up from 39.8 million in 2008, which is the largest year-to-year increase, and the highest number since statistics have been recorded -- putting the poverty rate for 2009 at 14.3 percent. One out of every seven Americans was living in poverty in 2009. In truth this was a product of what should be called lazy reporting. Apparently the American Census Bureau was using a long outdated method to calculate the poverty rate measuring poverty based on costs of living metrics established back in 1955. The poverty rates are calculated as being $22,050 for a family of four. That breaks down to $5,513 per person, per year. It's hard can’t imagine living in the United States on $459 per month. That amount will barely get you a good health insurance policy, never mind food, clothes and a roof over your head. Go read the entire piece over at Alternet.

What's really galling in all this is that the rich are getting richer -- much richer. Only twice before in American history has so much been held by so few, and the gap between them and the great majority been a chasm — the late 1920s, and the era of the robber barons in the 1880s. None of this happens in a vacuum and this will be felt on our side of the border be it in diminished exports or simply following our American cousins down the same self-destructive path.

In my absence the Gulf oil spill was confirmed as the largest marine oil accident ever -- my only caveat here would be to ask, is it an accident when the cause is negligence, or an inevitability? Why the Obama administration chronically lowballed estimates of how much BP oil was spewing into the Gulf of Mexico remains a mystery, however, after a top NOAA official easily sidestepped the commissioners' tepid questioning. The fact remains that we here at NM&P and over at my blog we were reporting far more accurate estimates as of May the 1st! How can that be you ask? Damned if I know, but I got the information by hunting around the web and quoting sources that have proven to be reliable over the past ten years. Of course if I can do it so could they.
Following American politics becomes increasingly difficult for me as the Democrats do not consistently stand up for what are call democratic values. A great example is the fight against DADT for gay rights. Rachel Maddow has this exactly right as she calls it a fight for civil rights. Why is that hard to stand up for. Americans are overwhelmingly in favour of abolishing Don't Ask Don't Tell.
 

 
There Must Be A Law: "The probability that a religious leader is a sex offender is directly proportional to the the virulence of his homophobia."


I've been feeling a bit burnt out doing research and writing for the radio show and various blogs so I took a couple of days off. I'm here all day until I catch up but next week I will probably not be around. Feel free to listen on-line at CJLO.com and e-mail me at oldpunk@cjlo.com.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Mania

Looks like we have another Conservative government. This video goes out to the people of New Brunswick. (and the rest of us too. Pretty much sums up the platform of any ruling party.



Karl played a John Lennon tune monday and with all the wars going on I thought of this not always known movie.



A shout out to my nephew and all the good people helping out in Pakistan (on right in photo).



















Bears Win!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Slacker Saturday?

If ever a day was meant for doing nothing it's the day that follows a week's long work. But since I'm on the treadmill as much as everyone else out there I have things to try and catch up on like my book, plans to syndicate my radio show, episodes of SCTV I missed this week and a blog post featuring really crappy economic news from down south, I thought maybe I should kick off with something funny. I stumbled upon videos mocking the Hipster crowd which made me laugh because I still haven't figured out who I'm supposed to be sneering at: The in crowd, the out crowd, or those so deliberately far out that they're the ones that are in, or the people who sneer at those posing as the out but they're in crowd, or those who sneer at those who are sneering at the in but they're out so they're in crowd, and so that makes those doing the sneering the in crowd... You can see my dilemma. Or ignore it and have yourself a laugh at "How to Seduce a Hipster:"



I found this video after watching something called the "Hipster Olympics," which was pretty funny and you can go watch here, or you can just click below and watch the comedians that they should have been crediting for the original idea of skewering the deliberately clueless amongst us:

Friday, September 24, 2010

Opposition Elites Unite To Save Census

This has been a good start to the kickoff of Parliament. The opposition parties have not been cowed by the increasingly threatening language coming from the right -- which of itself is a small victory. Mr. Harper's calls of "I'm going to make you pay for this come next election," have the sound of a school-boy's idle plaint and seem a bit flatulent. Especially when you add to that Harper and the gang's new crusade against Canada's elites.

 Who are these elites, you ask? Well, anybody living within the boundaries of Canada's major urban centers who is desirous of having people register their lethal weapons. Elitists! That especially includes anyone living in the GTA (greater Toronto area, for the uninitiated), Montreal, Ottawa and B.C.'s lower mainland. Elitists!Also included are those who are employed or studying in Canada's universities. Elitists! And let's not forget those employed in bureaucracies, cultural institutions and even boardrooms. All of them the elitists!

This would no doubt come as surprise to most of the people lumped into this group who spend most of their days striving and paying bills, raising children, going to pee-wee hockey games etc.. They likely see themselves as pretty regular folk with concerns they imagine are similar to other Canadians in urban and suburban centers. They would be wrong. They are in fact elitists who are standing  in the way of Mr. Harper's majority government and in the way of having his non-elitist agenda crammed down all our throats. The nerve!

So now the opposition, with the support of their elitist constituencies, are uniting in a bid to bring back the mandatory long-form census into the Statistics Act. This is being done with a private members bill being sponsored by Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, who says, “It's almost a sacred trust that we have with civil society that we will get them the information they need with which to plan, and whether that's the Bank of Canada, or the public health officials, or the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, people are counting on this information and it must be comparable data with previous censuses.”

Eliminating the long-form census set off a wide backlash from a variety of opponents back in the summer, including religious groups, major charities, the Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities, statisticians and academics, who we can add to the list of Canada's elitists. And you can toss in the Premiers of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and P.E.I. who have all balked, saying the loss of data would skew policy-making.

There are just some things from the Bush playbook that don't translate to Canadian politics -- no matter how hard you try. So now that the opposition recognizes that opposing Stephen Harper's ideologically driven agenda is likely to be good for their poll numbers I see heady days on the horizon for Canada's elites and even some non-elites too. As Mr. Layton noted the other day, "...rural voters are every bit as concerned as their urban counterparts about job security, the availability of health care and the quality of their children’s education,." Indeed. Those issues don't appear to be anywhere on Stephen Harper's radar, and that could cost him some non-elitist votes.

The Pope vs Richard Dawkins

Announcer: Hello and welcome to this much anticipated bout between the man known as the Holy See, Pope Ratzinger, and the Unrepentant Atheist, Richard Dawkins. With me is the redoubtable Chritopher Hitchens to provide colour. Chris, how do you think fight this shapes up?

Hitchens: I don't really think the Pope has much of a chance in this one. As you know I've written extensively about the Pope and believe he is responsible for obstructing justice on a global scale by covering up pedophilia and child-rape. It's been shown that he actually issued a confidential letter to every bishop and in it he reminded them of the extreme gravity of a certain crime. But that crime was the reporting of the rape and torture. The accusations, intoned Ratzinger, were only treatable within the church's own exclusive jurisdiction. Any sharing of the evidence with legal authorities or the press was utterly forbidden. So that pretty much neutralizes any blows he may attempt to land righteous blows and it leaves him an easy target.

Announcer: And still Pope Ratzinger started swinging the moment he touched down in England. Chris, what did you think of his opening jabs?

Hitchens: Well even there he fouled. Goodwin's Law was invoked with his comparisons of atheists to Nazis and the corollary to that is that the first person in an argument to mention Hitler or the Nazis loses the argument. So I just don't see how he can compete here. Those opening shots were the act of a desperate man!

Announcer: Well Hitch, you may be right. Let's review exactly how the Pope got things under way. Here's his opening salvo -- "As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society …" So we can see the ties he makes not only to Hitler there but to Stalin as well!

Hitchens: Right. I just don't see how how he can come back from that and move reasonable people to his point of view. I'm predicting it's going to be all Dawkins.

Announcer: Okay Hitch, Let's get ready to Ruuuummmmble!



Announcer: Whew! You sure called that one Chris!

Hitchens: Even I found myself feeling a bit sorry for the Pope there but he can always take solace in his hard core true believers -- he's just not going to reach anyone new with the kind of approach he tried upon landing at Edinburgh. But it does seems to be the only one they know.

Announcer: Indeed Chris! We'll see you next time everybody, 'til then good luck and believe whatever the hell you want. It's your right!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The MSM And Global Warming

Earlier this week I was pointed to a particularly egregious BBC article by Richard Black on the extent of this year's Arctic sea ice melt. As Black looks for every description to describe why the phenomenon is happening other than the "controversial" theory of global warming he also manages to never mention CO2 emissions; the 30 billion tonnes of CO2 humankind pumps into the atmosphere yearly as perhaps being one of the reasons. He also mischaracterizes the science citing an outdated prediction about when the Arctic will be free of summer ice so as to push a narrative that can only be described as one that has climate scientists forwarding exaggerated claims. So no need to worry or take action -- after all there will still be ice in the summer of Arctic in 2013, and the claims, by inference, are all exaggerated anyhow.

The last 12 months have been unusually warm globally - according to Nasa, the warmest in its 130-year record. This is partly down to El Nino conditions in the Pacific Ocean, which have the effect of raising temperatures globally.

Here's a question off the top of my head -- has El Nino ever helped raise the global average to similar record setting levels or is this in keeping with the projections and models that climate scientists have been forecasting for some time now? Joe Romm over at Climate Progress gets pretty warm under the collar about this, not as much because of the misreporting on the story, but the source. For him, like me, the BBC is a venerated news organization and to read this kind of slipshod reporting coming from them is disheartening.

He also fails to mention the rapidly diminishing volume of sea ice which of course is more to the point so far as warming and a changing climate are concerned. Go check out this video that explains how ...the Arctic has been the fastest-warming region on the planet.  This video tells the story of how it has been changing, as seen from satellites above, and submarines below, touring through years of hard research — in three minutes. Some of the key findings: sea ice is thinning even faster than it is shrinking in area, and Greenland has been shedding ice at an accelerating pace — with consequences for sea level.

And this is by no means the only example of BBC wankery. In the hottest decade in recorded human history, one that's seen record temperatures all around the globe there was a headline that asked "What Happened to Global Warming?"

In a post that describes the dramatic decline in the quality of reporting at the BBC on the subject of global warming there is an apt description of the problem with the false 'he said/she said' dichotomy of American style journalism where science is concerned. Where complete falsehoods and fabrications are juxtaposed and given equal weight with facts, the example of two guys in a bar is used: One man is arguing that 2 + 2 = 4 and the other that 2 + 2 = 6. The BBC solution to reporting on this disagreement (the rest of the MSM as well)? Put them both on TV and suggest that the answer must lie somewhere in the middle.

You can see the problem with that, right?

UPDATE: This is what Global warming looks like:


(be patient takes a while to load)


This is what Global Warming looks like from NRDC Broadcast Videos on Vimeo.

Being a Dickhead

Canada`s Finance Minister Jim Flaherty must be looking at some ugly internal poll numbers because he says Canada can`t risk an election! This is so stupid the Liberals call him out on it immediately and call him a dickhead. Stephen Harper tries to pretend losing is winning -- which fits in nicely with the new motto he adopted just this summer, Ignorance Is Strength!

Stealing Pages From The Bush Playbook

As a Canuck, it`s an odd experience to watch Stephen Harper operate using a game plan lifted from the playbook of one of the more discredited politicians of our time: George W. Bush Jr. A man who has been vilified for his emptying of the U.S. treasury, starting two morale sapping wars, spying on Americans, outing a CIA agent, staining his country`s reputation by sanctioning rendition and torture, but the worst thing he may have done is to divide his nation into two separate camps both angry and distrustful of each other. A state of affairs that sadly exists to this day. Seems Harper was paying attention it seems and is seeking to emulate Bush in every manner possible -- I mean how else can you interpret his actions?

 On Monday came a report from the Globe and Mail that the Tories were happy with the divisive nature of the gun-registry debate seeing it as a way to pick up disgruntled rural voters from the opposition. This explains why they`ve ignored repeated offers of compromises on the registry could be changed to reflect rural concerns. They don`t care about the issue -- they`re playing at dog-whistle politics and you can bet money that they will employ it again during in the forthcoming election.

Yesterday there was the story about highly personal information including confidential medical and financial information belonging to an outspoken critic of Veterans Affairs, Sean Bruyea that found its way, including part of a psychiatrist's report, into the briefing notes of a cabinet minister.


Mr. Bruyea uncovered the documents as part of a 14,000-page Privacy Act request about himself. He asked for the information in 2007 to discover why certain medical coverage by the department was denied to him. Among other things, he found his file had been accessed by hundreds of federal bureaucrats, including policy makers.

Then there`s the story that`s all over the Canadian blogosphere but has received little notice in Canada`s MSM, about Alex Hundert the G20 activist who was rousted and dragged to jail by the police. Hundert had returned home to his residence at 10:30 pm after speaking at Ryerson University when he was arrested by seven Toronto police and RCMP officers, Seven!!! He is being incarcerated at Metro West Detention Centre for an alleged breach of his bail condition of non-participation in public demonstrations -- speaking at a University conference is now apparently a public demonstration.

Then there's the steady drumbeat of, lions and tigers and bears oh my! The Tory version of course is a bit different. It goes, Liberals, and Socialists and Separatists, oh for pity`s sake don`t let them govern or western civilization will end and the terrorists will win!

Intimidation, bullying and fear. That`s the GWB jr playbook in a nutshell. For some reason I'm reminded of the tactics used against Richard Clarke and Joe Wilson and anyone else who stood in the bushies way. Are Canadians and the Canadian press going to let them get away with this would be my question about Harper's playbook? Is anyone noticing the slide into American style he/said/she said rhetoric?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

John Le Carré's Essay On Bush, Blair and the Iraq War

From the great people at Democracy Now: John LeCarré reading an exerpt from his much quoted 2003 essay on the then looming Iraq war:


Tuesday Mad Links Blogging

The leaves are starting to turn, the kids are back at school and the sound of caterwauling can be heard coming from Canada's Parliament so it must be autumn in the Great White North. This session of Parliament seems to be weighted with importance as there is a growing sense that within a year an election will be called either by the opposition or the minority government depending on who gets the upper hand in the polls the quickest.

 There have been suggestions from some quarters that the Tories are looking for an excuse to call a snap election -- they behave and sound like a party getting ready to go into campaign mode invoking the choices soon to be made between a majority for themselves or (eeeek!) a coalition of Liberals and Socialists and Separatists... oh my!

Michael Ignatieff is off the bus and on center stage in Parliament  now where he can continue his job of selling both himself and the Liberal Party to Canadians. He has begun earnestly and well if somewhat uninspiringly. Those in a nutshell reflect his strengths and weaknesses and he'll have to find a way to overcome that last bit. If I were amongst his handlers and preparing him for questions about the criticism that he's uninspiring or without a lot of passion, I'd be telling him to fire back, "Compared to who?"" Because our current PM is no more passionate or inspiring than Iggy and so as long as he can keep the conversation focused on Harper he should be fine. You can watch the first part of this interview with Peter Mansbridge and see him starting to fire on all cylinders as far as issues go. The PM has given him a nice big target and it's good to see he has the ability to hit it.

Mr. Layton's troubles on the other hand are harder to understand. He has the advantage of being the country's most trusted and likable leader but has as of yet been able to get the NDP Party's numbers above the 20% mark in the polls. I feel he doesn't give impression of someone who expects to win or govern -- that he's satisfied with being in opposition and so he's viewed just that way by the electorate and not as a viable alternative to the other two major parties. Of course opinions are like noses and all that -- I'd be happy to be proved wrong.

The National Energy Board (NEB) is moving ahead with its review of Arctic offshore drilling rules and has drawn responses from people concerned about the risk of a big oil spill similar to the one in the Gulf of Mexico occurring in northern Canadian waters. The deadline for public comment on the federal board's review is this Friday, and they will look at safety, environmental regulations and safeguards for Arctic offshore drilling.

There is no way to stress enough that should a spill occur in Arctic waters the difficulties that would ensue for cleanup would be far greater than they were in the Gulf and the possible affects on the environment are incalculable. As far as that goes, in spite of what's being said and not being covered in the MSM the books are not yet closed on the consequences of the Gulf spill.

A story that comes without explanation or any speculation -- renewable water resources have declined in Southern Canada over the past three decades . The annual loss is equivalent to 1.4 million Olympic-sized swimming pools, and almost as much water as was supplied to Canada's entire residential population in 2005. This represents an overall loss of 8.5 per cent of the water yield in Southern Canada over 34 years. A story about a climate change study published in the journal Eos, that indicates that the water levels in the Great Lake system is highly sensitive to climate changes.

And something for the Climate Change deniers, "Global warming's unstoppable 1500 year cycle."

Monday's Radio Show Links

Going to do this as fast as possible without a narrative if you don't mind.

 Beginning with Harper's dreams of one day scrapping the long-gun registry -- it really doesn't take much to make a con happy. All you have to do is support, believe and act on his ideology and all is well. They're hoping to keep playing this divisive political card and so are on a last minute blitz to get people in rural areas worked up over this issue -- divide and conquer is definitely the plan.

From the war that no one wants to talk about and the elections that are supposed to help move the country forward there's been reports of ballot stuffing, poll workers being found dead, light turnout and hundreds of polling stations being closed or under attack throughout the country that will likely discredit the results and a call for President Hamid Karzai's government to allow an independent investigation into reports of widespread fraud, including intimidation of voters and interference by powerful warlords.

In Iraq where American combat operations have ended, on Sunday there were 56 killed and 171 wounded. And because the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been so fabulously successful, Senator Lindsey Graham wants to have one in Iran.

When in doubt invoke Hitler seems to be the new rule for public discourse. Recently it was the pope calling atheists Nazi sympathizers, and now here's a GOP dude saying that the idea for the separation of church and state came from Hitler -- not Thomas Jefferson at all. Of course he's wrong.

Here's a great look from the people at Wired at a map of the Arctic Ocean sea floor and why settling the Arctic territorial disputes is not going to be easy or come without controversy.

And finally, since this is kickoff week for Canada's Parliament, an interesting piece from John Ibbitson of the Globe and his opinion that the party leader that tells the best story will get to lead Canada in the near future. My opinion is somewhat different -- the person who who can articulate his ideas and define himself in a manner in keeping with what Canadians believe and hold dear will win. Really, this shouldn''t be a difficult task as the Tories seem ready to discredit themselves at every turn -- as I was putting this together word came of the Conservatives spending $49 million dollars to promote their stimulus plans and $130 million in all for advertising. This is not what fiscal conservatism looks like.

My advice to Iggy and Layton would be to emulate that country song, 'Come From the Heart:' "You gotta' sing like you don't need the money. Love like you'll never get hurt. You gotta' dance, dance, dance like nobody's watching -- it's gotta' come from the heart if you want it to work."



Too Pollyannish? Stop being such a cynic!

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Moody Manitoba MP

I'm a bit tired of the gun registry debate. As an issue, it's importance has been far superseded by the amount of attention it has received. An up or down vote, an acknowledgement that the issue has completely different resonance for those in urban areas and those in rural and the perhaps a compromise bill that recognizes and acknowledges those differences -- then on to other issues!

 In politics however, perception is everything and so this will played up as a major defeat (and deservedly so) for the Tories who have been trying to play wedge politics with the issue. Harper has been acting as if he will take the failure to abolish the registry this time around as cause for a personal vendetta against everyone who disagreed with him even though early in his career he was in favour of the registry. People wonder why the discourse can`t be more civil during the daily question period? Based on the course of this debate I`d hazard to guess it`s because the majority of the players have hyper-sensitive and over-inflated egos -- kind of like the adolescent high-schoolers they're often compared to.

To make my point for me today, Candice Hoeppner the Manitoba MP who originally sponsored the bill to kill the registry, rolled up to the Commons in an SUV decked out with signs advocating killing the registry and proceeded to have a snit over word the NDP MP Peter Stoffer had changed his mind on how he was going to vote. The MP from Nova Scotia has decided that even though he personally is against the registry that since the majority of his constituency are for keeping it, he is obliged to vote their wishes. That prompted this response from Ms. Hoeppner, `...if Mr. Stoffer’s decision wasn’t so sad, it would be laughable.” Actually if you like the idea of representative democracy it's rather admirable but I'm digressing.

Believe it or not there are arguments to be made for abolishing the registry that could be made without engaging in this style of politicking -- but even those who stand to benefit from that are unwilling to disengage from the us vs them rhetoric over the issue. American style politics is truly making inroads in Canada.

As you may or not be aware, Canada currently maintains a registry of all legal gun owners in the country through its acquisition licensing system. That database is more complete and up-to-date than the long-gun list because gun owners need to prove they are in it every time they buy basic supplies such as ammunition. So rather than checking the long-gun registry to see whether a specific weapon is registered, police can always check the more complete acquisition list to see whether anybody has the right to even own a gun legally.

Still, here in urban Canada there is a widespread consensus that we have our own set of concerns and want to see the registry maintained -- should someone from Portage-Lisgar Manitoba be dictating to us on this issue? Frankly, I would like to see Candice Hoeppner roll up to UQAM or Dawson College here in Montreal and try that kind of grandstanding.

More to the point though, the Liberal leader and Mr. Layton have both proposed changes aimed at satisfying the large numbers of rural Canadians who are opposed to the registry, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper has indicated no willingness to take them up on it. So, enjoy the bitter defeat if that's what you wish to achieve Mr. Harper -- it's all your own doing.

Sunday Night Wrap

With a federal election on the horizon, (you heard it here first) always good to remember the folks in countries where they risk life and limb to have their vote counted. Not too much had been made of the election in Afghanistan, the Parliamentary elections took place over the weekend. The Taliban vowed to disrupt the proceeding and did just that, killing 11 civilians and 3 police officers.

Election observers said there were some concerns over the balloting that could take months to tabulate. The observers companied that the ink used to stain the fingers of voters could be washed off. It is supposed to stay visible for 72 hours. (Personally I think that is wise, safer for the voter not to be wearing Taliban over here marker. I voted come shoot me)

Sunday was the 30th annual Terry Fox run. 800 runs were held across Canada. Hopefully nobody in British Columbia was driving home drunk after the run. With a new law being past the mis-deed would cost the deviant $3,750 after all is said and done.

Have a good week.




Can you spot the Alien Life Form ?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Our Polluting Overlords Part Deux

I wanted to illustrate that nonsense is a regular part of our discourse now with that last post. Whenever a corporation's culpability into some ecological disaster is called into question the media and the government do their alibiing for them. It's a feature not a bug when Canada's minister of the environment says of badly deformed fish downstream from the tarsands project that they're not sure why this is happening. Hundreds of thousands of dead crab, shrimp, and finfish are washing up in Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico and no one is sure as to why? Propublica has a report that scientists conducting research in the Gulf have found a thick layer of oily sediment on the ocean floor stretching for miles and no one knows where it comes from? The news broadcaster on the following report about the current state of the Gulf asks what is happening and what caused the fish kills? Uhm, I have a theory...



 This takes propaganda and whoring for corporations to new levels. I'm not sure who's swallowing this gunk but it borders on the comically tragic. Instead of the 21st century we get the age of stupid and corporatism.

UPDATE: I decided, with the help of someone whose imagination was shall we say lacking, that I had better illustrate what it is BP has wrought in the Gulf in lieu of all the claims that things are just fine and the lack of in-depth MSM coverage. My bad for being obtuse.





h/t  for both videos goes to The Political Carnival

Our Polluting Overlords

We are being lied to every day, by not only the corporations that are polluting and destroying the very eco-systems upon which we rely for our survival, but by the governments we have elected who spend their time and energies protecting them. Here in Canada we have the tarsands with their attendant tailings ponds which are a massive ecological disaster, an inefficient way to get oil from the ground, and   late last night it was reported that deformed fish are being found in Lake Athabasca downstream from the tarsands in northern Alberta.

 From the Reuters article: The fish are hard to look at. One whitefish has a golfball-sized tumour bulging from its side. Another is simply missing part of its spine, its tail growing from a stumpy rear end. One has no snout. Another is coloured a lurid red instead of a healthy cream. Others are covered with lesions and still others are bent and crooked from deformed vertebrae.

As sad as that description is that's not the kicker to this news piece. That's reserved for Canada's Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice who says his department is testing out a new "fingerprinting" machine that can help determine if substances are naturally occurring or are from the tarsands. Naturally occurring? The mind reels at the thought of this moron suggesting that somehow these poor deformed animals are a byproduct of something happening "naturally!" But then his job is to protect the oil giants. Screw the residents, screw Canadians, screw everyone except the oil giants. They are the country's most important citizens, right?

Well to educate the uninformed Minister of the Environment Jim Prentice, maybe he's unawares of a recent study that linked tarsands mining and toxins found in the Athabasca River. I should point out that the findings counter reports by a joint industry-government panel that the pollutant levels are due to natural sources rather than human development. The study led by Erin Kelly and David Schindler of the University of Alberta also found that levels of the pollutants cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, silver and zinc exceeded federal and provincial guidelines for the protection of aquatic life in melted snow or water collected near or downstream from oilsands mining.

Wait, there's more. It also turns out that when it comes time to pay for the cleanup there's a good chance Alberta taxpayers will foot the bill: (from the Globe and Mail) The industry has a total of about $820 million in such guarantees for remediation. That’s supposed to cover about 69,000 hectares of disturbed land, averaging about $12,000 a hectare. But based on costs already incurred by some remediation projects, true cleanup costs are much higher, the report says. The institute estimates it could cost at least $220,000 a hectare and perhaps as high as $320,000 a hectare.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Climate Change Leads To Arctic Gold Rush

The Arctic is the one place no one argues about or disputes the rapidly changing climate. The ice pack has shrunk so much ...that two ships are now attempting a polar circumnavigation of the globe by sailing along both the Canadian and Russian Arctic coastlines.

 The current gold rush that's taking place for the Arctic's riches would not be happening of course if it were not for climate change. Polar nations are currently in a race to stake claims over the continental shelves of the Arctic Ocean that,  before global warming kicked in, were once inaccessible. In fact just this year, Arctic sea ice extent reached its third-lowest level on record. Even more troubling this week the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported that it's not just the extent that's shrinking but the thickness of the ice -- that is the total ice volume is diminishing and the older and thickest sea ice is rapidly disappearing.

Needless to say with change happening so rapidly it's important to get Arctic territorial disputes settled as fast as possible so as get to the business of exploiting it. With that in mind it was announced on Wednesday that Russia and Norway had settled their Arctic boundary disputes (they divvied up 175,000 square kilometers of ocean) so that a vast estimated reservoir of 40 billion barrels of oil can now be exploited.

For Canada, settling their bilateral disputes with the U.S. and Denmark the smart thing to do sooner rather than later as there are other issues in play as well as other claims. Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States are all expected to file ambitious, competing and overlapping claims stretching towards and even beyond the North Pole.

They must also sort out Canada's claim that the Northwest Passage is sovereign waters, an assertion rejected by Washington and other powers who believe it should be an international passage like other key maritime lanes. Canada does however have legitimate concerns about the state of the ships that will eventually be using the Passage as a major spill could cause untold and lasting damage to very delicate eco-systems.

Canada needs to move forward quickly and decisively on these issues as waiting for the UN to sort this all out might not be the most rewarding strategy. Yet, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lawrence  Cannon has rejected calls from those who believe the rapidly changing Arctic ...warmed, accessible and at risk as never before in human history – needs a new international regime to control the area. So just sit back and hope for the best then, is the Tory strategy for claiming Canada's stake in the Arctic?

Conservative Stereotypes

Saw on the news the charming John Baird trying to divide and conquer, putting against those evil Toronto elites against  I suppose the good down to earth rural westerners. I contend there is just as much if not more white trash in Toronto as there is out west.

If your want to stop Sun News proposed television station should it come about it's easy, cancel your cable and tell them why. NMPCANADA will be promoting cancel cable day. The exact date depends on when the station goes to air. Stay tuned for future developments.

Gotta finish The Street is about to start. But seeing how much Mr. Baird likes playing with his gun I thought he might think of future job opportunities when his political career is over . And of course everybody's favourite,a littile Liza



Eric Fromm: The Relevance of Socialism Today

In this 50 year old speech Eric Fromm describes socialism in a way many have probably not heard. Only the corrupted versions get into the media. Fifty years ago socialism's evils are described as those set to bring centralization, bureaucratization and uniformity to life -- things he believes capitalism ended up bringing.

 Fromm argues that socialism is not godless at all and in fact respects the soul, unlike what the propaganda of the day claimed. Socialism is also attacked for being impractical as man's motivations are always for his own betterment, his desire for material gain and this is what stimulates man to put forth his very best effort. he notes that this is in direct contradiction to what western culture is supposed to be about: belief in the spirit and the soul. Yet the profit motive is spoken of as the only motive that can get man to do his best in the world. This, he argues, points to man's unlimited capacity for double-talk and rationalizations without self awareness of the contradictions of what he's saying and accepting as truth.

Socialism he says wants to realize justice and human brotherhood - it wants a society in which no one lacks the material basis for a dignified and rich human life. It seeks to build a new form of society in which the individual can truly stand on his own feet. The aim is individuality, liberation from economic bonds and not making material concerns the main focus of life. Each man is an end in himself and must never be the means to ends for other people. Man takes precedence over things.

He invokes Huxley's 'Brave New World,' and says that we are in danger of becoming automatons - well fed, well clad, manipulated consumers. He goes further and notes that any clever ad writer, any clever politician, any clever user and manipulator of symbols can persuade man to believe that the way he lives is good for him, regardless of the truth. Have a listen and please leave a note. I see so many parallels to the current state of our society and I'd like to have a discussion about what he says here. The idea and ideals of socialism have been drowned out by the manipulators of symbols and seemingly lost to public discourse. Stephen Harper and those on the right in the US use the word "socialism" as a cudgel to frighten people when few know its actual meaning.



Fromm's idea of us as automatons reminded me of the Annie Leonard video, The Story of Stuff, so I'm posting that to include as part of the discussion (if one breaks out).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

An Effective Opposition

The Tories are facing an embarrassing defeat on one of their most cherished issues, and they have been put on the defensive about a CBC report that alleges their campaign on this issue has ties to the NRA. The CBC has published documents to back up their claim that the NRA has been actively involved in trying to abolish the long gun registry for years now. To top it all off, David McGuinty accused Stephen Harper and the Conservatives of playing U.S. Republican-style wedge politics.

 This week's developments regarding the bill to scrap the gun registry give me hope that the three opposition parties will not spend the year being pushed around and manipulated by Harper's Tories but instead be an effective counterweight. There were moments all year long when it looked as if the registry was doomed to voted out of existence but then things began to change. The Liberal leader Michael decided back in April he would whip the Liberal vote on the issue, the Bloc were always going to vote against the Conservative private members bill, but it looked like rural NDP MP's were going to vote along with the Tories and end the registry. Then something happened.

It's hard to say if Jack Layton didn't like being called out by the Liberals or the Bloc or if he just wanted to be on the right side of this issue. Maybe he, like the other leaders, is sensing that the Conservatives are vulnerable and Canadians fed up with the fear card being played time and again -- whatever the reason he came out this week and said he had the votes to save the registry and on the 22nd of this month if he' right, that will be that.

With a newly emboldened opposition one suspects that the ride for Harper and the gang will only get bumpier. I'm really looking forward to the kickoff of Parliament -- it promises to be full of surprises.

Compare and Contrast

Covering the very unsexy Afghanistan war today on my radio program I began by reporting what Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance said on Monday night on his return to Kandahar where he was in command. “Although we’ve been in Afghanistan for a long time, and in the south since 2006, we really did not have the forces necessary to defeat the enemy using counterinsurgency tactics at the time.” But that's all changed now with Obama's surge in troops for Afghanistan and now the allies do have what’s needed for “enduring progress.”

 Did you get that? You see all this time we've had Canadian soldiers fighting and dying in a situation that they could not win so, unbeknownst to Canadians, they have essentially just been in a holding pattern all these years. But now, with the extra troops the Americans are providing to the southern battlefields, now victory is on the way!

It sure sounds like bunk after eight long years of Canadians doing their part on behalf of their American and NATO allies, but who am I to dispute the General's assertions? So let's hear what Robert Blackwill, who was Condolezza Rice's deputy as National Security Adviser in 2003 to 2004 has to say. The Telegraph reports that he will use a speech at the International Institute of Strategic Studies think tank in London on Monday to call on President Obama to make drastic changes in the war's objectives. He believes the surge will likely fail and that, "The Taliban are winning, we are losing, They have high morale and want to continue the insurgency. Plan A is going to fail. We need a Plan B."

Indeed the do, as there are reportedly now 1,000 soldiers deployed for every one of the estimated 100 al Qaeda operatives now believed to be based in Afghanistan, and it's costing the US $100 billion dollars a year. Even General Petreus is reported as having said on ABC News that success over the insurgency could be another 9 or 10 years away. This presents us with the obvious question of, do any of the allies have the stomach to wage war in Afghanistan for that much longer and what exactly would a plan B look like?

As for Canada's part in all this, by 2011 at least $18 billion dollars of taxpayers money will have been sunk into the war ($1500 per person) and is the reason Canada has essentially abandoned its' 50-year commitment to UN peacekeeping. Some estimates of the total costs to Canadians by 2011, when the private costs to families and community of lost and injured soldiers are factored in, as being as high as $28 billion.

So, exactly why was General Vance trying to paint such a rosy picture? Who in hell believes him, and why doesn't the Canadian media challenge his assertions?

The Iraq Debacle

Looking for adjectives to describe what the American war machine has wrought in Iraq is only difficult in the sense that there are so many of them. Even the word debacle seems to understate it -- for the Iraqis it is a complete disaster and the current state of affairs is far worse than was ever visited upon them by their former dictator.

 There was a report yesterday that 1 out of every 6 Iraqis is an orphan. You read that right. Not 1 out of every 6 Iraqi kids but 1 out of ever 6 Iraqis, period. The exact figure only became a reality recently, when the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs made public its own statistics, but there have been reports reflecting this crisis for years now -- they've just been ignored. So when you read that the Americans have only killed 100,000 or so Iraqis, remember the number of Iraqi orphans and do the math. The real numbers of deaths the Americans are responsible for are far higher, as this report from Truthout asserts, for the war and continuing occupation of Iraq.

Leaving behind 50,000 combat ready troops and paid contractors (modern day mercenaries) who are regularly engaging in combat is war and occupation no matter how the story is currently being spun. 
 
While on the subject of people whose misery is being scrupulously ignored in the media go read this report on the 4.5 million Iraqi refugees that this war has created. The humanitarian consequences of this seven-year war on Iraqi civilians are too often unreported. Since 2003, 2.5 million Iraqis have fled the country, mainly to Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, while another two million have been dislocated inside Iraq, many of whom are now living in makeshift camps on the outskirts of Baghdad and other cities.
 
This is a humanitarian crisis on a grand scale and the United States needs to take action but it seems uunlikely that they will because as far as the US media is concerned it's not really happening.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Turn On Your Faucet

The World Energy Congress, being held in Montreal this week drew 3.500 participants to discuss the state of the industry.(If they could harness the hot air created during the speeches they could light up the city)


'Whether we like it or not, producing energy and delivering it to billions of customers around the world comes with certain risks. Rather than closing our eyes to that reality, we must confront risks and manage them.'—Peter Voser, Royal Dutch Shell CEO


The meetings also drew the ire of protestors that showed their displeasure by covering themselves in molasses. The demonstration organized by Greenpeace was aimed to put the focus on developing  clean and safe energy.

There was much talk at the conference and in Quebec about the potential fiscal benefits of natural gas.(natural gas, sounds so harmless, it's natural. It's gas and you drill for it, how is that natural?)

Some videos showing the results of the mining of natural gas. Un-natural gas might be a better name. (Natural gas is what happens after football chilli. GO Alouettes!)







The CEO of Shell says the risks associated with natural gas are worthwhile. I imagine they aren't drilling in his neck of the woods.

Time to climb into the Wayback Machine and join Peabody and Sherman as they try and find the missing fuss over the Afghan detainee issue.  Remember those heady days when the Harper government was about to fall and all seemed right with the world. (Maybe they can also find the ball the opposition parties dropped and seemed to have lost in the neighbours backyard.) To kinda quote Mr. Dumas the plot is thickening according to a story by the CBC. Canada's defence department has been conducting a probe into the conduct of Canada's top secret special forces unit known as JTF2 or Joint Task Force Two. The investigation which began in 2008 is investigating the units alleged role in detainee abuses. Not much is known about the units duties but it has been disclosed that they have been involved in high-risk operations against  the Taliban and al-Qaeda commanders.

Looks like the gun registry is all tied up going into the fourth quarter.Who will make the fadeaway jumper to beat the buzzer. NDP MP Malcolm Allen stated he would be voting pro registry making the declared support 151 to 151. The National Rifle Association is playing some pretty strong defence  lending their support and expertise to Canadian lobbies opposed to the registry. In 2000 the NRA paid $100,000 for an infomercial called, "The Canadian Situation" that was broadcast on a US network but could be seen in Canada. According to the NRA the registry is a veiled plot by the government to find and seize our guns. (As opposed to the NRA's  and Harper's veiled plot to turn us into American's)

The basketball analogy got me thinking, SWEET DREAMS EVERYBODY!



Two For The Show