Monday, June 30, 2008
and for those of you without access to adequate quantities of maple syrup, Molson's and back bacon, there's this bit of knowledge that all Canadians need:
While the political system in my homeland may not be the best, with limited prospects for it getting any better anytime soon、I still think it is the best place in the world to live and I hope to get back there permanently sooner rather than later. For now, you can listen to this:
A more interesting poll would have been to ask what percentage of people are recently coming to the conclusion that Iran was behind 9/11.
George Bush's latest popularity rating (as of last week) is 23%. Bush himself, however, is having none of it. History will judge him a "great president" and anyway, the polls are wrong.
The president's popularity rating is at an all-time low -- 23% of all registered voters, according to the latest Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll, discussed here last week. Those numbers are down from February, when he had an approval rating of 35%, and contrast with November 2001, just after the 9/11 terror attacks, when his popularity rating among registered voters was at 85%.But Bush, without the benefit of anything but his ability to look into peoples' eyes and read them suggests that the pollsters have it all wrong.
But President Bush senses less hostility out on the road lately, according to U.S. News & World Report, and has told aides he senses an uptick in popularity that is not yet reflected in the polls. One senior advisor, saying the president feels less "antipathy" from crowds along motorcade routes, put it this way: "He feels there has been a shift in attitudes out there that's not reflected in polling data."Less hostility? Are they saluting him more often? Less antipathy? Wow. What a testament to a great man. The crowds don't seem to hate him quite as much as they did a little while ago.
No matter, Bush is experiencing positive waves. Well... perhaps just not as many negative waves.
Now, I know you're asking, "Who represents that 23 percent?!"
Well... here's a sample.
Yes, we can vote for George W. Bush in 2008. We have the right to write in the name of our chosen candidate, regardless of whether or not he is officially on the ballot.Because the God these people are talking about didn't write the US constitution and their God certainly hasn't read the 22nd Amendment.
We know that George Bush was God's Candidate in 2000. We know that George Bush was God's candidate again in 2004. And George Bush has been God's president for the last 8 years.
Trust in God and vote your faith. Keep America safe. Write-in George W. Bush for President in 2008.
Bob Altemeyer does an excellent job of explaining why Bush doesn't believe the polls and why 23 percent of registered voters in the US can't stand the idea of not having a shallow-thinking idiot giving them orders.
Thanks to Coeruleus for the writeinbush2008 link, who, by the way, waded through that site to extract how Bush supporters actually view their own constitution.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
There were temperatures in particular hot spots in Bosnia that reached 60 degrees Celsius this past week. Across the Balkans daily temperatures have been hovering around 40 C. Worse, night time temperatures, instead of dropping have remained high.
Belgrade, Sarajevo, Zagreb, Skopje _ Two people have died and hundreds have sought medical assistance as a summer heat wave grips the western Balkans.Further to the northwest things got little weirder. Instead of being killed by the heat, in Germany people have been killed by hailstones the size of tennis balls.
A period of extremely warm temperatures started as of this weekend and will last at least three weeks, meteorologists in the region said. They warned that temperatures – even above 40 degrees Celsius – may be set creating temperature highs not seen in the last 100 years. To make the situation even more difficult for the population, this period will also be marked by so-called “tropical nights” where temperatures will remain above 20 or even 30 degrees Celsius overnight.
Berlin - A storm that drenched parts of south-western Germany and brought hailstones as big as tennis balls killed a man and injured more than 100 people, police said on Thursday. Less than 24 hours later, a similar hailstorm hit the same area of the Black Forest, knocking a man off a roof as he was repairing damage from the Wednesday evening storm, police said. He was in critical condition. The downpour again flooded building basements. But police said the hailstones had not been as big as those that injured people, hammered cars and smashed windows the previous day.Hail is a fact of life in a lot of places during the summer, but what happened in Germany is severe. With above normal daily temperatures occurring over the central European landmass and a series of cool, moist air masses moving in from the North Sea the warm updrafts are creating extremely unstable air - the stuff of thunderheads and severe hail storms.
It wasn't just the Schwarzwald and Baden-Wurttemberg that got slammed. Further north, in the seaport of Emden, 30,000 brand new Volkswagen Passats were pummeled by a different hail storm.
The vehicles were parked in the open in the northwestern German town of Emden, one of Europe's three main vehicle-transportation ports. Each year about 1 million vehicles either enter or leave the city's port, according to the Volkswagen Web site. The company employs around 7,900 people there at a plant producing the company's Passat models.Hmmm. If this holds up it's going to happen again... soon. With Spain now enduring extreme high temperatures, northern Italy is next in line to have a bunch of ice balls dropped on them.
Company spokesman Christoph Adomat told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that a significant proportion of the 30,000 vehicles parked outside had suffered chipped paint or dings, although no windshields were broken. A VW spokesman told the Dow Jones Newswires that around 100 extra workers were being sent to Emden for a quality check on all the vehicles.
"We need to make certain that all customers receive a car that is absolutely in good working order," Adomat told the Associated Press, adding that the company was insured against hail damage.
Although the company has not released an estimate of the damages incurred, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung it could reach the hundreds of millions of euros.
Somewhere, someone has a picture of a Stevenson Screen next to a building which disproves any of the above is actually happening.
Ryanair was holding a presser in Dusseldorf to celebrate their 3 millionth passenger when the chairman was asked about low trans-Atlantic fares. His description of Business Class caught everyone's attention.
Now, before you start to wonder how genuine this video really is, this is from Ryanair's website.
The challenge issued to Ryanair passengers isn't that difficult. The word Mr. de Carvalho is looking for is the same as it is in English... with a slight accent.
Yeah, the big question, courtesy of Cheryl: What do the female business class passengers get?
"the B’nai Brith International President’s Gold Medallion, in recognition of the Government’s efforts to fight discrimination and uphold human rights in Canada and around the world."
In presenting the award, the B'nai Brith international president cited four "actions the Prime Minister and the Government have taken to advance human rights and oppose discrimination".
Of the four, two concern support for Israel, one is "unequivocally supporting Canada’s role in the UN-sanctioned mission in Afghanistan", and the fourth is ... the fourth is "delivering a heartfelt apology" to the First Nations.
Irony is not available for comment at this time.
And from NaPo : PM calls UN conference an 'anti-Western hatefest'
Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a delegation of B'nai B'rith members yesterday that Canada is refusing to participate in a United Nations conference on racism :
"We will not be party to an anti-Semitic and anti-Western hatefest dressed up as an anti-racism conference."
Cross-posted at Creekside
Friday, June 27, 2008
But we should care. We should be watching things up there. The effects of global warming are already manifest. Shorelines are eroding and traditional livelihoods are following them. Species are shifting range. Permafrost is melting. What happens there, happens to us.
Now, as Geoff points out, Nunavut [and the rest of the North] is about to face life with in the post-cheap-oil world. Fuel prices have doubled in the past year, but there seems to be no money to pay for it, without going hat in hand to Ottawa:
So what is a territory, that raises more revenue from tobacco taxes than personal income tax, to do?
1- Cut its direct and indirect subsidies?
I'd suggest some subsidies could be cut or eliminated particularly for those living in Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay, the 3 reasonably large regional centers, but even here it would have to be done in a measured and likely income tested fashion. It is helpful to keep in mind when people like me, now from the outside, make suggestions, that out of a population of about 30,000 people Nunavut has about 18,000 tenants in social housing. Just one broad indication that in Nunavut there maybe some special problems with people being able to pay.
2 - Get out of delivering public services that use lots of fuel either directly or indirectly?
I'm not sure what public services that are heavy consumers of fuel could be cut. Do you shut down the schools? The 3 hospitals? The nursing stations or health centers in the more remote communities? No heat for the fire halls, maybe. Stop collecting raw sewage - yes in the Arctic, even large places like Iqaluit, the crap is pumped out of the houses. Stop delivering water to houses, again even in Iqaluit not everyone is on a utilitor system. No more of those routine expensive medical flights for the sick or injured and definitely no medivacs, eh.
3 - Does the GN off-load territorially provided services to local communities - the old trick used by some other governments?
Well I guess, that could be tried, but since the only source of revenue for all communities in Nunavut, with the exception of Iqaluit which can levy property taxes, is the GN. I suspect that idea might be a non-starter.
But what happens next year if oil stays this high or higher? What if the Conservatives do not pony up the cash? Fuel is the lifeblood of the Canadian North. Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, Northern Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are intensley dependent on air links and fuel deliveries. The remoteness of communities and lack of road transport just adds to cost. Distances are vast. The cost of EVERYTHING is already double or more compared to southern prices. Local economies are marginal at best. Many are cottage industries of limited utility, or resource-based industries prone to rapid boom-bust cycles. Many remote communities require the lifeline of air links and cheap energy to survive. As with climate change, the North is acutely vulnerable to energy prices. As with climate change, the North is our sacrificial warning of what is to come.
This change is occurring at a time when the Indigenous peoples of the North are finally begining to define their futures on their terms after hundreds of years of colonial influence. Land claims agreements exist in NWT. Nunavut is one massive project at self-government. But populations have grown and consumer lifestyles have emerged. A capitalist-type class system now exists with economic change and the introduction of multi-national mining and energy companies. All this demands a greater dependence on links to the South to satisfy demand and maintain the present population. As access to southern resources drops with increases in oil prices, the North will undergo yet another shift.
Some will benefit as pressure to exploit gas and oil fields (mostly in around the Beaufort-Delta and parts of the Yukon), increases with oil price. But the majority of Northerners do not live in these regions. The majority of Northerners had nothing to do with causing AGW and depleting ancient sunlight, but they will be among the first to suffer for it. I fear the slow, still teething, recovery from the ravages of colonialism currently underway in the North will end up stunted before maturity.
This is the canary for our civilisation. The air links and dependency of Northern hamlets echoes our globalised interconnected world. As these links become too difficult to maintain, these communities will dissolve. As the rest of the world loses energy and climate shifts, our links dissolve and we fragment. The fate of the North is ours if we don't act. The North is our canary.
(h/t Chet and Geoff)
Yesterday the BC Climate Action Dividend appeared in the mail box. $100 I really hadn't counted on, but there it is. Actually, $200, since we each get a cheque.
I view BC government money handouts of this sort with a good deal of cynicism. Historically they have a tendency to be a portent of something more financially painful in the coming months. Usually it is related to a pre-election vote-buying scheme and fed out through a Crown Corporation. In the past we have had "rebates" from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia and BC Hydro only to see both those 800 pound gorillas apply for, and receive, rate increases once the election had passed.
This "dividend" is a little less camouflaged however. In a few days the BC Carbon Tax takes effect. The $100 is an offsetting instrument combined with income tax cuts. The tax itself is applied to all fossil fuel consumption and will certainly have the effect of forcing prices higher on... EVERYTHING.
That fact hasn't been lost on British Columbians and now the whole province is swirling in a sea of misinformation. Luckily, there are those out there willing to clarify how BC's Carbon Tax actually works and by pointing out that some opponents are deliberately misleading the public.
It is painful to keep reading because the poll in question is based on inaccurate information about how the carbon tax actually works. Industrial polluters are subject to the tax to the extent that they burn fossil fuels. This covers 70% of BC’s emissions. Not currently covered are cement and aluminum production where industrial processes, not fossil fuels, are the source of emissions, and “fugitive emissions” from landfills and pipelines. These are being addressed, but that 30% of BC’s emissions is being used to spin a different story to British Columbians that is misleading at best.The BC government website on their environment action plan asks How will you spend your $100?
Spend? Clearly Gordo and goons down at the Ledge expect that we're all going to run out and spend this new-found wealth, preferably on something which promotes reducing one's personal carbon footprint. They provide a few examples of course, and it drew a line under much of what has already been done in this household.
Lawnmower? Push type. Fuel? Beer.
Alternative transportation? Foot on sidewalk, bike on road. Fuel? Food, much of it grown in the garden out back.
Lighting? Compact fluorescent wherever they work and LED where possible.
Vehicles? Parked and used as little as possible. Small fuel efficient engines. An electric vehicle is certainly in the future but not until it can be charged properly with something like a solar system.
In short, we've been ahead of that game for some time now. That doesn't mean we can't find new ways to cut personal carbon emissions, but the suggestions provided by the impaired driving crowd in Victoria are "old hat".
So, what to do with two-hundred bucks? (Short of just saving it.)
Then along comes the BC NDP with their idea.
The NDP has a helpful suggestion on how to spend your $100 climate action cheque.Not to put too fine a point on it, but fuck you Simpson. I don't have a lot of time for politicians in general, and I am certainly not a supporter of the current gang running the province, but I have to swallow hard and agree with Colin Hansen on this one:
Give it to them.
In a "Dear Friend" e-mail to supporters, NDP environment critic Shane Simpson urges people to make their "gas tax rebate count" by funneling it to his party.
"We need to get tough on polluters, expand transit and aggressively promote green energy production," he says. "But we need your help.
"Here's what you can do right now: Join me and donate your $100 tax rebate to the B.C. NDP."
Now, it appears the opposition party is trying to make money off a program that it doesn't even support, Finance Minister Colin Hansen said. "I think that anybody that would be tempted to make a $100 donation to the NDP over this issue should actually look very closely at the hypocrisy that is coming from Carole James and the hypocrisy that's coming from the NDP caucus," he said.Yup. But I suppose Simpson, in stating that it's a straight-up ask, doesn't get it because he lives in that political swamp on Belleville Street in Victoria.
I find it a little galling that as this $100 per citizen started gracing BC mail slots there are all sorts of organizations out there who suddenly have a "great idea" if you give it to them.
So, what to do with that $200? Our personal carbon emission reduction plan is already in place and it has allocations from our annual budget. If the BC government's Carbon Tax is truly revenue neutral then our plan will proceed on pace. If, on the other hand, Campbell and his Vancouver-centric harbour rats are lying, (Let's face it. They're BC politicians.), then our plan will not meet its targets and slow down. That will be the BC government's fault.
See how that works, Gordo? Do you see Simpson? If the increase in retail prices of EVERYTHING that is about to happen in the province eats away at our income to a greater degree than you can reduce our taxes, our carbon footprint will not decrease. The onus is on you guys to make this work. We have a plan and if you haven't done your sums properly, you will be the ones to screw it up.
Something which may be lost on most British Columbians is another small point. That one-hundred bucks per family member is not taxable. It is being handled as an "over-payment" of personal income tax to the province and is deemed a tax rebate. It's a real hundred bucks - not $100 minus taxes.
So, given that the hundred bucks each wasn't on the "income" line of our budget, and given that the BC NDP's crass hypocrisy has pissed us off, and given that we already have a plan to reduce our carbon footprint, there is also an opportunity to reduce our income tax further by simply donating the money to charity.
We already support an international effort to improve the lives of children and empower women in their communities through an environmentally friendly and efficient means of providing lighting in places which would otherwise spend a good deal of their winters in darkness. Give a child light to read by and the child will be better educated; give women the authority to run the lighting system and you give them personal power in their male-centric communities; run it all with solar power from the beginning and you've made lives better through clean technology.
So, Light Up Your World, you get $200.
As JJ points out, this should come as no surprise to any rational thinker.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission has dismissed a complaint against Maclean's magazine over a controversial article on the future of Islam, magazine officials said yesterday.Now it's time the BCHRC made their process a little speedier and followed suit.
Once again, Steyn has martyrdom snatched away.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Well... shit. This is indeed, disturbing news.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's head of communications announced Thursday she is leaving her post after more than two years on the job. In an e-mail sent to the media on Thursday evening, Sandra Buckler, Harper's director of communications, said that after consulting with family and friends, she has decided "now is the time for me to exit stage right from the Prime Minister's Office."Gawd, it's always about the "stage" with you lot.
Look, Sandy, (You don't mind if I call you Sandy do you?), this is not necessary. You've done a heckuva job. And that's an honest line. You did what you were sent out to do. That doesn't mean I liked it, but I can't fault you for your devotion to duty. If you were in the Canadian Forces, based on the CF Personnel Assessment System, you would have been identified for immediate promotion.
I guess bringing up the CF isn't really such a great idea, is it?
Look, none of us would wish the thyroid thing on anybody. I especially understand that. Been there; done that. But hell, after they've taken it out, it's one pill a day. It's not pleasant, especially those constant blood tests, but that's really pretty minor when you look at the broad picture.
I mean, it seems like there is a bit of a broad broom sweeping through the Prime Minister's Office... suddenly. Really though, no expected you would be in its path.
Funny thing though. You're leaving at just about the same time Rick Hillier is leaving. He gave us all some notice. You know, like, I think I'll retire in July.
The proximity of dates is just a coincidence, I'm sure. I'm absolutely sure about that. Even after that nasty swipe you took at the Canadian Forces in January. You remember. The one where you pissed off everyone down to the private stores technician.
And now the new Chief of Defence Staff takes over.... when is that? Damn. I forget the actual date, but you won't be there to help him. That's sad.
Sea story time!
I have this old Zippo lighter given to me by a USN sailor in Subic Bay in exchange for a cap tally. (Yeah, it was back in the last century). Great inscription though.
If you don't know what Hell is like,
Fuck me around,
And you'll find out.
I don't know why I suddenly felt compelled to tell that story. Forget it. Means nothing.
In any case, I'm sure you weren't the object of a Subject To clause. That's a real estate thing.
More clarity at Canadian Cynic and Red Tory.
From Wikipedia :
Buckler : (French bouclier 'shield', from old French bocle, boucle 'boss') is a small shield gripped in the fist -- it was generally used as a companion weapon in hand-to-hand combat, useful in deflecting the blow of an opponent's sword or mace.
The primary use of the buckler is to protect the sword hand. The buckler's lightness and curved center made it excellent for deflecting attacking blades. Such a deflection would leave the attacker open for a rapid counter-attack.
"Metal fist": A buckler can be used to directly attack an opponent.
h/t from way back : Way of the Metal Fist
Cross-posted at Creekside
Take a trip with Google maps from the centre of downtown Sydney, NSW, Australia to the centre of Victoria, BC, Canada.
Pay special attention to instruction number 6.
Worse though... they expect you to go to all the way down the Strait of Juan de Fuca, into Puget Sound, into Seattle and then double back all the way to Port Angeles to catch the ferry.
Original idea stolen from A Welsh View.
Agreed. Bernier, instead of answering questions put to him by his parliamentary colleagues has decided to issue his excuses via other means.
"Did Ms. Couillard inform me of past links with people involved in organized crime? The answer is no. She didn't inform me, nor did anyone else at any level. I knew of her past only what she wished to tell me," he told about 400 supporters who gathered at a hotel ballroom in Bernier's hometown.And with that, Bernier creates a "He said/She said" hoping that speaking from his station alone will impeach the word of someone of a "lesser" station. The member of parliament vs the biker chick. Bernier has now challenged the public to choose which one of them is a liar and he's gambling that, given the unenviable position of having to believe a politician or an associate of a criminal gang, you will gravitate to the safety of believing the politician, regardless of how inept and clueless he may appear.
"I only became aware of the rumours surrounding Ms Couillard's past on April 20, a few weeks before the information became public. At that time, I was no longer dating Ms Couillard."
Score one for the biker chick.
If Mr. Bernier had been eager to set the record straight, he would have appeared before the parliamentary committee that for weeks requested his presence. At the very least, he would have answered the questions of reporters. Instead, he delivered a prepared text that sounded more like a campaign speech than an explanation.We then have the explanation of the "misplaced" documents. Again, from The Star:
"These briefing notes were not sensitive enough to be bar-coded, which explains why their disappearance did not set off any alarms in my department. For my part, I did not notice they were missing, I do not recall misplacing them."Really? That would lead to even further questions. Like, What were those briefing notes doing out of your briefcase in the presence of a non-involved person?
The briefing notes in question were supposedly those used for the Bucharest NATO summit in 2007 and appeared in Coulliard's residence after that summit had concluded. So why the hell would anybody remove briefing notes from an already concluded meeting? It's not like they represented homework or study material for some future event. If the documents are what we have been told they are, it would make no sense that they found their way out of the container in which they were being transported. If they were so meaningless they would have remained in a case, in the dark.
The fact that the documents were not bar-coded because they were not "sensitive enough" is utter bullshit. That and it speaks poorly for Bernier's immediate and closest aids that every document he took with him to Bucharest bearing a security classification was not accounted for and mustered back into secure stowage.
Ordinary seamen and privates in the Canadian Forces, when their trades require them to handle sensitive information, learn very early that any form of negligence surrounding the physical security of documents marked CONFIDENTIAL or higher will land them in a chair on the wrong side of the room at a standing court martial. Yet a minister of the Crown passes off a much more heinous act with a mere wave. They weren't that secret.
And then back to the G&M:
And there are other matters of public interest that Mr. Bernier declined to mention altogether. In particular, there is his alleged discussion with Ms. Couillard of government contracts in which she may have had an interest while he was Industry minister. And there are broader concerns about what other sensitive matters he may have discussed with her during his time in Foreign Affairs.Score two for the biker chick.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Glass houses, stones, blah, blah, blah...aw screw it, insert your own snark here. I'll be in the bar. We're having a wake for satire. Apparently it was crossing the street and go run over by the streetcar called "Reality"
crossposted from the woodshed
You may recall that I joined a small chorus asking where Charles McVety picked up his doctorate and whether it is from an accredited institution. What that led to was even more questions about other Christian dominionists behaving as lobbyists and attempting to foist their agenda on the Canadian public.
Bene Diction has a highly informative post about diploma mills and their resultant damage all round, not the least of which is dilution of the status of degrees awarded from properly accredited and well-established institutions.
As you reach the bottom of that post you'll notice that, aside from the McVety question, there have also been questions about the individual who seems to accompany McVety as he gads through the halls of power, Brian Rushfeldt.
He is often referred to as Dr. although on the Canada Family Action Coalition website no title is conferred nor offered. Still, any attempt to communicate the question of degree/no degree is met with continued silence.
What is noticeable is that Rushfeldt's bio contains information that he was a Bible college dean. That put a few of us to looking deeper and it was discovered that Rushfeldt had been dean of Victory Bible College.
Of course it does. Create another question, that is.
What is Victory Bible College? Well this is Victory Bible College.
Scouring that site for information led to something interesting. As noted by Bill Kinnon in update 3 to this post, the current dean of Victory Bible Colleges International seems to have a small discrepancy of his own. From VBCI's website: (Bold mine)
What is E.O.C.P.C.? Well, this is EOCPC, and as you can see, they don't grant degrees. EOCPC has established itself as a regulatory board for Biblical-based counselling and psychotherapy. They're also a lobby group.
VBCI Dean: Dr. George Madden, D.PC
Dr. George Madden and his wife Sandy have been actively involved in ministry for the last 24 years, ministering the gospel in over 25 nations. Dr. Madden operates strongly in an apostolic ministry that thrives on raising up and releasing leaders into their God-given destiny. Dr. Madden is a graduate of Rhema Bible Training Centre in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He holds a Bachelor of Theology from Canada Christian College, and a Master of Divinity from Victory Bible Colleges International, and a Doctorate Degree from the E.O.C.P.C.
What is interesting however is that under the certificates they issue (not degrees) is this important note: (Bold mine)
The educational qualifications required to successfully apply these designations are offered by accredited secular and faith-based educational institutions located throughout Canada and the United States. Credits and qualifications submitted by applicants are subject to approval by the EOCPCA Membership Review Board. Recognition of credits and qualifications is at the sole discretion of the EOCPCA.In short, if you already have a degree, you can apply for designation. Now the other shoe drops: (Bold mine again)
Credits issued by the following educational institutions are pre-approved and will be accepted without review.Would you like the list of those educational institutions? Sure. It's not very long.
Victory Bible Colleges International in Canada (where all these deans come from); and,
California State Christian University in the US (where Charles McVety claims to have received his degree and which is thoroughly reviewed here.)
That's it. No other institution awards degrees which are accepted by this "certifying body" without review. None of the esteemed institutions on this list seem to meet the EOCPCA standard despite the fact that The Association of Theological Schools is the leading association providing degree granting accreditation to major theological graduate schools in the US and Canada.
What becomes even more interesting is the absence of certain institutions on the ATS list. No, no, don't guess. Let me name a few:
Victory Bible Colleges International; California State Christian University; Canada Christian College (Charles McVety, president).
Here's another bit of information to chew on. VBCI is a registered charity with Canada Revenue Agency as is Canada Christian College. Problem? You bet.
The leaders of these institutions are involved lobbyists and public figures attempting to shape government policy, not the least of which was Bill C-10 where they were attempting to restrict the ability of the Canadian entertainment film industry to use an established system of tax credits. This same cadre of individuals display the trappings of academic achievement which raise questions as to the quality of degrees and the institutions from which they were awarded.
All the while, these same individuals expect a level of tax exemption, under CRA charity designation, for their institutions and cry foul if anyone questions that status.
If the Evangelical Order of Certified Pastoral Counsellors of America (based in Burlington Ontario) is a lobby group, as stated on their website, they are nowhere to be found in the Canadian Public Registry of Lobbyists.
In at least one case there is a circular contradiction where the dean of a college advertises a degree from an organization that states individuals need a degree from the institution at which the dean holds a seat.
The whole thing is either a quagmire from which the answers to questions need to be placed on display or it is a blatant smokescreen to hide an ugly truth.
Haven't you done enough damage already?
Please, just shut up and stay home this year. Please.
And spare us the justifications about how no one should have to vote for the lesser of two evils. Electoral politics is and has always been about choosing the least bad candidate and the higher the office, the truer this becomes. Voltaire was right when he said "Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien" - If it hadn't been for the electoral temper tantrum you led in 2000, the United States would have had four-- probably eight--years of the less-than-perfect Al Gore, who I think we can agree would, for all his shortcomings, have been far better for the USA and the rest of the world than the unspeakable disaster that is George W. Bush.
Ralph, your suggestion that the only reason anyone is voting for Barack Obama is white guilt is both offensive and incorrect. And frankly, irrelevant. I don't care whether Barrack Obama get elected by using white guilt, negative ads, witchcraft or frickin' satellite-based mind-control laser beams. I don't think he's the messiah, I just think he will do a lot less damage than John McCain. Could the United States and the Democratic Party do better? Maybe, maybe not. But it's not like your shit doesn't stink, Ralph, so spare us the Jiminy Cricket act.
(crossposted from the Woodshed)
Spy, phone protection bill clears Senate hurdle
Wed Jun 25, 2008 6:43pm EDT - WASHINGTON
(Reporting by Thomas Ferraro)
(Reuters) - A White House-backed spy bill to protect telecommunication companies from billions of dollars in possible privacy lawsuits passed a Senate test vote on Wednesday and headed toward final congressional approval.
"This bill is not a compromise. It is a capitulation," said Sen. Russ Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat.
Feingold has offered an amendment to strip out protection for telecommunication companies. But both Democrats and Republicans predict the amendment will be rejected.
Anti-democratic legislation supported by an idiot President with approval ratings hovering in the 30% range, and he gets everything he asked for! At least Feingold still has the right idea, but he's pretty much a lone voice in a sea of weaklings.
Knowing how enamoured harperco is with all things bushco, how many weeks, months or year's time will elapse 'til this little bit of crapola makes it up here?
And the dems would have you believe that things will be different when they have control of Congress and the White House. (If you buy into that, we've still got some Florida swampland we'll sell you.) They can't even muster the votes to protect the liberties and civil rights of US citizens that the Constitution mandates.
As "drf" continues to remind me: "It's just politics, Bob!"
Yup, looks like it is, and it ain't a'changin' anytime soon, no matter what "fairy" tales the DNC tries to feed you.
As Dana says: "Get drunk and stay drunk!" . . . .
(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)
I think it may be going too far to suggest Harper actually looked through the Conservative caucus for cabinet material and came up wanting. Even by sticking with the same old gang there isn't much talent on the government front benches.
Jeff makes a good point.
the need to move michael fortier to international trade reminds us of how woefully limited harper's caucus remains. he simply doesn't have the talent to promote an elected conservative.Perhaps the best description of Harper's rearrangement of the line-up for the limited barbecued bratwursts at 24 Sussex Drive comes from Don Martin. He didn't approach it gently. He simply pulled the blade from the scabbard, thrust it into the abdomen and lifted it. It's difficult to pick a "best line" from that column because they are all so good, but here's a taste.
... Mr. Emerson was arguably the best selection from a shallow gene puddle of Cabinet-ready MPs ...It's all good and a must read.
If anything stands out however, it is Harper's own judgment. He was forced into this cabinet shuffle (if you can call it that) by his own hand. Having gone for optics over substance in selecting Maxime Bernier to sell the Afghanistan war to Quebec, he is most responsible for the mess that was made. He set aside the imperative to govern in favour of getting his own way. He didn't choose wisely; he attempted to paint a pretty picture.
He's done it again with the selection of Christian Paradis as Public Works Minister. Maybe Paradis can handle such a huge ministry without much past parliamentary or cabinet experience, but then that would make him an exception we haven't seen in the Harper government.
And as pictures go, this is the one Harper painted for everyone today:
Pale males with a gag for a brain must be the preferred credentials for anyone joining Stephen Harper's Cabinet.
As anyone who has cleaned out a long unattended bilge pipe will know, there is normally a lot of ordure to endure.
Well now you get to decide.
Here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for - your opportunity to vote for the most hilariously overblown, hysterically exaggerated description of the BC Human Rights/MacLeans Tribunal.Yes, I have my personal favourite. Not wishing to influence your choices however, I'll just keep it too myself.
Go! Read and vote.
Well, the Supremes have ruled on the Exxon Valdez debacle.
Far be it from them to put any undue financial burden on the cash-strapped corporation.
Per Reuters this morning:
Exxon Valdez $2.5 bln oil spill ruling overturned
Wed Jun 25, 2008 - By James Vicini
WASHINGTON, June 25
(Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned the record $2.5 billion in punitive damages that Exxon Mobil Corp had been ordered to pay for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska.
The nation's highest court ruled that the punitive damages should be limited to an amount equal to the total relevant compensatory damages of $507.5 million.
In the court's opinion, Justice David Souter concluded that the $2.5 billion in punitive damages was excessive under federal maritime law, and should be cut to the amount of actual harm.
Soaring oil prices have propelled Exxon Mobil to previously unforeseen levels of profitability in recent years, posting earnings of $40.6 billion in 2007.
It took the company just under two days to bring in $2.5 billion in revenue during the first quarter of 2007.
The Exxon Valdez supertanker ran aground in Alaska's Prince William Sound in March 1989, spilling about 11 million gallons of crude oil.
The spill spread oil to more than 1,200 miles (1,900 km) of coastline, closed fisheries and killed thousands of marine mammals and hundreds of thousands of sea birds.
The big guys win again . . . .
(Cross-posted at Moved to Vancouver)
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Well, you name it. Somehow, taking the advice of a Catholic bishop on the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases doesn't rank much higher than asking a Golden Retriever how to prevent shedding.
Alberta's Catholic bishops are warning parents to think twice about letting their daughters be vaccinated against a cancer-causing, sexually transmitted virus.That's right. And it might do well for these supposed celibates to keep their mouths as shut as their minds when it comes to the sex lives of others and the prevention of disease.
But the bishops, in a joint statement issued Monday, stop well short of barring Catholic schools in Alberta from administering the vaccine, and acknowledge that parents are the "primary decision-makers" when it comes to their children's health.
The bishops said the HPV vaccine has raised questions about whether it sends a message to girls that casual sex is acceptable.I'll give you good odds that if you conducted an honest survey of Catholics in Canada and the US, and received honest answers, that you'd find that "reservation for marriage" was regularly preempted in wholesale numbers.
"Catholic teaching is that sexuality is a God-given gift that should be reserved for marriage," the bishops wrote.
And let's see what else the Roman Catholic clergy is up to. Oh yeah. They're a real prize lot alright.
"The similarities with Mr. Arar's case are compelling. In both instances, a Canadian citizen is fingered by CSIS as a terrorist suspect. In both cases, no charges are laid in Canada. In both, the person is arrested and imprisoned abroad. In both, Canadian officials say there is little that they can do because the person is in the country of their other citizenship."
The above quote is from the Globe&Mail in their front page story in April about Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian/Sudanese imprisoned and allegedly tortured in Sudan for two years at Canada's request. Frequently visited by CSIS officials, he was eventually cleared by Sudan of all allegations that he was a terrorist or a member of al-Qaeda and released. Sudan offered to fly him home to Montreal in a private jet but Canada obstructed the deal.
Since then he has been "sheltering" and living on handouts at the Canadian embassy in Khartoum, except for that five months when he was reincarcerated after threatening to make his case to Prime Minister Martin on the PM's visit to Sudan. Canada has refused to renew his passport or to transport him back to Canada on any of the subsequent government flights between Canada and Sudan.
The G&M returned to Abdelrazik's plight today (bold:mine) :
"In a telephone interview Monday, Mr. Abdelrazik said he told a Canadian diplomat he was being repeatedly beaten by Sudanese interrogators in 2004 or 2005. "He didn't care," Mr. Abdelrazik said.
Mr. Abdelrazik, who was to submit a sworn affidavit about his torture in Sudan to Federal Court in Ottawa Monday, confirmed all of the details in the draft document, including that he was interrogated by CSIS agents while in a Sudanese jail. However, the document remained unsigned because Canadian diplomats refused to deliver the faxed draft to Mr. Abdelrazik to sign."
What?! He's living right there in your embassy.
"Canadian government documents, which came to light in April, revealed he had been imprisoned in Sudan "at our request," meaning at the request of Canadian agents.
In its response, delivered Monday, the Justice Department opted not to dispute the assertion that Mr. Abdelrazik had been imprisoned at Canada's request, in effect conceding the fact before the court.
The documents presented in court, coupled with Mr. Abdelrazik's accounts of torture, suggest Canada secretly arranged for Sudan to arrest and imprison him, then sent Canadian Security Intelligence Service agents to interrogate him in a Sudanese prison while diplomats knew that he was being tortured but ignored that fact.
Canadian diplomats in Khartoum refused Monday, for the second day in a row, to permit Mr. Abdelrazik to sign the affidavit; his signature would have made it a sworn affidavit.
"The matter is under litigation and we cannot comment," said Anne Howland, spokeswoman for current Foreign Minister David Emerson. Other senior officials said the file is actually being handled in the Prime Minister's Office."
I'll just fucking bet it is. To read the anguished but impotent and self-serving hand-wringing by Foreign Affairs officials, go here:
"I wish I had a magic wand and make this case go away ... I find it unethical to hold him like this in limbo with no future, no hope and all because ... Obviously I cannot address the issue of the no-fly list ..."
"Mr. Abdelrazik "has reached the end of his rope, he has no money, no future, very little freedom and no hope. Should this case break wide open in the media, we may have a lot to explaining to do."
Well, it's broken open now so deal. Just send a fucking plane already.
If you can do it for Brenda Martin, you can do it for Abousfian Abdelrazik.
Cross-posted at Creekside
Write a letter, make a call, send a fax to :
David Emerson, Foreign Affairs :
Telephone: (613) 943-0267
Fax: (613) 943-0219
Vancouver, British Columbia
Telephone: (604) 775-6263
Fax: (604) 775-6284
Stephen Harper : E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: 613-941-6900
h/t to Roger in Comments for the reminder to post this access info.
Bees, honey, vinegar, no crayon - you know the drill.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Take a look at the comments on this story for an example of what I'm talking about. I'm sure many of the people here --I'm looking at you Diane72, Superpants and Peapod-- would blithely tell you that they don't have a prejudiced bone in their body, but that they know for a fact that (insert ridiculous racist claim here).
Crossposted from The Woodshed, where we have a new Spiritual Leader of the Moment
It's horrifying to think that Mr. Black is probably speaking the truth.
When asked whether a terror attack on US soil would help Mr McCain's campaign, Mr Black told the magazine: "Certainly it would be a big advantage to him."
In the article, Mr Black also said that the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was an "unfortunate event" that had "helped" Mr McCain's presidential bid.
Mr Black, a senior adviser to Mr McCain, later told reporters that he "deeply regretted his comments".
George Carlin was released from his enlistment in the US Air Force early, having been labeled an "unproductive airman" by his supervisors. But he always told the truth about it - he questioned authority and he couldn't wait to get out.
I'm sure he would have something to say about a blogswarm in his name occurring because he died or of people saying "goodbye" after he couldn't possibly hear them.
We'll never know. We will simply have to live with the words he left behind and the fact that he took his own advice. Think off-center.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
When I read Dr. Prole's description of the new virtual strip-search device being tested at Kelowna International Airport I knew I had read about this system well over a year ago being tested in the US. Sure enough, I waded into the wayback machine and found this posting from December 2006.
On closer comparison however, I realized that they are actually two different devices. The system being tested in Phoenix Arizona's, Sky Harbor International Airport is actually an x-ray backscatter system, different from the millimeter wave system being tested in Kelowna.
I did think it worth looking at Sky Harbor International to see how the backscatter test was working out. Well look at that. Sky Harbor International now has both backscatter and millimeter wave full body scanners in operation. And the millimeter wave scanner is identical to the one now deployed in Kelowna.
I thought it a little odd, (although not shatteringly so), that the description of the operations, procedures and even the equipment trials were virtually identical between the two airports: one in the U.S. and one in Canada where the privacy laws differ.
It leads to one common point. The supplier of the millimeter wave full body scanners in both Kelowna and Phoenix is the same - L3 Communications. And it leads to the conclusion that L3 developed the procedures for both airports, including the marketing effort to downplay legitimate privacy concerns. It is too much of a coincidence that CBC reporting on Kelowna's equipment, USA Today reporting on Phoenix and the US Transportation Safety Agency's excusatory description of their whole body imaging process would all read the same and provide identical assurances and alternatives.
And then there is the curious choice of supplier. L3 Communications is not some third-floor Canadian company with an idea and a marketing plan. No. L3 Communications is a Manhattan-based Fortune-500 corporation, well entrenched in the US military-industrial complex with a deep connection to private military contracting in the Iraq war.
L3 owns Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI), (acquired in 2000), which, while described as a Private Military Company, is nothing less than a mercenary group. They also own Government Services Incorporated (GSI), a private intelligence company with personnel spread out through the Middle-East at 22 US bases. Add Titan corporation to the mix. They provide interrogators and interpreters to the US military along with security and intelligence services. And through Titan, L3 is connected to detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib, although L3 did not purchase Titan until after the details of torture were disclosed. (It should be noted that when Titan's involvement in Abu Ghraib became public other companies offering to buy Titan withdrew their bids. Only L3's offer remained.)
While L3 is firmly ensconced in the Pentagon's intelligence efforts, it also seems to have a solid position with the Bush administration in other areas. Working through various subsidiaries, L3 has managed to acquire Pentagon contracts even though they have been hauled up to answer for failure to perform and failure to deliver. In fact, one contract in Iraq brought the company under criminal investigation for:
... concealing test failures and providing flawed parts for emergency radios used by Special Forces and Air Force teams in Iraq and elsewhere.The next trip to answer for non-performance came when it was revealed that a major component of the US border security system simply did not work. The company involved, IMC, through what appears to have been a "no-bid" contract, was suppose to have installed and tested the equipment for the US Remote Video Surveillance Program on the US side of the Canadian and Mexican borders. When the DHS Inspector General reviewed the installation it was discovered that the system did not function, much of the work had not been done and was wrapped in an agreement which violated federal contracting rules. IMC is a wholly owned subsidiary of L3.
So the involvement of the Canadian government with this firm raises questions. L3 is clearly a war profiteer and benefits from the largess of the Bush administration with "no-bid" contracts. What started out as a high-tech security company has evolved to develop its own dark side with involvement in the worst of US military scandals. Its failure to deliver the material and training to the US Border Patrol on a major project is bad enough, but the fact that the investigation into the affair was suddenly dropped, without conclusions, raises further questions. And then there's this coincidence:
... the manager of the border security project was Rebecca Reyes, who is now director of policy, procedures and administration at L-3 subsidiary, MPRI. She also happens to be the daughter of Silvestre Reyes, a member of the U.S. Congress from Texas, a former Border Patrol agent who is now a senior member of both the Armed Services and Select Intelligence Committees of the House of Representatives.
Yeah, well, that was then; this is now.
The "now" is that Canada's Public Safety Minister is courting a US war profiteer with an ugly track record. Sure, it's only $200,000 per copy for L3's ProVision remote strip-search device. Sure the company has provided assurances that a person's privacy will not be violated because the process keeps them anonymous.
That, along with other guarantees they have failed to make good on.
And if you think it stops with having some stranger look at a detailed picture of your naked body during an airport screening, think again. Millimeter wave technology already has the capability to do wide area scans. Do you think they're going to stop with a silly tubular booth?
Now that the Saudis are being so cooperative on the increased oil production thing, (raise your hand if you think that's gonna happen) perhaps we can get 'em to work on this:
Per The Globe and Mail:
Saudi Arabia arrests alleged gays in raid
Associated Press - June 21, 2008
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — A Saudi newspaper says religious police have arrested 21 allegedly homosexual men and confiscated large amounts of alcohol.
Al-Medina daily says the Commission for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, which employs the religious police, was told Friday of a large gathering of young men at a rest house in Qatif, in eastern Saudi Arabia.
The paper says scores of men were initially arrested but only 21 remain in detention.
Homosexuality is seen as a sin in Islam and prohibited in Saudi Arabia and most other Muslim nations. In the conservative kingdom, the offence can be punished by flogging or prison.
Of course western nations could pressure the House of Saud to amend some of their more archaic and punitive actions toward alternative lifestyles.
But then there's that oil thing, isn't there?
Guess that Moral Compass gets out of whack when oil supplies start dwindling . . . .
(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)
We've heard about this pipeline before. U.S. Unocal and Bridas of Argentina were both bidding on it with the Taliban when the Taliban pulled out of the negotiations just one month before the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. Afghan President Karzai, who either was or wasn't previously a Unocal employee, signed an agreement with the Turkman president this April to begin construction of the pipeline in 2010. Named TAPI after the four nations involved, it will run straight through Kandahar where Canadian troops are slated to stay till at least 2011.
1) To limit Russia's influence in the region. Turkmanistan currently exports nearly all its gas to Russia.
2) To isolate Iran and their proposed rival pipeline which would run from Iran to India and Pakistan.
3) To forge links with India that would isolate India from China, who have already begun their gas pipeline from Turkmenistan east through Kazakhstan to China.
"US policy is pipeline-driven within a strategy… to make this area a pro-western swath of territory between Russia and Iran, driven by the establishment of an independent economic channel. Everything else is really – I hate to call it window-dressing – but it’s secondary to that."
Saturday, June 21, 2008
This from today's Toronto Star:
New immigration reforms put applications on hold
Ottawa officials are awaiting instructions from ministry about which candidates will be processed
June 21, 2008 - Nicholas Keung
Newly passed immigration reforms, which the federal government said were aimed at reducing a staggering backlog of applications by would-be immigrants, are creating a new logjam.
The backlog, which stood at 925,000 before the legislation was brought in, could grow by an additional 90,000 because officials have stopped processing new applications.
Prospective immigrants who submitted applications after Feb. 26, when the legislation was introduced, have been told by Citizenship and Immigration Canada that their applications are being put on hold until further notice.
It is expected that Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will, within the next several months, be providing instructions to visa offices as to which applications are to be accepted for processing and which are to be returned unprocessed," Canadian visa officers explained in letters to applicants.
The move to stop processing new applications has baffled immigration lawyers and consultants, with some worried their clients' applications will be discarded altogether and they will be asked to reapply. Immigration officials declined to comment yesterday. The immigration reforms, passed by the Senate this week, give Immigration Minister Diane Finley the power to reject applications even if applicants meet all the criteria, and to instruct officials to cherry-pick immigrants based on labour market needs.
With the minister's instructions not expected until the fall, the number of people waiting in this latest queue could reach almost 90,000.
Also, while an applicant will get a refund of the processing fee if an application is returned, fees for professional help from lawyers and consultants are not refundable.
According to immigration's notification to applicants, once the instructions are issued, officials will start processing those applications received on Feb. 27, the day after the legislation was introduced, and proceed in chronological order.
Our process took over 2 years from the time the application was received by the Buffalo, NY consulate.
I can't imagine how long it will now take. Of course, the ReformaTory's new-and-improved system is supposedly going to speed up the processing time.
Somehow , I don't think "speed up" is the operable phrase here.
Molasses. Think molasses . . . .
(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)
The Arizona state legislature with nothing else to do, (what's a little desertification anyway), and in an endless fight with Governor Janet Napolitano has passed two measures to further assert the Republican right to interfere with reproductive freedom.
The Senate, on a voice vote, gave preliminary approval to a ban on allowing nurse practitioners to perform surgical abortions. That move comes just a month after the state Board of Nursing concluded that practitioners with special training are medically qualified to do the procedure.Ah! The State Board of Nursing decided nurse practitioners are qualified.
That isn't the belief of Rep. Bob Stump, R-Peoria, the sponsor of HB2269. He said only doctors should terminate a pregnancy, at least in part because of the potential complications.That would be Bob Stump the doctor? No?
Separately, the House gave final approval to SB1048, which would make late-term abortions illegal in Arizona. The state's original ban, approved in 1997, was blocked by a federal judge before it ever took effect.Enter Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano.
That measure now goes to Gov. Janet Napolitano. But both face an uncertain future.Un huh. Which is exactly what Planned Parenthood of Arizona says will happen.
Napolitano vetoed a slightly different version of the late-term abortion bill earlier this year. And while lawmakers altered provisions she did not like, the governor said she would prefer they spend their time trying to prevent unwanted pregnancies rather than interfering with a woman's relationship with her doctor.
Napolitano has never before dealt with the question of whether people other than doctors can perform abortions. But the governor has consistently vetoed legislation she believes restricts access to the procedure.
Carol Bafaloukos said the demand for abortion at the Tucson clinic is greater than the availability of doctors.It's worth noting here that Andrews is a nurse practitioner - a registered nurse with advanced training and admitting privileges with authority to act independently of doctors in most places. And the Arizona Board of Nursing approved her role with Planned Parenthood, dismissing the complaint.
Planned Parenthood has allowed Mary Andrews, a nurse practitioner, to perform abortions in Tucson since 2001. But that fact was not widely known until a complaint was filed against her with the Board of Nursing.
Backers of Stump's measure said the issue is strictly one of patient safety.Yup. Here comes the argument they always use and look who's using it. The Center for Arizona Policy, an anti-abortion group.
But the legislation is being pushed heavily by not just the Center for Arizona Policy but also by Ron Johnson, who lobbies on behalf of the state's Catholic bishops.Hmmm. That figures. And one could be excused for believing that all Catholics, especially bishops, will find any excuse to interfere with a woman's reproductive choices.
Well, sit back, pour yourself a healthy three-fingers and read this. (Hardline Catholics should grab some beads and start chanting... or something.)
RICHMOND, Va. - Authorities are investigating whether a violated state and federal law by helping a 16-year-old illegal immigrant who was in the organization's care get an abortion.As a plate of fettuccine is my witness the most astounding thing about this is that both stories appeared on the same day and they don't involve South Dakota or Florida.
Workers with Commonwealth Catholic Charities helped the girl travel to and from the procedure in January and signed a consent form for the abortion, Joanne Nattrass, the charity's executive director, said in a statement Thursday. She declined further comment.
The federal department is looking into the charity's actions and the role played by the . The conference receives $7.6 million a year in federal funds to place unaccompanied illegal immigrant children in foster care until they're reunited with relatives, sponsored, or returned to their homeland. The girl is from Guatemala but was living in Virginia when the abortion took place.