Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Pro-lifer" : Just another word for "terrorist"

Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, responded to the gunning down of Dr. George Tiller in his church today by saying he "reaped what he sowed."

From Kos : "The alleged assassin, Scott Roeder, was an active member of Operation Rescue. On an Operation Rescue website called Charge Tiller (which in the last 30 minutes or so has been taken down), there's this comment, posted on Monday, September 3, 2007, by a Scott Roeder from Kansas, almost certainly the same Scott Roeder alleged to have assassinated Tiller:

"It seems as though what is happening in Kansas could be compared to the "lawlessness" which is spoken of in the Bible. Tiller is the concentration camp "Mengele" of our day and needs to be stopped before he and those who protect him bring judgement upon our nation."

McClatchy : Suspect supported killing abortion providers, friends say

"I know that he believed in justifiable homicide," said Regina Dinwiddie, a Kansas City anti-abortion activist. Roeder also was a subscriber to Prayer and Action News, a magazine that advocated the justifiable homicide position, said publisher Dave Leach, an anti-abortion activist from Des Moines, Iowa.

"Pro-lifer" is just another word for "terrorist" .

Dear SUZANNE....

Read this. Read every fucking word of it.

You may view this as some form of internet heeling moment, but it is so much bigger than that.

You are involved, SUZANNE. You, yes, you enabled the sonofabitch. But, you knew that, didn't you?

And now you're trying to cover your ass.

I have a great fear. Having read the words of Randall Terry and watched you for the past few hours bob, weave and duck to defend your indefensible position, my fear is increasing.

You lot will stop at nothing. Assassinations... phaw... we condemn them... not our doing. But you certainly pumped the shooters with the stuff that made them do it. And your inability to acknowledge the responsibility of your involvement speaks volumes.

Terrorist. Conspirator. Enabler.

Pick one.

It's time the US Secret Service paid closer attention to you.

The sanctity of all human life?

Not fucking likely.

The shrieking anti-abortion crowd can deplore murder all they want. They either did it directly or they provoked some wingnut to do it for them.

Let's hear no more of the "sanctity of human life" from this pack of self-absorbed swine. It's time we started to get into the details of the lives of all these terrorists as much as they interfere with the lives of others. Let's start with the biggest assholes and work toward the lying scum who are telling us how much they condemn this assassination.

Inasmuch as the Army Of God (I won't link to them) was brought under federal investigation for aiding and abetting Clayton Waagner, every single loudmouth anti-abortionist should be scrutinized for their involvement, however small it may seem.

Bonus: Ah, the fetus fetishist fax machine has been burning up paper.

Yeah... as deBeauxOs points out, the "vulture culture" has a problem. As much as they would like to be cheering and claiming a victory at the moment, they are forced to swallow hard and put on the pretense of being civil.

Although... Randall Terry doesn't seem willing to hold back. If I were the FBI I'd be picking this wingnut prick off the street and tossing his conspiratorial ass into an interrogation room for the next 48 hours.

the high cost of poverty

An excellent article on the realities of poverty and why it is so hard for people to get back up once they fall down.

The poorer you are, the more things cost. More in money, time, hassle, exhaustion, menace. This is a fact of life that reality television and magazines don't often explain. So we'll explain it here. Consider this a primer on the economics of poverty.
"The poor pay more for a gallon of milk; they pay more on a capital basis for inferior housing," says Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). "The poor and 100 million who are struggling for the middle class actually end up paying more for transportation, for housing, for health care, for mortgages.
They get steered to subprime lending. . . . The poor pay more for things middle-class America takes for granted."

I don't want to scare you, but ask yourself how many paycheques you could miss before you couldn't pay your rent or your mortgage. For a large majority of the middle class, it might be three or four - tops- before you had to start selling things like one of your family's cars or raiding the retirement lockbox. Most working people in the bottom third of the income ladder are one missed paycheque away from eviction - and if they have a car, it isn't worth selling.

cross posted from the Woodshed

Torture counterproductive - who could have guessed?

You would think that the points made by this former counter-intelligence officer who served in Afghanistan would be self-evident. You would think that, but then if you are reading this blog you probably aren't a knuckle-dragging right-wing sadistic moron that thinks "24" is a documentary.

General Petraus apparently agrees - and its nice to see him admit that the United States has violated the Geneva Convention, rather than just arguing that such an international agreement is "quaint".

crossposted from the Woodshed

Chimpanzee develops automatic mango peeler while competing in belt sander races

OK. Not quite.

But chimpanzees certainly have capabilities we did not think possible because of a chauvinistic belief in a unique human primacy.
A team led by Christophe Boesch of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, studied chimps living in Loango National Park in Gabon. They found that the chimps built and used five different types of tools to help them find beehives and extract honey: thin, straight sticks to probe the ground for buried nests; thick, blunt-ended pounders to break open beehive entrances; thinner lever-like enlargers to break down walls within the hive; collectors with frayed ends to dip honey from the opened hive and bark spoons to scoop it out. Various tools were often found near the same hive, suggesting that the chimps employ them in sequence (Journal of Human Evolution, DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2009.04.001).

A few tools even appeared to have two uses, with enlargers at one end and collectors at the other. This is the first example of a non-human species constructing multipurpose tools.

We already know that chimpanzees have a solid sense of self-recognition.

No one is even suggesting that humans are evolved from the great apes. But more and more it appears that we came from a common origin. And it is becoming clear that chimpanzees, in particular, pass on gained knowledge to their offspring further developing a culture.

Give them a few hundred thousand years and they'll be chiselling stone, stacking it up and making an edifice that will confuse their own centuries later.

Regrettably, they will likely go through a phase during which the only way they will be able to explain things to themselves will be to invent a mythical higher power. Hopefully, they will grow out of that faster than their bipedal cousins have.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

As Harper tries to kill the CBC through starvation...

... the thug who calls himself a prime minister may be pissing off voters in a few tenuous ridings.

It seems Greater Victoria and Vancouver Island radio listeners prefer local CBC programming over the stuff being produced by the trailing private station (owned by CTVGlobemedia).

Update: As pointed out by SJ in comments, CBC also held the lead in Halifax, Ottawa-Gatineau (anglophone), Toronto and Vancouver (where it overtook CKNW). Check it out. (pdf warning.)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cute fluffy bunnies of the sea or dinner?

Okay, this has gone on long enough. All this bullshit about the Governor General eating some seal meat that is. It is no better or worse than eating a big mac, roast chicken or a salmon steak.

Meat is meat and this is simply a matter of cultural differences. Different people in different parts of the world eat or avoid different kinds of animal protein for all kinds of cultural and religious reasons. Try getting a bacon sandwich in Islamabad or Tel Aviv, or stewed dog in Philadelphia or jugged moose in Timbuktu or Okinawa-style horse sashimi in Cincinatti, or whale meat in London. Try asking for rabbit in Tokyo or a nice sirloin in New Delhi.

Some societies have culinary cultural prejudices that are so strong that they don't eat any meat. Many individuals have adopted vegetarianism on health or ethical grounds and more power to them, but for a lot of people on this planet a vegetarian diet is not only impractical, but nigh impossible. You can't live on vegetables in a place that can't grow a sufficient quantity of them and so for people in the far North, vegetarianism isn't really an option. The Inuit and the Lapp have survived for millenia on meat - fish, caribou, reindeer, whale, seal, hare - you name it - if it swims or runs, its edible and there isn't much else edible in the far north.

People, historically, have eaten what was available to them in most societies. At the same time, our various societies have evolved certain prejudices about eating companion animals or those that we consider unclean for religious reasons often based on bronze age sanitary conditions, when a bad clam could mean life or death. Other religious restrictions require animals to be killed in certain ways on the argument that such a method is the most humane. As our culture has become more globalized, these prejudices have either faded and are kept alive strictly as religious traditions or have become more strictly localized and often clung to in the name of tradition. Many Jews and Muslims no longer keep strictly kosher or halal, and dog is not widely eaten outside Korea as far as I know. Most Japanese no longer eat whale except as a sort of delicacy, while it used to be part of the school lunch menu for a variety of economic reasons.

But a new kind of prejudice has emerged as people have gotten farther from first hand experience with the food they eat, especially in the developed world. We don't like to see where those hamburgers and chicken fingers come from. We don't like to acknowledge the realities of the factory farm, the feedlot and veal pen. We like the sausage just fine, but we don't want to see how its made. We like the steak, but we don't want to see the slaughterhouse.

And so many condemn hunting as barbaric. They see no need to for people to go out into the woods and shoot Peter Cottontail or Bambi's mom when one can go to the supermarket and get slices of Wilbur and Babe wrapped in cellophane on nice anticeptic styrofoam trays. We don't like to eat anything cute - rabbit, deer, squirrel and yes, seal - all fall into this category.

I'll agree that buying your feedlot fattened beef and factory farmed chicken at the supermarket is a more efficient way of getting animal protein than hunting deer. I'll even specify that the majority of hunters in North America don't need to hunt to put groceries on the table. I'll even put aside all the "wildlife management" models that are used to argue the need for culling animal populations to avoid animal starvation based on the notion of man replacing natural predators. I'll also put aside the issue of fur for the moment.

I won't put aside the simplistic "all meat is murder" argument beloved by some, because frankly it's complete bullshit. Mother Nature is red of tooth and claw, and we are part of nature. Man would not have survived the stone age, nor flourished as we have, without eating meat. Animals eat each other and for all our strivings and philosophy, we are part of the food chain. I'll admit we eat too much meat these days and treat animals badly on the whole, but anything that walks or swims or crawls is a meal for something else in the long run, circle of life, ashes to ashes etc etc.

Which bring us back to the seal hunt and Canada's Governor General Michaelle Jean. The objection seems to be that she ate a cute little seal, the ones with the faces like puppies and the big sad eyes, and she ate it's heart! raw! Oh noes! Icky! -- and those nasty Canadians go out and massacre poor helpless baby seals for fun and profit in the cruelest ways imaginable! It must be true, because I saw it in a PETA brochure. All that video footage you've seen of Newfies and Eskimos killing baby seals looks bad and is great for raising funds, but most of it is no worse than what goes on in any other abattoir.

Have a look around for the facts, not the PETA version of them. Most of what you hear from PETA on this subject is complete bullshit. In fact, most of what you hear from PETA on most subjects is complete bullshit. Their latest campaign, a boycott of maple syrup to convince the Canadian government to ban the seal hunt, is like boycotting American kiwi growers to convince the American government to end the Iraq War.

I don't always agree with Penn Jillette - in fact I think he's often guilty of selective use of the facts to prove points that conform with his own beliefs, but Penn and Teller raise some interesting questions about PETA here -- though I think they do a severe disservice to their own arguments by allowing Dennis Prager and Ted Nugent on camera.

The extremists of PETA who want to "free" pets and domestic animals don't do any favors for the cause of protecting animals who actually need protecting. I agree that there should be limits on testing things on animals, but I'd rather things like AIDS drugs were tested on rats than humans. If we are going to have chemical cosmetics, they have to be tested for safety and I'd rather they were tested on animals than humans. Animal experiments are a vital and necessary part of medical research and there are millions of people alive today who would be dead if it weren't for scientists sacrificing the lives of a lot of rats, rabbits, dogs and monkeys.

Whether Canada needs a commercial seal hunt is an open question, but the hunt wouldn't exist if people weren't buying sealskins. Whether the commercial hunt is any more or less humane than the poultry, beef or pork industries is not in question. There is virtually no difference. And Michaelle Jean was joining Inuit subsistence hunters for a meal. And there is no grounds I can see for criticism of the Inuit for hunting seal for food -- there aren't a lot of grocery stores up in the Arctic Circle

So if you want to go full PETA and eschew the use of animals in any way, be my guest. Stop wearing leather and eating meat and eggs and dairy - and stop using modern medicine and modern materials such as mylar that involve the use of animal products. You should also be aware that destruction of habitat is the real threat to most animal species, so stop using roads and living in cities or even wood or concrete structures and get yourself a nice unheated cave somewhere. You have the right to make that decision of conscience, but so do other people and our decision may not be the same as yours. Humans as a species have eaten meat and worn skins since the dawn of time, I don't expect we will stop anytime soon just because a few people get a bit squeamish. The outrage over Michaelle Jean sampling some seal is in large part misguided, misinformed, arrogant and hypocritical.

crossposted from the Woodshed

Just a day in the life at the PMO

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The National Post is having another one of its "Iran Eyes Badges for Jews" moments

You remember that one, no?

This time round the headline goes : Toronto Pride organizers ban anti-Zionist group
By Joseph Brean, National Post (excerpted)

"Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA), an anti-Zionist protest group that made corporate sponsors squirm by flying banners at last year’s Toronto Pride parade, has been banned this year, along with any other group that would advance a political agenda.

“We will be very much more careful this year. We will make sure that we have a presence to ensure that people don’t slip into the parade,” Pride Toronto executive director Tracey Sandilands said today.
Her announcement came with a warning to grand marshall El-Farouk Khaki not to use his ceremonial position as a pulpit to promote an anti-Israeli boycott.

Frank Dimant, executive vice-president of B’nai Brith Canada, today called for disciplinary action against Mr. Khaki, a founder of the national support group Salaam: Queer Muslim Community, because he spoke to a QuAIA event on the weekend."

Yeah, whatever, Frank.

But what's this? In the comments section below the NaPo article, Pride Co-Chair Mark Singh shows up :

"In response to concerns about political messaging in the Pride Parade, Pride Toronto released a statement outlining its position on this issue. This article incorrectly claims that Pride Toronto has banned political messages from the Pride Parade."
followed a few comments further on by a letter copied from Pride director Tracey Sandilands, source of the quotes for NaPo mischief :

"WE WILL NOT BE TAKING SIDES IN ANY POLITICAL ISSUE AND WILL NOT BE BANNING ANY GROUP that participates within the boundaries of the laws of Canada and our anti-discrimination policy.
Also, at no time in our interview did I say anything about ‘warning' El Farouk.

I would appreciate it if you could amend this before final publication.
Tracey Sandilands,
Executive Director

Well that would seem clear enough.
However, undaunted by requests from both a Pride Co-Chair and the Pride director he interviewed that his bogus article be fixed - not to mention the picture gracing the front page of the Pride Toronto website clearing showing the "End Israeli Apartheid" banner - NaPo reporter Joseph Brean replies in his own comment section that he stands by his article :

"I am the author of this article. It was my decision, approved by editors, to use the term "ban" to mean that QuAIA, which marched in last year's parade, will not be permitted to do so this year. [snip]
Anonymous accusations that this article, which presents comment from people on all sides of this issue, is "false" and that I am "intentionally spreading lies" are silly and wrong."

So there you have it - accusations from the source of his article that said article is "false" are "silly and wrong".

Well done, NaPo. Some traditions die hard, don't they?
Bring on the Transparent Badges for Atheists !

h/t Rabble, Mycroft in comments at the NaPo article, and the divine Ms Z posting at BreadnRoses, who promises a column on this at The Star tomorrow..

Cross-posted at Creekside

Update : From Antonia Zerbisias column today, as promised.

"So it's pretty rich when the language of gay oppression is used against Toronto's Pride parade, to be held June 28, by another group that purports to champion human rights. Especially a group that is openly aligned with anti-gay rights Christian fundamentalists such as Charles McVety, Canada's most vocal lobbyist against same-sex marriage, and John Hagee, who claimed God sent Hurricane Katrina to stop "a homosexual parade."

This is what happened last week when B'nai Brith issued a news release asserting that the gay community's "agenda" was being "hijacked by anti-Israel agitators."

Napo appears to have got caught carrying some editorial water for Dimant. Somehow I suspect this is not over.

Dear Stephen Harper,

I've been reading the papers a lot over the past few years, and I have a burning question for you.

What the fuck is wrong with you?

Are you some sort of mental and moral defective? Do you blink or flinch at all when you lie and slime? Have you had a psychiatric evaluation? I'm beginning to wonder if you're not suffering from some sort of mental illness. Maybe it's basic sociopathy, in which case you really ought to be committed. Or perhaps you were picked on too often for wearing sweater vests to gym class? Are you taking your shitty, lonely, youth out on the rest of us as some sort of vengeance on the entire society you blame for it? Because that's what it seems like. Your weaknesses are written all over you for the rest of us to see. You put on a stone face for your vulgar and cruel supporters: the great and certain leader with his "let me be clears." Really, for the rest of us, your certainty (no matter how many times it contradicts itself), when coupled with your actions makes for a thin and transparent mask covering a wounded child who cannot understand nor accept his life as it was and is. Instead you respond with spite and narcisism. I suspect expressions of kindness and love fill you with an irrational rage and a desire to strike out at those live for that ideal or remain in sore need of it (say a Canadian tortured and imprisoned abroad), because on some level you never got that yourself and you need to punish everyone for it.

This is what I see when I see you. This is what many of us see when we see you. We saw it in your reaction to the coalition proposal. The tears of vulnerability that you suddenly had to face the consequences of your own spite. That could have been a transformative moment for you. A loss that crushed your self-perception and forced you to rethink your worldview. But you sucked it up enough to bully your way out of it. Bully for you then.

We see it now in your threats and attack ads against your chief opponent. I don't like Iggy myself, and God help me I actually vote for a member of his party as long as he is leader, but there is no excuse for of the way you've carried on since you first found office. "Tapes"? Seriously man, you're a thug. And you're terrified because Iggy outclassess you by fathoms - yes we can see that as well. He's the geek who made further that you have. He probably wore sweater vests to gym class too. Red ones. Probably cried his tears too, but he shrugged them off, and played to his strengths. You? You nursed your grievances and rage and let them putrify and corrupt you like Annakin Skywalker.

Really, it must be hard to hang on to that kind of anger. It's the sort of rage that consumes you and rots your soul. On a certain level, I harbour a great deal of compassion for people in your shoes. That soul-destroying feeling is a manifestation of the suffering of a fellow human wounded on a very deep emotional level. There is much room for pity there. But not for tolerance. Oh no.

In the coming months you will lose your job and the house you live in. Learn from this. Step down as leader, and take a long holiday. Go for a walk (literally, walk!) across this land you love to hate some much. Write your book on hockey. Forgive yourself for what has happened to you. Let go of that driving anger. Leave it behind. Let peace and joy find you. If not, the remaining years will be lonely and dark. And that's no way to live, as you well know.


I demand the freedom to pursue any opportunity, and should it fail....

.... I can just turn to the taxpayers and suck them dry.
General Motors Corp.'s last-ditch, Hail Mary bid to avoid bankruptcy fell with a thud Wednesday as its bondholders overwhelmingly rejected a deal to swap their debt for equity in the company.

That offer was a central element in the automaker's efforts -- guided by the federal government -- to restructure outside of court. Without it the company appears almost certain to file a Chapter 11 petition by Monday.
Let's face it. This is not a Keynesian approach. This is not even Orwellian. This is a clueless libertarian shoveling our money into gross failures of a system in which we unwillingly become the owners of poorly regulated, poorly managed enterprises. In short: We don't like Keynesian style control when we're making buckets of money, but when we fuck up.... well Keynes is way cool!
General Motors Corp.'s bid to have its bondholders exchange their holdings for company stock failed to attract enough support, the company said Wednesday, making a bankruptcy filing all the more likely.


The failure of the debt-for-equity plan means the U.S. government could wind up with more than the 50-per-cent stake that was originally envisioned. The U.S. government's stake could now grow to 69 per cent.

The government of Canada is also in line to get a small equity stake in GM in return for lending the company money.

And this... is a Harper sycophant desperately grasping at a falacy in defence of his Dear Leader.

"Profound ignorance of industrial economics"? Give us all another fucking lesson, Charlie.

I'm sure it will be just, like, totally awesome.

Hat tip CC.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

GritGirl's latest

Britain's future: cold and dark

THE GUARDIAN believes the UK faces a cold, dark future. According to John Constable and Hugh Sharman, Decades of denial and underinvestment have left Britain in huge energy debt and at risk of powercuts and 20% bill hikes.

YIKES! Sure hope the price of photo-cells keeps dropping . . . .

Poking a bear with a stick

The next time Petey MacKay raps on about unwarranted and unprovoked incursions by Russian aircraft into the North American Air Defence Identification Zone he might want to keep this in mind:
Federal officials are confirming to The Canadian Press that Canada's Arctic mapping flights have ventured beyond the North Pole into areas claimed by Russia.

The flights are the first step towards building a case that Canada's Arctic sovereignty could reach past the Pole despite Russia's determination to extend its own northern footprint.

Arctic experts say the extended overflights are a sign that Canada has no intention of backing down in the face of Russian claims.

Scientists are now examining data from the flights to see if there's enough support for Canada's case to justify more detailed seafloor mapping on the other side of the Pole.

Other countries including the United States, Norway and Denmark have challenged Russia's claim to a section of the Arctic shelf believed to contain significant energy reserves.

And just to be clear here, I don't disagree with the exploration, although any claim made by Canada to extend territorial sovereignty beyond Geographic North is going to go exactly nowhere.

(I'm assuming it was Geographic North referred to in the article. There are, after all, three distinctly different North Poles.)

In the past few days I've had some conversations with people who have some interesting views on this. Hopefully I'll get the opportunity a little later to extract their main points and put them onto a page.

In the meantime, it looks like the warming of the Pole is moving along at about the same pace as the revival of the Cold War.

Perhaps Canada's best option is just to send a bunch of Canadians to an ice floe at the geographic North Pole with seal blood dripping from our chins. That seems to make everyone else squeamish and sends them running away, puking.

Hat tip reader Cat

Selling Canada one piece at a time

I always thought that when people said "count the silverware" when the government changed hands, that it was just an expression of general mistrust, not something to be taken literally.
Silly me, I forgot we were talking about Stephen Harper and Co.

crossposted from The Woodshed

The truth won't set Dick Cheney free

For Dick Cheney 9/11 means never having to say you're sorry. His speech last week at the American Enterprise Institute is a masterpiece of self-justification

Over on the left wing of the president's party, there appears to be little curiosity in finding out what was learned from the terrorists. The kind of answers they're after would be heard before a so-called "Truth Commission." Some are even demanding that those who recommended and approved the interrogations be prosecuted, in effect treating political disagreements as a punishable offense, and political opponents as criminals. It's hard to imagine a worse precedent, filled with more possibilities for trouble and abuse, than to have an incoming administration criminalize the policy decisions of its predecessors

Now lets just break that paragraph down one bit at time and I'll see if I can translate it for you:

"Over on the left wing (those who oppose me are all communists) of the president's party (no real Republican would object to what we did) there appears to be little curiosity in finding out what was learned from the terrorists (The ends justify the means and torture worked, it saved lives-- no really it did, nevermind all those people who argue otherwise--but our opponents don't care, they are just playing 'gotcha'). The kind of answers they're after (they don't care about the truth, they just want something that would make us look bad) would be heard before a so-called (it wouldn't be the truth) "Truth Commission." Some are even demanding that those who recommended and approved the interrogations be prosecuted (the reverse Nuremberg defense- I'm not responsible for what happened, I was only giving the orders), in effect treating political disagreements (ordering torture and other violations of the law and Constitution are merely partisan politics) as a punishable offense (they are being vicious and vindictive and want to hurt me, help!) , and political opponents (war criminals are merely people with whom the left disagree) as criminals. It's hard to imagine a worse precedent (oh noes! people will be held responsible for their actions), filled with more possibilities for trouble and abuse (if we start prosecuting people for torture and war crimes, who knows where this whole 'punishing people for breaking the law' thing could go? My buddies at Haliburton could be next) , than to have an incoming administration criminalize (ordering people to be tortured, some of them to death, was not a crime, it wasn't! its only a crime because the Democrats say it is, despite 200 years of law that says otherwise ) the policy decisions (actual crimes) of its predecessors.

The real reason that the former vice president has been all over the TV and newspapers lately is not so much about securing his place in history as it is securing his place outside of the dock in the Hague.

Look, I don't think anyone will argue that the 9/11 attacks were not a horrible thing. Nearly 3,000 people died and that is pretty goddamn awful. But, rightwing pantspisser pronouncements to the contrary, it didn't change anything. The law is still the law. The worst crimes perpetrated do not allow us to ignore the law when it comes to catching and punishing the perpetrators. The Manson Family murders did not give the police the right to shoot suspected Beatles fans on sight.Just because you're scared shitless doesn't mean you can do anything you want. The notion that "the end does not justify the means" is not just some collegiate philosophy 101 bit of theory, it is pretty much the basis of western law, along with that whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing and "habeas corpus" -- but then again, I suppose those were ignored or suspended too during the Cheney regime.

Maybe if Bwana Dick Cheney had thought of the possibility of going to jail a few years ago, the world would be a better place right now, but I suppose given his history in the Nixon and Ford administrations, one can't really expect him to understand that just because the President does it, doesn't mean its not illegal.

Crossposted from the Woodshed

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rachel Mari-Anna Dube (Richard). 1918 - 2009

The name probably means nothing to most people.

However, if you were in the Royal Canadian Navy (or its post 1968 permutations) any time after 1948, there is a very good chance you met Rachel at some point in your service.

Rachel lived in Halifax and ran a little operation just outside RCN barracks, HMCS Stadacona. And while most sailors in the RCN eventually passed through barracks at Stadacona, most of those sailors also ended up in Rachel's little restaurant, just two blocks away from the main gate.

You see, to us sailors, Rachel was better known as Momma Camille and she served the best fish & chips in Halifax. She was known as The woman who fed the fleet and many a Saturday night run ashore in in "Slackers" ended at Momma Camille's Fish & Chips.

Momma Camille retired in 1984 although the name of her fish & chip shop can be seen all over Nova Scotia.

She passed on at age 90 on 22 May this year. Many a retired and serving sailor will be hoisting a glass in thanks to Rachel for saving us from the fare of "A" Block in "Stad".

Fair winds and following seas, Momma Camille.


The machismo that is the distinctive characteristic of Harper Party bluster is shattering. In the pissing contest that Harper and his hillbilly cabinet started in 2007 over the Chalk River nuclear reactor and the medical isotope shortage there has been a sudden shift in the wind.
The former head of the nuclear safety watchdog says the current shutdown of the nuclear reactor at Chalk River is worse than the prolonged closure a year and a half ago that led to her getting fired. [...] Keen today said the current shutdown is worse because in 2007, the CNSC and AECL knew the whole time what needed to be done and it would have only taken a week to do, whereas this time the length of the shutdown is still unknown.
If some nuclear engineers close to the situation are to be taken for their understanding, this is going to be a long shutdown.

In short, the Harper government did nothing from the time of the last shutdown to the present to recitfy a situation a high-school student could have predicted.

Under normal circumstances, where the regulator and the facility were working together to solve the problems with the reactor and its production, the government might be able to start kicking some asses and taking some names, but not now. From the point where Harper countermanded the requirements of then CNSC president Linda Keen and forced the Chalk River reactor back into operation through a parliamentary vote, (then fired Keen), the responsibility for that reactor's continued safe operation became the sole province of Harper and his Minister of Natural Resources.

In short, Harper himself is to blame for the state of the Chalk River reactor today and the current rationing of medical isotopes.

It will probably take more time, but eventually Harper and his mediocre collegues will figure out that the warm water hitting them in the face is not a late spring rain.

Now head on over to Impolitcal for more.

Indefinite detention

In the late great dystopian tv show Max Headroom, whenever a crime was committed, suspects were arrested, profiled, and then the most likely perp was sentenced via a big spinning wheel of "consequences" on the tv game show that had replaced the courts.

Canadian content : Hey, David Emerson, how's your "one security perimeter" Project North America coming along?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Give us your money...

... and we'll hold it until after you've died and been reincarnated. It's true.

The idea is that you start by believing in reincarnation and then put a bunch of money in the Reincarnation Bank. When you pop back into the world in your new life, you've got money in the bank.

Interestingly, this scam, designed for some of the stupidest people on the planet (Can you hear me down there in Montgomery County?) doesn't have a mechanism for actually withdrawing any money.

PZ Myers presents the "bank" with an even more delicious dilemma.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Smack. Down.

When the Ottawa Citizen does more than take a swipe at Harper, you know the Conservative-owned media has had their fill. (In all honesty, I always gave Randall Denley credit for calling 'em as he sees 'em, even if I felt he was a bit overboard in one direction or the other, so it's the fact that the OC let it go to print that's important):
Conservatives are the self-righteous law-and-order guys and they like to portray themselves as morally superior to their opponents. That will be a difficult card to play for a while. It was excruciating to watch tarnished Tory hero Brian Mulroney's attempts to justify taking cash from an arms dealer, and only paying taxes on it years later. And at a discount, too. Mulroney's misbehaviour has cost taxpayers millions of dollars for the inquiry into the matter and in legal fees for Mulroney, which we also pay. Mulroney was out of office, just, when he started taking envelopes of cash, but it was still wrong. This is what people in the business world refer to as damage to the brand.

Then there is our current Conservative government, which seems to be run by aging schoolboys with a penchant for calling names. The country is facing serious economic problems, but our Conservative leadership thinks the important thing to tell the public is that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has spent much of his life outside the country. Good for Ignatieff for getting out in the big world and making a success of himself. More Canadians should do the same.

Again, honestly, he had me at the opening paragraph, but then he fixed his bayonet.

The fact that Stephen Harper and his gang think success in the world is a weakness tells us a lot about them. These are the small thinkers who don't get the arts, don't get science and have no plan for our economy beyond building roads and bailing out failed automakers. Ignatieff's advice that the Conservatives should "grow up" and do their jobs properly was the smartest thing he could have said.
Welcome to our world. We've been saying that all along.

To Harper it's only the world stage if he's on it. The fact is, Ignatieff is being criticized by the hillbilly constituency for actually having lived on the world stage. Who knows more about where the loose planks are?

And would you like to know what really causes terror in the PMO? It's one simple fact. Ingnatieff was not a part of the Liberal party involved in payouts and kickbacks. He has a ready and verifiable argument against any such accusation. "I was a professor at one of the world's leading academic institutions when that happened. I'm clean."

Thus, the reason Harper and his knuckle-draggers have to portray education, international experience and global connections as negative. They have no real dirt. They have to make it up.

When you loose CanWest, Harper, you've lost the undecided. Would you like fries with that?

Jacked Up gets credit for this first post on this one. Do, please read that post and leave your comments there. Wingnuts can leave their comments here - the sewage treatment plant is used to it.

Prom night in Klan Kuntry...

It's just not what it used to be.

It's exactly the same as it always was.
The future looms large. But for the 54 students in the class of 2009 at Montgomery County High School, so, too, does the past. On May 1 — a balmy Friday evening — the white students held their senior prom. And the following night — a balmy Saturday — the black students had theirs.

The white students’ prom was held on May 1 at a community center in nearby Vidalia; the black students had theirs at the same place the following night.

Racially segregated proms have been held in Montgomery County — where about two-thirds of the population is white — almost every year since its schools were integrated in 1971. Such proms are, by many accounts, longstanding traditions in towns across the rural South, though in recent years a number of communities have successfully pushed for change.
There have been efforts made to change all that.
When the actor Morgan Freeman offered to pay for last year’s first-of-its-kind integrated prom at Charleston High School in Mississippi, his home state, the idea was quickly embraced by students — and rejected by a group of white parents, who held a competing “private” prom.

Ah yes... the white parents.

What's interesting, as you read through the whole article, is that the high-school kids, regardless of skin colour, don't like the arrangement. In fact, those kids will be coming of voting age shortly.

Ain't payback gonna be a bitch.

tip of the helmet to Jesus' General.

Major breakthrough in lithium battery technology reported

PHYSORG.COM has a report on an exciting breakthrough in lithium battery tech. It's a Canadian discovery: An NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council)-funded lab at the University Of Waterloo has laid the groundwork for a lithium battery that can store and deliver more than three times the power of conventional lithium ion batteries.

Why should you care? Increasing the energy storage density with low-cost materials makes electric cars more and more practical, with longer range between re-charging.

Just wait for Stevie to cut their funding. Then again, maybe this can give the RCMP a new ultra high-power Taser, to keep the gang amused.

The Conservative dilema...

Consume their time attacking their political opposition, (in an attempt to retain a flimsy grip on power), or actually provide good government and run the country.

Ah, what the hell! If you leave it alone, the country will run itself.
Two years after Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government approved $1.25 billion in funding for an office to support infrastructure projects, a newly-created crown corporation still finds itself in temporary headquarters with a skeleton crew of 12, several vacant positions on its board of directors, and little public visibility to fulfil its mandate.

But its chief executive officer, who has only been on the job for about 100 days, says that PPP Canada is working on a long-term plan to achieve its goals of encouraging and supporting partnerships between the public and private sectors for new infrastructure projects. Much of its early focus has been on meeting with stakeholders from provincial governments and the private sector to identify needs, priorities and potential infrastructure projects for analysis.

“When I was appointed, there was clearly no office, no anything, so I kind of got myself installed in some temporary accommodation,” said John McBride, a veteran federal bureaucrat who now heads the crown corporation. “We don't have any administrative infrastructure like computers and websites and communications material and the rest of that kind of stuff, so we've been figuring out how best to do that, and now we're starting to develop some kind of capacity.”

Two years. And the CEO was appointed just a little over three months ago.

Well done, Harper! At least one question has been answered.

Short people experience the world sooner

Robert Krulwich over at NPR delves into something intriguing: the possibility that a tall person's sensory reactions to the world are delayed because of the distance from some extremities to the brain.

In short, it may pay to be short.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Look through a glass, cheerfully

SCIENCE DAILY has a disturbing report, "BPA, Chemical Used To Make Plastics, Found To Leach From Polycarbonate Drinking Bottles Into Humans". This may be old hat to some, but it bears repeating because the stuff is so pervasive, like can linings, for example. This means it's easy to eschew plastic-bottled water, and still get contaminated. Canned beer sucks, anyway.

A new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers found that participants who drank for a week from polycarbonate bottles -- the popular, hard-plastic drinking bottles and baby bottles -- showed a two-thirds increase in their urine of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA).

Exposure to BPA, used in the manufacture of polycarbonate and other plastics, has been shown to interfere with reproductive development in animals and has been linked with cardiovascular disease and diabetes in humans.

Post I never thought I'd write: Michael Ignatieff is my homeboy

The CBC has an excellent letter from an expat grad student in England about the Conservative Party of Canada's attacks on Michael Ignatieff for being a) a successful intellectual and b) living outside the country for many years before returning to enter politics. By all means read the letter, then have a quick scan of the comments and ask yourself why anyone with a top notch education and contacts abroad would want to return to a country that is so full of ignorant, provincial knuckledraggers. The woman is obviously a patriot, just don't tell her about the Blogging Tories and Small Dead Animals and she might still come back one day.
What I really want to talk about are the idiotic attack ads by the CPC, which attack Ignatieff on everything except substance. He must really scare them. And he should.
A quick look at Michael Ignatieff's bio shows him to be an academic and public intellectual of the highest caliber who has held posts at the most prestigious institutions in the English-speaking world. That those institutions happen to be located outside Alberta and mostly outside of Canada is hardly his fault, as in show business and sports, you go where the work is. Yes, one can be a highly respected public intellectual on the world stage while living in Canada, but there are only so many jobs for such people.
Crapping on Ignatieff for spending his career at Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard instead of the University of British Columbia is like criticizing Phil Esposito for spending his hockey career with the Bruins and Rangers instead of staying with the Sault Greyhounds, or slamming Dan Ackroyd and John Candy for not sticking with Second City in Toronto.
One of the commenters on the CBC site criticized the author of the letter, described as a Rhodes scholar and Ph.D candidate at Oxford, calling her "a snob" and claiming the author "thinks she's better than us." As a Rhodes scholar, she is certainly demonstrably smarter then the cementheaded commenter. She is certainly more open minded, almost certainly more well-travelled, better-read and more cosmopolitan, and probably has "qualities of truthfulness, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship; exhibition of moral force of character and of instincts to lead and to take an interest in one’s contemporaries," but then to the audience of resentful, embittered, small minded, petty bourgeois, know-nothings that the Conservative attack ads are pandering to, none of those things are desirable.
I'm not a big fan of Ignatieff and his running for office in 2006 with his eyes firmly on the Liberal Party leadership was unquestionably a bit opportunistic. So was Stephen Harper's channelling of western Canadian resentment in helping form the Reform Party. So was his departure for the National Citizens Coalition when it became evident that Preston Manning wasn't going to turn the party over to him. While Ignatieff at least got himself elected to parliament before seeking the Liberal leadership in 2006, Harper decided to try for the leadership of the Canadian Alliance Party when Stockwell "Doris" Day looked weak in 2002 and after an ugly campaign won the leadership. Then he pushed Ezra Levant out of the way to run for Preston Manning old seat in Calgary.
Ignatieff is criticized for considering a return to Harvard is his bid for election in 2006 didn't work out. He got elected and stayed in the House, despite losing in his first campaign for party leader, and was re-elected again in 2008. If he had not won a seat in parliament in 2006, Ignatieff would have continued on at the University of Toronto for a least another year as visiting professor and senior fellow at the Munk Centre for International Studies. After that, he might have run for parliament again, or he might have returned to his career as a scholar, living wherever the work took him as he pleased.
Harper, on the other hand, has a history of quitting when things don't go his way. He quit the Liberal party because he didn't like the National Energy Program (He was working in Alberta for Imperial Oil at the time). He quit the Progressive Conservatives a few years later after going to work for a Mulroney government backbencher because they didn't end the NEP fast enough to suit him. He quit the Reform Party when he couldn't get Preston Manning to step aside as leader and let him run things along more Straussian ideological lines. He quit the National Citizen Coalition a little less than four years later when he saw a chance to grab the leadership of the Canadian Alliance party after using the NCC to undermine Stockwell Day for a year. Once leader of the Alliance party, he devoted all his energy to co-opting and absorbing the Progressive Conservative Party to try to present a united right wing front.
If he fails to win a majority government next time around, will he quit Canadian politics? If some conservative think tank down south like the Heritage Foundation offers him some primo wingnut welfare job to push economic integration or some other neo-con pie in the sky, do you think he'll hang around Calgary scanning the want ads? I'm sure with his hard won Masters degree, Liberty University could find a job for him teaching remedial English or something, but he's not really qualified to do much else. Aside from the mail room at Imperial Oil nearly 30 years ago, he's never really done anything outside of politics and think tank work.
While Ignatieff was working outside of Canada, he made no secret of his Canadian-ness and we as a nation were happy to call him one of our own. He may have referred to Britain as his "adopted nation" a few times in the 20+ years he lived there or used the rhetorical flourish of "We Americans" when writing for an American audience, but unlike Conrad Black, Wayne Gretzky, Michael J. Fox and Pamela Anderson he never became an American or British citizen. He has been a Canadian all along. More importantly, he has not publically badmouthed his country to foreign audiences, (which as we know from conservatives' descriptions of Bill Clinton organizing anti-war protests in England while he was a student there during the Vietnam War is high treason or something) unlike Stephen Harper, who had this to say to a U.S. think tank less than a year after leaving parliament the first time:
"Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it"
"If you're like all Americans, you know almost nothing except for your own country. Which makes you probably knowledgeable about one more country than most Canadians"

As I said, I'm not a big fan of Ignatieff, mostly for his original positions on the Iraq War and torture and for yanking the rug out from under the idea of an NDP-Liberal coalition government. He is a bit conservative for my tastes, but I think he'd make a much better prime minister than any of the other options on offer.
His job history and personal story are nothing if not enviable and his time abroad is a feature, not a bug. Ignatieff has done more than simply teach at the world's finest universities. He has been a broadcaster, a filmmaker, a journalist, a writer of non-fiction and fiction alike and travelled the world. Unlike Stephen Harper, who's last real job was in the Imperial Oil mailroom and who didn't even have a passport until he entered the House of Commons. Harper graduated high school in 1978 and went work for Conservative MP Jim Hawkes in 1985 and has been out of the job market ever since.
Before entering electoral politics, Ignatieff wrote prize-winning books on human rights and foreign policy, delivered the Massey Lectures and had a novel short-listed for the Booker Prize. Stephen Harper has supposedly been working on a book on hockey for longer than anyone can remember and wears sweater vests to try to make us think he's human.
Only the complete "morans" who make up the current electoral base of modern conservatism would consider being well-educated, widely-travelled and highly accomplished bad things. They get the leaders they deserve.
And as for the notion that spending time, even a long time, outside the country make one any less Canadian --I've been living in Japan for dozen years and, like Ignatieff, the place I miss most is Algonquin Park. If you think I'm somehow less Canadian because of where I live (and I'd move back tomorrow if the right job opportunity presented itself, but you go where the work is) or who I married or because I eat sushi more often than poutine these days, you are just plain wrong and can kiss my fat, maple-syrup loving, multicultural ass. I may be less engaged than I once was in the daily cut and thrust of Canadian politics, but I'd venture to guess that I still pay more attention than most in the Great White North. That must be true, because you sure as hell wouldn't catch me voting for Stephen Harper.

Crossposted at the Woodshed

British Columbia's ticking time bomb

Brought to you by Gordon Campbell and a failed forest protection policy. (Emphasis mine)
Many communities in the B.C. Interior are at significant risk of potentially catastrophic forest fires this summer, because critical prevention work promised by the government has not been done, a forestry expert said Friday.
It could make 2003, when the town of Louis Creek was wiped off the BC landscape, look tame.

Campbell and his Vancouver-centric government have been in possession of the facts for six years.
British Columbians can consider themselves fortunate that the disaster was not worse. Few communities in the province would have been immune from an interface fire, given the extreme danger ratings over the course of the summer. Without action, the danger remains.
And what came out of that report, now sitting on a shelf, gathering dust?

Oh yeah... that. And that. And that. And, not least of all, this.
The top 100 bureaucrats in the provincial government will receive salary increases as large as 43 per cent, all in a bid to attract and keep top executives...
Right. Heckuva job they're doing. I'm willing to bet there is not one of those "top bureaucrats", regardless of ministery, who doesn't have at least one priority file with the words 2010 Olympics in it distracting them from the job British Columbians are actually paying them to do.

Harper's Canada

From Montreal Simon...

Friday, May 22, 2009

About 200 blank pages

Scott Feschuck takes on Harper's mythical book on hockey. Great read! Scott... not Harper.

A different kind of cutback at Thunder Bay school

Criminal charges in Canada are laid at the discretion of the Crown Attorney, generally on the recommendation of, or in consultation with the police. If the Crown refuses to lay charges, a victim's options for seeking justice are severely limited. However, the Crown's main consideration in laying charges is the public interest. A criminal charge, trial and conviction is intended to serve not only to punish someone for breaking the law but also to provide an example that will deter others from breaking the law. On the simple grounds of deterrence alone I can see no reason at all not to charge this person with assault.

You can be sure that if a teacher or some other student had snipped the ponytail off some blonde cheerleader, there would be seven kinds of hell to pay. I don't care if it was a case of not understanding the rules or having the best of intentions, school staff are not allowed to give the students involuntary haircuts.

Some might argue that "ruining" the teaching assistant's life by charging them with assault is unfair and would end their career and that the person in question doesn't deserve to go to jail for trimming a seven-year-old's bangs. I would argue that this person very much deserves to go to jail since this is someone who has been placed in a position of trust and authority over that child and has used that authority to violate their person, terrorize and traumatize a seven-year-old. They either know they had no right to interfere with this young boy the way they did and willingly broke the law or they are so completely ignorant of the rules that govern their profession that they should not be allowed within a mile of a classroom full of seven-year-olds.

If the child's parents were to drop by the teaching assistant's home with a pair of clippers and shave her head "to help her see better" I think it's safe to say they'd be in jail faster than you could knock "shave and a haircut".

I'm not sure whether the family's accusations of anti-Native discrimination are well founded or not - they may just be the racist icing on the layer cake of stupid - and frankly I don't think the discrimination angle even matters. For a teacher or any member of the school staff to take a pair of scissors to a seven-year-old's hair against the child's will is an incredible violation of trust.

And the first person to make a "scalping" joke is really going to wish they hadn't.

crossposted from the Woodshed, where the uke-fight has only just begun!

I don't think that word means what you think it means

Universities are supposed to places of ideas, centers of higher education and free marketplaces of ideas. Students are there to have their minds expanded and to learn about the world around them. Then there's Liberty University, whose directors really need to look up the word "Liberty" in a dictionary.

Liberty University has revoked its recognition of the campus Democratic Party club, saying “we are unable to lend support to a club whose parent organization stands against the moral principles held by” the university.

“It kind of happened out of nowhere,” said Brian Diaz, president of LU’s student Democratic Party organization, which LU formally recognized in October.

Diaz said he was notified of the school’s decision May 15 in an e-mail from Mark Hine, vice president of student affairs.

According to the e-mail, the club must stop using the university’s name, holding meetings on campus, or advertising events. Violators could incur one or more reprimands under the school’s Liberty Way conduct code, and anyone who accumulates 30 reprimands is subject to expulsion.

Hine said late Thursday that the university could not sanction an official club that supported Democratic candidates.

“We are in no way attempting to stifle free speech.”

Imagine the screeching that would result if a liberal college refused to allow a "Young Republicans" chapter on campus, and rightfully so. I'm sure David Horowitz will get right on this.

Crossposted at the Woodshed

Donohue employs a violently deviated Clinton defence

Mr. Donohue, this is to you personally.

You have your own platform. Explain how any of this:
Regarding sexual abuse, “kissing,” and “non-contact including voyeurism” (e.g., what it labels as “inappropriate sexual talk”) make the grade as constituting sexual abuse. Moreover, one-third of the cases involved “inappropriate fondling and contact.” None of this is defensible, but none of it qualifies as rape. Rape, on the other hand, constituted 12 percent of the cases. As for the charge that “Irish Priests” were responsible, some of the abuse was carried out by lay persons, much of it was done by Brothers, and about 12 percent of the abusers were priests (most of whom were not rapists).
Qualifies as something acceptable from a person in a position of religious authority, regardless of their hierarchal status in your so-called Holy order.


You included, buckwheat!!!!!

Explain it, you sick sonofabitch!

In the name of the God you so claim to defend, (sorry, you only defend a "church"), you have just made the exploitation of children acceptable, priest or not, and you have ignored that it all happened in that same corrupt establishment you call a "church".

I hope Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan have the opportunity to watch your nuts fry on a barbeque.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Banana Republic of Canada

In the wake of the O'Connor and Iacobucci public inquiries into the role CSIS played in the torture of Canadians overseas, a new government rulebook of guidelines was issued to CSIS and various blandishments were offered by the ministers in charge.

What's in the new rulebook?
Pogge blogged a couple of days ago about a copy obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act that is so heavily censored it is impossible to tell whether the new guidelines adequately address the recommendations laid out by O'Connor and Iacobucci to prevent future torture such as that visited upon Maher Arar, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin. As Pogge wrote :

"When representatives of government and its agencies assure us that they're playing by the rules, it's a little difficult to judge the accuracy of their claims when we're not allowed to know what those rules are."

This was also the position our elected representatives on the Committee on Public Safety and National Security found themselves in back in March during its Review of the Findings and Recommendations of the Iacobucci and O'Connor Reports. Despite persistent straightforward questions from the Liberals and Bloc members - Do we condone torture? Do we still use information derived from torture? - the dodging and weaving from CSIS lawyer Geoffrey O'Brian left these questions largely unanswered.
A brief media flurry resulted from his opening statement that there is no absolute ban on the use of information derived from torture when "lives are at stake", but this was immediately laid to rest the next day when the word "knowingly" was added by Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan", as in "we don't knowingly use info extracted by torture". It's the new Don't ask, Don't tell Intel.

As O'Brian explained to the committee : "Three individuals are suing the government for several hundred million dollars, therefore we cannot discuss anything that would indicate that the government is in agreement with Iacobucci's findings."

He is aided in this avoidance of accountability by the six Con members on the committee running interference on tough questions from the Libs and the Bloc. From my notes of that session -not exact quotes :
Maria Mourani, Bloc : I'd like to ask about our questioning of Omar Khadr in Guantanamo ...
Dave MacKenzie, Con : Point of order : what's the relevance?
Mourani : Khadr was tortured and Canadians paid CSIS to contribute.
Chair Garry Breitkreuz, Con : I don't understand the relevance.
Mourani : I want to know did CSIS use information from Khadr obtained under torture?MacKenzie : Point of order - Mourani is on a fishing trip.

I'll just give you a moment to let that one sink in.

Mourani : I'll rephrase the question : Is information obtained under torture?
Chair, Breitkreuz : Witnesses cannot comment on individual cases.
Mark Holland, Lib : But the questiuon is central to this inquiry.
Rathgeber, Con : Point of order. Not relevant. Stick to Iacobucci and O'Connor reports.

Which, you will recall, O'Brian has already said cannot be commented on due to ongoing litigation.

Menard, Bloc : Mourani is right. This is central to the O'Connor and Iacobucci reports. What we want to know is: Is torture still endorsed?
Mourani : Answer my question.
O'Brian, eventually : "I reject the premise of the question"

And thus CSIS informs elected members of parliament - the peoples' representatives - sitting on a committee whose mandate is to provide public oversight on intelligence agencies - to stuff it.

A couple of years ago I was sitting in a bar in the States discussing politics with some university students. "How are things up there after the coup?" one of them asked.
Me : *blink* *blink*
"Perhaps you don't call it a coup," said another helpfully.
We not only don't call it a coup, we don't even ever refer to it.
In 2006 as Liberal PM Paul Martin seemed almost certain to be re-elected, RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli went very public with a criminal investigation into rumoured Liberal government political malfeasance around Income Tax leaks and that was the end of the Libs. Nothing came of the investigation save one lone Finance civil servant pocketing some loot. No inquiry was ever launched into why the head of the national police force, himself later disgraced over Arar, in effect threw the outcome of a national election.

Can individual rogue members of that national police force be brought to justice? Apparently not.
And exactly which intelligence agencies are responsible for the continued incarceration of Omar Khadr and the ongoing banishment of Abousfian Abdelrazik? Well we don't really know.

What we do know is that we have lost public oversight over our police and intelligence agencies. Isn't this the kind of thing we used to sneer at "banana republics" for?

Cross-posted at Creekside

Chalk River may be dead

Not the story. The reactor itself.
A spokesman for the reactor's operator, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., conceded Wednesday that its declaration that the reactor would stop producing isotopes for "more than a month" beginning Saturday is optimistic but it can't provide any better timelines until it knows what is causing the leak.

"We've given them an optimistic schedule but it's going to be more than a month," said Dale Coffin, a spokesman for AECL.

The "them" would be both customers of AECL waiting for medical isotopes and the Harper government which made such a mess of things the last time Chalk River was shut down.

[T]wo engineers — one working at the Chalk River facility and one who spent years working there — said they doubt the repairs will be made even within eight months and, in fact, may never be complete.

"A month to repair is a dream," said the engineer who works at the facility, and who asked for anonymity for fears he would be dismissed.

"Sounds to me as if good ol' NRU is gone for good," said the other engineer, who, after working for AECL at several of its nuclear facilities including Chalk River, now works for the federal government.
Granted, that's just two engineers. If we wait long enough, Harper will consult a political scientist and, if it will help him survive longer, he will declare Chalk River safe.

"It's a reality of having older infrastructure and that's why the world is coming together to come up with a plan in order to deal with the global supply of medical isotopes," [Natural Resources Minister Lisa] Raitt said.
Wow! The world is coming together to come up with a plan? That's a little different than last time... or is it?

This time we aren't getting Steve Harper, nuclear genius and medical supply expert, (Hey! He calls himself an economist too!) flailing around blaming everyone but his government and then firing the president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for doing her job.

In the meantime, the Ottawa River should start glowing in the dark.