Monday, August 31, 2009
Tony Clement and the corporatocracy he represents are so happy for themselves.
Not you, you dumb sonfabitch! You're the one paying the bill.
You will now read Michael Geist and Jeff.
And next time, you will vote, because the reason the big telcom companies are getting away with this is because they voted in their own lobbyists because too many of you stayed home.
It takes minutes to get there and seconds to make your mark on this country.
Sit, John, sit!
Apparently canine commands are the only thing to which you respond.
Escort whatshername - it'll give you some creds. Scream like a stuck pig in parliament - it'll give you some media vapour light. Truck out the "you guys are irresponsible" line - it'll provide covering fire - for us.
John, you must understand, does nothing without a command or permission - period. That's why this is so impeachable.
"I can tell you the very last thing this country needs is an unnecessary election, less than a year before we had the last one," Baird said.So... Harper sends the loud obnoxious kid out to fire off the smoke. And Baird, dumber than most, seems only more than willing to do so, since it's clearly obvious that his position of prominence is something he could only have achieved under an incompetent and self-aggrandizing leader.
You're quite right, Baird. There are times when federal general elections are totally unnecessary. Your homeboy knows that. He knew it well before the last election, even though he lied through his teeth - just before he foisted one on the voters.
"It would be irresponsible to interrupt our important work on the economy with an unnecessary election."That would be the all-important recession war you guys are in. Something, I might add, that you consistently deny is actually happening.
Point: (My fucking emphasis)
... Baird said following the release of Statistic Canada's latest figures, which showed Canada's gross domestic product grew for the first time since July 2008.Yeah, well this is your poseur of an economist leader before he called the last election for no reason other than he thought he could mobilize his callous-kneed base while the rest of us stayed home. This is what the "economist" Stephen Harper was telling us:
StatsCan is reporting ugly things in July; the rest of the world sees the boot on the move for the global genitals in August and Harper, the great Harper, in mid-September, tells us that it isn't happening.
"While it has slowed down considerably, and while there remains this considerable instability, the American economy has not crashed, has not itself entered into recession," he told reporters in Ottawa."My own belief is if we were going to have some sort of big crash or recession, we probably would have had it by now."
And in October, he tells us parliament is dysfunctional. With no vote of non-confidence, calls a snap election. Never mind that he didn't make it past December without suspending the democracy to save his own ass.
Where has this happened before, John?
I could hang such a label off you, you fucking martinet.
You just gained a new aura, John, and when the writ next gets drawn up, the gloves get dropped.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Now, there are others with negative reality posters, with a wonderfully tacky approach, like DemotivateUs, with lower production values, but some points to make, like these gems:
Think Progressive Party not tied to the dems or repugs . . . .
(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)
Friday, August 28, 2009
Oooh - it's the nine new Senators he appointed yesterday.
That makes 27 Cons he's appointed in less than a year, bringing his posse in the Senate up to 46 out 0f a total of 105.
This latest batch of pocket warmers include some Con Party presidents and backroom operatives, Steve's communications aide from the PMO ... plus a hockey analyst who remarked yesterday that his appointment meant he was "going to have to start following [federal politics]" now.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
THE LA TIMES has an interesting article on human gender, following the brouhaha over concerns about the gender of the South African athlete, Caster Semenya.
For years, sports authorities considered only the sex chromosomes: If they are XX, the athlete is female, XY and he is male. Technicians would swab the athlete's mouth to remove some cells, look at the sex chromosomes and make a determination.
But at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, eight female athletes were determined to have XY chromosomes and were booted from the Games. Further studies, however, showed that they were physiologically female even though their genes said they were male, and they were reinstated.
Another possibility that could account for a disconnect between genetics and appearance is mosaicism, in which the individual has more than one set of genes, in some cases, some cells could be XX and others XY. That occurs because of a faulty division at a very early stage in the embryo, or if two embryos fuse, and can produce a variety of mixed sexual signals.
A child detained in Guantanamo Bay for seven years for allegedly throwing a hand grenade at US soldiers in Afghanistan when he was 14 years old is on his way home after a US Federal Court ruled the government was holding him illegally. His initial confession, obtained under duress, was thrown out by the judge.
"We are so pleased that this nightmare of abuse and injustice has finally come to an end," said his attorney. "While he can never get back the nearly seven years he was illegally detained and tortured, now he can finally return home to his family, friends and country, and begin to build a normal life."
The child detainee in question is Mohammed Jawad, now returned to his native Afghanistan thanks to a US Federal Court decision this month. [Yeah, mean trick, I know]
Gosh, another kid accused of throwing a grenade. Is the US military generally in the habit of accusing the survivors of their raids of throwing grenades, or only when there are US casualties and the possibility of friendly fire?
Meanwhile back in Canada, our child soldier detained in Guantanamo for seven years for allegedly throwing a grenade at US soldiers in Afghanistan when he was 15 - that's Omar Khadr pictured above in the middle the year before his father dumped him in Afghanistan - has not been so lucky because Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the last leader on the planet Earth to support the detaining and abuse of children in Gitmo.
On August 14, our Federal Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling that Ottawa is required to press the US for Khadr's repatriation because CSIS and Department of Foreign Affairs officials had violated his Charter rights by being complicit in his mistreatment at Gitmo.
Yesterday Harper's federal government disgraced itself by announcing it will go to the Supreme Court in a bid to overturn that ruling.
They do not want to risk asking the US for Khadr's return, perhaps because the Obama Administration urged a federal judge to order the release of Mohammed Jawad, and even George W. Bush granted requests by other countries for the repatriation of their citizens from Gitmo.
Harper is going to the wall in hopes that a sufficient number of Canadians believe in tiered citizenship and a four-tiered passport system and will applaud his stand against so-called 'activist' judges. He's wrong about that.
Monday, August 24, 2009
- Laugh at him and drive away.
- Show him your business card, tell him the bank sent you out to take photos of his house and tell him you'll be happy to wait while he calls your office to confirm your story.
- Stick your .357 magnum in his face before he scratches the paint on your Ford Escort.
1. You are an asshole.
2. You are a professional.
3. You are a Republican
h/t to JJ at Unrepentant Old Hippie
crossposted from the Woodshed
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
"The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) is no longer an active initiative and as such this website will act as an archive for SPP documents. There will not be any updates to this site."This week it seems they did think of a site update after all. spp.gov :
"Going forward, we want to build on the accomplishments achieved by the SPP and further improve our cooperation."We are then redirected to the Joint Statement by the North American Leaders (August 10, 2009) :
"Our three governments recognize that we cannot limit our efforts to North America alone, and we have agreed to instruct our respective Ministers to strive for greater cooperation and coordination as we work to promote security and institutional development with our neighbors in Central America and the Caribbean ...
We commend the progress achieved on reducing unnecessary regulatory differences and have instructed our respective Ministers to continue this work by building on the previous efforts, developing focused priorities and a specific timeline. "
So in other words - expanding some version of the SPP of North America to include Central and South America as well.
Didn't this used to be called the FTAA, the spectacularly FAIL Free Trade Area of the Americas ?
Up here this went : "We, the democratically elected Heads of State and Government of the Americas, have met in Quebec City at our Third Summit, to renew our commitment to hemispheric integration." ... followed by 100,000+ protesters, rubber bullets, and so much tear gas that the we-the-democratically-elected could smell it inside their summit.
Enter FTAA Plan B. In Sept 2008 Bush announced The Pathways to Prosperity of the Americas, from the headquarters of the corporate lobby group Council of the Americas.
Current PPA member states : US, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay
Heide Bronke, U.S. State Department :
''Eleven leaders in the hemisphere met with our president and stood with him in a project aimed at expanding economic integration. This is not just free trade, it's a political vision for the hemisphere."The rightwing Heritage Foundation : Finding Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas
"The PPA is an attempt to re-energize U.S. government and regional efforts to enlarge a free trade area in the Western Hemisphere and create positive momentum for open-market policies that will carry over into the next Administration.
Styled in part after other current efforts to improve economic relations with key trade and investment partners--such as the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (U.S., Canada, and Mexico) - the PPA would provide a forum for not only finding avenues to improve the flow of commerce but also promoting greater coherence and consistency in the rules specified under the five separate free trade agreements (FTAs) that currently define trade between PPA members. With the basic trade agreements already in place, members of the PPA can focus on dismantling remaining barriers to trade and ensuring that business is able to take advantage of new opportunities brought by lower trade and investment barriers.
On a grander scale, success under the PPA could result in new momentum for concluding a broader Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA)."
So did the PPA successfully "carry over into the next Administration"?
Address of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State
Pathways to Prosperity Ministerial, May 31, 2009
US State Dept website :
"President Obama has emphasized that it's not important whether ideas come from one party or another, so long as they move us in the right direction. This meeting builds on the work of the previous U.S. administration, but the President and I are also committed to re-launching Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas and expanding its work to spread the benefits of economic recovery, growth, and open markets ..."Elsewhere Senator Clinton has described the Pathways to Prosperity accord as "a multilateral initiative to promote shared security and prosperity throughout the Americas".
Speaking of the SPP and North America as a shared economic space last year, Thomas Shannon of the State Department told Linda Carlsen at the Center for International Policy:
"What we’re doing, in some way, in a certain respect, is armoring NAFTA."
Alliance for Responsible Trade :
"The PPA bears many of the hallmarks of the SPP. According to the Mexican Action Network on Free Trade, the PPA is "based on two similar components to the SPP: on one hand an economic, mercantile and financial agenda covered by the term ‘prosperity', and on the other a ‘security' agenda of enhancing military and police powers to combat terrorism, narcotraffic, illegal migration, etc.." The PPA, like the SPP, is little more than an attempt to justify economic deregulation and to promote an escalation of militarism in the region."Stuart Trew from the Council of Canadians writes The SPP is dead, so where's the champagne? :
Ok, just one glass of champagne, Stuart, but then as you say : Back to work.
Because we don't care what it's called : SPP, North American Union, deep integration, the Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny, Pathways to Prosperity of the Americas. We don't care. Really. Call it whatever you like.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Western allies have pronounced the country's election a success, after voting passed off largely peacefully
... including a helpful vid explaining how the indelible ink used to mark the index finger of people who have already voted won't wash off for four to five days. The UN rep said so.
Or you could try the rather more dour Guardian :
Presidential poll day sees low turnout amid bombings, fraud claims and 'indelible' finger markings that wash off
... wherein a voter turns up half an hour after casting his ballot with his finger washed clean.
A week ago a BBC reporter bought several ballots cheaply at a local market and reported that most Afghan women would not be voting as the country was short over a thousand female scrutineers to search those women who had not already been forbidden to vote by their families and husbands. Rural elders were also advised that things would go badly for them if people in their villages did not vote as instructed and ballot boxes were delivered to polling stations pre-stuffed.
Two days ago Democracy Now carried the news that a warlord reputedly responsible for the "death by container" of 2000 supposed Taliban who had foolishly surrendered to Afghan and ISAF forces in 2001 had returned to Afghanistan to rally support for Karzai :
Eight Years After Orchestrating Massacre at Dasht-e-Leili, Afghan Warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum Returns to Afghanistan to Campaign for Karzai
"My coming back will help peace and stability," he [Dostrum] said. "I want to sit with my American friends and make a plan so that within two or three years, we will secure all of Afghanistan."
Asked what type of job he would like if Karzai was to be re-elected, he said he was not interested in working as a cabinet minister, but would be interested in a security-related role. He said he had repeatedly turned down offers to be one of Karzai's two
"I have a lot of experience dealing with terrorism and if Karzai wants it, or our international friends who are battling terrorism want, I am prepared to work. Other than this, I'm not interested in becoming this or that minister," he said.
Questioned about the massacre at Dasht-e-Leili, the investigation of which has been repeatedly derailed by the Bush administration as witnesses continue to be killed off, Dostrum said :
"The United States of America, international friends, they should put together a group, a strong commission, to ask the truth," he said. "It wasn't just General Dostum."
Don't be fooled by this facade of democracy : Malalai Joya
"We Afghans know that this election will change nothing and it is only part of a show of democracy put on by and for the West, to legitimize its future puppet in Afghanistan. It seems we are doomed to see the continuation of this failed, mafia-like corrupt government for another term.
Democracy will never come to Afghanistan through the barrel of a gun, or from the cluster bombs dropped by foreign forces. The struggle will be long and difficult, but the values of real democracy, human rights and women's rights will only be won by the Afghan people themselves.
So do not be fooled by this façade of democracy. Your governments in the West that claim to be bringing democracy to Afghanistan ignore public opinion in their own countries, where growing numbers are against the war. President Obama in particular needs to understand that the change Afghans believe in does not include more troops and a ramped up war. "
Joya notes Karzai has passed the now infamous law allowing Shia women to be starved for disobedience to their husbands and quotes Human Rights Watch :
"Karzai has made an unthinkable deal to sell Afghan women out in return for the support of fundamentalists in the August 20 election."
It's almost enough to make you long to be back in the days of Josee Verner's platitudes about the little girls in their little schoolhouses and Steve's bloviating about his important place on the world stage :
"I can tell you it's certainly engaged our military," the Prime Minister told CBC. "It's, I think, made them a better military notwithstanding — and maybe in some way because of — the casualties."
Harper added that Canada's current role in Afghanistan is "certainly raising Canada's leadership role, once again, in the United Nations and in the world community.".
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Now back to hibernation.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The names of people (something that doesn't appear anything like often enough in Japanese newspapers) can be written in such a way that there could be several radically different pronunciations and so Romanicizing them is not as straightforward as it might seem. That confusion between "L" and "R" by Japanese that North Americans find so amusing (Yes, Japan will have an erection on Aug. 30 har-de-har-har, you stupid plicks) exists because both sounds are combined in the same character in Japanese.
In translating Japanese to English, place names can be tricky to spell, so we check them. If only the Prime Minister's Office would do the same, then Iqaluit (Village of Many Fish) wouldn't become Iqualuit (Village of People with Unwiped Bums).
tip of the toque to Peterborough Politics, now known as Dispatches by Northwestern Lad
Hancock and "Chris", the black man carrying the assault rifle, knew each other "through their work for presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas)".
"We know what we're up against," Hancock, also packing heat at the health care rally, told CNN. "We're up against a tyrannical government that will rob the next generation as long as they can get away with it."
Just a couple of guys conducting a radio interview while cradling an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle at a health care rally where the President of the United States was speaking.
This is not really about healthcare then, is it?
From the "interview" :
"Is it your advocacy that by having guns here we're probably all safer?" Hancock asked.Only sometimes. Presumably other times not. Banking with an assault rifle must be interesting.
Chris "absolutely" agreed. He then went on to explain how he was always armed, even when riding his motorcycle, though not always when he showered: "Sometimes when I take a shower I set it down on the sink."
Initial news reports included the information that the Arizona police who monitored the man at the downtown protest "wanted to make sure no one decided to harm him."
Now we hear from Hancock's interview on CNN:
"It was Thursday that I called and talked to Al Ramirez, the representative from the Phoenix police department, and we were discussing -- we've been around this rhetoric that was building up around William Kostric, who did this in New Hampshire."These stunts at health care rallies, whether with or without the guns, were never about health care.
Monday, August 17, 2009
This one references the historical profiteering from US-inspired coups overseas. Why are we not overly surprised?
It turns out that the stock of several companies rose sharply after secret meetings in which high government officials decided to give the green light to coup plans. For example, United Fruit Company’s stock rose when plans were made for the 1954 coup in Guatemala that ousted the regime that intended to nationalize its extensive banana –producing lands.
Check out the whole post and it's related New Yorker post.
Good stuff . . . .
(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Military women said they were encouraged by the words of Representative John M. McHugh, the nominee for Army secretary, who just four years ago supported a failed push in Congress to restrict the role of women in combat zones.
At his Senate hearing in July, Mr. McHugh, Republican of New York, sought to allay concern. “Women in uniform today are not just invaluable,” he said, “they’re irreplaceable.” He added that he would look to expand the number of jobs available to them.
In Mr. Baumann’s view, the reality on the ground long ago outpaced the debate.
“We have crossed that line in Iraq,” he said. “Debate it all you want folks, but the military is going to do what the military needs to do. And they are needing to put women in combat.”
Worth the read.
Friday, August 14, 2009
I've held three Canadian passports, the first two of which were the type where an actual photograph was laminated to the page. The photos in these two passports are bright and clear. Indeed I had one set of photos rejected because there was the faintest line of shadow under my chin - the rest of the photo was crystal. Given the passport office queue started before 7am, and I had to make a special trip to Toronto for it, and the official behind the counter was full of attitude, this was just annoying.
Current passports appear to print the image directly on the page. My latest one came back with an image so dark, I can barely make out my own features. When I saw it, I was actually concerned that I'd have problems travelling with it. I can only imagine how someone of a darker complexion would appear. However, it seemed to satisfy the Passport Office, (or passport office computer) enough to send it to me.
If this is the case, it would make sense that a KLM staff member or customs officer might be cautious. It would also come as no surprise to find out that this government would rather bugger brown Canadians with non-western European names than admit an expensive problem with our state of the art super secure passports.
The Federal Court of Appeal has upheld a judge’s ruling that ordered the federal government to press for the return of Omar Khadr from a U.S. military detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.Naturally this has brought out the frothing lunatics in the comments to the CBC item. It amazes and disgusts me to no end the fanatical bloodlust that Omar Khadr seems to generate from a portion of the population. It seems he, being one of weakest and most vulnerable people caught up on the wrong side of 9/11, appears to bear a disproportionate amount of public rage. I also wonder, given that Khadr was tortured in custody, including threats of rape, whether these members of the public are advocates of rape as a form of punishment? Would they be willing to carry out that punishment, or would they rather someone else with a uniform and a badge do it - in their name - so they can call them heroes? It's a low and sick cowardice these commenters exhibit.
Given the recent trend in court rulings against the government's position regarding the plight of non-white Canadians imprisoned abroad, perhaps it's time we made the Conservative Party a ward of the court in these matters. It's the only way they can actually be brought to do anything properly.
It used to be that if one fell afoul of the law overseas (which is not the same thing as committing a crime) and could contact the embassy, consular affairs and the Canadian government would be there for you - finding lawyers, making sure you were not mistreated, protecting you. Now, the government seems to be saying that when you leave the country, the country leaves you - you're on your own and they don't really want you back.
As one of the 9% of Canadians who is outside Canada at the moment, this is a worrisome thing. Especially since I live in a country with a history of xenophobia and a legal system with no presumption of innocence or even right to a lawyer while in police custody.
And it isn't just the unwillingness of the Canadian government to stand up for its citizens like accused child soldier Omar Khadr who are unlawfully being held prisoner by a foreign governerment or the withdrawl of consular services - there are other changes indicative of this distaste for Canadians the Conservative don't feel are Canadian enough.
Both my children and my brother's kids were born in foriegn countries, but can claim Canadian
citizenship is they wish by virtue of the citizenship of their parents. But unless my grandchildren are born in Canada, they will no have that same option. A recent change in the law means that my children are not Canadian enough to pass on citizenship to their own kids should they be born outside the country.
Another comparitively recent change in law means that since I have been out of the country for five years, I can no longer vote in any election in Canada.
I suppose its a matter of self preservation for the Conservatives. After all, anyone who has been exposed to the world outside their provincial little town or who has a stake in multiculturalism isn't likely to vote for Stephen Harper and his gang of isolationist ignoramuses.
Crossposted from the Woodshed
Kabul : Residents say the U.S. contractors opened fire without provocation after one of their vehicles tipped over in a traffic accident. The driver of a Toyota said the Americans ordered him to stop, then told him to move on. When the driver began pulling away the Americans started shooting. A passenger in the car was killed and a man walking about 200 yards away was shot in the head. No weapons were found in the Toyota, or on the bystander. A lawyer representing the four contractors said the company [Xe] falsely accused the men of drinking alcohol that night.
The U.S. spent between $6 billion and $10 billion on security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 through 2007 alone, according to Congress. In all, there are more than 71,000 security contractors or guards, armed and unarmed, in Afghanistan.
Since February, oversight of security contractors in Afghanistan has been entrusted not to Congress or the Pentagon, but to a British-owned private contractor, Aegis.
The company was hired by the American government after the U.S. military said it lacked the manpower and expertise to monitor security contractors.
The US military says it lacks the manpower and expertise to monitor its mercenaries ....
h/t Pogge via B'n R.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
This is going to be a long post, but bear with me, it's for your own good.
Crossposted from the Woodshed
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
BLENDER IS AN OPEN-SOURCE 3-D animation/modelling program, which you can download for free. It is capable of awesome renderings. BLENDER NATION is a support site for users. Check out "Memory", a 7-minute video produced by Junichi Yamamoto. The Japanese site, FALCON ONE, is comprehensible through Google Translation. It's a really touching video, and worth viewing especially using the Google High Quality option. The ending . . . .
The point is, that while it might not be quite at Pixar's level, it's astounding quality for a lot fewer bucks.
The issue of firearms, rightwing violence (at least the implication) and Obama's healthcare is all over the news and blogs these days. It subsequently dawned on me this morning that every potentially violent divisive period in American history has a common macro-theme where one group of people at least in part feels that a disadvantaged population should be relieved of their burdens, be it slavery, being the subjectively wrong sort of Asian, or having no healthcare.
If we conceive culture as a complex and dynamic system of discourses, and analog this to broader complex and dynamic systems, like a human body, we can see how toxic patterns discourse might (re)emerge and disappear over time like a cancer. The symbolism and mythmaking (origin myths?) nurtured from the Revolutionary War onward produced some arguably very healthy socio-cultural cells, but also some utterly poisoness ones. Maybe the conflict-birth of that nation planted an adversarial and violent seed whereby anything that threatens certain (mis)perceptions of what ought to be or is, promotes a radical and violent pushback.
Perhaps part of this is the pathological adherence to rugged individualism and weapons by some segments of that society. To me this also implies a the hegemonic individual perception of a Hobbesian brutality to individual lives where the first response anything new is not to try to understand or discuss, but to resist with extreme paranoia. Particularly if it challenges the the very idea of that brutality. Is the rightwing blather about 'socialism' and the expressed racism of some, really about maintaining the old and carcinogenic discourse of violence?
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Update (or should I say reload?)
I give you exhibit A:
In other pockets of the state, the reaction to Democratic proposals has been strong, too. At a recent town-hall meeting in suburban Simpsonville, a man stood up and told (R-S.C.) to "keep your government hands off my Medicare."
The controlling of medical costs in countries such as Britain through rationing, and the health consequences thereof are legendary. The stories of people dying on a waiting list or being denied altogether read like a horror movie script.
The U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) basically figures out who deserves treatment by using a cost-utility analysis based on the "quality adjusted life year."
One year in perfect health gets you one point. Deductions are taken for blindness, for being in a wheelchair and so on.
The more points you have, the more your life is considered worth saving, and the likelier you are to get care.
People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.
Monday, August 10, 2009
According to this month's edition of the Council for Secular Humanism's "Free Inquiry", g.w.bush felt "that Iraq must be
invaded to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse."
This is not a joke - no doubt to Bill Maher's chagrin - and James A. Haught details the story in his article "A French Revelation, or The Burning Bush."
Check out the whole article, but here are some of the highlights:
A French Revelation, or The Burning Bush
James A. Haught
Incredibly, President George W. Bush told French President Jacques Chirac in early 2003 that Iraq must be invaded to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse.
Honest. This isn’t a joke. The president of the United States, in a top-secret phone call to a major European ally, asked for French troops to join American soldiers in attacking Iraq as a mission from God.
Now out of office, Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”
After the 2003 call, the puzzled French leader didn’t comply with Bush’s request. Instead, his staff asked Thomas Romer, a theologian at the University of Lausanne, to analyze the weird appeal. Dr. Romer explained that the Old Testament book of Ezekiel contains two chapters (38 and 39) in which God rages against Gog and Magog, sinister and mysterious forces menacing Israel. Jehovah vows to smite them savagely, to “turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws,” and slaughter them ruthlessly. In the New Testament, the mystical book of Revelation envisions Gog and Magog gathering nations for battle, “and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”
Oddly, mainstream media are ignoring this alarming revelation that Bush may have been half-cracked when he started his Iraq war. My own paper, The Charleston Gazette in West Virginia, is the only U.S. newspaper to report it so far. Canada’s Toronto Star recounted the story, calling it a “stranger-than-fiction disclosure … which suggests that apocalyptic fervor may have held sway within the walls of the White House.” Fortunately, online commentary sites are spreading the news, filling the press void.
The French revelation jibes with other known aspects of Bush’s renowned evangelical certitude. For example, a few months after his phone call to Chirac, Bush attended a 2003 summit in Egypt. The Palestinian foreign minister later said the American president told him he was “on a mission from God” to defeat Iraq. At that time, the White House called this claim “absurd.”
It’s awkward to say openly, but now-departed President Bush is a religious crackpot, an ex-drunk of small intellect who “got saved.” He never should have been entrusted with the power to start wars.
Truth really is stranger than fiction at times . . . .
(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)
Sunday, August 09, 2009
It's not just a North American phenomenon:
Outlet malls are big in Europe, Japan, and Hong Kong. They exist in Turkey, Dubai, and South Africa. If there is one deep in the Amazon rain forest, and another just south of the North Pole, it would not surprise me. The New York Times once reported that outlet malls were not only the fastest growing segment of the retail industry but one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry.
Their distant locations are no accident:
In a very real sense, outlets are the anti-convenience store. Visiting the outlets demands an investment in time, deliberation, and energy beyond what we invest in most other leisure activities. And because the effort required to reach and shop at them is substantial, even extraordinary, the experience of going to the outlet is elevated in our minds to "special occasion" status. A trip to the outlet mall is not passive, not simply a matter of popping in to pick up a few things. We have to work to get there, piling up hefty "sunk costs." All that time! All that gas! "I gave up my entire Sunday afternoon and even missed the game to come here!" Psychologically speaking, all this and more must be repaid in the form of purchases made. In making that long trip we are actually engaged in a transfer of power away from ourselves to the outlet itself. The mall has extracted a price, and in demanding repayment, we are in fact taxing ourselves. Our expectations are raised at the same time that our guard is lowered, and in making this bargain we are willing to forgo many things that we once demanded from a satisfying shopping experience: variety, serendipity, aspiration -- and fun.
And they're designed to be uncomfortable:
Outlet malls, too, minimize amenities to discourage wasteful lingering. You are not likely to stumble on a fashion show, listen to a chamber orchestra, or enjoy a gourmet meal at an outlet center. But that doesn't mean you won't spend a lot of time dispersing your paycheck. On average, shoppers spend nearly 80 percent more money at a bare bones outlet mall than they would at a fully loaded regional mall. A popular rationale for this seeming paradox, in addition to the inconvenience hypothesis, is that outlet shoppers spend more to save more on things they really need.
But the savings aren't there to be had. Caveat emptor, baby, caveat emptor. To find out why and how, go visit the page.
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Bill Maher has a New Rule posted at The Huffington Post today.
Shake your head in astonishment.
A few weeks ago I was asked by Wolf Blitzer if I thought Sarah Palin could get elected president, and I said I hope not, but I wouldn't put anything past this stupid country. It was amazing - in the minute or so between my calling America stupid and the end of the Cialis commercial, CNN was flooded with furious emails and the twits hit the fan. And you could tell that these people were really mad because they wrote entirely in CAPITAL LETTERS!!!
At a recent town-hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his Congressman to "keep your government hands off my Medicare," which is kind of like driving cross country to protest highways.
Nearly half of Americans don't know that states have two senators and more than half can't name their congressman. And among Republican governors, only 30% got their wife's name right on the first try.
Enjoy . . . .
(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)
Thursday, August 06, 2009
What was intended to be a town hall discussion on President Barack Obama's health care reform proposal dissolved into a shouting match with shoving and scuffles in Ybor City tonight.
The event brought home to Tampa the recent phenomenon of angry opponents of Obama's proposal disrupting town hall meetings by Democratic members of Congress during the August recess.
This meeting was organized by Democratic state Rep. Betty Reed but was to include comments on the proposal by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a strong supporter.
Castor tried to speak for nearly 15 minutes but the crowd drowned her out, chanting, "You work for us,'' "Tyranny, tyranny,'' and "Read the bill." She ultimately left the meeting early, further angering some attendees.
The problems began when a crowd of around 500, many of them recruited to attend by interest groups both for and against the proposal, sought to enter the meeting room. The room, in the offices of the Hillsborough County Children's Board on East Palm Avenue, has a capacity of only about 250.
Several hundred people, mostly opponents, wound up outside or packing a hallway leading into the meeting room. Some scuffled with members of the sponsoring groups who manned the doorway.
The story is a bit misleading in that it blames both sides for the near riot. One group of people came there to discuss health policy and here from their elected representative, many at the behest of the their preferred political party or political action group. The other group was there strictly to shout slogans, disrupt the meeting and prevent reasonable discussion at the behest of those with a vested interest or for political advantage. There is no question as to which group is associated with which political party and blaming both sides is like blaming the bank and the bank robbers.
Not that Beck is the only one to blame, there is plenty of blame to go around.
Obviously the plutocrats are either worried or getting so overconfident that they cannot be touched, that they aren't even bothering to wipe the fingerprints off the weapons they are using to murder democracy in the United States.
This isn't the first time the right has used mob tactics in recent history, but this time it was regular people inspired by the same hatemongers and professional manipulators behind the "tea-bagger" movement, not a crowd of political aides and party operatives.
In encouraging people to come out and disrupt politcal meetings, a very dangerous line has been crossed here. Is American headed back to the pitched street battles of the early 20th century when the industrial barons of the day hired goons squads to attack and kill trade unionists, break up leftist demonstrations and nearly mounted a military coup?
Big darkness, soon come.
(cross-posted from the Woodshed)
Very soon there will be none left alive. In some ways now it seems that with the passing of the ancient veterans, the age of modern war, where mechanised death has come into its own, entrenching itself in the human sojourn through time and space. There are almost none left alive who knew a world before our fascination with machines and technology and our fear of the other got the better of us and our politics. Almost none who are witness to the transition from limited war of horses and leather boots, to the the loss of innocence that came with the millions dead in festering mud. We're on our now, with the memory of a different world passing from living purchase and into the constructions of our collective imagination.
I am struck by the resonance of this quote from Mr. Patch, turned to lyrics by Thom Yorke*-
I am the only one that got through,
the others died where ever they fell.
It was an ambush,
they came up from all sides.
Give your leaders each a gun and then let them fight it out themselves.
I've seen devils coming up from the ground.
I've seen hell upon this earth.
The next will be chemical but they will never learn.
-with the words of other older veterans I've been privileged to audience. There are no politics with them. No mention of evil doers or scumbags. Just elder's careworn plea that we not follow the same path.
But our young world does not listen to them. We are too preoccupied with yellow ribbons and smart bombs. Our hollow rhetoric, and our politics of division, and the tremendous but easy effort we put into convincing ourselves that some group of humans are so profoundly different from us that we are compelled to march off and slaughter them. Particularly, now it seems, if they do not have the capacity to return the favour at anywhere near the same level. Perhaps if the blood were more equally spilt, as it was in Harry's day, things would be different.
Perhaps we need to run out of oil before the machines will finally seize and we can create a different world.
*The song costs £1, and proceeds go to the Royal British Legion.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
They can be in the air in ten minutes and, based on historical data, each can make a drop every fifteen minutes. Working in tandem, this equates to 7,200 US gallons (27,276 litres) every seven minutes and each drop can cover an area of up to 4 acres (1.6 hectares).
The aircraft [takes on] water at a rate in excess of a ton per second. Pickup time is, on average, 25 seconds.
Monday, August 03, 2009
With condolences and respect to the families and friends of Sapper Matthieu Allard and Corporal Christian Bobbitt, 5e Régiment du génie de combat. Killed due to enemy action.