Friday, April 30, 2010
There are 621 ghost estates across Ireland now, a legacy of those hopeful years. One in five Irish homes is unoccupied.
If the country immediately used them to house every person on the social housing list, there would still be hundreds of thousands left over.
"Everyone took the property drug at the same time", he says, "everyone was up at the same time, everyone was buzzing.
"Now we are all in the middle of this huge comedown. And people are looking around and saying - 'what happened? Was that us?' And then we look at our bank statements and we realise - 'yes, it was'".
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Ladies and gentleman, I give you the true image of our current government. Featuring Stephen Harper as Jed, Jason Kenney as Miss Jane, Ramir Jaffer as Mr Drysdale, Vic Toews as Granny, John Baird as Jethro and Helena Guergis as Ellie May. Conceived by me and put together by the brilliant DC Hillier. Please distribute this image far and wide. Let it become the photo that defines Harper's Hillbillies.
John Baird as Jethro? Sure, now we have Jethro Baird. Works for me.
Starting in 1791, Toussaint L’Ouverture led a successful slave revolt against French rule in Saint-Domingue, the French colony which at that time produced 40 per cent of the world’s sugar; the result was the independent state of Haiti, which seemed to promise a new life for its inhabitants.
Today, hundreds of thousands of black Haitians work the cane fields of the Dominican Republic in conditions not unlike those suffered by their ancestors before Toussaint’s revolt. Abbott travels to the Dominican Republic, where she finds that Haitian workers – some of them adolescents, most illegal immigrants – are not supplied with arm or shin guards “and their flesh bears the scars and gouges of their dangerous profession”. Their pay is US$1.20 per ton of sugar and they live “in shared shanties without water, toilets, or cooking facilities”. She hints at similar injustice in sugar production in El Salvador and Brazil and writes too of how sugar cane has trashed the environment, causing, according to the World Wildlife Fund, “a greater loss of biodiversity on the planet than any other single crop, due to its destruction of habitat to make way for plantations, its intensive use of water for irrigation, its heavy use of agricultural chemicals and the polluted waste-water that is routinely discharged during the sugar production process”.
I love Bee's conclusion:
The sweet-toothed among us would like to hear whether a life spent in those high lonely grasses of the cane fields has ever been bearable; whether our cravings for muscovado and demerara can ever be justified; or whether we should all switch to maple syrup, tapped by happy Canadians.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
"Of course the fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, the government cannot break the law and cannot order public servants to break the law, nor can it do anything that would unnecessarily jeopardize the safety of Canadian troops."
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
SCIENCE DAILY has a report of interest, "Ancient Artifacts Revealed as Northern Ice Patches Melt". Seems that the warming climate has made these permanent ice fields start to shrink. And as they do so, interesting things are left behind the melt.
ScienceDaily (Apr. 26, 2010) — High in the Mackenzie Mountains, scientists are finding a treasure trove of ancient hunting tools being revealed as warming temperatures melt patches of ice that have been in place for thousands of years.
Tom Andrews, an archaeologist with the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife and lead researcher on the International Polar Year Ice Patch Study, is amazed at the implements being discovered by researchers.
The results have been extraordinary. Andrews and his team have found 2400-year-old spear throwing tools, a 1000-year-old ground squirrel snare, and bows and arrows dating back 850 years.
Unfortunately, the program is winding up.
Andrews is currently in a race against time. His IPY funds have run out and he is keenly aware that each summer, the patches continue to melt. In fact, two of the eight original patches have already disappeared.
"We realize that the ice patches are continuing to melt and we have an ethical obligation to collect these artifacts as they are exposed," says Andrews. If left on the ground, exposed artifacts would be trampled by caribou or dissolved by the acidic soils. "In a year or two the artifacts would be gone."
Monday, April 26, 2010
1. Immediate, NATO and selected Afghan forces:
Evacuated and treated by the most efficient, best equipped and effective battlefield medical system in history. NATO wounded also benefit from the entire healthcare infrastructure of their home states.
2. Immediate, Afghan forces:
Sent to Afghan military hospitals. Delays and struggles. Poorly coordinated, ill-equipped. Follow-up care of wounded in situ - one the poorest countries on Earth. No evacuations to the big US hospital at Landstuhl. No ongoing support from developed country healthcare systems.
3. Immediate, Afghan civilians:
Multi-hour jeep rides into Khandahar. Surgical teams from the ICRC and others. All care in situ.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson : "These provisions are necessary to protect our country from the threat of terrorism."
A redo of the panicky now defunct Anti-terrorism Act of 2001, the new Combating Terrorism Act includes preventive arrest and forcing people to testify at secret hearings about terrorist acts that might happen in the future, and if you don't like it you can go to jail for up to a year with a judge's option to extend.
There are more safeguards included this time round - you can have a lawyer! at any time! - which will only allow the Libs to go along with it so as not to be painted as soft on terrorism. Mark Holland, Liberal critic for Public Safety and National Security, already looking to cave.
The argument in favour of anti-terrorism legislation is that criminal law only deals with crimes already committed. What to do about people who feel that crimes perpetrated by the state against their people require a response like blowing things up?
The argument against it is ... well, let's look at how they're doing with the laws they've already got.
The unfortunate Mr. Zubaydah got waterboarded 83 times in the US, coughed up Harkat's name, and the Canadian government obligingly held Harkat for 3 1/2 years.
The federal government case against Ottawa terror suspect Mohamed Harkat appears to have suffered a significant blow Wednesday when a document was introduced in court showing that Abu Zubaydah, once considered a master terrorist and 9/11 mastermind, actually had nothing to do with the attacks.
Even more surprising, the document, which quotes U.S court filings declassified last week, shows that Zubaydah, once believed to be one of the top leaders in al-Qaeda, was not even a member of the terrorist group.
A clue about the reliability of Abu Zubaydah's "testimony" might have been found in his confession to terrorist acts committed after his imprisonment, but sadly, no, it wasn't.
Abdelrazik? "Closely associated" with the same hapless Abu Zubaydah.
Result? Abdelrazik was tortured, then exiled in Sudan for six years. Still on the UN's 1267 terror list, and the Canadian government has frozen his bank account and he can't work.
Help him get off that list? Blow me, said Minister of Public Security Peter Van Loan and Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon.
Maher Arar - the first inkling for many of us that something had gone terribly wrong.
Adil Charkaoui - in custody 21 months, now free.
Hassan Almrei - in custody for 8 years, now free.
Mahmoud Jaballah - in custody for 6 years, now free.
Mohammad Mahjoub - in custody for 7 years, freed, requested return to jail in 2009 to protest bail conditions worse than jail.
Benamar Benatta - rendered to US for 5 years
Ahmad El Maati, Abdullah Almalki, Muayyed Nureddin
And then there's the ever-expanding definition of just what constitutes terrorism.
According to Jason Kenney's "infandous" Mr. Velshi, George Galloway's proposed visit to Canada last year to give a speech entitled "Resisting war from Gaza to Kandahar" was sufficient for him to prevent a sitting British MP already on tour in the US from entering Canada on the grounds he is "a terrorist supporter".
Nothing about these vile clowns inspires any confidence in their wanting to accrue more secretive powers to their already abused arsenal of abominations.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Taaaa Daaaaaaa! The Maple Syrup Revolution is ON!
Step right up and listen to our all-new, all-Canadian, 100% handmade, all-natural, organic, executive version, deluxe PODCAST - Satisfation guaranteed or triple your money back! You can get the podcast here, at the Canadian iTunes store or at the Maple Syrup Revolution blog.
P.S. All credit for the name goes to Skdadl at POGGE, who coined the phrase.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The Edmonton Police Service is conducting an internal investigation to determine why a vicious assault was not investigated until nearly four days after the incident. Shannon Barry, 31, suffered a broken jaw, a crushed left eye socket and facial nerve damage after being kicked in the face early Saturday by a man who hurled sexual epithets at her before the attack. Barry, who is a lesbian, is recovering at home after surgery Wednesday to implant two plates in her face.And yes, I'm talking about the both the cops who failed to promptly investigate as much as the criminals who actually committed the assault. As well as your portly self, Chuck, for promoting a belief system that sees certain people as untermensch, thereby enabling the above.
Also, if you're so concerned about the Ontario premier unduly listening to special interest groups, howzabout you lead by example and shut the fuck up with your special little anti-human agenda-deus.
Now go read Montreal Simon take "Dr." McVety to the cleaners.
Recently I saw an interview with General McChrystal, head butcher of the the Pentagon’s Democracy Implantation Force in Afghanistan. The General was explaining our ongoing victory. Yes, victory. We were making progress. It was only a matter of time. He could see the light at the end of the tunnel. He didn’t explain what were doing in a tunnel in the first place. I guess he forgot.
The man was a superb explainer. He was intelligent, lean and fit, tanned—American Gothic in olive fatigues. Earnestness rolled off him in waves, accompanied by Firmness, Soldierly Determination and, I suspect, utter incomprehension of what he was doing. Thirty years in the military will make the most brilliant officer into a simpleton. Most achieve it by the time they make first lieutenant.
The guy was Westy, I thought. They’ve dug him up and added animatronics. He had the same statistics, drew the same comforting graphs showing the same progress in pacification, the same decline in Bad Things and rise in Good Things. Yes, he thought, we really should stop killing so many civilians, but we would stop. We were going to help the Afghans, as soon as we finished killing most of them. (He didn’t say the part about killing most of them but seems to be working on it.) We would win their hearts and minds by beneficent and salubrious bombing. (OK, he didn’t say that either. It seems to be what he thinks.)
Gret Gawd, I reflected not too charitably, if this guy ever gets sick, he’ll need an equine proctologist.
So now we are invading Marjah, a city, to build schools and hospitals. Schools and hospitals are characteristically built with heavy artillery. As soon as we have destroyed the place, they will love us and see the virtues of the American Way. (The first thing we did was to blow up a house, killing twelve civilians including the mandatory contingent of children. If that’s not a hearts-and-minds move, I can’t imagine what could be.
The strategy makes perfect sense, really. I mean, if Afghans killed your tyke, wouldn’t that make you want to adopt their form of government, and let them improve your life? It would me.
All of this is so eerily familiar. Westmoreland, the Ghost of McChrystal Past, was also a pacifier of hamlets. Kill their kids, give them five hundred bucks and a lollipop in compensation. Explain voting. What a plan.
Sez me, officers should not be allowed to try to think. A constitutional amendment would be appropriate. They spend decades steeped like green tea bags in a martial culture that doesn’t have a poodle’s grasp of how people work. If you want to fight the Red Army in the Fulda Gap (I don’t particularly) send McChrystal. He doubtless knows armor, helicochoppers, large guns that say boom. But about people, he ain’t got the sense God give a crabapple. And this is a people’s war.
Understand: soldiers are not normal. They live in a bubble world, sealed away on semi-isolated bases with profoundly isolated minds. The usual traits of human behavior don’t apply, such as individual thought or mental independence. They believe in God and Country (at least, those who stay in long enough to make policy do). They are clean and neat, feel themselves part of a collective working together, respect authority and believe that others, such as Afghans, would be happier if they only did what they were told and got with the program. The military’s notions of Good and Evil are stark and very, very simple. We’re good, and wogs who don’t want us in their country are bad.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
For much of 2007 and 2008, I was an embedded reporter with a platoon of airborne infantry at a remote outpost called Restrepo, which was attacked up to four times a day. Many soldiers had creases in their uniforms from bullets that had brushed them. In one firefight a bullet hit a sandbag six inches from my head.
The psychological pressure was enormous. “I’ve only been here for four months and I can’t believe how messed up I am,” one soldier told me. “I went to the counselor and he asked if I smoked cigarettes and I told him no and he said, ‘Well, you may want to think about starting.’”
There were around 20 men at Restrepo — part of a 150-member unit called Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team — and the possibility of getting overrun by the enemy was openly discussed. The men slept next to their guns and sometimes with their boots on. More than 40 American soldiers have died.
A companion article, "Leaving the Korangal Valley" by Alissa J. Rubin and C.J. Chivers, highlights the apparent futility:
“The whole point of counterinsurgency is that by securing the local population, you legitimize the government of Afghanistan,” said Major Fussell. “But the thing about the Korangal and Waygal Valleys is that they don’t recognize any government beyond their little village, and when you go to them and say, ‘we want to secure you and offer you a road’ they say, ‘we don’t want a road.’”
“I would argue you couldn’t find a single Korangali who wanted any outside assistance.”
Adding to the malaise is a report by C.J. Chivers, "Arms Sent by U.S. May Be Falling Into Taliban Hands" — ammunition and small arms sent to Afghani police is winding up with the Muj.
KABUL — Insurgents in Afghanistan, fighting from some of the poorest and most remote regions on earth, have managed for years to maintain an intensive guerrilla war against materially superior American and Afghan forces.
Arms and ordnance collected from dead insurgents hint at one possible reason: Of 30 rifle magazines recently taken from insurgents’ corpses, at least 17 contained cartridges, or rounds, identical to ammunition the United States had provided to Afghan government forces, according to an examination of ammunition markings by The New York Times and interviews with American officers and arms dealers.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
As dishonest a tactic as this is, it is generally accepted that it is part of the political spin game and will be attempted with varying degrees of shameless obviousness.
Even given all that, having a convicted fraud artist write - from jail no less - an attack on a news organization that has long been considered the gold standard in journalistic credibility in order to defend the raping of altar boys and the popularity of hate merchants while at the same time blaming the press for the fall of Vietnam and attempting to rehabilitate the reputation of Richard Milhous Nixon -- well, that sets a new low in shamelessness and hypocrisy.
Well played, National Post. I'm sure a sinecure can be found for you at the National Review or someother wingnut welfare agency, or even within Lord Tubby's empire itself, when the magic hand of the marketplace finally gives your "newspaper" the finger.
Hat tip to Jim Dandy Goodness for reading the National Toast so that I don't have to.
A new study says the number of mixed-race couples has risen considerably in Canada.
Numbers gleaned from the last census indicate there were 289,400 mixed unions in 2006, 33.1 per cent more than in 2001. "As Canada's population becomes increasingly diverse, there are more opportunities for people to marry or form relationships with someone from a different ethno-cultural background," Statistics Canada said in a release Tuesday.
Somewhere out there a wingnut needs stitches and a new computer.
Chrolavicius sensed something was amiss when she independently obtained records related to Benatta's case through the Access to Information Act that had not come out through the court process.
Still, the government said in a submission to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that additional documents and information "simply do not exist."
It said the allegation that the Crown's search for documents had been deficient was based largely on speculation, intuition, guesswork and erroneous assumption.
In December, the court ordered the government to come up with a more complete list of documents, saying the original was "deficient in form and substance."
Initially the government said 113 relevant documents existed, but it now acknowledges 972 items.
Attractive women who snub traditional Islamic clothing to instead wear fashionable clothes and apply heavy make-up, caused youths in the country to “go astray” and have affairs, Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi said.
"Many women who dress inappropriately ... cause youths to go astray, taint their chastity and incite extramarital sex in society, which increases earthquakes," he told worshippers at a Tehran prayer service late last week.
"Calamities are the result of people's deeds.
“We have no way but conform to Islam to ward off dangers."
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
That's mind control, folks. Boogity-boogity. The neat thing is, it's for real. No tin hat required.
The most substantial portion of the PEAR experimental program examines anomalies arising in human/machine interactions. 6 or 7 years ago, I watched an amazing @Discovery Canada segment where the gang visited PEAR, and showed them controlling a moving battery-powered mouse-toy. Unfortunately, I cannot winkle it out of the web.
In these studies human operators attempt to bias the output of a variety of mechanical, electronic, optical, acoustical, and fluid devices to conform to pre-stated intentions, without recourse to any known physical influences. In unattended calibrations all of these sophisticated machines produce strictly random data, yet the experimental results display increases in information content that can only be attributed to the consciousness of their human operators.
Over the laboratory's 27-year history, thousands of such experiments, involving many millions of trials, have been performed by several hundred operators. The observed effects are usually quite small, of the order of a few parts in ten thousand on average, but they compound to highly significant statistical deviations from chance expectations.
PEAR's wind-up produced the International Consciousness Research Laboratories (ICRL), and Psyleron.
ICRL is a non-profit that continues the PEAR research and offers course material for study. Psyleron makes stuff, encourages you to be willful; they proclaim they are
a company and research organization that explores the connection between the mind and the physical world. Discoveries made at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) laboratory have shown that human intention and group dynamics can influence the behavior of quantum electronic devices known as Random Event Generators (REGs). Psyleron was founded by PEAR scientists and associates with the purpose of developing products and materials that enable ongoing research and public exploration of mind-matter effects.
One of their products is The Psyleron Mind Lamp™.
The Psyleron Mind Lamp™ is a color-changing ambient device that can respond to your conscious or subconscious mind. Inside the lamp is a quantum measurement device called a random event generator, or REG. The REG controls the relative mixtures of an internal LED's primary colors: red, green, and blue. The mixtures result in the many vibrant and dynamic colors produced by the lamp. Each lamp is constructed of blown glass and is sandblasted to achieve a semi-opaque surface that gently disperses light. The lamp's high-quality construction makes it a great gift item, and a beautiful addition to any living area or workspace.
As well as th REG-1 training device, they also make a moving play-toy robot:
The Psyleron Robot is a basic mechanical toy, but with a very unique feature: inside the robot is a Psyleron-based random event generator. The REG core controls the movement of the robot―forward, reverse, left, right, and pivot. Because the REG is subject to the influence of consciousness, the movement of the robot can also be influenced by the mind.
Like Oddball said in "Kelly's Heroes", it's all about them positive waves, man.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Now go read Dawg, for details and, most importantly, some of the things you can do to help your fellow citizen and human being.
Yes it's quite the model. The UN's Rapporteur on Indigenous People is urgently calling for a report on Colombia from the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, due to the increasing number of murders of indigenous people by paramilitary groups attached to the government. Colombia's population of internally displaced persons (3 million as of 2008) is second only to that of Sudan.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates offered high praise to Colombia today as an "exporter of security" that, by sharing lessons learned in its crackdown against a leftist insurgency and drug-trafficking cartels, provides a model for the region.
Gates commended Colombia for sharing its knowledge and skills in ounterinsurgency, law enforcement and anti-kidnapping training. “We believe these efforts are enhancing stability in the Americas,” he said.
On the up side, in 2009 only 45 trade unionists were killed.
Gates also acknowledged Colombia’s role as an exporter of security beyond its immediate neighborhood, noting its plans to send troops to Afghanistan to support operations there.The US operates seven of Colombia's military bases, so that shouldn't be much of a problem.
“The United States is committed to provide the support necessary to help expedite this deployment,” he said
The U.S.-Colombian Defense Cooperation Agreement formalized the military-to-military relationship between the two countries to better address narcotics production and trafficking, terrorism, illicit smuggling and humanitarian and natural disasters.Venezuela immediately announced plans to purchase five billion dollars worth of Russian weapons.
Gates called the agreements “an important step forward” and said he hopes people come to realize they are focused only on promoting bilateral security relationships, not in providing a venue for the United States to interfere in other countries’ matters.
The secretary said his talks here also extended to the importance of a getting a free trade agreement ratified, noting that he talked with National Security Advisor James L. Jones Jr. before his trip here about renewing that effort.Because reopening any discussion of a free trade agreement naturally originates with the Defense Dept and the National Security Advisor.
“Colombia’s hard-won freedom from violence can be sustained only through economic prosperity,” he wrote.The kind of economic prosperity that includes flooding the Colombian market with subsidized US agribix products. Remind me, how did that work out for Mexico?
Gates said a trade promotion agreement would establish a commitment to open markets that would increase this essential growth and investment in Colombia.Well I guess we have our marching orders then.
“To achieve lasting peace and stability, Colombia must have more foreign investment and free trade,” Gates wrote.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
An online news outlet in New York state has obtained dozens of emails, many of them racist and sexually graphic, which it reports were sent by Carl Paladino, the Tea-Party-backed Republican candidate for governor of New York, to a long list of political and business associates. One email shows a video of an African tribal dance, entitled "Obama Inauguration Rehearsal," while another depicts hardcore bestiality.
Paladino's campaign manager, Michael Caputo, would not comment on specific emails, but acknowledged to TPMmuckraker that Paladino had sent emails that were "off-color" and "politically incorrect," saying that few such emails represented the candidate's own opinion. Caputo accused Democrats of wanting to change the subject from substantive issues to "having sex with horses."
The news outlet that obtained the emails, WNYmedia.net, a western New York media company, says it confirmed that at least some of the emails were authentic by contacting several people who had received them.
Eat it if you want to.
Via Canadian Cynic, we hear from Kady that the things reported to the Ethics Commissioner are not what we might have thought they were.
It's a good one.
Another point is that the Ethics Commissioner would be required to suspend any inquiry once the RCMP starts to investigate.
If Harper was selling bubble gum using the same tactics he'd be hauled up by the ASC for violating section 1a and 1b of the Code.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The original report on this came from REDDIT, and the comments are a hoot:
- And Moses parted the lanes, pharaoh drafting him down the straightaway. But without God, pharaoh's fuel ran out, and was left behind.
- Daniel gets thrown into the lion pit crew.
- Getting into heaven is like qualifying for the Daytona 500.
- Amun-Ra is a terrible pit boss.
- Jesus didn't walk on water... he hydroplaned!
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Then... the report from CTV.
The mysterious third party who uncovered serious allegations that led Prime Minister Stephen Harper to toss MP Helena Guergis out of caucus is a private investigator, CTV News has learned.Geez, that might explain some very, (cough), erratic behaviour.
Police sources say the licensed private eye contacted a Conservative Party lawyer in Toronto, and expressed concern about a potential threat of blackmail arising from allegations about the purchase and use of drugs.
In any case... You Tube that, Soudas.
Open, accountable government, run by a bunch of knee-jerking hillbillies with a hidden agenda.
Four years after the Harper government came to power pledging sweeping improvements to Canada’s access laws, a new report warns that the right of Canadians to obtain federal documents is at risk of being “totally obliterated.”
The damning conclusion comes from interim access to information commissioner Suzanne Legault, who is waiting for the government to announce whether she – or someone else – will be appointed to a permanent, seven-year term.
Monday, April 12, 2010
A little problematic, eh Pete?
Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s erratic behavior of late, including suggestions he may join the Taliban, have a “corrosive impact” on Canadian troops, the Defence Minister says. Just back from Afghanistan, Peter MacKay told The Globe and Mail today that was the message he delivered to two senior Karzai government ministers. “I called for more constructive and active engagement. People need to see a more visible presence of the Afghan government in Kandahar province,” Mr. MacKay told the Afghan officials, explaining the President’s comments have a “corrosive impact on Canadian soldiers and citizens.”
I really hope you're not thinking about crawling further into the labyrinth.
Well, FABIUS has an article, "Stratfor looks at Mexico: “The Struggle for Balance” featuring a by-permission re-post from STRATFOR on the Mexican Problem, written by Scott Stewart.
Why should you care?
The drug cartel problem in Mexico is getting worse as time goes on, to the point where some pundits are using dire descriptions like "failed state" in their ruminations about this very violent situation. The Mexican gangs have moved into the US big-time, and they'll be here soon. We have the taser-happy RCMP, who can't shoot straight. Makes you feel warm and fuzzy.
However, at the tactical level, there are a number of issues also shaping the opinions of many Mexicans regarding narcotics trafficking, including violence, corruption and rapidly rising domestic narcotics consumption. At this level, people are being terrorized by running gunbattles, mass beheadings and rampant kidnappings — the types of events that STRATFOR covers in our Mexico Security Memos.
Mexican elites have the money to buy armored cars and hire private security guards. But rampant corruption in the security forces means the common people seemingly have nowhere to turn for help at the local level (not an uncommon occurrence in the developing world). The violence is also having a heavy impact on Mexico’s tourist sector and on the willingness of foreign companies to invest in Mexico’s manufacturing sector. Many smaller business owners are being hit from two sides — they receive extortion demands from criminals while facing a decrease in revenue due to a drop in tourism because of the crime and violence. These citizens and businessmen are demanding help from Mexico City.
These two opposing forces — the inexorable flow of huge quantities of cash and the pervasive violence, corruption and fear — are placing a tremendous amount of pressure on the Calderon administration. And this pressure will only increase as Mexico moves closer to the 2012 presidential elections (President Felipe Calderon was the law-and-order candidate and was elected in 2006 in large part due to his pledge to end cartel violence). Faced by these forces, Calderon needs to find a way to strike a delicate balance, one that will reassert Mexican government authority, quell the violence and mollify the public while also allowing the river of illicit cash to continue flowing into Mexico.
And the proposed North American trade corridor . . . looks like a continuation of that drug map.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
But not to a Conservative. Taking a page out of the Karl Rove playbook, Harper has elevated one of the frat boys based on his loyalty to Dear Leader.
Dimitri Soudas, 30, who has worked for Harper for eight years, replaces John Williamson as director of communications. Soudas, whose most recent position was associate director of communications, will be the prime minister's fifth communications director in five years.And without even thinking hard, this is how good the guy is:
So the PMO now has an Alfa-Squirrel and a walking example of the Dilbert Principle.
Last December, he accused Canadian environmentalist Steven Guilbeault of being behind a spoof designed to embarrass the Canadian government at the Copenhagen climate summit. It turned out the Yes Men were responsible for the series of fake news releases that claimed Canada had committed to drastic greenhouse gas emission cuts.
In July 2009, Soudas had to apologize for passing along incorrect information to Harper about comments made by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.
Harper criticized Ignatieff for saying Canada could become irrelevant at major international summits. But Ignatieff never made the comments, which were made by former Canadian diplomat Gordon Smith.
Earlier this year, Soudas had to close his Facebook account after he accepted a wanted criminal as a friend on the popular social networking site. Infoman, a Radio-Canada news program in Quebec, had faked the friend request and warned Soudas could have been causing a security risk by including personal photos of his family on Facebook.
The rest of you Harperites will just have to keep on sucking.
Training the Afghan National Police. That was contracted out to DynCorp in 2003, wasn't it?They put together a program for turning illiterate recruits into a police force that was 8 weeks long, then 6 weeks, now down to 3 weeks.
How's that going so far?
Afghan Cops - A $6 Billion Fiasco - excerpted :
More than a year after Barack Obama took office, the president is still discovering how bad things are. At a March 12 briefing on Afghanistan with his senior advisers, he asked whether the police will be ready when America's scheduled drawdown begins in July 2011, according to a senior official who was in the room.
"It's inconceivable, but in fact for eight years we weren't training the police," replied Caldwell, taking part in the meeting via video link from Afghanistan. "We just never trained them before. All we did was give them a uniform."
The president looked stunned. "Eight years," he said. "And we didn't train police? It's mind-boggling." The room was silent.
Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who took over in November as chief of the U.S. program : "You constantly hear these stories about who was worse: the Afghan police that were there or the Taliban."
Since January 2007, upwards of 2,000 Afghan police have been killed in action—more than twice the figure for Afghan Army soldiers. U.S. officers say as many as half the police casualties were a result of firearms accidents and traffic collisions.
Fewer than 12% of the country's police units are capable of operating on their own. Yet of the 170,000 or so Afghans trained under the program since its inception, only about 30,000 remain on the force.
Steve Kraft, who oversees the program for the State Department : "Once they leave the training center, we currently don't know whether they stay with the force or quit," Kraft says. "The bottom line is, we just don't know."
Tracy Jeansonne, a former deputy sheriff from Louisiana who worked for DynCorp from May 2006 to June 2008. "A lot of the police officers wanted to be able to extort money from locals. If we caught them, we'd suggest they be removed. But we couldn't fire anybody. We could only make suggestions."
Ann Jones : "In many districts, the police recently supplemented their low pay and demonstrated allegiance to local warlords by stuffing ballot boxes for President Karzai in the presidential election."
The missing and unaccounted for millions of dollars in US government contracts is bad enough, but then there's the contracts we do know about :
AEY Inc., based in Florida, and described by the New York Times as "a fledgling company led by a 22-year-old man whose vice president was a licensed masseur," dispatched to the Afghan security forces 100 million Chinese cartridges, some 40 years old and in "decomposing packaging," under a $10 million Pentagon contract.
Currently, the Pentagon has given the Space and Missile Defense Command Contracting Office in Huntsville, Alabama, the task of deciding between DynCorp and Blackwater/Xe for the new billion-dollar police training contract. On March 12th, President Obama devoted much of the monthly video conference call between his Washington national security team and his senior commanders in Afghanistan to questions about how the police training problem should be tackled.
I guess that's where we come in.
MacKay, today :
"We will work within the parameters of the parliamentary motion, which states very clearly that the military mission will come to an end in 2011. We will then transition into some of the other important work that we’re doing. That includes a focus on police training. The prime minister has been clear in saying our commitment to Afghanistan is for the long-term."
Training the Afghan police alongside either DynCorp or Xe will be the new parliamentary "parameters" necessary to keep those trucks rolling between Windsor and Detroit .
Saturday, April 10, 2010
JJ and Pale highlighted a letter sent to the St. Albert Gazette earlier this week where Chris and Karleena Perry decried the notion of low or even (gasp!) middle income families being "allowed" to move into an area that is occupied by.... the conspicuously wealthy. That letter contained such gems as: (all emphasis mine)
The average family income for St. Albert is higher than in Edmonton or any other area municipality. We moved to St. Albert because we can afford it and we deserve it. This is a great city with great families. We feel comfortable joining in activities we would not have considered in Edmonton.Hmmm. I have relatives who live in that town and I can tell you, they play a lot of this. And then there was this:
When we first moved to St. Albert our teen had a hard time fitting in because of money and it was hard on him. Now he is good, but it did not go away with just a loving hug — his status was accomplished once his friends saw our house and other possessions. It sounds cruel but that is how it is; ask your children, they will tell you.Aha! The kid gets to be a member of the club because it can engage the other snotty pieces-of-work as an equal. Membership in the "gang" is assured because of parents' wealth. All the trappings will be there - expensive clothes, expensive wheels, expensive iPhone, ad nauseum.
And, of course, the teens appreciate all of this conspicuous wealth and treat it with unbelievable respect. Well.... maybe not so much.
Students were sent home Thursday afternoon from Paul Kane High School, following a small fire investigators believe was deliberately set.Heh. Start checking a few pockets for one of these.
On Friday RCMP Const. Janice Schoepp confirmed the detachment was investigating the blaze as arson and said they had not yet identified any suspects.
She said the blaze appears to have been started when someone lit a roll of toilet paper on fire, burning both the roll and melting the plastic dispenser, which caused the heavy smoke.
Friday, April 09, 2010
Once upon a time Canadian foreign policy, especially in the realm of peace and security, was centred on the United Nations the exercise of [relative] impartiality when dealing with parties in conflict. Canadian governments typically officially sat out of the various post-war ideological and post/neo-colonial Periphery misadventures the big boys of the Western gang habitually got themselves in to. We largely stood back and tried to clean up the mess.
Some folks in this country, however, got to thinking that sort of approach to world engagement represented some kind of national phallic deficiency. Real states, like Britain and the US, apparently go out and kick the ass of various unreasonable foreigners. Of course, there were things like the complete failure to prevent the Rwandan genocide, the Balkan clusterfuck, and of course 11 September 2001, which provided good reason to think the world had changed. Some then concluded that 'peace' institutions didn't work or were no longer relevant. What was needed was a muscular foreign policy and a far more aggressive Canadian role against these 'rogue states'.
So, we saddled up with the big boys' posse and galloped off a-fighting.
Unfortunately, we forgot that whatever their intentions, when the big boys did this in the past, they invariably ended up supporting all sorts of really vicious and nasty characters who ruled and policed their people with violence and fear, from Iran and Iraq (at different times), to Latin America and Africa. Invariably, we negleted to acknowledge, these adventures eventually backfired on expeditioners, usually at the cost of countless (usually local) innocent lives and vast sums of secret money. The Shah was revolted out of Iran, Pinochet ended up an international criminal, the Vietnamese binned the last coloniser, Latin America went left, Saddam turned on the US, and on and on.
So now, Canada, having joined the biggest gang, moves through its initiation. We now support our little Afghan KGB ('God, how valuable their intel!' says our flinchless general), corrupt little 'elected' leader (now musing openly about switching sides), and squandered the lives and treasure of ours and theirs. At home, in order to protect its membership in the gang and investment in the adventure, our government must subvert our own democracy and the truth of our involvement by hiding the facts with censor's ink, blocking our questions, and suspending our parliament.
Are we feeling tough enough yet? Or has gang life begun to lose its glamour, yet again?
ETA: Buckdog seems to be breathing the same air today.
Apparently, Facebook, that faceless social networking giant that really wants to be the market square, inner-city pub and urban playground of the world, doesn't like the idea of someone depicting the image of an infant being fed by its mother.
In fact, Facebook deleted the artwork of Kate Hansen because... well, why don't we let her explain. We'll wait here.
Ms. Hansen's art is, at least by my reckoning, hardly what I'd call hateful, threatening or obscene. Yet that is the only explanation Facebook provided Kate for removing her artwork: That somehow it fell into one of those categories.
The women in Kate's art aren't even fully nude. There are no body parts showing that you can't see at a christian temperance league barbeque and beach gathering.
What is it that Facebook thinks is hateful, threatening or obscene? Could it be the actual act of breastfeeding?
Time to give Facebook some dairy queen time.
Hat tip - Gregor
Thursday, April 08, 2010
This is the evening ceremony for closing the Indian/Pakistani border. Travel On The Dollar calls the Wagah Border the ‘Berlin Wall’ of Asia.
Soldiers from both countries march in perfect drill, going through the steps of bringing down their respective national flags. But the striking feature of the occasion is not the smart drill, but the attempt to outdo each other in showing their anger and contempt against each other. Soldiers raise their boots to show the soles to others across the border, chests are puffed out and touch others’ when they come face to face, and feet are stamped so hard that the road must require weekly repairs! The soldiers adopted every conceivable gesture to show their hatred in a most unsoldier like manner. The crass shouts of joy from the crowds on both sides are even more disheartening. People are cheering the soldiers as if they were gladiators.
There's a YouTube video that's marvelous. The embedded player doesn't want to play nice, so just click on the link.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
"Afghanistan is currently training, mentoring, and equipping membersof the Afghan National Police with the help of Canada. A well-led, trained, andequipped Afghan National Police force is essential to allow the Government of Afghanistan to assume responsibility for its national and provincial security."
Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, don't it?
More at impolitical.
An Ontarian, an Islander and a Newfie all die and go to hell.
While there, they spot a red phone and ask what the phone is for. The Devil tells them it is for calling back to Earth.
The Islander asks to call Charlottetown and talks for 5 minutes. When he was finished the Devil informs him that the cost is a million dollars, so the Islander writes him a check.
Next, the Newfie calls St.Johns and talks for 30 minutes. When he was finished the Devil informs him that cost is 6 million dollars, so the Newfie writes him a check.
Finally, the Ontarian gets his turn and talks for 4 hours. When he was finished, the Devil informed him that there would be no charge for the call and feel free to call Ontario anytime.
When the Newfie hears this he goes ballistic and asks the Devil why the Ontarian got to call his home province for free.
The Devil replied, "Since McGinty became premier of Ontario, the province has gone to hell, so naturally, it's a local call."
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Tim Hortons (”Always fresh/Toujours frais”) is a Canadian institution: This coffee-and-doughnuts chain occupies a cultural space that’s up there with Molson, poutine or The Kids in the Hall. And now employees of Tim Hortons may be eligible for war medals, courtesy of an overhaul of the rules for Canadian civilians who work in war zones.
According to CanWest news service, Canada’s Department of National Defence has clarified the rules for how it recognizes overseas service. The changes, the news service states, “will include the controversial decision to allow Tim Hortons employees at Kandahar Airfield to receive medals from the Afghan war.”
Monday, April 05, 2010
The previous administration, that is. You see, Afghanistan was one of those horrible inconveniences that sprung up and got in the way of the scheduled invasion and subjugation of Iraq. And nothing was going to stop the creation of the neocon utopia. Year Zero in Iraq was so much more inviting to those pulling the strings of George W. Bush than, you know, actually dealing with the base from which the US had been attacked and had sheltered the nasty prick that had organized it.
Afghanistan? One hit wonder. Give it to NATO - based on the lie that it was already stabilized.
And Bushco left Afghanistan to fester while they pursued their mythical Iraqi gold-rush. (Emphasis mine)
More than a year after Barack Obama took office, the president is still discovering how bad things are. At a March 12 briefing on Afghanistan with his senior advisers, he asked whether the police will be ready when America's scheduled drawdown begins in July 2011, according to a senior official who was in the room. "It's inconceivable, but in fact for eight years we weren't training the police," replied Caldwell, taking part in the meeting via video link from Afghanistan. "We just never trained them before. All we did was give them a uniform." The president looked stunned. "Eight years," he said. "And we didn't train police? It's mind-boggling." The room was silent.That's the easy-to-read part. It gets worse.
Hat tip Canadian Cynic