Saturday, April 30, 2011
Give that story a very careful, very close reading and realize it is built entirely on a single unnamed source, contains no evidence of anything and is built largely on innuendo.
Layton was never charged or even arrested and there is not even any direct accusation in the story that he did anything he should not have done. He openly admits that he went to get a massage at the apparently fully-licenced massage establishment. Something lots of people do every day. There is nothing sleazy about getting a massage. The only suggestion of anything untoward in the story is the unidentified, retired Toronto cop claiming that the establishment in question was thought to be a bawdy house by the Toronto police (who, of course, have never been wrong about anything or abused their powers for political ends, ever, especially back then).
And with the incident having occurred 16 years ago, it seems awfully convenient that the SUN would, wholly by coincidence, choose to run with the story two days before the election. Given what we know about the overlap in CPC strategists and SUN employees, what are the odds the Conservative Party of Canada will somehow be found to have been involved in the release of this information if someone wants to pursue it hard enough?
How's that for innuendo?
You know what the difference is?
What the SUN would like you to believe happened - that Proletarian Jack had his means of production seized - is a bit skeevy, but if his wife doesn't care, then why should we? It is ancient history and has no bearing on how he would govern.
What I have speculated about is recent, sinister, unethical, unprincipled, corrupt, possibly even criminal and certainly indicative of the kind of sleazy politics of character assassination the CPC has been engaging in for years. And it is more likely to be true.
I don't say any of this as any particular fan of Jack Layton. I'm fairly agnostic about the NDP in the general scheme of things. I like them better than the Conservatives, but I don't think they are going to singlehandedly usher in some kind of golden age where we all gather round singing The Internationale, nor do I think they will start nationalizing the banks and sending anyone who isn't a union member to re-education camps or anything like that.
But this kind of malicious smear campaign based on smirking innuendo should piss off anyone who values the truth, and I think that includes most Canadians. I apologize for the puns, but this kind of thing rubs Canadians the wrong way and the backlash might just be enough to turn a few close seats and give the NDP the hand it needs to give the country a happy ending.
crossposted from The Woodshed
Men, I think, sometimes find themselves particularly vulnerable when that occupation-identity dynamic is bound up in with their subscription to a patriarchal social norm. If they, as breadwinner see themselves as in charge of their household, parent and spouse with an authoritarian presence, they're even more at risk.
They are thrown into crisis when something happens and they lose their job. Many go through a tremendous and very personal psychological upheaval. Some of these men never recover. Some take out their loss on their families, some turn to substances, some go into a deep and lasting depression. Some kill themselves. Farmers in the UK, auto and natural resource sector workers in Canada, discharged professional soldiers: the social services professionals who deal with some of these men can describe the acute coping problems many of them face.
Stephen Harper is a man of such an occupation-identity compound. He has never done anything else besides graduate school and politics. He is man of singular conviction, setting out to force Canada kicking and screaming into a little tiny misanthropic box. Unlike many of his present peers or past prime minsters, he has no prior career to fall back on. He has no law degree or history with a firm like Mulroney or Chretien. Although he has affiliated with some freakshow academics and lectured a little he isn't a former prof like Layton, Ignatieff or Dion. He's certainly never been a labour union activist. Nor does he have a history as a corporate executive other than being sympathetic to their interests as a politician.
He cannot go any higher than politics than he is now other than as leader of a majority government. This is all he's got and this election might well be the make it or break it moment of his life.
If he loses here, his days as leader of the Conservative Party are very likely numbered. Could a man such as he tolerate the backbench or a cabinet position like Joe Clark, Paul Martin or other leaders who lost their position? My guess is not likely. All evidence suggests that he's an iron authoritarian who does not abide others well, possibly including those within his own party. I doubt that he has many real friends of the sort that will help him out if he's finished here. I'm not sure a man of such conviction, whose life is and has been so bound up in forcefully and manipulatively remaking an entire nation into third rate dictatorship could settle for a gig on some corporate board or another, or a faculty position in the Calgary economics department. He'd have trouble choking out an unbiased Canadian Politics 101, especially when four fifths of the class attack him on day one.
This election has not gone his way at all. His main rival is that he no longer the Ignatieff, but the socialist across the floor who may well defeat him. All his fearmongering about coalitions and the like has failed to deliver him a clear critical mass of polling that would guarantee him a majority. The record turnouts at the advance polls betray his talk of this being an election that Canadians don't want as a lie.
The actors have gone off the script, and the ultrascripted Harper is flailing about. When you watch him beg the ideological core of Liberal supporters to vote for him, I think you're watching a man in full desperation. When he suggests that he might thwart law and convention by not relinquishing office, he's showing fear. This vote is not just a political crisis for Harper, it is also a deeply personal one.
Should he lose on Monday, or whenever the potential constitutional storm passes, he'll have failed at the only thing he's really done. What becomes of him after that is anyone's guess but it likely won't be pretty.
First, Queen's University parliamentary geek Ned Franks:
1. A majority government. If it's a Conservative majority, then Stephen Harper continues as prime minister.
He retains the title throughout the election in any event and it's actually up to him to resign if another party wins a larger number of seats on election night, which is what he said he would do in his interview with the CBC's Peter Mansbridge.
2. A minority government with an opposition party holding the most seats. If the NDP, Liberals or even the Bloc Québécois were to win the largest number of seats - but no majority - Harper could still face the House and try his luck.
"Even if the Tories win fewer seats than the Liberals or NDP, they are entitled to meet the House and face it in a vote of confidence," Franks said. "Prime ministers in Canada do not normally exercise this right."
But there was at least one famous instance of this taking place: Mackenzie King in 1925 when his party fell to second place in a minority Parliament, more than a dozen seats behind the Conservatives, but stayed on for some months anyway with the support of the Progressives.
3. A minority Conservative government. Harper could continue as prime minister, perhaps much as he has for the past five years by cajoling and/or coercing support issue by issue.
Still, he could lose a confidence vote soon into his term if the other parties gang up on him, something he has been warning about constantly throughout this campaign.
Would this gang-up be more or less likely to happen if the NDP turns out to be the second-place finisher? That is, would the Liberals want to make Jack Layton prime minister and so affirm their third-party status? We leave that to the analysts.
All we know for certain is that in this third scenario, a minority Conservative government would have to table a throne speech to lay out its priorities and a budget (the one in March was never passed), presumably within the next month or so...
If we do wake up on May 3 with what the Brits call a hung Parliament and the Conservatives not in a commanding lead, then there are three precedents to keep in mind for when second-place finishers might step up and govern.
- The October 1925 federal election in which the (and scandal-plagued) Mackenzie King Liberals governed for another eight months until the Conservatives were given a brief shot and an election was called. (History buffs will know this as the infamous King-Byng affair.)
- The May 2,1985 Ontario election (52 Conservatives, 48 Liberals and 25 NDP) after which Liberal David Peterson and then NDP leader Bob Rae agreed to a two-year "accord" (not a coalition) to put Peterson in the premier's chair.
Note: Negotiating the accord and defeating the ruling Conservatives on their throne speech took nearly two months to bring about.
- The May 6, 2010 British election, which resulted in the first minority parliament at Westminster in decades: 307 Conservatives, 257 Labour and 57 Liberal Democrats.
For four days, the three parties entered into separate but intense negotiations to determine who would support whom, the result being a formal coalition arrangement between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
The deal was struck nine days after the election and Parliament reconvened a week after that, which was a long time for the Brits but incredibly short by Canadian standards.
Peter Russell next provides a similar take:
When the House does meet and no party has a majority, there are basically three ways of forming a government. First, the Conservatives can simply carry on as a minority government hoping to win support, issue by issue, from opposition MPs. Second, either the Conservatives or the party that finishes second in seat numbers can form a legislative alliance with one or more other parties that would agree to support them on the basis of a shared legislative program. Such an agreement between David Peterson’s Liberals (who finished second to Frank Miller’s Conservatives) and Bob Rae’s NDP gave Ontario a stable minority after the 1985 provincial election. In this option, the parties supporting a Liberal or NDP government would not have cabinet positions. The third option is a coalition government in which two or more parties form a government and share cabinet posts.Short answer, Con majority is Con majority; a Con minority and things get murky. The GG might well have a larger than usual role to play in the outcome. Because Harper is an asshole.
All three options are constitutionally legitimate. Indeed, in the dozens of parliamentary democracies around the world, it’s highly unusual for any party to have a parliamentary majority. Governments in most of these countries are either coalitions or single-party minorities supported through alliances with opposition parties.
If the Conservatives don’t win a majority on Monday, Mr. Harper isn’t likely to try to form a coalition government or make a legislative alliance with any opposition party. So what would happen if his government fails to win the support of any opposition party when the House meets in late May or early June and is defeated on the Speech from the Throne?
At this point, constitutionally, Mr. Harper has two options. He could resign and advise the Governor-General to invite the leader of the party with the second-largest number of seats, either Michael Ignatieff or Jack Layton, to form a government. Or he could advise the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament and call another election.
It’s the second case that lands us in a “constitutional crisis” similar to the Byng-King affair of 1926. The principal that the Governor-General must be guided by in considering Mr. Harper’s request is that a prime minister’s advice (even if the prime minister has lost a confidence vote in the House) should be rejected only if doing so is necessary to protect the integrity of our parliamentary system. Calling an election, the fifth in seven years, just a few weeks after the last election when there’s a plausible alternative government that can command the confidence of the new Parliament may well be such a situation.
Of course, it all depends on whether Mr. Ignatieff or Mr. Layton can make a plausible case that a government one of them heads will be supported by a majority in the House. The Governor-General will need more than their good intentions to have the compelling case he needs to justify rejecting the Prime Minister’s advice.
If Monday’s election produces a House in which no party has a majority, let’s hope our political leaders have the good sense to work together to avoid a Byng-King constitutional crisis.
The Godwinian analogy here is something like Hitler asking the Red Army to defect to fight the Allied advance in the West.
Next you know he'll be campaigning for
I am by no means a constitutional expert but I'm at a loss to understand just what Mr. Harper could do if the GG asked a coalition to form the government.
This isn't the same thing as his vow to 'go to the people' during the 2008 prorogue. His party was the government at that time and and there was no question that he was prime minister acting, skulduggerously as it was, within his powers.
Could he go the Supreme Court? My feeling is that unless he's bribed all the justices, he'd be sent packing.
What then could he do? Refuse to vacate 24 Sussex? Call for armed insurrection from his supporters? Refuse to attend parliament?
Could he attempt to jump the GG and go the Queen? Should the GG grant the other parties the government, Harper would not be Prime Minister and would thus, as I see it, have no authority to ask the Queen to remove a Governor General he didn't like or instruct that GG to revisit his decision. I'm not sure Ma'am would have anything to say to a petulant ex prime minister other then to send him back the GG he appointed. Historical precedent suggests the Monarch has no interest in playing an active role in domestic constitutional problems:
I am commanded by The Queen to acknowledge your letter of 12th November about the recent political events in Australia. You ask that The Queen should act to restore Mr. Whitlam to office as Prime Minister.As we understand the situation here, the Australian Constitution firmly places the prerogative powers of the Crown in the hands of the Governor-General as the representative of the Queen of Australia. The only person competent to commission an Australian Prime Minister is the Governor-General, and The Queen has no part in the decisions which the Governor-General must take in accordance with the Constitution. Her Majesty, as Queen of Australia, is watching events in Canberra with close interest and attention, but it would not be proper for her to intervene in person in matters which are so clearly placed within the jurisdiction of the Governor-General by the Constitution Act.I understand that you have been good enough to send a copy of your letter to the Governor-General so I am writing to His Excellency to say that the text of your letter has been received her in London and has been laid before the The Queen.I am sending a copy of this letter to the Governor-General.17 November 1975
So candidate Harper can make all the suggestive and subversive statements he wants about how the legitimacy of coalitions and the like are open to debate. However, like his views on the contempt ruling from the Speaker that started this election, he is voicing nothing more than his blinkered feelings. My guess is that these statements are all smoke and mirrors for his idiot base to make them think he's got some sort of magical power to overturn the final result of a federal election. The reality is that despite the the endless monotone "let me be clears", Harper is a weak man in about the weakest possible position he can be in as a party leader in a federal election.
I'm also quite sure an academic like David Johnson has done his homework on the issue and is watching this election very closely.
UPDATE: The specific question asked of Harper was:
"Will you or will you not accept a decision by the Governor General to call on the second party to form a government if you again lose the confidence of the House?"
As anyone in Harper's Canada knows, we artists are a bunch of greedy spoiled leeches. What with our subsistence and poverty level incomes, utter lack of health and dental benefits, estrangement from any sort of job security and from concepts like retirement or pensions and the like. Yet, when there is a crisis or cause, the first persons turned to after the professional first responders are the artists. We give willingly of our time and talents to perform at benefits and to foster hope for healing and recovery. It is a privilege to do so and we do so gladly, from the coffee house to the concert hall, from the neighbourhood to the satellite broadcast we do what we can, at every level, because it is the right thing to do.
Today, I am asking you to give back some of that love and concern for one of our own. Nancy Borusiewich is very ill with ovarian cancer. She can not earn a living. She can not do what she trained so diligently for, she is prevented from creating and from sharing her love of music, her art. In celebration of her courage and to support her in this struggle, I'm asking you to lend her a hand and lend an ear. Tomorrow, Sunday May 1st at 2:30 in the afternoon, Nancy's students will be performing in concert at St. Matthew's Church, 54 Benton Street in Kitchener. If you can find your way there for some beautiful music, nothing could be more pleasing to Nancy and her family.
If you aren't able to attend, please have a thought for someone whose life has been dedicated to teaching and enhancing the lives of others through the beauty of her music, her gift. If you would like to contribute to help defray the onerous costs of medication and loss of income please consider donating what you can afford. A special account has been set up in Nancy's name at Canada Trust branch 3823 account #6313286.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
On those numbers...there's a lot of teeth gnashing about how these number are splitting votes and killing the chances of Liberals getting enough seats to deny the Cons a majority. Well, when the Liberals are polling at 22% and the NDP is at 30%, the onus for strategic voting shifts from Dipper fans voting for Liberals, to Liberals voting for Dippers.
If you are a partisan Liberal, perhaps you could, for just one itty bitty little election, vote orange.
Monday, April 25, 2011
The NDP is presently being attacked for critically commenting on its own platform.
Do you want the parties to promise you the stars, or tell you realistically what they might and mightn't do?
Personally, I appreciate it when people are up front about themselves - it usually saves the guessing games and tears later. You know, honesty and all that stuff we claim to want from our politicians.
Yet others, for whatever reason, seem like to use elections to get flattered and fucked by any smooth-talkin' old party.
I know your leaders have denounced this behaviour, and I think one of them actually means it, but it's these sorts of light partisan nutters to full neo-nazi psychopaths that you seem to attract that puts us off and sends us all to Jack.
Taliban militants tunnelled more than 480 inmates out the main prison in southern Afghanistan overnight, whisking them through a 320-metre-long underground passage they had dug over months, officials and insurgents said Monday.Ballsy. There's a seat beside Harry for this one.
Saraposa prison officials in the city of Kandahar only discovered the breach about 4 a.m. local time, about a half-hour after the Taliban said they had gotten all the prisoners out.
The militants began digging the tunnel about five months ago from a house within shooting distance of the prison guard towers. It was not immediately clear whether they lived in the house while they dug.
They meticulously plotted the tunnel's course around police checkpoints and major roads, the insurgent group said in a brazen statement.
The diggers finally broke through to the prison cells around 11 p.m. Sunday night, and a handful of inmates who knew of the plan unlocked cells and ushered hundreds of inmates to freedom without a shot being fired.
Inmates had keysA man who claimed he helped organize those inside the prison told The Associated Press in a phone call that he and his accomplices obtained copies of the keys for the cells ahead of time from "friends." He did not say who those friends were, but his comments suggested possible collusion by prison guards.
"There were four or five of us who knew that our friends were digging a tunnel from the outside," said Mohammad Abdullah, who said he had been in Sarposa prison for two years after being captured in nearby Zhari district with a stockpile of weapons...
Oh yeah, go team Canada:
Canadian correctional services officers had spent years training guards at the prison.
On a more serious note, if the Taleban were able to pull this off under NATO's nose, what else have they got going?
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Basically, she ripped him a new one and he didn't look at all comfortable about it. Note how he says "The platform we're not running on is real" at the 4:15 mark.
Since Kevin Newman left "Global National" I had been withholding judgment on Ms. Friesen's creds, but she outdid her MSM colleagues on this one.
Good job . . . .
Sorry, I couldn't locate a non-commercial-included copy of the video.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
The basic fact is that you'd have far better luck herding cats in a field full of mice than you would policing enough of the electorate to strategically vote the Conservatives out of office. In the past I've put faith in this idea, but people will vote how they vote and until the Parties themselves start telling people to vote for the other guy, strategic voting remains a fantasy.
How this election plays out, therefore, remains to be seen. Some NDP or Liberal led minority? Some coalition of non-Cons going to the GG and usurping a Con minority? Another Con minority? A sweeping Con majority?
I don't know and neither do you. We will find out May 2nd.
So what do we do? Well, lets imagine the worst and the Opposition divides itself and the Cons sweep in with a majority? Well, that's something we'll have to deal with. What are you going to do under a Con majority? Sit there and take it, whinging away while a Harper party bludgeons the country?
Or are you going to find ways of subverting and resisting that government? Will you accept that the game has changed and life isn't always fair or easy? Will you accept that sometimes the circumstances of your existence demand that you step up and act? Will you think strategically about the next few years? You can focus on the local and provincial/Territorial levels; places where you stand a chance (if you don't live in Alberta) of electing progressive governments able to challenge the Harpercons? Will you some of you decide not to pay a cent in taxes to an entity that names itself Harper Government, or work on ways to limit your participation in a society that is not what you thought it was?
Will you see a Harper majority be a catalyst for a revolution in progressive politics in this country and act accordingly? Will you card-carrying Liberal, NDP, Green, or even Bloc progressives see the Harper majority as a call arms, something that spells the post-war era of Canadian party politics you subscribe to and work toward an evolution of that system?
Or will you sit there and turn on your fellow progressives, and blame them for allowing a Harper majority? Will you use that as an excuse for inaction or noncooperation with whatever cohort you blame? Will you spend your time gazing rearward, with an angry fantasist's nostalgia at what might have been?
A Harper majority doesn't mean the game is over.
Like any government stepping into the breach for the first time or the last time, they could well fuck it all up.
But they might not. And even if they did, their disasters won't look like more than a thousand Canadians in cages in downtown Toronto.
Their disasters won't look like mishandled fighter plane purchases.
Their disasters won't involve keeping tortured Canadians prisoners in their own embassies or foreign police dungeons.
Their disasters won't involve obstructing parliamentary committees and other organisations.
Their disasters won't involve lying to and misleading parliament to the point of contempt.
Their disasters won't involve rewarding corporations with tax cuts.
Their disasters won't involve convicted fraud artists advising the PM.
Their disasters won't involve altering signed contracts.
Their disasters won't involve denying reputable organisations funding for partisan political reaons.
Their disasters won't involve attempting to keep you from a polling booth.
Their disasters won't involve creeping your facebook page to keep you from your democracy.
Their disasters won't involve turning a budget surplus into a deficit.
Their disasters won't involve sending your Canadian Forces off on every little combat adventure the Brits and the Americans come up with.
Their disasters won't involve fucking over veterans, the elderly, the youth, students, and the working class.
Their disasters won't involve shutting down climate change research.
Their disasters won't involve politicising the National Research Council.
Their disasters won't involve intentionally screwing over Canadians, especially those they don't like.
I'm sure I've missed some, but you get the picture.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Now Canadian Cynic has a request. Please click here and read.
Canadians, the Conservative focus groups undoubted discovered, were starting to balk at the idea that we should give Stephen Harper a political blank cheque without him making some effort to explain why he deserves it.
So last night Stephen Harper finally deigned to speak to the Canadian people via an interview with Peter Mansbridge - an interview very carefully stagemanaged to try to make him look like a regular guy. He stands in a hockey rink in Newfoundland in his quilted Canada jacket, tieless, doing his best to look like a minor hockey coach instead of someone who has never really had a job outside of politics. (A hockey rink? My first thought was that the Globe and Mail's John Doyle is righter than he knows: Harper doesn't just keep his hair in the fridge, the CPC keeps him in cold storage at all times!)
The interview itself is telling - if you read between the lines and look at the way Harper answers or doesn't answer the questions. He goes out of his way to try to look like a reasonable guy who is beset by unreasonable opponents who are conspiring (coalition!) in diabolical ways to seize power for their own sinister ends (tax increases! Separatists in power! reopening the constitution!). To someone looking at Canadian politics for the first time, someone who has no idea of his track record, he might even pull it off.
But notice how many times Mansbridge, who is hardly a confrontational interviewer, calls bullshit on Slick Stevie. Notice how often Harper says something about his opponents and Mansbridge responds with "but that isn't what they've said."
Notice how Harper refuses, several times, to admit that any form of coalition is valid and that the party with the most seats doesn't necessarily get to govern if they can't win the confidence of the House of Commons. He keeps trying to argue that it is somehow a vague and nebulous notion that constitutional scholars disagree about and that "regular Canadians" would never accept.
It isn't. They don't. We have. Stephen Harper is just plain lying.
He tries to make it sound as if his government was brought down over the budget. It wasn't.
He tries to make it sound like he doesn't know why we are having an election, when he pretty much engineered it through his own brinksmanship on parliamentary privledge. He gave the opposition the choice of either letting him walk all over the notion of the government being accountable to the House of Commons or forcing an election while they trailed him by enough in the polls that he might get a majority.
And thanks to a divided oppostion, he very well might get his majority. Notice how he doesn't really say why he needs a majority other than to talk about "stability" and "unnecessary elections"-odd given that he has forced the last two. Notice also that he won't really say what he will do with a majority that he hasn't been able to do with a minority.
At the end of the interview Mansbridge asks: "Why should Canadians trust you with their vote on May 2?"
Harper replies, "I say look at our record, look at the direction the country is going. What other country would you want to be living in right now?"
I agree. Look at his record. Look at the direction the country is going. Ask yourself what other country Stephen Harper would rather be living in right now.
Me, I'd rather be living in a country where the government doesn't fire the head of the nuclear regulatory agency for doing her job. I'd rather be living in a country that is willing to investigate credible accusation of complicity with torture. I'd rather be living in a country where the prime minister doesn't suspend parliament every time he gets his tail caught in a crack. I'd rather be living in a country that spends a billion dollars on helping the poor instead of dispensing political pork and encouraging police thuggery as part of an international dog-and-pony show. I'd rather be living in a country where the government wasn't providing instruction manuals to its members on how to disrupt parliamentary committees.
I'd rather live in a country where decisions are based on solid census data and scientific fact, not one where we spend a fortune building new prisons for criminals who don't exist outside of the imagination of fearmongering politicians.
I'd like to live in the tolerant, economic and socially progressive Canada I grew up in, not in a country run by a control-freak micromanager hell-bent on turning it into a laboratory for Randites, frat boys, authoritarians, religious zealots and ignorant yahoos.
I'd like to think that is what most Canadians want and why Stephen Harper won't get his majority.
I'd like to think that, but then Willy Loman posted this video and reminded me why our country is in trouble to begin with.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
This is a recipe for disaster. And resistance.
He says he's the only leader that can handle Quebec separatism. Quebec is best handled in the best of liberal traditions of tolerance and negotiated accommodation. Does anyone seriously think Harper's Conservatives have any sense of the nuanced approach needed to keep the separatist flames at a smoulder and not a full blown inferno? A Harper government in Ottawa might be the best bit of luck the separatists have had in a while!
If you're any single descriptor or combination of female, gay, left-leaning, living in a non-Conservative riding, ethnic, pro-choice, senior, young person, student, working class, poor, Aboriginal, climate scientist, or belong to some other cohort that the Cons wish did not exist, a Harper majority government will do its best to disenfranchise you. It will intentionally set out to make your life harder.
If you're a member of the Opposition, a Harper majority will cut the financial legs out from under you, and do whatever else it can to weaken you to the point where you won't be able to pay for a lawn sign.
Its hostile, authoritarian, and misanthropic tendency makes the Harper government unlike any we've ever had. Other conservative governments have played on the ideological. They've enacted policies counter to many interests, but they've never done it with open and established contempt, they've never brazenly attempted to subvert laws and institutions. At some level, they've stuck to convention and coloured within the lines. As we've all seen and documented, this Harper and his gang of thugs don't.
So, what do tolerant and kind Canadians do with a government that seeks to oppress and harm them?
Why should we consent to be governed by a Harper majority that actively destroys the Canada we feel we belong to?
Why should we give them an ounce of cooperation or collaboration?
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
The manual also includes instructions on how to use military dogs to intimidate prisoners.
"MWD (Military Working Dogs) will walk 'Main Street' in Camp Delta during shifts to demonstrate physical presence to detainees," reads a directive in the "Psychological Deterrence" section. "MWD will not be walked through the blocks unless directed by the (Joint Detention Operations Group)."
The document was signed by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller. According to media reports, Miller introduced harsh interrogation methods to Guantánamo, such as shackling detainees into stress positions and using guard dogs to exploit what the former head commander in Iraq Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez referred to as "Arab fear of dogs."
Miller visited Iraq in 2003 to share the Guantánamo methods. Soon after that visit, the infamous Abu Ghraib photos were taken.
“Euthanasia Coaster” is a hypothetical euthanasia machine in the form of a roller coaster engineered to humanely – with elegance and euphoria – take the life of a human being. Riding the coaster’s track, the rider is subjected to a series of intensive motion elements that induce various unique experiences: from euphoria to thrill, and from tunnel vision to loss of consciousness, and, eventually, death.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
"This not about me...this is not about Liberal Party of Canada" means sweet fuck all if Mr. Ignatieff isn't willing to compromise on a coalition with the other parties should the Conservatives find themselves with yet another minority win. If the Liberal leader (and the rest of them for that matter) are serious about putting Canadian democracy ahead of partisan interests, then they must be willing to set those interests aside to defeat the Party of Harper.
Last month, one of Waterloo's Formula SAE engineering student — the leader of the chassis design team — needed modeling photos for an application to a Canadian beauty pageant and breast cancer charity. While the idea had been to pose in front of a borrowed Audi in the school's engineering design center, the student also posed with the SAE car in a two-piece bikini (a requirement of the competition); another female student also posed for a few shots. The photographer, also an engineering student, posted a few of the shots online.
Two weeks later, Waterloo's dean of engineering Adel Sedra announced the school was suspending the entire Formula SAE team through June 1 — blocking them from competing in the Michigan event. The reason? "Misuse of the student design centre space for an unauthorized photo shoot."
Grrrr. Bunch of wankers. Here's a shot of a triumphant Danica Patrick, the first woman to win a major open-wheel motor race. Somehow, they probably won't like it, either. Love that picture; Dan Gurney sure started something.
Friday, April 15, 2011
"HOW DAVID BEATS GOLIATH" is a fine article by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker, on aspects of what it takes for the underdog to win. Plus cartoons, even.
When underdogs choose not to play by Goliath’s rules, they win, Arreguín-Toft concluded, “even when everything we think we know about power says they shouldn’t.”
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Mr Babbitt announced on Wednesday that the FAA would place an additional air traffic controller on the midnight shift at 27 control towers across the country; previously, they had been staffed with only one controller during that shift.I cannot for the life me figure out why anyone would think that a posting a lone air traffic controller on the night-shift was a good idea! Anyone who has worked nights understands there are moments when the body and mind go fuzzy. It doesn't matter how much sleep you've had the day before.
The issue rose to prominence last month when two jets were forced to land at about midnight at Reagan National Airport, just by Washington DC, without help from the local control tower. The pilots, who carried 165 people aboard the two planes, were unable to raise the tower controller on the radio, and a subsequent investigation revealed he had inadvertently fallen asleep during the shift.
This week, the FAA revealed that an air traffic controller at a major airport in Seattle had fallen asleep during a morning shift on Monday; the FAA said he had also fallen asleep on two separate occasions during an early evening shift on 6 January.
And a controller in the US state of Nevada was asleep and out of communication for about 16 minutes on Wednesday while a medical plane was landing, federal officials have said. An air traffic controller in Tennessee was found to have lain down for a nap during an overnight shift in February, the Washington Post reported.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
You are not entitled to an A, B or C-.
What you are entitled to, however, is a fair assessment of your work and the corresponding grade.
You pay several hundred dollars for each course you take, plus the assortment of fees that push your tuition costs higher every year. In Canada, the taxes paid by you, your family members, and the people of Canada cover much of the cost of running the university you attend and comprise the research budgets of many of your professors. These tax dollars also pay the wages of the graduate students who quite often are the ones assessing your work.
You have more than enough grounds to openly question the method and rationale behind any assessment you receive. You and the rest of the country have paid for it.
You might find out, for example, that the
More to the point, this means that you did not get the full suite of detailed comments and grading notes that that were potentially available for your work. In other words, your work was not as rigorously assessed as it could have been. Some of you benefit from this because your mark is higher than it could have been, and some of you suffered because your mark is lower than it could have been. In either case, you were screwed, and so was your assessor.
And that is something you can line up in front of your professor's door and clog their inbox about.
You're entitled to it.
Duceppe, Layton and Ignatieff seemed to come off at times pleading with the PM, begging for answers. It didn't help that some of their responses were so obviously coached and they appeared to stumble over their lines a few times. All Harper did was maintain that father-knows-best tone and he beats them on style, which of course seems to be the most resonant theme with some of our special voters. Add the camera angles, and the other leaders are definitely at a disadvantage. Most thinking voters ought to see past that, but there's likely enough of Gore Vidal's "simple people" here that'll be swayed by the optics alone to give the man his min/majority. I mean, following the debate, Harper all but declared himself the winner damn the content, while the other leaders mulled and reflected:
"I think we did that, we communicated to Canadians and laid out where we want to take the country and that was my objective and I feel quite comfortable that we achieved that," said Harper.I think I heard also the words "ganging up" from the PM, as if the Cons were the poor little bullied kid at the table. It really is incredible to watch him play the strong patriarch and the weak victim at the same time.
The Opposition won't beat him that way. They either need to find a chink in that deadpan creepy armour or cut him out of the conversation entirely. I don't think they're able to do the former; none of them seem to have the natural wit, rhetoric, and sense of interpersonal nuance needed to unbalance him. He's pretty well protected against those attacks and deftly ignore is record.
What Harper doesn't do is respond well to overt and substantive action. Remember this image from the far away time when the Opposition [almost] showed some serious spine?
The man had obviously been crying. Naturally for a control-freak, he is at his most vulnerable when he loses control. He is also a proven liar and a cheat. Most of us don't engage people who lie and cheat us. Why does our elected Opposition?
The Opposition members may seriously unbalance Harper if they turn their podiums toward each other and their backs to Harper during the debates. Extend this to all-candidates meetings in the various ridings, and you have a strategy. When Harper and is minions protest, the other parties can state clearly and truthfully to the camera that they 'don't associate with liars and cheats' and list the Conservative crimes of office. Turn the election into a contest between the other parties and leave the certifiably dishonest party out of it.
No, Canadians are too polite for that, and it offends our sensibilities. Besides, Ignatieff hopes he can reason Canadians into giving his party a minority government (let's be real, that's the only real possibility that they've got here). This would very likely mean another election before the year is out where the Cons would turn around and defeat a Liberal minority super-quick and win on a blame-the-Liberals-for-failing-to-maintain-a-minority for as long as they did platform.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Auditor General Sheila Fraser has written a scathing letter rebuking the Conservatives for misquoting her in a parliamentary report on the costs of the G8/G20 summits in Toronto last summer, CBC News has learned.
The Conservatives' report, presented as a dissenting opinion to the Commons the morning Parliament was dissolved last month, quotes Fraser giving high marks to the Harper government for prudent spending on the summits.
The report quoted the auditor general as saying: “We found that the processes and controls around that were very good, and that the monies were spent as they were intended to be spent.”
But in her letter addressed to members of a Commons committee on Friday, which was received by the clerk and members on Monday, Fraser said the quote had nothing to do with the summits.
Instead, she said, the Conservatives recycled an old comment she made on security spending by a previous Liberal government after the 9/11 terrorist attacks a decade ago.
“The comments attributed to me in the [Conservative] report are completely unrelated to G8/G20 spending,” Fraser writes in her letter.
“I would appreciate it if the report could be modified as it is clearly erroneous.”
And yet enough Canadians will probably vote them into office again for at least a minority, thereby all but completing this country's political trephination.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
IMPROBABLE RESEARCH has a report of interest: research into motorized pogo sticks is alive and well. Delightful site, lots of neat things.
No foolin' — and Canada is doing its part, too, with Université de Sherbrooke, Canada and its PSEUS project (Pogo-Stick Extreme of the University of Sherbrooke), which you see, above. The Americans are also jumping into the act, with efforts by University of California, Berkeley, US – The Pogomatic, and Carnegie Mellon University, US – The Bowgo. Then again, maybe they got inspired by the late, great John Entwistle.
Saturday, April 09, 2011
Italy: The Manzo family of Sicily.
Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11
Germany: The Melander family of Bargteheide.
Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07
United States: The Revis family of North Carolina (Sure hope most American families eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less junk food than this family.)
Food expenditure for one week $341.98
Mexico: The Casales family of Cuernavaca.
Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09
Poland: The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna.
Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27
Egypt : The Ahmed family of Cairo.
Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53
Ecuador : The Ayme family of Tingo.
Food expenditure for one week: $31.55
Bhutan : The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village. Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03
Chad : The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp.
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23
Thursday, April 07, 2011
A distinctive tuberculosis was unintentionally left by 18th-century Voyageurs in remote aboriginal communities along their trade routes and still plagues those communities today, new research shows.Excuse me while I vomit.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is apologizing to anyone who has been removed from his party's campaign rallies, three days after the allegations first surfaced.
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Canadian companies have added tens of billions of dollars to their stockpiles of cash at a time when tax cuts are supposed to be encouraging them to plow more money into their businesses.Well, suck me dry and call me "Dusty!" You mean to tell me that supply-side economics - the notion that if you give tax breaks to rich people and corporations they will use it to create more wealth for all - is bullshit? That what really happens when you give rich people and corporations a tax break is that they pocket the money? No! That's, that's...unpossible!
Jim Flaherty, the Harper government’s Finance Minister, acknowledged in a telephone interview that corporate tax cuts are a tough sell when companies are still hoarding cash. But over the long term, he said, his “comfort zone” comes from the fact that business leaders and economists have widely endorsed tax cuts as a job creation tool.
“Most importantly,” he said, “it’s a confidence builder in Canada, and it’s a way of branding Canada.”So cutting taxes on the business sector simply results in the business sector having more money and the government having less to maintain roads, pay firefighters and fund education and health care. Well, I never. Will wonders never cease? Next thing you know some smart cookie is going to be telling us that boosting military spending and cutting taxes on corporations and the wealthy somehow leads to higher deficits or some other crazy notion.
Crossposted from The Woodshed
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
Lists mean files.
Files on Canadians.
This party of Harper can very likely now be said to have in conjunction with the RCMP, compiled files with details on the lives of Canadians it does not like without their knowledge. Are these records in possession of the RCMP? And if so, under what law or condition?
Or does someone like Dmitri Soudas have a copy on his hard-drive? The incest between the state police and a specific political party demands further investigation. But by whom? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
I don't even want to imagine what'll happen with a Harper majority.
Monday, April 04, 2011
Liberals: Seeing that your fearless leader has sworn you out of a coalition, you will have some house cleaning to do. Fire Ignatieff as party leader. Replace him with Bob Rae or if need be, a lump of cheese. Then make whatever deal the other parties might demand for their support. Then go meet with David Johnson and ask to form the next government. Failing that push the Conservatives to a confidence vote at the earliest moment and run as a coalition in the subsequent election.
NDP, Greens and Bloc: Work with the Liberals. Make it happen. Set your petty little partisan egos aside and remove the Conservatives. This country needs a sea change or we will hit a dark place from which we will not recover.
Keep in mind that if the coward manages to pull off a majority this election, he will destroy the democratic and institutional structures that allow you to exist as parties. You might well come to realise in retrospect that you are fighting for your political lives this April as much as you are the Canada you claim to represent.
Plus what Thwap said.
That is all.
DAVID CENCIOTTI'S WEBLOG has a detailed account of the Libyan air adventure, that is worthy of your attention. Apparently, the Armée de l'Air and the RAF were really hot to trot:
all of a sudden, while the United Nation Security Council was about to give birth to Resolution 1973, France had already sent his fighters into the Libyan airspace, in a really atypical “air war kick off” that I’ve discussed and criticized since Day 1 debrief. With barely the coordination needed to deconflict planes operating in the same airspace, US, France and UK (each one using its own tankers) and a few other supporting nations, started an offensive air campaign that could lead to the destruction of the Libyan capability to use the force against the oppositors, in most cases with a target selection that had nothing to do with the mandate of the UN resolution, but that was (once again, suddenly), stopped, as soon as NATO took over the command of the operations and US had the first opportunity to step back.
As efficient as ever . . .
That party is cognitively damaged.
A Liberal government would offer Canadian Forces veterans full support for as long as four years of college, university, or technical college, party leader Michael Ignatieff said Monday.This idea still leaves a lot of questions, such as who would be considered a "new veterans who have recently left the forces." Within the past year, five years, decade? Does it cover regular and reserve force members?
Expanding in Halifax on a plank in the party platform released Sunday, Ignatieff said it would also provide a significant boost for recruitment as the forces try to step up enrollment. The program would:
- Cover a veteran's full schooling costs, including tuition, books, accommodations and living expenses, for as long as four years of post-secondary education or technical training after completion of their service.
- Be available to any serving member or future member of the Canadian Forces who is honourably discharged. It would also be available to spouses if the veteran is unable to use the benefit.
Whatever the case, it certainly blows the Conservative's piss ignorant "we'll help them get construction jobs" budget line out of the water.
Sunday, April 03, 2011
|VIRTUALLY SPEAKING SUNDAY APRIL 3|
A Counterpoint to the Sunday Morning Talking Heads
@4pm pacific|7pm eastern - DAN ELLSBERG & GLENN GREENWALD: WikiLeaks, the abuse of Bradley Manning and the future of civil liberties in the U.S. Listen here
@5pm pacific|8pm eastern - Maple Syrup Edition with Kevin Wood aka RevPaperboy, Dr.Dawg and @OurManinAbiko on the coming General Election in Canada and #Quakebook, a Twitter spawned response to Japan post quake and tsunami.
Listen live here
Beginning Tuesday, listen to the Maple Syrup Edition here
VIRTUALLY SPEAKING SUSIE with Susie Madrak
MONDAY April 4 - 6pm pacific|9pm eastern
The topic is Libya and the long haul. Susie's guest is writer, student, poet, musician, and political activist Rafael Noboa y Rivera. A decorated combat veteran of the Iraq War, Noboa y Rivera is currently completing studies in journalism at Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism. Recovering journalist and class warrior Susie Madrak explores the impact of current events on the daily lives of working class people.
Listen here, live and later
THURSDAY DOUBLE HEADER APRIL 7 - 5pm pacific | 8pm eastern to 7pm pacific|10pm eastern
VIRTUALLY SPEAKING A-Z JAY ACKROYD and STUART ZECHMAN
Ongoing conversation about U.S. movement liberalism (as opposed to 3rd Way or centrist liberalism) in both an historical and current context.
Listen here @ 5 pm pacific
Beginning April 8 Listen here
@6pm slt - VIRTUALLY SPEAKING WITH JAY ACKROYD and guest economist WARREN MOSLER: Can Taxes and Bonds Finance Government Spending? Modern Monetary Theory says no.
Visit Virtually Speaking at: http://virtuallyspeaking.ning.