Saturday, March 31, 2012

TKO Trudeau

Hmm...wonder if Senator Brazeau will be defecting? Isn't that what athletes from totalitarian regimes do when they lose at sport against political adversaries?

Nope.


"He didn't get me down," Brazeau said after the fight, his nose bleeding. He also challenged Trudeau to a rematch.
The brash, young senator from Maniwaki, Que., was the odds-on favourite to win. He has a martial arts background and served in the Canadian military.
Ask what hurt most, Brazeau responded "Oh, definitely the ego."
"You know, I'm a fighter and I'm a competitive guy. Obviously I like to trash talk," he said. "But again, I fell short tonight. But I'm still glad that I trained for five months for this. You know, I came up short 30 seconds, so maybe I'll try to make it up next year."
Yes, Brazeau, that maybe true, but that pretty latte-sipping Pierre-spawn cleaned your clock and that's really all there is to be said.

Better watch that rematch Justin. Cons cheat when they can't win honestly.

Bummer break . . .

WHILE THE WRETCHES get their ducks in a row, figuring out who diddled whom, and preparing for continuing outrages from Stevie and his orcs, here's a fine piece of power blues: Red House, Jimi's slow blues masterpiece. You may not know who these guys are: Eric Johnson plays the red Gibson 335, Joe Satriani is the bald guy with the mirror Satriani model Ibanez and Steve Vai, with the hair and his white Steve Vai JEM model Ibanez.
The G3 series of DVD's are a great source of xtreme guitar rock done by wizards. The late Frank Zappa employed a young Steve Vai as guitar player in the Mothers, referring to him as "My tiny, perfect Italian".

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Shorter Flaherty to poor...

...pensioners future welfare recipients: "Fuck-off and die already."

Let's talk about this, shall we? Sixty-five isn't a fun age to finally retire. Me? I've got a haul yet to get there, but looking at my parents generation, born in the 1940s, sitting in their 60s, they've got arthritis, heart conditions, bowel conditions, some are cancer survivors, partner survivors, and heaven forbid even children survivors. We talk about average lifespans stretching to 80 or so, but that's only 15 years from 65, and 13 from 67. And it is only an average. Dying in your 60s is still very common. These too are the years of the expanding medicine cabinet and the onset of senility, osteoporosis, cataracts, and prostate problems. 

My mother is close to 65, and my father nearer 70. My mother is exhausted after a lifetime of work that began, unpaid, before she was a teenager. She is soon set to retire on her limited savings. She does contract work but ageism and age make it very difficult to find steady and well-paying work. She cares for her institutionalised senile mother and this is a permanent on-call job. My father can't work anymore and suffers more health problems than I care to think about most days. They both rely on CPP and OAP because their savings are not great, despite decades of virtually non-stop employment. Their children are capable and educated, but they, we, are born in an age when two incomes are necessary to in order maintain the standard of living that one would provide in their generation. In five, 10, or 15 years, it'll be three incomes or more.

It would literally kill them to work to 67. The end of their days would be spent trying to feed themselves as they watched their bodies and minds give out beneath them. They are lucky to be at this age now, before Flaherty's increase kicks in. But others won't be. Many of the the generation following theirs, in their late 40s and 50s now, will have work until they die.

This is what the smarmy little bucket of fuck Jim Flaherty is asking telling them to do. Either that, or be lucky enough to strike it rich and live in a fortress. 

Privatise healthcare, and life-expectancy will crawl back and millions won't have to worry about living past 67 anyway.

Why? Does it even matter? Boils down to some sick myope-misanthropic dream about fighter planes, religion maybe, and some neofeudal social Darwinism, and other  viagraic rightwing landfill. 

My 30-something generation and those following? We didn't sign-up for this shit. 

But we're lucky. My cohort that is. Because Jim should've stuck in his pension jump a few years earlier and killed them all off. The retiring and retired generation now are not all angry white Conservative-voting shitheads. It's the kids who are in the streets and jail cells in Toronto and Montreal, but it's the greyhairs with broadband who are The Eight Hundred: the bloggers, the letter-to-the-editor writers, the finger-waggers and emeritus profs, environmentalists, career civil servants, veterans, and labour leaders. They're the ones spear-heading the charge and tearing the living guts out of the skullduggery of the last election.

They're the ones who could very well be the reason Jim finds himself trampled as the rest of his encephalitic rat colony beat for the exits in the blinding torchlight.

Respect your elders, Jim. Or they'll fuck you up.

Cunning plan?

Harper's not-near-as-witty-as-the-original Baldrick today insinuating to the Chief Electoral Officer that Elections Canada is somehow the source of election misdeeds:
"There are a number of folks in the media that have, in fact, came forward and indicated to me that they feel Elections Canada has been the source of some of these things."
Trial balloon? The Con con on the election fraud might well be to go after Elections Canada. Marc Mayrand demonstrated that he suffers no fools, and I am sure he's aware of how the Conservatives operate. Let's hope he can defend himself, his investigations, and his organisation when the Cons try to blow it up.

800 complaints; 200 ridings

Go read Kady.

Now.

Aislin's perspective . . .


THE OREO might just be around for the next millenium. Over 491 billion Oreo cookies have been sold since they were first introduced in 1912, making them the best selling cookie of the 20th century.

RIP, Trayvon Martin . . .


Brace yourself ...

For a day of unusual confusion.

This is Harper/Flaherty Budget Day. We will find out ... hold it. Oh! Some people already know!
The Conservative government will ask millions of Canadians to push back their retirement as part of a landmark budget that stresses bold action now to position Canada’s economy in the face of major demographic changes to come. 

Ottawa will unveil plans Thursday to delay Old Age Security benefits until age 67, The Globe has learned, confirming Prime Minister Stephen Harper's long-telegraphed blueprint for retirement reform. The OAS changes will be phased in over a number of years, creating a generational divide between Canadians who will receive the benefit – worth more than $6,000 a year – at age 65 and other Canadians who will have to wait longer.
I doubt Flaherty will be "asking" anybody to do anything. It's not his style. He much prefers to stick it to others and then laugh. And we might point out that he has a security problem. That's one leaky document.

Elsewhere, I expect those who believe there is an opportunity to get grip on the illegal activities which occurred during the last federal election will be somewhat disappointed. Keep your eye on Canada's top parliamentary committee junky. No matter what happens, (and I think it will go largely off topic), Kady will be tempting carpal tunnel syndrome to get the information out there. 


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Vaughn Palmer makes a significant misstep

Allow me to point out one thing.

I very much dislike Adrian Dix. If I had my druthers, he wouldn't be anywhere near British Columbia politics. As far as I'm concerned he wore out his welcome when he attached his wagon to Glen Clark. He does not measure up.

In that regard, I hold no ill towards him beyond any other creature in BC politics and, believe me, the offerings around here range from evil to piss poor. He's not the one at the most acidic end of the scale however, so ridiculous misdemeanours are easily ignored.

Vaughn Palmer is a different case. He's supposed to be a journalist. Not a Reform flack.

So maybe Vaughn Palmer can explain his own missteps.

Did he scream at the publishers of the Vancouver Sun when Charles Campbell was sent to the elevator?

Did he run with the truth, or did he run away from it?

And what about that BC Carbon Tax? Did Palmer ever look into it beyond the crap flying out of the photocopier? Was that tax linked to something else? Did he even bother to look? Or was the food, booze and measuring of penises just too overpowering?

Coulda been. Woulda been. Shoulda been.

Now ... completely irrelevant. A waste of ems and column inches.

Rounds complete! Target destroyed.

Harper MP Rob Anders was removed from the Veterans Affair Committee today.
Calgary MP Rob Anders is no longer a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, kicked off following controversial comments he made when he was accused of falling asleep in a meeting.

The controversy was prompted by Anders' behaviour at a meeting of the committee in Halifax. The group of MPs was hearing from an organization that helps former soldiers who are homeless and its president said Anders showed up late, then started text messaging on his phone, then fell asleep.

Anders denied that he fell asleep and suggested that his accusers were NDP "hacks" who praised Vladimir Putin.

The Veterans Emergency Transition Services group was angered by Anders' behaviour and comments he made after the meeting. The group called for his resignation from the committee.
I join my fellow veterans in thanking the committee for taking this matter seriously. I'm certain they also will join me in wishing Anders an appropriate farewell.

Thanks for nothing and don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.


Best line from a news editor ... EVER!

There's a bit of a controversy boiling over in southern Alberta. It seems Steve Jeffrey, owner, publisher and editor of the Chestermere Anchor Weekly is in a spot of trouble. (Bold mine)
Ossie Sheddy, the president of the board of directors of the Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association — of which Jeffrey is a member of the board, and of which the Anchor is a member paper — wouldn’t say if the association is investigating the matter, and asked not to be quoted.
“I don’t give quotes for fear of being misquoted,” he said.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Harper: The ramming of religious tribalism down your throat

Consider these seven points:

1. Disdain for the environmental movement
2. Distrust of mainstream science in general
3. Distrust of the mainstream media
4. Loyalty to the party
5. Libertarian economics as God's will
6. Misundertandings of divine sovereignty - God won't let us ruin creation
7. Unreconstructed Dominion theology - God calls all humans to subdue and rule creation

If you listen to the Harperites, and Harper himself, on almost any subject, they and he express those seven points, particularly since they formed a majority government. They have neatly avoided any reference to "God", but the underlying message originates with those seven points.

Those seven points were presented by Dr. David Gushee, a renowned ethicist and Holocaust scholar. He was referring to the U.S. Conservative religious resistance to climate change science. He could easily have been describing the Harper regime.

Now go read Andrew Nikiforuk
Almost daily, more evidence surfaces that Canada's government is guided by tribalists averse to scientific reason in favour of Biblical fundamentalism -- or what some call "evangelical religious skepticism."
First came Canada's pull-out of the Kyoto agreement without any rational or achievable national plan to battle carbon pollution.
Next came the hysterical and unprecedented letter by Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver, an investment banker. It branded local environmentalists and First Nations as foreign radicals because they dared to question the economic and environmental impacts of a Chinese-funded pipeline.
It just gets better, so do read the whole article.

Now consider this: If Andrew Nikiforuk's assessment is accurate, it means that Harper is on a crusade.

Religious crusaders believe God is on their side and that whatever they do to promote the will of God, (as they define it amongst themselves), is fully justified. Whether it's medieval massacres of the defenceless or the modern subversion of democratic rights, the end justifies the means. Opposition must be crushed since it is composed wholly of lost non-believers.

So, to what level would a modern-day crusader sink to fulfill God's will and gain power?


Awww...

The poor pilot likes 'is minister? What is he major, your dad? Between this and the F-35 and Chinook rigging nonsense, I do wonder if the gold-ringed numpties currently running the RCAF even understand the concept of professional ethics or strategic thinking?

Airshow isn't forever and he and his Con frat brothers will be gone one day, maybe sooner than we think. The next government will score some pretty easy poll points by imposing some pretty frickin' severe restrictions and stipulations on how RCAF aircraft can be employed and acquired.

[edited for cuss words and excessively excessive condescension]

Just so's ya know . . .


Toews on Toews

Via Kady, from his committee theatrics on Anonymous' videos:
  
"I don't believe Members of Parliament should be held hostage," Toews notes, and praises the speaker for upholding the Lamoureux ruling on intimidation. "The threats of nameless, faceless thugs that seek to intimidate democratic proceedings"

Oh, we're finding out their names, Mr. Toews, we're finding them out.

F-35 in context I

You know, this whole F-35 business is absurd to the point of hilarious. Here's the government and air force trying to buy the most expensive warplane ever, sight pretty much unseen, from a company so full of itself that it thought it could start production runs on the prototypes and simply retrofit and adjust production to correct bugs on the fly (Why do envision an internal air-frame full of shims and metal tape?)

Why?

As far as I can tell the answer to that question comes down to little more than hubris, ego, and a soft and spoiled military culture.

Hubris. The overconfidence displayed by not just the RCAF and the Cons but also military types the world over about this little tiny aeroplane is astounding.  I mean, entire countries (ahem!) bet their air forces and corrupted their procurement processes on this thing, sight unseen and barely flown. Now they're all scrambling as costs spiral out of control to fix problems that anyone with half a brain or awareness of the Titanic could have foreseen.

Where does ego fit into it? Well, you'd be hard pressed to find an argument as to why this isn't like a bunch of men walking onto a car lot and asking the salesmen for the most expensive and flashiest four wheels they've got because nothing less will do. I mean, wow, the salesmen actually managed to sell them something that hadn't even been made yet!

And the soft and spoiled military culture? Even despite recent wars, we've got a military leadership at least that forgets why it exists. It's been a long time since we found ourselves fighting an existential war. 70 years of small deployments and contained combat. The longer and more substantive deployments were Cold War garrisons in Europe, but these thankfully stopped short of actual war, because there wouldn't have been much left to garrison after the first few hours. The wars after Iraq I have been small and ultimately unnecessary.  Afghanistan? Botched early on, but we don't really lose that one (unless the US somehow pisses off Pakistan enough to make them an open enemy) but we don't really win it either. That place will go on being what it is long after the last NATO soldier heads for home. Maybe the Northern Alliance/Karzai crowd will survive a while, maybe they won't. The historical precedence is not good: Russian era, ARVN after Vietnamization are not nice precedents (The US is Afghanizing now and our 'trainers' are really part of that effort, which should tell you something). Ultimately for Canada it does not matter. We were able to rotate battlegroup sized formations through the place regularly for almost a decade and are still support a smaller presence there. Casualties are heaviest for the soldiers, friends, and families that actually bear them, but on the military and country as a whole, they are easily sustainable, much lighter than any previous war where we played a sizable combat role.

In Libya, the air campaign was led by a Canadian officer but of very little risk to Canadian or allied pilots. If Gaddafi or the Serbians in Kosovo had anything close to a peer-level air defence system (say circa Iraq 1991 or better, adjusted for technology), there'd likely have been no air campaign. If Canada were suffering Vietnam era casualty rates, we'd have packed it in long ago as our tiny handful of troops would have suffered unsustainable numbers of dead and wounded.

So what does all this tell us about the F-35?

Well both these wars and the F-35 are symptomatic of the same the problem. Our wars, and the equipment we choose to fight them with are expensive luxuries of safe and secure countries able to pick and choose their battles and now, as we see with the apparent rigging of the procurement process by the politicians and the generals, the very kit they get to fight them with. All on the taxpayers dime of course.

What aircraft like the F-35 do (and you can include drones in this package), well those that work at least, is allow politicians and sky-warriors to do is reduce the risk (to themselves) that comes with offensive operations against defended airspaces, thereby facilitating participation in more wars of choice. This in turn feeds military and political fanclub arguments that privilege martial hard-power responses to international political problems. Have tech, will travel. Ask yourself, how would the great minds in governments and military circles today approached their wars if they were asked to resolve them with the tools of 20, 30, 40 or 50 or even 80 years ago? What would have been the response if hijacked DC-3s were flown into the Chrysler Building or Buckingham Palace?

After the past decade of Afghanistan, and Iraq had the Harperites been in charge, and now possibly Iran, I don't think the armed forces and the politicians can be trusted with super-capable military hardware. But this hardware is also very much a privilege of our time and that is something which belays another problem.

The West is in economic decline, climate change is setting in, and this has implications for the way it wars. More on this later.


Go figure . . .

NATURAL NEWS has a very disturbing report. The state of Michigan has a thing about pigs: "Insane Michigan government announces plan to destroy ranch livestock based on hair color and arrest hundreds of ranchers as felons"

The state of Michigan is only days away from engaging in what can only be called true "animal genocide" -- the mass murder of ranch animals based on the color of their hair. It's all part of a shocking new "Invasive Species Order" (ISO) put in place by Michigan's Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This Invasive Species Order suddenly and shockingly defines virtually all open-range pigs raised by small family farms to be illegal "invasive species," and possession of just one of these animals is now a felony crime in Michigan, punishable by up to four years in prison.

Only in the Home of the Brave and the Land of the Free.

Voter suppression goes to court and committee

The Council of Canadians, representing electors in seven ridings where "irregularities" have been clearly reported, is pushing the voter suppression scandal into federal court.
A citizen advocacy group is asking the Federal Court of Canada to overturn election results in seven ridings where telephone dirty tricks may have kept voters away from the polls.

The Council of Canadians says pre-recorded robocalls and live calls influenced the outcome of votes in closely fought races in British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Yukon and Ontario.

The group is backing the first legal challenge of election results since the Ottawa Citizen and Postmedia News revealed ongoing Elections Canada investigations into misleading election day calls in Guelph and other ridings.

The organization's lawyers filed four applications in court on Friday and was due to file three more Monday, all seeking have the results of the votes set aside.

The applications claim that irregular, fraudulent or illegal activities affected the outcome in each of the seven ridings.

All of the ridings named were won by Conservative candidates and all but one was decided by fewer than 1,000 votes.
This challenge is an application to have the results of the last election in those ridings declared invalid. A court challenge of this kind can be tricky but it does open the doors to compelling all candidates to turn over records of their campaign activities. Impolitical provides some details and speculation that is well worth noting.

The other event on the voter suppression horizon is the appearance of Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand before a parliamentary committee. The ploy by the Harperites to schedule that appearance at the same time that the bulk of the Ottawa press corps will be sequestered in the budget lock-down demonstrates the childish nature of the Harper government, and that's about all it does. Given the obvious focus of Postmedia reporters Stephen Maher and Glen McGregor you have to ask yourself which event you think an editor would have them assigned to cover that day. 

Right.

Then you have to ask yourself, would the Harperites really have extended an invitation to Mayrand if they thought he already had incendiary evidence of Conservative election-rigging? 

Nope. 

And before anyone goes off half-cocked, the latest consistent bad habit of the Harperites, (conducting committee hearings in camera), would leave the Conservatives totally screwed in this case. Remember that Mayrand asked for this appearance. Since this deals directly with electoral issues, shutting the doors and booting out the public would only serve to reinforce the belief that the Harperites have something extremely sensitive to hide. 

The Sixth Estate has an excellent prognosis that is a must read.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A strange scattering of dots (Updated twice)

Updates at the bottom.

Very strange. It all started with a quick search. I was looking for a link between two ridings for not-so-obvious reasons. For the time being, they'll probably remain that way but I'll toss out the items and perhaps the sharper minds of others can make some further connections. (Click on all images to expand)

1. On doing a google search for "Julian Fantino" + "Randy Kamp", this is what appeared before me on hitting one of the top returns.

It took a minute, but I realized I was looking at Randy Kamp's bio on Julian Fantino's webpage. So I tried a few others and apparently didn't hit them quite right. So, I figured I had a choice of digging further into either Fantino's or Kamp's website. I picked Kamp's for a domain search and got this.


Then a domain search on Fantino's page turns up this.


2. The common thread? Backbonetechnology.com. I also have the IP address which is shared by both Conservative MPs, so I decided to do a reverse look up. Got this.





That is a giant bouquet of Harper MPs, from Ben Lobb to Tony Clement, first names being alphabetically significant. There are a few other outfits, unrelated to the Harper mob, sharing the same IP as the who's who of the Conservative party.

But this doesn't tell us much really. It's no big deal. 150 different websites sharing the same IP is common in a large organization. The commonality, however, is backbonetechnology.com, so it was time to have a look. First thing? Do an IP check on the domain.




Huh?!!! bcliberals.com ? That created a WTF moment. At least until I realized that both the shared IP for all those Harper MPs and the IP for the BC Liberals fell within the same NetRange.

3. Time to go look at Backbone technology. Click on PORTFOLIO and quick as a flash ... samples of lots of developed websites including two for the BC Liberals, several for the BC government, two different provincial health authorities, the 2010 Olympics (BC government), and, (I like to think of this as a find), the BC government campaign to convince everyone that the HST was just the peachiest tax you've ever heard of.

These guys are connected and, not to put too fine a point on it, there is a gray area there. Having both the BC Liberal party and the BC government as clients might be viewed as some as being ... well, you can figure it out.

The problem was that there was nothing to indicate they had done anything for the Conservative Party of Canada. Sifting around the site didn't produce much. Stop for a coffee and stare at the home page. They have production in three languages. Only an idiot would hit Greek if he doesn't speak Greek. So I click on Greek. Why not? Hit PORTFOLIO again.

Oh! Would you look at that? Right at the bottom of the page. Find out more.After reading about the client, the solution and the result, in their own words:
Today, Backbone's relationship with the Conservatives is stronger than ever as Expression continues to adapt to the party's needs. Quite simply, Backbone's experience – combined with its Expression platform – has given the Conservative Party of Canada enterprise-level performance that continues to offer a high return on their investment.
Excellent. Glad to hear it. (And it wasn't even in Greek!) Happier than you know because, (assumption), I'm willing to bet a dollar to a hole in a doughnut that there isn't a political party in this country who doesn't demand exclusivity from a contractor. That can come in many ways, from political donations, to service in kind, to a legally bound document which states in many more words, "you won't so much as have coffee with our enemies". (Enemies is a Harper concept transported from his western firewall days which would be viewed as political opponents almost anywhere else).

Which would mean, you don't do business with political parties which don't pass the Harper smell-test. Which means the BC Liberals ... do.

4. Who runs this politically connected outfit? A quick look at the Industry Canada company directory and we get Marc Charalambous. Hey ... I know that name from somewhere.

5. A quick search of the name produces this little gem:
The government office running the province's pro-harmonized sales tax campaign secretly doled out contracts to two Liberal-connected companies and a former aide to the minister who introduced the tax, records show.
...

Internal government guidelines would normally have required those contracts to be awarded via a competitive process because they're valued at $25,000 or more. But the guidelines allow that process to be circumvented - and contracts awarded without public notice - if it would "compromise government confidentiality."
...

$52,746.75 went to Backbone Technology Inc. to develop the province's HST information Website. Backbone has worked for the Liberals since 2001, setting up a private intranet for the party executive, as well as the Liberal Website.

Company president and chief executive officer Marc Charalambous acknowledged those Liberal links, and confirmed that party information director Hoong Neoh provides advice to Backbone on an informal, volunteer basis.

But Mr. Gordon said it was the company's "good reputation" for delivering high-profile government projects on time - including Websites for reviews on health care and postsecondary education - that got it the contract.

"I was called to look at doing this in a short timeline - which is typically the kinds of work we've done for the government. We've done quite a few projects over the last five or six years under such an environment," added Mr. Charalambous.

... (and backtrack)

Campaign Research Inc., which worked on cabinet minister George Abbott's unsuccessful campaign for the Liberal leadership, got the biggest contract - receiving $167,800 for conducting the government's telephone town-hall meetings on the HST.

The company didn't respond Monday to a request for comment. Mr. Gordon said Campaign Research wasn't given that work because of its Liberal connection but rather because it provided the best value out of three quotes privately solicited by the government.
Ummm. First off, what possible "confidentiality" was involved with a referendum on a tax? Secondly, Campaign Research Inc. was not what appeared on the contract. In fact it involved an Ontario numbered company which turned out to be Campaign Research Inc. The BC Government knows which Ontario numbered companies to call for an open street-fight referendum? How very cool.

Have I written down Campaign Research Inc. enough?

This Campaign Research Inc.

Backbone Technologies: Federal Conservative and BC Liberal linked.

Campaign Research Inc.: Federal Conservative and BC Liberal linked.

BC Liberal premier Christy Clark's chief of staff? Posted into Victoria directly from Harper's office: Ken Boessenkool.

BC Liberal premier Christy Clark's director of communications? Posted into Victoria directly from Harper's office: Sara MacIntyre. (Complete with a shitty attitude and 48 cases of chewing gum).

(As an aside, I am fairly confident that there is a Canadian Army general who was probably very relieved to see this pair fly out of Ottawa).

So, I got nuttin'. I went looking for one thing in particular and came up with something completely different. And, yes, it's all been out there in bits and pieces form. I just wonder when the Clark/Campbell crowd will start calling themselves the Harper Government?

Aside from the issue of the BC government under premier "photo op" violating their own tendering rules to accommodate their paranoia, there is nothing to suggest that anyone or anything has committed a legal breach. A bad smell doesn't constitute evidence of anything except ...

That doesn't mean that there isn't more. That's where you come in. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take those points and see if there is a line going somewhere significant. If it does, credit will be provided in a future post. (And I'll make cookies).

UPDATE: The Gazetteer (working with the inimitable North Van Grumps) has started to stride and pegged the Harper infiltration of the Christy Clark enterprise at before the arrival of the two Ottawa spawns mentioned above. Quick summary: Nina Chiarelli, arrived in Victoria from Ottawa, in June 2011. That was just one month after the 2011 federal election. Chiarelli had been acting communications director for the Harper PMO during the campaign. Chiarelli was, according to the information I just read, still the director of communications for federal Transport, Infrastructure and Communities up to July 2011. It looks like Chiarelli held down both jobs for a short time. Go get more cookie-worthy details at The Gazetteer.

UPDATE IIAlison weighs in with another revealing find. Dimitri Pantazopoulos, with Reform Party and US Republican baggage, drifted into the Christy Clark/BC Liberal fold in April 2011. RossK has sharpened the focus on the arrival of Chiarelli. 

Keep in mind, despite the fact that this may be the most accidental post I've ever done, that the significance of this Harper infiltration is profound. This is an endeavour to Americanize not the just politics, but the way politics is done in this country. This is the Reform movement at work. From the Ontario PCs, to the Toronto mayor's office, to the Alberta Wild Rose Party, to the BC Liberals, this is an attempt at a Reform power grab. 

Oh yes. Those recent off-writ Harper-style attack ads. NVG has the story.
  



Sunday, March 25, 2012

High on life . . .

THE AMERICAN INDEPENDENT proclaims itself tasked with impact journalism in the Public Interest. Scot Kersgaard has a fascinating report, worthy of your attention: "Study: suicide rates fall when states legalize medical marijuana".

A University of Colorado economics professor has co-authored a study, just released by the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn, Germany, that concludes that suicide rates among young males decline markedly after states legalize medical marijuana.
• • • •
They also note that the sale of alcohol to young males declines in states that legalize medical marijuana and note that alcohol is a known depressant the use of which can lead to suicidal thoughts.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Goppers got slaveholder minds . . .

THE NATION has an article by JoAnn Wypijewski that you have got to read, "Reproductive Rights and the Long Hand of Slave Breeding". Simply, the misogyny of today's Goppers has its roots in the American slave-owning experience.

We don’t commonly recognize that American slaveholders supported closing the trans-Atlantic slave trade; that they did so to protect the domestic market, boosting their own nascent breeding operation. Women were the primary focus: their bodies, their “stock,” their reproductive capacity, their issue. Planters advertised for them in the same way as they did for breeding cows or mares, in farm magazines and catalogs. They shared tips with one another on how to get maximum value out of their breeders. They sold or lent enslaved men as studs and were known to lock teenage boys and girls together to mate in a kind of bullpen.They propagated new slaves themselves, and allowed their sons to, and had their physicians exploit female anatomy while working to suppress African midwives’ practice in areas of fertility, contraception and abortion.Reproduction and its control became the planters’ prerogative and profit source. Women could try to escape, ingest toxins or jump out a window—abortion by suicide, except it was hardly a sure thing.

The American Constitution's 13th Amendment is key to turning back today's misogynists, go click on the link to find out how this may be so.

The descendants of slave masters have no more right to control her sexuality and reproductive organs, to deny her self-determination, than did their predecessors. Mother or slut, prostitute or daughter, law student or lazybones who just wants to have sex all day, she is heir in her person to a promise of universal freedom, one that does not make such distinctions but that recognizes an individual’s right to her life, her labor, her body and self-possession all as one. Forget trying to shut up a gasbag on the radio; there is a basic constitutional liberty to uphold.

The struggle continues . . .

THE MAYLAY MAIL has a disturbing report about intolerance in Malaysia. According to Ram Anand, Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender (LBGT) lifestyles have been equated to social ills like prostitution and drug abuse by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mashitah Ibrahim.

“The (LBGT) issue has its own after-effects, which can lead to prostitution, drug abuse, psychological problems and also mental illness. We have been raising awareness on our fatwa against LBGT tendencies with heavy media publicity on the issue to raise awareness, and also about the bad effects homosexuality has on health.”

Makes you wonder how long it will take for Stevie's troglodytes to start making the same noises?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Uneasy lies . . .


Vancouver Island North again

On Feb 28th CHEK TV in Victoria reported a voter suppression call in the riding of Vancouver Island North. At that time it was a live call made in the town of Woss and it appeared to be the only incident.

Now it seems to have spread and this report is indicating there may have been automated robo-calls misdirecting voters to non-existent polling stations.
The Vancouver Island North NDP candidate in the May 2011 election said Wednesday several people complained to her recently about receiving automated phone calls directing them away from legitimate polling stations.
“I thought it was a non-story (in this riding),” said Ronna-Rae Leonard, who finished a close second to incumbent Conservative MP John Duncan.
Then the city councillor in Courtenay started to hear from concerned voters who said they had been misled by automated calls.
Cumberland resident Yvonne Kafka said an automated call told her not to vote at the usual polling station in the village, although she confirmed the location and voted.
“If they did it to me, they must have done it to other people,” said Kafka, who has not heard back from Elections Canada about her complaint.
Leonard said a Merville resident told her she was misdirected to the former Tsolum School to vote after she had voted for years at the Merville Hall. The woman, who declined Thursday to be interviewed or identified, told Leonard she was interviewed by Elections Canada.
One woman in Comox told Leonard a call “was directing her to the Comox Mall to vote, where there was no poll.” Leonard said the woman, who had not given Leonard permission to identify her, did manage to vote.
Leonard said she suspects people have not come forward before now because they suspected misleading calls were just a hoax, and they didn’t see the gravity of attempting to defraud voters.
 John Duncan, the Conservative incumbent, won the seat by 1827 votes in a 66.4% voter turnout.

------

Now, over to visit The Gazetteer, where he has read Prof. Anke Kessler's draft paper on voter suppression and makes a report. As RossK points out, since Kessler's paper, (which focused on the initial 27 ridings), the spread of the contagion has become more widely known and is now into triple digits.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

You measure twice (updated)

Cut once
Air Canada baggage handlers were staging a wildcat walkout at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport early Friday, causing some flights to be delayed.

The job action began Thursday evening and left hundreds of passengers in limbo after they had to disembark from several flights already on the tarmac and head back to the terminal.
...

There was no immediate sign that federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt would intervene in the dispute.

A spokesperson Raitt’s office told The Canadian Press in an email that ”these issues fall with Air Canada internally.”

Should Air Canada feel the job action constitutes an illegal strike, the spokesperson said, ”they can bring this matter to the Canadian industrial Resolution Board.”
I doubt that's what Air Canada wanted to hear. I also doubt that's what is going to happen. Lisa Raitt will once again roar in, hammer swinging. It's the moral hazard she's created.

The one thing she won't pummel will be Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu. He'll be happy with his $4.6 million compensation. Oh yeah ... if he hangs around for 9 more days, he gets a $5 million bonus.

And it looks like Raitt herself was the catalyst
The wildcat strike started after the airline, which has had bitter and continuing labour problems over the past year with its pilots, mechanics, flight attendants and now ground crews, suspended three workers at Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Thursday evening, setting off a chain of events.

The workers had apparently applauded sarcastically as Labour Minister Lisa Raitt walked through the airport on Thursday evening.

The employees were suspended for 72 hours. The striking workers said Friday morning that's how long they'll keep up their protest.

H/T Aunty Bertha in comments

Take a look at DAMMIT JANET! If you're a Twitter-mover you can give the Air Canada vice-president HR heavy-handed cabinet minister with chameleon hair a "hand".

This airline seems to have it right

Their livery is an absolute blast.



The above is their "Camo" plane.


Then, there is "flying 101".

Check out the rest of Kulula airlines' funky fleet here.

Brilliant invention . . .

BRILLIANT! A life-changing device for paraplegics has been invented by a Turkish company that allows users to move around far more independently than a wheelchair.

"Mutiny" on the Committee?

Read as Kady does her awesome thing.

...The speaker reminded him that such complaints are more properly put before the committee itself, at which point Andrews informed the government that, given that ruling, his party will no longer consider itself entirely bound -- or, in this case, gagged -- by the blanket non-disclosure clause, and, as such, may begin holding post-meeting scrums in order to"lift the veil of secrecy" that the government has "draped" over committee proceedings.

Which, of course, immediately resulted in two questions jumping to mind: First, can they do that? And if so, what happens next?

The short answers, in that order: 1. Yes, they can; and 2. Actually, that's an interesting question.
Go now and look at the rest where Kady explains potential implications of such a manoeuvre. 

Lose the election?

We'll just give you the job anyway.
A government employee described by Liberal Irwin Cotler as his “shadow MP” working on the federal payroll has offered some clues about his job and his publicly funded salary.
Mr. Cotler has raised concerns that Saulie Zajdel, the Conservative candidate he defeated in last year's election, is earning a government paycheque while trying to undermine him in his Montreal riding.
The significance of the riding of Mount Royal? Take a look and see if you can figure it out.

As an added feature, take a look at the yapping  Zajdel was doing a little while ago.
Saulie Zajdel, the former Côte des Neiges/NDG councillor and Conservative candidate, has been appointed by the federal government as a regional advisor for community outreach and relations.
“I’m going to be working under Christian Paradis, minister of the Montreal region, and Canadian Heritage minister James Moore in the Ministers Regional Office in Montreal,” Zajdel told The Suburban last week.
Christian Paradis ... well, isn't that just too special

Christian Paradis should be snooping the back benches for a place to sleep (Updated)

The Ethics Commissioner throws a marshmallow at a corrupt minister of the Crown. If you read this you get the overwhelming desire to hose down Mary Dawson for failure to perform. It took her two years!

So, you should read this instead. Impolitical cuts right to the chase and highlights the serial breaches committed by Paradis.

Update: No surprise here. Accountability and ministerial responsibility don't actually harmonize with the corrupt nature of the Harper crowd. 
Industry Minister Christian Paradis is refusing to resign after being found in violation of the Conflict of Interest Act for helping Rahim Jaffer secure a meeting with senior bureaucrats after his former caucus colleague’s arrest on driving and drug charges.
...

Mr. Paradis refused to step down, saying in a written statement he will take “further precautions” in his future dealings with people seeking government funding.
Illegitimate minister in a supposititious government. 

Turkeys can't fly . . .

BUT AT LEAST YOU CAN EAT 'EM. According to WIRED, the F-35 is turning out to be a turkey indeed. Stevie ain't gonna like that, and Big Julie is going to have to bell the cat.  David Axe's article, "Pentagon: Trillion-Dollar Jet on Brink of Budgetary Disaster" is scary stuff:

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the supposed backbone of the Pentagon’s future air arsenal, could need additional years of work and billions of dollars in unplanned fixes, the Air Force and the Government Accountability Office revealed on Tuesday. Congressional testimony by Air Force and Navy leaders, plus a new report by the GAO, heaped bad news on a program that was already almost a decade late, hundreds of billions of dollars over its original budget and vexed by mismanagement, safety woes and rigged test results.
• • •
When the F-35 was conceived in the late 1990s, it was expected to begin flying combat missions as early as 2010. Lately military officials have mentioned 2018 as a likely start date. In his Congressional testimony, Venlet declined to even mention a possible timeframe for the JSF’s service entry.

So, nobody knows when, or how much? Way to go, Stevie!
ZERO HEDGE is a rather contrarian financial site, that proclaims "On a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero." Hmmmm . . . nobody gets out alive. Well, Doug Casey is a guest contributor, with a fascinating article that goes a long way to describe the American fascist juggernaut: "The Ascendence Of Sociopaths In US Governance".

In this article, I'm going to argue that the US government, in particular, is being overrun by the wrong kind of person. It's a trend that's been in motion for many years but has now reached a point of no return. In other words, a type of moral rot has become so prevalent that it's institutional in nature. There is not going to be, therefore, any serious change in the direction in which the US is headed until a genuine crisis topples the existing order. Until then, the trend will accelerate.

The reason is that a certain class of people – sociopaths – are now fully in control of major American institutions. Their beliefs and attitudes are insinuated throughout the economic, political, intellectual and psychological/spiritual fabric of the US.

There are seven characteristics I can think of that define a sociopath, although I'm sure the list could be extended.

1. Sociopaths completely lack a conscience or any capacity for real regret about hurting people. Although they pretend the opposite. Sociopaths put their own desires and wants on a totally different level from those of other people. Their wants are incommensurate. They truly believe their ends justify their means. Although they pretend the opposite.

Check out the other six. Reminds me of Stevie.
H/T — Helmut, thank-you, sir.

Pull thread to unravel

The Sixth Estate has a very cogent theory on how the voter suppression effort during the last federal election may have unfolded. It's important to read the whole piece but for those of you doing this on the short ...
As April 2011 careened to a close, there were a few pollsters willing to stick their neck out and predict a Conservative majority, but the general consensus was that they would not quite achieve that mark. Moreover it was generally expected, particularly among Conservative ranks, that the NDP and the Liberals would not put up with another Harper minority. Instead they would join forces, and, absurd as it might have sounded even two months  before, the late Jack Layton would be prime minister. Harper’s career would be over. So would those of the coterie of pseudo-intelligent political strategists with which he’s surrounded himself.

So, at some point in that last worrying week of April, the decision was made to order several different units to do what they could to suppress the vote, using tips and tricks they’d picked up from campaign training sessions with American Republicans. We know these sessions happened, we know that these sort of dirty tricks are quite routine fare (for both parties) south of the border, and, in fact, in some states deliberately misdirecting people to bogus polling stations isn’t even against the law.

I’m not sure who these units were. Maybe they were inside the Target Seat Management Unit. Maybe they were in the Conservative Resource Group. Maybe they were just whatever little network of local campaign staffers were personal friends of whichever senior strategist decided to activate Plan B. Whatever it was, they weren’t entirely prepared for it. They had a general idea what to do, but they hadn’t planned it out in advance — again, because if they had, they would have done a better job of it.
From the perspective of the individuals activating the covert op, there would have been no real downside. If they won a majority, they would be able to stonewall Elections Canada from now to judgement day, or at least until the next election. (This was actually happening, until Postmedia broke the story wide open in February and suddenly Elections Canada decided it should be seriously investigating the case after all.) If they lost and the NDP seized power, what would it matter? Their careers would already be over anyways, and the NDP would be too busy enjoying their newfound power to look too carefully into a vote fraud scheme that hadn’t even worked anyways.
That's about the way I would break it out, although I would add a few other features.

There is a reason we do not allow the young lieutenant or brand-new sergeant to plan and execute delicate military operations, especially those which require enduring cover. They always leave stuff out. That's not because they're stupid; it's because they haven't had the sense of invincibility beaten out of them yet. It's one thing to be able to produce a covert action plan; it's quite another to be able to plan it in enough detail to have it executed without leaving evidence behind.

One of the common threads of those whose names keep appearing, (and that is not to say that they are guilty), around the voter suppression issue, is their relative young age. Behaviours involving high-risk, without consideration of possible consequences, tends to fall into the arena of young males. That fits the analysis provided by The Sixth Estate. A quick look at the two outcomes of a covert operation would not reveal the pitfalls to be avoided. The whole thing looks like a very poorly planned operation executed with arrogant invincibility. Not the work of a seasoned campaigner.

There is another dangling thread which may have panicked the Harper campaign. The Christian conservatives, a considerable force in the minority Harper-base, were not happy. They wanted their people elected to a majority Conservative caucus so as to put the squeeze on Harper himself. Some wanted to see themselves in enough control to replace Harper. A minority victory would give them as much ammunition as they needed to turf Harper into the gutter.

Even if a minority showing did not result in an NDP led coalition government, (which I believe would have happened), the Harper faction of the Conservative party would have been toast. In a party with no clear field of succession, the loose fusion of western separatists, Christian conservatives, racists and right-wing authoritarians would have likely collapsed in an all-out pig-fight for the leadership.That aside, again, the only way the Harper loyalists could possibly keep their jobs was to squeeze out a majority to fend off the threats from within their own party.

That brings up something of a post-script. Simon puts the bristles onto Speaker Andrew Scheer and his involvement in the Guelph riding. Far from being non-partisan, Scheer is a member of the faction which would have exiled Harper to the wilderness in another minority government. In a majority however, although wholly unsuited to the position, he becomes the HoC head referee. As much as I believe there is some quid pro quo involved, I also see Harper's Dionysius to Scheer's Damocles.

The literalist, authoritarian, Christian right cannot be discounted as possible players in the whole affair. But that's for another time.





Wednesday, March 21, 2012

You're cut off!

The luxury escorts of Madrid, Spain have had enough. In a country where prostitution exists in a gray area between not being legal and not being illegal, the most expensive women have told their banker clients to get human. (Machine translation. Live with it. I don't speak Spanish)
The largest trade association of luxury escorts in Madrid announced yesterday the beginning of a total strike and indefinite suspension of sexual services to employees of banks until they return to providing credit to households, SMEs and Spanish companies.
They've cut off the Spanish 1 percenters.
The idea of ​​this strike arose from the experience of CP Lucia one of the association's members, who during the press conference told how one of her regular customers told him that, for many months, his only activity was to borrow hundreds of millions of euros of liquidity window at 1% from the ECB, and immediately spend the money on European government debt and highly specialized products such as CDS (credit default swaps) and commodity hedge funds, with returns of between 3 and 7% , pocketing the difference. "One day I got fed up and said: Enough is enough no?  Forget my pussy until you fulfill your responsibility to society. My client at first grumbled and threatened to cut off the maintenance fees and transfers, but eventually backed off and three days later returned with a notarized certificate of having granted a line of credit to SMEs and a loan to buy a Citroen van a self-contained.  This is how I realized that we could help the credit flowing again "
It gets better. How? The bankers want someone to legislate an end to the strike.
The Confederation of Banking has formally requested the establishment of minimum services and government mediation to unlock the conflict as soon as possible. But from the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness headed by Luis de Guindos, recognize that the lack of legislation around the area makes it very difficult for the government to intercede in the conflict.  "In fact, not even been a formal strike communication, but escorts are making use of its right of admission to deny entry to, well, you know.  So no one can negotiate "
This was posted to give you a break from scandal and the vile politics of Stephen Harper. 

I don't think our Auditor General's report is going to be any prettier

The F-35 Lightning II, is getting another drag across the coals of oversight.
When the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program went into development in 2001, it was already one of the most expensive defense acquisition projects in history at $223 billion. But in just over a decade, the price has ballooned to just under $400 billion -- and jumped nearly $15 billion just between 2010 and 2011, according to the GAO report published Tuesday. Also, the jets won't be in full production mode until 2018, rather than 2012 as originally planned, the report says. 

The report notes the planes' mixed record on meeting its testing goals last year and cites a few specific problems, including difficulties managing the electronic system's unprecedented 24 million lines of computer code and delays in the development of critical mission systems that are so behind schedule as to be "risky." 
...

The problem, according to Kendall and the new GAO report, was the Air Force's strategy of concurrency -- meaning that rather than testing a few models and then mass producing the planes, the jets would go into full production early and test as they go. Any faults in the design discovered during testing, therefore, would mean that all the planes -- those in production and those already completed -- would have to be retrofitted with the fixes. 

Kendall said in February that the early production decision was due to "optimistic predictions" based on design tools, simulations and modeling. But he said the design tools weren't perfect, the models weren't precise enough and now the military has found problems in all three variants of the F-35.
 And then there is this:

“The contract we signed shelters us from any increase in those kinds of costs, so we’re very confident of our cost estimates.”
Stephen Harper
8 April 2011
Right, except that no one has yet signed a contract laying out actual costs. Harper lied.  



Canada, Tar Sands, China, and the West

Volatile compounds require stabilising agents to prevent them from becoming a mess. Recipes use it, explosives use it, it is what the preservatives do in food products to stave off decay.

Gwynne Dyer draws some alarming attention to the potential of China's real estate bubble, noting in particular the West's path dependency of sustained Chinese economic growth. It isn't just the US economy that is dependent on Chinese growth, but the bulk of the economic strength of much of the West's economies.

Should China fail, we're all in trouble. China for its part requires vast and increasing amounts of energy to sustain its growth, which is why it has invested so heavily in the Tar Sands. Indeed, the Tar Sands are quite likely critical to maintaining some degree of economic stability in West.

The pressure on the globalizationistas in European and North American capitals, let alone Beijing must be massive. To a large extent they need a person like Harper, more than happy to crush opposition and remove regulatory barriers, in the driver's seat here to ensure that access to bitumen be maintained.

It's an awful scenario and taken as a whole, makes the entire global economy look like one big oil-fueled speculative bubble...

Partisan to the core

I suppose it was all in the spirit of "giving".
The political machine behind the man who is now Speaker of the House of Commons opened its wallet for the Guelph Conservative campaign currently under scrutiny by Election Canada’s robo-calls probe, records at the watchdog agency show. 

Less than two weeks before the 2011 election, Andrew Scheer’s Regina-Qu’Appelle riding association in Saskatchewan transferred $3,000 to the Guelph Conservative campaign for candidate Marty Burke. 

Elections Canada records suggest this was the only Conservative riding association outside Guelph to transfer cash to Mr. Burke’s campaign during the writ period.  
The smell is starting to permeate the robes.



Does voter suppression change the result?

Looks that way.

Via Creekside we get some simple and easy to read crunching from Brian-Michel, complete with this graph:


Of course, Dean del Mastro will be sent out at some point to state that no one can prove people didn't vote simply because "somebody" executed a strategy to mislead voters. Oh right ...

There is more, of course. Anke Kessler has done a rather thorough statistical analysis where she concludes:
In 27 of the 308 ridings, voters allegedly received automated phone calls containing false information on the location of their election site, or harassing them in the name of one of the contestants. The results suggest that, on average, voter turnout in those ridings affected by the demobilization efforts is significantly lower than in the ridings where no automated phone calls have been reported. The point estimate gives 3 percentage points.  As such, the effect is considerably smaller than the 50 percent reduction in turnout that Barton (2011) finds.  But since nothing is yet known about the total numbers of voters that actually have received a phone call,  if any,  those numbers are not comparable. Besides, Barton’s results are based on a framed-field experiment with little consequence of failing to go to the polls and it may be difficult to draw inferences regarding actual elections.  In either case, Barton also reports that pre-election warnings against possible fraudulent messages inoculates voters against misinformation effects, and generally restores voter turnout.   If his  findings are taken at face value,  the  outlook is positive: having been warned, the Canadian electorate should now be guarded against any future attempts at demobilization.
Now, I'm pretty certain the average person would find Kessler's paper extremely difficult to read. It took me several reads to be able to agree with the conclusion above. It is worth reading the Introduction from the bottom of page 1 through page 2. As opposed to using just riding data, she bores into individual polling station statistics. What Kessler assesses is very telling.
On average, voter turnout was 3 percentage points lower in those ridings from which complaints had been received as opposed to ridings from which no such complaints had been received. Using the average such riding as a benchmark, this translates into roughly 2,500 fewer voters at the polls.
Oh yes. Before dismissing Anke Kessler as some university student trying to make a name for herself, be aware that she is Professor Anke Kessler, Ph.D. in the Economics Dept. at Simon Fraser University. 

One point made by Prof. Kessler that should bode well for future elections is that the electorate will be much more wary of attempts to suppress the vote.

That may be cold comfort if we have to put up with Harper and his vile brand of politics for a full four to five years. And, of course, there is another problem. Given that all evidence points to the Harper campaign as the perpetrators of a voter suppression effort, we have no idea what desperate tactic they will engage in an attempt to hold onto power. Unless we figure it out first.

Further good read.