Saturday, May 31, 2008

Pissing in the wind.


The outgoing American commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan said the insurgency will last for years unless Pakistan shuts down safe havens where militants train and recruit.

Gen. Dan McNeill blamed new peace agreements in Pakistan's tribal areas for a spike in violence in eastern Afghanistan, where U.S. forces operate along the volatile border.

"If there are going to be sanctuaries where these terrorists, these extremists, these insurgents can train, can recruit, can regenerate, there's still going to be a challenge there," McNeill said in an interview with The Associated Press

Pointless. Fucking. War.

Friday, May 30, 2008

China goes to Gitmo

NYT : Terrorism and the Olympics

"After 9/11, China declared its own war on terror in Xinjiang, but Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have documented that this often has targeted Uighurs who are completely nonviolent. [Uighurs are Turkic farmers inhabiting the Xinjiang region]

Unfortunately, the Bush administration has largely backed this Chinese version of the war on terror. Indeed, a Department of Justice report this month suggests that American troops softened up Uighur prisoners in Guantánamo Bay on behalf of visiting Chinese interrogators. The American troops starved the Uighurs and prevented them from sleeping, just before inviting in the Chinese interrogators."

The author Nicholas Kristof also has a blog where he notes :

"What irks me is the Bush administration backing the Chinese Communist Party as it uses the "war on terror" as a cover to go after those moderate Uighur dissidents who favor more autonomy or religious freedom but oppose any violence. The Bush administration listed the "East Turkistan Islamic Movement" as a terror organization in the aftermath of 9/11, apparently as a "thanks" to Beijing for its help in cracking down on terror financing."

"Thanks", as in : China leaned on Pakistan, Pakistan made promises, Pakistan is no longer keeping them.

So in exchange for some financial finangling, China gets to blur the line between dissidents who oppose violence and terrorists.

All of which leaves me wondering what Canada's Gitmo deal is with the US, the one wherein we make nice about being the last country in the world to press for release of a Canadian child-soldier held there since his 15th birthday in 2002.
Yesterday Khadr's US military lawyer William Kuebler alleged that Col. Peter Brownback, the judge hearing Omar Khadr's case, was abruptly dismissed, after he "threatened to suspend the case unless prosecutors turned over key evidence to the defense lawyers".

In April Maxime Bernier stood beside Condi Rice in Washington and announced it would be
"premature to comment about the legal process right now and appeal process because they’re still ongoing. And what we will do is we’ll do -- and I received also assurances that Mr. Khadr has been treated humanely."
"And what we will do is we'll do --" a little thought hiccup there from Max. I wonder now what he stopped himself from saying.

Cross-posted at Creekside

Spin Doctors Without Borders...again

As noted by Dana below, a mere three days after the G&M reported:
Safe-injection site in B.C. wins court protection

"North America's only sanctioned safe-injection site for drug addicts won a major court victory Tuesday, thwarting any chance of the federal Conservative government closing it down" ,
Tony Clement announced at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health that he will be asking Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to appeal the BC Supreme Court's decision "as soon as possible".

Kady O'Malley live-blogged the committee hearings in her own inimitable way today, noting that:
"It occured to me as I was scurrying back from the foyer that this is the *second* meeting this week where the only witness on hand to defend the government’s policy on a controversial issue is an import from the United States—and not just the U.S., but the United States of Right-Wing Think Tanks."

Ah yes - Colin Mangham.
Colin Mangham is "director of research" for the Drug Prevention Network of Canada, an offshoot of , wait for it , the Drug Prevention Network of America, headed up by Calvina L. Fay of Drug Free America, Save Our Society From Drugs, and Drug Watch International, dedicated to "combating the drug legalization movement globally".
DPN of Canada lists her as an "honorary board member" who has "served as an advisor to President Bush on drug policy".
Rounding out the board of our very own 'war on drugs' Canadian clonetank is past president ReformaTory Randy White and REAL Woman Gwen Landolt as current VP, plus a couple of Scientology's Narconon graduates.

Back to Kady :

"Dr. Colin Mangham, who huffs and puffs over the "bad science" and sloppy journalism behind support for the program...[snip]...At one point, he mentions in an offhand way that he’s a graduate of UBC, but his accent is glaringly American. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.
He then goes into a rant about how people who support InSite, including some in this very room, are, in fact, part of a larger movement towards drug policy reform. He demands that "elected representatives" stop these "activists."
By this point, there are hisses and catcalls coming from the visitors’ gallery."

"Bloc’s Christiane Gagnon : does he have any data to support his contention that the vast quantity of research that supports harm reduction policies is worthless?
Well, no, not exactly. He provided a “second opinion” on research produced by other people, to “critique” it, just like a first year university student would do."

Ok, our score so far : 22 positive peer-reviewed studies in favor of InSite published in prestigious scientific journals ... versus one "second opinion" from a promoter of the wildly successful and universally admired US 'war on drugs'.

So why am I still worried?

Cross-posted at Creekside

Update : Wow! Four posts on this at the Gazetteer from Ross - who is, incidentally, a scientist, the peer-reviewed kind, the kind who does his own research.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Harperites Make Hatred of Insite Clear

Well, I guess this makes it explicit enough, doesn't it?

"The Harper government will appeal a decision by the B.C. Supreme Court that saved North America's only sanctioned safe-injection site from closure at the end of June, Health Minister Tony Clement has confirmed."

It's either Sensenbrenner or Mr.Mustard in the Library

Days after an internal probe by the Clerk of the Privy Council Office Kevin Lynch failed to determine the source of the Naftagate leak, James Travers at The Star reported that "Multiple sources say the Canadian note questioning the Democrat frontrunner's public promise to reopen NAFTA was leaked from the Prime Minister's Office" to Frank Sensenbrenner, a Republican who worked at the Canadian embassy in Washington.

Now Sensenbrenner's father, James, introduced the notorious U.S. Patriot Act as chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, but just how did his son Frank appear in our midst?

"[Frank] Sensenbrenner was introduced to senior embassy officials by Gerry Chipeur, a Calgary-based lawyer who was once legal counsel to the Reform and Canadian Alliance parties, the antecedents of today's Conservative party.
Chipeur, a dual citizen who headed the Republicans Abroad Canada, also has deep ties to the evangelical community in both countries and prominent U.S. Republicans, including Kansas Senator Sam Brownback.

The entrée of Sensenbrenner into Canadian diplomatic circles was forged at the Republican National Convention in New York in 2004, where members of the Canadian embassy and Conservative officials such as Day, Chipeur, Alberta MP Jason Kenney and John Reynolds, co-chair of the Tory 2006 election campaign, all attended.
Sensenbrenner had cut his political teeth in Canada, attending private college in the Toronto area and attending early Reform party conventions where he first befriended those in then-leader Preston Manning's inner circle.
The push to get him on the payroll came particularly from Day, sources said, when he took over the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative file, the name given to the Republican move to require all Canadians crossing the U.S. land border to carry passports or secure driver's licences."

~ Tim Harper at The Star

I had no idea Day, Kenney, and Reynolds attended the U.S. Republican National Convention but I can't say I'm surprised. You'll recall that Day is currently steering his own version of the Patriot Act through our parliament. This old boys network is already so 'deeply integrated' they can't imagine what's taking the rest of Canada so long to catch up.

Frank Sensenbrenner has since denied having a role in the leak of the Canadian consular memo, so due to that internal Privy Council Office probe which protects the Cons from having to answer any difficult questions, we're back to Mr. Mustard in the Library again.

h/t Jennifer at Runesmith's Canadian Content for the Star links
Cross-posted at Creekside

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tarts, Toffs and Traitors


Who says?

Given the questions that could be asked and aren't getting any answers, the only thing we are hearing are the words of Harper. And he isn't about to give us the clear truth.

I smell Profumo in the air.

Harper may well have achieved his greatest wish: A return to a past he for which he was not present and does not understand in the slightest.

Questions, Questions, Questions

How did Bernier happen to have the envelope with these documents in his hand when he went to Ms. Couillard's home that day in April? Why did he have them with him a month after the Romania meeting? Why were they outside the confines of his office at this time?

Were there more than just these NATO related documents and he remembered to pick up and take the others but accidentally left these?

Was this a visit he made just on the spur of the moment while out walking around or was he in his car or official limousine? If he was in his personal car why didn't he lock the envelope in the trunk? If he was in his limo why didn't he leave the envelope with his security cleared driver? Are the documents we know about the only ones he had with him that day? Was there a briefcase full of documents and these were the only ones he took out? Why did he take these out? Did he take out others as well but remembered to put them back?

If the envelope was left on a coffee table why did it take a month for Ms Couillard to find them? Has she been away from her home? Has anyone else been staying there? Who?

Who is this "eminent lawyer"? Who else does he or she represent? Is this Bernier's lawyer? Should we settle for Harper's unverified assertion that since mid-April these documents have been safe in his or her possession? When did he or she first contact Foreign Affairs and what was the upshot? Were the documents turned over immediately following first contact? If he or she waited for this entire month before contacting Foreign Affairs - why?

Who are the "security experts"? Are they credible? Licenced? Has their reported statement to Ms Couillard been verified? Can their opinion as to what they found be subjected to a second opinion somehow? Do pinholes in a mattress have any other explanations or is that only part of the story?

How do our NATO allies feel about this? Is there any hesitation being expressed regarding the security of confidential documents in Canada?

None of these questions will get answered of course.

Any answers would would threaten national security.

Cleavage-gate : boobs vs boobs

yeah, you were awesome too baby ... hey, did i leave some shit there last night? ***

BT Stephen Taylor is pleased that this whole sordid business of biker chicks and microphones allegedly planted in the seams of mattresses is now solidly behind us :
"By clearing the deck of the Bernier issue, the Prime Minister’s office will construct a narrative of promptly dealing with issues of substance and holding the line on fabrications from the opposition...
Today was a bad day for Conservatives, but it represents an opportunity for the government to move forward on its agenda without this distraction."

Yeah - "an opportunity", "moving forward", "constructing a narrative", "promptly dealing with issues"!
So what have you got for us?

Ottawonk, from whom I pillaged the above pic and ***, notes that according to this Government House Leader page, next week is "Sound Economic Management Without a Carbon Tax Week", tastefully accompanied over at the ReformaTory homepage with this pic.

Oh. So it's Business as Usual with Funny Hats Week vs boobs then, is it?
I'm sorry, Mr Taylor, but I'm gonna hafta go with Cleavage-gate here. Boob stories always have more legs.

Ottawonk - very wicked funny on this - Go

Cross-posted at Creekside

Monday, May 26, 2008

"Don't touch my bags if you please Mr. Customs Man"

A lot of airlines run promotions to reward travellers for choosing them and a lot of countries do tourism promotions that offer freebies of various sorts, but this is exceptional:

from the BBC

Cannabis blunder at Tokyo airport

An unwitting passenger arriving at Japan's Narita airport has received 142g of cannabis after a customs test went awry, officials say.
A customs officer hid a package of the banned substance in a side pocket of a randomly chosen suitcase in order to test airport security.
Sniffer dogs failed to detect the cannabis and the officer could not remember which bag he had put it in.
Anyone finding the package has been asked to contact customs officials.

Just so you know, "sources" tell me that 142 grams of marijuana (that's about five ounces or "lids" as the kids call them) would mean a lump about the size of your average paperback. Imagine finding that when you get home and unpack from your business trip or vacation.

I can't believe the dog couldn't find it - Given the amount, if the stuff is any good at all, they could probably just grab the first couple of people they see in tiedye down in Harajuku and let them sniff around for baggage area for ten minutes.

No embed code for this one, but I'd like to dedicate it to Narita Customs chief Manpei Tanaka with my sympathy

UPDATE: Apparently the misplaced stash has been returned by the passenger who found it in his suitcase.

Bernier to Emerson to Hell

Now that the G&M has come to their senses and shut down their so called comments boards on volatile partisan matters all the Conservative talking point trolls have migrated over to the comment boards. Better all round fit for them anyway given the sheer partisan nature of Mike Duffy, Craig Oliver et al.

But the talking points being exposed today are unusual in their stupidity. Pierre Polievre must be spending time at the keyboard in Ottawa cueing the troll army.

There are some Conservative trolls who clearly didn't even bother to read that Bernier had left classified documents related to NATO/Afghanistan. Their defence of Bernier rests on the irrelevancy of any documents that he may have had; one who might have read the story even goes so far as to say straight out that no Canadian minister would ever have had any important documents anyway because Canada is not an important country.

Many of these stupid asshats commend Harper for his "quick and decisive action". Like what? Accepting a resignation?

Although as the dust settles over the next few days I'm sure we'll hear Craig Oliver or Mike Duffy commend him in a similar way.

And now we have Misnister of Foreign Affairs David "I'm Really an American" Emerson.

What glory that will be.

I suppose there's comfort in the thought that at least he won't fall to his knees and beg to be pissed on the first time he meets Condoleeza Rice.

Although he might ask George Bush to shit on his face sometime before January '09.

Get drunk and stay drunk.

Edited to add this tidbit that Reuters, via the NYT, includes in their filing on the matter:

"Couillard, who first came to public attention last August when she was pictured in a very revealing dress alongside Bernier, also said President George W. Bush had paid her a compliment at a reception at the United Nations last year.

"Well well well, haven't you been keeping good company," she quoted Bush as telling Bernier."

The real conspiracy is right out in the open

"The 9/11 Truth movement is really distinguished by a kind of defiant unfamiliarity with the actual character of America's ruling class. In 9/11 lore the people who staff the White House, the security agencies, the Pentagon and groups like PNAC and the Council of Foreign Relations are imagined to be a monolithic, united class of dastardly, swashbuckling risk-takers with permanent hard-ons for Bourne Supremacy-style "false flag" and "black bag" operations, instead of the mundanely greedy, risk-averse, backstabbing, lawn-tending, half-clever suburban golfers they are in real life. It completely misunderstands the nature of American government -- fails to see that the old maxim about "the business of America is business" is absolutely true, that the federal government in this country is really just a lo-rent time-share property seasonally occupied by this or that clan of financial interests, each of which takes its 4-year turn at the helm tinkering with the tax laws and regulatory code and the rates at the Fed in the way it thinks will best keep the money train rolling.

The people who really run America don't send the likes of George Bush and Dick Cheney to the White House to cook up boat-rocking, maniacal world-domination plans and commit massive criminal conspiracies on live national television; they send them there to repeal PUCHA and dole out funds for the F-22 and pass energy bills with $14 billion tax breaks and slash fuel efficiency standards and do all the other shit that never makes the papers but keeps Wall Street and the country's corporate boardrooms happy. You don't elect politicians to commit crimes; you elect politicians to make your crimes legal. That is the whole purpose of the racket of government."

~Matt Taibbi, in an adapted excerpt from his new book, The Great Derangement, at Alternet
Followed up in comments by 724 howls of outrage and counting...

His sweeping ad hominem attack on the Truthers notwithstanding, his point is well taken : the real conspiracy has always been right out there in the open.

h/t Croghan at Bread 'n Roses

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Let's make this the biggest bestest Surveillance Games evah!

NattyPost : "Canadian security agencies are planning to use planes, tanks, ships and thousands of military and police personnel to secure the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games and will consider their job a success if the public hardly notices their presence.

"It must be understood that the V2010 Games are a sporting event, not a security one," wrote Chief of Defence Staff General Rick Hillier.
Military planners say it will be the largest security operation in Canadian history and, if they do it right, Canadians will hardly notice."

Meanwhile CSIS is keeping its ever watchful eye on Olympic protesters.
A March 2007 document entitled CSIS Threat Assessment names the Native Youth Movement and "a Vancouver-based special interest group comprised of members of the groups No One is Illegal, the Anti-Poverty Coalition, and the Downtown Eastside Residents Association" as being of particular concern.

Why, no, this isn't the picture that accompanied the original Natty Post article. Why do you ask?

Cross-posted at Creekside

Friday, May 23, 2008

Supreme Court : Canada acted illegally in Khadr case

The Star : "Canadian agents acted illegally when they interrogated Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr and handed that intelligence to U.S. authorities, the Supreme Court ruled today in a decision damning the Bush administration's treatment of foreign terrorism suspects.

The unanimous decision released this morning said the federal government now must hand over documents pertaining to those 2003 interrogations by agents with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and Foreign Affairs Department, since Canada participated in a process that was contrary to international law.

The ruling delivers a blow to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government which has been unwavering in its support of the U.S. war crimes prosecution of Khadr despite mounting domestic and international pressure."

Good on the Supremes.
Khadr's lawyers were hoping to also force the government to release a "U.S. post-battle report in Canada's possession that may contradict other accounts of the July 2002 firefight. Military prosecutors told a Guantanamo court last month that the original report had gone missing."

It's not clear from this ruling if that report will now be denied them. It's the one in which :

"Lt. Col. W.", the Army Commander for Eastern Afghanistan at the time of the attack, had initially written in his report the day after the firefight that "the person who threw a grenade that killed Sgt. 1st Class Christopher J. Speer also died in the firefight"
- casting doubt on any subsequent report blaming Khadr.
The U.S. has "lost" their copy so making the Canadian government cough up theirs is crucial to Khadr's case; Khadr's U.S. military lawyer says he will almost certainly lose the case without it.
Incredibly, Canadian "Government lawyers had countered that they did not have an obligation to disclose documents for a U.S. trial."

Our government - not too good at protecting the rights of Canadian citizens in detention abroad but absolutely excellent at ass-covering.

Kady O'Malley has more details and a link to the actual *unaminous* ruling.

More Kady : "The federal judge who will, as per today’s ruling, make the final decision on which documents will be disclosed to Omar Khadr’s legal team, and which may be redacted or withheld for reasons of national security grounds is Richard Mosley — the same Richard Mosley who, during a previous incarnation as associate deputy minister at the Department of Justice, was responsible for drafting much of Canada’s current anti-terrorist legislation, which has raised concerns over potential conflict of interest in the past."

CBC : "Defence lawyers for Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr said Friday's Supreme Court of Canada ruling ordering Ottawa to grant limited access to confidential documents falls "far short" of what they hoped for."
"Lawyers for the Canadian government argued that releasing the files could jeopardize international relations and reveal classified information."

Cross-posted at Creekside

Resist the Siren Song of Factual Accuracy

A few days ago something strange and foreboding occurred.

The New York Times published corrections for 2 of it's opinion columnists.

William Kristol and David Brooks were publicly corrected on the same pages that originally published their factual errors.

This is an editorial folly that cannot be allowed to take root in the pages of Canadian print media.

Who would write for the National Post? What would Marcus Gee do? Would we have any newspapers at all?

Write to your favorite publisher now and demand that factual accuracy never be considered mandatory for Canadian newspapers or forever lose your right to read false and misleading drivel.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

President Obama and Prime Minister Harper

Suppose Barack Obama wins the presidency.

Now suppose the aide to the Prime Minister of Canada who once tried to undermine his campaign for the nomination of his party is still an aide to the Prime Minister of Canada. In other words suppose Brodie hadn't resigned by then.

Do you think Harper's congratulatory phone call would be accepted in good grace?

I think it would be accepted very formally and warily.

It may well be anyway. President Obama will certainly be informed that the current Prime Minister of Canada has frequently expressed his admiration for the US conservative movement. That alone will make Obama wary of him.

It will also not have been unnoticed that our lazy, malleable, cowardly, ignoble press corpse was congenially or perhaps drunkenly complicit in morphing the story from being originally and primarily about the Clinton campaign into being almost solely about the Obama camp.

In a number of ways it is looking increasingly possible that Harper's willingness to bow, scrape and kiss ass before the power and the glory of the Bush administration is going to blow up in his face sometime after January, 2009.

Reduce your global infidelity footprint now!

Do you expect to increase your extra-curricular shagging sixfold within the next few years?
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Can I offset all my cheating?

First you should look at ways of reducing your cheating. Once you've done this you can use Cheatneutral to offset the remaining, unavoidable cheating.

Of course total global cheating may actually increase under this method by allowing cheaters who can afford to buy their way out the opportunity not to control their own increasing, uh, emissions.

Very funny site. Be sure to check out the client testimonials and the film.

h/t Mostly Water
Cross-posted at Creekside

Elmo joins the war effort

It's the softer fuzzier side of the war on the Sunni side of the street.
Just a couple of puppets explaining the war to children.

"In recognition of the contributions made by the United States Armed Forces, Sesame Workshop presents this bilingual educational outreach initiative designed for military families and their young children to share."
Elmo goes to Gitmo? Elmo explains why Mommy is going back to help those people for the third time? Elmo sings a song about not having legs? Oh, probably not.
Major support for this program provided by the Department of Defense and Wal-Mart.

h/t Pacific Free Press. Picture from BBC.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

With an annoucement like this, you know blood is going to run in the gutters.

Jebus H Krist. It's not hard to tell that Sandra Buckler isn't controlling communications for the Stephen Harper party. I don't get a great deal of news in my present situation but this becomes the headline stuff?
Food items labelled as a product of Canada or made in Canada will now have to ensure that nearly all of their contents are Canadian in origin and processed in this country, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday.

Harper said that most consumers assume that food with a "made in Canada" or "product of Canada," label was grown, processed and packaged in Canada by Canadian farmers and producers.

"But this is not in fact the case," Harper said in Beamsville, Ont.

"The truth is foods marked product of Canada or made in Canada actually may not be very Canadian at all."

Harper said that's because under current Canadian law, if 51 per cent of the production costs were incurred in Canada and the last substantial transformation of the product occurred in Canada, it is legal to use those labels.

"Under our new rules, if something in the grocery store is marked product of Canada, it must mean all or virtually all the contents are Canadian," Harper said.

That's so... mundane. It might appeal to the mouthbreathing crowd but it means nothing. It's not a burning issue on the stoves of Canadian kitchens. But the right-wingers want you to believe it is.

Stephen Harper, who quite visibly enjoys the perks of his position by eating high fat foods, would probably be hard pressed to tell you he's personally aware of anything on a grocery store shelf which violates his new found awareness of foreign food products. Harper, (Mr. "Caveat Emptor"), is now going to get into your stew pot. It's all very conservative. Big Daddy will protect you from the evil shrimp terrorists.

Why is this suddenly the focus of the Harper party? Well, because there are some shitty things happening and they would sooner you focused on where your sardines came from.

Things like Harper's chief of staff, Ian Brody.
There are indications from Conservative insiders that Brodie will be replaced by Guy Giorno, a key aide to former Ontario premier Mike Harris.

Brodie had been named as being responsible for the original leak in March in the so-called Naftagate issue, which involved assurances from Barack Obama's campaign that the U.S. presidential hopeful's tough talk on NAFTA was essentially rhetoric.

And if you'd like to spread a little butter on that, Brodie has stated that he planned on leaving before that little incident occurred.


So why then would Brodie be dragging in the chiefs of staff of cabinet ministers to strategy meetings as late as a couple of weeks ago? Oh yeah. That.

Camouflage. Which doesn't match the landscape.

Keep an eye on those sardines. They might not be Canadian. And Big Steve will protect you from them.

In the meantime, keep an eye on the gutters. That will be human blood running down the storm drains.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

ACLU's Blogging . . . .

As a card-carrying member of the ACLU I feel obligated and honored to spread the word about their new blog.

Check it out here and go back on a regular basis for info on the good works this group does . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moving to Vancouver)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Emma the Embryo and the Kicking Abortion's Ass Bill

If a fetus is a person, then a woman isn't.
Or, if you prefer, any separate legal rights granted to a fetus as a person with the right not to be killed or injured must necessarily come at the expense of the person carrying that fetus.

In Bill C-484, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, the word "child" appears 14 times and the phrase "unborn child" five times. Clause 5 states : "It is not a defence to a charge under this section that the child is not a human being." (h/t Joyce Arthur)

Read that again : "It is not a defence to a charge under this section that the child is not a human being."

In Bill C-484 Endangers Abortion Rights and Women's Rights by Establishing Fetal Personhood, an excellent rebuttal to the supposed innocuousnous of the bill, Joyce Arthur of Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada writes :
"Regardless of Ken Epp’s stated intent for the bill – to protect pregnant women and wanted fetuses from violence – he should realize that once enacted, his bill can be used in ways he did not intend .... By recognizing the "rights of the unborn," it creates the risk that pregnant women’s behaviour could be regulated or punished, and abortion rights restricted."
Plus, although Epp cannot be held directly responsible for the, uh, enthusiasm of his followers, their references to C-484 as a Kicking Abortion's Ass bill aren't really helping his case any.
Tuesday Update : PSA at Canadian Cynic massacres C-484 :

Falcon Cam

There's a nesting pair of Peregrine falcons living on the Radisson hotel in downtown Winnipeg. Follow this link to watch them. The four eggs in the nest are due to hatch around 22 May. Very cool.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I originally saw this piece on a wingnut forum. You can imagine the reaction.

An American sniper has been sent home from Iraq for using a copy of the Koran for target practice at a shooting range near Baghdad, the US military says.

The Muslim holy book was found riddled with bullet holes last week by Iraqi police, who also discovered offensive graffiti inside its cover.

A US military spokesman said the soldier had been removed from his unit, sent home, and would be disciplined.

He was unnamed, but was reportedly a staff sergeant in a sniper section.

US military spokesman Colonel Bill Buckner said the incident was "both serious and deeply troubling", but stressed it was an "isolated incident and a result of one soldier's actions".


Yeah, I bet it's deeply troubling, these isolated incidents, cheered on by fanatics who define themselves by perceived difference and civilisational conflict, in their own personal death cult of anti-Islam.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Supporting the troops?

I've written in passing about the uncounted costs for the United States and its allies, including Canada, that are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Much has been made of the number of soldiers killed in action and there has been some coverage of the tens of thousands of seriously wounded. Earlier this year, I linked to the stories being told at the Winter Soldier conference about the U.S. Veterans Administration hospitals failure to diagnose and treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
It would seem there is a reason for this failure. Depending on the study you look at - and there are several - it is estimated at anywhere from 12% to 20% of vets returning from Iraq suffer from PTSD to some degree. Add to that the uncounted number of "military contractors" working as everything from truck drivers to mercenaries security consultants and that is a lot of potential for very bad things to happen.
But not to worry. In war, we all must make sacrifices. After all the President is working hard and has given up golf for the duration, what more can we ask?

crossposted from the Woodshed

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hey Harpercrites, how's that new era of accountability and transparency coming along?

Not content with merely shutting down the access-to-information registry and taking months to release heavily redacted documents obtained via freedom-of-information requests, the Cons have decided that when it comes to cabinet ministers, they would prefer it if you didn't ask questions at all.

Tories do turnabout, go to court to block access to ministerial offices

"Opening the offices of cabinet ministers to scrutiny under freedom-of-information legislation could compromise sensitive material that ought to remain private, the Harper government is telling Federal Court.
The argument is a sharp turnaround for the federal Conservatives, who complained bitterly in opposition about Liberal secrecy and vowed to reform the Access to Information Act to fix the problem."

And just what case examples are the Cons using to illustrate what a terrible violation of ministerial privacy such freedom-of-info requests really are?
Four access requests, three of which originated with Alliance and Con party members.when they were in opposition.

"The Conservatives promised, in their last election platform, to bring in amendments making it clear that cabinet offices come under the law, but they have failed to deliver on the pledge."

The Cons not only "failed to deliver", they are now in Federal Court actively arguing against having to comply with that very same campaign pledge.

Cross-posted at Creekside

Behold a Pale hobbyhorse

Steve's mission statement for the Canada First Defence Strategy

Monday - $30 billion
Jay Paxton, Peter MacKay's press secretary : "As such, the speeches are the strategy."
Dan Dugas, MacKay's senior spokesman : "The strategy is what they unveiled."

Wednesday - upon further reconsideration - $50 billion
Peter MacKay's office : "There's a very detailed cabinet document that lays this down and more."
Defence Department senior military official who apparently cannot be named : "There is a very solid, detailed document in existence. It's not just stuff pulled out of the air."
Ok, so not just something Steve pulled out of his ass which he can stuff right back in again when it suits him (h/t Boris)
There is a plan - they're just not entirely sure what it is yet - but Pale at A Creative Revolution took particular note of this :

"One senior officer used an expletive to express his dissatisfaction with how, in his view, the most proactive spending plan the Forces have ever seen was being communicated to the public."
"Military planners said they took a comprehensive modern approach to predict what global security risks or "conflict drivers" such as terrorism, climate change or population migration would drive up demand for the services of the Forces.

"Food is one, oil is another one, water is one," said another military official."
Is this Steve's Green Plan? :

Note : I made a very small addition to Pale's drawing which I hope she will not mind.
Cross-posted at Creekside

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mass Extinction Event

Humans are a mass extinction event.

Humans are wiping out about 1% of all other species every year, and one of the "great extinction episodes" in the Earth's history is under way, it says.
When the current food crisis first occurred, a friend of mine who works for a research organisation tallied it up over beer. Every major study of systems that promote human civilisation, from the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment to the IPCC, are in deep negative territory. I am reminded of a line from this book .

A civilization such as ours ploughs up the rails behind; we had at best one chance to get it right.
What next?

Jason Kenney: Liar or moron?

The Toronto Star does it right and calls bullshit on Conservative Rottweiller Jason Kenney for using a widely discredited piece of propaganda as if it were the gospel truth.

"In a terse exchange, Kenney asked him if this meant he equated Canada's inaction with "Al Qaeda strapping up a 14-year-old girl with Down's syndrome and sending her into a pet market to be remotely detonated." Kenney was referring to an erroneous story about unwitting bombers in Iraq - which military officials later retracted when it was revealed the bombers were adults and did not have Down's syndrome."

Jason Kenney: Mendacious moron, prevaricating prick or just an ignorant, loudmothed jackass who doesn't know what he's talking about? We report, you decide.
What a novel concept - a politician talks out his ass and the media actually points out that he is talking out his ass. I could get used that.

The issue in question that Kenney is trying to distract from is Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire's comment that Canada's Gnu Gummint should maybe be trying to do something about the plight of Omar Khadr, the 21-year-old who went to Guantanamo Bay intead of high school and college after he was shot and captured in Afghanistan at age 15 by U.S. Special Forces during a raid on Taliban encampment. He is alleged to have thrown a grenade that killed a US soldier, for which the US is charging him with a war crime.

Kady O'Malley was there for the subcommittee hearing in which Dallaire pointed out the obvious, that Khadr's case has become a political hot potato that has more to do with the US government not wanting to admit it is breaking the law than it does with Khadr's alleged war crime.

The National Post quotes the exhange at the parliamentary subcommitte on human rights:
"In panicking, [the United States] is doing exactly what the extremists and terrorists are doing. They don't want to play by the rules," testified Mr. Dallaire.

So naturally Jason "Fathead" Kenney, like many a factually-challenged blogging tory, grabs the wrong end of the false equivency stick and immediately jumps to the defence of the poor, helpless, U.S. military-industrial-national security apparatus and decides to bring Al-Quaida in the whole thing:

"Is it your testimony that al-Qaeda strapping up a 14-year-old girl with Down's syndrome and sending her into a pet market to be remotely detonated is the moral equivalent to Canada's not making extraordinary political efforts for a transfer of Omar Khadr to this country? Is that your position?" Mr. Kenney asked.
"If you want a black and white, absolutely," replied Mr. Dallaire. "You're either with the law or not with the law.
"My position is that the minute you start playing with human rights, with conventions, with civil liberties, in order to say that you're doing it to protect yourself and you are going against the fundamentals of those rights and conventions, you are no better than the guy who doesn't believe in them at all."

Interestingly, the hacks atthe National Post headline their story "Dallaire likens U. S., Canada to al-Qaeda" when it was Kenney that brought up Al-Qaeda, not Dallaire. Like you needed further proof that the National Post is lame.

Dallaire amplified his remarks further today (from the Toronto Star story)

"Suffice it to say that I in no way intended to equate Canadian or U.S. authorities with the terrorist organization Al Qaeda," Dallaire wrote today. "But we cannot avoid the point that if we violate international law in our pursuit of the war on terror, we risk reducing ourselves, collectively, to the same level as those we oppose.
"Our acquiescence with his continued incarceration and prosecution puts in question Canada's standing as a nation that respects global human rights and international law."

Absolutely goddamn 100 percent correct.

Pierre Pollivere also shows he's more interested in protecting George W. Bush's reputation than protecting the human rights of a Canadian child

crossposted from the Woodshed  - now with occasional music and video sermons

The Urge to Say "I Told 'Ya So . . . . "

While going through files in preparation for the move north in three weeks (Yay!!), I came across a letter to the editor I wrote which was published in the September 5th, 2005 edition of the Vancouver Sun.

The letter was written commenting on the then on-going turmoil over the US/Canada softwood lumber negotiations. Part of it reads:

If the Canadian government does not demand the return of the money collected for softwood lumber tariffs, the U.S. government will continue to violate agreements unless there are repercussions. The arrogance and heavy-handedness the Bush administration practices in international affairs embarrasses many intelligent Americans. The only things these people understand are money, power and most importantly, oil.

With that in mind, a heavy tax levied on Canadian oil exports would have a major impact and might get their attention. After, all, there are plenty of other countries that would be more than happy to buy Canadian petroleum products.

Why do I bring this up today? Well, also in the Vancouver Sun - today's edition - there is an article referencing the aforementioned softwood lumber deal. Guess what? Now the US looks to be "fine-tuning" the deal to the chagrin of Canadians.

U.S. ties Canadian lumber exporters in red tape

Congress passes bill that will make life even harder for ailing forestry industry.

Gordon Hamilton -Vancouver Sun - Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The U.S. Congress passed a bill Wednesday that could wrap Canadian lumber imports in red tape and has the potential to impose limits beyond the restrictions already in the softwood lumber agreement.

The new legislation, added onto an unrelated farm bill by politicians sympathetic to the U.S. lumber lobby, requires importers to certify that all taxes have been paid on the lumber they
receive. The bill includes enforcement measures, including intrusive company audits, penalties and fines.

The bill can add cost, waste time and give the Americans "a political weapon" in the lumber trade that it didn't have before, B.C. Council of Forest Industries president John Allan said Wednesday.


Washington trade lawyer Elliott Feldman said the Americans have, for the first time in the 25-year-long dispute, written softwood lumber into their legislation. He described it as a flagrant breach of the 2006 softwood lumber agreement, under which Canada monitors exports and collects the appropriate tax.


International Trade Minister David Emerson was not commenting Monday on the U.S. bill, however, the Canadian embassy in Washington is writing the U.S. administration on the issue.

'Ya need to watch who you're kissin' up to, stevie. Many times it comes back to bite 'ya in the ass.

Why do I have this uncontrollable urge to call MP David Emerson and PM stevie harper and loudly scream: "I Told 'Ya So, You Morons!"

But I won't.

I'm much too refined to do such a thing.

Damn it . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moving to Vancouver)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Another home-skooked Conservative intellectchul heard from

Probably a relative of these guys. I guess dictionaries are only for ivory tower liberal islamofacist academic pinko anarchists.

Shameless stolen from Orcinus

I'm liking her less and less

I never got what the right hated so much about Hillary Clinton. From the time of her husband's presidential campaign right up to today, the right has villified, belittled and otherwise attacked Sen. Clinton. I always thought that, were I an American, I wouldn't have any problem voting for her for president. Lately, I'm not so sure. It's not just that fact that she voted to authorize the war, I'd be willing to give her that error, lots of people made the same one. But she swallowed the whole thing hook, line and sinker and now she denies that was the case.
In voting to hand George W. Bush the keys to the war machine, she said:

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001.
It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security.
Now this much is undisputed. The open questions are: what should we do about it? How, when, and with whom?
....This is a very difficult vote. This is probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make -- any vote that may lead to war should be hard -- but I cast it with conviction."

Furthermore, she went to Iraq in 2005 and stood next to John McCain and told the American people that everything was going well in Iraq when anyone with eyes could tell it was not.
That's stike one
Strike two would be her refusal to bow out for the good of the party once things became inevitable. By this I don't mean after she failed to sweep Super Tuesday or anything of that kind, but she has been more or less mathematically eliminated since she failed to sweep to a massive victory in Pennsylvania. She couldn't quite seal the deal on her comeback there and without doing so there, she was done, short of Obama being caught with a live boy or a dead girl. She was way behind him on fundraising, the superdelegates had started to shift away from her to Obama and yet she hung on, loaning the campaign another few million dollars of her own money in the hope of finding a magic bullet.

I don't think her pathetic attempt to get Florida and Michigan included in the totals after agreeing like everyone else that they would not count is grounds to deny her the nomination, though I do think it stinks.

I don't think her pandering to the right by talking about obliterating Iran or talking about how she learned to shoot from her grandpappy or pretending she's a beer and shot kinda blue-collar gal is reason to deny her the nomination. It's lame, but its something any politician would do.

I don't even mind the wounded tones and righteous indignation of her supporters when they complain about how the boys are ganging up on her and that the mass media is sexist. Surely as good feminists they already knew this, so throwing a fainting spell over it isn't gaining them any sympathy from me. Putting Hillary on Hardball and letting her call Chris Matthews on his horrible misogyny on air would have solved a lot of the problem - does anyone think she wouldn't have eaten his lunch? - but Clinton and her people were too afraid of another "I don't stay home and bake cookies" moment and decided to play victim instead.

I wouldn't even hold here poor choices in campaign staff against her - though why anyone would pick Mark Penn again is a bit of a mystery.

Nope, strike three, and this is really the dealbreaker, is her more or less naked appeals to racism.

"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

While racism has raised its ugly little cracker-assed head a few times in the campaign, this is the first time a candidate has simultaneously courted racists, displayed racism and told her supporter that they were uneducated bigots and that was fine with her.

She's lost, and now its just a matter of getting her out before she burns the house down.

Now, having said all that, if Obama were to be struck by lightning, a bus, or a crazed KKK member, would I advise voting for Hillary over McCain? You bet your ass I would.

crossposted from the Woodshed

Whoops! That'll Cost You More, stevie . . . .

And further to Alison and Boris, compliments of this evening's Globe and Mail:

Defence plan to cost $20-billion more than announced

STEVEN CHASE - May 14, 2008 at 5:53 PM EDT

Globe and Mail Update

Ottawa — Canada's new defence strategy will cost up to $50-billion over two decades – $20-billion more than what the Harper government announced earlier this week – one of the country's top generals said Wednesday as the military scrambled to quell criticism that the plan lacks sufficient detail.

Lieutenant-General Walter Natynczyk, Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, said the military would spend between $45-billion and $50-billion on planes, combat vehicles, ships and fighters under the Canada First Defence Strategy, the Conservative government's plan for the military that was originally released Monday without comprehensive details.


Mr. Harper's office has exerted stronger control over the Department of Defence's communications in recent months, particularly after the treatment of detainees captured by Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan made headlines.

stevie has to be receiving "A's" in the "Follow the bush-league Model of Incompetence" course he's enrolled in.

My gawd. Not only does he make incredibly stupid moves to ruin Canada's image worldwide, he also has no grasp of how to pay for his actions.

Just like georgie: Let future generations pick up the tab for a "legacy" of military stupidity . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moving to Vancouver)

Police "brainwashed" by TASER™, says police psychologist

CBC : "Canadian law enforcement agencies have swallowed the propaganda of the company that manufactures Tasers, an expert testified Tuesday at a public inquiry in Vancouver examining police use of the weapons."

"When you think the only tool you have is a hammer, then the whole world begins looking like a nail," Dr. Mike Webster, police psychologist, told the Braidwood Inquiry into police use of the weapons.
Referring to excited delirium as a "mythical dubious disorder" used by Taser International in its training of police in Canada and the U.S., Webster said he has been "shocked and embarrassed" by recent "ridiculously inappropriate applications of the Taser" in low-risk situations :
"I am embarrassed to be associated with organizations that Taser sick old men in hospital beds and confused immigrants arriving to the country. Frankly I find it embarrassing, " he said.

Amnesty International has a slightly longer list of "ridiculously inappropriate" TASER™ use in Canada :
An Edmonton police officer in 2003 searching a hotel with two other officers for a robber armed with a knife, used his Taser to rouse two sleeping hotel guests. (The officer was charged with assault with a weapon.)

In 2004, Halifax regional police used a Taser three times on a woman who was handcuffed and held down in a police cell. (Both officers involved were cleared of assault.)

In 2005, a 42-year-old restaurant owner was shocked with a Taser as he lay unconscious. An RCMP officer ordered the shock in an attempt to revive him. (The officer pleaded guilty in court to assault with a weapon. He was given a conditional discharge and 50 hours' community service.)

A 66-year-old lawyer, Brian Fish, was taking photos of Edmonton police intervening at the 2006 Stanley Cup victory celebrations. When Fish refused a police demand to stop taking photos, an officer pushed Fish to the ground and Tasered him twice in his back. A police investigation found no wrongdoing on the part of the officers. Fish has filed a complaint.

RCMP officers in New Brunswick in 2006 Tasered a 17-year-old boy at least 13 times, hitting his lower back and his front, including his groin. A witness to the arrest disputed claims by the police that the boy was resisting arrest:
"They kept telling him to get on his back but every time he tried to turn, they'd keep Tasering him. It was just horrible."

More recently there was also that fellow who was hit with a TASER™ for not paying his SkyTrain fare and clinging to a railing.

Thank you, Dr. Mike Webster, for speaking up to the inquiry. Frankly, we are all embarrassed.

Cross-posted at Creekside

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Operation Enduring Steve

David Pugliese : "Canada's defence strategy for the next 20 years will be based on speeches by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Defence Minister Peter MacKay given Monday in Halifax.
In a highly unusual move, the Conservative government will base its entire future rebuilding of the Canadian military on Mr. Harper's 10-minute speech and Mr. MacKay's 700-word address. No actual strategy document has been produced, nor will be produced, according to government and defence officials."
Steve's Mission Statement is called the Canada First Defence Strategy.
Jay Paxton, Mr. MacKay's press secretary : "It is a strategy that you heard enunciated by the Prime Minister and Minister MacKay."...snip..."As such, the speeches are the strategy."
Accidental Deliberations : "For those who held out hope that the Cons' brand of cult conservatism would stop at a mere Stephen Harper portrait gallery, matters have managed to get worse. From now on, Canada's national defence strategy consists of parsing the Glorious Leader's prophetic vision of Canada Firstness."

Monday, May 12, 2008

I'm a politician, step into my big black car

Limousine Liberal Conservative Bev Oda to taxpayers: "Baby, you can drive my car"

Remember all the bitching and complaining by Steverino Harper when he was head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation about how the Liberals were just a bunch of fat cats who were living high on the hog at taxpayers' expense? Now he only wants money when it can be billed elsewhere, but won't spend it where he should.

Remember all the outrage on the part of the Tories that the Liberals were using federal money for partisan purposes in a little affair known as "Adscam" and how they swore up and down they would be the party of openness and accountability?

Yeah, right.

and another thing:

"...the NDP found that (is) Oda (what)was doing in Toronto last March 17, when she billed $1,291.88 for a limo that took her from her home to a Conservative party candidate training session. She also made a government announcement later in the day.
In that particular case, the expense was proactively disclosed by Oda - but not the party function"

A $1,300 limo ride? I can fly round trip from Tokyo to Toronto during peak season for less than that.

(a hat tip and apology for my laziness in posting to Cat)

cross posted at the Woodshed

But how do they feel about apple pie?

From the "Just when you thought they couldn't sink any lower" department, we get this Mother's Day treat from the Republicans. We knew they had some major daddy issues, but apparently the Republicans are now anti-mom. Better yet, as has been pointed out, they have flipped-flopped on the issue, having voted for mothers before voting against them.

crossposted from the Woodshed

ein ego, ein reich

CBC, today:

The Tory government announced a 20-year, multibillion-dollar plan to strengthen Canada's military, which includes the purchase of new aircraft, armoured vehicles, ships and helicopters, and a goal to expand the Forces to 100,000.

Referring to it as the "Canada First Defence Strategy," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the long-term investments in the military could reach costs of up to $30 billion.

"If a country wants to be taken seriously in the world, it must have the capacity to act. It's that simple," Harper said Monday at the Halifax Armoury, joined by Defence Minister Peter MacKay. "Otherwise, you forfeit your right to be a player. You're the one chattering on the sideline that everyone smiles at, but no one listens to."


And with that, the PM declares it de facto Canadian policy to uncritically join whatever great bathtub gin-logic scheme rooted in Euro-American imperial nostalgia and ethnocentrism comes next. But, hey, some pretty ribbons with exotic names will get sewn onto fancy flags, politicians and patriotic cartoons can wax about bravery, glory and post firefights on youtube.

Of course, some poor brown people on the other side of an ocean, who probably couldn't find Canada on a map, let alone identify its PM, have just had their life expectancies unknowingly severed.

Beware the glory-seekers.

Caveat: All this is contingent on whether this band of walking obscenities can keep this 'promise.' The track record is not good.

RCMP strip details from Dziekanski TASER™ report

Missing from the RCMP report :
1) Dziekanski's name
2) the name and rank of the officer who fired the TASER™
3) the name of his supervisor
4) details about the duration of the firing
5) the number of times the weapon was used in stun mode
6) whether Dziekanski was armed
7) a written summary of the incident
8) "assessments as to whether use of the TASER™ helped the RCMP either "avoid use of lethal force" or "avoid injuries to subject or Police."

CP : "In a letter accompanying the form, the RCMP says it invoked exemptions under the Access to Information Act to protect the privacy of the person stunned and to guard confidences about the force's investigations and weapons."

"To protect the privacy of the person stunned"
I can't find the italics italic enough for that statement.

RCMP Commissioner William Elliott, the man brought in to clean up (the image of) the RCMP, said in March, "Our motivation is not to avoid criticism or controversy by exercising our discretion one way or the other, but to strike an appropriate balance between sometimes competing interests like privacy and the public's right to know."
CP : Insp. Troy Lightfoot, an RCMP spokesman, said that internal analysis of the forms concluded the painful weapons were being used correctly.

In 2004 Robert Bagnell was killed almost instantly after being shocked by a Vancouver police Taser.

"Engineering firm Intertek tested the two weapons fired during the Bagnell incident. Their research found while one Taser performed within a normal electrical output, the other was 30 times higher.
Taser International, a U.S. stun gun manufacturer, later disputed Intertek's test results. Since then, the two Bagnell Tasers were sent to the Canadian Police Research Centre in Ottawa for further examination. That was two years ago.

Victoria Const. Mike Massine, considered one of Canada's foremost police experts on stun guns, says Tasers are not tested by police. "I'm assuming (Tasers) are tested at the factory," he said. "We don't have the mechanism to do that."

Intertek's data came as a surprise to Federal Liberal Party safety critic Ujjal Dosanjh.
"If they've known about this and have done nothing -- that is absolutely wrong," Dosanjh said."

Today, Dosanjh and TASER™ chairman Tom Smith will both testify at the BC inquiry into TASER™ use.

It's worth remembering that none of these inquiries would be happening at all had not Paul Pritchard of Victoria first recorded Dziekanski's murder, stood his ground and hired a lawyer to get the recording back from the RCMP on being told it might be several years before they would return it, and then released it to the public.
Previous to Pritchard's YouTube going worldwide, the RCMP were already covering their tracks, muttering darkly about the likelihood of Dziekanski being a drug mule and how the officers were forced to use stun guns because the room was crowded with airline passengers.

So much, Mr. Elliott, for your "appropriate balance between competing interests like privacy and the public's right to know".

Cross-posted at Creekside

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The shit they pump

[Image is of Italian fascist youth, 1940. Source.]

From some rag called The American Thinker [sic]:

Such courageous thoughts spew regularly from those who ride booted and spurred over this tottering edifice we call ‘Western Civilization.' There is hardly a mover and shaker residing in the ivory towers of academia or among our literati who does not share the same views as Mr. King.
From their talk, from their vast outpouring of books and articles, from their appearances in the media, from their endless self-absorption, from their spittle-flecked sputtering hatred and disdain of the common man, one would get the impression that these types are the very upholders of all that is sweet and honorable in our culture.

One would be wrong. Such men are the destroyers of civilization. Like competent parasites they take every advantage of a society created and maintained by their betters. They drain as much vitality as they can, replace it with a crude solipsism and work to crush the husk that remains. Their lives are ones of soft comfort and padded ease. For in all their degrees and learning and rhetoric and billions and billions of words they have learned nothing worth knowing. For all intents and purposes they are barbarians.

Civilization does not rest upon their shoulders, it rests upon the shoulders of men with guns.

"We sleep peaceably in our beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on our behalf." (George Orwell)

It has always been so. Civilization and the ability to inflict violence go together, are inseparable. Our pampered elites cannot understand this and have no ability to understand this. They look upon men with guns like apes gaping at The Last Supper.

Our venerable history books speak of Western Civilization as beginning with the Greeks somewhere around 700 BC. Not so. It began with the Hebrews pushing into what they called ‘the Promised Land' 500 years before. We forget that the most influential book in Western Civilization had its origins in the violence spread by the Israelite commander Joshua and his successors. The poetry of Solomon, the beauty of the Psalms, all rest upon the shoulders of Israelites with swords.

The contributions of the Greeks came to us through violence, of Greek against Persian and Greek against Greek. Aeschylus fought at Marathon and Salamis, Socrates at Delium, Demosthenes at Chaeronea. Aristotle tutored the future conqueror of the world, Alexander, who himself spread Greek culture as far as the Indus River. It is simply a waste of time to try and separate those who begat Western Civilization and those who used violence to promote it. Sometimes they were one and the same.

Straight outta the 1930s.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Moustache of Understanding

I hadn't seen this before. It dates from 2005 in the New York Press, so if you've seen it before, well, you'll just have to see it again.

Well, Alrighty Then (2). . . .

Great news for humanity from AlterNet yesterday!

More sex for everyone!

Great way to get in shape and lose weight!

The Sexy Path to Good Health
By Sue Katz, Consenting Adult - Posted on May 9, 2008

There's been wide coverage of a study showing that man-masturbation prevents prostate cancer. But before you take your hotdog in hand (if you happen to be of the schlong persuasion), let's expand the conversation and declare: hot sex is good for humans.


There, I've said it. But looking around, I'm certainly not the only one saying it. In fact, the bigwigs at Forbes Magazine -- premiere reading for the wealthy and their admirers -- devoted pages and pages to the benefits of sex. Among other treats, they relate that in a 2001 study at Queen's University (Belfast), higher rates of bonking produced half the risk of heart attack and stroke.



Lots of studies indicate that the various hormones connected with arousal and excitement -- so intoxicating that people are now said to become "addicted" to sex -- are fabulous pain relievers. Migraines? Arthritis? Why, just get laid. Dr. Beverly Whipple from Rutgers University says that even whiplash can be relieved by the oxytocin surge -- leading to the release of morphine-like endorphins -- that people often experience during serious groping.



A study from Pennsylvania's Wilkes University, "claims that individuals who have sex once or twice a week show 30% higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A, which is known to boost the immune system." In short, no more sniffles and sneezes for those who are busy wearing out the sheets. Or the kitchen tabletop. Or the back seat of a Studebaker.

What are you still doing here??

Get that workout goin' . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moving to Vancouver)

Friday, May 09, 2008


This latest fuckery from the Harper administration is chilling. Let's take a quick tally:

1. Attacks on the very institutions that support democracy and public safety in this country. Elections Canada, CNSC, etc.

2. Legal attempts to neuter the Official Opposition outside of parliamentary means.

3. Attempts the legally enshrining the consolidation of immigration control into the PMO.

4. Attempts empowering the PMO with regulation of cultural expression.

5. Directing populist, inflamatory, and fundamentally dishonest accusations of anti-Semitism at the Opposition.

6. A party with a membership linked to all manor of extreme religious and social conservative groups.

7. Public Safety Minister. Title, proto-Orwellian.

8. Public Safety Minister with past associations with far-right fascists.

9. Attempts at rigid information control.

10. Message control in extremis. Firing of any civil servant that could potential counter party propaganda.

11. Party styles itself as party of the armed forces.

12. Pursues policies that put the armed forces at centre stage.

13. Frames debate over foreign policy in nationalist, militarist terms.

14. etc.

Harper has a plan. Hehe.

We are entering what may be a period of severe economic and ecological uncertainty. A far-right party and egocentric leader willing to attack any and all institutions and individuals perceived as obstacles is at the helm. This could get interesting.

However... system based on lies and oppression has survived a people unwilling to accept it. By assaulting the institutions of state, the party also cannibalises the mechanisms through which it exercises power. Delegitimising these institutions, in turn, legitimises other forms of resistance. By ignoring unpalatable realities, the party willfully blinds, and therefore weakens, itself. There is much to work with here.