Monday, August 31, 2009

Do you own a cell phone?

Tony Clement and the corporatocracy he represents are so happy for themselves.

Not you, you dumb sonfabitch! You're the one paying the bill.

You will now read Michael Geist and Jeff.

And next time, you will vote, because the reason the big telcom companies are getting away with this is because they voted in their own lobbyists because too many of you stayed home.


It takes minutes to get there and seconds to make your mark on this country.

John Baird, you can kiss my rosy red ass

Sit, John, sit!

Apparently canine commands are the only thing to which you respond.

Escort whatshername - it'll give you some creds. Scream like a stuck pig in parliament - it'll give you some media vapour light. Truck out the "you guys are irresponsible" line - it'll provide covering fire - for us.

John, you must understand, does nothing without a command or permission - period. That's why this is so impeachable.
"I can tell you the very last thing this country needs is an unnecessary election, less than a year before we had the last one," Baird said.
So... Harper sends the loud obnoxious kid out to fire off the smoke. And Baird, dumber than most, seems only more than willing to do so, since it's clearly obvious that his position of prominence is something he could only have achieved under an incompetent and self-aggrandizing leader.

You're quite right, Baird. There are times when federal general elections are totally unnecessary. Your homeboy knows that. He knew it well before the last election, even though he lied through his teeth - just before he foisted one on the voters.

"It would be irresponsible to interrupt our important work on the economy with an unnecessary election."
That would be the all-important recession war you guys are in. Something, I might add, that you consistently deny is actually happening.

Point: (My fucking emphasis)

... Baird said following the release of Statistic Canada's latest figures, which showed Canada's gross domestic product grew for the first time since July 2008.
Yeah, well this is your poseur of an economist leader before he called the last election for no reason other than he thought he could mobilize his callous-kneed base while the rest of us stayed home. This is what the "economist" Stephen Harper was telling us:

"While it has slowed down considerably, and while there remains this considerable instability, the American economy has not crashed, has not itself entered into recession," he told reporters in Ottawa.

"My own belief is if we were going to have some sort of big crash or recession, we probably would have had it by now."
StatsCan is reporting ugly things in July; the rest of the world sees the boot on the move for the global genitals in August and Harper, the great Harper, in mid-September, tells us that it isn't happening.

And in October, he tells us parliament is dysfunctional. With no vote of non-confidence, calls a snap election. Never mind that he didn't make it past December without suspending the democracy to save his own ass.

Where has this happened before, John?

I could hang such a label off you, you fucking martinet.

You just gained a new aura, John, and when the writ next gets drawn up, the gloves get dropped.

I promise.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


DESPAIR, INC. creates marvellous "demotivational" posters, like you see above, and have been of great comfort and reassurance to me for some years now. I love the one that proclaims, "the purpose of your life may be to serve as a warning to others", but that's just me.

Now, there are others with negative reality posters, with a wonderfully tacky approach, like DemotivateUs, with lower production values, but some points to make, like these gems:

M & M's, Anyone ? ? ? ? (Moyers and Maher)

This post by Glenn Greenwald summarizing Bill Moyers' appearance on the Bill Maher show last night says it all regarding the current state of affairs in the USAofexpensivehealthcare.



Get angry.

Think Progressive Party not tied to the dems or repugs . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Emperor Strikes Back

What is Emperor Steve fooling around with in his pocket this time?
Oooh - it's the nine new Senators he appointed yesterday.
That makes 27 Cons he's appointed in less than a year, bringing his posse in the Senate up to 46 out 0f a total of 105.
G&M : "At an event in Quebec City, the Prime Minister said he had to nominate unelected Conservative supporters to the Senate to ensure that his government, which won a minority last year, gets its legislation approved."
This latest batch of pocket warmers include some Con Party presidents and backroom operatives, Steve's communications aide from the PMO ... plus a hockey analyst who remarked yesterday that his appointment meant he was "going to have to start following [federal politics]" now.
Oh not necessarily ...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Vive la différence

THE LA TIMES has an interesting article on human gender, following the brouhaha over concerns about the gender of the South African athlete, Caster Semenya.

For years, sports authorities considered only the sex chromosomes: If they are XX, the athlete is female, XY and he is male. Technicians would swab the athlete's mouth to remove some cells, look at the sex chromosomes and make a determination.

But at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, eight female athletes were determined to have XY chromosomes and were booted from the Games. Further studies, however, showed that they were physiologically female even though their genes said they were male, and they were reinstated.

Another possibility that could account for a disconnect between genetics and appearance is mosaicism, in which the individual has more than one set of genes, in some cases, some cells could be XX and others XY. That occurs because of a faulty division at a very early stage in the embryo, or if two embryos fuse, and can produce a variety of mixed sexual signals.

Child detainee going home after four years in Gitmo

A child detained in Guantanamo Bay for seven years for allegedly throwing a hand grenade at US soldiers in Afghanistan when he was 14 years old is on his way home after a US Federal Court ruled the government was holding him illegally. His initial confession, obtained under duress, was thrown out by the judge.
"We are so pleased that this nightmare of abuse and injustice has finally come to an end," said his attorney. "While he can never get back the nearly seven years he was illegally detained and tortured, now he can finally return home to his family, friends and country, and begin to build a normal life."
The child detainee in question is Mohammed Jawad, now returned to his native Afghanistan thanks to a US Federal Court decision this month. [Yeah, mean trick, I know]
Gosh, another kid accused of throwing a grenade. Is the US military generally in the habit of accusing the survivors of their raids of throwing grenades, or only when there are US casualties and the possibility of friendly fire?
Meanwhile back in Canada, our child soldier detained in Guantanamo for seven years for allegedly throwing a grenade at US soldiers in Afghanistan when he was 15 - that's Omar Khadr pictured above in the middle the year before his father dumped him in Afghanistan - has not been so lucky because Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the last leader on the planet Earth to support the detaining and abuse of children in Gitmo.
On August 14, our Federal Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling that Ottawa is required to press the US for Khadr's repatriation because CSIS and Department of Foreign Affairs officials had violated his Charter rights by being complicit in his mistreatment at Gitmo.
Yesterday Harper's federal government disgraced itself by announcing it will go to the Supreme Court in a bid to overturn that ruling.
They do not want to risk asking the US for Khadr's return, perhaps because the Obama Administration urged a federal judge to order the release of Mohammed Jawad, and even George W. Bush granted requests by other countries for the repatriation of their citizens from Gitmo.
Harper is going to the wall in hopes that a sufficient number of Canadians believe in tiered citizenship and a four-tiered passport system and will applaud his stand against so-called 'activist' judges. He's wrong about that.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pop Quiz!

Imagine you work as a subcontractor for a bank. The bank wants photos of a bunch of properties on which it holds mortgages to confirm the properties are being kept up and to check the condition of properties on which the mortgage is in default, so off you go in your car with your trusty camera and start snapping away. One homeowner sees you parked in front of his house taking pictures and gets a bit testy. He marches out to the car and wants to know who you are and what the hell you think you're doing taking pictures of his house. Maybe he even gets a bit irate and slaps his hand down on hood of your car. This is not your first day on the job and probably not your first irate homeowner. What do you do?
  1. Laugh at him and drive away.
  2. Show him your business card, tell him the bank sent you out to take photos of his house and tell him you'll be happy to wait while he calls your office to confirm your story.
  3. Stick your .357 magnum in his face before he scratches the paint on your Ford Escort.
Answer key
1. You are an asshole.
2. You are a professional.
3. You are a Republican

h/t to JJ at Unrepentant Old Hippie
crossposted from the Woodshed

Tom Ridge : Be Alert - We Need More Lerts!

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge alleges in his new book that he was pressured to raise the terror alert level in 2004 to help Bush win re-election.
We at the Beav would like to point out that the not-so-fine print on the Homeland Security Advisory Lozenges was always perfectly evident to us loony left DFH loser bloggers, and hey, Tom, the time to air your troubled conscience was when you were Secretary of freakin Homeland Security, not five years later when you want to hawk your book.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


This place has sure been serious lately; then again, there's lots to be serious about. Then again, there's Wrong Side of the Art. It's a neat site that proclaims its dedication to "Horror, sci-fi, exploitation, cult, trash, B-movie posters".

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The SPP is dead; long live the PPA

Last week, the official US home of the SPP, read:
"The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) is no longer an active initiative and as such this website will act as an archive for SPP documents. There will not be any updates to this site."
This week it seems they did think of a site update after all. :
"Going forward, we want to build on the accomplishments achieved by the SPP and further improve our cooperation."
We are then redirected to the Joint Statement by the North American Leaders (August 10, 2009) :

"Our three governments recognize that we cannot limit our efforts to North America alone, and we have agreed to instruct our respective Ministers to strive for greater cooperation and coordination as we work to promote security and institutional development with our neighbors in Central America and the Caribbean ...

We commend the progress achieved on reducing unnecessary regulatory differences and have instructed our respective Ministers to continue this work by building on the previous efforts, developing focused priorities and a specific timeline. "

So in other words - expanding some version of the SPP of North America to include Central and South America as well.
Didn't this used to be called the FTAA, the spectacularly FAIL Free Trade Area of the Americas ?
Up here this went : "We, the democratically elected Heads of State and Government of the Americas, have met in Quebec City at our Third Summit, to renew our commitment to hemispheric integration." ... followed by 100,000+ protesters, rubber bullets, and so much tear gas that the we-the-democratically-elected could smell it inside their summit.

Enter FTAA Plan B. In Sept 2008 Bush announced The Pathways to Prosperity of the Americas, from the headquarters of the corporate lobby group Council of the Americas.
Current PPA member states : US, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay

Heide Bronke, U.S. State Department :
''Eleven leaders in the hemisphere met with our president and stood with him in a project aimed at expanding economic integration. This is not just free trade, it's a political vision for the hemisphere."
The rightwing Heritage Foundation : Finding Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas
"The PPA is an attempt to re-energize U.S. government and regional efforts to enlarge a free trade area in the Western Hemisphere and create positive momentum for open-market policies that will carry over into the next Administration.

Styled in part after other current efforts to improve economic relations with key trade and investment partners--such as the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (U.S., Canada, and Mexico) - the PPA would provide a forum for not only finding avenues to improve the flow of commerce but also promoting greater coherence and consistency in the rules specified under the five separate free trade agreements (FTAs) that currently define trade between PPA members. With the basic trade agreements already in place, members of the PPA can focus on dismantling remaining barriers to trade and ensuring that business is able to take advantage of new opportunities brought by lower trade and investment barriers.

On a grander scale, success under the PPA could result in new momentum for concluding a broader Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA)."

So did the PPA successfully "carry over into the next Administration"?

Address of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State
Pathways to Prosperity Ministerial, May 31, 2009
US State Dept website :

"President Obama has emphasized that it's not important whether ideas come from one party or another, so long as they move us in the right direction. This meeting builds on the work of the previous U.S. administration, but the President and I are also committed to re-launching Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas and expanding its work to spread the benefits of economic recovery, growth, and open markets ..."
Elsewhere Senator Clinton has described the Pathways to Prosperity accord as "a multilateral initiative to promote shared security and prosperity throughout the Americas".
Speaking of the SPP and North America as a shared economic space last year, Thomas Shannon of the State Department told Linda Carlsen at the Center for International Policy:
"What we’re doing, in some way, in a certain respect, is armoring NAFTA."

Alliance for Responsible Trade :

"The PPA bears many of the hallmarks of the SPP. According to the Mexican Action Network on Free Trade, the PPA is "based on two similar components to the SPP: on one hand an economic, mercantile and financial agenda covered by the term ‘prosperity', and on the other a ‘security' agenda of enhancing military and police powers to combat terrorism, narcotraffic, illegal migration, etc.." The PPA, like the SPP, is little more than an attempt to justify economic deregulation and to promote an escalation of militarism in the region."
Stuart Trew from the Council of Canadians writes The SPP is dead, so where's the champagne? :

Ok, just one glass of champagne, Stuart, but then as you say : Back to work.
Because we don't care what it's called : SPP, North American Union, deep integration, the Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny, Pathways to Prosperity of the Americas. We don't care. Really. Call it whatever you like.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Afghanistan's big election day

For a cheerful look at the Afghan election, here's the BBC :

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Western allies have pronounced the country's election a success, after voting passed off largely peacefully
... including a helpful vid explaining how the indelible ink used to mark the index finger of people who have already voted won't wash off for four to five days. The UN rep said so.

Or you could try the rather more dour Guardian :

Presidential poll day sees low turnout amid bombings, fraud claims and 'indelible' finger markings that wash off
... wherein a voter turns up half an hour after casting his ballot with his finger washed clean.

A week ago a BBC reporter bought several ballots cheaply at a local market and reported that most Afghan women would not be voting as the country was short over a thousand female scrutineers to search those women who had not already been forbidden to vote by their families and husbands. Rural elders were also advised that things would go badly for them if people in their villages did not vote as instructed and ballot boxes were delivered to polling stations pre-stuffed.

Two days ago Democracy Now carried the news that a warlord reputedly responsible for the "death by container" of 2000 supposed Taliban who had foolishly surrendered to Afghan and ISAF forces in 2001 had returned to Afghanistan to rally support for Karzai :

Eight Years After Orchestrating Massacre at Dasht-e-Leili, Afghan Warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum Returns to Afghanistan to Campaign for Karzai

Reuters :
"My coming back will help peace and stability," he [Dostrum] said. "I want to sit with my American friends and make a plan so that within two or three years, we will secure all of Afghanistan."

Asked what type of job he would like if Karzai was to be re-elected, he said he was not interested in working as a cabinet minister, but would be interested in a security-related role. He said he had repeatedly turned down offers to be one of Karzai's two
vice presidents.

"I have a lot of experience dealing with terrorism and if Karzai wants it, or our international friends who are battling terrorism want, I am prepared to work. Other than this, I'm not interested in becoming this or that minister," he said.

Questioned about the massacre at Dasht-e-Leili, the investigation of which has been repeatedly derailed by the Bush administration as witnesses continue to be killed off, Dostrum said :
"The United States of America, international friends, they should put together a group, a strong commission, to ask the truth," he said. "It wasn't just General Dostum."

Don't be fooled by this facade of democracy : Malalai Joya

"We Afghans know that this election will change nothing and it is only part of a show of democracy put on by and for the West, to legitimize its future puppet in Afghanistan. It seems we are doomed to see the continuation of this failed, mafia-like corrupt government for another term.

Democracy will never come to Afghanistan through the barrel of a gun, or from the cluster bombs dropped by foreign forces. The struggle will be long and difficult, but the values of real democracy, human rights and women's rights will only be won by the Afghan people themselves.

So do not be fooled by this façade of democracy. Your governments in the West that claim to be bringing democracy to Afghanistan ignore public opinion in their own countries, where growing numbers are against the war. President Obama in particular needs to understand that the change Afghans believe in does not include more troops and a ramped up war. "

Joya notes Karzai has passed the now infamous law allowing Shia women to be starved for disobedience to their husbands and quotes Human Rights Watch :
"Karzai has made an unthinkable deal to sell Afghan women out in return for the support of fundamentalists in the August 20 election."

It's almost enough to make you long to be back in the days of Josee Verner's platitudes about the little girls in their little schoolhouses and Steve's bloviating about his important place on the world stage :

"I can tell you it's certainly engaged our military," the Prime Minister told CBC. "It's, I think, made them a better military notwithstanding — and maybe in some way because of — the casualties."

Harper added that Canada's current role in Afghanistan is "certainly raising Canada's leadership role, once again, in the United Nations and in the world community.".


Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Paul Krugman has always struck me as fundamentally decent and likeable man, Nobel and all (perhaps especially so, considering the award), not prone to savaging his opponents with rhetorical flourishes or reducing himself to ad hominem attacks. So when he publicly rebukes another academic and calls him a "poseur", that other should probably pause and reconsider. Especially if the other academic bills himself as an economic historian.

Now back to hibernation.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

speling iz imporetunt

As a person who spends a lot of time dealing with the insufficiency of the Roman alphabet in differentiating the subtle shades of pronunciation that can change meaning in a foreign language, I can actually sympathize with the recent error made by the flunky of Prime Minister Stephen Harper who misspelled the name of a town on the PM's itinerary. Mistakes do happen sometimes. But when dealing with a transcription and Romanicization of a language that you are unfamiliar with, surely it behooves (yeah, I said "behooves" and I wasn't calling you "Shirley") the person preparing the document to check with someone who is familiar with the that language.
The names of people (something that doesn't appear anything like often enough in Japanese newspapers) can be written in such a way that there could be several radically different pronunciations and so Romanicizing them is not as straightforward as it might seem. That confusion between "L" and "R" by Japanese that North Americans find so amusing (Yes, Japan will have an erection on Aug. 30 har-de-har-har, you stupid plicks) exists because both sounds are combined in the same character in Japanese.
In translating Japanese to English, place names can be tricky to spell, so we check them. If only the Prime Minister's Office would do the same, then Iqaluit (Village of Many Fish) wouldn't become Iqualuit (Village of People with Unwiped Bums).

tip of the toque to Peterborough Politics, now known as Dispatches by Northwestern Lad

Assault rifle at Obama speech a publicity stunt

for conservative talk radio show Declare Your Independence With Ernest Hancock.
Hancock and "Chris", the black man carrying the assault rifle, knew each other "through their work for presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas)".

"We know what we're up against," Hancock, also packing heat at the health care rally, told CNN. "We're up against a tyrannical government that will rob the next generation as long as they can get away with it."

Just a couple of guys conducting a radio interview while cradling an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle at a health care rally where the President of the United States was speaking.
This is not really about healthcare then, is it?
From the "interview" :
"Is it your advocacy that by having guns here we're probably all safer?" Hancock asked.
Chris "absolutely" agreed. He then went on to explain how he was always armed, even when riding his motorcycle, though not always when he showered: "Sometimes when I take a shower I set it down on the sink."
Only sometimes. Presumably other times not. Banking with an assault rifle must be interesting.

Initial news reports included the information that the Arizona police who monitored the man at the downtown protest "wanted to make sure no one decided to harm him."
Now we hear from Hancock's interview on CNN:
"It was Thursday that I called and talked to Al Ramirez, the representative from the Phoenix police department, and we were discussing -- we've been around this rhetoric that was building up around William Kostric, who did this in New Hampshire."
These stunts at health care rallies, whether with or without the guns, were never about health care.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The "Three C's" . . . .

Once again, the group over at The Progressive Economics Forum has a great post.

This one references the historical profiteering from US-inspired coups overseas. Why are we not overly surprised?

A tidbit:

It turns out that the stock of several companies rose sharply after secret meetings in which high government officials decided to give the green light to coup plans. For example, United Fruit Company’s stock rose when plans were made for the 1954 coup in Guatemala that ousted the regime that intended to nationalize its extensive banana –producing lands.

Check out the whole post and it's related New Yorker post.

Good stuff . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

The Guns of August

One can only assume that since we are told Obama gets dozens of death threats daily, that this latest effort on the part of the wingnuts to intimidate their political opponenets by bringing assault rifles to demonstrations at appearances by the president is probably causing the Secret Service to have kittens the size of Bengal tigers.
Can you imagine for one second the reaction if someone had showed up with an AR-15 at an anti-George Bush rally? You know, the ones the White House insisted be held in fenced-in "Free Speech Zones" surrounded by riot cops miles away from where the president was appearing. People who protested the GOP convention in 2004 in NYC were charged with carrying concealed weapon for having nail scissors in their purse and held for days in makeshift jails in old warehouses contaminated with hazardous chemicals and these whackjobs are being allowed to walk around with assault rifles?
But we on the left are the angry, uncivil ones because we sometimes say "fuck" on our blogs and we questioned the intelligence and motivation of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
Imagine the reaction of the teabaggers and town brawl activists and other Glenn Beck fans if a dozen shotgun-toting neo-Black Panthers came and stood outside the president's next town hall meeting to show support for Obama. The screeching would be deafening.
If these tactics on the right continue, that, sadly, will be the next step in the escalation.

It is only a matter of time before someone starts shooting.
Osama bin Laden must be dying of laughter right now.

Crosspost from the Woodshed, where we ask that you check your shooting irons at the door, pardner.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

G.I. Jane

THE NY TIMES has an interesting article by Lizette Alvarez, "G.I. Jane Breaks the Combat Barrier as War Evolves". It's about the experience of women in the conflict in Iraq. In a Taliban wonderland, women cannot go to school or have a job; in Saudi, they are forbidden to drive; in Iraq, they collect Silver and Bronze Star combat medals.

Military women said they were encouraged by the words of Representative John M. McHugh, the nominee for Army secretary, who just four years ago supported a failed push in Congress to restrict the role of women in combat zones. 

At his Senate hearing in July, Mr. McHugh, Republican of New York, sought to allay concern. “Women in uniform today are not just invaluable,” he said, “they’re irreplaceable.” He added that he would look to expand the number of jobs available to them.

In Mr. Baumann’s view, the reality on the ground long ago outpaced the debate. 

“We have crossed that line in Iraq,” he said. “Debate it all you want folks, but the military is going to do what the military needs to do. And they are needing to put women in combat.”

Worth the read.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Passport photos?

Given the case of Suaad Hagi Mohamud and Abdihakim Mohamed, and perhaps others, mistakenly imprisoned over apparently suspect passport photos, I wonder if part of the issue is legitimately related to the photos themselves.

I've held three Canadian passports, the first two of which were the type where an actual photograph was laminated to the page. The photos in these two passports are bright and clear. Indeed I had one set of photos rejected because there was the faintest line of shadow under my chin - the rest of the photo was crystal. Given the passport office queue started before 7am, and I had to make a special trip to Toronto for it, and the official behind the counter was full of attitude, this was just annoying.

Current passports appear to print the image directly on the page. My latest one came back with an image so dark, I can barely make out my own features. When I saw it, I was actually concerned that I'd have problems travelling with it. I can only imagine how someone of a darker complexion would appear. However, it seemed to satisfy the Passport Office, (or passport office computer) enough to send it to me.

If this is the case, it would make sense that a KLM staff member or customs officer might be cautious. It would also come as no surprise to find out that this government would rather bugger brown Canadians with non-western European names than admit an expensive problem with our state of the art super secure passports.

Khadr ruling upheld

CBC this morning:
The Federal Court of Appeal has upheld a judge’s ruling that ordered the federal government to press for the return of Omar Khadr from a U.S. military detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Naturally this has brought out the frothing lunatics in the comments to the CBC item. It amazes and disgusts me to no end the fanatical bloodlust that Omar Khadr seems to generate from a portion of the population. It seems he, being one of weakest and most vulnerable people caught up on the wrong side of 9/11, appears to bear a disproportionate amount of public rage. I also wonder, given that Khadr was tortured in custody, including threats of rape, whether these members of the public are advocates of rape as a form of punishment? Would they be willing to carry out that punishment, or would they rather someone else with a uniform and a badge do it - in their name - so they can call them heroes? It's a low and sick cowardice these commenters exhibit.

Given the recent trend in court rulings against the government's position regarding the plight of non-white Canadians imprisoned abroad, perhaps it's time we made the Conservative Party a ward of the court in these matters. It's the only way they can actually be brought to do anything properly.

Conservatives getting things done for some Canadians

The Toronto Star's Haroon Siddiqui has it exactly right, Stephen Harper is an embarrassment. Part of the problem in the case of Suaad Hagi Mohamud lies with the Canada Border Services Agency, who have done stupid and embarassing things before, but for Harper to say that it is now his top priority to bring this poor woman home after she's been stranded for three months, coming as it does on the heels of all the other cases of Canadians the government has abandoned abroad, is a bit rich. Obviously, the consular services section of the Foreign Affairs Ministry needs a shake up too, but the problem starts at the top.
It used to be that if one fell afoul of the law overseas (which is not the same thing as committing a crime) and could contact the embassy, consular affairs and the Canadian government would be there for you - finding lawyers, making sure you were not mistreated, protecting you. Now, the government seems to be saying that when you leave the country, the country leaves you - you're on your own and they don't really want you back.
As one of the 9% of Canadians who is outside Canada at the moment, this is a worrisome thing. Especially since I live in a country with a history of xenophobia and a legal system with no presumption of innocence or even right to a lawyer while in police custody.
And it isn't just the unwillingness of the Canadian government to stand up for its citizens like accused child soldier Omar Khadr who are unlawfully being held prisoner by a foreign governerment or the withdrawl of consular services - there are other changes indicative of this distaste for Canadians the Conservative don't feel are Canadian enough.
Both my children and my brother's kids were born in foriegn countries, but can claim Canadian
citizenship is they wish by virtue of the citizenship of their parents. But unless my grandchildren are born in Canada, they will no have that same option. A recent change in the law means that my children are not Canadian enough to pass on citizenship to their own kids should they be born outside the country.
Another comparitively recent change in law means that since I have been out of the country for five years, I can no longer vote in any election in Canada.

I suppose its a matter of self preservation for the Conservatives. After all, anyone who has been exposed to the world outside their provincial little town or who has a stake in multiculturalism isn't likely to vote for Stephen Harper and his gang of isolationist ignoramuses.

Crossposted from the Woodshed

Making a killing in Afghanistan

LA Times : Four men with the U.S. firm once known as Blackwater are said to be under investigation in the deaths of two Afghans. A U.S. report found serious fault with private security firms in Afghanistan.

Kabul : Residents say the U.S. contractors opened fire without provocation after one of their vehicles tipped over in a traffic accident. The driver of a Toyota said the Americans ordered him to stop, then told him to move on. When the driver began pulling away the Americans started shooting. A passenger in the car was killed and a man walking about 200 yards away was shot in the head. No weapons were found in the Toyota, or on the bystander. A lawyer representing the four contractors said the company [Xe] falsely accused the men of drinking alcohol that night.
The U.S. spent between $6 billion and $10 billion on security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 through 2007 alone, according to Congress. In all, there are more than 71,000 security contractors or guards, armed and unarmed, in Afghanistan.

Since February, oversight of security contractors in Afghanistan has been entrusted not to Congress or the Pentagon, but to a British-owned private contractor, Aegis.
The company was hired by the American government after the U.S. military said it lacked the manpower and expertise to monitor security contractors.

The US military says it lacks the manpower and expertise to monitor its mercenaries ....

h/t Pogge via B'n R.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Forty Years Later . . . .

For the good times . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

Netroots Nation in Second Life

This is going to be a long post, but bear with me, it's for your own good.
Look, you've been reading this blog for a while and so you probably know I'm involved in Second Life, running movies and DJing parties and generally hanging out. And you know my politics are somewhat to the left of the more conservative parties in North America -- okay, I've jokingly endorsed the hunting of conservatives with dogs, I admit it, and my selection of Pete Seeger as Spiritual Leader of the Moment might have been a bit of a giveaway, but, yeah, I suppose you could say I am "of the left" in the general scheme of things. And if you've been hanging around here, I'm guessing you might be too.
So that makes this weekend a big deal for both of us.
This weekend is the annual gathering of the lefty/progressive/reality-based internet tribes, Netroots Nation! A whole heap of people like Atrios and Jesus' General and a cast of thousands are descending on Pittsburgh to network, party, plot strategy, party, trade ideas, party, attend workshops, party, listen to speakers, party, and generally celebrate the idea that the United States of America is a liberal democracy that is no longer run by fascist thugs. And party.
Netroots Nation started out as the annual convention for the Daily Kos website, or the Great Orange Satan as its known on the right wing blogs and sort of morphed to become the pre-eminent gathering of web connected liberal activists.
This is not just some random coming together of net geeks and professional protestors - two years ago the convention was addressed by all the Democratic presidential candidates, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Last year Nancy Pelosi and Al Gore spoke. This year, in just a few hours, Bill Clinton will give the opening address, so, yeah, its kind of a big deal.
Now, obviously, going all the way to Pittsburgh is a pretty big effort and would cost you a bunch of money for airfare and accomdation and registration and all that, BUT THERE IS AN EASIER WAY!!!!

Thanks to the efforts of a bunch of dedicated net activists (who just happen to be my pals), you can attend Netroot Nation 2009 absolutely FREE through the magic of the intertubes. Just sign up for Second Life (totally free and you won't get a whole bunch of spam, I promise) and get your virtually butt to the Netroots Nation in Second Life island to see the main events live via streaming video, attend special exclusive Second Life panel discussions on net activism and meet and greet all the coolest people on the internet at the evening parties in the Second Life ballroom. Volunteer are standing by to help you get your virtual self together when you arrive and believe me, the folks involved are beyond friendly.

Bill Clinton speaks at 3 pm PDT/ 6 EDT on Thurdays.

The rest of the schedule is here.

How can this be free you ask? Is it some kinda liberal commie pinko plot? Well, yeah, it is. You see that little widget on the right side of the blog urging you to buy "The Revolution Will Be Streamed"? Among the many, many other people who have contributed blood, sweat, tears and cash, all those musicians donated their talents so that we could raise some cash to pay to bring you Netroots Nation in Second Life for free, so if you don't go, you are going to be scorning their gift, which is really kinda rude. You don't want to be rude, right? You'd like to hear what Jesus' General sounds like in real life, right? So, what the hell are you waiting for? Get inworld now! It is FREE!!

Special offer: In fact, its even better than free. I'm so sure that you will enjoy the virtual world of Second Life, aside from the obviously super fun netroots nation conference, that I know you will stick around and hang out at my virtual club, the Red Zeppelin. How sure am I? So sure that I will give $100 virtual dollars (Lindens) to anyone who can find me at any of the NNSL events this weekend in Second Life. All you have to do is mention the Woodshed or the Galloping Beaver and I will give you $100, AND I will throw in a package of free virtual stuff like one of the super cool mini-zeppelins seen above. My name in the virtual world is RevPaperboy Boozehound, stop by the Red Zeppelin booth or just look for the guy in the Fez.

Netroots Nation in Secondlife from Shinigamikayo on Vimeo.

Crossposted from the Woodshed

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bad, bad crazy

Southern Poverty Law Center has a new report out on the very recent rise in the number and scale of American terror groups.

Pixel power

BLENDER IS AN OPEN-SOURCE 3-D animation/modelling program, which you can download for free.  It is capable of awesome renderings. BLENDER NATION is a support site for users. Check out "Memory", a 7-minute video produced by Junichi Yamamoto. The Japanese site, FALCON ONE, is comprehensible through Google Translation. It's a really touching video, and worth viewing especially using the Google High Quality option. The ending . . . .

The point is, that while it might not be quite at Pixar's level, it's astounding quality for a lot fewer bucks.

Rightwing violence and US healthcare

An early morning line of thought...
The issue of firearms, rightwing violence (at least the implication) and Obama's healthcare is all over the news and blogs these days. It subsequently dawned on me this morning that every potentially violent divisive period in American history has a common macro-theme where one group of people at least in part feels that a disadvantaged population should be relieved of their burdens, be it slavery, being the subjectively wrong sort of Asian, or having no healthcare.

If we conceive culture as a complex and dynamic system of discourses, and analog this to broader complex and dynamic systems, like a human body, we can see how toxic patterns discourse might (re)emerge and disappear over time like a cancer. The symbolism and mythmaking (origin myths?) nurtured from the Revolutionary War onward produced some arguably very healthy socio-cultural cells, but also some utterly poisoness ones. Maybe the conflict-birth of that nation planted an adversarial and violent seed whereby anything that threatens certain (mis)perceptions of what ought to be or is, promotes a radical and violent pushback.

Perhaps part of this is the pathological adherence to rugged individualism and weapons by some segments of that society. To me this also implies a the hegemonic individual perception of a Hobbesian brutality to individual lives where the first response anything new is not to try to understand or discuss, but to resist with extreme paranoia. Particularly if it challenges the the very idea of that brutality. Is the rightwing blather about 'socialism' and the expressed racism of some, really about maintaining the old and carcinogenic discourse of violence?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

He's not sayin', he's know...sayin'

Sure, he's a block away from where the president is speaking, and he's carrying a sign suggesting the need for violent revolution/assasination and bloodshed while packing heat, but it isn't a threat. He's just a patriotic American exercising his legal second amendment rights.
Remember when George Bush was president and pacifist peaceniks were getting jailed for wearing the wrong T-shirt to town hall meetings and protestors were kept penned up in "Free Speech Zones? I never thought that would seem like the good old days. If this guy can get through a 30 second TV interview, he's going to be the new poster child of the gun-toting angry right. Imagine Joe the Plumber with a 9 mm instead of a monkey wrench.

Update (or should I say reload?)
Yup, a gun nut for certain. Chris Mathews, as usual, acts like a dick, rattling on and making the whole process about his questions rather than the guest's answers, but the answers are there. This nimrod thinks people should pack heat at all times. Yeah, that's a good idea, look how well it's worked out elsewhere in the world, like say, Ethiopia or Afghanistan. And notice he has nothing to say about health care. He says he knows history when it comes to assassinated presidents and yet still brought a gun to a public meeting, supposedly to make a point about standing up for people's rights. Funny how no one ever thought to bring a gun to public meeting during the eight years that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were shredding the Constitution.

Until someone finds out that this guy has a criminal record of shooting people or molesting goats or some such crap, I think we can count on seeing him on FOX at least once a week as their new "Second Amendment expert" or some such nonsense.

(crossposted from the Woodshed)

But can they handle Godzilla?

There a general election at the end of the month here in Japan so the parties are busy running around trying to show how on top of things they are and how they have every possible contingency covered in their little policy books. Naturally, the papers have been full of policy stuff for weeks, much of it pretty vague and dry, but I did find this little nugget of awesome at the bottom of a very long article on defense policy in today's Daily Yomiuri:

One of the major policies proposed by New Party Nippon is to reorganize the SDF and launch a study to establish an organization--tentatively called "The Thunderbird Squad"--geared toward international assistance.

Sadly, the article did not elaborate or reveal whether New Party Nippon is favor of granting the Tracy family Japanese citizenship.

Sure, they are good at international rescue, but can they handle Godzilla?

Maybe they would be better off following the example of the last elected Japanese Prime Minister Junichro Koizumi and Calling Elvis.

(crossposted from The Woodshed)

The New Know-Nothings

I often think he's a sexist pig and frequently wish he'd just shut up already about atheism and religion, but Bill Maher is right: Americans are stupid. I don't think all Americans are stupid, but there is a vast swath of dumbness that seem to run through the population like a venereal disease.

I give you exhibit A:

In other pockets of the state, the reaction to Democratic proposals has been strong, too. At a recent town-hall meeting in suburban Simpsonville, a man stood up and told Rep. Robert Inglis (R-S.C.) to "keep your government hands off my Medicare."

"I had to politely explain that, 'Actually, sir, your health care is being provided by the government,' " Inglis recalled. "But he wasn't having any of it."

................. Uh, yeah.

And lest you think it is only the man in the street that is stupid, I give you exhibit B, from the editorial of the very elite, very serious, very important right-wing organ Investors Business Daily:

The controlling of medical costs in countries such as Britain through rationing, and the health consequences thereof are legendary. The stories of people dying on a waiting list or being denied altogether read like a horror movie script.
The U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) basically figures out who deserves treatment by using a cost-utility analysis based on the "quality adjusted life year."
One year in perfect health gets you one point. Deductions are taken for blindness, for being in a wheelchair and so on.
The more points you have, the more your life is considered worth saving, and the likelier you are to get care.
People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.

........Uh, yeah.

And then there's Sarah Palin latest gem about a "death panel" and the twice-elected former President George W. Bush trying to justify the invasion of Iraq through Biblical prophecy, and the birthers, hell that's just this month and it's only the second week of the month.

John Stuart Mill also was right on the money.

(major tip of the hat to Chet at the Vanity Press, who's leads I have totally stolen, though in my defense, he did steal my post title, which I stole from this guy. As Pete Seeger said, "Plagiarism is basic to all culture.")

Crossposted from the Woodshed.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Make safe

Just a little note... This eventful summer - hospitals and other issues - tells me it's time for a break of sorts. Posts from Boris will be likely be a little sparse for the next while. I'm off to a quiet corner of the country for a few months of fieldwork, a needed break, and maybe even some fishing.

She's Not Happy . . . .

Methinks Hillary is not happy with the question . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

Gog and Magog. Good Grief, george . . . .

According to this month's edition of the Council for Secular Humanism's
"Free Inquiry", g.w.bush felt "that Iraq must be

invaded to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse."

This is not a joke - no doubt to Bill Maher's chagrin - and James A. Haught details the story in his article "A French Revelation, or The Burning Bush."

Check out the whole article, but here are some of the highlights:

A French Revelation, or The Burning Bush

James A. Haught

Incredibly, President George W. Bush told French President Jacques Chirac in early 2003 that Iraq must be invaded to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse.

Honest. This isn’t a joke. The president of the United States, in a top-secret phone call to a major European ally, asked for French troops to join American soldiers in attacking Iraq as a mission from God.

Now out of office, Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”


After the 2003 call, the puzzled French leader didn’t comply with Bush’s request. Instead, his staff asked Thomas Romer, a theologian at the University of Lausanne, to analyze the weird appeal. Dr. Romer explained that the Old Testament book of Ezekiel contains two chapters (38 and 39) in which God rages against Gog and Magog, sinister and mysterious forces menacing Israel. Jehovah vows to smite them savagely, to “turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws,” and slaughter them ruthlessly. In the New Testament, the mystical book of Revelation envisions Gog and Magog gathering nations for battle, “and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”


Oddly, mainstream media are ignoring this alarming revelation that Bush may have been half-cracked when he started his Iraq war. My own paper, The Charleston Gazette in West Virginia, is the only U.S. newspaper to report it so far. Canada’s Toronto Star recounted the story, calling it a “stranger-than-fiction disclosure … which suggests that apocalyptic fervor may have held sway within the walls of the White House.” Fortunately, online commentary sites are spreading the news, filling the press void.

The French revelation jibes with other known aspects of Bush’s renowned evangelical certitude. For example, a few months after his phone call to Chirac, Bush attended a 2003 summit in Egypt. The Palestinian foreign minister later said the American president told him he was “on a mission from God” to defeat Iraq. At that time, the White House called this claim “absurd.”


It’s awkward to say openly, but now-departed President Bush is a religious crackpot, an ex-drunk of small intellect who “got saved.” He never should have been entrusted with the power to start wars.

Truth really is stranger than fiction at times . . . .

H/T Joylene

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Hey, Smart Shopper

ALTERNET.ORG has a very interesting article, just in time for the back-to-school shopping blitz, written by Ellen Rupel Shell of the Penguin Press, titled "How Outlet Malls Have Convinced Shoppers into Thinking They're Getting a Sweet Deal". Worth the read.

It's not just a North American phenomenon:

Outlet malls are big in Europe, Japan, and Hong Kong. They exist in Turkey, Dubai, and South Africa. If there is one deep in the Amazon rain forest, and another just south of the North Pole, it would not surprise me. The New York Times once reported that outlet malls were not only the fastest growing segment of the retail industry but one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry. 

Their distant locations are no accident:

In a very real sense, outlets are the anti-convenience store. Visiting the outlets demands an investment in time, deliberation, and energy beyond what we invest in most other leisure activities. And because the effort required to reach and shop at them is substantial, even extraordinary, the experience of going to the outlet is elevated in our minds to "special occasion" status. A trip to the outlet mall is not passive, not simply a matter of popping in to pick up a few things. We have to work to get there, piling up hefty "sunk costs." All that time! All that gas! "I gave up my entire Sunday afternoon and even missed the game to come here!" Psychologically speaking, all this and more must be repaid in the form of purchases made. In making that long trip we are actually engaged in a transfer of power away from ourselves to the outlet itself. The mall has extracted a price, and in demanding repayment, we are in fact taxing ourselves. Our expectations are raised at the same time that our guard is lowered, and in making this bargain we are willing to forgo many things that we once demanded from a satisfying shopping experience: variety, serendipity, aspiration -- and fun.

And they're designed to be uncomfortable:

Outlet malls, too, minimize amenities to discourage wasteful lingering. You are not likely to stumble on a fashion show, listen to a chamber orchestra, or enjoy a gourmet meal at an outlet center. But that doesn't mean you won't spend a lot of time dispersing your paycheck. On average, shoppers spend nearly 80 percent more money at a bare bones outlet mall than they would at a fully loaded regional mall. A popular rationale for this seeming paradox, in addition to the inconvenience hypothesis, is that outlet shoppers spend more to save more on things they really need.

But the savings aren't there to be had. Caveat emptor, baby, caveat emptor. To find out why and how, go visit the page.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Maher Rules . . . .

(Playing off Edstock's post below:)

Bill Maher has a New Rule posted at The Huffington Post today.






Shake your head in astonishment.

A sampling:

A few weeks ago I was asked by Wolf Blitzer if I thought Sarah Palin could get elected president, and I said I hope not, but I wouldn't put anything past this stupid country. It was amazing - in the minute or so between my calling America stupid and the end of the Cialis commercial, CNN was flooded with furious emails and the twits hit the fan. And you could tell that these people were really mad because they wrote entirely in CAPITAL LETTERS!!!


At a recent town-hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his Congressman to "keep your government hands off my Medicare," which is kind of like driving cross country to protest highways.


Nearly half of Americans don't know that states have two senators and more than half can't name their congressman. And among Republican governors, only 30% got their wife's name right on the first try.

I repeat:


Enjoy . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

How Is America Going To End?

SLATE HAS A MULTI-SECTION FEATURE, "How Is America Going To End?". It's worth the read, especially given the increasing divide between the red minds and the blue minds, and the win-at-any-price mentality of the conservative fundamentalists. There's even a "Choose Your Own Apocalypse" section, for those who want extra cheese or anchovies.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Is Tampa the new Ft. Sumter?

I guess Glenn Beck did his "oh please don't commit any of the violence I've been urging you to commit for the last year" ass-covering episode just in time.

What was intended to be a town hall discussion on President Barack Obama's health care reform proposal dissolved into a shouting match with shoving and scuffles in Ybor City tonight.
The event brought home to Tampa the recent phenomenon of angry opponents of Obama's proposal disrupting town hall meetings by Democratic members of Congress during the August recess.
This meeting was organized by Democratic state Rep. Betty Reed but was to include comments on the proposal by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a strong supporter.
Castor tried to speak for nearly 15 minutes but the crowd drowned her out, chanting, "You work for us,'' "Tyranny, tyranny,'' and "Read the bill." She ultimately left the meeting early, further angering some attendees.
The problems began when a crowd of around 500, many of them recruited to attend by interest groups both for and against the proposal, sought to enter the meeting room. The room, in the offices of the Hillsborough County Children's Board on East Palm Avenue, has a capacity of only about 250.
Several hundred people, mostly opponents, wound up outside or packing a hallway leading into the meeting room. Some scuffled with members of the sponsoring groups who manned the doorway.

The story is a bit misleading in that it blames both sides for the near riot. One group of people came there to discuss health policy and here from their elected representative, many at the behest of the their preferred political party or political action group. The other group was there strictly to shout slogans, disrupt the meeting and prevent reasonable discussion at the behest of those with a vested interest or for political advantage. There is no question as to which group is associated with which political party and blaming both sides is like blaming the bank and the bank robbers.

Not that Beck is the only one to blame, there is plenty of blame to go around.
Mahablog rounds up the usual suspects. One of several groups recruiting and busing people to break up meetings is "American's For Prosperity" - a nasty little conservative mouthpiece for hire group that Desmog blog ran across when they were trying to argue that global warming was a hoax.

Obviously the plutocrats are either worried or getting so overconfident that they cannot be touched, that they aren't even bothering to wipe the fingerprints off the weapons they are using to murder democracy in the United States.

This isn't the first time the right has used mob tactics in recent history, but this time it was regular people inspired by the same hatemongers and professional manipulators behind the "tea-bagger" movement, not a crowd of political aides and party operatives.

In encouraging people to come out and disrupt politcal meetings, a very dangerous line has been crossed here. Is American headed back to the pitched street battles of the early 20th century when the industrial barons of the day hired goons squads to attack and kill trade unionists, break up leftist demonstrations and nearly mounted a military coup?

Big darkness, soon come.

(cross-posted from the Woodshed)

Harry Patch

Harry Patch, aged 111, the last surving British veteran of the First World War, was buried today in Somerset.

Very soon there will be none left alive. In some ways now it seems that with the passing of the ancient veterans, the age of modern war, where mechanised death has come into its own, entrenching itself in the human sojourn through time and space. There are almost none left alive who knew a world before our fascination with machines and technology and our fear of the other got the better of us and our politics. Almost none who are witness to the transition from limited war of horses and leather boots, to the the loss of innocence that came with the millions dead in festering mud. We're on our now, with the memory of a different world passing from living purchase and into the constructions of our collective imagination.

I am struck by the resonance of this quote from Mr. Patch, turned to lyrics by Thom Yorke*-

I am the only one that got through,
the others died where ever they fell.
It was an ambush,
they came up from all sides.
Give your leaders each a gun and then let them fight it out themselves.
I've seen devils coming up from the ground.
I've seen hell upon this earth.
The next will be chemical but they will never learn.

-with the words of other older veterans I've been privileged to audience. There are no politics with them. No mention of evil doers or scumbags. Just elder's careworn plea that we not follow the same path.

But our young world does not listen to them. We are too preoccupied with yellow ribbons and smart bombs. Our hollow rhetoric, and our politics of division, and the tremendous but easy effort we put into convincing ourselves that some group of humans are so profoundly different from us that we are compelled to march off and slaughter them. Particularly, now it seems, if they do not have the capacity to return the favour at anywhere near the same level. Perhaps if the blood were more equally spilt, as it was in Harry's day, things would be different.

Perhaps we need to run out of oil before the machines will finally seize and we can create a different world.

*The song costs £1, and proceeds go to the Royal British Legion.