Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tony Blair.

Is just unfuckingbelievable. Apparently he's written a book.
I can't regret the decision to go to war ... I can say that never did I guess the nightmare that unfolded," said Blair, referring to the years of political and sectarian bloodshed in Iraq that followed the invasion.

"I have often reflected as to whether I was wrong. I ask you to reflect as to whether I may have been right."


"I feel words of condolence and sympathy to be entirely inadequate," Blair wrote of the war's casualties.

"They have died and I, the decision-maker in the circumstances that led to their deaths, still live."

I. I. I. I. Lots of those in there. Yes, Tony, you smarmy, despicable, monstrous little fuck, look at their faces. Read their names. Biographies on their lives. Those dead. The hundreds of thousands and counting - wait -

He has said he is donating the reported 4.6 million pound ($7.09 million) advance he received for his memoirs as well as proceeds from sales to a charity supporting serving and former members of the military.

- oh I'm sorry asshole, I guess you're just into British lives. All those dead Iraqis just don't qualify, do they old boy?

If you're the politician who condemned others to die in a war of choice, you don't get to complain that you didn't know it would be so bad. You don't get to lament the fact in a book you still live unless you perhaps intend to remedy that apparently disturbing fact. You don't get the make this into a self-indulgent sob story about how hard it is to be you because you think history might judge you a little unfairly.

Condolence and sympathy or the difficulty in find the words are what you say somberly to your friend when their relative dies. Not when you murdered that relative. When your chosen actions destroy a country and kill hundreds of thousands of its people, you don't write a fucking book like some retired movie star.

Go away Tony. If you can't do the honourable thing, the next best thing you can do for the world now is to just go away.

Update 1 Sept. Beijing York in comments draws attention to an idea in Britain's Daily Mirror:

Blair should amputate a limb and give that to the British Legion.

Then we can start talking about forgiveness

I'd go one further and make amputation a legal requirement for all politicians wishing to pick up a war hobby. We'd have a lot less wars.

It would be nice if the staff at FOX News would cut it out, too.

The head of the Ontario Provincial Police says it is against policy for officers to pose as journalists to collect information on suspects, but he won't rule out the tactic.
If I pretended to be a police officer to get information, I'd go to jail and rightfully so - you can't have people running around pretending to be police officers or the real cops would never have any credibility.  But by pretending to be reporters, the police are not just making the jobs of real journalists more difficult, they are putting journalists in considerable danger. As the linked story mentions, an OPP officer posed as a reporter to gather information at a Mohawk rally, a tactic I'm sure seemed brilliant to the OPP at the time. Except that now every single time a reporter shows up at a rally or protest or incident involving  First Nations' people, it is going to be in the back of everyone's mind that the reporter just might be a cop.
Few enough people trust the media as it is (thank a bunch Geraldo Rivera, Maury Povich and Bill O'Reilly) but we are still at least perceived as more or less neutral in confrontations between citizens and police. In fact, reporters can often go places the police can't go safely, simply because they aren't perceived by their subjects as "the enemy" in the way a police officer might be. Thanks to the irresponsible actions of the OPP and other police forces, that may not be the case much longer.
As a young reporter in southwestern Ontario and later in eastern Ontario, I often had contact with motorcycle gang members and various shady characters. Sometimes it was in the course of my job, sometimes it was just because the only bar in town catered to a rough crowd.  I was (and still am) a big white guy with a mustache and shortish hair and tended to be dressed in the "business casual" style typical to reporters at parties or in bars where a shirt with a collar and pants without holes were considered formal wear. Reporters like to ask questions and when I was a rookie I worked so many hours it became my default conversational style to interview virtually everyone I met. As any good narc knows, this is not a good or safe combination around people who live outside the law and have a sincere antipathy toward the police.  I can recall several instances where being able to prove I was reporter and not an undercover police officer probably saved me a couple of serious beatings.
The police probably find it easier to gather information on potentially violent activists by posing as reporters than as activists. The average OPP officer may have trouble infiltrating a First Nations Warrior Society or Islamic radical group due to ethnic or language barriers - but the flip side is that the next time there is an Oka-style standoff or a violent demonstration by the Black Bloc anarchists or White Supremacists or radical chartered accountants demanding better standardization of depreciation rules on capital investments or whomever, the reporters who are there taking pictures and trying to interview people are going to be seen as potentially hostile cops instead of neutral observers.
By posing as members of the fifth estate, the police are pinning a target on real journalists and making it more difficult and more dangerous for reporters to do a job that is essential to a functioning free democracy.

Crossposted from the Woodshed


Oh Manitoba!

You are flat, freezing for much of the year, flat and freezing, but definitely not dull.

Naked photographs of a senior Manitoba judge engaged in bondage are part of a man's complaints to legal watchdogs about the judge's past and that of her husband, CBC News has learned.

I wonder how long before this turns up in a Law and Order plotline.

Hurricane Earl and Tropical Storm Fiona - 312230Z

The above video provides a graphic image of the size and power of Hurricane Earl. It comes in toward the end of the clip. About half way through you can see the edge of Hurricane Danielle making a recurve out toward the North Atlantic.

Earl is undergoing an eyewall replacement cycle which has a tendency to reduce the intensity somewhat. The cyclone is getting some significant wind shear although it is powerful enough that it may not be weakened as a result. All of the models show a weakening of the wind shear generating upper low as Earl moves by.

As forecast, Earl has begun to recurve to the northwest. It is currently tracking about 305 degrees true, advancing at roughly 12 knots. Wind speeds at the surface are estimated at 115 knots (213 kmh/132 mph). Hurricane watches have been issued for the US east coast from north of Surf City, North Carolina to the NC/Virginia border. Tropical Storm warnings have been issued for the Turks and Caicos Islands.

TS Fiona tracking just north of west at a phenomenal 21 knots (39 kmh/24 mph) is expected to start experiencing some fairly significant wind shear which will probably prevent it intensifying beyond a tropical storm. This cyclone is expected to turn northward and decelerate in the very near term. The influence of Earl will likely cause Fiona to dissipate sometime in the next 36 to 48 hours.

Below is a shot from the GOES13 project which captured the North Atlantic at a busy moment. To the north is Hurricane Danielle, Hurricane Earl to the south and further to the east is the rapidly approaching TS Fiona.

Click on any image to enlarge.

Beware the alliance which is exclusive

This may look like nothing more than conservative efficiency in action but it carries with it the great dangers which led to the 1914 - 1918 Great War.
... a Defence Ministry source told Reuters that Britain might cancel one or both of its planned new aircraft carriers to cut costs, though there were no plans to scale back the country's nuclear deterrent.

The proposal involving France would make it easier for Britain to scrap or downgrade one of the two replacement carriers under construction, the Times said.

The newspaper said the proposal would ensure that one of three ships -- one French and two British -- would always patrol the seas.

"Using each other's carriers would require decisions to be made at the strategic level so that national aims on any given operation would be the same," the naval source was quoted as saying.

That may sound eminently logical but it puts a great many things at risk. For one thing, it means that the foreign policy of both countries has to be identical. Aircraft carriers have only had one good war - the 2nd World War, and then we can divide that to two different roles. In the Pacific they were both the projection of tactical power and the defence of the fleet logistics train which ranged across the World's largest ocean. In the Atlantic they were, with exceptions, employed in an expanding defensive role.

Since then, they have been expensive and difficult to defend targets. They do well in an escalating diplomatic environment, but the survivability of such a large warship requiring so many layers of defence has been the subject of many debates. Even in the Falklands conflict the post-mortem of that action has raised a question which I have never heard answered properly: "Would it have been easier and more effective to take and defend an island airfield?"

But this really isn't about aircraft carriers. This is about forming one of those back door alliances which eventually result in a euchre.

We already know how a major collective alliance responds to an unexpected call to arms. When the United States was attacked, not by a nation state, but by a group of ideological whackjobs the US invoked a chapter 5 response from NATO. Every member of NATO nodded in the affirmative. Most then sat back and watched. An alliance structured to deal with a single threat, the Soviet Union, was not prepared to shift the focus to another and perhaps more ominous threat. If it wasn't T-72 tanks crossing the German plains then it made no sense - and it wasn't their problem.

Time wore on that alliance. It became clear that the machinations of the George W. Bush administration were not consistent with the intended purpose of the NATO alliance. Bush's insistence on the requirement to invade Iraq put NATO in a spot. Afghanistan - maybe; Iraq - not part of the program.

I think I can safely say that if any country other than the United States, especially when it was led by Cheney and Bush, had been similarly attacked, that country would have considered the attack an issue they would have had to deal with independently.

Britain never invoked the NATO response when dealing with the IRA.

The problem with strategic alliances, such as the British and French are considering is the deal. They make one, based on today's known threats and then it gets pulled into action for some reason altogether different from the original intention. Unless the British and French intend to pursue an identical foreign policy, they will have different strategic objectives. That's fine, but to commit each others' force projection platforms is little more than hiring expensive mercenaries.

Where's the morality?

There isn't any. It has the potential, based on historical proof, to draw a country into a war it did not want.

It was little back door alliances like the one apparently bubbling up between Britain and France which helped accelerate the rush into the Great War. It all started with saving money and moved to government led calls to patriotic nationalism. It was a militarism promoted by governments which could not afford it.

And there's no saying what will happen to second-rate powers like Canada in this. With a war junkie like Harper in charge it puts us in a position of thoughtless commitment of forces to an already lost effort. Keep in mind, Harper was more than a little adamant that Canada should have committed troops and resources to the Bush invasion of Iraq. He never once questioned Bush directly on why he was doing it. He simply sucked up the falsified information and went op-ed. It doesn't matter that he has subsequently suggested that his mindless intransigence would have been a mistake. We already know that, and if he'd been the prime minister of the day, we would have just now been withdrawing our surviving troops from the bloody occupation of a country which had attacked nobody and had threatened nobody with anything but empty words.

The results of war are unpredictable at best. Both sides are out to win - at all costs. Committing one's forces as a strategic resource to another nation's strategic objectives is dangerous - and as mindlessly stupid as the Triple Entente.

Monday, August 30, 2010

At the going down of the sun...

With condolences and respect to the family and friends of Corporal Brian Pinksen, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

This day succumbed to wounds received due to enemy action 22 August, 2010.

Better than the best

Hurricane Earl and Tropical Storm Fiona - 310001Z

Hurricane Earl intensified this afternoon and became a category 4 cyclone. In short, this system is big and powerful. It is tracking through minimal wind shear and very warm sea surface temperatures which will likely see it intensify even further over the next 48 hours. It is still tracking slightly north of west at about 13 knots (24 kmh/15 mph).

While the storm is still expected to recurve northward, its continued forward speed to the west has shifted the forecast track somewhat west. This brings the forecast even closer to the US eastern seaboard and should give Nova Scotia some moment of pause. While it is still far too early to forecast a landfall, most models have this cyclone reaching as far west as Maine or as far east as seaward of Nova Scotia as a possible category 2 hurricane.

Invest 97L was upgraded to a tropical storm and is now TS Fiona with rain bands starting to appear in wind fields of about 35 knots. Whether Fiona intensifies or not is difficult to say. It is tracking almost due west at 21 knots (39 kmh/24 mph) which means it is moving closer to Earl.

I know the immediate response to this is to expect that the two cyclones will merge to form an even bigger storm, however, that's not what happens. Earl is generating strong upper outflow winds which will create strong wind shear in Fiona's path. With that happening, and with Earl robbing Fiona of moist air, there is a fairly decent chance that Fiona will lose its energy and dissipate. If... it keeps moving at its current speed. If it slows down Fiona could become a whole different story.

Hurricane Earl. Brace yourselves.

Hurricane Earl is now a category 3 cyclone currently passing north of St. Maarten in the Caribbean and probably north of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico can expect some heavy rains and the islands to west of Earl's path can expect some hurricane force winds. Earl is currently tracking roughly west at 13 knots (24 kmh/15 mph).

Hurricane warning have been issued for Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, Monserrat, St. Kitts, St. Martn and St. Barthelemy, St. Maarten, Saba, St. Eustatius, the British Virgin Islands, the US Virgin Islands, Culebra, Vieques and Nevis. Puerto Rico is on a hurricane watch. Other areas are on tropical storm warnings or tropical storm watches.

Every indication is that Earl will intensify over the next 24 hours. There is next to no wind shear and ocean temperatures favour further development. Given the location of the cyclone it should begin to recurve toward the northwest by tomorrow as it moves around the subtropical ridge. It is then expected to curve northward then eventually northeast.

Within 96 hours Earl should encounter much higher wind shear and rapidly cooling sea surface temperatures which will reduce its intensity.

It is still too early to accurately forecast a landfall although the track forecast is for a greater than 20 percent chance that Earl will cross the shore on the US Eastern seaboard. If the system recurves around the subtropical high as expected it may remain to the east and to seaward as it passes up the US east coast.

There is a possibility that Earl could make landfall in the northern New England states or Nova Scotia. It's a bit of a long call at this point, but the track and intensity models suggest Earl might still be a category 2 hurricane and cross the Nova Scotia south shore. All of this depends entirely on the forecast development of a trough coming out of the US east coast.

Other things happening. Invest 97L, located in the mid-Tropical Atlantic is currently moving westward and is becoming better organized. All the conditions are there to suggest this will become a tropical depression by later today. The NHC is giving this system a 90 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours. (If that happens it will be named Fiona)

Where does a good Christian mercenary go?

Especially when your own government is breathing down your neck?

Why, Abu Dhabi of course.
Blackwater private security firm founder Erik Prince was questioned on Monday in Abu Dhabi in connection with a fraud lawsuit filed by former employees that seeks millions of dollars in damages.

"Mr Prince did appear for his deposition" or questioning under oath, Susan Burke, the lawyer who questioned him, told AFP.

Burke represents two former Blackwater employees who filed the lawsuit in a US district court in Virginia, alleging that Prince and companies he controlled defrauded the US government.

"We had to go to court to compel the deposition," Burke said.

Court documents show that Prince was ordered to appear for the deposition in the United Arab Emirates after it emerged that he planned to move to the Gulf country.

Burke said it was too early to say exactly how much money the lawsuit is seeking. "My analysis is that by the time we reach the jury, we will be seeking hundreds of millions of dollars."

So, what is it that Prince is alleged to have done which will likely cost him a small fraction of the fortune he accumulated peddling war?

Prince and the companies allegedly inflated expenses, faked records of how many staff they employed and billed the government for "worthless services" in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina which hit Gulf of Mexico states in 2005.

Brad Davis also said in a statement that he "personally observed three incidents (in Iraq) in which Blackwater personnel intentionally used excessive and unjustified force... to kill or seriously injure Iraqi civilians," and also witnessed possible weapons smuggling, court records show.

Melan Davis alleged that Blackwater billed the US government for strippers in Louisiana and for travel expenses and monthly salary for a prostitute in Afghanistan, according to court records.

So, why would George Bush's good buddie, someone who donated tons of money to Focus on The Family, the Family Research Council, The Alliance Defense Fund and the Republican Party, suddenly decide to take up residence in a Gulf Emirate?

Good question. For the answer one might want to ask Victor Bout, the global arms dealer who has acquired the moniker "Merchant of Death". No less than Prince managed to weave himself into the Bush administration, Bout is alleged to have operated a one-stop illegal arms shop while being sheltered by his old Soviet friends in the Russian government. And, like Prince, Bout used to hang out in Abu Dhabi.

Coincidence, I know.

The question now is whether Prince, (who's corporate executives have already been indicted), will find it convenient to return to the U.S. to face a legal challenge. But even more interesting will be to see if Victor Bout, who has just been extradited to the U.S., will actually make it to U.S. soil without his pals in Moscow arranging a convenient but fatal accident.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Speaking of open and transparent competitions ...

Welcome to Merx, darlings, the Canadian Public Tendering site used by all levels of government to solicit proposals for business opportunities. The following SOIQ (Solicitation of Interest and Qualification) for the Close Combat Vehicle Project was posted on Thursday, August 26:

Close Combat Vehicle Project

Trade Agreement: Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT)
Tendering Procedures: All interested suppliers may submit a bid
Attachment: None
Competitive Procurement Strategy: Best Overall Proposal
Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement: No
Nature of Requirements: W6508-10CC01/E

Close Combat VEHICLE Project

This solicitation cancels and supersedes previous solicitation number W6508-10CC01/D dated April 26, 2010 with a closing of June 25, 2010 at 14h00.

Due to an urgent requirement this solicitation W6508-10CC01/E is being posted for 15 days only.

Respondents wishing to receive the IBM Rational DOORS CD package, as outlined in this solicitation, should make their request as soon as possible to the Contracting Authority.

Interested respondents should review this solicitation in its entirety prior to responding.

The Department of National Defence (DND) has a requirement for the provision of 108 Close Combat Vehicles (CCV) in various configurations, with an option to procure up to thirty (30) additional vehicles.

The initial series of deliveries and logistics requirements will be specified in detail in the RFP. The option to procure an additional quantity of up to thirty (30) CCV may be exercised at the sole discretion of Canada within four (4) years after contract award. Further, the contractor will be required to provide long-term In-Service Support (ISS) services for approximately twenty-five (25) years to commence after the interim support period.

The CCV must be an integrated, supportable, existing or upgraded version of a Military Off-the-Shelf (MOTS) BASE VEHICLE and MOTS TURRET, each of which is in production for and/or in service with another military recognized by DND as of the closing date of this Solicitation of Interest and Qualification (SOIQ).

Procurement Approach
The procurement approach for the Close Combat Vehicle is in two discrete phases. The first phase, referred to as the Solicitation of Interest and Qualification (SOIQ), will be the pre-qualification of potential bidders. Those Respondents who qualify will be registered on a CCV Pre-Qualified Bidders List. The second phase, referred to as the Request for Proposal (RFP), will invite those firms who are registered on the CCV Pre-Qualified Bidders List to submit a proposal.

This SOIQ is subject to the provisions of the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT).

No further Notices of Proposed Procurement (NPP) will be issued on GETS/MERX after this SOIQ.

The Contracting Authority for this SOIQ is:
Public Works and Government Services Canada
Defence and Major Projects Sector
Close Combat Vehicle Project
Attention: Mrs. Kristen Ward
Telephone: 819 994-4758
E-mail: kristen.ward@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca
Delivery Date: Above-mentioned

The Crown retains the right to negotiate with suppliers on any procurement.

Documents may be submitted in either official language of Canada.

Ward(CCV Div.), Kristen
105 Hotel de Ville, 3rd Floor
K1A 0S5
(819) 994-4758 ( )

As someone who’s worked in the oh-so crazy business of writing proposals for 10 years this is highly unusual. Standard practice for a bid of this size calls for a closing date of a minimum of 40 days out, as required by NAFTA and WTO-AGP agreements. In fact, the original SOIQ (which this one cancels and supersedes, leading one to believe the government did not a) get what they were looking for or b) the price they wanted) was posted on April 26, 2010 and closed on June 25, 2010 – 60 days later.

But if you look at the abstract, you’ll see that the only agreement type cited is the Agreement on Internal Trade which is an intergovernmental agreement first signed by provincial premiers in 1995. Essentially this allows for the free movement of goods and services between provinces.

In other words, AIT is solely an interprovincial trade agreement. Which begs the question, exactly how many provinces currently boast the industrial capability of building and supporting this kind of combat vehicle?

Well, I’m glad you asked, boys and girls because the answer would be exactly zero. In fact, talk around Ottawa has the top 2 contenders for the CCV as Nexter Systems’ VBCI -- Nexter is an armoured vehicle firm in France – and some version of the CV90 family of combat vehicles manufactured by BAE Systems Land and Armaments, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia and with locations throughout the US, Germany, Sweden and South Africa. Oddly enough, I see no Canadian locations there.

Quite bluntly, this stinks. And this girl has some digging to do so stay tuned ...

Robots are coming . . .

MARSHALL BRAIN IS AN ENTHUSIASTIC TECHIE who is the founder of How Stuff Works which has grown to be one of the top Web sites for that kind of knowledge. Well, Marshall has a page on his site called Robot Nation, and you should read it and ponder, especially if you have children, and care about their future. There is a companion page, Robot Nation FAQ, which also is worthy of perusal.

I firmly believe that the rapid evolution of computer technology (as described in Robotic Nation) will bring us smart robots starting in a 2030 time frame. These robots will take over approximately 50% of the jobs in the U.S. economy over the course of just a decade or two. Something on the order of 50 million people will be unemployed. 

Why should YOU care? Well, a 10 year-old can reasonably expect to live to 2080, and his/her children could live to around 2120, and Marshall expects robotics to be rockin' by 2050. Will North America have "socialist" systems for the life-time unemployed, or will they be left to starve, or be rounded up for "disposal"? Will there be a Luddite revolt? Makes the fixation of U.S. business on continuous quarterly growth irrelevant, dangerously so, considering the damage that mind-set has already caused.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Glenn Beck loses to the backyard Barbeque

Of course the right-wingers will make up their own numbers.

The truth is, Beck didn't even fill the mall.


(H/T Jymn)

Remember Fort Chipewyan From your high school history?

Here it is now.

Welcome to Stephen Harper's world.

Casualty rates are an inconvenience on the way to his majority.

Martin Luther King and Sarah Palin

I read this just now.

Sarah Palin says the way to honor Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy is to honor those men and women in the military who protect the United States. The potential 2012 presidential candidate says those who fought at Bunker Hill and Gettysburg protected the freedoms that allowed thousands of people gather on the National Mall in Washington on the 47th anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech. While broadcaster Glenn Beck's rally isn't billed as a political event, Palin says voters must reject calls to "fundamentally transform America." Instead, she says "we must restore America."Palin, whose son served in Iraq, says the country is at a perilous moment.

And thought it prudent to correct Ms. Palin on her distortion. MLK called for a massive social transformation, universal peace, truth and justice, and was vehemently opposed to war, especially the sort Palin's warped political kin like to fight.

For 2000 years, from the time some crazy dude legend has was nailed to a tree, to MLK and the present day, the toxic right has co-opted and poisoned the various wellsprings of peace and justice with lies and violence.

It doesn't need to be said that Palin's "restoration" would seek a return the America that squeezed the trigger on MLK.

Harper's corporate welfare state

AbitibiBowater is a Montreal-based, Canadian company.... right? That would make initiating an action against the Canadian government under a NAFTA Chapter 11 complaint somewhat difficult you might think.

You'd be wrong. Further, you'll be shocked to find out that the Harper government didn't even start to fight AbitibiBowater. It simply handed over $130 million in an off-the-table agreement to a Canadian company and opened the doors to any other company that wants to rip off the Canadian taxpayer.

Welcome to Harper's northern welfare state. The corporate hogs are arriving at the Harper neo-con trough. And you aren't invited.

Hurricane Danielle, Tropical Storm Earl and Invest 97L

This is the first big hurricane of the Atlantic tropical storm season. Danielle was a category 4 hurricane making a classic run across the Atlantic. It went through an eyewall replacement which has weakened it to a category 2 cyclone. (Click on any image to enlarge)

Intensity forecasts suggest this cyclone will probably not intensify, however it will likely become a very powerful extra-tropical cyclone wreaking havoc on the Atlantic shipping lanes. At present Danielle poses no immediate threat to populated areas and is forecast to pass east of Bermuda. This could give Bermuda tropical storm force winds. Cape Race, Newfoundland will be one of the closest points of approach of this storm although, if the upper level troughs which are steering it continue to provide influence there is little likelihood that the Maritime provinces will feel much effect. The problem is that as Danielle approaches 50 degrees North, it will have a lot of energy left in it.

Tropical Storm Earl may be a different story. This cyclone is tracking west at about 16 knots (30 kmh/18 mph) influenced by a subtropical ridge. The forecast models all suggest that this system will intensify to become a hurricane and then a major hurricane. It is expected to make a turn to the west-northwest in the next 48 hours, however the track guidance from a number of models diverges considerably. The northern Leeward Islands need to keep an eye on this one.

Invest 97L is an active tropical wave off the west coast of Africa that has all the environmental factors lined up to give it a chance to become a tropical depression.

Saturday Morning Cartoons.

Good morning darlings -- is it just me or does anyone else find a glaring resemblance between Yosemite Sam and Big Daddy? I don’t think it’s just me.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mackay on sucking

Mackay just keeps on giving.
Defence Minster Peter MacKay is accusing Michael Ignatieff of hypocrisy when making promises on how Liberals would hand out defence contracts if they were in power.

He suggests the Liberals have both attacked and, apparently, supported sole-sourced military procurement contracts in the last few weeks. “It’s classic sucking and blowing at the same time,” the Defence Minister contends.

Whoa there, Petey!

Ignatieff is just saying what you did a few months back. That there will be work for all shipyards in the country.

So how does a sole-source fighter contract get in there? We don't build fighter jets in North Vancouver and we don't build a fleet of ships in a single shipyard.

On the other hand, while we're on the subject of politicians sucking and blowing, how do you explain this?

I just want to be very clear on the record that the reference to the next generation of fighter aircraft does not preclude a competition, and an open and transparent one.

In parliament the best they could do is accuse you of messing with "truthiness". However, in every gunroom I've ever been in (yesterday) you would be called a lying sack of shit.

Who sucks now, Mackay?

Dear Citizen....

Fuck you!

John Baird
Consummate Harper Fellatist

What Baird is telling you, reader, is that if you exercised your right to know how government works by asking your MP a question and that MP demanded that publicly funded information (read, your tax dollars) to give you a comprehensive answer, he would tell you, personally to get stuffed because he and his band of hillbillies are the underdogs.

Thanks John. Nice to know what you think of your employers.

And that's a little problem we have, Steve.

I almost missed this. Thankfully I came back into cyber-range and caught this.

So... little Stevie apparently flaunts the rules, breaks a few regulations and goes out to play on a tundra-based airstrip.

Nope. Staged event. His handlers orchestrated this for the dumb and stupid. Security risk? Zero. Media response to stunt? Huge.

Do it.

Then the the chain breaks.
The rogue PM eventually returned to the aircraft where he was surrounded by reporters and photographers, one of whom wondered whether he had a licence to operate the vehicle — especially on restricted space such as an air strip?

I think I make the rules,” the PM quipped.

That's the problem. He thinks he makes the rules. Except that he knows he doesn't. And when he is faced with the outfit which actually does make the rules, he has it shut down and then runs and hides.

The little prick is a phony.

Stay where you are . . .

NPR has a review of Catherine Price's oeuvre, "101 Places Not To Visit Before You Die" that is worthy of perusal.

The Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and the pyramids in Egypt are all likely candidates for a traveler's Must-See-Before-I-Die list. The Seattle Gum Wall, the Beijing Museum of Tap Water and the Montana "Testicle Festival"? Not so much.

The Seattle Gum Wall? — Ewww! Then there's the Karostas Cietums Prison Hotel, Liepaja, Latvia. That's right, a prison hotel. Maybe they could host the next G-8 there.

Wanna do a pole trick ? ? ? ?

This article from the local paper in our former homeland is too good to pass up. Here in it's entirety because as "drf" says, there's too many good lines to single out just a few*:

Bikini-clad strippers protest church in rural Ohio
August 27, 2010

Associated Press Writer

Strippers dressed in bikinis sunbathe in lawn chairs, their backs turned toward the gray clapboard church where men in ties and women in full-length skirts flock to Sunday morning services.

The strippers, fueled by Cheetos and nicotine, are protesting a fundamentalist Christian church whose Bible-brandishing congregants have picketed the club where they work.

The dancers roll up with signs carrying messages adapted from Scripture, such as "Do unto others as you would have done unto you," to counter church members who for four years have photographed license plates of patrons and asked them if their mothers and wives know their whereabouts.

The dueling demonstrations play out in central Ohio, where nine miles of cornfields and Amish-buggy crossing signs separate The Fox Hole strip club from New Beginnings Ministries.

Club owner Tommy George met with the preacher and offered to call off his not-quite-nude crew from their three-month-long protest if the church responds in kind. But pastor Bill Dunfee believes that a higher power has tasked him with shutting down the strip club.

"As a Christian community, we cannot share territory with the devil," Dunfee said. "Light and darkness cannot exist together, so The Fox Hole has got to go."

New Beginnings is one of four churches in this one-traffic-light village of 900 people, 60 miles outside Columbus. There's one gas station and a sit-down restaurant that serves country staples like mashed potatoes with gravy and Salisbury steak.

On Sunday, four of The Fox Hole's seven strippers and more than a dozen supporters garnered both scorn and compassion from churchgoers — and quite a few honks from pickup trucks and other passing vehicles.

One woman offered her skills as a hair dresser to the dancers: "If you or your kids ever need a haircut, give me a holler." Another woman from the church waited on the protesters with plates of noodles and chocolate cake.

Laura Meske — known as Lola, stage age 36 but really 42 — hid behind a sign proclaiming, "Jesus loves the children of the world!" as the preacher extended his hand for a shake.

Two nights earlier, Dunfee and more than a dozen churchgoers stood outside the club, one of them calling out Meske's stripper name.

"He who casts the first stone ... ," Meske said Sunday.

The pastor cut her off and repeated, "Lola, Lord bless you."

"Everybody has sinned, and that doesn't mean I'm not gonna get into heaven," she said, the stud piercing in her chin shimmering in the sunlight. "I believe in Jesus. I don't believe what they preach. They preach hate."

Debi Durr, who attends the church, disagreed. "You don't stand up there for four years for hate. That's not hate. That's love," she said. Durr left Meske with a copy of Jeremiah 3:13 — a Bible passage that urges sinners to acknowledge their guilt.

Inside the church, voices from the 121 congregants seemed to float to the cedar rafters as they sang lyrics projected on a screen. Outside, a man strummed a guitar and sang, "God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes."

Dunfee has offered to help the strippers pay for food, rent, utilities and gas if they leave The Fox Hole. But many of the women say their jobs are only a stopover on the way to work in cosmetology or the medical field — a meal ticket that shelters them from another stigma: welfare.

"No little girl is growing up like, `I wanna do a pole trick,'" said Anny Donewald, a former stripper who lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., and ministers to dancers, prostitutes and porn stars.

She and other Christian groups that work with women in the adult entertainment industry have criticized Dunfee's methods of ministry as a means of putting the strippers on the defensive instead of showing support.

"I never saw Jesus with a picket sign," Donewald said.

Community advocacy groups, including Citizens for Community Values in Cincinnati, support Dunfee's protests. But the group's president, Phil Burress, said the strip club has a right to be there.

"It's a legal business whether he likes it or I like it or not," Burress said.

The club operates in a white plywood box of a building. Beer cans and a dollar bill peaked out from the grass like Easter eggs last Sunday.

The Fox Hole encourages customers to check out its $30 private dance special, promoting it on the kind of sign convenience stores use to advertise cheap milk and cigarettes. Out back, letters on a bulletin board have faded away so that "No touching" now reads "ouch."

It's here where dancers strip down to panties and pasties for cash. Meske — a tattooed mother of four — said she made $30 instead of a couple hundred dollars last Friday with the protesters outside.

"I'm not the most beautiful woman in the world," she said. "I go out there and I try to make my money."

A few houses and a ribs joint called Peggy Sue's separate the club from another white building, a church where some of the strippers donate blood during drives for the American Red Cross.

"I got a church 900 feet down the street that causes me no problems," club owner George said. "And I got this moron nine miles down the street that causes me more headaches."

Rae Anderson, who heads New Castle Ministries with her husband, says her church believes Dunfee is doing what the Lord called him to do, but her parish takes a different approach.

"You can share the truth, but you can't make anyone believe what you believe."

Life in the Excited States.

Rather nice looking at it from up here north of the 49th . . . .

* Although, this one did give me particular chuckles: But many of the women say their jobs are only a stopover on the way to work in cosmetology


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Perspective . . .

THE WEEKLY STANDARD has a delightful article by P.J. O'Rourke, "The 72-Hour Expert Everything you always wanted to know about Afghanistan". P.J. acerbically observes

In Kabul I was met at the airport by M. Amin Mudaqiq, bureau chief for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Afghan branch, Radio Azadi. “Our office is just down the main road,” he said, “but since it’s early in the morning we’ll take the back way, because of the Suicides.” That last word, I noticed, was pronounced as a proper noun, the way we would say “Beatles” slightly differently than “beetles.” And, in a sense, suicide bombers do aspire to be the rock stars of the Afghan insurgency (average career span being about the same in both professions).

“The Suicides usually attack early in the morning,” Amin said. “It’s a hot country and the explosive vests are thick and heavy.”

I’d never thought about suicide bombing in terms of comfort. Here’s some guy who’s decided to blow himself gloriously to bits and he’s pounding the pavement all dressed up in the blazing sun, sweat running down his face, thinking, “Gosh this thing itches, I’m pooped, let’s call it off.”

“It’s the same with car bombs,” Amin said. “You don’t want to be driving around the whole day with police everywhere and maybe get a ticket.”

Imagine the indignity of winding up in traffic court instead of the terrorist equivalent of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

• • •

The Pashtun tribal leader was joined by a Turkmen tribal leader who has a Ph.D. in sociology. I asked the Turkmen tribal leader about the socioeconomic, class, and status aspects of Afghan tribalism.

“No tribe is resented for wealth,” he said. So, right off the bat, Afghans show greater tribal sophistication than Americans. There is no Wall Street Tribe upon which the Afghan government can blame everything.

Even the worst of Afghan governments never acquired the special knack of pitting tribe against tribe that is vital to American politics—the Squishy Liberal Tribe vs. the Kick-Butt Tribe; the Indignantly Entitled Tribe vs. the Fed-Up Taxpayer Tribe; the Smug Tribe vs. the Wipe-That-Smirk-Off-Your-Face Tribe.

• • •

There was one other point that people in Kabul agreed on. Whatever it is that America does in Afghanistan, America should proceed with wisdom. The governor told a story about wisdom.

There was a student who had been studying for many years at a madrassa. He had memorized the Koran and learned all the lessons his teacher taught. One day he went to his teacher and said, “I am ready to leave and go be a mullah.”

His teacher said, “I think you should stay here for a few more years.”

“Why?” asked the student. “Is there some additional degree or higher certificate that I will get?”

“No,” said the teacher, “all you will get is wisdom.”

“But I’m ready to be a mullah now,” said the student. And he left the madrassa and wandered from village to village looking for a mosque where he could be the prayer-leader.

Finally the student came to a village where a corrupt old mullah was using the mosque as a stall for his cow. The student was outraged. He gathered the villagers together and told them, “I have studied at a madrassa. I have memorized the Koran. It is a great sacrilege for your mullah to use the mosque as a stall for his cow.”

The villagers beat him up.

The student limped back to the madrassa and told his teacher what had happened. The teacher said, “Follow me.” They went back to the village where the mullah was using the mosque as a stall.

The teacher gathered the villagers together and told them, “I see you have a beautiful cow being kept in your mosque. It must be a very blessed animal. And I hear the cow belongs to your mullah. He must be a very holy man. In fact, I think that this cow is so blessed and your mullah is so holy that if you were to take one hair from the cow’s hide and one hair from the mullah’s beard and rub them together, you would be assured of paradise.”

The villagers ran into the mosque and began plucking hairs from the cow’s hide. The cow started to buck and kick and it bolted from the mosque and disappeared. Then the villagers ran to the mullah’s house and began plucking hairs from the corrupt old mullah’s beard. And they tugged and they yanked so hard at the mullah’s beard that he had a heart attack and died.

“You see,” said the teacher to the student, “no cow in the mosque and a need for a new mullah—that is wisdom.”

Wisdom, indeed.

Bison bits

CBC in Camrose:

An attempt to round up a number of bison roaming near a small city southeast of Edmonton failed Tuesday when the herd panicked and broke through a barbed wire fence. "We actually had them in a corralled area, but unfortunately there was a bit of a weakness in the corral system," said police Insp. Lee Foreman. "Once they got into that compound they panicked and went through the fence and escaped."

Foreman said the last report they had was that 14 of the estimated 40 bison were near a biathlon trail in the city's river valley and had started to make their way back toward the city. "We've got some people on quads that are working with us and we're trying to confirm where they are right now in an effort to contain them," he said, adding that the priority is to keep them outside of the populated area.

Aside from the irony of people worried about free-roaming bison in a place that used to be inhabited by millions of them, the Camrose RCMP might want to call their colleagues up in Fort Providence NWT to find out how they deal - or don't deal - with free roaming town bison (see inset photo):

Bison routinely come into the town to graze in people's yards..or wherever they want to. The residents have gotten so used to it...it's no big deal.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Epic of Airshow continues

NaPo via Jymn:

Canada's Defence Minister has lashed out at a new video game that allows players to take on the role of Taliban fighters and kill U.S. troops.
In other news, real military members lash out at a real politician pretending to be one.

You really can't make this stuff up.

Mega Gridlock

NPR has a report on a humongous traffic jam in China. It defies belief:

Bumper-to-bumper gridlock spanning for 60 miles (100 kilometers) with vehicles moving little more than a half-mile (one kilometer) a day at one point has improved since this weekend, said Zhang Minghai, director of Zhangjiakou city's Traffic Management Bureau general office.

Some drivers have been stuck in the jam for five days, China Central Television reported Tuesday. But Zhang said he wasn't sure when the situation along the Beijing-Zhangjiakou highway would return to normal.

Five days in gridlock? Dave Dudley would not be impressed.

Monday, August 23, 2010

And now ... a message from Steve

From Pale at A Creative Revolution and featuring the smooth but fuzzy blue sweater vocalizations of our own Reverend Paperboy.

Scary people . . .

THE NEW YORKER has a frightening article by Jane Mayer, "Covert Operations". It's about the machinations of the Koch brothers, a nasty pair of troglodytes. According to Jane,

Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular.

With his brother Charles, who is seventy-four, David Koch owns virtually all of Koch Industries, a conglomerate, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, whose annual revenues are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars. The company has grown spectacularly since their father, Fred, died, in 1967, and the brothers took charge. The Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill, and its consistent profitability has made David and Charles Koch—who, years ago, bought out two other brothers—among the richest men in America. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation.

• • •

In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.

The Kochtopus? Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Strange fruit . . .

The lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, a large gathering of lynchers. August 7, 1930, Marion, Indiana.

THE TEA PARTY AND THE AMERICAN RIGHT have a scary mindset about Obama, and it brings to mind the halcyon days of yore. According to THE LYNCHING CALENDAR,

From 1865 to 1965 more than 6,000 African-Americans died in racial violence in the United States. This inventory includes the names of 2,400 of the African-Americans who were lynched in the United States from 1865 to 1965.

The inventory is necessarily incomplete. Records are scant. Newspaper reports are scattered. The Tuskegee Institute Lynching Inventory began in 1882 -- just before the great surge of lynchings that occurred around the turn of the century -- a surge that accompanied the American conquest of the Philippines, defeating the colored fighters of the Philippine War of Independence, called by Anglo-American historians “The Philippine Insurrection.”

Misanthropic happy-smashing

Veterans, off-white refugee migrants who don't arrive through airports, Canadians in foreign dungeons, poor people, people living in non-Conservative ridings, civil servants doing their job have all fallen afoul of the Conservative government and the rabid gharial-brained instincts of their base.

Most us stand in disgusted awe at the Conservative-wrought carnage. Liberals, Dippers, Greens, Bloc: whatever their policy outcomes might be in practice, they absolutely do not follow a philosophy rooted in misanthropy and at least make an attempt at providing for a functional if not a fairer society.

It's really easy to apply simple terms like racism, or pathological narcissitic capitalist disorder or others to describe the actions the Harper government but these are more descriptive of the symptoms than the cause. While the three broad characteristics of Altemeyer's psychological authoritarian -
1) a high degree of submission to the established, legitimate authorities in
their society;
2) high levels of aggression in the name of their authorities; and
3) a high level of conventionalism.
- resonate with the Harper Conservatives, there's something else at work here. The Harperites do not, to me at least, display a high degree of submission to the "established, legitimate authorities". There idea of conventionalism revolves only around them. They don't want everyone to adopt their way of being, they quite literally want elimate all those that don't. They display these traits, but in self-reference, as in they are the only legitimate authority. Broadly established laws and norms of behaviour are subscribed to only when it suits their purpose, and discarded, subverted or ignored when it does not. Too often these actions are done in pursuit of an ideology that doesn't seem to subscribe to anything we might traditionally recognise from Conservatives. Yes, they want to build prisons and increase defence spending, cut back social services and such, but in the Harperites their is an element of cruelty not present in other regimes. Established rights of protest are quashed with openly secret police powers. I hate to say it, but in some ways they even make the Bush-Cheney regime look orthodox. At least in that case everything that bunch did was clear and had a certain logic to it. The USA PATRIOT Act was legislated through conventional means, presidential executive orders were legitimate means under the US system of bypassing certain restraints, and they did not try to suspend Congress or anything like that when things didn't go their way. Yes they lied about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and all that, but they did so through existing structures for what many argue were neoconservative global strategic outcomes, blinkered as they were.

No, what we have here in this country is a different creature. While the US neocons are their closest political cousins, our Canadian subspecies introduces a particular lumpen cruelty I might venture to describe as a pathological misanthropy. Our Harperkin display little more than constant vitriolic and vengeful anger at what amounts to anyone either in need of help or willing to help others need, or displaying any sort of concern for the common weal. Happy people. Kind people. Generous people. Fair-minded people. Suffering people. I wonder if the image of a happy person triggers a rage response in some. There is no structure with our crowd, only an encephalitic lizard-brain reaction to, well, basic socialisation with their fellow humans.

Sure, they are happy to champion happy causes like the welfare of Afghan women and children and Canadian soldiers when it suits their needs. But as soon people in akin to the former appear on boats closre to home, they call for their torpedo-massacre. Canadian soldiers are only worthy when they are fit and able. As soon as they are wounded, they are cast aside and dechampioned like ill Spartans. It's a sick and twisted mind that advocates the mass slaughter of desperate people, or to label an Act intended to kerb support for veterans a "Veterans Charter". Or permit the torture of Canadians - or anyone else for that matter.

Maybe this malice grows from a self-loathing over a failure to meet or live in a society that does not conform to some Galt-like standard of rugged super-individualism. Or maybe it's just genetic sociopathy. I'm not sure there's a difference or whether it matters.

I mean look at the Prime Minister, cadaverous, two dimensional, monotone. Isolated. Vindictive. Punitive. Surviving. We wonder why on Earth anyone would find that appealing. His supporters clearly don't.

Whatever the case, whatever Conservativism once looked like in this country, it's been consumed from the cerebelum by an alien parasite. The spite-driven anti-structure fit of happy-smashing will continue until there is nothing left to destroy.

They are not authoritarian in the classic sense, they simply hate everything.