Friday, November 30, 2012

The World Stage

Canada's response to most of the world voting for the Palenstians and not clapping when ol' JB climbed into the pulpit to preach?

Hissy fit.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Guns and college

Much head-scratching going on in certain quarters down south over this one, I'm sure.

via LGM.
Since the University of Colorado's Boulder and Colorado Springs campuses began segregating dorms for students with valid concealed-carry permits this year, not a single student has asked to live where guns are allowed.
On Aug. 16, CU announced that both campuses would establish a residential area for students over age 21 with a permit to hold a concealed handgun. In all other dormitories, guns are banned.

Read more: No students move following CU dorm segregation for gun owners - The Denver Post|met:0000300|cat:0|order:23&%2F%3Fsource=dailyme#ixzz2DNxPO5kk
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content:
Since the University of Colorado's Boulder and Colorado Springs campuses began segregating dorms for students with valid concealed-carry permits this year, not a single student has asked to live where guns are allowed.
On Aug. 16, CU announced that both campuses would establish a residential area for students over age 21 with a permit to hold a concealed handgun. In all other dormitories, guns are banned.
"So far, no one has moved," CU spokesman Ken McConnellogue said.

Read more: No students move following CU dorm segregation for gun owners - The Denver Post|met:0000300|cat:0|order:23&%2F%3Fsource=dailyme#ixzz2DNxDG8XI
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content:

Read more: No students move following CU dorm segregation for gun owners - The Denver Post|met:0000300|cat:0|order:23&%2F%3Fsource=dailyme#ixzz2DNxDG8XI
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content:

Since the University of Colorado's Boulder and Colorado Springs campuses began segregating dorms for students with valid concealed-carry permits this year, not a single student has asked to live where guns are allowed.
On Aug. 16, CU announced that both campuses would establish a residential area for students over age 21 with a permit to hold a concealed handgun. In all other dormitories, guns are banned.
"So far, no one has moved," CU spokesman Ken McConnellogue said.

Read more: No students move following CU dorm segregation for gun owners - The Denver Post|met:0000300|cat:0|order:23&%2F%3Fsource=dailyme#ixzz2DNxDG8XI
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content:

Ford fall, Blatchford does not like

As we might expect with today's news from Toronto, the media pundits are starting rejoice or lament.

Christie Blatchford is a lamentator:

So, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been given the boot from office because an opportunistic citizen hired a smart and politically savvy lawyer who found a club of an arcane statute with which to tie the hands of a judge who was willing to play ball.
I didn't know you could tie hands with clubs, but somehow this painfully bound and bludgeoned metaphor seems to fit with the overall nature of Ms. Blatchford's reasoning. I mean its pretty clear she's upset. Ford, after all is, or was, a man of the people who like all men of the people, benevolently and selflessless wills the use [public] funds and assets to help the people, no matter how small or large the amount and all the more noble if directed at his personal hobbies causes.

Later, her metaphors improve a little in the sense that the image of a bound and ball-gagged Ford being beaten by men in judge and lawyer's robes she placed in my head is replaced by the thankfully much less disturbing image of a cartoon blunderbuss splattering a small insect. But her argument remains the same, namely that citizens, advocates, and judges really should not have the right to apply the laws of the land to test ranking politicians (the ones she likes at least) who appear to have broken them.

Thus did the judge join Paul Magder (the citizen who complained) and Clay Ruby (Mr. Magder’s lawyer) in using an elephant gun of a statute on a flea of a misdemeanor.
In the post-Charter of Rights and Freedoms world that is the modern Canada, citizens have grown accustomed to taking their laws as much from the courts — the Supreme Court and Superior Courts all across the country — as they do from the Parliament. Indeed, it is often celebrated when the courts overturn laws made by the federal government, especially the Stephen Harper government.
On Oct. 25, 2010, 383,501 Torontonians voted for Rob Ford, 93,669 more than voted for the runner up, George Smitherman, and just 1,813 fewer than all of those who voted for third-place finisher Joe Pantalone.
Not a one of them voted for Mr. Magder, Mr. Ruby or Judge Hackland.
All legal challenges, in my read of Blatchford's point, should be put to either popular vote or to the Stephen Harper Parliament of Canada. Not a present-day vote mind you, but in the sense that margins of the immediate past election victory should retroactively absolve present-day Fords of any wrongdoing when they engage in questionable ethical or legal practices. We all know how the SHPoC works. The courts should be done away with too as a matter of principle, but especially when they dare uphold the laws crafted by parliament and other duly recognised legislative bodies, and even more so when they dare apply those laws to the lawmakers themselves.

Ah, her use of the term "post-Charter" is starting to make sense.

Blatchford, Ford? Where do we find these people?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The spark . . .

FABIUS MAXIMUS has a thoughtful site, worthy of your perusal. "Attention Americans: the Revolution has begun. You must choose a side." is a post that discusses how important WikiLeaks has been to the resistance to America's fascists.

The first sparks of Revolution are invisible to the Proles and considered insignificant by the Outer Party. Only the fierce reaction by the government reveals their importance. The combination of power and ambition gives senior government officials a clarity of vision we lack. Watch these sparks. The opportunity to take sides might not last long, before they get snuffed out. 
• • •
You might sneer and laugh at Wikileaks and Anonymous as quixotic — foolish and vain efforts. But the government knows better, and devotes great effort to stamp out these sparks. Without wider support our ruling elites will successfully suppress these movements. With our support these can mature into powerful engines of reform.

Fabius also has another post you should check out: "On Counterinsurgency: How We Got to Where We Are", which looks at the history of repression and suppression.

The greatness of a nation depends as much on its ability to learn as much as its power. Failure to learn can prove fatal. As with German’s refusal to learn from its defeat in WWI, substituting resentment for wisdom. As with America’s refusal to learn from its defeat in Vietnam, and belief that the doctrines of counterinsurgency could win if tried again. This required ignoring clear analysis showing the folly of this, explaining the inherent flaws of foreign armies fighting entrenched local insurgencies.

Hanging Insurgents at Cavite,
from the Philippines War circa 1900
As the first phase (Iraq, Af-Pak) winds down of our 21st century mad foreign wars — and the second phase expands — we can still learn and turn from this path. So today we look at one such analysis, by Martin van Creveld — one of the West’s greatest living military historians.

The most astonishing aspect of this paper is that after 60 years of failed counterinsurgencies by foreign armies, ten years into our second wave of failed counterinsurgency, it lists simple facts that remain unknown to so many Americans — including a large fraction of our geopolitical gurus.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Good things still happen to Canada

West End Bob, one the Ink-stained Wretches here at the Beaver and other places in the interwebs just officially became Canadian.

I mean it isn't like we didn't already think of him as one, but it is definitely nice to make it official!

Congratulations Bob!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Get angry . . .

KUDOS TO THE SIXTH ESTATE, for going to all the cerebral effort to post "Inside Elections Canada’s Whitewash Report on Election Fraud: Armwaving, Cynicism, Red Herrings". If you missed it, you must read it — and get very, very angry.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Stay tuned . . .

THE MARS SCIENCE LABORATORY believes it has discovered something "earthshaking". Exactly what that something is, they're not saying right now. Check out Nancy Atkinson's account on io9, "Scientists claim to have discovered something “earthshaking” on Mars".

In an interview on NPR today, MSL Principal Investigator John Grotzinger said a recent soil sample test in the SAM instrument (Sample Analysis at Mars) shows something "earthshaking."

Apparently, after an initial discovery of methane was found to be Earth atmosphere that had been trapped within the rover, the scientists are being extra cautious. Religious fundamentalists are probably going to freak out, which is good.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sacred words


Culture is a system of values, beliefs, norms, and narratives. Held in the minds of people it is the glue of shared identity and description. Never quite static and changing slowly over time, it forms the unique corpus of a society. Like a body it can be infected with pathogens. Some are cured, some merely go into remission.

The Holocaust, passed on as the product of different cultural pathogen, re-emerges like a cancer. There are not enough tears in all of history to lament the tragedy that is the Nazi victory.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Gaza ghastliness . . .

SAD IRONY: children who were abused have a propensity to become abusers, and thus the misery proceeds into the future. Similarly, the survivors of the Holocaust have been working over the poor Palestinians in Gaza. The Israelis have been mendacious, to say the least, and today's web allows spin creation that's never been seen before.

The Iron Dome defense system fires
to intercept incoming missiles
from Gaza in the port town of Ashdod.
Juan Cole has a site, Informed Comment, where he lists the Top Ten Myths about Israeli Attack on Gaza, which sums up the state of things. The Israeli response to the Palestinian rocket attacks will fail in the long term, if only because the Israelis are seen as oppressors, because the Palestinian rocket attacks seem puny in comparison to the Godzilla-level Israeli response. Sorta like the Kaiser's feldgrau going through Belgium in 1914 got bad press. It's a 2GW solution to a 4GW problem, which means it's no solution.

Perhaps Egypt can make something happen within the next 72 hours, in the way of a cease-fire. Hamas might be ready to deal, as the imminent demise of the Syrian régime might result in a severe reduction in the supply of money and arms.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Con v. Internet

Oh, Conservatives! Threatening Teh Internet? Good luck with that.

It's easy to understand why they're afraid of it though. It's bigger than them by (heh) googols, and stands in ideological opposition to them in form and function. The internet has allowed governments to topple and revolutions to manifest.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Only a Conservative...

...would find joy in putting large numbers of people out of work.
"We said we would eliminate 19,200 positions within the federal government and we are doing what we promised to do. In just six months, we have already achieved more than half the reductions set out in the budget. A leaner, more affordable government is good for taxpayers and it's important in terms of our ability to return to balanced budgets."
- Tony Clement

Res Ipsa Loquitor

Actual screen capture. To say anything further would be superfluous.

(an actual crossposting from the actual Woodshed, actually.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The turnaways . . .

WOMEN AS SLAVES: a woman who is denied freedom of choice is as much a slave as those unfortunates in the slaver holding pens of 200 years ago, who were bred at the whims of their owners. And as we have seen, the GOP likes it that way, and American conservatives have made every effort to make abortion illegal.

Their efforts mean that, in the US, way too many women are denied access to abortion. These unfortunates, known as "Turnaways" have been the subject of a medical study, according to Annalee Newitz' article in io9, "What happens to women denied abortions? This is the first scientific study to find out."

Public health researchers with the UC San Francisco group Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) used data from 956 women who sought abortions at 30 different abortion clinics around the U.S. 182 of them were turned away. The researchers, led by Diana Greene Foster, followed and did intensive interviews with these women, who ran the gamut of abortion experiences. Some obtained abortions easily, for some it was a struggle to get them, and some were denied abortions because their pregnancies had lasted a few days beyond the gestational limits of their local clinics. Two weeks ago, the research group presented what they'd learned after two years of the planned five-year, longitudinal "Turnaway Study" at the recent American Public Health Association conference in San Francisco.

We have found that there are no mental health consequences of abortion compared to carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term. There are other interesting findings: even later abortion is safer than childbirth and women who carried an unwanted pregnancy to term are three times more likely than women who receive an abortion to be below the poverty level two years later.

There are many other consequences of denial of access; click on the link to find out more.

Vic Toews' Guns 'n' Logic Show

CBC's Power 'n' Politics, is quoting a release by Vic Toews on deregulating gun shows and then demonstrating that, in fact, not all gun show participants are lawabidinggunowners:
"Repealing the unnecessary gun shows regulations shows our government is focused on protecting families and communities
[Yes, your brain really did just trip a breaker, but read on.]
and not pushing administrative burdens on law-abiding gun owners,"
But in an undated briefing note, obtained by CBC News's Power & Politics through an access to information request for documents that were sent in February 2012, the department's deputy minister issued Toews a warning.
"The CFO (Chief Firearms Officer) community has noted unsafe display of firearms across the country. CFOs have also noted incidents where exhibitors were criminally charged in relation to the trafficking and unauthorized possession of firearms at gun shows."


Monday, November 12, 2012

Meanwhile, elsewhere...

...some famous US General-turn-spymaster just did himself in over an affair with his [latest] biographer.


It isn't like having some young highly intelligent, high achieving, highly attractive person of your sexual preference feed your ego by following you around for ages endlessly asking about your thoughts on things s/he can put in a book all-about-you doesn't have DANGER written all over it in big fat adulterous letters.

Power is bizarre. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Stevie's gonna freak . . .

THE WASHINGTON POST SAYS: "The president can start by rejecting the Keystone pipeline." (Actually, those words are not, as written, in the editorial, "What Obama should do now: Tackle climate change", they exist in the html file header that describes the page. Just so's ya know.) Check it out.

It will be painfully easy to tell if President Obama is going to take a serious stab at doing something about climate change in his second term: The purest, starkest test he faces will be the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from the tar sands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

The politics of food . . .

FAMINE CAN BE A WEAPON, or it can be the consequence of systemic bungle, but either way, the results are catastrophic. THE Nation. is a thoughtful site, with an article by Samuel Moyn, "Totalitarianism, Famine and Us" that is worth pondering. The Chinese debacle is truly disturbing. With climate change in Africa and its droughts, the future has challenge.

After studying the Bengali famine during World War II, Nobel Prize–winning economist Amartya Sen famously concluded that democracy is an antidote to famine, because it breaks the information control and accountability vacuum that often impede getting available food to those who desperately need it. Of course, the great Chinese famine provides a vivid illustration of how ruinous and deadly policies occur as much because closed regimes correct their policies too slowly as because they target their populations for terror.

Lest we forget . . .

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Blade is or was a slang term used in Canadian Forces to describe someone who throws their fellow soldiers, sailors, or flyers under the bus. I'm sure labour unions and other organisations dependent on cohesive and selfless teamwork have similar terms.

It is often used in jest, but when it isn't it is one of worst criticisms you could level or receive.

That's why I find these two CBC items so interesting.

In the first instance, the CBC discusses the proportiono MPs with military experience and finds there are a number, and they are not all Conservatives.

The second item describes unprecendented protests by decorated and wounded veterans, and the widows of others.

The difference, the fundamental ideological difference between the Conservatives and all the other parties, is that the other parties, one way or degree or another, attempt to maintain care and seek justice for the disadvantaged in Canadian society. If you are or become poor or jobless, if you are or become ill or disabled, aged, if you are a veteran or a caregiver to one, the Bloc, the Liberals, the NDP, and the Greens all support you. By and large they understand that society exists, and that it functions best when everyone is looked after. Some even believe in the idea of responsible government.

The Conservatives on the other hand have no such conviction and actively work against maintaining such obligations of the state. It's why they have their Veterans Charter, and their anti-Roma policy, and their torture policy, etc ad nauseum. They don't believe society exists, they believe only in individuals (defined as homo sapiens sapiens or a corporation) and if you were dumb enough to volunteer to fight in their wars, you understood the risks, and they have little obligation to you besides basic and begrudging life and limb insurance. Despite the pro-military rhetoric, veterans, in their eyes, are little different that someone who is injured in a civilian workplace accident (in a better country we'd all have good vet-type support for workplace accidents).

Your bodyparts have price tags and you are compensated "accordingly" should you find yourself wounded. The evidence is their actions. If they really "supported the troops" they'd not have dreamed of creating a system of double standards and caveats.

If you're a veteran who vigorously supports the Conservatives, you need to justify to your fellows just why you are stabbing them in the back. You're out of excuses.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Temporary Foreign Workers

A decade ago I was effectively an itinerant farm worker in Australia. The Australian fruit and vegetable harvest industry relies heavily on a large army of 20-something year old international travellers on working holiday permits to pick and pack produce. Take away the backpackers and the fruit rots on the trees. I was able to save money and continue travelling around the world after I left Australia. With a few notable exceptions, my Australian employers paid me well and would sometimes even ask whether my colleagues and I were being paid enough to live on! Even the exceptions were still bound by law to pay me according to specific rates. While much of the work was piece-rate, the hourly wages were mandated at about $12/hr. It was really easy to save enough to hang out in Asia for months and months.

I came back to Canada and started working in our harvest industry thinking it would be a quick way to save some cash. No such luck here. Canadian farmers paid minimum wage and provided minimal facilities. I actually lost money working in a Canadian orchard and ended up living under a tarp. Canada now has an ever expanding guest worker program that allows them to pay their workers even less than Canadians.

It doesn't surprise me to read that the Vancouver Canada Line skytrain builders from Latin America were paid less than their European colleagues. It doesn't surprise me at all to read that lawyers for SNC Lavalin and Seli are arguing this is somehow fair despite a human rights ruling against them.

The Aussie ideal of the 'fair go' is missing in this country.

In graduate school, I found the faculties basically ignored the Collective Agreement covering how employed students were to be paid and their working conditions.

It's cultural, I think. Maybe a holdover from our European feudal origins, and its legacy of dehumanising the working classes. Maybe there's a subtle inheritance from the history of natural resource exploitation, the wealthy corporations that produced, and the willingness to build that wealth on the backs of the "other".

Whatever the case, there's a prickishness in this country that I sense is less visible elsewhere. Maybe that's why we need things like the Charter and Human Rights Tribunals. Maybe that's why Harper is so damned appealing to a third of the voting public.

Copy copy copy . . .

MICHAEL GEIST has been trying to keep Canada as free as possible, as a place where we can enjoy our digital entertainment. According to him, as of today, we have new copyright laws in effect. Check out his post, "Canadian Copyright Reform In Force: Expanded User Rights Now the Law".

This morning, the majority of Bill C-11, the copyright reform bill, took effect, marking the most significant changes to Canadian copyright law in decades. While there are still some further changes to come (the Internet provider notice-and-notice rules await a consultation and their own regulations, various provisions related to the WIPO Internet treaties await formal ratification of those treaties), all the consumer oriented provisions are now active.

IMHO, one positive aspect is the limitation on penalties for "piracy": if it's non-commercial "piracy", the max penalty is $5,000, unlike those horrific American judgments where some teenager gets a gigantic penalty, often over hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The sane guy won

OK, we can all breathe a little easier here in Canadaland and maybe Americaland too. Imagine Romney to the south and together with our fetid swamp of crazies? Not so much maybe of you're a resident of the horn of Africa or parts of Asia, what with the drone wars and all. But then again there too drone wars are probably easier to contend with than full-on invasions - lesser evil at least. Brutal reasoning, but that's how these things go.

My fear however, is that the second Obama win will send the fanatics over the edge and a few of them will do really stupid things.


OK Government Scientists

I know some of you. Your research extends beyond Canada's frontiers, and has a direct bearing on the health and well-being of seven billion human beings and the living, breathing Earth they inhabit.
Your skills and position as public servants mean you have a responsibility make your research findings known.
If anything the fact that the Harper Regime issues gag orders and might threaten the job that pays for your crampons, your Subaru, let alone your kids and their planet intensifies your duty to push-back.
Maybe I've still got a mental holdover from the battle school and the aggressive response to adversity it instilled, because I get pretty effing tired of this lack of fighting spirit and pearl-clutching narrative. You wanna beat these toxic people and save the Earth? You gotta crawl through the wet cold mud and shiver the night away in a ditch.

Armoured limos and prime ministerial security

The justification for the Member for Calgary Southwest's choice of ride for the Member's Imperial Excursion to India (does he know they've won independence?) is a little cute. CBC is quoting the Mounties and experts about the risk involved in sending VIPs to India that require limos and and Suburbans and probably a fair number of brawny men in suits.

The deployment of RCMP resources are dictated by operational requirements, including public and officer safety considerations, and a threat assessment of the events/environments," said Cpl. Lucy Shorey in the statement.  "For security reasons, details on the security plans will not be discussed." Ray Boisvert, former assistant director of intelligence with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and now president and CEO of I-Sec Integrated Strategies, said the RCMP's threat assessment would be carried out in cooperation with other agencies such as CSIS and Indian police — and that elements flagged in the "threat matrix" likely warranted enhanced security measures. While it is a democratic country, India has a long history of deep religious and ethnic strife and has been the location of many bombings in past, he said.

Fair enough, but in a place where the threat environment is apparently so severe, not much else screams 'high-value target' to the crazies like a shiny car festooned with flags and surrounded by a large escort. They watch the news too.

If you're still not convinced this is less about security and much more about a flashy ride to another World Stage(tm) gala, recall not long ago when the PMO wanted to repaint the RCAF's tactically garbed CC-150 longhaul multipurpose transport aircraft in flashier colours and designate them VIP only.

Despite the crew-cut babble about threat-matrices and required security measures, such a bold footprint may actually increase risk not only to Harper but also his security entourage. It is the latter who are likely to get wounded or killed in any attempt to harm the former. 

Lastly, the heavy visible Canadian security presence is an insult Harper's Indian hosts. It says in high-explosive font "Canada believes India is unsafe and can't handle visiting VIP security."


Sunday, November 04, 2012

Choices . . .

PRISON POLITICS: on Nov. 2, 1920, Eugene V. Debs received one million votes in the U.S. presidential election while in prison. He was serving a 10 year sentence for his speech in Canton, Ohio against the war. Listen to an excerpt from the speech from Voices of a People's History of the United States. Besides the Wiki, the Debs Foundation has a great site about the man.

He's just . . .

WHITE AMERICAN MEN over forty are the core of Rmoney's support. So, Chris Rock offers this piece of reassurance:

Friday, November 02, 2012

The ghastly Gopper returns . . .

DUBYA IN THE CAYMANS, giving a secret speech. Can't get the link to happen, but here's Andrew Leonard's report in  Salon, "George Bush's secret Cayman vacation".

George W. Bush gave the keynote address at an “investment conference” in the Cayman Islands on Thursday night. But we don’t know what he said, reports NBC News, because Bush’s own team required a complete “blackout” on any details about the speech.