Monday, July 30, 2007

O'Connor? Hillier? Bueller?.....anyone?

Background : William Bryden

Lolsteve's lolcats

Name : Harley
Breed : Cat
Job : Getting votes for Steve

Meet, the newest member of Harper's A-Majority-In-Ur-Dreamz Team.

You'll remember of course when pictures of a kinder gentler Steve playing with kittens first appeared on the official Government of Canada website, extolling the virtues of fostering pets. It's a worthy cause and I was pleased to see the Prime Minister take time out from his busy schedule of dismantling Canada to lend it his support.

Now, presumably in a bid to counteract that Strategic Council poll showing Steve to be trolling a lowly 26% among women in Canada, cute cat pictures are getting a higher profile with their own Adopt-A-Pet page.


We look forward to the official Government of Canada page, the page, and of course that old standard, thebrazilianisitforyou? page.

Steve V at Far and Wide asks when all this kitty adoration is going to translate into some movement on two current animal cruelty bills that have been languishing in obscurity back in Ottawa. We've had numerous variations on these bills for ten years now. Surely there is some variation that the NRA, the Canadian Veterinary Association, the sealing lobby, and the medical researchers could live with that is enforceable. Other nations have managed it, you know.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Congress votes on SPP

For the first time on Tuesday, the US Congress voted 362 to 63 in favour of an amendment "prohibiting the use of funds to participate in a working group pursuant to the Security and Prosperity Partnership".

Apparently Congress would like to see something more closely resembling congressional oversight over at the US Department of Transport [Ed. : Think - a really really big road]
The previous day another amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, not yet voted on, stated "None of the funds in this act shall be made available for the Security and Prosperity Partnership."

Gosh, imagine that. Discussing it in the House and voting on it and everything.
When are we going to see something like that up here?
So far all we have is Peter MacKay saying,
"I don't think SPP should be viewed in a conspiratorial way."

Hey, me neither! I think something as important as trading away sovereignty over Canadian policy and resources ought to be done right out in the open.

Linda McQuaig : "Some might consider putting Canadian needs first to be the job of the prime minister. But apparently not Harper. And yet he'll be the one in charge of protecting our interests in Montebello next month when Bush pushes for an even deeper Canadian commitment to satisfying America's insatiable energy appetite."

GovTrack link

Thursday, July 26, 2007


While the Earth Burns has an excellent article up on grassroots revolutionary democracy in South America.
I heartily recommend it.
If you depend heavily on North American news - the car crashes, the house fires, big weather, celeb gossip, the egregious behavior of some government official, the best places to holiday, the latest food that can kill you, tons of US news, the newest seven wonders of ...oh look, another white girl has fallen down a well - then you could be forgiven for thinking we're choking on our entitlements while acting out some sort of secular end times.

Meanwhile, down south in the two-thirds world...Grassroots Movements Changing the Face of Power

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Anschluss watch # 47862946423

UN Economic and Social Council Commission on the Status of Women
Draft Resolution : The international community to continue to provide urgently needed assistance and services in an effort to alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis being faced by Palestinian women and their families, and approve a text on the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child.

Included : A revision to address pregnant Palestinian women giving birth at Israeli checkpoints owing to denial of access to hospitals by Israel.

March 10, 2006
In favour : (41) Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bolivia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, China, Congo, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania.

Against: Canada, United States.

July 24, 2007
In favour : (38) Algeria, Austria, Barbados, Belarus, Bolivia, Cape Verde, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, France, Germany, Greece, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan, Thailand and United Kingdom.

Against : Canada and United States.

Ironically today's UN vote coincides with an announcement from Peter MacKay that Canada has resumed aid to Palestine.
Would it kill us to also vote for Palestinian women being allowed to give birth in hospitals, regardless of how the US voted?

Checkpoint Childbirth Excellent post on this from Fern Hill at Birth Pangs, giving it a much more human face. Why did a pregnant Palestinian woman spend 8 hours at a checkpoint 20 minutes from the hospital, before finally giving birth to twins in the backseat of her car and losing one of them for lack of medical attention?
Why did Canada vote for this and where is the media coverage?

SPP : Streamlining Pipeline Projects

Yesterday Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn (Con - Oilslick) met with his US and Mexican counterparts in Victoria to discuss strategy "to ensure speedy regulatory review of the major pipeline projects needed to carry growing volumes of oil sands crude to U.S. markets" in advance of the Three Amigos SPP meetup in Quebec next month.

From the Globe and Mail Business Page :
"We need to look at the regulatory approval process to make sure it is done as quickly and efficiently as possible," Mr. Lunn said.

Lunn was a good deal more proactive than that as reported in Oilweek Magazine earlier this month :
"Ottawa is creating a centralized process for project approvals to increase investor confidence," Lunn said from Calgary.“Our goal is to cut approval time in half."

Because nothing says labour standards and enviromental oversight like a government whose aim is to cut regulations in half.

G&M : ConocoPhillips Co. chairman Jim Mulva said last week the company is eyeing an expansion of the planned pipeline network down to the Gulf Coast, and a refurbishment of its refineries there so they can process oil sands bitumen.

Oilweek : “The prize is that there are a lot of refineries on the Gulf Coast, and they can increase their capacity to turn bitumen into refined products more cheaply than anywhere else,‘‘ said analyst Steven Paget, with First Energy Capital Corp.
"The existing refineries also have the capacity to grow bigger over time without major expansions, so don‘t expect any new Canadian refineries to be announced any time soon," he added.

G&M : "But industry officials worry that regulatory process, which involves the U.S. State Department and several individual states as well as Canadian governments, could prove to be a serious logjam."

After a nod to Council of Canadians and Parklands Institute's opposition to SPP's "deepening continental integration and robbing Canada of control over its resources", G&M concludes :
"But on the energy front, Canada committed to a continental market long ago - in the Canada-U.S. free-trade agreement, and the North American free-trade deal.
Now, governments are essentially dealing with plumbing, looking to clear regulatory blockages."

Yes, not much left for government to do anymore but give the country Drano enemas to flush away all that unsightly regulatory shit.
Someone wake up John Ibbitson so he can pen another column about how all this is just "a conspiracy theory" in the editorial pages of the very same newspaper that published the business page above.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Pope says war is hell

Today the Pope, head of the planet's largest real estate consortium, "called for an end to all wars, saying they were "useless slaughters" that bring hell to paradise on Earth."
"In this stupendous garden which is the world, there is now room for hell," he said.

Really groundbreaking stuff there, Ratso, and certain to up the ante for future Miss Universe contestants competing in the world peace essay category, but didn't the Catholic church pretty much invent that hell brand in the first place?

In a prior contribution to world peace last month, serial pedophile enabler Pope Ratso proclaimed it was ok to pray for the Jews' conversion to catholicism on Good Friday if it made everyone feel better. He also stated that hell is real and his religion is the only true one.

Can't you just feel that message of world peace working its magic already?

Shouting 'Theatre!' in a crowded fire

"Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you're really in favor of free speech, then you're in favor of freedom of speech for precisely those views you despise. Otherwise, you're not in favor of free speech."
~Noam Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent

It's been freedom of speech week on the blogs.

BigCityLib has been following the panic over at the odious Free Dominion as one of their members is currently being investigated by the Canadian Human Rights Commission for his incendiary posts about Muslims, although to my mind his gay-bashing posts are equally as bad.

It's instructive to remember that the impetus behind Canada's hate speech law was primarily to protect the gay lesbian transgender community from harrasment and worse from fundie nutters.

Hairy Fish Nuts posts about a human rights hearing in Alberta, at which a letter written by one Reverend Boissoin comparing gays to pedophiles and calling for action against the movement for homosexual rights was said to have "fostered the hate" that led to an alleged assault two weeks later on a gay man.

EGALE (Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere) disagrees :
"Rev. Boissoin has a right to express his opinions in public, even though the group vehemently disagrees with them.
"It is far better that Boissoin expose his views than have them pushed underground," the group said in 2005.
"Under the glaring light of public scrutiny, his ideas will most likely wither and die."

There are those whose support for free speech extends only to those they agree with, and others who use it to promolgate hate literature. There are still others for whom any government interference is so heinous that they are automatically against any infringement on freedom of speech, and there are free speech purists like Chomsky and EGALE.

Personally I think if a sufficient proportion of the population are not able to counter hate speech with argument and reason, then we are admitting we are no better able to handle free speech than children.

Meanwhile, over on this side of the ideological pond, an altogether different free speech issue has arisen.
Canadian Cynic directed an intemperate post towards a woman who had just lost her son in battle and was conflating support for the war with support for the troops. CC was vehemently condemned round the blogosphere for picking on a grieving mom. Dire threats against CC ensued.

But then something interesting happened. The grieving mom's cousin turned up in CC's comments, castigating him for his insensitivity but allowing that she understood his point about conflating troop support with mission support. CC apologized to her for going off on her cousin and offered her space on his blog to post on any subject she desired. She has asked for a topic and she's thinking about it.

Interesting resolution, don't you think? Quite grown up in fact.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Harper Latin American World Tour News Template.

On Monday in Columbia, Harper pronounced as a "ridiculous position" the idea that Canada should tie human rights guarantees to corporate profits. President Uribe's cousin, the former state security chief, and many of Uribe's political backers are accused of providing a death list of union leaders to paramilitary hitmen.
"When we see a country like Colombia ... that wants to embrace democracy and human rights, then we say, 'We're in," [Harper] said."

On Wednesday in Chile, Harper pronounced as "utter nonsense" the idea that Latin America is caught between the extremes of Bush and Venezuela's Chavez.
"Canada's very existence demonstrates that the choice is a false one. Canada's political structures differ substantially from those in the United States," he said, shortly before ducking into the back door of Canadian mining company Barrick Gold to avoid facing protesters out front accusing the Canadian company of environmental and human rights violations and crimes against indigenous peoples.

On Friday, Harper will be in Haiti.
Hell, we don't have to wait till Friday - we can do that one right now. Fill it in yourself :

On Friday in Haiti, Harper pronounced as "____" the idea that Canada, along with ____, was responsible for the ____ of the democratically elected government of _____, or the mass _____ and the two year period of _____ that followed. In response to the ____ in the shanty town of ____ in Dec 2006, Peter MacKay applauded the massacre of innocent ____ and ____ as "_____".

“From hockey championships to humanitarian and military leadership roles in Afghanistan and Haiti, we can say again this year that Canada is a citizen of the world and we make our contribution in a positive way.”
- Stephen Harper, Canada Day Greeting, July 1, 2007

UPDATE : From the real G&M story, Jul. 20 :
“We are there to help the people of Haiti break the cycle of poverty and violence,” Mr. Harper said.
“It faces a long road of institution-building, police and judicial reform and social recovery,” Mr. Harper continued. “But together, we will stay the course.”

UPDATE 2 : Fixed link to Steve's "We will stay the course."

Rich young francophone women do NOT want to go for a beer with Harper

according to a Strategic Counsel poll in the G&M I found over at Cathie's.
  • 46 % of men support sending troops to Afghanistan, but only 27 % of women.
  • 17% of French-speakers and 26% of women would vote Con
  • 31% earning over $100,000 would vote Con

"Terrorism and Afghanistan were ranked as the third most important issues to Canadians, behind the environment and health care," reported Strategic Counsel, the traditional polling allies of Harper.

Reached for comment, a Harper spokesperson blamed the low polling numbers on the next thirteen years of Liberal misrule.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Canada steps into the void...

Canada steps into the void of "Mr Harper's new neighbourhood", the country with the worst human rights record in the western hemisphere.

Reuters : Canada steps into the void left by U.S.-Columbia rift
"Canada started trade talks with Colombia on Monday and pledged full support for President Alvaro Uribe, who has seen his key bilateral relationship with the United States bog down in a scandal over human rights.

In a thinly veiled slap at U.S. congressional Democrats who oppose a trade deal with Colombia due to rights concerns, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper used a trip to Bogota to present himself as a steadier ally.

"We are not going to say fix all your social, political and human rights problems and only then will we engage in trade relations with you. That's a ridiculous position," Harper said in a media conference with Uribe at his side."

This "ridiculous position" is in sharp contrast to Harper's earlier celebrated stand on "not trading human rights for the almighty dollar".
But that was about China. Uribe, however, is a rightwing Conservative.
"Uribe's international standing has been damaged by a scandal in which some of his closest political allies are in jail awaiting trial for helping paramilitary death squads.

But Harper, in the first state visit by a Canadian leader to Colombia, backed Uribe's efforts at ending the country's decades-old guerrilla war and fostering economic growth.

"When we see a country like Colombia that has decided to address its social, political and economic problems in an integrated way, that wants to embrace democracy and human rights, then we say, 'We're in,' he said."
Globe&Mail : "It's an exploratory trip to what might be called "Mister Harper's new neighbourhood."
"We're doing it because we believe it's our neighbourhood," a senior Canadian official said yesterday, echoing Mr. Harper's statement last month at the G8.

Michael Shifter, policy vice-president at the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based think tank, who recently visited Ottawa :
"What Canada can offer is that it's close to the United States but is not the United States," he said. "The United States has so much baggage in Latin America, but Canada escapes that. This is a hemisphere where there is a lot of mistrust and a lot of disarray, and the U.S. is very handicapped to do anything about it."

But that's ok, because Harper is more than willing to carry that baggage for them :
Reuters : "Colombia has received billions of dollars in U.S. aid to crack down on the cocaine trade.
Democrats in control of the U.S. Congress are toughening conditions on that aid and oppose a trade pact due in part to the fact that the Andean country leads the world in labor murders.Uribe's former state security chief is accused of providing a death list of trade union leaders to paramilitary hit men."

72 union leaders assassinated so far in fact.
But hey, let's not get "ridiculous" here - "We're in!". Yeah Canada!
Reuters : Harper's visit comes as many Colombians feel betrayed by the United States for not backing the trade pact.
"This gives Canada an opportunity to come in and assure Colombia that it is a loyal ally," said Michael Shifter of Washington-based think-tank Inter-American Dialogue."
[You again!]
Yes, that's us - a loyal ally and US baggage carrier, stepping into the void ...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Earth to Greens

If Gary Lunn, Con cabinet Minister of Natural Resources and fan of nukes in the tarsands, off-shore oil drilling, and a resumption of oil supertanker traffic in BC's inside passage, retains his Saanich-Gulf Islands seat in the next election, he will have Green Party candidate Andrew Lewis and the 17 greens who voted for Lewis' nomination to thank for it.

Last week, six Green Party activists urged members not to run a candidate in the riding because Saanich-Gulf Islands already boasts two stronger environmental candidates from the NDP and Libs. Former Green now Lib Briony Penn is a long time environmental activist and founding member of The Land Conservancy, while former Green now NDP Julian West, also an environmental activist, is a charter member of Fair Vote Canada. This extraordinary request not to run against them, explained the six, was necessary to prevent the three-way vote-split which has handed Lunn the riding in the last four elections.

However at Saturday's nomination meeting held at a private home on a few days' notice without being posted on either the local or national Green Party websites, seventeen Greens acclaimed Lewis in an uncontested nomination.

Green Party member Bryce Kendrick : "I thought on the one hand, I'd love to see Garry Lunn thrown out, but on the other hand I feel that as a Green party member I have a commitment to the party."

Dear Bryce : See Red Tory

If the Green Party does not give priority to the environment over party politics, then what on earth is it good for?
When dippers are urged to vote Liberal in every election to keep out the dreaded Cons, they point to Liberal support for deep integration, corporate cronyism, and a crap record on the environment as the principles which prevent them from doing so. What are you going to point at?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Steve and Sandra - Spinning the war

Last month Steve got a report from The Strategic Council :
It said - G&M : Change tune on war, PM told
July 8 - Calgary Herald : Tories shift Afghan stance
July 13 - G&M : New Afghan rhetoric a ploy to sway Liberals

Enhancing poppyfields, eradicating the lives of women and children...

Globe and Mail : Change tune on war, PM told

"The Harper government has been told to stop referring to “fighting terrorism” and the Sept. 11 attacks, and to banish the phrase “cut and run” from its vocabulary if it is to persuade a skeptical public that the military mission in Afghanistan is worth pursuing.

A public-opinion report says only 40 per cent of respondents across Canada, and almost none in Quebec, support the deployment. To change the perceptions, it recommends putting the emphasis on “rebuilding,” “enhancing the lives of women and children,” and “peacekeeping.”

The report to Foreign Affairs was prepared last month by The Strategic Counsel.
And the firm says the public views information from Ottawa “through a thick lens of cynicism.”
“They feel that much of what government says is propaganda, intended simply to appeal to the voting public and to spin stories in a positive manner,” the report points out."

And then it goes on to recommend how to re-spin the stories in a positive manner to appeal to the voting public.
I'm not even going to bother snarking this one up.
Let's just wait and see what Steve does with it.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It's like The Sopranos : Stupid Pet Tricks Edition

With parliament adjourned for the summer and MPs back in their ridings hiding out/working the handshaking smiling barbie circuit, The Tyee reviews the five cabinet ministers from BC.
And lo, what Lotusland hath bequeathed to parliamentary democracy!

Jay Hill (Con - Prince George-Peace River)
Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip
~ The 200 page dirty tricks manual on how to subvert subcommittees not towing the Con line.

  • Make sure the Conservative Party of Canada -- the party, not the government -- gets a say in which witnesses appear before the committee.
  • If all else fails, shut the committee down.
Also leaked to the press was Hill's bullying of committee chairs who tried to get some work done on the committees rather than sabotaging them.

David Emerson (Con - Vancouver Kingsway)
Minister of International Trade and 2010 Olympics
~ Following an overnight conversion to the Cons after being elected as a Lib, with Emerson's invaluable expertise as a softwood lumber deal negotiator used as the justification, Emerson pushed through a deal - trade peace in our time, in TheTyee's happy phrase - which had the US threatening further litigation against Canada within six months.
~ The Five Ring Corporate Boondoggle and Homelessness Circus.
Nuff said.

Chuck Strahl (Con - Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon)
Minister of Agriculture, Agri-Food, and the Canadian Wheat Board
~ The Agri Min with the distinction of going to war against the Canadian Wheat Board, the most successful grain monopoly in the world. Tactics included "misleading plebiscite options; issuing 'gag orders' against CWB directors and staff; firing the CWB president during the election; arbitrarily changing the voters' list during the election; disenfranchising thousands of producers; sending multiple, numbered ballots to producers, then calling them to ask which ballot they wanted counted; no third-party spending limits".

Stockwell Day (Con - Okanagan-Coquihalla)
Minister of Public Safety
~ A rousing success really, compared to what we expected from him.
Aside from deciding not to hold a public inquiry into how the RCMP fucked over Maher Arar, making contradictory claims in the HoC regarding Afghan detainees, denying climate change on his blog, and being under RCMP investigation for paying off a political rival not to run against him, Doris exceeded all our expectations.

Gary Lunn (Con - Saanich-Gulf Islands)
Minister of Natural Resources
~ Bring on the nukes for the tar sands! Moratorium on oil tanker traffic off theBC coast? What moratorium? Apparently it was merely a gentlemen's agreement, according to Lunn.
~ Firing a government scientist who objected to introducing his work with the phrase "Canada's New Government", and then having to hire him back after the laughter subsided.

And so the legacy of Amor de Cosmos lives on.

SPP : Stupid Papineauville Policy

Does the Municipality of Papineauville, Quebec have any idea of the irony of pronouncing the authority of the US Army to deny the Council of Canadians the right to protest deep integration with the US on Canadian soil?

From the Council of Canadians :

"The Municipality of Papineauville, which is about six kilometres from Montebello, has informed the Council of Canadians that the RCMP, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) and the U.S. Army will not allow the municipality to rent the Centre Communautaire de Papineauville for a public forum on Sunday August 19, on the eve of the so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership Leaders Summit.

The Council of Canadians has been told that the RCMP and the SQ will be enforcing a 25-kilometre security perimeter around the Chateau Montebello, where Stephen Harper will meet with George W. Bush and Felipe Calderón on August 20 and 21."

The US Army will not allow the municipality...?
A 25K security perimeter? WTF?

From the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms :
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
a) freedom of conscience and religion;
b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
d) freedom of association.

No mention in there anywhere of these rights being subject to the whims of the US Army.
Note that Papineauville evidently didn't feel the authority of the RCMP was sufficient unto itself here.
Or have we officially given up bothering to distinguish between the policies of the RCMP and those of the US Army?

UPDATE : From Thursday's Ottawa Citizen :
"Mr. Patterson [of Council of Canada] said Frederic Castonguay, the town's general manager, reported that Guy Cote, of the Quebec police force in Montreal, had told him the council "is an activist organization opposed to the summit and that it would not be wise to have us set up in the community centre."
Mr. Castonguay yesterday confirmed he had been called by Mr. Cote, who told him that the police and U.S. army need the community centre as a base of operations for summit security."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

SPP? Don't worry; be happy .

Shorter John Ibbitson : If Maude Barlow of Council of Canadians and some right wing nutters in the US are both sending out alarms about North American integration, well then I guess we can call it a draw and forget the whole damn thing.

What a "fair and balanced" load of foxcrap.

"Political realities are no obstacle to conspiracy theorists", writes Ibbitson, juxtaposing these two examples:
"The North American Union will bury our America under more than 100 million, mostly poor Mexicans, and tens of millions of Canadians, used to their lavish social welfare benefits and socialized medicine unless we stop it," the News Journal of Mansfield, Ohio, gravely warned in a recent editorial.

While on the Canadian side, Ms. Barlow maintains that "deep integration," as she likes to call it, is "quite literally about eliminating Canada's ability to determine independent regulatory standards, environmental protections, energy security, foreign, military, immigration and other policies."

Right. See a single item on Barlow's list that isn't currently being violated? Need me to provide links to the downgrading of pesticide regs to match US ones, no water security under NAFTA, the NoFly list, CIA operations in Canada, Maher Arar? No? Tired of hearing about them?
Well then if these deeds are actually going on, it isn't much of a conspiracy theory, is it?
As opposed to the first example of being buried under spoiled brown welfare bums.

Ibbitson decides to provide us with a single concrete example of "lunatic not-so-fringe" thinking :

"The vast conspiracy to sell out the sovereignty of Canada, the United States and Mexico to a new North American Union would manage the flow of Canadian oil and water south to the thirsty United States and oversee the construction of the so-called NAFTA superhighway - a massive, 12-lane road, rail and oil-and-gas corridor that would snake from western Mexico, through the United States and into Canada, making it far easier and cheaper to import Chinese goods, thus completing the final destruction of the American and Canadian manufacturing sectors.
Of course there is no NAFTA superhighway, and no plans to build one, any more than there is any serious talk of a North American Union. "

Holy crap! This is going to come as a considerable shock to the U.S. Department of Transport, Federal Highway Administration, who have maps, and artist's renditions, and articles. From their website :
"The proposed system will be a network of transportation corridors (routes) incorporating separate lanes for passenger vehicles and trucks, rail lines for high-speed passenger and freight rail, and a dedicated utility zone. Components in the system may incorporate existing and new highways, railways, and utility rights-of-way where practical. Up to 366 meters (1,200 feet) wide in some places, the corridor is designed to move people and freight faster...

"... a 2,570-kilometer (1,600-mile) national highway that, once completed, will connect Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Other States involved in the I-69 project include Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The planned location for I-69, designated by the U.S. Congress in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), was chosen because of the economic opportunities that could be created along the north-south corridor, specifically those related to increased trade resulting from NAFTA. "

Now who knows if this super-highway will get past the outraged ranchers unable to get assurances their land will not be expropriated, the environmentalists alarmed that the project is proceeding prior to their final reports, Governor Perry's three political opponents crying foul, and the public fury that the public-private partnership bid is going to a South American company which is going keep the toll profits for decades.

It sure sounds pretty lively for "no NAFTA superhighway and no plans to build one".

Mr Ibbitson rests his case on Peter MacKay :
Mr. MacKay dismissed the whole shebang when he spoke to reporters after the meeting Friday. "I don't think the SPP should be viewed in a conspiratorial way," he said. "It should be viewed for what it is. It's a way to enhance our collective interests in North America."

Enhance our collective interests in North America.?
Nice dodge, MacKay. You call that a rebuttal, Mr Ibbitson?

So. Mr Ibbitson. Here's what's got me pissed :
We already know that the rightwing from Lou Dobbs all the way to the John Birch Society view what they call the NAU as a super-secret probably Jewish cabal of international bankers and intellectuals intent on ruining America with brown people and Canadian commies.

Please do try to keep them separate in your head from Canadians who can see the incremental corporate-driven piece-meal harmonization of continental defence and agreements compelling countries to deregulate for the sole benefit of global investors.

That way you won't get caught up in some silly conspiracy to deny it.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Don't mention the war

I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it all right...

Globe&Mail : The office of General Rick Hillier, Canada's top soldier, has halted the release of any documents relating to detainees captured in Afghanistan under the federal Access to Information Act, claiming that disclosure of any such information could endanger Canadian troops.

"The release of this information may be very prejudicial to the safety of CF [Canadian Forces] and allied personnel."

"In the process, we are learning that some of the information that may have been previously released in response to an Access to Information Request can be used against CF personnel ..."

His office goes on to repeat this eight different ways without ever using the phrases "war crimes", or "national disgrace", or even his trademark "scumbags".

UPDATE : LOL! From Jennifer at Runesmith :
"Oh, but you left out the funny part:

"Asked if there was any evidence that soldiers' safety had been compromised because of earlier disclosure of detainee information, DND spokesman Marc Raider responded that "the information cannot be provided for operational security reasons."

We really are living in a George Orwell novel, aren't we? "

Sunday, July 08, 2007

It's only arm's length if your arms are really really short

And universities' hands appear to be growing straight out of their shoulders.

Item 1: Hired education
From The Vancouver Sun (link via Bread and Roses):

John Reynolds, Harper's buddy and former campaign advisor, says
"he gave his blessing when the University of B.C. asked him if it would suffer negative ramifications by hiring Liberal MP Stephen Owen as its vice-president.

"The university phoned me a couple of months ago, said they were thinking about
him, would that be a problem?" Reynolds told The Vancouver Sun.

UBC has been one of Canada's largest recipients of federal grants."

Item 2: The best education that DND money can pay for.
From The Calgary Herald :
"David Bercuson, director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, said Harper would surely extend the mission if his government wasn't "on the ropes on so many issues."
"If he had his majority, the question would be moot. He would extend the mission," Bercuson said."

Yeah, well we all knew that already and Calgary NeoCon David Bercuson's war-mongering is a veritable staple of Canadian journalism :
Bercuson in the G&M : "Afghanistan is the basic foundation of [Harper's] entire effort to rebuild Canada's influence in the world."

but what is this Centre for Military and Strategic Studies he hails from?
It's a department at the University of Calgary, one of 12 in universities across Canada, that is funded by the Department of National Defence via their Security and Defence Forum.

From Embassy Mag :
"According to the Department of National Defence, over 600 people, including 183 faculty members, are employed in these centres across Canada. In 2005-2006, scholars from these centres churned out 600 publications, including articles, books, and chapters. In this same period, the centres received funding worth $1,255,000. As of October 2006, DND approved a 25 per cent increase in funding. In the next five years, the funding will shoot up to $1,650,000, a 32 per cent increase.

The centres have to apply to a body appointed by the minister of defence in order to receive funding from the SDF. Centres can receive between $80,000 to 100,000 in funds. The SDF will spend $2.5 million on grants to the centres this year. In addition, the SDF also awards scholarships for graduate and post-graduate studies and also offers special grants to individuals and institutions to finance academic projects and conferences.

The research topics must focus on the following: Terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, failed or failing states, regional flashpoints, Canadian Forces transformation, the defence of Canada, the Canadian Forces' international role, the 3D approach and Canada-United States defence regulations.

Steve Staples, Rideau Institute, says that while it is not uncommon for government to fund academic programs in institutions, SDF centres have to toe "a particular view" that subscribes to larger spending on the military:

"Most of the hawkish academic viewpoints that you see in the media are part of this Security and Defence Forum group," he says. "Many of these spokespeople in charge of these institutions were in favour of invading Iraq, missile defence and large increases in defence spending."
"It's not about scholarly journals, peer reviewed articles that they have written–it's really about appearing in the mainstream media. What you tend to get as a general trend, is a steady stream of hawkish opinion from academics that are all linked together through Department of National Defence funding," says Mr. Staples.

Incidentally, when quoted in the G&M, Natty Post, and other print media, David Bercuson is usually introduced as "director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary and director of programs for the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute."

The Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute is a Calgary-based non-profit research/lobby group. Donors include General Dynamics, the world's fifth largest defence contractor, and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.

So we have one university vetting its hiring choices via Harper's henchman, and another 12 running departments funded by the DND. Their armies have disappeared right up their sleevies.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Mission Accomplice

In May 2003, George stood on the helicopter deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and pronounced the invasion of Iraq a success - just as the guerilla war turned deadly.

No one believed him.

On Thursday, Steve stood on helicopter deck of the HMCS Halifax and announced a $3.1B military upgrade for the navy.

He has stated his willingness to leave Afghanistan in 2009 as long as there is a Con sensus.

No one believes him either.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

God, gays, and geography

Remember that whole God hates teh gay nonsense from the Brit bishops?

At the time I asked why "your sky monster can pinpoint individual acts of sex you don't care for but unfortunately is unable to respond to them with anything more refined than a broad brush flooding-and-thousands-of-homeless?"

From Hairy Fish Nuts :

"Oh look!" says God, "there are two men humping in London, in my righteous anger I will flood... oh let's see now... someplace flat... far away of course... ahha! Sheffield, deluge for you!"
"Oh fer... THEY'RE STILL HUMPING!!!?!!? What do I have to do to make it clear that I don't like that sort of thing?" God cried.
"Well you could try that writing on the wall trick," one angel helpfully offered, "Or perhaps the burning bush thing? That really got their attention last time."
"A bit hack and I've really gotten to like this whole random disaster thing, it's actually rather fun... oh look, that man in Ottawa there doesn't believe in me, goodbye Rangoon!"

OK, I'm just pillaging his whole post now.
Go read it for yourself.

Five Ring Real Estate Circus

Two articles on how the sports angle of the Olympics is merely a cover to allow unbridled windfalls for developers.

Developer Jack Poole, head of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Bid Corporation, famously addressed real estate developers in 2002 : "If the Olympic bid wasn't happening," he told the developers, "we would have to invent something."

Until reminded by this Georgia Straight article, Developers are the Games' real winners , I had forgotten that Premier Gordon Campbell had been former Mayor Art Philipps point man in negotiations between the city and real-estate giant Marathon Realty regarding the rezoning of Marathon's massive land holdings on the north side of False Creek. Campbell subsequently became a Marathon Realty development officer, Marathon sold the lands to the province at three times their worth prior to the rezoning and Campbell went on to become premier and holder of the Olympics purse strings.

For an update on developers who sit on Olympic committees and how they have benefitted, continue reading here.

George Monbiot : "Everywhere they go, the Olympic Games become an excuse for eviction and displacement. The only certain Olympic legacy is a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich."

"City authorities want to run the Games for two reasons: to enhance their prestige and to permit them to carry out schemes that would never otherwise be approved. Democratic processes can be truncated, compulsory purchase orders slapped down, homes and amenities cleared. The Olympic bulldozer clears all objections out of the way."

Citing the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions study which reports that since 1988, over 2 million people have been driven from their homes to make way for the Olympics, Monbiot provides a history of the Olympic bulldozer at work in each Olympic city. One instance:

"In Beijing, 1.25m people have already been displaced to make way for the Games, and another quarter of a million are due to be evicted. Like the people of Seoul, they have been threatened and beaten if they resist. Housing activists have been imprisoned. One man, Ye Guozhu, who is currently serving four years for “disturbing social order”, has been suspended by his arms from the ceiling of his cell and tortured with electric batons. Beggars, vagrants and hawkers have been rounded up and sentenced to “Re-Education Through Labour”. The authorities are planning to hospitalise the mentally ill so that visitors won’t have to see them."

Monbiot, who does support the concept of the Olympics, suggests that rather than moving the Olympics every four years, that they "stay in a city where the damage has already been done."

This will never happen as long as developers are running local governments and can successfully con their constituents into believing that the Olympics is somehow about sports.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Blog memes

The Rules :
1) Thank me profusely for the rare honour of nominating you to this prestigious meme.
Suggested good words to use : thrilled, overwhelmed, grateful, humbled.
Bad words : spam, blog-whoring, pyramid scheme, chain letter
Be sure to mention that you always read my blog every day and indeed, I am the inspiration that caused you to take up blogging yourself.

2) List the eight/five/three/lefty/thinking/random/secret/interesting things about yourself/what you are reading/who you think is hot/worst job experience evah.
Don't worry too much about this part - no one reads blogs.
Be quirky; be fun. Best to avoid any mention of chronic skin diseases or your best stalking experience. Another link back to me in bold wouldn't go amiss here either.

3) See that list of your 500 frequently read blogs on your sidebar? Finally you get to use it for something. Find eight/five/three blogs who somehow haven't been tagged yet and list them in your meme post. Bear in mind the ones you leave out will never link to you again.

4) Leave a comment on your victims' blogs to say you have nominated them.
Check back frequently to make sure they spelled your name correctly in Rule #1.

Thank you : Rusty Idols, Big City Lib, Unrepentant Old Hippie, Pogge, The Woodshed, The Galloping Beaver, Harper Valley
Because I really was thrilled, overwhelmed, grateful, and humbled.
No really. Just don't do it ever again.

Update : Heh.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

"Greens, The True Conservatives" ???

That's quite the statement, sir.
While I appreciate your candor as the Green candidate for Prince George - Peace River, I fear the rest of your party will not.

And this isn't helping :

"For us Greens, who take pride in our ability to conserve, eliminate waste, and plan ahead for the future, our fiscal responsibility goes hand in hand with our environmental conservation. We believe that a thorough and genuine conservativism will develop policies that are built upon these two pillars. We hope that Jay Hill and the Conservatives in Ottawa will begin to show themselves to be conservative in more than name and begin to take on the principled policies of the Green Party."

As your first commenter points out ;
"When the Green candidate speaks out, we should avoid aligning our self too closely to one of the other parties' values, unless that party is the only significant competition."

H/T Politique Vert

Monday, July 02, 2007

Globalization and Democracy

Some Basics by Michael Parenti

"The goal of the transnational corporation is to become truly transnational, poised above the sovereign power of any particu­lar nation, while being served by the sovereign powers of all nations.

With international “free trade” agreements such as NAFTA, GATT, and FTAA, the giant transnationals have been elevated above the sovereign powers of nation states. These agreements endow anonymous international trade committees with the authority to prevent, over­rule, or dilute any laws of any nation deemed to burden the investment and market prerogatives of transnational corporations. These trade committees–of which the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a prime example—set up panels composed of “trade special­ists” who act as judges over economic issues, placing themselves above the rule and popular control of any nation, thereby insuring the supremacy of international finance capital. This process, called globalization, is treated as an inevitable natural “growth” development beneficial to all. It is in fact a global coup d’état by the giant business interests of the world.

Should a country refuse to change its laws when a WTO panel so dictates, the WTO can impose fines or international trade sanctions, depriving the resistant country of needed markets and materials.[ii]

Acting as the supreme global adjudicator, the WTO has ruled against laws deemed “barriers to free trade.” It has forced Japan to accept greater pesticide residues in imported food. It has kept Guatemala from outlawing deceptive advertising of baby food. It has eliminated the ban in various countries on asbestos, and on fuel-economy and emission stan­dards for motor vehicles. And it has ruled against marine-life protection laws and the ban on endangered-species products. The European Union’s prohibition on the importation of hormone-ridden U.S. beef had overwhelming popular support throughout Europe, but a three-member WTO panel decided the ban was an illegal restraint on trade. The decision on beef put in jeopardy a host of other food import regulations based on health concerns. The WTO overturned a portion of the U.S. Clean Air Act banning certain additives in gasoline because it interfered with imports from foreign refineries. And the WTO overturned that portion of the U.S. Endangered Species Act forbidding the import of shrimp caught with nets that failed to protect sea turtles."

Continue reading ...

Gays cause more flooding

A couple of guys wearing dresses and waving wands explained recent flooding in England and Wales as God's judgment on teh gay.

The Bishop of Carlisle says that laws that have undermined marriage, including the introduction of pro-gay legislation, have provoked God to act by sending the storms that have left thousands of people homeless.
"This is a strong and definite judgment ... "We are reaping the consequences of our moral degradation..."
"In the Bible, institutional power is referred to as 'the beast', which sets itself up to control people and their morals. Our government has been playing the role of God in saying that people are free to act as they want," he said, adding that the introduction of recent pro-gay laws highlighted its determination to undermine marriage.

"The sexual orientation regulations [which give greater rights to gays] are part of a general scene of permissiveness. We are in a situation where we are liable for God's judgment, which is intended to call us to repentance."
He expressed his sympathy for those who have been hit by the weather, but said that the problem with "environmental judgment is that it is indiscriminate".

I see. Your sky monster can pinpoint individual acts of sex you don't care for but unfortunately is unable to respond to them with anything more refined than a broad brush flooding-thousands-of-homeless. Bit of a serious PR drawback for an omnipotent deity, isn't it? I mean it certainly doesn't make your job any easier, does it, Bish?
The Bishop of Liverpool : "People no longer see natural disasters as an act of God. However, we are now reaping what we have sown. If we live in a profligate way then there are going to be consequences," said the bishop, who has previously been seen as a future Archbishop of Canterbury or York.

Oh yes, by all means, do let's give that guy a fancier dress and a bigger wand.

But getting back to this business about "institutional power" and "government playing God" and "the beast which sets itself up to control people and their morals".
You bishops just aren't getting the blatant irony here, are you?
Bad bishops. No theocracy for you.

Sitting here on Canada's birthday, I'm grateful to live in a country in which this kind of dimwitted asshattery in our major religious leaders is just not publicly tolerated. Oh some of them might think God hates teh gay, but for the most part they know better than to tar their skymonster with it.
Happy birthday, Canada.

Blog Against Theocracy
Blue Gal's : A memo to non-believers
Previous Easter BAT cartoons here and here

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