Thursday, July 31, 2008

Top ten conspiracy theories : sometimes a lizard is just a lizard

Via The Guardian :
· 1 Area 51 exists to investigate aliens (48%)
· 2 9/11 was orchestrated by the US government (38%)
· 3 Apollo landing was a hoax (35%)
· 4 Diana and Dodi were murdered (32%)
· 5 The Illuminati secret society and masons are trying to take over the world (25%)
· 6 Scientologists rule Hollywood (17% )
· 7 Barcodes are really intended to control people (7%)
· 8 Microsoft sends messages via Wingdings (6%)
· 9 US let Pearl Harbour happen (5%)
· 10 The world is run by dinosaur-like reptiles (3%)

The survey of 1000 Brits is a 20th Century Fox promotion for its new X-Files flick, which may have skewed the results somewhat, but I'm disappointed to see that my personal fave only barely made it onto the list at #10.
David Icke, TV personality, Son of God, and prominent proponent of the theory that the world is secretly run by 12' lizards, recently ran for office in a by-election in England. He came 12th out of 27 candidates, thereby proving his lizard theory as far as I'm concerned.

In 2001, Icke came to Vancouver on a speaking tour. Given that his theories also include most of the rest of the above top ten list, some locals were alarmed about his allegedly anti-Semitic views and attempted to block his appearances.

In the following excerpt from an article in The Guardian, Jon Ronson recounts an attempt by supporters of David Icke to allay the fears of an anti-racist group. At a strategy meeting beforehand, they agree not to mention the lizards.

"The formalities were over and the discussion began.
"So," said Sam, "you say that Icke is not an anti-Semite." Brian held up his finger to say "wait a minute" and he rifled through his briefcase. He retrieved a sheaf of photocopies, which contained the writings of Noam Chomsky. Brian had marked passages that convincingly reflected his thesis - that David Icke was no more anti-Semitic than this respected Jewish scholar.

Sam studied the photocopies. He nodded thoughtfully. "This might be true to an extent," he finally agreed. "But there is a very big difference between Noam Chomsky saying it and David Icke saying it."

"Which is?" asked Brian, his eyes narrowing.

"Well, firstly," said Sam, "Noam Chomsky is Jewish. Secondly, Noam Chomsky is not mad. Thirdly, Noam Chomsky is, in fact, an intellectual. And, finally, Noam Chomsky is not an anti-Semite."

Henrick shuffled uneasily in his chair. He clearly felt that Brian's modus operandi was falling apart before their eyes. Yes, Henrick had promised to leave the lizards out of the discussion, but these were desperate times, and they called for desperate measures.

Henrick shot me a glance. "Go for it," I mouthed.

"There is full documentation," announced Henrick, which proves that 20 reptilian races have interfaced, intermingled and interbred with the human race, and are now controlling society from above."

Brian stared daggers at Henrick.

"Twenty?" said Sam, leaning forward.
"Approximately 20," said Henrick. "Certainly it is somewhere between 15 and 25."
"Have you got the names of these reptilian races?" asked Sam, producing a notepad from his bag.
"Yes, I have," said Henrick, obviously pleased that Sam was showing an interest. "Okay. Firstly: Grays."
Sam wrote down Grays.
"Next there are the Adopted Grays."
Sam wrote it down.
"Then there are the Troglodytes."
"They're the ones who live in caves, right?" said Sam.
"In caves," confirmed Henrick. "Then there are the Crinklies."
"What do the Crinklies look like?" asked Sam.
"They are cuddly, pink, with old-looking faces," said Henrick.

"Can I just point out," interrupted Brian, sharply, "this Chomsky passage regarding the oppressive subtext of the Talmud . . ."

"Then there are the Tall Blondes," said Henrick.
"What do they look like?" asked Sam.
"Kind of like Swedes," said Henrick. "Next come the Tall Robots."
"They're the ones covered in aluminium foil, right?"
"Right," said Henrick. "Then there are the Annunaki."
"The Annunaki," said Sam. "They're the ones David Icke goes on about the most."
"Exactly," said Henrick. "George Bush is Annunaki."
Sam excused himself so he could step outside for a cigarette. He returned to discover that Henrick had taken the opportunity to grab his notepad and add further names of reptilian races to the list.
"The Elderbarians," he had written. "These are the crop-circle makers. The Zebra Repticular. The Albarians. The Interdimensional Sasquatch. The Goat Sucker or Goat Eater often found in Mexico."
"Is there friction between these alien races?" asked Sam.
"Yes," said Henrick. "Constant friction."
"Do they actually fight each other?" asked Sam.
"Yes," said Henrick. "They are constantly battling for control of the 15 dimensional portals. One is in Jerusalem. One is in Tibet. Nobody knows where the other 13 are."
"This," said Sam. "is a very interesting conversation."


Sometimes a lizard is just a lizard.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"Watch for falling rock" on the 2010 Games

This happened just across the water from me last night : a cliff face collapsed onto the Sea-to-Sky highway and the rail line between Vancouver and Whistler.
75 meters of what will be the route to the 2010 Olympic Games is buried in rubble 10 meters deep and will take at least five days to remove.

We must have heard it but as there has been blasting over there every night between midnight and 2am for weeks now, no one would have thought much about it. I wonder if all that blasting had anything to do with loosening that cliff face? In addition to the earthquake in California yesterday, another one in Port Townsend today, and the fact it rained all day yesterday for the first time in weeks. But about all that blasting and road construction ...
2010 Games boosters were immediately on damage control :
"This is an area that was not touched by the improvements that we're making."
"The area where the slide occurred is not part of the $600-million Sea to Sky Highway Improvement Project, so it has not been worked on recently by construction crews."
That's $775 million, actually, guys, with blasting on that mountainside every single night.

"There's no need to worry about a similar incident during the 2010 Winter Olympics. I'm very confident we'll have a situation in place to deal with these things," he said. "We will have contingency plans."
Colin Hansen, minister responsible for the Games :
"It's one of the reasons there are two separate athletes' villages -- one in Whistler and one in Vancouver."
"A slide during the Olympics would not ruin the games."
Yeah but it could totally ruin the day of anyone caught under 1600 cubic metres of rubble, couldn't it, Irene?

"To mitigate any short-term transportation challenges between Vancouver and Whistler, athletes, officials, and the majority of personnel required to stage an Olympic or Paralympic event in Whistler will be housed in the Whistler area, so events will proceed on schedule."

Well, events proceeding on schedule is the most important thing about a rockslide I guess.
And 'short term transportation challenges'?
You mean like the bus driver who thankfully had the wit to floor it out of there as the rockslide smashed into his bus?
So far no one has been reported trapped in the slide - the dog patrols are out sniffing now - but this is a notoriously dangerous highway : 14 major landslides in the last century, with 19 deaths and over 800 accidents in the last five years alone. A rock slide in 1996 was 60,000 cubic meters and another in 1990 took two weeks to clear.
Well you know I'm not a huge fan of the two week Five Ring Circus urban renewal project and I'm bound to be crabby about this so let's hear from a professional - geologist Colin Smith with Vancouver-based Fundamental Research Corp :
"The Sea to Sky Highway route in the Porteau Cove area is one of the worst possible places to build a road. In fact, Tuesday's slide near Porteau Cove may have weakened surrounding rock structures to the point of making a future slide in the same area more likely."
but, but, but ... Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon said, "There's going to be a lot of rock-bolting ... and we will have all the contingencies and eventualities in place."
Colin Smith :
"I don't think rock-bolting really would have done a whole lot," he said.
"Over time there's not a whole lot you can do, especially when you exploit the weakness by undercutting the structure with the road."
Oh look, here's Crebo, spokesman for the Transport Ministry again :
"The slide was "nowhere near" roadwork on the highway."
Meanwhile 15,000 to 20,000 people are stranded in what the papers have taken to calling "the affluent alpine village of Whistler" for the next five days.
Now what was that again about "an imaginative combination of road, rail, marine and air" options in our bid for the Olympics again?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Barbara Amiel considers the plight of people who spend under $2,000 on a handbag

Amiel : "If ostensibly privileged defendants like us can be baselessly smeared, wrongly deprived, falsely accused, shamelessly persecuted . . . what happens to the vulnerable, the powerless, the working-class people whose savings have been eaten up trying to defend themselves?"
This marks, to my knowledge, the first time that such a consideration has ever crossed the rightwing mind of Baroness Black of Crossharbour, but it's fitting, I guess, given that her title is named after a public transit subway stop in London.
Here's another good question, Barbara : What happens to the national reputation of a prime minister who crosses your husband's ambition to join the British peerage if your husband owns the National Post?

Monday, July 28, 2008

The military-industrial-government-media complex

As the new time horizon for U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq approaches, here’s a preview of what top U.S. officers will be training the Iraqi army to do:

  • Set up military-industrial complex.
  • Take over budget of civilian government.
  • Subcontract to private companies beyond reach of law.
  • Get hired by those companies at higher pay.
  • Find comfy post-military career in lobbying.
From Ironic Times
But it's time we changed that to military-industrial-government-media complex...

Cross-posted at The Galloping Beaver

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bring Omar Khadr home

All together now :
1."Mr. Khadr faces some very serious charges."
2. "the government has been assured he is being treated humanely" and
3. "any effort to act on his case while he is still before the courts would be premature"

Today MP Jason Kenney became the eighth Con podperson to repeat - without mistakes! - the three immortal phrases previously parroted by Maxime Bernier, Marjorie LeBreton, Deepak Obhrai, Eugénie Cormier-Lassonde, Kory Teneycke, Alain Cacchione, and, of course, Steve - the last head of state on the planet to publicly support Guantanamo Bay.

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

I am deeply concerned that Canada has not sought to repatriate Omar Khadr, the only Canadian and the youngest detainee held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

While the accusations against Omar Khadr are serious, he has spent more than a quarter of his life in U.S. military custody, where he has been subjected to repeated abuses and may have been tortured.

Interventions from Australia and Britain have resulted in the successful repatriation of their citizens from Guantanamo Bay. I call on you to petition the U.S. government to repatriate Omar Khadr to Canada, where he can be tried fairly.

I look forward to your prompt reply.

[Your Name Here]

Via Kathleen Ruff at RightOnCanada

RCMP TASER™ 16 year old girl in holding cell

A Manitoba girl picked up for being drunk says she was "held down by four officers, one for each limb, while a taser was used on her legs and groin area." Three times.
They warned her if she didn't stop screaming they would TASER™ again but she couldn't stop screaming.

An internal RCMP investigation has "concluded there was no criminal wrongdoing."
"...the spokesman added that there's no prohibition against using tasers in cells. They are used when officers feel there is a risk to their safety, he said."

A risk to their safety.
A 130 pound 16 year old girl already inside a holding cell is a risk to their safety.

She was drunk, she was resisting arrest, and she admits she was obnoxious and panicking at being locked up : "She says she hit out in anger at the last officer to leave the cell, at which point he called the others back in and they held her down and tasered her."

"The police didn't tell the girl's mother about the incident when she picked her up the next morning, and the girl was too ashamed to tell. As a result, the wounds [on her thighs] became infected."

Following on the heels of the death of another Manitoba First Nations teen, 17 year old Michael Langan, "the family will now proceed with a public complaint against the officers involved."


Friday, July 25, 2008

Emma the Embryo and the Massive New Poll

Or as Fern Hill put it : 90% Don't Give a Shit
The Massive New Poll, as Campaign Life Coalition call it, was carried out via an automated demon-dialer which, according to the brand new website of the market research company CLC employed to bother people eating their dinner, "plays a pre-recorded message on a customer's answering machine, voicemail service, or even to a "live" person" :
"Do you believe abortionist Henry Morgentaler deserves the Order of Canada Press 1 for Yes Press 2 for ...."
Less than 5%, guys. You should have stuck with freeping the G&M poll.
JJ and Big City Lib investigate the various anti-choice ReformaTory relatives associated with the polling company.
And deBeauxOs at Birth Pangs explains why we should care in a piece about what Operation Rescue has been up to lately.
Here's a little BC history on Campaign Life Coalition's links to Operation Rescue :
Update : Buckets posts screen shots of a page from the one-day-old KLR Vu polling website -
and the US polling website it copied word for word. Rather fitting really, given that our anti-choice websites up here are often also mirror images of U.S. ones. I suppose the inability to spell "Canadians" properly should have tipped us off.
Upperdate : Oooh ... a contest!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Abdelrazik is another Arar

Remember Abousfian Abdelrazik, the Canadian/Sudanese imprisoned and allegedly tortured in Sudan for two years at Canada's request?
Sudan found him innocent of terrorist charges in 2004 and offered to fly him back to Montreal but Canada declined so Abdelrazik is now living in the lobby of the Canadian embassy in Khartoum. Yeah that guy.

Canada feared U.S. backlash over man trapped in Sudan
Senior [Transport Canada] intelligence officials warned against allowing Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen, to return home from Sudan because it could upset the Bush administration, classified documents reveal.

"Senior government of Canada officials should be mindful of the potential reaction of our U.S. counterparts to Abdelrazik's return to Canada as he is on the U.S. no-fly list," intelligence officials say in documents in the possession of The Globe and Mail.

"Continued co-operation between Canada and the U.S. in the matters of security is essential. We will need to continue to work closely on issues related to the Security of North America, including the case of Mr. Abdelrazik," the document says.

The "Security of North America".

Drop Steve and Dave a line : and

Update : DFAIT response :

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
Ottawa, OntarioK1A 0G2
July 24, 2008


On behalf of the Honourable David Emerson, Minister of Foreign Affairs, thank you for your correspondence of July 2, 2008 regarding Mr. Abousfian Abdelrazik in Sudan.

While the Privacy Act prevents me from sharing detailed information on this case, I can assure you that Canadian consular officials are providing Mr. Abdelrazik with assistance to ensure his health and well-being. We will continue to assist Mr. Abdelrazik until the matter has been resolved.

With respect to allegations that the Government of Canada was involved in Mr. Abdelrazik's arrest, I should clarify that this matter falls outside the purview of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. As such, you may wish to share your concerns with Public Safety Canada.

Again, thank you for writing.
Sincerely yours,
Sean Robertson,
Director, Case Management Division Consular Services and Emergency Management Branch

Mr Robertson is, according to CBC, "the senior foreign affairs official in charge of Abdelrazik's file".

In April Mr. Robertson "flatly denies Sudan ever offered a private aircraft to fly Mr. Abdelrazik back to Montreal. "I would like to confirm that no such offer was ever made to Department officials by the Sudanese government," the letter, signed by Sean Robertson, director of consular case management at Foreign Affairs, says.

In 2004, however, a Foreign Affairs official confirmed : "There is no unwillingness to allow him to come to Canada aboard a private plane which the Sudanese government is willing to provide," a senior Canadian foreign affairs official wrote then.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

CSIS issues a clarification

~ Hey it wasn't us who interviewed a sleep-deprived Omar Khadr.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service - 2003 Interviews with Omar Khadr - Media Coverage
Ottawa, July 21st, 2008

"Information relating to interviews of Omar Khadr by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service CSIS and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) were recently released to Mr. Khadr’s legal counsel, following rulings by the Supreme Court of Canada in May 2008, and by the Federal Court of Canada in June 2008.

Following the public release of this information by Mr. Khadr’s lawyers, there has been much national and international media coverage pertaining to these interviews. Much of this coverage has focussed on video footage of Service interviews conducted with Mr. Khadr in February 2003.

Mr. Khadr was questioned by CSIS in 2003 about individuals - including those linked to the Al Qaeda organization - who may pose a threat to the security of Canada and its interests. CSIS interviewed Mr. Khadr to collect threat-related information and intelligence and did not discuss consular issues with him, as this is not CSIS's role.

During the recent media coverage of this issue, some factual errors have been reported by certain media outlets. Specifically, select media outlets have claimed that Mr. Khadr had been mistreated by U.S. authorities - including via sleep deprivation - prior to those 2003 interviews with CSIS. This is simply not accurate. In fact, it should be clear that CSIS had no information to substantiate claims that Mr. Khadr was being mistreated by U.S. authorities in conjunction with the CSIS interviews in 2003.

Furthermore, the allegations which subsequently surfaced regarding sleep deprivation were in relation to a 2004 interview in Guantanamo Bay with Mr. Khadr, an interview in which CSIS was not a participant."

Over to you, DFAIT.

TASER™ Saves Lives Inc. - Victim #22

A man was TASERED™ and then pronounced dead in hospital after more than five police cars with at least eight officers attended a citizen's call in Winnipeg today, bringing the total of TASER™ related deaths in Canada to 21.

Very few details and no citizen videos are available so far.

A Winnipeg police spokesperson said : "... at this point it's too early to tell if the cause of death had anything at all to do with the electronic control device."

Police in Winnipeg recently received 50 more TASERs™ which are classed in the same intermediate force category as pepper spray.

In other TASER™ news :
"RCMP officers who went to Poland to talk to people close to Robert Dziekanski seemed focused on finding negative things about him, says one of those interviewed."

What kind of person was he, was he a drinker, drug user? Was he aggressive?" she said through a translator. "Most questions were to expose him as not a nice human being -- not to find out what kind of person he really was."

This fits in with some Vancouver news articles on Dziekanski that came out following the release of Paul Pritchard's incriminating video :
" the decrepit, $77-a-month flat Dziekanski shared with his alcoholic partner ... a five-year jail term for robbery when he was a teenager ... a tumultuous common-law relationship ..."
Oh well then.

Update from CBC : #22 His name is Michael Langan. He was only 17 years old, the youngest TASER™ victim in Canada to date.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Shorter Korn Kob Kory

on repatriating Omar Khadr :
"Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah
The Libs did it fir-rst and so
we're just following the-em
Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah"

Saturday, July 19, 2008

One million served

In March a CNN report advised that seven years after 9/11, less than 1% of U.S. daily flights carry armed federal air marshals.
The Transportation Security Administration denied the report and began an investigation into who leaked the info to CNN, calling it a national security leak.
Then it placed the CNN reporter on the no-fly list.
And in this way the US terrorist watch list eventually reached one million names, according to the ACLU, who call it a waste of time and resources.

Paul Craig Roberts : "It's worse than that. What the “watch list” or “no-fly list” is doing is training Americans to submit to warrantless searches, to abandon their constitutional rights, and to submit to humiliation by thugs and bullies."

Yes. They are being acclimatized to what they surely know is merely bureaucratic bullying.
Are we in Canada paying attention?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Too bad for Omar Khadr that Harper is not a leader

Gitmo trials rigged :
"He's not going to get a fair trial," [Lt.-Cmdr.] Kuebler told The Canadian Press from his office in Washington, D.C.
"Military commissions aren't designed to be fair. They're designed to produce convictions."
Harper could pre-empt the hearing by asking Washington to send Khadr - Guantanamo Bay's lone western detainee and also its youngest - back to Canada, Kuebler said.
"I hope that the prime minister of Canada finally decides to stand up and act like a prime minister of Canada and protect the rights of a Canadian citizen."
I mean, Algeria managed it for Algerian detainees. Algeria. Also Saudi Arabia, Pakistan ...
But we won't. Why? Apparently because the charges against Khadr are serious :

"Mr. Khadr is accused of very serious things," the prime minister said last week. "There is a legal process in the United States. He can make his arguments in that process."

"We can't ignore the serious charges Mr. Khadr is facing," [PM spokesweasel Kory] Teneycke said. "The proper forum for determining his guilt or innocence is a judicial process not a political process."

"Eugénie Cormier-Lassonde, spokesperson for Canada's department of foreign affairs, says Khadr faces "serious charges ... includ[ing] murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, material
support for terrorism, and spying, all in violation of the laws of war."

See, apparently Canada doesn't do "serious things". Sure, we're ok for the non-serious stuff, like making apologies to First Nations and promising aid to Africa that we don't deliver, but when it comes to the really serious things like torture and illegal kangaroo courts - well, we leave that stuff up to the Serious People : Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld - the people who can't travel outside their country without triggering war criminal proceedings.

Gates and CondiRice are on record as wanting Guantanamo shut down, McCain and Obama have vowed to close it, and US Supreme Court has ruled against it three times in as many years.

As Kuebler put it : "he can stop taking his orders from the Bush administration and stop being the last leader of a Western country to subsidize a failed process in Guantanamo Bay."

But Harper is not a leader, so Lt.-Cmdr. William Kuebler, a conservative Republican in the U.S. Navy, is doing his best to fill in for him.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

CSIS interrogates Omar Khadr

For four days, CSIS interrogators questioned the 16-year-old Omar Khadr :
"The interrogator repeatedly pressured Khadr to reveal the location of his mother and siblings, attempting to convince him that Canada is trying to protect the Khadr family, and repatriate them to Canada for "rehabilitation."
Otherwise, the agent suggested, his family could face torture, especially his brother Abdullah.
"I don't want the Pakistanis to get him, because I know how they can treat people," the interrogator says. "I sure don't want the Pakistanis to get him and sell him to the Egyptians, because I know what they'll do to him, and so do you."
If the Pakistanis capture his mother, the interrogator warned Khadr, they would sell her to the highest bidder.
Khadr, for his part, insisted he didn't know how to find his family. He told his interrogators that his parents left Afghanistan for Pakistan, leaving him behind."

"Let the banners unfurl and the trumpets sound, we are a people that stand by the torture of children."
~ Pretty Shaved Ape

PNWER and Cascadia

"I think there is a very strong, natural pull of the region called Cascadia," Premier Gordon Campbell says in an article on the Discovery Institute website last year.
The Seattle-based Discovery Institute, rather better known for its crusade to teach intelligent design/creationism in schools, is a Cascadia partner with PNWER, a US-Canada public-private sector regional lobby group composed of legislators and business leaders from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, B.C., Alberta, and the Yukon Territory. They are sponsored in this endeavor by Exxon, Enbridge, Encana, British Petroleum, Terasen, Cominco, - well, you get the general idea.
Gordon Campbell is hosting this year's PNWER event starting Sunday July 20 at the Bayshore. Speakers include Stockwell Day, Gary Lunn, Monte Solberg, US Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins, Canadian Ambassador to the US Michael Wilson, and industry stakeholders.
So let's hear it from the fans :
Premier Gordon Campbell : "Working together means we're working on both sides of the border to achieve our goals."
Stockwell Day : "PNWER has had a profound impact on policymaking."
PNWER executive director American Matt Morrison on TILMA : “We did have something to do with the B.C.-Alberta agreement, which I think is a great model that needs to be expanded."
Gosh, I guess that means PNWER is to TILMA what CCCE was to the SPP.
To follow the money : a great post at Owls and Roosters.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Yeah, Eileen, but it's still shit

First it was called "sewage sludge", then "biofuel", and now Eileen Smith of the Ministry of the Environment informs us that henceforth it will be called "non-agricultural source materials."

Sure, Eileen, but it's still shit.

The Star has been running a series on sewage sludge and the controversy regarding the safety of spreading it on farmland and growing our food in it. A program born purely of the need to get rid of the stuff is surely not the most auspicious beginning for disposing of solid waste left over from the treatment of human, commercial, hospital and industrial waste :
"Diverting some of it to fields began in the 1970s. Then in 1996, the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement stiffened sewage treatment guidelines. This created more sludge and Ontario started recommending it for use as fertilizer for farm crops. Faced with fast-filling landfills and a U.S. border slowly closing to Ontario's waste, many municipalities accepted."

Why am I suddenly reminded of the spinach and tomato recalls last year due to salmonella and e coli?
Possibly because "local officials who investigate health complaints are not required to report their findings to the province."
Well, that and the fact that according to Eileen "sludge will be the joint responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the environment ministry".
What about the Ministry of Health? Nope, they're out of the picture now. Also :

"In a move that Eileen Smith says will raise safety, odour and application standards, the government is introducing changes that will drop the requirement for a certificate of approval for sludge spreading and allow it to be handled by farmers as part of the Nutrient Management Act."

In other words certificates will no longer be publicly available to tell us what's being spread and who is spreading it.
This is the second case of the Cons deregulating food safety this week, coming suspiciously on the heals of the deregulation of food labelling. See SPP and Mad Cow. and SPP : Outsourcing food safety to industry

Here's one of those anecdote-is-not-data stories.
Many years ago, having heard about the Chinese use of "night soil", I called around and left messages trying to get advice on how I could safely compost my own for the rose beds, and went off to work for the day. I came home to an answering machine full of alarmed responses from various health officials asking questions like "How many of you are doing this?"
A guy from UBC Soil Sciences was the most informative. Even in the unlikely case you get the temperature high enough to kill most of the pathogens, he explained, you'd still be introducing a new concentration of heavy metals into the soil.
Heavy metals?
Human waste has a very high concentration of them, he said.
Well what about China?
Yeah, it's a big problem there and in South America, he replied, proceeding to tell me about various unattractive soil-born diseases.

And that was just my shit, never mind the pesticides and drugs and bacteria and hormones that are in the industrial and hospital stuff.

Now obviously a safe system of "nutrient recycling" is a great idea.
But if what farmers are spreading on their crops in Ontario is as safe as Eileen says it is, why has Health Canada been dropped as a regulating body and why will certificates no longer be available to tell us who is using the stuff?

As usual, the handy Security and Prosperity Partnership is always there to answer your questions.

SPP : Prosperity Pillar Working Groups :
"The Food and Agricultural Group will work towards creating a safer and more reliable food supply while facilitating agricultural trade by pursuing common approaches to enhanced food safety; ... and increasing cooperation in the development of regulatory policy."

Operation Enduring Freedom For a Really Long Time

"The centerpiece for the CENTCOM Master Plan for future access to and operations in Central Asia" was how Adm. William J. Fallon, then commander of U.S. Central Command, described Bagram when he initially sought funding last year.

Congress recently approved construction of a $62M ammunition storage facility and $41M for a 30-megawatt power plant at Afghanistan's Bagram Air Base, capable of generating enough electricity for a town of more than 20,000 homes.
By comparison, residents in Kabul still get only three to four hours of electricity a day.

However I'm sure Steve will explain to CENTCOM that the Canadian people don't want to be part of "the CENTCOM Master Plan" and have a permanent base for "operations in Central Asia" should it come up in conversation between now and 2011.

Survivors of the Afghan double wedding procession bombed last week in a US air raid tell their story :
The first bomb killed the children who had run ahead.
The second bomb killed almost all the women but for three girls and the bride.
The third bomb got them as they ran away.

From WaPo via

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Emma the Embryo vs Andrew Coyne

Yo, Andrew. It's not necessary, and certainly not advisable, to give every agitated minority a shot at rolling civilization back a couple of generations by giving them airtime, and by extension legitimacy, in the guise of being reasonable and fair-minded.
Anyone whose invisible sky monster has told them not to have an abortion is perfectly within their rights not to have one.
h/t Dr. Dawg for the link to Coyne.
Edward Greenspan : "I don't know if I have ever witnessed a more absurd protest than the current nonsense regarding the awarding of the Order of Canada to Dr. Henry Morgentaler.
Elizabeth Bagshaw was one of the early female doctors in Canada. She was the head of Canada's first and illegal birth control clinic. She received the Order of Canada in 1972. Isn't it amazing that Doherty, Finn, Gocki and others could share their Order with Bagshaw all these years?"

Saturday, July 12, 2008

SPP and mad cow disease

June 23, 2008 New mad cow case confirmed in B.C.
"The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed the 13th case of mad cow disease in Canada. The agency said the animal was detected as part of its ongoing surveillance program for mad cow disease - or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)."

July 12, 2008 Ottawa washes hands of food safety
"The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is ending funding to producers to test cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease) as part of a surveillance program, the document indicates, a move expected to save the agency about $24-million over the next three years."

$23.3 million actually. This information has been available on the Treasury Board of Canada website since Mar 29, 2007. You can go look for yourself :

Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP) for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency
"Changes in resource levels from 2007-2008 to 2008-2009: The decrease in financial resources of approximately $30.9 million is primarily related to the sunsetting of funding for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) ($23.3 million)"

because, as the same Treasury Board report later explains :
"Canada is working with the United States and Mexico on the regulatory aspects of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America to eliminate redundant testing and certification requirements when it is beneficial to Canada."
And why are we doing this again?
"Long-term prosperity requires increased productivity and competitiveness which means making sure Canadians can compete in a global economy by creating a stronger economic union, reducing red tape and making sure borders stay open for business."

"Making sure borders stay open for business" - the main preoccupation of the Cons and the CCCE is apparently now a guiding principle at the agency in charge of ensuring food safety.

Related post from last Wednesday : SPP - Outsourcing food safety to industry

See also POGGE, Impolitical, and Accidental Deliberations

Friday, July 11, 2008

Dfait : Khadr's rights got lost among competing departments

Ottawa fought Khadr's transfer to Gitmo, says a Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade official, but explains :
well we lost that one so when the U.S. said they would only allow foreign federal agents and not foreign diplomats in to see Khadr, I "reached out" to someone in dfait's intelligence branch and then - surprise surprise - our dfait intel guy invited some CSIS guys and the CIA told us to butt out and leave everything to CSIS and somehow "the prisoner's rights got lost among departments and officials with competing priorities."

Oh yeah, and our dfait guy did finally get to ask Khadr some questions "about his family and armed jihad" after he learned Khadr had been put on a three week sleep deprivation regime for the benefit of our interrogators but hey, "ultimately, the blame for what goes on in Guantanamo Bay rests with the government that created it."

No it fucking doesn't.
You had a responsibility to Canada, to a Canadian citizen, and to Canadian and international law.
This business of CSIS interrogating Canadians after they've been "softened up" in other countries - Arar, Abdelrazik, Almalki - is just the price of the "Trade" part of your name.
Tell you what, let's just rename dfait the Department of Flunky Ass-licking Institutionalized Toadying to the US and if we're ever in short supply of that, we'll call you.

Second source for G&M article, because original is now pay-per-view :
Ottawa fought Khadr's transfer to Gitmo

Morgentaler vs Ceiling Cat

Evidently Morgentaler receiving the Order of Canada is, among other offences, "an affront" to Ceiling Cat.
As usual Ceiling Cat was unavailable for comment.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Steve's new spokes-antagonist

Oily the Splot and Corn Cob Bob showcase the distinctive artistic stylings of Kory Teneycke, founding ReformaTory member and former CEO and ethanol lobbyist for the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association. Teneycke creates mascots with round eyes set too close together and big bragging mouths to represent his clients.
Now that he is Steve's official new spokes-sandra, can he come up with a winning brand for Steve? Maybe something featuring Steve's foreign policy prowess.

Go on, Kory, you know you want to ...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

SPP : Outsourcing food safety to industry

A Canadian Food Inspection Agency employee was fired on Friday for sharing with his union information he found in a Treasury Board document that CFIA planned to make a 5% cut in its operating budget by outsourcing responsibility for food inspections and the labelling of products to industry.

5%, you say. Well that definitely seems worth dumping the CFIA mandate and adopting the U.S. industry-based approach to food safety instead.

Luc Pomerleau, a 20 year public service employee and shop steward, found the info on a shared CFIA computer last May. The union contends that Pomerleau was fired not for "breaching security" but because of what he found.
Michèle Demers, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada : "It is not industry's role to protect the health of safety of Canadians, it's the agency's role."

While the document - a November 2007 Treasury Board meeting at which ministers approved the proposed cuts - is once again secret, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) Report on Plans and Priorities for 2007-2008 webpage displays an emphasis on profit you would not normally expect from a government department whose primary purpose is ensuring food safety for Canadians :
"Canada is working with the United States and Mexico on the regulatory aspects of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America to eliminate redundant testing and certification requirements when it is beneficial to Canada. The CFIA co-leads with Health Canada, Canada's participation in the SPP initiatives for food and agriculture regulation and protection. Through the SPP, the CFIA is pursuing common approaches to better protect North America from offshore and domestic risks to food safety and animal and plant health."

Only in North America, you say? Pity.
"Working to achieve a better life for Canadians is the highest priority of the government. Long-term prosperity requires increased productivity and competitiveness which means making sure Canadians can compete in a global economy by creating a stronger economic union, reducing red tape and making sure borders stay open for business."

Because when I think about food safety, my thoughts immediately turn to the main preoccupation and slogan of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives : "making sure borders stay open for business".

A side note : the "leaked" document also mentions spending cuts on equipment for the Avian Influenza Preparedness Program. I thought the bird flu scare was the major rationale for that NorthCom "Defending Our Homelands" pact which allows troops from Canada and the U.S. to operate in each other's countries now.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Bombing hearts and minds

No sooner do we hear that Afghan PM Karzai "has ordered an investigation into a helicopter strike on Friday in Nuristan Province in which the provincial governor said 22 civilians had been killed and 7 wounded"
[U.S. military version : "only people who had been firing on coalition forces were hit"]

than the New York Times reports this: "Local officials in eastern Afghanistan said Sunday that an American airstrike killed at least 27 civilians in a wedding party, most of them women and children and including the bride. "
[U.S. military version : "The airstrike killed militants and there was no evidence of women and children at the scene. We have no reports of civilian casualties, and there were no women and children there,” Capt. Christian Patterson, a coalition spokesman, said."]

Plus ça change...

May 2004 : "A videotape shows a dozen white pickup trucks speeding through the desert, escorting a bridal car decorated with colorful ribbons. The bride wears a Western-style white bridal dress and veil. The videotape obtained Sunday by Associated Press Television News captures a wedding party that survivors say was later attacked by U.S. planes early Wednesday, killing up to 45 people.
Video that APTN shot a day after the attack shows fragments of musical instruments, pots and pans and brightly colored beddings used for celebrations, scattered around the bombed out tent."
[U.S. military version : "There was no evidence of a wedding: no decorations, no musical instruments found, no large quantities of food or leftover servings one would expect from a wedding celebration," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said Saturday. "There may have been some kind of celebration. Bad people have celebrations, too."]

More than 8,000 people died in attacks in Afghanistan last year, according to the U.N., the most since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

New Capitalist Pyramid

If I had a rocket lawn chair

Gas station owner Kent Couch made a 235-mile (378km) trip in a green lawn chair held aloft by 150 giant 5' helium party balloons.
Using jugs of cherry Kool-Aid for ballast and a BB gun to pop the odd balloon to control his altitude, Mr. Couch soared from Bend, Oregon to Idaho in nine hours.
"Things just look different from up there. You've moving so slowly. The best thing is the peace, the serenity."


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Going postal

Canada Post is still ours, right? It does still belong to us.

So why would the federal government appoint a panel of three people, the chair of which has already written two books advocating the end of postal monopolies, to determine whether Canada Post should be allowed to continue to provide us with universal service and some of the lowest postal rates in the world, or whether it would somehow be better to deregulate it so that private corps can have a piece of it?

The government has said it has no plans to privatize Canada Post, but what are the chances CP can survive a bidding war for contracts against private companies with non-unionized jobs?
And then there's the privacy angle :
Public Service Alliance of Canada:

"If any of participating corporations were based in the United States, they would be subject to the terms of the USA Patriot Act, which gives the U.S. government access to private information contained in the mail."

Well no need to worry yet - I'm sure all this will come out at the public hearings.
Oops. No public hearings.
Unlike previous reviews which held public meetings throughout Canada, this three person panel is only accepting written submissions from June till Sept. 2.
Gosh and I'll bet a lot of people are away at the summer cottage at the moment too.

The problem with deregulation is that it allows private corps to snap up the most lucrative aspects of a public corporation, leaving it - and us - with the debts associated with delivering the less profitable parts - like mail to that remote cottage - and paying more for less service.
Then there is usually another follow-up review panel which concludes that - surprise, surprise - the gutted public corporation just isn't financially sustainable after all so we may as well sell it off for whatever we can get for it. Like this :

From the bio of Moya Greene, Canada Post President & CEO :
"As Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy, in the Department of Transportation, Ms. Greene was responsible for broad reform of the over-burdened transportation system; the privatization of CN; the deregulation of the Canadian airline industry; and the commercialization of the Canadian port system."

So how is the deregulation and privatization of mail doing in other countries?
Hmmmm ... not so good.

In May 2007, United Parcel Service of America (UPS) lost its NAFTA Chapter 11 case against the Government of Canada regarding Canada Post's delivery of public sector services. UPS had claimed that Canada Post represented unfair competition for private companies providing similar services.

Is the Canada Post Corporation Strategic Review panel going to do UPS's work for them?

Your submission here :
Canada Post Corporation Strategic Review

h/t to the indefatigable Waterbaby

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Priest returns his Order of Canada in a huff

Father Lucien Larre of Coquitlam says he will return his Order of Canada award rather than be associated with abortion rights activist Henry Morgentaler.

"Father Lucien Larre said elevating Morgentaler to the Order of Canada "degrades" the award for those who believe in the sanctity of human life.
Morgentaler is best known for taking his fight to the Supreme Court, which struck down the country's abortion laws 20 years ago. He was named to the Order of Canada earlier this week."

Father Larre, on the other hand, is probably best known for being convicted in 1992 on two counts of physically abusing children in his care at Bosco Homes in Saskatchewan: slapping and choking a female, and forcing another to take pills to teach her a lesson about drug abuse.
Nine other charges including one of sexual abuse were overturned.

In 1998, Larre registered as a psychologist in B.C., but the B.C. College of Psychologists suspended his registration because it felt he posed "an immediate risk to the public."

I'm wondering why Father Lucien didn't return his OC then.

Hitchens : I Can't Believe It's Not Torture!

Hitch gets waterboarded - still doesn't get it.

The Vanity Press

The Galloping Beaver

Blind Man With a Pistol

Image pillaged from North of Center

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Top Canadian commander in Kandahar blows off Taliban jailbreak : "It's not my job."

G&M : Inside the Taliban jailbreak
"Kandahar's provincial council strongly criticized the foreign troops for arriving at Sarpoza roughly two hours after the jailbreak started. They demanded to know why Canadian soldiers watched the [800] prisoners run away and failed to chase them. Witnesses say that hundreds of inmates spent their first night of freedom camping in the fields only a few kilometres south of the prison, within easy reach of the Canadian soldiers sent to investigate.

Brigadier-General Denis Thompson, the top Canadian commander in Kandahar, confirmed that NATO surveillance tracked the fugitives as they fled. But he said it's not Canada's job as part of the International Security Assistance Force to hunt down escaped prisoners.

"You can ask yourself the rhetorical question, what if we find 100 fugitives in the fields?" Gen. Thompson said. "What is ISAF's duty in that circumstance? Is it to go arrest people?"

The commander continued: "We're not policing this country, right? It's not our role to police this country. Our role is to stand behind our Afghan partners and assist them."

The Canadian commander said he was also unaware, until informed by The Globe and Mail, that most of the prison staff had been poisoned in the week before the attack.
Many were hospitalized and the rest staggered home, leaving only a few guards on duty that evening.
[The superintendent of the women’s section recovered and] had a puzzling conversation with the prison director on the day of the attack. She passed him outside his office, she said, and he smiled at her. “He told me, ‘Something might happen tonight.’ ”

Seven Taliban prisoners, who gathered every day inside one of the nicest cells of the national-security wing, a sunny room on the north side with a view of a garden.
They posted a sign on their door, saying: “No interruptions from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.”
[There was] an Arabic phrase recently painted on the wall : “ Jihad is mandatory.”

In the year before the prison break, the Canadians paid for new septic systems, solar-powered lighting, new doors and windows, an infirmary, landscaping, guard towers and washroom facilities, among other improvements. "

It's on the front page of the G&M today. The whole story is ... extraordinary.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Happy Canada Day, Dr. Henry Morgentaler, OC

"Every Mother a willing Mother, every Child a wanted Child."

Looks like Canadian hero Dr. Henry Morgentaler is going to receive the Order of Canada on Canada Day in the year of the 20th anniversary of reproductive choice in Canada.

The Order of Canada recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the country. The motto inscribed on the medal is : He desired a better country. Certainly Morgentaler risked his life and his reputation on a cause no one else gave a damn about, and he is a hero to millions of Canadian women.

G&M : Outrage brews as Ottawa set to honour Morgentaler.

"The divisive debate about abortion rights in Canada is poised to erupt once again as Henry Morgentaler, the country's best-known abortion-rights crusader, is expected to be named to the Order of Canada.
Even before the official announcement, Dr. Morgentaler's name attached to the highest honour in the land ignited a firestorm of controversy yesterday, with online blogs, people opposed to abortion and pro-choice supporters wading into the Order of Canada committee's decision."

"Highest honour in the land." Let the meddling anti-choice howling and frothing and bedwetting begin.

In R.v.Morgentaler, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the jurisdiction of the state over women's bodies was unconstitutional.
Justice Bertha Wilson wrote :

"The decision whether to terminate a pregnancy is essentially a moral decision, a matter of conscience. I do not think there is or can be any dispute about that. The question is: whose conscience? Is the conscience of the woman to be paramount or the conscience of the state? I believe, for the reasons I gave in discussing the right to liberty, that in a free and democratic society it must be the conscience of the individual."

With thanks on Canada Day to the Governor General, Her Excellency Michaëlle Jean , Chief Justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin, and the Order of Canada Advisory Panel.

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