Thursday, July 30, 2009

IPPs suffer momentary lapse of muscular coordination

Map of proposed and existing run-of-river licences via IPP Watch

The Province : Private power sources 'not in the public interest'

"A bombshell ruling by the B.C. Utilities Commission ... refused to endorse Hydro's long-term call for 3,000 gigawatts of power from public and independent power producers (IPPs) because it was not "in the public interest."
In other words, the commission shot down government claims that the province needs more power, NDP energy critic John Horgan told The Province."
Power to export to the US, he did not need to add, which anyway is looking much less likely to be able to afford it.

G&M : Green Premier's agenda hits snag as energy plan rejected

"Some analysts say the ruling – which shocked the government and the stock market – indicates B.C. has been over-estimating the amount of power the province needs in order to justify the development of independent power projects."
from which BC Hydro is contracted to buy power we don't need at far more than market price and at a time of year when the BC dams are full to overflowing anyway.

So, utility watchdog does good? Maybe.
However ... because there always has to be a however...

"Energy Minister Blair Lekstrom says the government is preparing a swift response to the ruling, and possibly a legal challenge.
Since the ruling, IPP investors have fled a budding industry that was valued at up to $14 billion after the May 12 election, analysts say.
Lekstrom admitted that IPPs are worried that Victoria's plans will change, but he insists they won't."
which was predicted in the Wall Street Journal, who further note the new strategic advantage of Plutonic Power :

Analysts Say Outcome Of B.C. Clean-Power Call Unclear

" Analysts say green-power producers hoping to build new projects in British Columbia could still see some projects go forward, despite a ruling from the B.C. Utilities Commission that many thought put the future of clean power in the province in doubt.

BC Hydro could move forward with a modified plan, awarding some contracts to clean-power producers but reducing the number of awards. He said this scenario would likely favor smaller projects, and could require some intervention from the B.C. government.
... if BC Hydro moves forward with a reduced set of awards for smaller projects, it could help developers such as Plutonic Power, Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. (INE.T) and Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. (KHD.T) because each submitted some bids for smaller projects. "

Really? Flashback :

List of Key Liberal Insiders Hired by Private Power Developers

  • Patrick Kinsella, Co-chair of 2001 and 2005 BC Liberal provincial campaigns - has consulted for Alcan, Accenture and now Plutonic Power. Alleged to have worked for both CN and BC Rail as BC Rail was being sold to CN.
  • Tom Syer, former deputy chief of staff to Gordon Campbell, now a director at Plutonic Power/GE.
  • David Cyr, former Assistant to BC Liberal Minister Mike de Jong, now a director at Plutonic Power/GE.
  • Robert Poore, recently worked under the Provincial Revenue Minister of the Province of BC, now a senior director at Plutonic Power/GE.
  • Bill Irwin, after holding key positions in the BC Ministries of Land and Water, and Crown Lands, now a director at Plutonic Power/GE.
  • Mark Grant, former executive director of the BC Liberal Party now with Rupert Peace Power.
  • Bruce Young, has held several high profile positions with the BC Liberal party and lobbied his own party on behalf of Katabatic Power is listed as a director of Atla Energy.

Plus 13 others in a list left in comments here on April 19 by Racheal11 and picked up 2 months later by The Province. benefitting from $30-billion in contracts to produce private power while BC Hydro is prohibited from generating any new energy sources.

This is a complicated story in many layers with a lot more yet to unfold.
I'll be watching RossK.

BC Citizens for Public Power : "First, the Energy Plan fabricates an energy crisis in BC; next private power is erroneously portrayed as synonymous with green energy and, by extension, most viable solution for BC’s energy shortage and the fight against climate change."


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The invisible hand of libertarianism

Hands up anyone even remotely surprised to hear a Fraser Institute alumnus making an argument in favour of slavery.

In an argument with Rafe Mair at The Tyee "Yes, Sell the Rivers", libertarian Walter Block defends privatization using an example of what he is careful to call "voluntary slavery" :

"My child is gravely ill. Only an operation can save his life. But, this medical care costs $100 million, and I am a poor man (we assume away the possibility of government health care that will swoop in and ruin our example).
Seemingly, my only option is to witness the passing away of my beloved child.
But wait!
Rafe Mair, richer than Bill Gates, has for a long time wanted me to be his slave. He'd like more than anything else to boss me around, and then whip me every time I displeased him. He values this opportunity way more than the medical costs necessary to save my child's life. So, we strike a deal. Rafe gives me the $100 million, which I immediately turn over to the hospital. Then, I go to Mair's plantation, and become his slave.

Why is this so objectionable? Rafe and I both gain from this deal. I value my child's life more than my own freedom; way more. Mair values my servitude more than the costs of buying me into servitude; again, way more, let us suppose. If voluntary slavery is legal, we can consummate this financial arrangement, to our mutual gain. If not, not, to the great loss of both of us.

Slave-master Rafe would never shell out the cold cash if, after he paid, I could haul him into court on assault and battery charges when he whipped me. Then, without this financial arrangement, I would have to witness the death of my child, probably the most devastating thing that can ever happen to a parent."

$100 million in medicare costs for an operation?
What kind of cockamamie example is that ?
Oh yeah, right, Walter Block is the author of "Socialized Medicine is the Problem".
"[Our healthcare system] should be privatized and take its place among all other industries (cars, computers, chalk) that contribute mightily to our advanced standard of living ...
At this point the critic will retort, “It is not fair to charge people market prices for health care; the rich will be treated better.” But that is precisely the point of being rich in the first place. If the wealthy did not get better treatment, what would be the point in trying to amass riches?"

So according to Block, voluntary slavery is the best scenario result of privatizing 'socialized' medicine.
Good to know.
Author Taras Grescoe once quipped to me that a libertarian is just a conservative who once smoked a joint. Maybe more than one was required here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

New from TASER™ - a three-stun gun

The new TASER™ X3 can fire off three shots up to 35 feet without being reloaded.

Impressive. At a distance of 35 feet, you wouldn't even need to talk to the taseree first.

"We are the new technology – it's splashy because of the electricity, you can make it scary," said Rick Smith of TASER International as he and his brother fired off six rounds apiece to whoops and applause from law enforcement officers attending TASER's annual conference today.
"This is as big a step as when firearms went from a muzzle loader to the revolver," Rick Smith said later. "If I was a cop I'd want to carry one."

So that's three separate people - or I guess in a pinch, three shots for one lucky person.
Why just this morning I was reading about a police officer using a TASER™ to drop a suspect and handcuff him facedown, then firing a second shot into his buttocks as three officers sat on him, and finally the officer shoved his TASER™ up the guy's ass and threatened to tase his balls off with a third shot.
As TASER International likes to say, just imagine how much easier and safer those police officers' jobs will be without all that pesky reloading.
h/t Waterbaby

Big weather

The only news that mattered around here on Saturday night was a massive thunder and lightning storm with pelting rain.

Just before the storm hit, all the colour bleached out of the land into the air, leaving behind a dark monotone of muddy red - Maxfield Parrish crossed with Joy Division.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cannon and Van Loan tell Abdelrazik to piss off

Abdelrazik wants the federal government to help him get his name removed from a United Nations terror watch list so he can lead a normal life again.
You know - get a job, go to a doctor, get on a plane, have a bank account, accept anything from anyone without risk of their being charged with being in violation of the UN's 1267 shunning regulations.
Above are the responses to Abdelrazik's lawyers from Minister of Public Security Peter Van Loan and Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon telling them to piss off.
Click em to read em, courtesy of The Peoples Commission via the indefatigable Toe at BnR.
Cannon adds further insult to injury by advising Abdelrazik to go ahead and try to get off the list himself although to date no one has ever been removed from that list without a supporting submission from their government.
Indeed the Chairman of the UN Security Council’s Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee noted two weeks ago that although Abdelrazik went on the list in 2006 - some 3 years after Canada had him arrested in Sudan - the committee has not gotten around to an indepth assessment of his case yet.
The list of 513 people currently includes 38 people presumed dead.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Not quite guerilla gardening

BC Ferries employee Wing Sun's wonderful little garden on the concrete wingwall wedged between berths two and three at the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal.

As ferries load and offload on either side of him, he sprouts seeds, tends his plants, creates garden art out of found objects discarded by travellers, and paints designs in praise of nature on available outdoor walls. All done on his own time and dime during his coffee breaks and lunch hours, it's a lovely oasis in the otherwise quite unlovely ferry terminal.
Thank you, Wing Sun, and to BC Ferries for seeing the value in his labour of love.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

"Sudan is your Guantanamo" CSIS told Abdelrazik

Abousfian Abdelrazik spoke out this morning about his exile, his torture, the false charges against him, the harrassment of his dying Canadian wife and her family by CSIS before he returned to Sudan to care for his ailing mother in 2003.
He could identify by sight, he told us, the Canadian agents who questioned him while he was in captivity in Sudan, including the one who told him "Sudan will be your Guantanamo" and that he was never coming home.
He describes being interrogated in Sudan by Foreign Affairs parliamentary secretary Deepak Obhrai, who questioned him about Osama bin Laden and what he thought of Israel.
I watched it on tv.
Paul Koring, Dr. Dawg, and Kady were there.
There's a sense in which this case is more important than that of Maher Arar in terms of how Canadians, at least Muslim Canadians, can expect to be treated by our government and whether CSIS is under anyone's control any more.
There was no US middleman here, no wiggle room in which Canadian intelligence agencies could be said to have been overpowered or shut out of the process by US security forces.
This one is ours.
In the meantime, Abdelrazik is still on that 1267 UN blacklist : he cannot work, he cannot receive money or medical attention, he cannot fly, he cannot receive gifts.
He is currently an exile in Canada.
UPDATE : "NDP foreign-affairs critic Paul Dewar called on the government to launch a public inquiry even more far reaching than the judicial probe into the imprisonment and torture in Syria of Maher Arar. ... there was no middle man," Dewar said.
Deepak Obhrai is currently away in Asia.

Stockwell Day Trader

The Obama administration's "buy American" policy requires the $800 billion stimulus package of taxpayers' money be spent within US borders.

Canadian businesses complain this shuts them out of the action.

Thankfully Trade Minister Stockwell Day has an idea :
"If we offer Canadian provincial and municipal taxpayers' money to the US as well, maybe they'll take it."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Frank Luntz : Spinning a Global Language Dictionary

Republican shuckster Frank Luntz has taken time out from his busy schedule attacking Obama and his semi-somewhat-un-universal healthcare proposal in the US to put together a 116 page Global Language Dictionary of talking points to reshape public perception of Israel's carnage in Gaza side of the story on internet chat forums, blogs, Twitter and Facebook :
Be positive.
Turn the issue away from settlements and toward peace.
Invoke ethnic cleansing.
Don't mention religion or use biblical quotations.
What a spectacularly awful idea.
Presumably intended for use in conjunction with Project Megaphone. and his "Israel Communication Priorities 2003", also for The Israel Project.
Frank, you will recall, previously advised Steve on how to sell the ReformaTory brand to Canada and how to deny the existence of global warming sufficient to the task of forestalling government action on climate change on both sides of the border for years.
Let's look at just one of Frank's talking points.
While "Invoke ethnic cleansing" would seem a very unlikely propaganda prospect given the circumstances, here Frank is reframing the issue regarding the prospect of Israelis having to give up (further?)settlements in the West Bank. The "best settlement argument", says Frank, is to make a parallel between the Arab communities in Israel and the Jewish settlers in the West Bank:
"The idea that anywhere that you have Palestinians there can’t be any Jews, that some areas have to be Jew-free, is a racist idea."
OK, time to bring on the "Internet fighting team" !
This is the name given by the Israeli Foreign Ministry to a paid "team of students and demobilized soldiers who will work around the clock writing pro-Israeli responses on Internet websites all over the world, and on services like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube."

"They will punch a card," says Elan Shturman of the Foreign Ministry.

"Our people will not say: ‘Hello, I am from the policy-explanation department of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and I want to tell you the following.’ Nor will they necessarily identify themselves as Israelis. They will speak as net-surfers and as citizens, and will write responses that will look personal but will be based on a prepared list of messages that the Foreign Ministry developed."

Good to know. Thanks for the heads up. A little hard on the now-discredited people out there genuinely trying for honest debate, don't you think?
So the next time Steve refers to his fellow Canadian parliamentarians as anti-Semitic for criticizing Israel, or Stockwell Day applauds what it pleases the Israeli government to call our Canada-Israel Homeland Security pact, or a sitting British MP is refused entry to Canada for delivering aid to Gaza, or a Star editor unfairly castigates one of her own columnists in public at the behest of the CJC, or a Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism blubbers on about "blood libel" and some new expanded definition of anti-Semitism, just ask them to point you instead to the relevant talking point in Frank's dictionary. It'll save a lot of your time.
Yes, I'm ragging on about Israel a lot.
There seems to have been a sudden bump in officially sanctioned nonsense about Israel since we finalized that public security deal last year to protect the Canada-Israel border. *snerk*
For a very good article on the alarming ties between Steve's government and Jewish lobbies and the Christian right in Canada, see retired B'nai Brith Chair and Concordia University History Professor Emeritus Stephen Scheinberg :

Monday, July 20, 2009

Homeland Security's reefer madness

In an interview on NPR, assistant commissioner Michael Kostelnik of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol explains why the Department of Homeland Security has five weaponless Predator drones patrolling the Canada-US border :

"routinely we have small helicopters they come and drop hockeybags full of B.C. Bud - a very lethal type of hydroponically grown marijuana."
Lethal marijuana.

Ok, to be fair, he did also mention that library that straddles both countries...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Combating anti-Semitism - Part Two

Thwap breaks it down (from comments):
It's quite simple really. When combating anti-Semitism was tough, when it involved going up against the world's most powerful nations and the wealthy and powerful within Western societies, it was the LEFT that was clearly in the forefront against it.

Now that genuine anti-Semitism in Western society consists mainly of some losers with spray-cans, we find fearless right-wingers joining the fray.

The fact that "anti-Semitism" has been expanded to mean criticizing Israeli imperialism, makes right-wingers even more happy, because they get to take the side of a bully and imagine that they're fighting a worthy cause at the same time.

It's kinda like how US repugnican youth imagine they're fighting for "democracy" against "Islamo-fascism" by writing blog-posts at home while their overstretched armed forces are murdering civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Pathetic Loserdom to the nth degree.

Thwap's Schoolyard

Friday, July 17, 2009

On combating anti-Semitism

In February, Bernie Farber CEO of the CJC, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, and 10 other Lib and Con MPs attended the London Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism.

"Of all the strategies and tactics reviewed, one stood out for broader emulation. It was the development of all-party enquiries into the state of anti-Semitism in individual countries. Such a committee establishes a clear focus and accountabilities, a specific timeline for co-ordinated action by government ministries, agencies and law enforcement groups and a political check against any attempts at appeasement.

It ensures that the fight against anti-Semitism becomes validated by all parties, and avoids anti-Semitism serving as a wedge issue among politicians. It puts the onus for leadership of the battle on non-Jews who have the most credibility in pushing this agenda within civil society. "

The coalition will conduct a national inquiry into antisemitism in Canada
Today’s announcement is intended to signal that in this country, legislators of all parties are deeply concerned about what seems to be a rising international tide of renewed antisemitism, on a scale not seen in my lifetime.

(h/t Dr. Dawg - Go)

Farber further notes in his column "the rise of new forms of anti-Semitism" such as "the linkage of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism"

Perhaps as practised by the Prime Minister of Canada?

Mike Souza, Canwest News May 09 2008

Some of the criticism brewing in Canada against the state of Israel, including from some members of Parliament, is similar to the attitude of Nazi Germany in the Second World War, Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned yesterday.

"I guess my fear is what I see happening in some circles is (an) anti-Israeli sentiment, really just as a thinly disguised veil for good old-fashioned anti-Semitism, which I think is completely unacceptable," Harper said in an interview with CJAD radio.
"We learned in the Second World War that those who would hate and destroy the Jewish people would ultimately hate and destroy the rest of us as well, and the same holds today."

Many thanks for the obligaTory Godwin moment, Steve.

Farber also relates, apparently without irony or noting the significance himself, that :
"The U.K. Community Security Trust (CST), which co-hosted the London conference, has developed one of the leading evidentiary methodologies for tracking and understanding anti-Semitic incidents. Last week, it noted that a decrease in anti-Semitic incidents in 2008 (for the second year running) was totally overshadowed by an unprecedented rise during and after the Gaza operations."
Odd coincidence, that.
You know, if you guys would knock off conflating criticism of Israel's actions in Gaza with anti-Semitism yourselves, it would go a good distance towards combating the anti-Semitism you complain of.
Critics of Israel know anti-Semitism exists; we stand by legitimate attempts to combat it.
What we do not support is the weasely conflation of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism/criticism of Israel in the underhanded attempt to muzzle all criticism of Israel, like this ridiculous attempt by Farber here and Jason Kenney's recent success in barring George Galloway from entering Canada.
Unfortunately I fear that whatever McCarthyite machinations are brewed up by the new privately-funded Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism will only serve to further blur that line.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

North American Leaders' Summit 2009 - an insider's view

With the next North American Leaders' Summit in Guadalajara, Mexico less than a month away, Canadian media have begun reporting snippets from a new report by Hudson Institute expert on Canada-US relations Christopher Sands : Toward a New Frontier : Improving the U.S.-Canadian Border.

And why should we be listening to him? Because he's an insider.

Sands is advisor to the U.S. Section of the North American Competitiveness Council, the corporate wing of the SPP, and a lecturer on North American integration for both the US State Dept. and the Dept. of Homeland Security. His Negotiating North America : The Security and Prosperity Partnership is perhaps the closest thing we have to a semi-official manual on the SPP.

In light of his latest policy recommendations for the Summit :
  • rebranding a revived SPP,
  • allowing environmental, labor and human rights groups equivalent NACC status to that so far only extended to corporations,
  • increasing transparency of reporting
  • decentralizing border security away from Washinton to the individual states, and
  • implementing a common security perimeter
it's worth looking at some of his other recent assessments of Canada-US relations :
"Homeland security is the gatekeeper with its finger on the jugular affecting your ability to move back and forth across the border, the market access upon which the Canadian economy depends."
"In exchange for continued visa-free access to the United States, American officials are pressuring the federal government to supply them with more information on Canadians. Not only about (routine) individuals but also about people that you may be looking at for reasons, but there's no indictment and there's no charge."
Here Sands recounts a conversation with the assistant secretary of policy at the Department of Homeland Security :
"Canadians have "had a better deal than anybody else in terms of access to the United States and for that they've paid nothing." Now "we want to give you less access, but we want you to pay more and, by the way, we're standardizing this (with other visa-free countries) so you're not special anymore."
Canada's Peace, Order and Unreliable Government : [on Canada's minority governments]
"This does not mean that Canadians or their interests will be maltreated, punished, or maliciously ignored by Washington. U.S. policymakers will pity Ottawa, indulge it when possible, and ignore it only when necessary."

"Since the November U.S. election, Canadian editorialists have talked about the impressive Canadian contribution as a calling card with the new administration in Washington, sure to gain a hearing and possibly even concessions for Canadian interests.

The valuation of the Canadian contribution, however, is usually exaggerated.

The United States maintained 35,000 troops in Afghanistan until recently, when an additional 30,000 were deployed to join this force. Canada's 2500 are just 3 percent of the total Western force. ... In contrast, both India and even China have suggested they might offer ground troops to fight al Qaeda and the Taliban. That does not devalue or diminish the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan; but it may help to explain why President Obama is unlikely to lobby the Harper government to rescind its announcement of a 2011 withdrawal.

Canada is an oddity among US allies. Most countries have come to terms with their relative smallness when compared to the United States, and though they work to make respectable contributions to US-led security efforts and campaigns, they are realistic about what they can do. Canadians, flush with memories of outsized past contributions to international security, particularly during two world wars, expect to be treated as a junior great power. "

Good to know.

The Leaders Summit is less than a month away - Aug 8-11 - and the Canadian government has yet to make any public announcement about it at all, let alone what will be on the agenda this time round.

Council of Canadians are demanding that Canadians not be left out of the process yet again : Demand a say in North America's future.
Good luck with that.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The miracle of Goldman Sachs

The G&M notes the "miraculous recovery" of Goldman Sachs, "expected to report Tuesday that it made a profit of more than $2-billion US in the March to June period – possibly its best quarter in two years."

It's a freakin' miracle alright - just like the miracle of the cups and ball trick.

Or, as Matt Taibbi writes in Goldman Sachs : The Great American Bubble Machine, helpfully posted up at Statism Watch , it's like "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money... If America is circling the drain, Goldman Sachs has found a way to be that drain."

Matt Taibbi does the trick with the transparent cups :

The formula is relatively simple: Goldman positions itself in the middle of a speculative bubble, selling investments they know are crap. Then they hoover up vast sums from the middle and lower floors of society with the aid of a crippled and corrupt state that allows it to rewrite the rules in exchange for the relative pennies the bank throws at political patronage. Finally, when it all goes bust, leaving millions of ordinary citizens broke and starving, they begin the entire process over again, riding in to rescue us all by lending us back our own money at interest.

And why should you care? Well "the heads of the Canadian national banks are Goldman alums, as is the head of the World Bank, the head of the New York Stock Exchange, the last two heads of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York - which, incidentally, is now in charge of overseeing Goldman ..."

Penn and Teller, well, Penn, explains that one of the secrets of magic is to never repeat a trick for the same audience, but Taibbi tells us "Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression - and they’re about to do it again." Good article.

Fun fact : Goldman Sachs' corporate tax rate in 2008 : 1%

Monday, July 13, 2009

Zerb, the CJC, and The Star : EPIC FLAIL RoundUp

bastard.logic : Antonia Zerbisias : Under Their Wheels

Canadian Cynic : The Star's Kathy English : A thoroughly useful idiot

Gerson in AbuDhabi : On Canadian media, the CJC, and defending Zerb

The Galloping Beaver :
TorStar Public Editor fails to take Round-to-Round Dispersion into account...

POGGE : Toronto Star publisher and public editor channel Joe McCarthy

Unrepentant Old Hippie : I'm not Gay, I just play one in Pride Parades

Dawg's Blawg : Hell freezes over again

A Creative Revolution : Supporting Mz Z.

Mirabile Dictu : LOL Your stilted agenda

Stageleft : Political Correctness Rule #172

Mark Steyn : Queer Tee for the Straight Jew

We Move to Canada : Support Antonia Zerbisias

Blamblog : Nobody knows I'm sarcastic

YaYa Canada : Queer goings on ...

Rabble : Gay panic at the CJC and the Toronto Star

Canadian Dimension : Bernie Farber is not gay

Creekside : Gay freakout at The Star

There's more - a lot more - but I think you get the general idea.
Do you think The Star does?

UPDATE : One week later : Apparently they don't.
Or as JJ says : Bernie Farber - still not gay ... Kathy English - still not getting it.

Canadian Project for a New American Century

In July 2005, Canada's Chief of Defence Rick Hillier explained our new relationship to the people of Afghanistan :
"These are detestable murderers and scumbags. They want to break our society. If Canada is attacked, it will be only because it is a free country.
They detest our freedoms. They detest our society. They detest our liberties."
By sending troops to Afghanistan, he argued, Canada is actually protecting itself : "We are the Canadian Forces and our job is to be able to kill people."
Our job is also, he might as well have added, to placate the US for having foolishly avoided public advocacy for its adventure in Iraq.

Four years and many platitudes about little girls going to school later, the Canadian military manual of counterinsurgency (COIN) operations doctrine begun in 2005 and spanning the Bush and Obama presidencies is now complete.
Authorized by the head of the Canadian army Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, it is, Anthony Fenton writes at The Dominion, "a synthesis of two recent US Army Field Manuals" and a model of US-Canada "synergy":

Obama's administration has sent clear signals, through political appointments and holdovers (such as Defense Secretary Robert Gates), that the US military and national security apparatus' transformation toward fighting smaller, "irregular wars" begun under Bush will continue apace.

Only a week before Bush left office, Gates, together with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Director of USAID, Henrietta Fore, co-signed the US Government Counterinsurgency Guide.

Neo-conservative historian Eliot Cohen, who oversaw the Guide's creation, wrote in its introduction:
"Insurgency will be a large and growing element of the security challenges faced by the United States in the 21st century...Whether the United States should engage in any particular counterinsurgency is a matter of political choice, but that it will engage in such conflicts during the decades to come is a near certainty. This Guide will help prepare decision-makers of many kinds for the tasks that result from this fact."

Thank you, Eliot Cohen, charter member of the Project for the New American Century, signatory to the 1998 white paper on "regime change" in Iraq, and all-round advocate of US military imperialism.
Although PNAC was disbanded in 2006 when its founding members decamped to the Foreign Policy Initiative, both its membership and its objectives of an imperial US COIN agenda continue through Obama and into a Canadian manual on military doctrine.
Suddenly this picture becomes less amusing.
Fenton :
"According to Lt. Gen. Leslie, the Canadian Army is "at the cutting edge" of Western armies readying themselves to fight 21st-century wars.
Since General Leslie signed off on the COIN manual last December, the COIN Center and Canada have collaborated on more than 20 exchanges, including "COIN Leader Workshops" and "COIN Integration" meetings.
Members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) met with the [US]COIN Center for discussions about "US-Canada COIN synergy" five days after Leslie wrote in his issuing order for the new COIN doctrine that it is "complementary to our allies."
In April, the US COIN Center "visited military installations and think-tanks in Canada to inculcate the Canadian military establishment with COIN doctrine and best practices."
Recent meetings have concentrated on how best to sell this idea to the Canadian public.
Maybe they could brand it as the Canadian Project for a New American Century.
Anthony Fenton at The Dominion. Go.
Edited to fix link - thanks, Chris

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Gay freakout at The Star

"Nobody Knows I'm Gay" reads the stylized font seen here on Canadian Jewish Congress CEO Bernie Farber's t-shirt as he marches in this year's Gay Pride Parade in Toronto.

It's ironic. I'm betting you got that right away.

It's also ironic to see Farber in the parade at all after all his blather about the parade "not being a political event" and his attempts to lobby against the participation of the actual gay group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid in the parade but whatever.
Freedom of expression for everyone, right?

Well not quite.

In a blogpost about Canada Day, a blogpost making no mention of either Farber or the Pride Parade, Star columist Antonia Zerbisias notes a little dent in freedom of expression :

"Excuse me but since when did the interests of Zionist lobby groups determine who or what Canadians can see and hear?

In recent months, to list just three examples, there have been concerted campaigns against the staging of Caryl Churchill's controversial Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza and an academic conference at York University where the so-called "one-state solution'' was to be discussed.

We also saw British MP George Galloway be denied entry to the country for a speaking tour, just because he brought aid to bombed-out Gaza.
Now comes word that the only way the respected Al-Jazeera English news service, currently applying for TV distribution in Canada, can win the support of these same Jewish groups is to have them become consultants.

Journalistically speaking, that is hardly kosher."

Some 20 comments down the page five days later someone brings up Farber marching in the Pride Parade with a political group and Zerbisias retorts ironically :

"Yes imagine my surprise when I saw Bernie Farber identifying himself as queer by joining a pro-Israel gay rights group in the parade ... Funny because I didn't know he was gay.
Not that there's anything wrong with that."
Subsequent comments unnecessarily confirm that Farber is indeed not gay but nonetheless Farber has a letter published in The Star to say he is not gay that Zerb has "a rather stilted agenda" ... not that there's anything wrong with that.
Now today Star editor Kathy English posts this long, fawning, completely over-the-top apology to Farber chastising Zerb under the misleading header :
"It's distasteful to me to repeat what she wrote, but context – and making public amends to Farber – demands it ... an embarrassment for the Star ... tasteless and fell short of the Star's standards ... don't have the right to stereotype or scapegoat ... invective and notions of absolute free speech ... sarcastic nonsense ...Farber is not gay...
The issue was subsequently discussed by the CJC's executive committee, concerned that inaccurate information about Farber was "published under the Star banner."
and a whole lotta blah, please don't hurt me, it's not the Star's fault blah, blah
But distasteful ?
Good lord, Star editor and your pompous publisher Cruikshank too, who previously trashed Heather Mallick at CBC for her piece on Sarah Palin, how stupid do you want to look?
Get a fucking grip.
You think this is about teh gay, or in this case, teh obvious-to-everyone-else not gay?
It's about what she wrote in her original post.
You got pwned and blindsided by the CJC and you panicked and threw your columist under a gay bus to prove it. Shame on you.
Now what was Zerb saying again about freedom of expression and the Zionist lobby?
Edited for spledling mitakes doh

Friday, July 10, 2009

United Future World Currency

Well here it is - the proposed "united future world currency" unveiled by Russian President Medvedev today and handed out to the other G-8 leaders.
The test coin "means they’re getting ready," Medvedev said. "I think it’s a good sign that we understand how interdependent we are."
China and Russia have been calling for a supranational currency, a mix of regional reserve currencies controlled by the IMF and delinked from sovereign nations, as part of the drive to address the global financial crisis and replace the dollar as the world's reserve currency.
When asked about it in March, US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told the Council on Foreign Relations : "We are quite open to that" - causing a drop in the dollar requiring him to follow up with : "I think the dollar remains the world’s dominant reserve currency" - after which "the dollar subsequently recovered much of its losses".
I guess my dream of a global currency based on reducing carbon emissions didn't make the cut again this year. On the upside, Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck should be going apeshit tomorrow.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

I can't believe it's not Jesus!

"It's not a symbol of the body and blood of Christ, but is in fact the body and blood of Christ," said Neil MacCarthy, director of communications for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto. "The Communion wafer starts as a host and becomes the body of Christ. And that happens in the course of the sacrament we celebrate."

"We believe we are holding Jesus in our hands, so to put Jesus in your pocket or to put Jesus on the ground [is serious]. If it falls on the ground it has to be consumed. We never throw Jesus out," Mr. MacCarthy said.
Mr. MacCarthy appears to have exceeded his own "best before" date here.

Canada's "shock doctrine" in Honduras

On June 28th, 200 soldiers of the Honduran military kidnapped the president, Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, and flew him to Costa Rica. His attempted return 4 days ago was unsuccessful.
The coup d'eat was roundly condemned by the UN, the EU, the Organization of American States, and rather more tepidly by the USA; the EU pulled its diplomats; the World Bank suspended aid; and all called for the return and reinstatement of Zelaya.

Amidst this near-universal condemnation, on Saturday Canada's Minister for the Americas, Peter Kent, recommended that ousted President Manuel Zelaya delay his planned return to the country, saying the "time is not right". When 2 of 100,000 Zelaya supporters waiting for his plane to land at the airport were shot by the military, Kent went on national tv to blame Zelaya for their deaths.

What is he on about?
Corporate interests and the fear of united social reform in Latin America.
After a devastating hurricane destroyed most of Honduras' crops and infrastructure in 1998, Canada offered millions in aid in return for opening up the country to Canadian mining interests.
Canada and the US also took advantage of this disaster/opportunity, as they did in Colombia, to rewrite Honduras mining laws, granting Canadian corporations tax breaks and land rights to mineral extraction over the rights of local communities. Canada is now the second largest "foreign investor" in the country.

Ashley Holly at The Tyee : Shame on Canada :

"Currently, Canadian companies own 33 per cent of mineral investments in Latin America, accumulating to the ownership of over 100 properties. Export Development Canada contributes 50 per cent of Canadian Pension Plan money to mining companies, which offered upwards of $50 billion in 2003. Goldcorp alone has received nearly one billion dollars from CPP subsidies.

Although EDC is responsible for regulating Canadian industry abroad, it has been accused of failing to apply regulatory standards to 24 of 26 mining projects that it has funded.

In February 2003, nearly five hundred gallons of cyanide spilled into the Rio Lara, killing 18,000 fish. The mine in San Andres uses more water in one hour than an average Honduran family uses in one year. In that same year, mining companies earned $44.4 million, while the average income per capita in Honduras in 2004 was just $1,126USD."

Zelaya has been moving steadily left ever since his election : doubling minimum wage from $132 per month to $290 ; proposing nationalization of energy production and reforms to make government more transparent and accessible; joining Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Nicaragua and Venezuela in the left-leaning ALBA, formed to counter imperialism in the region; and - oh yeah - banning new mining concessions.

Canada's training of Honduran military personnel through its Military Training Assistance Programme is really paying off for Canadian mining corporations here. According to the MTAP Directorate, officials from DFAIT, DND, and CIDA combine to "promote Canadian foreign and defence policy interests," using "the mechanism of military training assistance to develop and enhance bilateral and defence relationships with countries of strategic interest to Canada."

As this Guatemalan newspaper asks : Will President Colom of Guatemala, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, or President Funes in El Salvador be next?

Zelaya discusses the coup with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now today.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Iggy and Steve - Fiscal Conservatism

The deficit will be twice what the Cons projected?

With fearless Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page pointing out the Cons' crappy math skills once again, we recall their ongoing threats to sell off crown corporations to offset the federal deficit and compare them with these words from Defence Minister Peter MacKay in May :
"The global economic downturn won't prevent the Canadian Forces from spending $60 billion on new equipment."
Will we be getting social services cuts to go with that?
Well as Harper pointed out to us in October last year, an economic meltdown does provide for lots of excellent investment opportunities - in fiscal conservatism.

Monday, July 06, 2009

RCMP, pipeline bombings, and "domestic terrorism"

RCMP ask for public's patience after sixth B.C. pipeline bombing
"It's been nine months since the first explosion targeting EnCana's (TSX:ECA) natural gas operations in northeastern B.C. - the start of six attacks the RCMP are now labelling "domestic terrorism."
But with the bomber still at large and months since investigators have announced any new leads in the case, the RCMP are asking for patience as they investigate the two latest explosions in the Dawson Creek area. A blast on Canada Day at a wellhead near the village of Pouce Coupe marked the first attack since January"

CBC : More details of RCMP 'dirty tricks' revealed
"There are new details of the RCMP's covert operation to set off a bomb in northwestern Alberta's oilpatch.
Dubbed "Operation Kabriole", the RCMP's intention was to help an informant get closer to the two men police suspected were behind vandalism against the oil and gas industry.
Wiebo Ludwig and Richard Boonstra were arrested and charged earlier this month.

"Operation Kabriole" was planned and executed with the direct involvement of a Calgary based oil and gas business. Alberta Energy Company has a big operation in the Peace River country.

The RCMP's original plan was to blow up one of AEC's trucks. The company convinced the police to change the operation even though AEC had already given its approval, offered up a truck to be bombed and said it would pay for any major damages. Company officials were having second thoughts.

According to the RCMP's own files, the head of AEC's northern operations met with the police to say his bosses were concerned that bombing a vehicle would cause 'undue stress and fear' for employees driving company trucks.
So the company offered an alternative, a shed covering one of its "out of service" well sites not far from the suspects' property.

The bomb was set off Oct. 14, one week before AEC hosted two tense and emotional town hall meetings. Worried residents who turned out, were told by an expert, who was flown in by AEC, that they were the victims of 'eco-terrorists'.
Nov. 10, 2000."

Related : media terrorism experts.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Interdependence Day

Star : "General Walter Natynczyk, right, Canada's Chief of Defence Staff, rides a torpedo as General David Petraeus, his U.S. counterpart, watches at a Canadian military display at the Calgary Stampede on July 3, 2009."

Friday, July 03, 2009

Emperor Steve

Montreal Simon catches Steve playing Napoleon on Canada Day :

"Harper managed to get the military to give him a salute that's normally reserved for the Governor-General. As Heritage Minister James Moore explains in the video, this was something that the Prime Minister apparently wanted."

Really? How very presidential of him.

The Governor General is the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces – not the Prime Minister - but I guess since she allowed him to suspend parliament and declare himself head-of-state back in December, she may as well let him play with her honour guard as well.
Update : Good point. Impolitical notes the hideous irony of James Moore, Minister of Heritage, being sent out to defend this latest example of "creeping political vandalism".

Thursday, July 02, 2009

And this is why we can't have nice things...

Presenting The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence of June 15 2009
in a rousing reinterpretation of The Mad Hatter's Tea Party :

Senator Manning: Do orders of the Internal Economy Committee supersede the workings of a committee?
Senator Tkachuk: They are not an order. I just answered that. That would have been an order of the Senate because the minutes of the Internal Economy Committee are adopted by the Senate.
The Chair: Thank you. I have heard enough.
Senator Manning: I wanted to ask a question.
The Chair: I am sorry; I have heard enough.
Senator Nolin: It is a point of order.
The Chair: On points of order, after I have heard the views of enough people to make up my mind, then it is up to me —
Senator Manning: You cannot even ask a question here?
The Chair: I am sorry.
Senator Manning: What in the hell are we at here if we cannot ask a question? Hold on, Mr. Chair, I just want to ask a simple question here. I am a member of this committee, and I want to ask a question.
The Chair: You can ask a question after you hear the ruling.
Senator Manning: I want to ask a question in regards to the —
The Chair: After you hear the ruling. You are out of order now, sir.
Senator Manning: In regards to what he just said, I want to ask a question.
The Chair: You are still out of order.
Senator Tkachuk: I would like to add another point, chair, to that question, which is that —
Senator Manning: This is out of hand, boy. I have the floor here for a minute.
The Chair: No, you are out of order.
Senator Manning: No, I have the floor here.
The Chair: You do not have the floor anymore. I am sorry.
Senator Manning: Well, I am going to say it anyway.
The Chair: No, you are not.
Senator Manning: Oh, yes, I am. I am asking the question.
The Chair: Please cut off his microphone. He is out of order.
Senator Tkachuk: You have no right to do that, chair. That is enough of that.
The Chair: Yes, I do, and do not shout at me.
Senator Tkachuk: I will shout at you as much as I want.
Senator Manning: This is out of hand. I am sitting here as a member of the committee —
The Chair: On a point of order. The chair on a point of order.
Senator Manning: I am sitting down here as a member of this committee with a question —
Senator Tkachuk: Recognize my colleague.
The Chair: I won't. I am sorry. You are out of order.
Senator Manning: — and I cannot ask the question. There is a problem here. There is a serious problem here.
The Chair: The chair is entitled to hear as much as the chair wishes —
Senator Tkachuk: The chair has lost the confidence of the committee.
Senator Manning: I have a question — I am asking a question.
Senator Tkachuk: The chair has lost the confidence of the committee.
Senator Manning: I will keep asking the question. I asked the question, and it was raised with Internal Economy.
The Chair: I am sorry. He is out of order.
Senator Tkachuk: You are not a chair.
Senator Manning: — and I am asking the question for clarification.
The Chair: You are out of order as well.
Senator Tkachuk: I am not out of order.
The Chair: Please turn off that microphone as well.
Senator Tkachuk: Do not.
The Chair: Yes.
Senator Tkachuk: Shut us all off. Shut all the Conservatives off. That is what the chair wants.
The Chair: You can keep shouting, and people will watch you, but you are out of order.
He is out order. He is still out of order.

and somewhat deliciously :

Senator Tkachuk: Senator [Pamela] Wallin is trying to do a few things here. There are a couple of issues. One is the issue that she sent a letter to the deputy chair regarding the contracts. There was no response given.
The Chair: She is the deputy chair

And for the diehard masochists among you : the live presentation of same

CBC : "The committee's mandate is to examine key issues such as the war in Afghanistan, the security of Canada's borders and ports and the performance of the RCMP."


RCMP challenge authority of Braidwood Inquiry yet again

Constables Kwesi Millington and Bill Bentley, two of the RCMP officers involved in the TASER™ death of Robert Dziekanski at YVR, are mounting yet another ludicrous and embarrassing court challenge to prevent the Braidwood Inquiry from finding against them, and officers Rundel and Robinson are expected to follow suit.
After Justice Braidwood warned that his final report might - might - accuse them of tasering Robert Dziekanski five times when it was "not justified," of acting "inappropriately aggressively", and of giving "self-serving and misleading" testimony and "misrepresenting the facts" at the Braidwood Inquiry, RCMP lawyers took a constitutional challenge to the BC Supreme Court in June, arguing that as a provincial inquiry, the Braidwood Inquiry did not have the authority to rule against members of the federal RCMP.
They lost that one. when the judge dismissed their application. To their credit, RCMP brass in BC appear to be cool to these court challenges.
But now lawyers for Millington and Bentley are turning to the BC Court of Appeals to quash that BC Supreme Court ruling, mounting the same arguments about jurisdiction as before and seeking :
"a permanent injunction to prevent the commission from continuing any proceedings against Millington and Bentley or making any findings of misconduct until 60 days after the appeal court rules on the matter. No date has been set for the appeal court hearing."
60 days from an appeal court hearing that doesn't even have a date set yet would likely put it past the resumption of the Braidwood Inquiry in September. At that time Braidwood will be looking into an RCMP email - which surfaced on what was expected to be the Inquiry's final day - that alluded to the four officers' having a plan to TASER™ Dziekanski prior to arriving on the scene, contradicting their sworn testimony that they did not have such a plan.
Running out the clock on inquiries of misconduct - it's an old RCMP tactic in BC and elsewhere in Canada.

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