Friday, October 30, 2009

Bill C-300 : In the minefield of the International Trade Committee

Canada is #1 in the world in mining and extractive industries in foreign countries. With over a thousand mining and exploration companies in 100 countries - about 5,000 projects - Canada has well over 50% of the global exploration and mining companies. There have been noises about human rights abuses.

On March 26, 2009, the Cons tabled a policy to deal with corporate social responsibility abroad : a "centre of excellence", a voluntary industry compliance strategy, and a Con-appointed corporate social responsibilty official, Marketa Evans, who will report to the minister of trade once a year. She has no power to investigate abuses if the corps in question do not agree to it.
International human rights standards, however, refer to people, not corporations.
Bill C-300, An Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries, attempts to provide a mechanism for dealing with environmental and human rights violations supported or perpetrated by Canadian companies abroad.
From the Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development :
Oct 8 : A Canadian copper mine in the Philippines was dumping mine waste in the ocean. Its earthen dams broke, inundating villages below with toxic mine waste. Parents of dead children were paid $23 per child.
In Ecuador a Canadian mining company's paramilitary agents issue death threats to local villagers opposed to the mine.
In Tanzania, a Canadian gold mine is leaking cyanide into surrounding rivers.
Norway's government pension fund has dropped its shares in a Canadian mine in Papua New Guinea because it "dumps its tailings and its waste directly into a huge tropical river system".

Oct.20 : A Canadian mining company in Papua New Guinea :

Numerous accounts of rapes show a similar pattern. The guards, usually in a group of five or more, find a woman while they are patrolling on or near mine property. They take turns threatening, beating, and raping her. In a number of cases, women reported to me being forced to chew and swallow the condoms used by guards during the rape.
Oct 22 : A tailings dam failure in Guyana in which the Canadian gov refused to hear the suit, a large cyanide spill at the EDC-supported mine in Kyrgyzstan, irreversible damage to local glaciers in Argentina, troops kill artisan miners in Tanzania to make way for a Canadian gold mine. Etc etc through about 30 countries.
Lawsuits are tried in the US courts because there is no opportunity to try them in Canada.

Export Development Canada is a crown corporation export credit agency, providing 8,300 Canadian companies operating abroad, mostly mining companies, with advice, debt insurance, and start-up financing money.
In response to questions about the need for Bill C-300 to safeguard human rights, Jim McArdle, a lawyer for EDC, explained that EDC is concerned that C-300 would force them to yank funding from Canadian corps found to be committing human rights abuses, and this would have a chilling effect on companies considering applying to the EDC for assistance. Despite already having their own CSR (corporate social responsibility) advisory group and a compliance officer, EDC has yet to yank funding from a single Canadian corp for any violation.

Further, McArdle said Canada adopting C-300 would "take Canadian companies out of the game", give other countries an unfair advantage, and likely result in our companies relocating to another country with less stringent rules.
Hey, I guess that's why we're currently #1.

Peter Goldring, Con, suggests that with its emphasis on international human rights standards, this bill "amounts to a limit on Canadian sovereignty."

Kevin Sorenson, Con Chair, suggests Bill C-300 would pave the way for "frivolous lawsuits"

CIDA : Not our job to handle complaints!

Deepak Obhrai, Con, says the definition of what precisely constitutes a human right is very open to misinterpretation and will hurt our mining companies.

Tell you what, Deepak, let's just start off by dealing with the raping, killing, and displacing of brown people in the way of our profits and work back from that.

Another concern voiced was that the media would carry stories of abuses as soon as investigations began, thereby putting a potentially innocent company under a cloud until the issue was resolved. Yeah, just like people.

Every committee has at least one Con whose job is to ask leading questions about how wonderful the Con gov is. This job just requires stringing together a number of non-sequitors in the form of a question. Or not.
John Weston, Con, my MP :

"I would appreciate more specific comments on what the government is doing now. In other words, this is not a government that's oblivious of human rights concerns. We created serious impediments for mining companies, with some of the things we've done in the name of human rights. We're doing that to try to open up the competitive capacity of the mining companies. If you can't do business and you don't pay your taxes in Canada, then we can't maintain our social safety net."
Thanks for that, John.

On April 22, 2009 Bill C-300 passed second reading in the House by a mere 4 votes. With all Cons voting against it, it is now struggling its way through the minefield of the Foreign Affairs and International Development Committee - 6 Cons, 3 Libs, 1 Bloc and 1 NDP. Excellent work from Paul Dewar with Bob Rae looking for the middle ground.

Time to fire off a letter. Over at The Beav I've posted the email addies of the 20 Libs and 7 Dippers who missed the vote last time. They could use a note too.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Yes, CBC, how about that blood?

CBC challenges the protesters from the Bill C-311 demonstration in the House two days ago to explain "the discrepancy" between their crappy video clip in which the blood on Jeh Custer's face from his bout with House security is not visible, but then suddenly is visible an hour later when he is interviewed on CBC. Is this incompetent slagging of protesters part of your new look, CBC?

Anyway, here ya go above, CBC, and again here. How about you explain that.

Con House leader Jay Hill also sees a nefarious conspiracy :

"Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege in regards to the disturbance in the public gallery yesterday during question period and charge the member for Toronto—Danforth [that would be Jack Layton] with contempt for his involvement in this incident.

It has now become quite clear that the people who disrupted the proceedings of this House were guests of the leader of the NDP. That member booked room 237-C from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon prior to Question Period for the use of that group. It was set up, according to the parliamentary functions room request form, for theatre-style seating, standing microphones for questions, and media feed, all provided by the House of Commons."

Yes, the NDP booking a meet with a group of youth concerned about our crap environment policy, some of whom later staged a flash mob protest in the House, is all the proof I need that the NDP were behind the protest.

Ooh, look :

Environment Minister Jim Prentice is also seen here at a meeting on the Hill with the now infamous House hecklers. Was Prentice also behind the protest, Mr. Hill?


All this bs about blood and conspiracies makes for great telly, doesn't it? Must be very galling to the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition who put months of work into getting the word out on our mia environmental policy, only to have their message collectively ignored by Cons, Libs, and the media in favour of blood and bs.

Update : The Natty Post, The Star and the Globe and Mail all pile on with more bs about faked injuries and blurry pix. Bah. h/t Ben Powless


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Flash mob in the House for Bill C-311

" I say '311', you say 'Sign it, sign it' " ...repeat...

A flash mob of 200 young environmental protesters disrupted question period in the House for a whole four minutes yesterday by standing up one by one in the public gallery and chanting slogans in support of Bill 311, the Climate Change Accountability Act, before being dragged off by security.

A whole four minutes.
Naturally, many commenters under the various news stories covering the demonstration call for these "hooligans" to be tasered or used for target practice by the army or sent to Iran - presumably for defiling the model of decorum and respectful civility that is the hallmark of QP, but mostly for refusing to ask permission to stand outside in the rain holding placards that are completely ignored by the press. Certainly Bill C-311 was.
Good on the protesters.
For genuinely bad behavior on C-311, see here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

"Good Morning, Afghanistan"

On Sunday hundreds of Afghan students and protesters shouted slogans against the US, Nato and Afghan government and burned an effigy of the President Obama during a rally in Kabul before attempting to storm the parliament building.
- updated below -

Eric Margolis : Take poor Hamid Karzai, the amiable former business consultant and CIA "asset" installed by Washington as Afghanistan's president. As the U.S. increasingly gets its backside kicked in Afghanistan, it has blamed the powerless Karzai for its woes and bumbling.

You can almost hear Washington rebuking, "bad puppet! Bad puppet!"

The U.S. government has wanted to dump Karzai, but could not find an equally obedient but more effective replacement. There was talk of imposing an American "chief executive officer" on him. Or, in the lexicon of the old British Raj, an Imperial Viceroy.

Washington finally decided to try to shore up Karzai's regime and give it some legitimacy by staging national elections in August. The UN, which has increasingly become an arm of U.S. foreign policy, was brought in to make the vote kosher. Canada eagerly joined this charade.

No political parties were allowed to run. Only individuals supporting the West's occupation of Afghanistan were allowed on the ballot.

As I wrote before the election, it was all a great big fraud within a larger fraud designed to fool American, Canadian and European voters into believing democracy had flowered in Afghanistan. Cynical Afghans knew the vote would be rigged. Most Pashtun, the nation's ethnic majority, didn't vote. The "election" was an embarrassing fiasco.

Ironically, the U.S. is now closely allied with the Afghan Communists and fighting its former Pashtun allies from the 1980s anti-Soviet struggle. Most North Americans have no idea they are now backing Afghan Communists and the men who control most of Afghanistan's booming drug trade."

Scott Taylor : "Spending millions of dollars to stage elections — and run-offs — to exercise a democratic process to appoint a U.S. puppet hasn’t fooled the Afghan people.
It’s time we stopped fooling ourselves."
The National Post reports a poll this morning showing Support for Canada’s role in Afghanistan has fallen below 50%.
Wesley Wark, Munk Centre : "Good news stories -- good news stories could change their opinion."

Independent : "At 6.30am Helmand time today, the words "Good Morning, Afghanistan" boomed forth from the first British Forces radio station in the country.
DJ Dusty Miller mimicked Robin Williams's greeting this morning."
Oct 28 Update : [h/t Pogge at Bread 'n Roses]
NY Times : Brother of Afghan Leader Said to Be Paid by C.I.A.
That would be Ahmed Wali Karzai, alleged drug lord and fixer of the Afghan election, on the CIA payroll for the last eight years. In what sounds like a scene out of the movie Traffic, brother Karzai is said to finger rival drug lords to the DEA and then take over their territories.
Also :
"The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home."
Isn't that what we used to call Al Qaida?
"You know, my people call him “Small Bush” in Kandahar province, this brother of Hamid Karzai.
And this was the main project of the CIA in Afghanistan, that under the banner of women rights, human rights, democracy, they occupied my country. They imposed these terrorists, blood and creed of the Taliban, on my people. And also they changed my country to the center of drug."
Meanwhile the similarities to Viet Nam continue. Wherever the CIA goes, the drug trade follows.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

*350* Climate Action Day in Vancouver

CanWest : "In Vancouver, 5,000 people surged over the Cambie Street bridge and along Pacific Boulevard for an afternoon of music and festivities, all aimed at bringing attention to global warming.
A giant 100-metre-wide banner made by school students from around the Lower Mainland was hung off the side of the bridge. The banner said: “Canadians Care Cut Emissons Now.”
Of the afternoon’s Vancouver events, the most unique was a large salsa dance performed in the shape of the number 350."
Pictures at West End Bob's

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The revolution will be YouTubed redux

When Paul Manly's video of union leader Dave Coles confronting three rock-toting undercover Quebec police officers skulking through peaceful protestors at the North American Leaders Summit in Montebello hit YouTube two years ago, then-minister of public safety Stockwell Day dismissed calls for a public inquiry :

"The thing that was interesting in this particular incident, three people in question were spotted by protesters because were not engaging in violence," Mr. Day said.
"They were being encouraged to throw rocks and they were not throwing rocks, it was the protesters who were throwing the rocks. That's the irony of this," Mr. Day said.

Mr. Day added the actions were substantiated by the video that he has seen of the protests.
"Because they were not engaging in violence, it was noted that they were probably not protesters. I think that's a bit of an indictment against the violent protesters," Mr. Day said."

This ridiculous statement ran nightly on TV newscasts alongside footage of the police provocateurs shoving Dave Coles around before sneaking back behind police lines - seen here at left - to jeers from the crowd.
As Dave Coles told CBC's As It Happens :
"I didn't know they were police right away but I knew they were agitators because earlier they had been trying to get the young kids down on the road to cause trouble."
For days after the incident, Quebec Provincial Police denied these were their guys.

Well there was no inquiry and Quebec's Police Ethics Commissioner took till this May, two years later, to clear the officers, but now the Quebec independent police ethics committee will hold hearings to determine whether the officers breached the Code of Ethics of Quebec Police Officers by inciting others to violence.

Dave Coles suspects likely federal involvement may lead to a cover-up :
"This is the big question: Who sent them in? And don't give me some lame excuse that it was a low-level officer "
Good thing we already have the public statements from Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day and the QPP on record for the Quebec independent police ethics committee.

Friday, October 23, 2009

International Day of Climate Action

On International Day of Climate Action tomorrow, Lotuslanders will be meeting on the Cambie Street Bridge in Vancouver for a march parade to Science World in solidarity with thousands of other climate action events in what is now 180 countries worldwide including Antarctica. Local info here, worldwide info here. along with a map of events in your corner of the world.
It's already 'tomorrow' in Ethiopia where 15,000 students marched through Addis Ababa carrying signs saying "350" - the number that scientists say is the safe upper limit of parts per million for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Yeah, we're at around 387 right now I think.
A joint Palestinian Israeli Jordanian event at the Dead Sea will have people from each of the three countries form a human 3, 5 and 0.
And if walking across a bridge tomorrow accompanied by people playing salsa music with paper mache salmons on their heads doesn't seem like the way to fight a global climate disaster, consider that worldwide coordination of all these events by and its over 200 sister organizations was begun just two years ago by environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben after he decided to take a walk across his home state of Vermont.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bill C-311 : Inside the Environment Committee

Last week Iggy vowed to make the environment central to the Liberal platform again.
Today the Libs voted with the Cons to delay passage of the Climate Change Accountability Act by granting the Standing Committee on the Environment yet another extension to study it instead of pass it.
As noted by Pogge this morning :

The bill is identical to one that passed final reading last year but died in the Senate when the last election was called. This version has already passed second reading. Layton wants to push it through before the climate change talks in Copenhagen to send a message that Harper and company, who have been quite happy to sabotage international efforts whenever they can, don't represent the majority of Canadians on this issue. So why are the Liberals suddenly withdrawing support from legislation they've supported on five previous votes?

This is the party that signed us on to the Kyoto Protocol in the first place and then spent a decade or more studying implications without actually doing anything. So does this mean they didn't study the implications of this bill the last five times they voted for it?
Good question. Bill C-133 sets long-term targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. It does not prescribe specific measures on how to achieve this ; it just says yes we really mean it this time, not like the other time, and authorizes the government to set penalties for failing to reduce emissions.

Back in April, Lib environment critic and environment committee member David McGuinty pushed to have discussion on the bill deferred until this fall. Then the meetings on Sept 29 and Oct 1 were cancelled because they didn't have a chair. Now they want an extension.

The Standing Committee on the Environment :
6 Cons - Bezan, Braid, Calkins, Jeff Watson, Warawa, Woodworth - all voted against Bill C-311 in April, Calkin absent. [Note : Iggy also absent for the vote]
3 Libs - McGuinty, Scarpeleggia, Trudeau
2 Bloc - Bigras, Ouellet
1 NDP - Linda Duncan

So what's going on in that committee?
Yesterday I listened to the audio of Tuesday's meeting as the committee heard four climate scientists , including Nobel Prize winner and former IPCC Working Group Chair John Stone, speak for two hours on the importance of passing the bill prior to the Copenhagen talks in December. Without it we are not even in the game, the scientists said. We will have no voice there, no credibility. Being scientists, they stuck to explaining sciencey things.

No good, said McGuinty and the Cons, we need solutions and concrete plans. What about waiting to see what happens to Obama's targets? What about the other countries? Where is your specific plan of action for Canada and how much it will cost?

We're scientists, not economists or policy makers, the scientists patiently explained about six freakin' times, noting again the importance of making a start.

"Bill C-311 is a first ingredient - we must begin by setting targets.
Kyoto did not work because we didn't have any legislation in place with which to begin to implement it."
Ok then, said the Cons, just give us your personal opinion on what a solution would look like.

One scientist tells about a Saskatchewan project on carbon capture that he says actually works. Another says that if Canada implements a target to keep temperature increase to 2°C, then we would only lose one year of GDP growth by 2050.

The Cons immediately pounce : "What is your expertise in making this claim? Where are your qualifications in economics?"

And after that the scientists politely declined any further ventures into the Con Catch-22 land of being berated both for not providing policy solutions outside their expertise and also for providing them when badgered into it.

Note to committee : Your credibility as members of an environment committee was not particularly enhanced by bringing up climate change 'skeptics' like Ross McKitrick and Rex Murphy and asking actual climate scientists to address the points you recently read about in the National Post.

And then the meeting ended after approving a budget of $39,650 for further study of Bill C-311.
Update : Devin .
Upperdate : The vote : 169 to 93, with 8 paired. Bill C-311 now officially mired in committee and unlikely to pass before Copenhagen.
Although all three Lib environment committee members voted with the Cons for the extension as expected - including Stéphane Dion! - 14 Libs broke ranks to vote with the NDP and Bloc against it.

Canadians who give a shit about the environment thank the following Libs for their support:
Scott Andrews, Kirsty Duncan, Andrew Kania, Dominic LeBlanc, Keith Martin, Alexandra Mendez, Shawn Murphy, Anita Neville, Robert Oliphant, Glen Pearson, Mario Silva, Michelle Simson, Alan Tonks, and Francis Valeriote.
Oct 26 Update : 200 protesters disrupted Question Period today as one by one they stood up and shouted : "I say 311, you say 'sign it' " - before being dragged away. 6 detained; at least one roughed up. Good for them. Probably raised the level of debate in the House several notches.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Owelympic off-sales

The city of Vancouver is already home to over 600 billboards but I don't recall hearing much fuss about it till the Squamish Nation submitted plans to erect a further six on First Nations land to raise some much needed Owelympic advertising dollars for their community.
Please. If you're already ok with the existing 10' by 18' LED appeals to your fondest shopping desires, then you'll surely also be able to handle these.
What I'm wondering though is what will be going up on those six FN billboards?
Vanoc has spent $40-million to buy up all the public advertising space around the city in order to guarantee exclusive Owelympic branding rights to the corporations who have paid for it.
They even got Gordo to push for a law allowing municipal workers to remove what they call "ambush marketing" from your home should you suddenly feel moved to display a massive Kool Aid logo in your livingroom window between Feb 1st and March 31st.
So will "ambushers" be buying up space on those FN electronic billboards?
Personally I'm hoping there'll be room on them for a few community messages as well. I know I've got mine ready.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Canada's first-ever corporate social responsibility counsellor

Today is the first day on the job for Canada's first-ever corporate social responsibility counsellor.
Marketa Evans, founding director of the University of Toronto's Munk Centre on International Studies, will help Canadian mining and energy companies in countries like Colombia improve their social and environmental standards.

The Munk Centre is named after Peter Munk, chairman and founder of the world's largest gold-mining company Barrick Gold, who contributed $6.4 million to its construction.

.... a post-doctoral fellow was stopped from organizing a panel on mining issues at the Munk Centre that would include discussions of Barrick Gold's operations.

Corporate social responsibility counsellor Evans will report directly to Trade Minister Stockwell Day, does not have the power to mediate disputes, and is not allowed to investigate cases without first obtaining agreement from all parties involved.
Oh, well done.
The CSR counsellor's mandate was much discussed during debates on the Canada-Colombia FTA, with the Bloc and NDP noting a certain lack of toothiness.
Just before the Thanksgiving break, the Libs supported a Con motion to prevent any further amendments to the Colombia agreement, so as the House resumes sitting today, the NDP and Bloc insistance on further debate is the only thing preventing this appalling piece of legislation from reaching second reading.

Lib MP Scott Brison, Sept. 14 :
"If we isolate Colombia in the Andean region and leave Colombia exposed and vulnerable to the ideological attacks of Chavez's Venezuela, we will be allowing evil to flourish."
Brison, who is on the trade committee, and Bob Rae say they just want to see the bill go back to committee where - hello! the membership consists of 6 Cons, 3 Libs, 2 Bloc, and 1 NDP - or odds in favour of it passing - 9 to 3.

Meanwhile, irony-deficient Government House Leader Jay Hill, master of the Cons' 2007 dirty tricks manual on "how to unleash chaos while chairing parliamentary committees", is complaining that NDP opposition to the bill "is making Parliament dysfunctional".

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The real Owelympic line-up.

Campbell, Harper, Doris, and Lunn - the unbeatable election line-up with Big Owe medals.
We are so screwed.
CBC : "Vancouver's Olympic committee plans to hand out $30 million in bonuses to key staff in order to encourage them stay on until the 2010 Winter Games are finished after the Paralympics in March, rather than see them leave prematurely to find new work."
$30M in bonuses just to finish doing their jobs? Ha!
But they are still asking downtown businesses to donate employees to work for VANOC during the Games!
Meanwhile, the Big Owe Village required a $150-million bailout, the $1-billion security bill is 5 times the original estimate, the Sea-to-Sky Highway, Convention Centre, and RAV line are all over-budget, the province is slashing social programs, the homeless are being shipped out, and Gordo is proposing a bill to allow municipalities to remove unfestive signs from inside your home.
The G&M says an Innovative Research Group poll of 549 BC residents showed 71% said they were either "not very excited or not excited at all" about the Big Owe with only 9% saying they were very excited.

Paying off the Taliban to maintain the occupation

"Defense Minister Peter MacKay on Friday dismissed allegations that the Canadian military paid insurgents in Afghanistan not to attack them as nothing more than "Taliban propaganda."
"I strongly suspect that this is more Taliban propaganda. Of course, they're not bound by rules of engagement or simple things such as truth."

Unlike our Defence Minister [Vancouver Sun : please note the correct Canadian spelling] who spent yesterday pissing on "simple things such as truth" when he denied all knowledge of internal reports on Afghan prisoner abuse.
The allegations of the Canadian military bribing the Taliban not to attack them originated in a Times story explaining the recent massacre of 10 French soldiers as being the result of the outgoing Italian forces failing to apprise the incoming French of their monetary deal with the Taliban :
"NATO also officially denied that any of its members pay insurgents in Afghanistan for peace, but military sources said Thursday that the practice is widespread among foreign forces fighting the Taliban.
One Western military source told of payments made by Canadian soldiers stationed in the violent southern province of Kandahar, while another officer spoke of similar practices by the German army in northern Kunduz."
Whether the military is paying off the Taliban not to fight, either directly or through private contractors, it's all still rumours at this stage.
What we do know is that private contractors already pay them protection money to lay off bombing reconstruction projects and to allow supplies to reach NATO troops:

"Asked whether his company paid money to Taleban commanders not to attack them, a security company owner said: “Everyone is hungry, everyone needs to eat. They are attacking the convoys because they have no jobs. They easily take money not to attack.”

Lieutenant-Commander James Gater, a spokesman for Nato forces in Afghanistan, said that the transport of Nato supplies was contracted to commercial firms and how they got them into the country was their business.

“I can confirm that we use two European-headquartered companies to supply food and fuel, though for contractual reasons it is not prudent for us to name them. They provide their own security as part of that contract. Such companies are free to subcontract to whomsoever they wish. "

"The manager of an Afghan firm with lucrative construction contracts with the U.S. government builds in a minimum of 20 percent for the Taliban in his cost estimates. The manager, who will not speak openly, has told friends privately that he makes in the neighborhood of $1 million per month. Out of this, $200,000 is siphoned off for the insurgents.
If negotiations fall through, the project will come to harm — road workers may be attacked or killed, bridges may be blown up, engineers may be assassinated."

"One Afghan contractor, speaking privately, told friends of one project he was overseeing in the volatile south. The province cannot be mentioned, nor the particular project.
“I was building a bridge,” he said, one evening over drinks. “The local Taliban commander called and said ‘don’t build a bridge there, we’ll have to blow it up.’ I asked him to let me finish the bridge, collect the money — then they could blow it up whenever they wanted. We agreed, and I completed my project.”

In the south, no contract can be implemented without the Taliban taking a cut, sometimes at various steps along the way.

One contractor in the southern province of Helmand was negotiating with a local supplier for a large shipment of pipes. The pipes had to be brought in from Pakistan, so the supplier tacked on about 30 percent extra for the Taliban, to ensure that the pipes reached Lashkar Gah safely.
Once the pipes were given over to the contractor, he had to negotiate with the Taliban again to get the pipes out to the project site. This was added to the transportation costs.

“We assume that our people are paying off the Taliban,” said the foreign contractor in charge of the project."

And in this way Jean MacKenzie at Global Post estimates we are funding the Taliban around $1-billion a year to kill our troops, the same amount the US spends on ten days of occupation.
If we called the war on Afghanistan what it is - an occupation - and cut out all the middlemen - both the Taliban and the foreign contractors we support - we could pay the Afghan people directly, day to day if necessary, to rebuild their country as they see fit and let them take care of the Taliban themselves. Give some of that money to groups like RAWA. The ranks of the Taliban would be decimated, many lives would be saved, and all we would lose by turning around that 10 to 1 military-to-reconstruction ratio would be our cherished hypocrisy and the ridiculous warporning of the likes of Peter MacKay.
Have another look at this map of Taliban control of Afghanistan.
If it is true that the military have either directly or indirectly joined their private contractors in paying the 'enemy' not to fight, I don't disagree with it as a strategy. We're just paying off the wrong people.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Afghan torture cover-up gets a hand from Peter MacKay

[updated below]
Defence Minister Peter MacKay says he never saw reports by Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin, then political director at the Canadian-run Afghan reconstruction base in 2006, warning in May, June, and December 2006 that Afghan authorities were abusing detainees handed over by Canadian forces.

"I have not seen those reports in either my capacity as minister of National Defence or previously as minister of Foreign Affairs," said Peter MacKay
about documents "circulated widely throughout the Foreign Affairs and Defence departments and also shared with senior military commanders in Ottawa and Afghanistan."

The Conservative government dismissed reports of abuse when they first came to light in early 2007, accusing oppositon MPs of sympathizing with the Taliban.

The Conservative government has not delivered any documents to the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry investigating the abuse charges - not even redacted ones - since March 2008.

The government lead lawyer warned potential witnesses that if they comply with inquiry they could become 'collateral casualties'.

When Richard Colvin, now a Foreign Affairs intelligence officer at the Canadian embassy in Washington, decided to testify anyway, government lawyers attempted to have him stricken from the witness list, invoked anti-terrorism national security laws to prevent him from appearing before the inquiry, and attempted to curtail the jurisdiction of the inquiry to hear presentations.

Commission chair Peter Tinsley had to shut down the committee yesterday for six months due to the government's refusal to provide any documents and to allow lawyers to argue what the inquiry may investigate.
Tinsley will be let go as commission chair as of Dec 11.

The Afghan torture cover-up continues.

Friday update from CBC :
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday that he did not see reports in 2006 that suggested there was evidence detainees had been tortured after they were handed over to Afghan prisons by Canadian Forces in Afghanistan.
Harper said he didn't see the reports "at the time."
"There were allegations of Canadian troops involved in torture. We’ve been very clear that's not the case," the prime minister said.
"At the time." When exactly was "at the time"? Colvin sent 16 separate reports.
"Allegations Canadian troops involved". No. Not at all, you're weaselling. The "allegation" is that you put those troops in the appalling position of transferring their prisoners to certain abuse.
The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, "at the time": "Torture continues to take place as a routine part of police procedures. The AIHRC has found torture to occur particularly at the investigation stage in order to extort confessions from detainees."

Louise Arbour, the Canadian UN rep who you summarily dismissed, and the U.S. State Department, "at the time": "Afghan local authorities "routinely" torture detainees".

Peter Van Loan, Con house leader "at the time", called them "allegations by the Taliban"

Me, "at the time" : "Canada is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions. We simply don't have time to go back and re-fight and re-argue all the battles for some semblance of civilization that we have already won. And we certainly don't have time for any government that hasn't figured this out yet."

2010 Olympic medals unveiled

VANOC : "The dramatic form of the Vancouver 2010 medals is inspired by the ocean waves, drifting snow and mountainous landscape found in the Games region and throughout Canada."
Ron Judd, Seattle Times : "Vancouver 2010 medals display traditional native 45-RPM-record-left-on-dashboard-in-sun design.

Lion Man

Kevin Richardson and friends.

h/t Brebis Noire at BreadnRoses

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Taser needs more "jump science"

A lawyer for Taser Int. told the Braidwood Inquiry today that medical testimony linking the death of Robert Dziekanski to his being tasered five times is "junk science". Or, as amusingly reported twice by the Winnipeg Sun in their version of the story : "jump science".
"... there was no evidence that "the Taser device caused or contributed to his death."
We say it is time this uninformed speculation about the role the Taser device may have had in this case be dispelled and the attack on Taser’s reputation ended."

Taser Int., who filed an application in B.C. Supreme Court in August to quash all 19 of Justice Braidwood's recommendations related to their product, prefers to lay the blame on "sudden death during restraint" due to "delirium".

You know, Taser, I think a simple test here would help clear up all this "uninformed speculation".

The problem is that we see people being tasered and then dropping dead - in that order. The RCMP has hundreds of recorded examples of drawing their TASER™ device and then not using it. If, as you contend, people die of delirium and restraint and not from being tasered, then all you have to do is produce the RCMP body of evidence that just as many delirious people drop dead before they are tasered as after.

Jump science. Hope this helps.


Helping America unshit the bed

Lindsay Stewart and Impolitical are duking it out over puffy Steve's refusal to permit Guantanamo detainees to resettle in Canada.

Following the Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate refusing to allow the prisoners onto US soil, Obama appealed to the world to help put an end to Bush's gulag :
"Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world's problems alone," Obama said.
"Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges."

... while at the same time defending the Obama gulag at Bagram :

AP Sept 14, 2009 : "The Obama administration argued late Monday that allowing terrorism detainees in Afghanistan to file lawsuits in U.S. courts challenging their detention would endanger the military mission in that country.

Obama's Justice Department has sided with the congressional Republicans and put forward the same argument as the Bush administration."

And so it goes.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la fucking meme enabling chose ...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Bible - now with more bimbos

A big problem with the far right's use of biblical quotes to defend their freakishly xenophobic warmongering 'trickle down' worldview is that some smartass will always respond by quoting New Testament Jesus - usually something about forgiveness or kindness or tolerance or giving to the poor.

What to do, what to do?

Well you could just rewrite that sucker, removing all the dfh gay commie bits - which is just what the good folks over at Conservapedia have undertaken to do.

Begone! oh liberal scriptural bias and never mind that bit in Revelations about going to hell for tampering with The Word. Behold -The Conservative Bible Project (h/t Pharyngula)

Of course once you get started on a rewrite, it's hard to know when to stop. I'm guessing changing 'damsel' to 'bimbo' was a wee bit beyond the call of bare necessity, unless you can find some corroborating mention elsewhere in the bible of a disco ball to back it up.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Olympics - Going for the gold in bullying

An enthusiastic supporter of the Beijing Olympics who posted his photos online at Flickr under a creative commons licence - which allows anyone to use them for free with attribution - received a cease and desist letter from International Olympic Committee lawyers :

"Images of the Games taken by you may not be used for any purposes other than private, which does not include licensing of the pictures to third parties ...

In addition, please be advised that the Olympic identifications such as the Olympic rings, the emblems and mascots of the Olympic Games, the word `Olympic' and images of the Olympic Games belong to the IOC and cannot be used without its prior written consent."

Even the "O" word can't be used now without prior written IOC consent?
I knew words like "winter" and "gold" and "Vancouver" were off-limits -- but, somewhat inconsistantly, not words like : boondoggle, evictions, SROs, homelessness, or cost over-runs.
Very well, have it your way. "Owelympics" it is then from now on.

Out here in BC at Owelympics Central, we've moved up from criminalizing 2010 Five Ring Circus protest in public places and stalking nursing students on campus who happen to know somebody who doesn't support the Owelympics.
Now the BC government wants to remove signs and graffiti from inside your home even without your consent: (h/t Waterbaby by email for Bill 13):
32 (1) Subject to this section and section 34, an officer or employee of a specified municipality [Vancouver, Richmond, Whistler] or a person authorized by the council of a specified municipality has the authority to enter on property, and to enter into property, without the consent of the owner or occupier for the purpose of enforcing, in accordance with subsection (4), the specified municipality's bylaws in relation to signs.

(2) Except in the case of a significant risk to the health or safety of persons or property, a person
(a) may only exercise the authority in subsection (1) at reasonable times and in a reasonable manner, and
(b) must take reasonable steps to advise the owner or occupier before entering the property.
Now note the following wording : "if any of the following applies"

(3) A person may only exercise the authority in subsection (1) to enter into a place that is occupied as a private dwelling if any of the following applies:
(a) the occupier consents;
(b) the specified municipality has given the occupier at least 24 hours' written notice of the entry and the reasons for it;
(c) the entry is made under the authority of a warrant under this or another Act;
(d) the person exercising the authority has reasonable grounds for believing that failure to enter may result in a significant risk to the health or safety of the occupier or other persons.

(4) A person who has entered on property, or entered into property, in accordance with this section has the authority to enforce the specified municipality's bylaws in relation to signs by removing, covering or altering the sign that is in contravention of these bylaws.

Ditto for "graffiti", covered in section 33.

34 The powers in sections 32 and 33 may be exercised only during the period of February 1, 2010 to March 31, 2010.

CBC : "City officials have said the law is intended to clamp down on so-called ambush marketing, and it includes an exception for celebratory signs, which are defined as those that celebrate the 2010 Winter Games and create or add to the festive atmosphere."
For the rest of us "uncelebratory" types, there's the prospect of a $10,000-a-day fine and six months in jail if we don't keep our little heads down from Feb 1 to March 31.
And if, as spun by city officials, they were only worried about "businesses trying to exploit the games logo", why also make a separate provision for busting graffiti?

Answering questions about Olympic security back in June, city manager Penny Ballem told the Vancouver council. "The city has no accountability in terms of the role and policies of the 2010 Integrated Security Unit. We are only able to ask questions."
A week ago I heard BC Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Kash Heed give the same excuse on CBC radio about the stalking of the nursing student : "There's nothing we can do. It's a global thing," he said.

Fun fact : Two of the RCMP who presided over the tasering and killing of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver airport two years ago - Monty Robinson and Bill Bentley - have been reassigned to Owelympic detail.
Monday night update : # of comments under CBC story above : 881 !
That's 881 comments under a story now three days old and still going strong.
Commenter "Defeated" at 10:36 tonight :
"The problem with the people of B.C. is that we rarely do much other than bitch,and even that is usually after the fact!
Unfortunately, those we choose to elect after they have offered up a bunch of feel-good freebee's, understand that all too well.
In essence, they buy our votes and loyalty with handouts right before an election.
Works everytime, and our politicians know that too.
We know the promises are rarely kept, but still, we fall for it every time, even with a government we KNOW is rotten to the core.
The evil we know is always easier than the evil we don't know, if you are afraid of having your safe little world rocked.
What is taking place in B.C. with social cuts,the HST,and the Olympic embarrassment,etc.etc.could have been stopped, or at least altered to where it would at least be tolerable.
Our politicians are controllable and we do have the power to make them listen and act accordingly.
Now, when they take away our right to free speech, still we do nothing.
They knew we wouldn't do anything, except bitch.
We see the examples of waste, and indeed,the scamming of our tax dollars by government contractors, civil servants, and probably by a few politicians as well.
We see the apparent government control over the media and even over our justice system, according what suits the needs of those we elect.
We sit back in our safe little worlds and watch them bury their own dirt,right under our noses. Still we do nothing.
Where are the protests?
Where is the general strike that would end the HST tax grab and hopefully this government.
Where is the mass protests on the lawns of the legislature in Victoria, that would go a long way to making this government begin listen...or at the very least,turf out the guy behind this crap...Gordon Campbell!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Canwest, Natty Post, CBC ... and Goldman Sachs

Canada's largest media company, Canwest Global Communications, aka AsperMedia, filed for bankruptcy protection on Tuesday in a deal that essentially would hand control to its US creditors :
"Canwest reached a deal with a key group of lenders - mainly U.S. and foreign distressed funds that own most of the company's bonds - which will give them control of most of the restructured media company. Current shareholders would own just 2.3 per cent of the shares of the new Canwest, effectively wiping out most of their value."
The filing covers Global TV and the National Post but thus far not Canwest LP - Canwest's major daily newspapers across Canada - or its 15 money-making tv specialty channels whose profit rose 41% to $53-million in the most recent quarter over last year.

In January 2007, Goldman Sachs - this Goldman Sachs - bankrolled 64% of Leonard Asper's purchase of of 13 Alliance Atlantis specialty TV channels :
"a level far above Canadian foreign media ownership limits. However the CRTC approved the deal after the partners persuaded it that Canwest - not its giant Wall Street financial partner - would have effective operating control of the TV channels."
On the other hand, as the G&M Investor blog Streetwise reported yesterday (italics mine):

"Financiers working with Goldman said that over the past year, the investment bank put forward programming ideas for the TV networks, and offered strategic advice on restructuring, but was ignored by CanWest management and its creditors.

One concept that’s been tossed around, but couldn’t move forward until CanWest recapitalization was set, would see Goldman Sachs provide programming and financial support to the conventional television network as part of a larger deal that reworks the entire ownership structure to more closely align all the TV holdings.

There are three hedge funds driving the CanWest restructuring, and two of them are U.S. money managers: GoldenTree Asset Management, Beach Point Capital Management, along with Toronto-based West Face Capital Inc. ... These funds are also Goldman Sachs clients."

So, CRTC, you still good with this?
Goldman Sachs was not supposed to interfere with the programmimg of the Food Network but now expects to "provide programming and financial support" to local TV news stations?

More complications : The National Post - which never misses a chance to slag the CBC - and the CBC are now sharing content :
"The Post [will] republish CBC sports stories in the online National Post and sometimes in the newspaper. The CBC will run daily financial stories and podcasts from the Financial Post in’s Money section."
Translation : the publicly funded CBC will move further right as promised to run corporate news daily, while the privately owned Natty Post will now be partly funded by our tax dollars.

And those remaining 12 national and 26 community Canwest papers?
Paul Godfrey, CEO of the National Post, says he has found backers for a buyout of them.
Who will own what we think now?

The Yes Men Fix the World

North American release of the latest agit-prop culture-jamming pranks from gonzo biz-busters The Yes Men.

When I watched their keynote presentation to 300 oil bidness types in Calgary in 2007, in which they posed as guest speakers from Exxon and the National Petroleum Council, I wondered - really - who would believe turning people into oil?

"We need something like whales, but infinitely more abundant. We're not talking about killing anyone," said the "NPC rep. Shepard Wolff". "We're talking about using them after nature has done the hard work. After all, 150,000 people already die from climate-change related effects every year. That's only going to go up - maybe way, way up. Will it all go to waste? That would be cruel."

Then they predicted a five-fold increase in tarsands exports to the US over the next five years.

I'm guessing it was the outrageousness of that last claim that ultimately gave them away.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Afghan torture coverup is going well

It's funny the things that stick with you.
What I remember when Canada's treatment of Afghan prisoners comes up is not Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin's 2007 report on allegations of electrocution and beatings, or the entire households detained because someone got the address wrong. What I remember is this simple request for desert camel boots made by Stockwell Day's newly arrived leader of the Correctional Service Canada inspections team in February 2007 :
"They afford the appropriate ankle support when getting in and out of the LAV/Coyote/Nyala vehicles. Additionally the colour is more appropriate in the summer heat. On a Health and Safety level we will be walking through blood and fecal matter when either on patrol or in the prison and should not be wearing our personal footwear as it will track into our personal quarters."
As Skdadl said at the time :
"I think we call this the banality of evil. I have to walk through blood and fecal material, so I need better boots. This is the road to Nuremberg, folks. And this is being done in our name. Everyone happy to sit here quietly and be a "Good Canadian"? "
Richard Colvin wasn't. As political director at the Canadian-run provincial reconstruction base in 2006 when troops began handing over prisoners to Afghanistan's notorious intelligence agency, the National Security Directorate, he is one of the only government witnesses who wants to testify at the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry into whether military police officers had a duty to investigate the transfer of detainees when there were allegations of torture in Afghan prisons.
A week ago federal lawyers invoked a national security clause in Canada's Anti-terrorism Act that effectively prevents him from doing so.
They argue that on the one hand Colvin's testimony is not relevant, and on the other that his testimony would breach "national security considerations".
As we have seen previously with Arar, Abdelrazik, Almalki, Suaad Mohammud, Charkaoui, and Harkat, this is a government that flagrantly makes use of "national security considerations" to cover its own complicity in wrongdoing.
Last Wednesday National Defence said some witnesses might be able to give some information, as long as the commission proves the testimony is relevant. This is impossible for the commission to do as Michel Gauthier, the retired lieutenant-general who was in charge of the country's overseas command until last spring, as well as three former ground commanders in Kandahar and members of Corrections Canada have all refused their subpoenas to meet with commission investigators.
A week ago Canada's former top military police officer, retired navy captain Steve Moore, advised he had documents that he wanted to turn over to the inquiry, however Mr. Moore and his lawyer had to sign a pledge preventing them from passing the documents to the inquiry.
The documents first have to be reviewed to remove sensitive information– such as logs showing that Canadian military police opened investigations into whether detainees risked torture – but won't be declassified in time for the hearings.
As if this wasn't sufficient obstruction, the chair of the inquiry, Peter Tinsley, has been let go on Dec 11, before his investigation can be completed and despite his request to be allowed to continue. Then on Monday public proceedings were postponed :
"after federal lawyers bombarded the agency with a series of motions demanding further delay and questioning, among other things, the jurisdiction of the commission".
MacKay told the House of Commons on Monday that "a search for a new chair is underway".
Isn't this exactly what was done at Guantanamo? If the government didn't like the way a military investigation into the detainment of an individual prisoner was going, they just fired the presiding judge or lawyer and appointed another.
Last word goes to Richard Colvin's lawyer on the use of Canada's Anti-terrorism Act to muzzle her client :

"The legislation was addressed at combatting terrorism-related activities. It was not intended to be used tactically to intimidate witnesses from giving evidence in administrative proceedings carried out by government-created bodies," the letter said.

"The interests of justice are not served when an ordinary witness such as Mr. Colvin is threatened by the Department of Justice with severe penalty for abiding by the terms of a subpoena served on him.".

Update : Good short history of a year's worth of sidelining the investigation : Dr. Dawg.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Meanwhile, out here in Manikatchewalbumbia ...

or, as Strategic Counsel likes to call all the provinces west of Ontario - The West - 300 people had their dinners interrupted on Oct 2 to 4 to be asked their federal voting intentions. That's a polling sample of, um, 300-divide-by-4-carry-the-2 = a total of 75 people per 'western' province who gave the Cons a 58% approval rating. Big whoop.

Then again if you assume that 100% of the 75 Alberta voters and most of the Saskatchewan ones polled Con, that overall 58% means a lot of people in BC and Manitoba didn't.

A total of 1000 people were polled across Canada - Quebec: 243, Ontario: 383, West: 300 - leaving Prince Novanewbrunsadorland and Nunayuktories to share the remaining 74 votes at 10 votes apiece.

Harper supporters CTV and the Globe and Mail, who sponsored the poll, were nonetheless very excited by their Canada-wide results :

which they described as "devastating" for the Libs, although their numbers only seem to show that the Libs, Cons and Greens gained a couple of points each at the expense of the NDP and Bloc since the election a year ago. Trouble is those Con gains, if they exist, are in Ontario.
John Ibbitson of the Globe and Mail and CTV's Robert Fife both credited Harper's surge to 41%approval (compared to five months ago) to his reluctance to call an election.
Catch 22 #1- he'll lose that advantage if he appears to trigger his own defeat in order to pursue an election while his prospects are good.
Catch 22 #2 - as long as the polls convince the other parties he could get a majority, he'll be able to govern like he already has one.
Best line of the night on Powerplay at CTV :
"The problem for the Liberals is if the numbers continue to show the Tories in the lead, support for the Grits could continue to decline among federal voters."
Um, yeah. Just keep workin' that voodoo mojo, guys.
Goodnight, from somewhere out here in Manikatchewalbumbia.

Monday, October 05, 2009

"With a little help from his "friends"

Pale at A Creative Revolution points out Harper's "friends" aren't getting near enough credit here.

I thought Harper's gala gig was pretty cute. Maybe not as gutsy as Jack Layton's "Party For Sale or Rent" from 2005 and rather more in the Con tradition of Muldoon and Reagan's "When Irish Eyes are Smiling", but still - pretty cute.


Saturday, October 03, 2009

Another First for Canada!

First Place: Canada
"The day’s fossil award goes to Canada for blocking agreement on using 1990 as the base year. Canada is now the only country more focused on finding creative ways to hide their emission increases and make their weak targets look ambitious than solving the climate crisis. Unfortunately, those emissions linger in the atmosphere much longer than Canada’s embarrassment about them."
~ From the Climate Action Network - "a coalition of over 450 NGOs worldwide dedicated to limiting climate change to sustainable levels"- yesterday in Bangkok.
Harper's 'plan' is to reduce emissions 20% by 2020 using intensity-based targets. Translated, this amounts to a mere 3% reduction below our 1990 levels by 2020. Big whoop say the other countries at the conference.
Meanwhile back here at home, Bill C311 - the Climate Change Accountability Act establishing 1990 as the base year, is holed up at the Environment Committee (6 Cons, 3 Libs, 2 Bloc, 1 NDP) :
* A long-term target to reduce Canadian greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050
* A medium-term target to bring emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2020
First introduced by Jack Layton in 2007, it actually passed in 2008 but then was shelved before it could receive the necessary blessing from the GG when Harper called the 2008 election .
When reintroduced this session, it narrowly passed 2nd reading on March 31 with 141 Yeas to 128 Nays. All six Con members of the Environment Committee voted against it.
Amusingly, in the debate in the House, Con Environmental Parliamentary Secretary and Environment Committee member Mark Warawa argued the bill was "probably unconstitutional" and they would prefer to have "a suite of eco-actions" instead. He also boasted that the Cons will give $1.5 billion in taxpayers money over five years to subsidize experiments by the fossil fuel industry in carbon capture and storage.
Two months till the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen and the Cons are still banking on The Jetsons to save us.
Just this one time I'll let you use the big crayons.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Behold a Pale horserace

Pale spells out the possible dangers of a Con majority.

Thankfully it seems Canadians don't want Harper to have one.

They don't seem to want an election before 2013 either :

Harris Decima also polled on public support for the various positions of the opposition leaders on confidence votes :

Duceppe : Will support the budget measure because it contained a tax credit for home; after that -all bets are off

Layton : Will support keeping government in power till new EI money starts flowing.

Ignatieff : Will no longer support any government measures.

"Nationally, Jack Layton’s position is the most popular, supported by almost 3-in-4 Canadians.
This position has broad appeal nationwide with no less than 66% in any region indicating they support his position on the matter. Among New Democrats, 81% are supportive of this position, while 13% are opposed. The position of the NDP leader is also supported by 70% of Liberals and 78% of Conservatives."


Other horserace results :

Angus Reid (September 29-30, n = 1000 online)

CPC 37% ... Lib 27% ... NDP 17% ... BQ 11% ... Green 6%

Ekos (September 23-29, n = 3216 auto dialed)

CPC 36.0% ... Lib 29.7% ... NDP 13.9% ... BQ 9.8% ... Green 10.5%

Ipsos Reid (September 22-24, n = 1001 phone)

CPC 37% ... Lib 30% ... NDP 14% ... BQ 9% ... Green 9%

Leger (September 22-25, n = 3602 phone)

CPC 36% ... Lib 30% ... NDP 17% ... BQ 8% ... Green 8%

Plus ça change ...


Thursday, October 01, 2009

Dear CBC : The answer is No

CBC headlines fret about whether Canada will "end its presence in Kandahar as of July, 2011" as agreed by parliament in March 2008 :

Troops may stay in Afghanistan, MacKay hints

Tories asked to clarify combat status of troops

Yo, CBC! I repeat :
Stephen Harper at the White House, Sept 16, 2009 :
"Canada is not leaving Afghanistan; Canada will be transitioning from a predominantly military mission to a mission that will be a civilian humanitarian development mission after 2011. That transition is already in place."

Wiggle room helpfully provided by Jack Granatstein, Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute :
".. the government likely believes those Canadian trainers and the troops who provide security for development are exempt from the motion."

Is the TAPI oil pipeline from Turkmenistan to India built yet? No? Well there ya go.

What's in a logo?

New 2010 Olympics logo on Canadian athletes' uniforms on the left; Con Party logo on the right.
What a missed opportunity! The old CRAP party logo would have been perfect :


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