Sunday, December 31, 2006

Gangsta wrap

I had an idea for a mafia gangster story today. Tell me what you think.

The story opens as the big mafia bosses are looking to expand their empire.
They take on a new guy - let's call him Vinnie - who's running his own small-time operation and set him up in business raiding a mutual foe. Now Vinnie is a vicious bastard, killing off civilians on his own turf as he pleases, but hey - business is business say the big bosses, who don't much care who else he knocks off as long as he gets the job done.
Unbeknownst to Vinnie, the big bosses have another agenda. Their optimum business advantage comes from keeping all the smaller bosses like Vinnie at each others' throats, so they not only arm Vinnie, they also arm the very foe they sent him out to raid.
When he discovers he's been double-crossed, Vinnie goes ballistic and starts shooting his mouth off that he's been set up. The bosses take over his turf, shut down his operation, kill a ton more civilians, and kidnap him.
To make their takeover of Vinnie's turf look legit, the Big Bosses have a show trial in which they accuse him of the one crime against his own people that they didn't directly finance. His defense lawyers get taken out in a hail of bullets and eventually Vinnie gets handed back to his own turf for a revenge killing and they hang him.

The story ends with the Big Bosses' mouthpiece saying some bullshit while everyone else looks around trying to guess who's being set up to be the next Vinnie.

So whaddaya say? A bit hackneyed? Too predictable?

In an unlikely coincidence, the same picture for this story ran on the front page of most Canadian newspapers.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Top 10 Searches of 2006

1. Britney Spears
2. Britny Speers
3. Brittany Spers
4. bretni speres
5. Briteny Speirs
6. britainy spiers
7. briteni speares
8. Briterney Sprees
9. brittny speires
10. briteni Spries


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Canadian sharecropping

And here I thought sharecropping was supposed to be a bad thing.

The story so far :
A timeline of the Cons attack on the Canadian Wheat Board, a Canadian monopoly which brings in $800 million to the prairies by controlling 20% of the global grain market.

July 27 Canadian Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl tells the press his government will not be bound by the Canadian Wheat Board Act which prohibits any changes to the marketing of grain that is not supported by the grain producers.

Oct 5 Strahl imposes a gag order on CWB to prevent directors and staff from defending its position as a single desk seller of Canadian wheat and barley, despite the fact this monopoly was formed to provide growers with the most stable price for their crop on the world market.
Strahl removes two of the five directors of the CWB for their support of the CWB and replaces them with two directors who are anti-CWB.

Oct 17 In the middle of a CWB election, Strahl removes 16,269 farmers - or 36% - from the voters' list. Farmers who did not sell grain through the CWB in the previous 15 months due to being the victims of flood or drought are struck off.

Oct 25 Bill C-300, a private members' bill to remove the CWB's single desk (monopoly), is put forward by the Chair of the Agricultural Committee. It is defeated.

Dec Strahl fires Adrian Measner, the 32 year veteran and president of the CWB because he insisted on representing the people who elected him instead of the federal government.

Dec 19 Strahl replaces Measner with Greg Arason, a former CWB CEO whose new condition of employment is not to speak out against the federal government.

Dec 21 Arason hands out $1000 bonuses to CWB employees.

So who doesn't like the CWB?

Well, there's Monsanto, who were blocked by the CWB from Canadian registration of RoundUp Ready Wheat.
And the US who have taken Canada to WTO court umpteen times over this monopoly which is exempt under the rules of NAFTA and have lost every time.
The Western Growers of Alberta who comprise 1% of the CWB membership.
Oh yeah, and free market fundamentalists like Harper and Tom Flanagan who don't like labour-based aggregates of any kind. And their deluded admirers.

Are the rest of us too stupid to protect the people who grow food from these assholes?
Because if we are, here's what will happen :

Some farmers will privately get a better price from another grain buyer, say - because they live close to the US border and so their transport costs would be lower than that of more northern farmers.
More farmers will switch to this new buyer.
CWB loses power and folds.
Individual farmers are pitted against each other and the price of wheat falls.
NAFTA says no new CWB can be launched.
Farmers have to sell out to whoever is big enough to survive the price drop, ie agribiz.
Farmers become sharecroppers on what was formerly their own land.

The big buzzword being bandied about by Strahl et al is "choice". The farmers should be allowed "choice".

Hey Stahl, they've already made a choice. They have chosen to retain their way of life and their farms by voting for a strong single marketing board. You are merely giving them the choice of becoming sharecroppers.

And Harper. You're a speck of flyshit due to be blown away in the next election. Try to spend your limited time with us not screwing with our food or our farmers.

For the real stuff : Economist and agrologist Wendy Holm.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Batman lives...

President Vladimir Putin pauses to admire the logo gracing the floor of Moscow's new intelligence HQ.
Bruce Wayne - playboy, wealthy philanthropist, and head of the GRU.

BBC via Dominion Weblog.

The art of forgetting

There's a reason why we reward selfless acts of public service with a commemorative statue in the park or the naming of a ship, as opposed to, say, giving the hero a nice gift certificate to Bed and Bath. It's because we wish as a community to show our gratitude by honouring and remembering them.

Last March the people of Hartley Bay went out in their fishing boats in the middle of the night and rescued 99 people off the sinking Queen of the North. Immediately popular opinion called for the replacement ferry to be named Spirit of Hartley Bay. Good idea. The people of Hartley Bay liked it.

A couple of days ago I heard the president of BC Ferries David Hahn announce on CBC that the new $51M ferry would not be called Spirit of Hartley Bay after all. We gave the people of Hartley Bay a new dock and some fire-fighting equipment instead, explained Hahn, and we're naming the new replacement ferry Northern Adventurer. It was "purely a marketing decision", he said.

I'll fucking bet it was.
It was a marketing decision to fire the BC Ferries safety inspector before letting him investigate the crash, a marketing decision to shred all documents related to the Queen of the North five days after it sank, and a marketing decision to destroy the all the crew operation manuals.

Hahn would just like this whole thing to disappear. And thanks to P3remier Gordon Campbell quasi-privatizing the corporation three years ago, he will probably get his wish. According to the Deputy Auditor General, BC Ferries is no longer answerable to government as a shareholder.while still being a risk to the taxpayer.

The Czech novelist Milan Kundera once said the fastest way to rewrite history is to change the street names - that way no one will remember what the old street names stood for.

I guess not naming them after anything in the first place is even faster.

Friday, December 15, 2006

No Mars, bitches!

Now what on Mars could Steve possibly have against this?
It's something Canada is already very good at.
It doesn't require any additional funds to be allocated to Canada's space program.
It offers the opportunity for scientific research and development.

Of course it is a robot.
Maybe Steve just didn't care for the competition.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Who is it playing political games here?

As Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe threatened to bring down the Cons with a non-confidence vote in the spring if the Afghan mission is not "rapidly and profoundly" retooled to focus more heavily on reconstruction instead of fighting, Harper stood in the House of Commons on Tuesday and said :

"The only problem here is the political opportunism of the leader of the Bloc Quebecois . . . He's just playing political games on the backs of our soldiers.''

Really? Remember this?

Harper on CBC- TV Sept. 18 2006 :
"I can tell you it's certainly engaged our military," the Prime Minister told CBC. "It's, I think, made them a better military notwithstanding — and maybe in some way because of — the casualties."
Harper added that Canada's current role in Afghanistan is "certainly raising Canada's leadership role, once again, in the United Nations and in the world community."

Busted, Steve. Buying yourself some world class prestige - on the backs of our soldiers.

And then we get this complete red herring, given that Duceppe is calling for more construction, not less from International Co-operation Minister Josee Verner with her little school girls routine :

"I'm thinking especially about the women. It's out of the question for me to return them to the darkness. We know what sort of horrific regime they lived under.
Little girls go to school today -- which they could not do when the mission started in 2001."

Newsflash, Josee :
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on March 6 2006 International Women's Day, :
"From fear of terrorism, from threats of the enemies of Afghanistan, today as we speak, some 100,000 Afghan children who went to school last year, and the year before last, now do not go to school."

And Karzai is a guy heavily invested in having us stay.
See, no one's asking you "to return anyone to darkness", Josee. We'd just like to stop propping up whoever is bombing the shit out of them.

Malalai Joya, 28 year old female Afghan MP addressing students at McGill this past September :

"Canada must have its own policies in Afghanistan, and stop supporting fundamentalist warlords."
Canada, said Joya, must "prove that it is a friend of the Afghan people." To do that, it must "act independently of US war policies," she said, adding that, "as long as Canada cannot act independently of the Pentagon," it will be inevitable that Canadian troops will die."
According to Joya, "the US is not concerned with the major causes of terror in Afghanistan--that is why my people do not consider them as liberators."
"All justice-loving people are calling for trials for the warlords," she said, noting that the Karzai administration--with US approval--"promotes war criminals to higher posts,” most recently the police force. The majority of seats in Afghanistan's parliament are occupied by "some kind of warlord," who is "doing crimes under the name of Islam."

Duceppe : "What we need is a rebalancing so that in three years we don't end up with a Baker report on Afghanistan, like we've got for Iraq now.''


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Canada says torture flights "lawful"

From Macleans :
"Extraordinary rendition, the U.S. practice of shipping terrorism suspects to foreign prisons, may be legal in some cases, says the Foreign Affairs spokesman Rodney Moore :
"Whether any particular rendition is lawful would depend on the facts of each individual case." "

But hey, not to worry because :
"The government said earlier this year a review of dozens of alleged CIA aircraft landing at Canadian airports uncovered no evidence of illegal activity."

Even though :
"Alex Neve of Amnesty International Canada accused Ottawa on Monday of failing to "launch a thorough and comprehensive probe" of the possible use of Canadian airstrips by planes involved in extraordinary rendition.
"Some of those same planes implicated in the European cases are known to have made use of Canadian airspace and airstrips," he said."

Alleged CIA torture flights in 2005 : UK-210, Gemany-437, Canada, um, 0

At the same time this secret Foreign Affairs/Justice Dept report was being prepared last November, Condi Rice was jetting around Europe telling everyone to just shut up shut up shut up about torture flights.

Times-Online Dec 6, 2005
"Rice challenged European leaders to back controversial American anti-terrorism tactics yesterday as she robustly defended the CIA’s extrajudicial seizure, transportation and interrogation of thousands of suspects.
Dr Rice said that she expected American allies to co-operate and keep quiet about sensitive anti-terrorism operations....she pointedly reminded European governments that they had helped the US for years in a “lawful” policy of rendition — the removal of suspects to third countries for interrogation."

Ah, there we go - "lawful".

Monday, December 11, 2006

Young women vote Venus; old guys vote Mars

Federal voting intentions : gender and age
Question : If a federal election were held tomorrow, which party would you vote for?

From a sampling of 1022 interviews conducted on Dec 5 & 6.
The complete EKOS poll on other voter trends by issue and by region are here, but may I say - Go, young women!

So two Polls walk into a bar...

Plus/minus percentages refer to changes from same polls taken at the time of the January election.
EKOS poll Ipsos Reid poll

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Jupiter Mercury and Mars, bitches!

On Sunday morning 45 minutes before sunrise, Jupiter, Mercury, and Mars will cluster less than one degree apart from each other just above the horizon in the southeastern sky.
It won't happen again till 2053.
This beautiful image of Mars was taken by the Hubble telescope in 2001. An even closer image can be seen here.

Zack takes one for the team

Two years and a $15 million investigation later, we better be looking at more than just a petard protruding from between Zaccardelli's shoulder blades.

Zack : "I had no choice -- I have never had any choice -- but to tell the truth."

Yeah sure, ok, whatever.

Back in October, Zack held a press conference to reassure us that debacles like the Arar case would not be repeated becaue he had initiated safeguards like vetting what "paper documentation" on Canadians is given to US authorities. Meanwhile Evan Dyer was reporting on CBC that FBI agents are in fact physically present at Canadian Integrated National Security & Enforcement Teams(INSET) meetings where said intelligence on Canadians is discussed. As I said at the time, the FBI are probably quite capable of taking their own notes.

Obviously we have bigger problems here than how soon Zack begins collecting his pension and whether that stationery used to share information about Canadians with the FBI originates here or in the US.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Freedom fries - Canadian edition

So that's it? That's your whole game? That Dion's mom is French?
That Canadian-born Stephane Dion has dual-citizenship by virtue of his mom being French?

Nutter Ezra Levant in the Calgary Sun : Question of loyalty
"When it comes to making decisions about the war on terror, and Canada's role in Afghanistan, will Dion be unduly influenced by France....?"

NDP MP Pat Martin :
"What if there is a trade dispute between France and Canada? Would he have to recuse himself?"

NaPo : Dion's insult - to France
"Parliament is Canada’s legislature. It is not an airport departure lounge, nor a multilateral feel-good society."
NaPo goes on to disingenuously inquire whether Dion's dual citizenship is fair to France!

Macleans : Divided loyalties?
"The leader of the opposition is French! Or at least, he's entitled to a French passport. But he claims not to have one, and never to have voted in a French election. So what are Canadians going to do about it?"

We don't mind, says Macleans, but other people might.

Lame, guys. Really really lame.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Same old sex marriage debate

"That this house call on the government to introduce legislation to restore the traditional definition of marriage without affecting civil unions, and while respecting existing same sex marriages."

Yawn. Ok, so what is this about really?
It's about Steve forcing his so-con base to lose the very issue they've staked all their chips on.
Afterwards, he can stop taking their calls and finally get to work on that moderate image.
They will be pissed but really - who else are they going to vote for?
Losing this one will be a big gain for Steve. It's perfect.
"Debate" to start on Wednesday.
Image courtesy The Brick Testament.
UPDATE: Defeated 175 to 123. 13 Libs and 13 Cons, including Peter MacKay and Jim Prentice, voted against party lines.
Ottawonk called it a year ago.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Iris bags some rays

And you may ask yourself how did I get here?

Best explanation of how Dion, the third place candidate with only 17% of the vote, wound up leader of the Libs can be found here. It's all about timing.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Liberal leadership analysis

This is Creekside, live-blogging the first ballot results of the Liberal leadership race as they are announced on CBC TV.
We now take you !live! to Peter Mansbridge, sitting behind a desk in the empty and cavernous convention hall. He has just announced the results will be in momentarily....he is looking them up on the internet....and now he is reading them aloud to the TV viewing audience.
Borg - 29.3%....Rae - 20.3%....Dion - 17.8%....Kennedy - 17.7%
This has been Creekside, live-blogging CBC coverage ...

Of course all the really important work is done behind the scenes.
For instance, 2,000 bright red condoms bearing the Young Liberals of Canada logo will be given out throughout the weekend [Ed. note : Surely that isn't going to be enough] and a resolution to lower the age of consent for anal sex from 18 to 16 was debated at the social policy workshop. [Ed. note : Surely they won't get it through on time.]
You think I'm making this up. Nuh-uh, here you go.

Unfortunately, although it passed, the anal sex resolution did not make it onto the list of the big three priority issues to be debated by the entire convention. What a shame. I was so looking forward to seeing the approving delegates leaping up and down and waving their placards and cheering enthusiastically in an anal attentive sort of way.

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