Saturday, November 29, 2008

We, the undersigned citizens from C.R.A.P.,

have received our talking points from Con Party headquarters :

  • On October 14, Canadians gave our Conservative government a fresh mandate ...
  • the Opposition parties are interested only in power and entitlements ...
  • They want to replace the elected government with a backroom deal ...
  • Liberals want to seize power with only an endorsement from only the socialists and the separatists.

And via Elizabeth Thompson at The Gazette : a handy C.R.A.P. list of outraged opinions listed in bullet points plus the phone numbers of appropriate talk radio call-in shows :

When you make your call :

  • Think about what you want to say ahead of time.
  • You may have trouble getting through your first try, so if the line is busy
    - don't give up!

Ye gods, I can hear them blowing their brains out in crayon on national radio from here.

Update from the PMO : "Use every tool at your disposal". Heh.

We, the undersigned citizens of Canada,

1. Recognize that the NDP, Liberals, Bloc Quebecois, and Greens have enough in common to form a coalition government that will better reflect the values of the majority of Canadian voters than the Conservative minority government.
2. Call on the NDP, Liberals, and Bloc Quebecois to ask Governor General Michaƫlle Jean to form a coalition government.
3. Call on the NDP, Liberals, and Bloc Quebecois to govern by working together on areas of common interest and by including counsel from the Greens.
Thanks, Steve! from Cathie - a round-up of blog reactions to the proposed coalition

Friday, November 28, 2008

Steve blinks : Non-Confidence Motion and Coalition Proposal

CP : "The Liberal motion, which has the approval of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois, reads:

"In light of the government's failure to recognize the seriousness of Canada's economic situation and its failure in particular to present any credible plan to stimulate the Canadian economy and to help workers and businesses in hard-pressed sectors such as manufacturing, the automotive industry and forestry, this House has lost confidence in this government and is of the opinion that a viable alternative government can be formed within the present House of Commons."

A source says the opposition parties have agreed that Liberal Leader Stephane Dion would lead the government for the next few months.

A combative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Friday the government won't back down on a single measure, despite the opposition threats.
"We're staying on track," Flaherty said in Toronto."This is the financial plan of the government of Canada. This is a matter of confidence."

My god, Jim, I think you've finally got it!

.CPAC Live for interviews in the foyer...

Ok, everybody get that?
Steve says the opposition wants to install Dion and a coalition government using the support of a party that wants to destroy Canada when he got the mandate, he got it, I tell you, with his 37% of the vote.
Bottom line - To avoid the non-con vote, Steve's postponing ways and means and opposition day till Dec 8.
Good. Will give the coalition time to work on their 63% mandate.

CBC poll : Yo! Canadians! Listen up!

From a live CBC online poll.

In 2003, Jean Chretien reduced the influence of special interest groups on elections by banning corporate and union donations. Private donations are capped at $1100. Arguably the best thing he ever did for Canada.

To compensate for this loss of funding, all parties who receive 2% of the vote are paid a $1.95 taxpayer subsidy per vote received, reducing the winner-take-all lopsidedness of our dumb ass first-past-the-post electoral system.
Without it the Greens would disappear, the NDP would have a much smaller voice, and fundraising would become the all-encompassing election issue it is to the south.
Very convenient for whoever is in power at the time to have fewer dissenting voices in opposition.

From Accidental Deliberations :
"Shorter Deficit Jim Flaherty : In these troubled times, opposition parties are a luxury that Canada simply can't afford."

This morning the Cons have backed down from pretending that stripping political parties of their public financing is somehow for our benefit.
Too late, jerk offs. Chretien and Broadbent are right now brokering some kind of coalition between the Bloc, the Libs, and the NDP. Good. It's a start.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Let the kid keep the pony

Sam Spiteri is 3.
He has cerebral palsy.
He can't walk but he loves his pony, Emily.
Some asshat neighbour, apparently able to distinguish the odour of Sam's pony over that of the cow farm next door, has laid a successful complaint with the town of Caledon, Ont. to have the pony removed from the Spiteri's one acre property over a zoning infraction.
Dear Township of Caledon :
The kid's single mom has paid you the $1145 you apparently require to consider letting her keep the pony. Yeah we read all about your worries regarding setting legal precedents in your local paper. How about setting a precedent to allow a severely challenged kid to have some joy in his childhood? Don't mess this one up.
Good luck to you, little kid, mom, and pony.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

$7,700,000,000,000? Holy crap!

Earlier today I saw this handy click-to-enlarge pie chart at Boing Boing from Voltage Blog
The pie on the right includes the Marshall Plan, the Louisiana Purchase, the moonshot, the S&L crisis, the New deal, NASA, and the Korean, Vietnam, and Iraq wars, for a total of $4.6 trillion.
On the left we have the slightly larger 2008 bailout pie.
But then tonight I read at Bloomberg : Nope, it's not $4.6 trillion, it's $7,700,000,000,000.
At $24,000 for every man, woman and child in the US, it could pay off more than half their mortgages.
Bob Eisenbeis, economist for the Atlanta Fed for 10 years, on the lack of government oversight : "They got snookered."
But these are just loans, right? The companies will pay the taxpayers back when ... when ....
Holy crap! Isn't this the part in the movie where the seasoned old cop/FBI/CIA guy tells the anxious victim not to submit to blackmail/ransom/terrorist's demands because they will never stop their demands no matter how much you pay them and besides if you give in they're just gonna kill you/your wife/your country afterwards anyway?
Commenter Frank W at Boing Boing : "Money is a meme. It consists of the belief in it. That does not mean it does not exist, just that it consists of the belief in it. So, here's a pretty picture of a unicorn."

More no-fly list nonsense

In Terry Gilliam's apocalyptic movie, Brazil, which he would have preferred to name 1984 1/2, a hapless bureaucrat investigates a mistake in a ridiculously counterproductive terrorist tracking system that has confused an innocent Mr. Buttle with a terrorist named Tuttle. Buttle is arrested and killed. It was a typing error.

Glenda Hutton, a 66 year old retired elementary BC school secretary, never arrested, has joined the ranks of 5 year olds and US senators whose names have mysteriously appeared on some no-fly list or other, preventing her from fulfilling her lifelong retirement dream of world travel with her husband.
Apparently her name resembles that of someone else on a list, although she cannot find out which one.

As Julie Morand of Passport Canada explained to her, "In fact … you should always be questioned since a name similar to yours appears to be on an American list."

Excuse me? A similar name on an American list?

An Ottawa Citizen article, no longer available, from Sept 2006 reported that :
"Air Transport Association of Canada uses the US Homeland Security no-fly selectee list to screen passengers even on domestic flights from one point in Canada to another. They do this despite Transport Canada's statement that there is no requirement for them to do so. There are reportedly 70,000 people on that list."

And that was two years ago.

Thirteen months after Glenda Hutton was stopped while boarding a domestic Air Canada flight from Comox to Calgary, Transport Canada, the Dept of Foreign Affairs, the Dept of Public Safety, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have all for their various reasons been unable to help her.

Note to actual terrorists : Don't use the name Glenda Hutton. Or Glenda Button.

Critter rights

Canada's animal welfare laws remain shamefully unchanged since the late 1800's, save some small increase in penalties, but you can sign a petition for the United Nations Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare and the World Society of the Protection of Animals (WSPA) will forward it to the Canadian ministers responsible for Agriculture and Agri-Food, Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Justice.
Bug those ministers! Let's see if we can persuade Mr Kitty here to pass some decent legislation passed this time round.

Your signature here.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Taser™ Nation

"A decade ago, ordinary Americans would not have tolerated such widespread use of the Taser, a stun gun delivering a 50,000-volt shock. They would not have tolerated the electrocution of unarmed, non-threatening civilians without following the normal "escalation of force" policy.

Ironically, American political leaders and the media once cast aspersion on the regimes of Guatemala and Argentina, which used cattle-prods on prisoners. Cattle-prods only deliver 25,000-volt shocks, half that of the Taser.

Guantanamo helped condition the American public. It raised the threshold of what Americans consider reasonable in violating personal space by the state - or by its private contractors, like Halliburton, which has built parts of Gitmo, or Lockheed Martin, which has provided professional interrogators.

The transfer of violations from Guantanamo to the US "Homeland" might be one purpose behind Guantanamo in the first place. After all, hardly any real terrorists were convincingly exposed at Guantanamo, and even some federal authorities wonder aloud that more than one-third of the detainees might be entirely innocent. By and large, Gitmo was populated with taxi cab drivers, goat herders and even teenage students, most having been delivered to US forces by bounty hunters and opium warlords."

~ Dr. Andrew Bosworth : Taser Nation

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Harper and Uribe shake hands on free trade deal

The handshake that represents Harper's decision to help Uribe in his war against his own people.
The handshake that would "destroy the livelihoods of many small Colombian farmers by flooding the market with subsidized agricultural imports", thereby paving the way for large agro-businesses in Colombia to buy up the land of destitute farmers for the production of biodiesel, palm oil and beef for export.
The handshake that supports the use of paramilitary organizations who have forced 4 million people off their land for the benefit of Canadian transnational mining and natural gas companies.
Some of these companies have even supplied the necessary military equipment.
The handshake that ignores involvement of Uribe's top aides in the killing of more than 800 union workers, teachers and journalists over the past six years.
In July 2007, Harper was in Colombia subbing for Bush.
There, with President Uribe at his side, he explained his position :
"When we see a country like Colombia that has decided to address its social, political and economic problems in an integrated way, that wants to embrace democracy and human rights, then we say, 'We're in,' he said."

"We are not going to say fix all your social, political and human rights problems and only then will we engage in trade relations with you. That's a ridiculous position," Harper said.
G&M, last night : [nice to see the Cons still adhering to late friday news dumps!]
"A Canada-Colombia free-trade agreement was announced Friday shortly after Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrived in Peru.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said the deal “builds greater trust among investors.”
The agreement lifts tariffs on 98 per cent of Canada's exports to Colombia, including wheat, barley, lentils, peas, beef, paper products and machinery and equipment.

In their free-trade deal, Canada and Colombia agreed their laws must adhere to principles set out by the International Labour Organization. If Canada or Colombia violates the labour organization's principles, they will have to pay into a fund aimed at strengthening workers' rights."
This is known as the "kill a trade unionist, pay a fine" clause.
Canadian parliament will have their chance to reject it sometime in January.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Somali pirates in Discussions to Acquire Citigroup

Globe and Mail : November 20

"The Somali pirates, renegade Somalis known for hijacking ships for ransom in the Gulf of Aden, are negotiating a purchase of Citigroup.

The pirates would buy Citigroup with new debt and their existing cash stockpiles, earned most recently from hijacking numerous ships, including most recently a $200million Saudi Arabian oil tanker. The Somali pirates are offering up to $0.10 per share for Citigroup, pirate spokesman Sugule Ali said earlier today. The negotiations have entered the final stage, Ali said.

"You may not like our price, but we are not in the business of paying for things. Be happy we are in the mood to offer the shareholders anything," said Ali.


Oh sure, yuck it up, G&M, when there are much more serious matters at stake.
How, for instance, is this sudden rise in the number of pirates going to affect the global average temperature?

Didn't think about that, did you?
Argggg, maties. RAmen.

The "Afghanistan job fair"

is all about attracting more federal public servants to Afghanistan:
"Serving in Afghanistan is a unique and rewarding experience," the memo reads.
"Canadian public servants in Kabul and Kandahar are at the cutting edge of Canada's international work in challenging environments and their contributions will shape Canada's approach to engaging the world for a generation to come."
John Manley's 2007 Afghanistan Task Force advisors, headed by David (no relation) Mulroney and his merry band of 24 experts, are still toiling away at the Privy Council Office and, according to some, sucking all the oxygen out of any other DND, CIDA, or Foreign Affairs project.

Fen Hampson, director of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University explains it's all about Obama :

"Canada's major foreign policy priority is going to be to make inroads with the new administration," he said. "The fact that we are one of the major players in Afghanistan, alongside the Americans, is a very important card and, I would say lever of influence with the incoming Obama administration, Mr. Hampson believed.

"We're not just investing in Afghanistan's future, we're also investing in the Canada-U.S. relationship and partnership. So when you do the accounting you have to include that political calculation into the equation."

No mention of public servants requiring special boots to prevent "blood and fecal matter" from being "tracked into personal quarters" this time round so maybe it could really be fun!
Thanks, Fen!

via Ottawonk whose forays into a possible career change were abruptly brought up short by a question on the RCMP application :
"-Have you ever engaged in bestiality?"
Never mind, Ottawonk. Hey what about Lion Tamer? They must be needing lion tamers in the public service by now.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The state of corporate welfare

"Though Canada's disappearing surplus is partially the result of a global financial crisis, the report says the minority Conservative government shoulders some of the responsibility because of policy decisions during Prime Minister Stephen Harper's first term in office.
"The weak fiscal performance to date is largely attributable to previous policy decisions as opposed to weakened economic conditions," the report says.
It pinpoints the government's second one-percentage-point reduction in the goods and services tax and reductions in corporate income taxes for causing the lowest budget balance in the first five months of the fiscal year in recent times.
In August, the year-to-date budget surplus stood at $1.2 billion, down from $6.6 billion the year before."
Thank you, Mr. Kevin Page.

Meanwhile Chrysler Canada has asked Ottawa and Ontario for $1-billion in aid, after the "big three" in the US hit up their taxpayers for $25-billion.

On the US side, Ford CEO Alan Mulally took home $28 million in pay in 2007 while GM's Rick Wagoner struggled by on $15.7 million.
As a private company, Chrysler is not required to disclose the salary paid to its execs and CEO Robert Nardelli has offered to reduce his salary to $1 till business picks up, but don't feel too bad for him - Home Depot paid him $210 million to piss off last year.

About now one usually hears the free market argument that CEO's must be "adequately reimbursed" in order to remain competitive.
All three U.S. auto industry leaders flew to the Washington bailout hearings to ask for money in separate luxury jets. Each flight was estimated to cost $20,000 (U.S.)
One final note. While knocking around google, trying to find out how much the Canadian Chrysler CEO makes, I ran into this at The Truth About Cars :
Chinese May Buy GM and Chrysler from The Middle Kingdom Herald.
An editorial at TTAC notes : "As of September, the U.S. Treasury owes China $585b. With GM’s market cap now standing at a pocket change rate of $1.35b, and getting cheaper by the minute, China could buy 433 General Motors with their T bills alone."
On Oct 7, Harper told Peter Mansbridge that there's probably "some great buying opportunities out there ... I think there are probably some gains to be made in the stock market. That's my own view."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And they're back!

"I agree that decorum has gone down somewhat,"admitted previous Speaker of the House Peter Millikin, in what must be described as an underunderstatement.

"We want to be very serious," pledged Jay Hill, the new Conservative House leader who took over the position from Peter Van Loan, famous, along with his compatriot Pierre Poilievre, for his fondness for using sign language in the House.

Gone will be the parliamentary practise of responding to the opposing party's arguments by making an L on one's forehead with thumb and forefinger. Never again will Con MP Royal Galipeau, himself a contender for Speaker of the House up till an hour ago, storm the Liberal backbenches to grapple with Lib MP David McGuinty.

Personally I think this proposed civility thing is a big mistake. Arm the buggers, I say! Break out the parliamentary catapaults! Build a moat in the aisle and fill it with green jello. I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries! Fetchez la vache!

Picture ripped off from Ottawonk

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Manning Centre for Building Democracy

Preston Manning, Stephen Harper, and Rona Ambrose with "the first graduates of the Manning Centre's Executive Program in Political Management at the Future Leaders Series Dinner held at the historic Chateau Laurier in Ottawa on April 18th, 2007"

... one of whom appears to be doing up his fly.

I didn't even know about this rightwing think tank till I saw The Cylinder's post this morning with a link to Sooey for a G&M article from 2005 :
"Former Reform Party leader Preston Manning and a small group of friends have raised an initial $10-million from wealthy Albertans to launch a new non-political institution designed to promote conservative ideas in Canada...The aim of those supporting the Manning centre is to have conservative political forces win two of every three elections by changing the way Canadians view public issues, instead of losing two out of three, or three out of four, as conservative parties have done throughout Canadian history."
Ok so who'd ya get?

Preston Manning - founder of Reform and Alliance parties, Senior Fellow of the Fraser Institute
Gwyn Morgan - EnCana Corp
Rick Anderson - ASCI-Anderson Strategic Consulting Inc and chairman of Hill & Knowlton Canada
Tom Long - chair of Ont Premier Mike Harris’ campaigns, co-chair of the founding convention of the Canadian Alliance Party
Tasha Kheiriddin - CBC Newsworld producer, Ontario Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, VP of the Montreal Economic Institute, member Fraser Institute
Nigel S. Wright - Managing Director of Onex Corporation aerospace and defence group

Patrons - Mike Harris, Ralph Klein, Bernard Lord

Fellowships - Blogging Tory Stephen Taylor, seen here being recognized by Preston Manning "for outstanding contributions to conservative online communications"

Advisors - Andrew Coyne, Tom Long, Hon. Tony Clement, Michael Walker - founder of the Fraser Institute, Michel Kelly-Gagnon - president of the Montreal Economic Institute.

Small world, huh?

There's a "Student Leadership Seminar" coming up...
Ottawa, Nov. 21 & 22
"Calling all students: Learn the effective practices for campus activism, and how to plan for political participation
The intention is to ensure each participant develops the social and intellectual skills to realize their respective goals, and be an asset to Canada’s democratic-conservative tradition.
You will hear from some of our country's most respected politicians, campaigners, strategists, journalists, and activists."

Presenters : Monte Solberg, Michael Coren, Tasha Kheiriddin, and Blogging Tories Stephen Taylor and Aaron Lee Wudrick.

Alrighty then.

A page of members' contacts and their specific areas of expertise is provided for media requiring experts to interview, thus going some distance toward answering the question of why the experts interviewed by the media are so often conservative.
They also support an online journal, C2C, featuring the writing of many of those mentioned above plus David Frum, Tom Flanagan, Kenneth P. Green of the American Enterprise Institute, Christopher Sands of the Hudson Institute, and a not altogether surprising number of familiar newspaper editors and columnists from across Canada.
Do stop by the photo gallery to see Ottawa mayor Larry O'Brien, Joseph Ben Ami, Dave Quist of the Institute of Marriage and Family, and, of course, Steve.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Corporate welfare fraud

"Washington's handling of the bailout is not merely incompetent. It may well be illegal.
According to Congressman Barney Frank, one of the architects of the legislation that enables the deals, "Any use of these funds for any purpose other than lending -- for bonuses, for severance pay, for dividends, for acquisitions of other institutions, etc. -- is a violation of the act." Yet this is exactly how the funds are being used."
American International Group Inc. got an expanded $150 billion government bailout this week, and is setting aside $503 million in compensation for executives.
Bloomberg : "The Treasury has committed $290 billion of the $350 billion already allocated through capital injections to banks and AIG. The four attending members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's subcommittee on domestic policy accused Treasury of picking "winners and losers'' by giving loans to healthy banks to use in buying smaller ones."
"This administration wants to privatize Wall Street’s gains and socialize Wall Street’s losses," said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.
"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs. ~ Thomas Jefferson, 1802

CON³ cranks up the anti-abortion wurlitzer

Conservative Convention Constitution, aka CON³, Resolution P-207 -
legislation to make assault causing harm to fetus a separate crime - PASSED

"A delegate from the East Coast bravely makes the argument that this would, indeed, open the door to fetal rights - which gets a cheer, and then boos when she indicates that this would be a bad thing."

G&M : "The “Protecting Pregnant Women” policy resolution passed by a narrow margin despite warnings to Tories from abortion rights advocates that it was part of a “slippery slope” to criminalizing abortion.
Mr. Nicholson said the Harper government would move as it promised in August to enact similar legislation to the passed resolution. He repeated earlier Conservative pledges that this was not an effort to attack the right to abort."

Ok, apart from the cheering on the convention floor that would indicate this is, indeed, an effort to attack the right to abortion, what was that previous "similar legislation" for, Rob?

Ken Epp, author of C-484, via We Move To Canada :
"Because we want to recognize the humanity of that unborn child. Whether that child was killed three months before birth or three months after birth, it was still a child, there was still a loss of life. The other side might wish to deny the humanity of that unborn child, but we want the law to recognize it."

Alrighty then. As JJ says : Bring it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


"Look, up in the sky! Just there over the mountains and under the clouds and behind the pulleys and levers they use to raise and lower the sun there's the shine of a plate and a flaky brown crust and the sweet smell of fresh fruit filling and could it be... could it be pie?"

The Con Con Con Res '08

Conservative Convention Constitution Resolutions '08 :
Pillaged from the much more colourful live-blogging of Dr. Dawg and Kady O'Malley :

P-106 - "encourage the provinces and territories to further experiment with different means of delivering universal health care utilizing both the public and private health sectors" - DEFEATED
Although "This motion will bring fodder to our enemies when it’s not necessary" is not a very reassuring reason for its defeat.
Ditto : relying on "the invisible hand of Adam Smith".

P-202 - Reaffirm support for the Charter, including the Notwithstanding Clause - PASSED
Despite being referred to as "a deeply flawed document"

P-203 - stripping Canadian Human Rights Commission of the power to investigate complaints under Section 13 (hate speech) -PASSED
No surprise here as the CHRC is usually investigating ReformaCon supporters

P-207 - legislation to make assault causing harm to fetus a separate crime - PASSED
"Separate crime" being the operative words here = anti-abortion

P-213 - removal of support for full gender equality, also equal pay for equal work - PASSED
Despite one dude's complaint that it didn't address full gender equality for men!

P-223 - audit of aboriginal programs - PASSED
More hassling of the already audited-to-death FNs

P-308 - anti-union/right to work/support for workers who don’t want to take part in a strike - PASSED
Yeah - right to choose lower wages! Go children of the tar sands!

P-105 - offshore oil and resource exploration (drill baby drill) - PASSED
h/t to Gary Lunn for all his outstanding work in promoting another Exxon Valdez

So although Mr Comfy Sweater will be along later to tell them all to stuff it if they ever expect to see a majority government, this is face the CRAP party chooses to turn on Canada today.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Stay classy, NaPo

The National Post, a rightwing mouthpiece which has yet to make it into the black, pitches the leak of the proposed $100-million taxpayer bail-out to Millenium to build $1.2-billion Olympic Village condos as "Dirty tricks in Vancouver Mayoral race".

OK, so who are the candidates in this dirty tricks race?
According to NaPo, the choice is either "a left-leaning juice and soup maker", or "a right-leaning council member" who isn't "kowtowing to the local poverty industry".

Kowtowing to the local poverty industry? What's that about?
NaPo : "such radical measures as preventing the closure of rental apartment buildings and low-rent hotel rooms, and forcing repairs at the owners' expense, if necessary."

Stay classy, NaPo.

Update : Hi, NaPo. Thanks for dropping by.
Could I have my link back now, please?

"O.K., coffee break's over. Everyone back on your heads!"

Last week the Party Cons laboured mightily to bring forth a particularly vile list of resolutions for their big ConCon bunfest opening in Winnipeg yesterday.
Fetal rights, marriage is the union of one man and one woman, one North American perimeter - nothing was considered too Reform/Alliance/wack to be cobbled together in what it pleases them to call their "proposed policy amendments".

Yesterday Steve showed up with some advice for ConCon '08 - see post title.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 60 this year.

It states that every human, regardless of sex, skin colour, language, religion, country of origin, intellect, or wealth has the right to live, and to live in freedom and safety.
Just by dint of being born human, you have the right to food, shelter, education, and healthcare, the right to freedom of speech and religion, equality before the law, the right to work and to benefit from that work. You have the right to property, to marry whom you choose - or not, to belong to which groups you choose, to vote, and not to be persecuted or tortured. You have the right to care when you cannot care for yourself. And there's more.
It is a fine ringing assertion of what is required to allow all of us to be fully human.
I would only ask that a 31st article be added : the right not to cause harm. This would pertain to non-religious conscientious objectors, and to the refusal to harm animals and the environment.
You can put your own signature to it now at the Every Human Has Rights Campaign.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lo and behold: the $100M Olympic Village bail-out

In a secret meeting on October 14, Vancouver council voted unanimously to lend $100-million to Millennium Development, the private corporation building the $1.1-billion 2010 Olympic Village, for cost over-runs.
Vancouver's Director of Finance, Estelle Lo, who reportedly had concerns about the city's involvement in the Olympic athletes' village and who was stripped of her control over financing decisions related to the athletes' village in April, was not at the meeting.
Ms Lo reportedly resigned on Oct 29.
That's quite a lot of "reportedly"s and no word from the city.
Millenium is also leaking a $65-million cost overrun on its 176 unit Evelyn Drive project above Park Royal in West Van and in danger of default on a 170 room hotel contract in Nanaimo. h/t Bill Tieleman
One of Millenium's backers is private-equity and hedge-fund manager Fortress Investment Group.
G&M :
"Donald Trump is tied up in a legal fight over a Chicago skyscraper that is now worth less at completion than the total value of the loans it took to build it.
The shortfall is about $100-million. Interestingly, one of the lenders in this case is Fortress Investment Group, the primary lender in the athletes' village project."
Ross is on the details of this with a half a dozen posts.
Meanwhile, over in the UK :
"Government ministers have delayed a taxpayer bail-out for the £1bn athletes' village at the London 2012 Olympics until the beginning of next year at the earliest.
The scheme hit trouble when the developer Lend Lease could not raise finance and the possible resale value of the flats slumped. Also at the meeting was John Armitt, the Olympic Delivery Authority chairman, who has said taxpayers might have to bail out the entire £1bn cost."
So. Could it happen here?
Wednesday night update : G&M :
"Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan asked the police Wednesday to investigate the "theft" of documents from city hall that revealed that city council had authorized a loan of up to $100-million to the financially strapped developer of the 2010 Olympics athletes village."
Yeah, Sammy, coz that's the really important issue here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The North American tar sands - a recent short history

CanWest, June 2008 : "Barack Obama on Tuesday vowed he would break America's addiction to "dirty, dwindling, and dangerously expensive" oil if he is elected U.S. president - and one of his first targets might well be Canada's oilsands."

Fin Post, Sept. 2008 : Stephen Harper on Friday promised that if elected in October, the Conservatives will prohibit oil sands companies from shipping bitumen from Canada's oil sands to countries that do not have equivalent emission reduction targets.
[Translation : All oil sands bitumen will go to US]

G&M, Nov. 6, 2008 : Environment Minister Jim Prentice :
"When you're talking about the environment, you're also talking about energy, and when you're talking about energy, you're also talking about the economy."

Star, Nov. 9, 2008: "Harper ready to harmonize with U.S. on climate change
Canada would provide a secure oil supply in exchange for common standards on emissions."

CBC : Nov. 10, 2008 : Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach :
"I believe Alberta's oilsands are the key to energy security for North America— likely to be a major goal of the new U.S. administration."

Groundwork on Harper's position, courtesy of :
The Fraser Institute :
"If the new Administration and Congress launch a cap-and-trade system on carbon emissions, Canada should lobby for a single Canadian-American approach, rather than separate Canadian and American policies. Such an accord must give special protection for the oil sands industry"

with cheerleading from :
G&M Harper spokescolumnist John Ibbitson :
"Canada should propose a harmonized, universal, continental market, coupled with massive joint investment aimed at reducing the environmental impact of the oil sands, in exchange for guarantees that the U.S. gets all the oil."

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Con Convention '08 : Running with scissors

BigCityLib says Winnipeg may just become the most hilarious city in Canada next week when the Cons hold their big ConConvention and publicly air their C.R.A.P. :
"A Conservative Government will support legislation defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman."
Yeah but not this Consevative Government - what else you got?
"The Conservative Party supports investing significantly in increasing our scientific knowledge base and in making firm and fair decisions based on facts ..."
Um .. yeah. Well, ok, I get it, CRAP, baby steps and all that ...
"Food. Food is one of the basic necessities of life, and a Conservative Government places high priority on assuring that Canada’s food supply is safe, secure, and sustainable."
OK, that's good - keep it mind-numbingly obvious. No need to mention your recent policy forays into having the food industry police itself into listeriosis ...
"... an investigation into the security of our long term freshwater resources as they pertain to exportation as a commodity."
Mentioning water exports as a commodity is pushing your luck a bit though, isn't it?
I also notice the original proposal was "protection and security of" but "protection" got crossed off somehow ...

"... recognizing the need for improving security and improved relations with the United States and establish a study of the feasibility of a North American perimeter."

Whoa! CRAP! What happened to not looking scary? Now is hardly the time to be rediscovering your Reform roots.
But wait! What's this? Antonia Z at Broadsides :

"Protecting Pregnant Women
The Conservative Party supports legislation to ensure that individuals who commit violence against a pregnant woman would face additional charges if her unborn child was killed or injured during the commission of a crime against the mother."
Not the anti-abortion C-484 thingey again? Seriously?
You guys may as well all go get fitted for new muzzles right now before Big Daddy gets home.

Home for portrait gallery nixed

G&M : The government has cancelled plans to build a permanent home for the Portrait Gallery of Canada.
"A number of developers submitted proposals," announced newly appointed Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages James Moore in a statement.
He refused to say what was wrong with the submitted proposals due to “confidentiality requirements.”

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Genetically modified genocide

DailyMail : GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

Here's how that works.
India gets IMF loans in exchange for allowing western companies like Monsanto access to the billion strong Indian markets.
Government seed banks ban traditional seeds to promote uptake of GM seeds.
Farmers are pitched the very expensive "magic seeds", Monsanto's BT Cotton.
Farmers take out loans to buy them.
Drought. Too bad because GM seeds require twice the water of traditional seeds.
Crops die and farmers are unable to save seeds to plant next year because of course there are no seeds.
Farmers takes out additional loans to buy more seeds.
More drought plus parasitic bollworms. Crop failure.
Farmers can't pay off loans. Lose land. Suicide.

Monsanto official : "Suicides have always been part of rural Indian life."

Nice. And for what? Are more people fed?
No, because GM crops produce lower yields than traditional plantings.
So the entire purpose of GM is so that a few multinat corpses can own the entire food chain.

Prince Charles is on the case "setting up a charity, the Bhumi Vardaan Foundation, to help those affected and promote organic Indian crops instead of GM."
But Prince Charles has his own problems at home :

Independent : Europe's secret plan to boost GM crop production
"Gordon Brown and other European leaders are secretly preparing an unprecedented campaign to spread GM crops and foods in Britain and throughout the continent, confidential documents obtained by The Independent on Sunday reveal.
The documents – minutes of a series of private meetings of representatives of 27 governments – disclose plans to "speed up" the introduction of the modified crops and foods and to "deal with" public resistance to them.
And they show that the leaders want "agricultural representatives" and "industry" – presumably including giant biotech firms such as Monsanto – to be more vocal to counteract the "vested interests" of environmentalists"

Currently GM is only grown on .1% - that's point one percent - of agricultural land in Europe : none in Britain, France has suspended cultivation, and resistance is growing in Spain and Portugal.

And Canada? Well, we're riddled with the stuff - one of the world's largest producers of GMs.
A seldom mentioned aspect of the recent listeriosis story was the Ministry of Trade's decision to allow industry to oversee its own labelling, meaning we're unlikely to become better informed of which foods are GM any time soon.

At present GM food labelling in Canada is voluntary.
I'd like to propose a genocide label.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congratulations, America

You lined up at 5am and waited up to 11 hours in the rain to vote - some of you on walkers, some with kids in tow - but you did it.

Popular vote with 95% of polls reported:

Obama - 52.3%
McCain - 46.4%

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Sea Smurfs

Remember the Sea Smurfs?

Sea Smurfs was the mercifully shorter nickname given to NorthComm's 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, the Consequence Management Response Force. It's also become known as Bush's private army because, as reported in Army Times, they have been deployed inside the US to deal with "homeland scenarios" and "may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control".

Yeah, yeah, I know, the Posse Comitatus Act and all that, but Bush attached a little note to the repeal of its repeal last year, if you can follow that, to say he does not feel bound by it.

Reporting on a National Homeland Defense and Security Symposium in Colorado last week, the Colorado Independent newspaper tells us the Sea Smurfs are about to grow by at least two more military units over the next two years, bringing their number to an estimated total of 4,700.

A worried ACLU is busy filing FOIs, as the commander of NorthCommand makes soothing noises: "These are medical personnel, they’re chemical decontamination teams, they’re engineering teams, they’re logistics folks."

Yeah, well , they've got tanks and guns too and they'll be "using military tactics, including some tested in Iraq". which is where these smurfs have just hailed from.

As we discovered back in February : "Canada and the U.S. have signed an agreement that paves the way for the militaries from either nation to send troops across each other's borders during an emergency".

The definition of just what would constitute "an emergency" continues to worry me.

Good little vid on one man's reaction to the Sea Smurfs from ACR.

Braidwood Inquiry to subpoena RCMP officers

After two delays in a year because the Crown can't decide whether or not to lay charges against any of the four RCMP officers involved in Robert Dziekanski's death at Vancouver Airport a whole freakin year ago, it would appear Thomas R. Braidwood, QC, has run out of patience :

Thomas R. Braidwood, QC, Commissions of Inquiry :
"The Braidwood Inquiry is looking for anyone who witnessed the events at Vancouver International Airport on October 14, 2007 concerning Mr. Robert Dziekanski death. Please view the Braidwood Inquiry's Call For Witnesses page if you would like to participate in the hearings as a witness.
Braidwood Commission of Inquiry will subpoena the RCMP officers involved in the incident if Crown counsel has still not made a decision on charges by the time the inquiry resumes on January 19, 2009. Read the full details on the Press Releases page."

G&M Nov 3 2007 :
"The RCMP paid a communications consultant almost $25,000 in taxpayers' money to help Giuliano Zaccardelli prepare for parliamentary hearings that ultimately led to the commissioner's resignation. Documents obtained by The Canadian Press show the Mounties hired Ottawa firm McLoughlin Media at a cost of more than $400 an hour in advance of Mr. Zaccardelli's ill-fated autumn testimony on the Arar inquiry report."

Dear RCMP : Suggest you use a different fluffer firm to prepare for this inquiry.

Is it over yet?

What PSA said. *applause*

but also what my friend Chris answered in the comments there :

Okay look, this guy is running for PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
It's not a job that outsiders ever win. It's not a job he will be allowed to do as a radical left wing organizer. America is inherently conservative, and the political establishment is just that: established. Pretty firmly.

Having said all that, Obama's surge is doing three things worth noting.
One, he is energizing non-white voters who are blinking their eyes in disbelief that a black man will become President on January 20th.
Two, he is galvanizing world opinion positively towards the United States which helps a great deal to make for a more peaceful world.
And three, and perhaps most important, take a look at the progressive political action going on in the US. The Presidential race is just one thing. At the local level there are scores of incredibly radical people about to be elected, and lots of ultra right wing agendas are suffering in the referendum campaigns. Gay marriage will be legalized in Conneticut and Proposition 8 in Calaifornia seems to be going down.

Radical politics will never have a place at the top of the American political food chain, but it lives at the local level and this year it is coming on. In that sense the President doesn't matter, but this year THIS President matters at that level.

With thanks to both of you.

Monday, November 03, 2008

World Wildlife Fund - WTF?

Now, aboard a specially outfitted private jet, you can travel around the world with people who work to protect Earth’s incredible diversity.
In 25 extraordinary days, travel to six of World Wildlife Fund’s top priority places.
In the world of private jet expeditionary travel, there’s simply no such thing as “good enough.” There is only extraordinary.
Your journey is designed for excellence at every level. A private car meets your commercial flight in London, charming local gifts grace your pillow at every destination, and exclusive events and access punctuate your entire experience.
Each detail has been orchestrated with meticulous attention, just as you expect."

"Only a private jet can bring you to so many places all in comfort, safety, and ease.
Just 19 rows of spacious leather seats with full ergonomic support. Gourmet meals, chilled champagne, your own chef. Personable, professional jet staff who welcome you back aboard after each stop."
"Astonished?" That hardly covers it, WWF.
Do you think the rest of us are bicycling to work, wearing an extra sweater indoors, using those god-awful fluorescent light bulbs, and putting bricks in our toilet tanks - at your behest - so you can jet-set the Green elite to "enjoy the company of" endangered species?
You put out a fabulous brochure for jet travel, I must admit.
Presumably we will see those same pictures in the calendars we get every year from those grassroots college students who go door-to-door selling WWF subscriptions on foot so as not to be hypocrites.

"A treasured trademark of TCS Expeditions journeys by private jet is the concept of “Surprise and Delight.”
The brilliant expedition team, behind the scenes and on the jet, is carefully orchestrating every detail of your extraordinary journey — and planning special surprises."
What's the "special surprise" carbon foot print here, WWF?
What the fuck were you thinking?
UPDATE : And they've taken it down!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Yes, where are all the "good Canadians"?

Christopher Sands, "an influential analyst on Canada-U.S. relations" for the Hudson Institute, Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the North American Competitiveness Council brought his deep integration big stick up to Ottawa on Friday.
"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."
You mean people like Maher Arar?
"People in Canada have turned the man into some sort of national hero, but if you expect the next administration to join you in sending him laurels, I think you're going to be mistaken. Even Barack Obama ... is not going to go near that with a 10-foot pole."

Arar "will not have his name removed from the U.S. no-fly list "in my lifetime," he added.

Sands recounts a conversation with Stewart Baker, 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."

According to Sands :
"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."

Dr Dawg's Shorter Sands : "Nice country you've got there--be a shame if anything happened to it."

It's just too bad we mostly missed the boat on Iraq, isn't it?
Back in January 2007, Sands introduced Sockwell Day to the Hudson Institute thusly :
"I was struck back in 2003 after doing a briefing with some people in the Administration. It had been a rough year. We were getting ready to go to Iraq.
Canada-US relations were somewhat strained by that. At the end of the riefing which had been a little bit grim -- about how Canada and the US could work together better in this war on terror that we were facing, the person I was briefing paused and said to me, 'Chris, where are all the good Canadians?'

When he said that it broke a little bit of my heart, because I'm an American but I love the Canadians. I think what he meant by that was 'Where are the Canadians of World War I and World War II, that people understood to be... even when Europeans didn't, those allies we had come to count on.'

Well, I have good news. Our speaker today is one of the good Canadians..."
Good Canadian Sockwell Day, our new Minister of International Trade.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Whistleblowers protecting BC farmland muzzled

BC farmland scientists who blew the whistle on turning Agricultural Land Reserve lands into golf courses and then into housing developments are being muzzled, says agrologist and journalist Wendy Holm in this article from The Tyee.

Last year agrologist Susan Ames, then president of the BC Institute of Agricology, wrote against a proposal to withdraw land from the ALR for redevelopment of the Tsawwassen Golf and Country Club in Delta. She cautioned the Delta council against allowing farmland to be turned into golf courses and then into housing, as it "encourages speculation and puts further pressure on the ALR".

An agrologist working for the developer complained about Ames' letter to the BCIA, resulting in a BCIA conduct and discipline committee investigation and a new ruling requiring agrologists to restrict their opinions to only those sites on which they have directly carried out research.

As The Tyee points out: "the ruling allows the agrologists who offer reports that help land owners and developers remove land from the ALR to do their work without fear of being publicly contradicted by a colleague."

The chair of the BCIA conduct and discipline committee, whose expertise is not in agrology but in "accounting, finance, business management and management land use", told The Tyee, "The dollars on the table are immense."

The dollars are always "immense", sir, as are short-term economic pressures to allow developers to build housing on farmland, precisely the reason why we have the ALR in the first place.

The land reserve makes up 5% of B.C.’s land area. Apologists for removing land from the ALR point to stats showing that the total amount of land in the ALR has remained more or less constant over its 35 year history but fail to mention this is achieved by taking land out of the ALR in the lower mainland and adding some on up north.
According to Holm, "there has been a net loss of 10,000 acres from the ALR in the four regions with the most development pressure: the Island, South Coast, Okanagan and Kootenay".

Related : B.C.'s former solicitor general John Les resigned the Liberal cabinet in March after learning he is under RCMP investigation for allegedly having "improperly benefited" from acquiring land within the ALR and subdividing the land into housing lots which were sold for $85,000 each.
A former Vernon mayor has fingered Les as a "silent partner in a plan to remove the protections around some agricultural land in the area and pave the way for development".

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