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Saturday, March 31, 2007

I read the news today, oh boy 

Iran reasons: Boris at Galloping Beaver gives two excellent reasons why Iran has taken those British sailors hostage: Iran wants to undermine the US/UK alliance and it needs human shields.

Plastics
I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Yes, sir.
Are you listening?
Yes, I am.
Plastics.
No wonder he jumped into the pool -- its everywhere. They think the pet food contamination is melamine, and now they're even recalling a dry cat food brand as a precaution. And they just found chunks of plastic in some Caramel Kit Kat Chunky chocolate bars.

Bush-onset alzheimer's The Bush administration had better be keeping excellent records -- their top-level appointees and staff just can't ever seem to remember anything.

ROTFLMAO...
The head of a California company hired by the U.S. government to help build a fence along the Southwest border to curb the flow of illegal aliens into the United States has been sentenced on charges of hiring illegals for the job.
Is there any way to comment on this without laughing? You can't make these things up.

There must be a God, after all. The controversial right-wing anti-birth control zealot who was appointed by the Bush administration to head up the government family planning office has had to resign because he was charged with some kind of Medicade fraud. You can't make these things up.

And here's a post the world has been waiting for. Over at Steve Gilliard's blog, guest poster Jesse Doc Wendel has an article about how to win at Rock, Paper, Scissors, thus going to show that you CAN make these things up.
When in doubt, go paper.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Gonna wash that man right outta my hair 



First, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah cancelled a US state dinner in his honour with just two weeks notice, something about having to wash his hair that night.
Now he has given the opening speech to the Arab Riyadh Summit in which he describes the US occupation of Iraq as an illegitimate foreign occupation:
King Abdullah denounced the American military presence in Iraq on Wednesday as an "illegitimate foreign occupation" and called on the West to end its financial embargo against the Palestinians.
The Saudi monarch's speech was a strongly worded lecture to Arab leaders that their divisions had helped fuel turmoil across the Middle East, and he urged them to show unity. But in opening the Arab summit, Abdullah also nodded to hardliners by criticizing the U.S. presence in Iraq.
"In beloved Iraq, blood is flowing between brothers, in the shadow of an illegitimate foreign occupation, and abhorrent sectarianism threatens a civil war," said the king . . . Abdullah insisted that only when Arab leaders unite will they be able to prevent "foreign powers from drawing the region's future."
"The real blame should be directed at us, the leaders of the Arab nation," he said. "Our constant disagreements and rejection of unity have made the Arab nation lose confidence in our sincerity and lose hope."
The US response is just the usual weak lie:
"The United States is in Iraq at the request of the Iraqis and under a United Nations mandate. Any suggestion to the contrary is wrong," said National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.
Oh, who do they think they're kidding -- we all know that the Iraqi who "requested" the invasion was Chalabi, and we all know the US and Britain didn't dare ask for a Security Council "mandate" before the invasion; they only got a favourable vote after the fact because the UN membership hoped against hope that things would work out OK (and they were wrong. ) It isn't a response the Saudis will respect.
Oh, and Jordan's King Abdullah has also cancelled the state visit he had planned for September, something about having to wash his hair that night, I guess.
Bush is circling the drain now.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Great line of the day 

From greenboy at Needlenose:
Bono was playing a U2 concert in Glasgow recently, when he asked the audience for total quiet.
Then in the silence, he started to slowly clap his hands, once every few seconds.
Holding the audience in total silence, he said into the microphone, "Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies."
A Glaswegian voice rang out from near the front of the crowd, piercing the silence........
"Well, fuckin' stop doing it then!"

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Soooeeee! 



The more I read about Bush White House shenanigans, the more I think it resembles Pigs in Space.
The beltway media -- who couldn't be bothered themselves to investigate any of this stuff over the last five years -- are now frantically trying to con the Democrats into thinking that the public doesn't really want to know all these sordid details. But the stories of bribery, corruption, yachts, spurious contracts, limos, hookergate, and wise guys are bursting out all over -- with the icing on the cake being that Abu Gonzales fired the US attorneys, like Carol Lam, who were starting to uncover all this.
It's rapidly becoming another grime-encrusted tale of Republican corruption -- just like Nixon and his plumbers, like Reagan and his Iran-Contra-BCCI scandals, it appears that Bush and Cheney and their gang of idiots just couldn't restrain themselves -- all that lovely federal money just sitting there waiting for them to wallow in it, throw it around, spend it, to enrich all their good buddies and dearest pals.
I mean, it's not as though government actually does anything important with all that money anyway, so the boys might as well put it to good use, eh?
So just belly up to the bar -- pigs, meet the trough.
But luckily, they have been just as compentent about raiding the public purse as they have been with everything else they've done. Presumably believing Karl Rove's assurances that the Republicans would have a permanent majority, they pandered to their base by hiring ideological light-weights from Pat Robertson's Regent University.
So it's all falling apart now.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Quebec election 



In the great movie The Wind and the Lion, one of the best lines is when Brian Keith playing Teddy Roosevelt says "I go to Oyster Bay for the weekend and the government of Morocco falls."
Well, I feel a little like that tonight -- I go to Kamloops for the last two days, and the government of Quebec falls (or sort of falls, anyway).
Jason Cherniak provides the following analysis of the confusing conservatives-helping-liberals aspects of Quebec politics:
During the last federal election, Québec Liberals helped the federal Conservatives outside of Montreal. This was at Charest's behest and he was able to convince provincial Liberals because the federal Liberal cause seemed hopeless in many parts of the province. Federal Conservative Jean Charest seemed to have played his cards right. He and Harper would work together to end the separatist threat, then the PLQ could help Harper everywhere in the province.
Then came the ADQ. Oops. Who would have thought that the election of a federal Conservative government would help the provincial conservative party? Like any other political party, members of the Québec Liberals want to win. While they did win, it was by a whisker. I don't think they will be in much of a mood to help Harper after seeing how his success helped the ADQ.
I think it has become very clear that if politics is to become a true left-right argument in Québec, then the provincial and federal Liberals need to work together. Otherwise, both Liberal parties will fail in the province. Federal Tories like Charest may be around for a while yet, but they cannot be the future of the Québec Liberals. The only question in my mind is whether Québec Liberals will figure that out before the next federal election. They might not, but in the longer run I am fairly sure they will. I am also fairly sure that if federal politics becomes a debate of ideas, then the Liberals will win in Québec.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Away 

Sorry for the lack of posts -- I've been away since Sunday and not back until tomorrow, so I haven't had much chance to blog. More on Wednesday.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Scary

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Not scary

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Watch out 

First they came for our cigarettes, and you didn't smoke so you said nothing.
Then they came for our trans-fats, but you didn't like potato chips anyway so you said nothing.
Now they are coming for our booze . . .
Health Canada is set to unveil a proposed National Strategy on Alcohol that will include 41 recommendations drafted by experts in alcohol treatment, addiction research, provincial liquor monopolies -- even distillers and breweries -- to shift alcohol's innocent image as a benign indulgence and curb dangerous drinking.
Actually, I agree with this article's contention that alchohol is a greater blight on society than marijuana -- nobody ever got toked and then went home to beat on their wife and kids.
But I always thought this was an argument to legalize drugs, not to "illegalize" alcohol -- families and society in general would be much better off if the people now addicted to alcohol could escape reality with dope instead.

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The innocent 

So now it is being reported that rat poison was found in the recalled pet food.
I know in the greater scheme of things, we must care more for people than for pets.
But also in that greater scheme, the deal we have made with our pets is that we feed them and take them for walks and play with them and keep them healthy, and in return they will give us their complete and unconditional love and devotion.
It breaks my heart that for some poor innocent dogs and cats, we broke the deal.
Here are Globe and Mail photos of Pebbles, a Yorkie from Los Angeles, being treated for kidney failure.



I hope he makes it.
And if not, I hope his family can create a Farley's Tree for him:

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Great line of the day 

Jane Hamsher writing about how they suddently "found" some emails from the the 18-day gap in the Abu Gonzales scandal:
I guess there were emails that didn't get turned over in that 18 day gap. Everyone surprised by this raise your hand, and then let us know how soon you are expecting to receive your Nigerian inheritance.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

"No-fly" zones 

Hmmm. Its interesting how language changes.
"No-fly zones" in Iraq used to refer to the areas in northern and southern Iraq where Saddam's helicopters and planes were not allowed to fly because they would be shot down by American and British planes.
Today, the term "no-fly zone" in Iraq refers to areas or routes where U.S. helicopters do not dare to fly anymore for fear of being shot down by Iraqi insurgents.

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Flexing 

You can tell what scares people by what they use to threaten others.
Here's an example:
The Conservative government is promising to take historic steps to limit federal spending power - but only if Quebecers vote for a federalist party next Monday.
Lost in all the budget headlines this week was a little-noticed promise to negotiate with the provinces about how to formally prevent Ottawa from spending money in provincial jurisdictions. Prime Minister Stephen Harper repeated the promise in the House of Commons on Wednesday and said he hopes to hold those discussions with a federalist government in Quebec.
Tory Quebec lieutenant Lawrence Cannon was asked whether that means the entire initiative hinges on the defeat of the separatist Parti Quebecois in Monday's election.
"That's what I understood," Cannon said of the prime minister's remarks.
"We'll see what happens on election night. But it takes federalists to reform federalism."
The suggestion that Ottawa could scrap such a major initiative if it disagrees with Quebec voters' choice drew accusations of interference in the provincial election.
"It's not a responsible comment," Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe said.
Harper is trying to flex his fiscal muscles in an attempt to make Quebec shiver in shock and awe. Now for Harper, like many federal politicians, nothing is more frightening than the prospect of losing influence, being cut off from authority and power by electing the "wrong" party.
So he thinks Quebeckers must be frightened of this, too.
Not!
There's not much that scares Quebec, but I think they find this kind of federal flexing to be particularly pathetic.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

And another great line today 

Digby talks about the Fox Noise reaction to Al Gore's global warming testimony today:
. . . my favorite thing about the know-nothing wingnut argument is that Al Gore is said to be all hysterical on this silly little problem by the same people who are screeching like howler monkeys that the oceans don't protect us anymore and "they're comin' to kill us in our beds!" The fact that ridding ourselves of our dependence on oil might mitigate both of these problems escapes their notice. But then, they are incredibly stupid.

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Great line of the day 

The Editors write about the Bush statement on how the American people should be patient about Iraq:
Today, we find Bush asking us to be patient with progress in Iraq, and warning of dire consequences should Democrats succeed in denying Bush the chance of passing on responsibility for losing the war to the next administration. . . . . the American people, after being entirely too patient, have lost patience with President George W. Bush, and with his cronies and sycophants. They have lost patience with his conduct of the war - and, as no one else can conduct the war, they have lost patience with the war itself. And I doubt they are much inclined to hear sermons on “patience” from the man who was so anxious to rush into a war that, four years later, he still can’t justify.
Emphasis mine.

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Canadian artists 

I don't know very much about art or artists, so I decided to do a little research into the winners of the 2007 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts:
The Canada Council for the Arts today announced the names of the eight winners of the 2007 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts.
Ian Carr-Harris, Aganetha Dyck, R. Bruce Elder, Murray Favro, Fernand Leduc and Daphne Odjig will receive awards for artistic achievement; ceramist Paul Mathieu will receive the Saidye Bronfman Award for excellence in the fine crafts, while David P. Silcox will receive the outstanding contribution award for his work as a writer, educator, cultural administrator and arts volunteer.
Here are some photos related to their work, which I found on the web (there are other photos posted with the Canada Council press release, too):

Ian Carr-Harris



Aganetha Dyck


R. Bruce Elder


Murray Favro


Fernand Leduc


Daphne Odjig


Paul Mathieu


David P. Silcox


Beautiful, aren't they?
I have often wished I was an artistically creative person -- learning more about art and finding a creative muse for myself is something I do want to do, one of these years.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Continuing the misery 

Please! Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion! Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who.
Finance minister Flaherty thinks its time to put bickering aside:
The federal budget has now restored fiscal balance and the "discussion is over," Flaherty said during a breakfast speech in this city east of Toronto. "We brought forward yesterday the resolution to that issue. It's been met with substantial approval by the provinces," Flaherty said.
"Now we can get over the bickering and now the federal government can concentrate on our constitutional responsibilities."

But Saskatchewan got screwed.
And the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation are annoyed.
And most important of all, Aboriginal people got nothing in this budget.
I heard on the radio coming home that the chiefs are pissed, and are warning that confrontations will increase if Aboriginal people don't feel their concerns are being taken seriously. Here's Phil Fontaine describing the reaction of Aboriginal people to this budget:

Canadians believe in fairness, and trust that no one should be left behind in prosperous times. Some Canadians will welcome this budget, but many more would be alarmed if they knew about the devastating consequences for First Nations given the lack of attention that First Nations have received in this budget. The frustration of First Nations people is only growing, and this budget does nothing to allay their concerns.
It is clear that the circumstances of First Nations peoples remain a black mark on Canada. It’s an enormous burden, not just on First Nations people, but the whole country. We want to turn this situation around so that First Nations are more effective contributors to Canada’s prosperity. First Nations need to be able create opportunities, not continue to miss out on them.
Nowhere is the fiscal imbalance more apparent than in the critical under-funding of First Nations health, child welfare, education, housing and infrastructure. No other Canadian citizen has had to endure a two-percent cap on funding that has now lasted for over a decade. Our population continues to grow and the poverty gap continues to widen.
. . .
Minister Prentice committed to the process established under the Accord at a meeting of BC First Nations last year. I call upon him to act in accordance with the provisions of the Accord as a way to replace fundamentally flawed government processes and policies.
We have patiently waited a long time for action. This budget only allows for enough money to continue the management of misery.
Is it too cynical of me to think that the Harper government does not care -- would a few high-profile confrontations this summer with Aboriginal protesters play into the political and ideological right-wing agenda?

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Phoned anyone in the USA lately? 

And did you say anything "interesting"?
Combine this story:
. . . there were no limits on the telecommunications records which the FBI sought and obtained. They just asked for whatever records they wanted, said whatever they had to say in their lawless letters to get them (even when such statements were false), and the telecom companies instantaneously provided the data to the FBI.
with what we already know about the NSA Scandal:
. . . Unlike the [National Security Agency's] longstanding practice of spying on specific individuals and communications based upon some source of suspicion, data mining involves formula-based searches through mountains of data for individuals whose behavior or profile is in some way suspiciously different from the norm.
Data mining is a broad dragnet. Instead of targeting you because you once received a telephone call from a person who received a telephone call from a person who is a suspected terrorist, you might be targeted because the NSA's computers have analyzed your communications and have determined that they contain certain words or word combinations, addressing information, or other factors with a frequency that deviates from the average, and which they have decided might be an indication of suspiciousness. The NSA has no prior reason to suspect you, and you are in no way tied to any other suspicious individuals -- you have just been plucked out of the crowd by a computer algorithm's analysis of your behavior.
and you see why I asked about what you've been saying on the phone lately.
Of course, the whole thing is a stupid waste of both the FBI's time and the NSA's time:
. . . the creation of large numbers of wasteful and distracting leads is one of the primary reasons that many security experts say data mining and other dragnet strategies are a poor way of preventing crime and terrorism. The New York Times confirmed that point, with its report that the NSA has sent the FBI a "flood" of tips generated by mass domestic eavesdropping and data mining, virtually all of which led to dead ends that wasted the FBI's resources. "We'd chase a number, find it's a schoolteacher with no indication they've ever been involved in international terrorism," one former FBI agent told the Times . "After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration."
But since when did wasting time and money ever stop the Bush administration?
We also must not forget that the Bushies think that Democrats and journalists and Quakers and bloggers and peace activists and senators and George Soros and Donald Trump and Hollywood are all traitors, or at least "fellow travellers".
So does anyone wonder whose phone calls and emails they are targetting?

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Iraq war protests today 

Photos from Yahoo

Prague


Madrid


Barcelona


Copenhagen


Istanbul


Washington


Montreal


Los Angeles

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Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go

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'Tis a grand day for Brennan On The Moor...

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and Finnegans Wake

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and Shoals Of Herring!

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Great line of the day 

Over at Blanton's and Ashton's, cutting through all the chatter about whether Valerie Plame was or was not covert and whether outing her was or was not a crime, DBK asks:
. . . on what planet is it okay to start blabbing about a CIA operative to a newspaper reporter for the purpose of intimidating the operative's husband into shutting up?
Exactly.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

When you take the gloves off, your own hands get hurt 

Joe Scarborough and the right-wingers are apparently flipping out about Rosie O'Donnell asking whether Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was tortured into his 31 confessions.
But ABC's Matt Lauer is also asking whether Mohammed's confessions can be trusted - and yes, I'm wondering about this myself.
Sad, isn't it, that in their bloodthirsty eagerness to "take the gloves off", the Bush administration has ensured that these confessions may not be believed even in America itself, not to mention in countries where scum like this may be sanctified as martyrs to a cause.
UPDATE (as of Friday night): Somehow, I don't think the progressive blogosphere is taking those scary terrorists seriously enough! TBogg notes
. . . While the left discusses possible obstruction of justice and perjury within the Justice Department that may cause the Attorney General to either step down or be fired, the right is concerned with what Rosie O'Donnell said on an afternoon talk show.
while Attaturk says:
Khalid Ron Jeremy, er, Mohammad confessed not just to 9/11 apparently, but to more than 30 other acts and plots which were:
Attacking Chicago, attacking Los Angeles, attempting to assassinate Presidents Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Carter. Taking part in forging the Zimmerman Telegram and writing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion; rubbing down Barry Bonds; the 18-minute gap; clubbing Jon Benet to death with Jimmy Hoffa's femur; an unauthorized biography of Howard Hughes; revealing Thers name and address to Jeff Goldstein; Piltdown Man; being the fifth dentist in the Trident commercials; trying to steal Whitney Houston away from both Bobby Brown AND Osama; the donation of Constantine; shacking up in the Pacific with Amelia Earhart; shooting Harry Whittington; being the inspiration for 'A Million Little Pieces'; molesting CNN anchorbots; not anticipating the breaching of the levees, or ironically anticipating flying planes into buildings; designing Tori Clark's suitcoats; blogging for Edwards 2008; replacing a restaurants expensive coffee with Folgers Crystals; belonging to Hannidate; that he eats aardvarks, armadillos, bears, boars, cats, bats, dawgs, hawgs, stoats, goats, yaks, and old gnus, but prefers ducks; watching "The World According to Jim"; choosing Barabas; laughing at Carrot Top; being a fugitive from OJ's justice; killing both Jerry Mathers & Mikey from the Life Cereal commericials in 'Nam; paying to see "Ishtar"; being Richard Hatch's financial advisor; plagiarizing Ben Domenech; clubbing Mrs. Richard Kimble to Death with Jimmy Hoffa's humorus bone; trying to put together a coalition of terror groups including rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers, RedState readers and Methodists; dumping Maureen Dowd because she was so clingy; and joining the John Podhoretz Handsome Man Modeling Agency.
And I guess now everyone is supposed to forget about Gonzales and Plame and Iraq and start some hysterical witchhunts against brown-skinned school bus drivers. Look, look, its a shiny thing up in the sky?. . .

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More red tape, please 

Murray Dobbin has an interesting column on deregulation posted at Rabble.
I'm not sure whether I agree with all of it -- in particular, there is an implicit assumption that all regulations brought into effect prior to 1990 were good and useful and necessary, and therefore any dismantling of these regulations is dangerous and motivated by an unseemly desire for profits. It is, I think, possible to overdo good things, to the point they become bad things -- such as requiring so many tests for drugs aimed at rare medical conditions that the drug companies can't afford to develop these drugs.
That said, however, here's his main point:

Deregulation is one of neo-liberalism's five big initiatives (free trade, privatization, service cuts and tax cuts make up the rest). And it shows how successfully they have framed the issue.
Who in their right mind would want more red tape?
Well, for starters, pretty much anyone who flies in Canada, eats food, drives a car, uses prescription drugs or lives some place that could catch fire. That's just the short list.
And yes, that covers a fair number of us, doesn't it?
And Dobbin has an interesting discussion of the difference between the old 'precautionary principle', and the new 'risk management' model that is worth keeping in mind whenever a politician starts preaching deregulation:
The concept that drives this deregulation train is referred to as “risk management.” In the good old days of government in the public interest a different principle prevailed: the precautionary principle. That held that if there looked like there might be a problem, then you assumed in your decisions that there would be a problem. In other words, the goal used to be: err on the side of caution. Now we err on the side of profit.
Dobbin concludes with some warnings for the future -- and guess what? Why, it's our old friend, the Security and Prosperity Partnership, rearing its ugly head once again:
It can only get worse given two initiatives that are currently working at increasing the speed and breadth of deregulation.
The first is the deep integration initiative — now formally called the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America — which aims to harmonize all such inspection systems to create a “single North American economy.” The SPP, driven and guided by the powerful Canadian Council of Chief Executives, is the biggest single initiative in deregulation. According to New Democrat MP Peter Julian “We're looking at potentially 300 different areas where Canada is accepting lower American standards.” . . . The second initiative is TILMA*, the B.C.-Alberta investors' rights pact that hands over responsibility for deregulation directly to business.
The two measures, in fact, work hand in hand. Because a great deal of regulatory activity in Canada happens at the provincial and municipal level, harmonizing at the level of national governments still leaves thousands of regulations in place. There are strong suspicions that the federal government had a hand in pushing Alberta and B.C. to take the first step in bringing all the provinces (and municipalities) into a massive deregulation project that would smooth the way for deep integration.
Thanks, but no thanks. Given the alternative, I'll take the red tape.

*If you hadn't heard of TILMA before -- and neither had I - here is a link

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Great line of the day 

Digby on the incompetence of US foreign policy in the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice/Wolfowitz/Pearl "Bush Doctrine" era:
Their defining characteristic, in fact, is that they have always been wrong about everything and they never, ever learn anything from their experience. It is also the case that their animating principle in the first few years of the administration was to do the exact opposite of Clinton in all things. It was a simple, easy to remember formula (for simple, forgetful people) that unfortunately led them to reject long-standing, bipartisan foreign policy along with everything else. When you combined the neocon and harcore hawk track records with a mandate to reject anything that Bill Clinton might have endorsed, you ended up with the hacktacular mishmash of sophomoric chest thumping, mindless military actions and conscious rejection all mutual understanding with our allies.
Emphasis mine.

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Canada's little red hen 



"I'll do it myself" said the little red hen -- it's Stephen Harper's slogan.
As the second year of "Canada's gnu government" progresses, trust is given to fewer and fewer people, while delusions of grandeur mandate doing all himself.
CP is reporting that Harper has decided now to dismantle Environment Canada's climate change policy group. Why? Once again, to do it himself:
Two departmental sources said the change is motivated by a desire to consolidate power in the Prime Minister's Office.
"People who used to work on climate-change policy are all being regrouped - some into stakeholder engagement, some went into economic analysis. They're all being farmed off," said a bureaucrat who requested anonymity.
"The (policy) work now is being done by a very small handful of people under the direct supervision of (the Privy Council Office) and PMO."
"Even the people working here say, 'Who's really accountable for making climate change policy anymore?' Right now we don't know who's accountable."
But its all just smoke and mirrors, really -- Harper's envirnomental plans are just a rehash of what Stephane Dion wanted to do in 2005:
Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said even Wednesday's announcement was a rehash of a plan to create a $200-million Pierre Elliott Trudeau Nature Conservation Foundation when he was environment minister.
The Liberals called the structural change just another rebranding exercise from a government that recycles old ideas and passes them off as its own.
"They're pursuing a campaign of propaganda like we've never seen before at the federal level," said Liberal environment critic David McGuinty.
"They're trying to simply discard all of the former climate change programming . . . and trying to deny that there was a previous government."
One of the bureaucrats who spoke on background agreed.
"Almost word for word, everything being set up was already negotiated and ready to go. It's just being repackaged. These are the same announcements being rolled out."
I may be wrong, of course, but at some point I do believe that Harper and/or his PMO is simply going to collapse under the strain of trying to run everything after they have fired all of the people who knew how to do it.
Maybe the opposition parties should just pass next week's budget -- and let Harper start explaining why he isn't actually capable of fulfilling all of the promises he has made.

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Creepy 

Wanna read something really scary?
Try this!
Ya know, I do recall two other people who also thought they were on a mission from God:

But this was was just a movie.

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Hookergate may rise again 

Here's the "well, duh!" story of the day: Senator Dianne Feinstein believes the ouster of San Diego U.S. Attorney Carol Lam was connected to Lam's prosecution of former Republican congressman Randy 'Duke' Cunningham, even though the Bush administration has denied it. Well, deny away, folks, but as Josh Marshall notes, a May 11, 2006 email from Gonzales' deputy Sampson talked about "the real problem we have right now with Carol Lam" --and here is Josh's summary of what their problem was:
April 28th, 2006 -- Cunningham-Wilkes-Foggo "Hookergate" scandal breaks open. Probe grows out of San Diego US Attorney's Office's Cunningham investigation. CIA Director Goss denies involvement.
April 29th, 2006 -- Washington Post reports that Hookergate's Shirlington Limo Service had $21 million contract with Department of Homeland Security.
May 2nd, 2006 -- Kyle "Dusty" Foggo confirms attendence at Wilkes/Cunningham Hookergate parties.
May 4th, 2006 -- Watergate Hotel subpoenaed in San Diego/Cunningham/Hookergate probe.
May 5th, 2006 -- WSJ reports that Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, who Goss installed as #3 at CIA, is under criminal investigation as part of the San Diego/Cunningham investigation.
May 5th, 2006 -- Porter Goss resigns as Director of Central Intelligence.
May 6th, 2006 -- WaPo reports on questionable DHS contract awarded to Shirlington Limo, the 'hookergate' Limo service under scrutiny as part of the San Diego/Cunningham investigation. Similar report in the Times.
May 7th, 2006 -- House Committee to investigate DHS contract with Hookergate's Shirlington Limo.
May 8th, 2006 -- Lyle "Dusty" Foggo resigns at CIA.
May 11th, 2006 -- LA Times reports that Cunningham investigation has expanded into the dealings of Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), House Appropriations Committee Chairman.
May 12th, 2006 -- Federal agents working on the San Diego/Cunningham investigation execute search warrants on the home and CIA office of Kyle "Dusty" Foggo.
Now you may be wondering why this whole scandal didn't get a lot more coverage at the time -- particularly the $21 million Homeland Security contract to a limosine company owned by a guy with a 62-page rap sheet (sounds like a "made" guy, doesn't he?)
Well, me too. The mess was dubbed "Hookergate" but for reasons I have never been able to understand, it soon died from the news radar screen.
No congressional hearings, I guess.
And right around then the NSA phone call database story broke.
But there was also so much other important stuff going on right then -- Anna Nicole Smith won her Supreme Court case! And a diner at TGI Friday's found a human finger in his burger! And Katie Couric was leaving the Today show! And Paris Hilton launched a video game! And Tom Cruise was acting all weird! And . . .

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bully for Bugs

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What are the odds? 

What odds will someone give me?
It's at least ten to one that Saskatchewan won't actually get the revised equalization formula Harper promised a year ago, regardless of what Alberta may say. There will be a heavy dose of gobbletygook in the federal budget speech -- I expect to hear some blather about "maintaining our commitment to a coordinated fulfillment approach" and other buzzwords to that effect -- but in the end our resource revenues won't be deleted from the formula. The bottom line is that Saskatchewan will be hundreds of millions of dollars poorer. And Calvert's complaints will be dismissed as "whining". Whadda ya wanna bet?

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... 

Vanity Fair has the Annie Leibovitz Star Wars album. I haven't been following the movie series lately -- they lost me when Yoda sounded just too much like Fozzi Bear (because both were done by Frank Oz)-- but the last of the six films is being released this month.
So finally we can contemplate watching all six in the right order -- the baby boomer's dream will be fulfilled. Or maybe all six will someday be re-enacted with bunnies!
Anyway, these photos are beautiful.






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The unreal life of the internet? 

Over at the Poorman, Sifu Tweety has done what I think is a profound post on the Internet as a "fictional" or "unreal" reality:
. . . Every time I’ve seen criticism of communication on the internet it has made the point that people online feel free to say things they wouldn’t in real life. Well, yeah they do: they’re acting! Nobody would expect Carl Weathers to refuse to shoot a man while he was in character as Action Jackson. This is what makes the internet good: a fundamentally imaginative character. When people go online for anything, including work communications, they’re creating a character. They can create multiple different characters, with different timelines, different goals, different qualities. It’s exciting, and novel, for the same reason that creating movies is fun. Actors playing off each other. If I thought for one minute that people wouldn’t somehow hold it against me for being “Sifu Tweety” when I went to do wholly different things, out of character, as [REDACTED], I wouldn’t be so coy about my real name. And if I thought for one minute that community theater would be as intellectually engaging and entertainingly mean-spirited as blogging is, I’d put on a one-man show at the senior center.
Now, you don’t have to do things the way I do. You can create a single character, and attempt to have it hew as closely as possible to your self - goals, history, mores - but just because you do that doesn’t mean making everybody else do things that way won’t be crappy and boring for you, too.
None of this is to say that there aren’t things that can be done with the internet’s facilitation that have real world consequences. There are lots. We learn about more every day . . . the biggest problem: that so many people still don’t understand how the internet works, because they keep seeing it as one thing - an exact one-for-one copy of every person using it, rendered into smileys and cat pictures - when it really is something completely different: an almost infinite collection of anonymously written fiction, continuous, based on real events, with occasional, but very squirrelly, correlations with the “real world.”
It’s a problem pretty directly linked to age, and will hopefully peter out eventually, at which point the law can evolve rationally. Like ordinary literacy, computer literacy is only really possible in those who learn it young. The generation now running things, is in fundamental ways, computer illiterate, no matter how much they’ve used computers. Shit, I’m borderline: the technology just wasn’t there when I was young enough. Why do you think that seventeen year olds put so little thought into whether or not they should put things online? Because they intuitively understand that they aren’t providing a record of a “real life” . . . and they assume that everybody else understands things the same way, because that’s just how the internet is.
I'm going to have to think about this for a bit. I think maybe he's got something here -- maybe this helps to explain that we seem to be chatting with "personas" sometimes, rather than with people.
And yet, I don't feel that the people I have gotten to know from around the world through the comments on my own blog, and through reading other blogs, are "lying" to me or to themselves about who they really are. In fact, sometimes I think we find it less difficult to be the best that we can be on the internet, because on the net we are only our words; we aren't distracted by appearance or class or what kind of car we drive.
Anyone have opinions about this?

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

And worth every penny? 

Mounties paid $25,000 to help Zaccardelli prepare for Arar hearings:
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.
Well, I guess we can conclude that it was money well spent.

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Great lines of the day 

From Jacob Weisberg in Slate, the four unspeakable truths about Iraq:
. . . the war was a mistake . . . American soldiers being killed, grotesquely maimed, and then treated like whining freeloaders at Walter Reed Hospital are victims as much as "heroes." . . . American lives lost in Iraq have been lives wasted . . . America is losing or has already lost the Iraq war . . .
Emphasis his.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Newt! 

Yes, definitely Newt Gingrich should run for President!


This is certainly the guy that represents the true heart of Republicanism today.
Now, the Democrats are going to win in 2008 -- americans are so fed up with Bush and his gang of idiots that the Democrats could run a turnip and still win. But with Newt, the Republicans wouldn't take a single state.
As Digby says -- Run, Newt, Run!

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Friday, March 09, 2007

And a good time was had by all 

Apparently everyone at Harper's announcement today got a good chuckle about how Harper dissed our premier, Lorne Calvert:
"I know the government of Saskatchewan is not a supporter of our party federally, but I don't think partisan politics should stand in the way of making a good deal for the people of Saskatchewan,” [Harper] said to a round of partisan applause.
Mr. Calvert's government has been pushing Mr. Harper's Tories to live up to their election promise to exclude non-renewable resource revenue from the equalization funding formula.
Mr. Harper said all will be answered in the March 19 budget.
“These will be a series of policies to establish predictable, principled, long-term transfer arrangements between the federal government, the provinces, and other levels of government.
“I'm confident we will fulfill our commitment and Saskatchewan will be a big winner. Whether it will be enough for the NDP is another question,” he said to laughter.
Apparently Calvert wasn't invited to the announcement, nor even informed that it was happening.
I guess it just doesn't matter that this isn't Conservative money he's handing out, it's Canadian money -- some of which may actually have been collected from me and from a few other people in Saskatchewan who have been known to vote NDP in the past.
And note how the spin is already underway about how the NDP are just a bunch of whiners and complainers.
Why do I get the feeling that we're not going to be seeing the resource revenue Harper promised?

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The Meaning of American Pie

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

International Women's Day 

I always thought it was so clever of my mother to give birth to my sister and I on International Women's Day! Here are some International Women's Day photos from around the world:

Mexico


Columbia


Congo


Guatemala


Peru


Afghanistan


Turkey


India


Sri Lanka


Phillipines


Iran




Algerian police women


Pakistan


Working Women Organization (WWO) activists in Pakistan


Israeli and Palestinian women rally together

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The song has ended . . . 



. . . but the melody lingers on:


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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Happy happy joy joy 

So how did I feel when I heard the news?


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Monday, March 05, 2007

Great line of the day 

Digby writes about the Incompetence Dodge:
. . . The problem is not that the Bushes are unusually bad at governance, although they are. It's that the Republicans seem to have created a con game in which they take power, steal the country blind, allow their craziest ideologues to wildly experiment with theories that only radical fringers think have a remote possibility of success and basically run amuck until they are forced to stop. Then they harrass the Democrats as they clean up the mess, setting themselves up for a resurgence by making it very clear that unless they are given another chance to mess things up they will make the political system even more ugly than it already is.
It's the political equivalent of a toddler throwing a tantrum in the grocery store. You get to the point where you give them the candy bar just to shut them up. . .
Emphasis mine.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Problems with comments? 

Allison noted in an email that she is having problems sometimes commenting on this site. Anybody else? If so, leave a comment .... oops! ... send me an email at
cfornssler-at-yahoo.com
and I'll ask Haloscan what is going on. (I haven't switched to the new blogger yet, so maybe there is some support issue with the old blogger that is a problem now.)

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I read the news today oh boy 

I meant to mention this before, but Scotian has a great post up about the first, and hopefully last, year of the Harper government. It ain't pretty.

This is amazingly stupid -- does Obama think he's running for president of the senior class? Or is he actually serious about winning, first, the nomination, and second, the election? He will be battling an entrenched Republican machine AND a society where racism will be a significant factor limiting his vote-getting potential. So he'll have to out-fundraise and out-spend the Republican candidate by millions and millions, and certainly he'll have to run a 50-state campaign to create the "unstoppable rock-star landslide" impression -- which is the only way a Democratic president has been elected in the United States in the last, oh, 50 years. The last dull Democratic president was Johnson in 1964 -- and he won against Goldwater!

Ouch! I can see the campaign ads already. But I am very glad to see Dion is travelling the country introducing himself to Canadians -- once they get to know him, I expect they'll like him -- he has no where to go but up. RossK wrote an extremely perceptive piece about Harper's success, so far at least, in "KarlRoving" Stephan Dion. In passing, Ross mentioned the Ontario gas shortage, which led MyBlagh's Robert to share this this anecdote in the Comments:
While I was getting gas today, another person pulled up behind me, got out of their car, read the sign on the pump that said "Due to a shortage at this station there is a limit of 50 litres per fill up" and remarked, "Fucking Albertans are hoarding their gasoline." This gas shortage is going to be a ticking timebomb for Harper if it continues for very long; especially once the summer driving season arrives.
Though the Ontario gas shortage has nothing to do with Alberta, I've been wondering if Ontarians are remembering Ralph Klein's "Let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark" insult. And yes, yes they are.

Alison notes that Multiculturalism minister Jason Kenney still hasn't qualified for the Certificate of Hitlertude, but he is making progress. Keep up the fair work, JK!

And the New York Times reports in tomorrow's paper that American airstrikes north of Baghdad have killed "insurgents with Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia", a terminology I have never heard before. They are also described as "key terrorists" and "Sunni insurgents". So I guess now the American military is fighting Sunni Al Qaeda Mesopotamian insurgent terrorists -- well, that includes just about everyone, doesn't it?

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

"Go fuck yourself" is their creed 

"Go fuck yourself" was said by Dick Cheney three years ago as he passed a Democratic Senator in the hallway of Congress.
It's an ugly phrase for an ugly sentiment.
And its now clear that its much more than just a singular insult from one man to another. Cheney was leading the way for the American conservative movement -- "go fuck yourself" has become their creed. Its their response to anyone and everyone who disagrees with what they say or do.
While the actual words may not be said, it is a sentiment you will find even in our own House of Commons these days.
Here is Glenn Greenwald talking about why the Conservative Political Action Conference wildly cheered Ann Coulter for calling John Edwards a faggot in her speech yesterday:
This is a movement propelled by an insatiable hunger for more slaughter and more wars. It is centrally dependent upon hatred of an Enemy, foreign or domestic -- the Terrorist, the Immigrant, the Faggot, the Raghead, and most of all, the Liberal. As John Dean brilliantly documented, that is the only real feature that binds the "conservative" movement at this point, the only attribute that gives it identity and purpose. It does not have any affirmative ideas, only a sense of that which it hates and wants to destroy. So to watch as the crowd wildly cheers an unapologetic hatemonger is perfectly natural and not at all surprising . . .
This is a movement driven by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity -- who, along with Bill O'Reilly, are by far the most popular and successful right-wing pundits. Shouldn't every rational and decent person convulse with anger or at least scornful laughter whenever this movement claims to find offensive or upsetting indecent remarks coming from others or when they accuse others of being angry and hateful?
All this conservative pearl-clutching over Librull "swearing" is just another example of the Karl Rove Principle in action -- always attack your opponent for whatever is your own greatest weakness.

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Crash humour 

Reading Wolcott, I came across this anecdote about a white-knuckle airplane trip:
In the Seventies we flew together in a commuter prop plane to visit Pauline Kael in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, hit major storm turbulence, the plane bouncing and rocking so hard in the air that teeth began to hurt, and, as we descended toward the air strip, we could see people sitting on a nearby hillside, as if picnicking. What do you think they're doing? I asked, to which Clive [James] replied, "Waiting to see if we crash."
And it reminded me of Ron White's great stand-up routine:
So I flew in here to Phoenix from Flagstaff because my manager doesn't own a globe. He chartered one of those small private jets. I flew here on a plane this big, it was like a pack of gum with eight people in it.We were putzing along. We were going half the speed of *smell!* We got passed by a kite! There was a goose behind us and the pilot was yelling "Go around!" So about halfway through the trip, we start losing oil pressure in one of the engines, and the pilot says we have to turn around. It was a nine minute flight. Couldn't make it with that equipment. . . . The guy next to me is *losing his mind*. I guess he must have had something to live for. He says, "Hey man, if one of the engines goes out, how far will the other one take us?" I look at him. "All the way to the scene of the crash! Which is pretty lucky, because that's where we're headed! I bet we beat the paramedics by a good half hour!"
Google is your friend! When I googled "all the way to the scene of the crash" which is all I could remember of Ron White's joke, I also found this page from Dave Barry's blog -- first, his post:
ATLANTA AIRPORT UPDATE So I'm waiting to get on the plane, and the pilots arrive at the gate, and
as they walk past, one of them says to the other -- this is a direct quote -- "Hey, it flew in, it'll fly out."
Then, some of the comments:
Dave, Weren't those Amelia Earharts' last words?

Oh wait, those were her second to last words.....followed by "Well, shit."

Yikes! I once flew a small (8 seat)to Dallas. Sitting over the wing, I noticed oil streaming out of the engine. ISIANMTU [I Swear I Am Not Making This Up]...The guy in front of me, returning from a short trip said "Don't worry, it was doin' that yesterday too"

Once I was trying to get out of Minneapolis in a snowstorm. I had a hotel room reserved just in case and I needed to release the room by 6 or get charged for it. The gate agent was insisting that I would get a flight, but the pilot, standing nearby, looked me in the eye and said, "Keep that room." 45 minutes later they announced we were boarding and I overheard the same pilot say, "Holy S*?t! We're flying in this?" I lived to tell the tale...

Once, I was conversing with an older gentleman who was a friend of mine. Someone mentioned skydiving, and I stated that I could see no reason for EVER jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. My elderly friend, who had considerable aviation experience, said, "Honey, any pilot in the world will tell you there ain't no such thing as a 'perfectly good airplane'."
And check out this site for more airplane humour.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Home Sweet Home 





Two views of the T.Don Hutto Centre where a 9-year-old Canadian boy is incarcerated with his Iranian family.
Edie's Daily Kos story gives us the background.
While I keep reading about how this isn't a jail, the Corrections Corporation of America's website for the facility describes the Centre's manager as a "warden". And here's a story from the San Antonio Current about the facility which also gives us more information about how the US immigration system is operating:
Last year Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced that the U.S. would end its “catch and release” policy regarding aliens from countries other than Mexico. DHS increased detention funding. According to DHS data, they’re detaining 99 percent of the other-than-Mexico undocumented immigrants they catch, up from 34 percent.
What Chertoff didn’t say is they’d be replacing “catch and release” with a new “catch, charge, and release” policy.
Once a detainee family is placed in the Hutto facility they can apply for asylum. This involves pleading their case to an asylum officer at the Houston office of the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. If the officer decides that a case is credible, detainees can get a hearing with a federal judge in San Antonio. This judge can grant freedom, for a price.
I met immigration lawyer Griselda Ponce in the prison’s lobby. She has served about 100 clients at the Hutto facility, and only about six have been deported or denied asylum. Nearly all her clients at Hutto are asylum seekers, and 80 percent have been released on bond. The average bond, she says, is $7,000, with $1,500 extra per child. Bonds can get as high as $50,000. The judges rarely use the other options, which include electronic monitoring and intensive supervision, Ponce says.
“The problem with ‘catch and release’ was not so much that people were fleeing and never coming back, but they had a very poor process of explaining to these families what they had to do after they were released,” Ponce said. “A lot of families would come into my office, and the client would say, ‘I have this permiso, but I’m wondering if it expired. I want to know how I renew it.’ That was their notice to appear in court. Nobody explained it to them.”
So maybe Canadians concerned about this boy should just start raising money to buy his way out -- sounds like it would be about $16,500 for the boy and his parents.
Mother Jones describes one family's experience:
Inmate Faten Ibrahim was unlikely to escape. She lived at a compound built as a prison for Texas' worst criminals, within a perimeter of razor wire. Her eight-by-eight-foot cell offered only a thin sliver of window, her toilet in an open corner left no cover for stashing break-out tools, and, at any rate, cracking the cell's thick steel door at night would have tripped an alarm. She certainly wasn't going to try bolting, especially since Faten, who lived in the cell with her mother for three months, is five years old.
. . . a typical prison routine still exists there: all children who are big enough must wear scrubs akin to prison uniforms, and there's little to occupy their time besides lounging in the "pod," the communal space walled off by prison cells. When not hanging out there, children receive a single hour of physical recreation each day and, at the time Brané visited, a single hour of schooling in the form of an all-ages English class (The classes were upped to four hours recently, and are expanding to the seven hours required in Texas public schools). Brané was not impressed by efforts to brighten the pod with carpet and a mural depicting an ocean scene: "It's definitely a penal environment."
Faten, the five-year-old detainee, suffered from nightmares and often sobbed uncontrollably at T. Don Hutto, according to a lawsuit seeking her family's release that was filed late last month by a private attorney. In one instance she was "yelled at and threatened with 'punishment' for her failure to 'stand still'" during the prison's daily population count, the suit said. Her mother, Hanan, who is now five months pregnant, complained of being too tired to join daily showers at 5:30 a.m., but was told that if she didn't she could be put in solitary confinement, according to the suit. To see a gynecologist, according to the lawsuit, Hanan had to travel two hours away, bound in leg irons the entire time, for each prenatal appointment. Her absence from the pod so upset Faten and her siblings, aged eight and 14, that their mother stopped seeking medical treatment rather than leave them alone. The suit also claimed that the family, who are Palestinian, was denied halal food at the prison cafeteria, prenatal vitamins for Hanan, and psychological counseling. "They were treated as inmates," said attorney Joshua Bardavid, "rather than a family being held for immigration reasons."
. . . The Ibrahims are far from the only residents to complain of ill-treatment at T. Don Hutto, where operations are run by the controversial prison staffing company Corrections Corporation of America. Lawyers with the University of Texas Immigration Law Clinic, which has represented some 25 of the inmates, say several have reported weight loss and frequent vomiting, and parents have been unable to tend to sick children at night because rules ban them from leaving their cells after curfew. Other women have also complained of a lack of prenatal and mental health care. "I'm not a psychologist, but I go talk to these people, and they are just in shambles," said law fellow Frances Valdez. "I mean, they are losing their humanity." UT law professor and clinic director Barbara Hines believes imprisoning children is on its face unethical. "I've been doing this for thirty years," she said, "and I haven't been this upset about something in a very long time. It's just heartbreaking to go in there." . . . Human rights investigators said access to the gym and playground is limited to a total of one hour a day, during the allotted recreation time. Many of the children kill most of their time fighting over a Sony Playstation in the pod, Brané said. She said the center was most lacking in developmental toys for younger children, especially soft toys such as stuffed animals that would be important to children experiencing trauma.
. . . when Brané recently interviewed detainees there, nearly every person she spoke with cried. She will release a report of her findings later this month and doesn't believe that T. Don Hutto can ever be made into a place that would be suitable for minors. Before she left the facility that day, a child ran up and pressed a folded piece of paper into her hand. "Help us," the note said, "ask questions."

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

I read the news today, oh boy. 

Hmmm -- hoist by his own petard so to speak. But maybe the Conservatives could generate more revenue by selling the extra seats to lobbyists and the party faithful... "Come fly with me" could be Harper's slogan.

I'm glad those two "terror" provisions are gone -- the whole idea of a "sunset" clause in the first place was that such vague and heavy-handed laws should expire unless they are crucial for dealing with imminent terrorist threats -- a case that couldn't be made because neither provision has actually been used.

Digby says that if thrice-married Rudy Giuliani is really as popular among Christian evangelicals as the polls now show -- and he appears to be at least as popular now as Bill Clinton still is with the rest of the country -- then it means that American voters are not particularly obsessed with the sex lives of politicians. It really is only the media who think about sex all the time.

So the US Ambassador-designate to Belgium is either a liar or an ignoramus. Belgium will be so flattered.

And Stephen Colbert investigates Al Gore's garbage and finds that he is actually throwing out the end crusts from his breadloaves, when he could be saving them to make breadcrumbs. What a wastrel!

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