<$BlogRSDURL$>

Monday, May 28, 2007

Just the flu 

Well, I think I have survived.
On Friday morning, I woke up sick, sick, sick, with a persistent pain in my chest, spasms and impossible to keep anything down, even water. But over the course of the day it got better. Then last night it struck again, such pain I couldn't lie down or sleep, finally dozed a bit between 4 to 6, then violently ill again. So I went to see the doctor, and ended up spending the day in emergency getting checked for gall bladder attack. Luckily, it turned out that I did not have gallstones, just some kind of infection that led to this awful flu. And now finally the pain has faded -- I can breathlessly report that I can drink gingerale now, and I even had a cup of coffee!
The writer Jessamyn West talked about how endlessly fascinated we are with our own pain, how we calibrate it and, as it begins to lift, we anxiously poke at it "this hurt five minutes ago, does it still hurt now?" She was plagued by migraines, and she wrote about how the world disappeared as she dealt with the pain, then it gradually resumed focus and meaning as the pain went away. "The sick soon come to understand that they live in a different world from that of the well and that the two cannot communicate."

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Kicking it down the road 

One Friedman Unit after another.
Did someone say something about September being some sort of deadline for "progress" in Iraq? Why, perish the thought!
They're now kicking the Iraq "deadline" to 2008! Here's Bill Kristol this morning:
. . . Petraeus and Odierno assume that if they can sustain the surge through the beginning of 2008, at that point, maybe there will be enough Iraqi forces that we can begin to drawdown.
Or maybe they meant September, 2008 all along? Yeah, that's right...

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Great line of the day 

From Atrios:
A very frustrating thing over the past few years has been our elite leaders' failure to understand what was going on in Iraq. Bush had declared over and over again that leaving was losing, and it was crystal clear that Iraq was a complete disaster, yet they still clung to the belief that either the pony would appear or that Republicans would force George Bush to start getting out. Neither has happened, neither is going to happen, and those are perfectly obvious things to this dirty fucking hippie.
It is increasingly bizarre to see blogosphere debates like this one over how us Librulls will defend ourselves in the future for the disasters which will occur when the Democrats force Bush to leave Iraq precipitously.
The disasters which will occur because Bush stays don't seem to be discussed: war between Iran and Israel; war between the US and Iran; deaths of millions of Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria; destruction of the US fleet and/or US army by Iran's airforce; oil going to $150 a barrel; Kurds declaring independence and the Turks invading; Saudi Arabia invading southern Iraq; all of the above ...
And in the end of course, Republicans will blame all these on the Democrats, because after all, the Dems should have forced Bush to leave before all these disasters occurred ...

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Friday, May 25, 2007

First time 


..by which I mean, the first time somebody said something that implied you were "old".
Just heard from my daughter, who went to a huge rave in Toronto last weekend. She told some teenager there that she was 26, and this child said "You sure look good for 26!"
I remembered how I felt when, at the age of 35, I was referred to by some young chit as "women your age".
Yeah, yeah, I know, you're not getting older you're getting better, yada yada yada....

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Liberating 

Stupidest sentence of the day, from ABC News:
Just this week, the Food and Drug Administration approved the birth control pill Lybrel, for the first time giving women the option not to have a period. Period.
It's unclear whether women will embrace this new pill. . .
Emphasis mine. And amid gales of derisive laughter, I ask -- unclear to whom?
ABC seems to think there is something emasculating about women not having periods anymore:
As 21st century women dominate the universities and continue to climb the executive ladder, and metro-sexual men explore their feminine side, it's harder to define what it means to be a woman.
Its not a zero-sum game, guys -- just because women become more "liberated" doesn't mean men are less "manly".
Besides, so what else is new? For years, decades, women have been taking birth control pills continuously to skip their periods, and getting their doctors to prescribe the pill for this purpose "off-label". Amanda and feministing have more.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

The Seven-Day-In-May Scenario 

No wonder US policy on Iran has seemed sort of schizoid lately. It is.
And is anyone surprised that Cheney is behind the game-playing? Steve Clemons at The Washington Note describes what has been going on. And it sounds uncomfortably close to a Seven-Days-In-May scenario:
There is a race currently underway between different flanks of the administration to determine the future course of US-Iran policy.
On one flank are the diplomats, and on the other is Vice President Cheney's team and acolytes ...a senior aide on Vice President Cheney's national security team has been meeting with policy hands of the American Enterprise Institute, one other think tank, and more than one national security consulting house and explicitly stating that Vice President Cheney does not support President Bush's tack towards Condoleezza Rice's diplomatic efforts and fears that the President is taking diplomacy with Iran too seriously.
This White House official has stated to several Washington insiders that Cheney is planning to deploy an "end run strategy" around the President if he and his team lose the policy argument.
The thinking on Cheney's team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran's nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz using cruise missiles (i.e., not ballistic missiles).
This strategy would sidestep controversies over bomber aircraft and overflight rights over other Middle East nations and could be expected to trigger a sufficient Iranian counter-strike against US forces in the Gulf -- which just became significantly larger -- as to compel Bush to forgo the diplomatic track that the administration realists are advocating and engage in another war.
. . . the official actually hopes that hawkish conservatives and neoconservatives share this information and then rally to this point of view . . . to help establish the policy and political pathway to bombing Iran.
. . . Cheney himself is frustrated with President Bush and believes, much like Richard Perle, that Bush is making a disastrous mistake by aligning himself with the policy course that Condoleezza Rice, Bob Gates, Michael Hayden and McConnell have sculpted.
According to this official, Cheney believes that Bush can not be counted on to make the "right decision" when it comes to dealing with Iran and thus Cheney believes that he must tie the President's hands . . . Cheney is saying that Bush is making a mistake and thus needs to have the choices before him narrowed.
You know, in any other American administration, this would be treason.
This type of thing has happened in the past -- Truman fired MacArthur for trying to pull the US into a war against China; Iran-Contra was about the Pentagon running a foreign policy against Congressional funding restrictions.
But this is far beyond Iran-Contra. This is the vice-president running a foreign policy against the President.
Can anyone imagine Lyndon Johnson sneaking around behind Kennedy's back, trying to get Mexico to start a war against Cuba?
Or does anyone think Daddy Bush would have tolerated for one second Dan Quayle muscling Columbia into starting a war against Venezuela?
But it doesn't take any imagination at all to think of Cheney pushing Israel to start a war against Iran, to cut off Bush's options for avoiding another war in the Middle East.
And does anyone think that Bush has the spine to deal with this? Or will we see another "My Pet Goat" moment, where Bush sits frozen in fear and indecision while Cheney takes over running the country?

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Murtha's explanation 

Finally, an explanation from the Democrats about the war funding bill that makes some sense. From John Murtha:
. . . Some have suggested that since the president refuses to compromise, Democrats should refuse to send him anything. I disagree. There is a point when the money for our troops in Iraq will run out, and when it does, our men and women serving courageously in Iraq will be the ones who will suffer, not this president.
Patience has run out and I feel a change in direction happening within the chambers of Congress. While we don't have the votes right now to change the president's policy, I believe that come September we will have the votes from both Democrats and Republicans to change policy and direction . . .
I don't know whether I agree with him, but he is putting the responsibility for continuing the Iraq War where it belongs, with the Republicans.
At least he's not implying that he's afraid Bush will call him names.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Discrimination 

Echidne reports on a recent speech by Newt Gingrich:
"Basic fairness demands that religious beliefs deserve a chance to be heard," he said in the 26-minute speech. "It is wrong to single out those who believe in God for discrimination. Yet today, it is impossible to miss the discrimination against religious believers."
So nice of Gingrich to worry about the Wiccans and the Muslims, probably the two religions whose believers may face anti-religious discrimination in their daily lives in this country.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Photo of the day 

From the Faces of Grief blog:


An Iraqi child looks through a shrapnel ridded glass shop window in Shiite district of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, April 26, 2007 . . . (AP Photo/Adil al-Khazali)

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Great line of the day 

Bill Scher sums up the latest news that the Bush administration (ie Cheney and Elliot Abrams) are supporting, either directly or though Prince Bandar, Sunni Muslim groups targeting Shia Muslims in Lebannon and Iran:
...the Bush administration is supporting Sunni terrorist outfits with the goal of fostering sectarian violence -- a strategy that undermines any claim to promoting freedom and stability abroad.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

I read the news today, oh boy 

The zombies are coming! Let's walk a little faster!: Today comes the breathless news that bin Laden had enlisted al-Zarqawi in Iraq to plan potential strikes in the U.S. Two years ago. And al-Zarqawi was killed last year. Oooh, scary stuff, eh?

Don't worry, be happy: If the President of Afghanistan tells Harper in person that it is "probably" not true that any prisoners have been tortured, then that's all that really needs to be said, isn't it.

Shorter: Shorter Sun Media feature debate between an Anglican woman and a Catholic man about gay marriage:
Jane, you ignorant slut!*
*In case you don't remember (and nobody under 45 will) this is how Dan Aykroyd would reply to Jane Curtin during their weekly SNL debates.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Fort Apache, Iraq 

The new American frontier is in Iraq.
And we all thought Bush was just pretending to be a cowboy! Instead, it sounds like he is conquering the "new East" just like the bluecoats and the mountain men and the cowboys two centuries ago conquered the Old West. And, just like two centuries ago, the brown occupiers of these lands are just another inconvenience. "Why have you got our oil underneath your sand?" may not actually be a joke, because Bush is making it all into American sand as quickly as he can.
Scarecrow at Firedoglake describes his recent conversation with a National Guard airbase engineer:
My Airman friend has done three tours in Iraq so far, and he wants to go back. He’s proud of what he’s done. He’s an engineer, and engineers build things. They make things work. And they take pride in making them work and building things to last. They would understand the Bridge on the River Kwai.
. . . we are building a huge, permanent infrastructure in Iraq. We are putting in the latest equipment, and it is not there to support some temporary military presence. What’s going up is not something to be taken down and removed when our troops withdraw or respond to some uncertain Congressional appropriation . . . We’re spending billions upon billions on this, and it’s not slowing down. My friend has been there three times, and each time he goes back, he marvels at the tremendous change — in how much more there is now than there was last time. Much more sophisticated; more permanent.
We did not talk much about the violence; where he worked, and what he did, did not require him to face that. He knew Iraqis but these were Iraqis who had essentially “joined us,” in the sense that once they were inside the US infrastructure, they stayed there. They were helping to building this American infrastructure in their country. Their families were there, “inside,” and no one talked about going “outside” because it was too dangerous. There are two different worlds: the Iraq we see on our televisions each night, with scores of people being blown to bits and pools of blood under devastated cars and buildings - and the American one “inside” the US infrastructure. A country within a country. America inside Iraq.
I could tell that my friend did not want to talk about the politics here, or the violence there. He gave no indication that it might all have been a waste of time, lives and money. There was no moral judgment. There was only the pride in what he had built, and the desire to go back and keep building it.
The photo Scarecrow ran with his piece is this one, of the new US embassy in Iraq:

The Huffington Post story accompanying this picture describes it thusly:
The $592 million embassy occupies a chunk of prime real estate two-thirds the size of Washington's National Mall, with desk space for about 1,000 people behind high, blast-resistant walls . . . The embassy is one of the few major projects the administration has undertaken in Iraq that is on schedule and within budget . . . The 21-building complex on the Tigris River was envisioned three years ago partly as a headquarters for the democratic expansion in the Middle East that President Bush identified as the organizing principle for foreign policy in his second term. . . The compound will have secure apartments for about 615 people.
And how about Balad airbase, north of Baghdad:

Back in December, I talked about Bush's permanent military bases in Iraq, and posted this photo of the pool at the Balad air base north of Baghdad.
Doesn't look temporary, does it?
Here is the other photo from that article:

Just a little slice of Americana in the desert. The March, 2006 AP story which ran these photos says:
The concrete goes on forever, vanishing into the noonday glare, 2 million cubic feet of it, a mile-long slab that’s now the home of up to 120 U.S. helicopters, a “heli-park” as good as any back in the States.
At another giant base, al-Asad in Iraq’s western desert, the 17,000 troops and workers come and go in a kind of bustling American town, with a Burger King, Pizza Hut and a car dealership, stop signs, traffic regulations and young bikers clogging the roads.
At a third hub down south, Tallil, they’re planning a new mess hall, one that will seat 6,000 hungry airmen and soldiers for chow.
Are the Americans here to stay? Air Force mechanic Josh Remy is sure of it as he looks around Balad.
“I think we’ll be here forever,” the 19-year-old airman from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., told a visitor to his base.
. . . Officers at Al-Asad Air Base, 10 desert miles from the nearest town, say it hasn’t been hit by insurgent mortar or rocket fire since October.
Al-Asad will become even more isolated. The proposed 2006 supplemental budget for Iraq operations would provide $7.4 million to extend the no-man’s-land and build new security fencing around the base, which at 19 square miles is so large that many assigned there take the Yellow or Blue bus routes to get around the base, or buy bicycles at a PX jammed with customers.
The latest budget also allots $39 million for new airfield lighting, air traffic control systems and upgrades allowing al-Asad to plug into the Iraqi electricity grid — a typical sign of a long-term base.
At Tallil, besides the new $14 million dining facility, Ali Air Base is to get, for $22 million, a double perimeter security fence with high-tech gate controls, guard towers and a moat — in military parlance, a “vehicle entrapment ditch with berm.”
Here at Balad, the former Iraqi air force academy 40 miles north of Baghdad, the two 12,000-foot runways have become the logistics hub for all U.S. military operations in Iraq, and major upgrades began last year.
Army engineers say 31,000 truckloads of sand and gravel fed nine concrete-mixing plants on Balad, as contractors laid a $16 million ramp to park the Air Force’s huge C-5 cargo planes; an $18 million ramp for workhorse C-130 transports; and the vast, $28 million main helicopter ramp, the length of 13 football fields, filled with attack, transport and reconnaissance helicopters.
Turkish builders are pouring tons more concrete for a fourth ramp beside the runways, for medical-evacuation and other aircraft on alert. And $25 million was approved for other “pavement projects,” from a special road for munitions trucks to a compound for special forces.
The chief Air Force engineer here, Lt. Col. Scott Hoover, is also overseeing two crucial projects to add to Balad’s longevity: equipping the two runways with new permanent lighting, and replacing a weak 3,500-foot section of one runway.
Once that’s fixed, “we’re good for as long as we need to run it,” Hoover said. Ten years? he was asked. “I’d say so.”
Away from the flight lines, among traffic jams and freshly planted palms, life improves on 14-square-mile Balad for its estimated 25,000 personnel, including several thousand American and other civilians.
They’ve inherited an Olympic-sized pool and a chandeliered cinema from the Iraqis. They can order their favorite Baskin-Robbins flavor at ice cream counters in five dining halls, and cut-rate Fords, Chevys or Harley-Davidsons, for delivery at home, at a PX-run “dealership.” On one recent evening, not far from a big 24-hour gym, airmen hustled up and down two full-length, lighted outdoor basketball courts as F-16 fighters thundered home overhead.
Here are the maps from that article. This one shows the bases in Iraq:

This one shows the bases throughout the region:

And this is just in the Middle East.
A former CIA consultant and Berkley professor named Chambers Johnson has been writing about this stuff for the last several years. One of his readers posted a review on Amazon which summarizes his point:
Forget conspiracy theories and ideological agendas, just contemplate one fact: The USA spends more on military and intelligence funding in 2004 than it has spent at any one time in history. Fourteen carrier groups to defeat the two remaining countries of the axis of evil, N. Korea and Iran? 750 and counting military bases outside the USA? However, the government tells us it is powerless to defend the country against an attack from a terrorist group with WMD??? So, the next time you watch television and the commentator tells you why we need another aircraft carrier, more tanks, more F-16's, etc., ask yourself: Who are we defending ourselves against?
750 military bases worldwide and they STILL don't feel safe? What is the matter with these people? Johnson suggests an enraged public should throw out the neocons and the empire buildiers, with step one to leave Iraq:
When Ronald Reagan coined the phrase "evil empire," he was referring to the Soviet Union, and I basically agreed with him that the USSR needed to be contained and checkmated. But today it is the U.S. that is widely perceived as an evil empire and world forces are gathering to stop us. The Bush administration insists that if we leave Iraq our enemies will "win" or -- even more improbably -- "follow us home." I believe that, if we leave Iraq and our other imperial enclaves, we can regain the moral high ground and disavow the need for a foreign policy based on preventive war. I also believe that unless we follow this path, we will lose our democracy and then it will not matter much what else we lose. In the immortal words of Pogo, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Great line of the day 

This has been another edition of what Digby said -- or, actually, eight things Digby said and two things Tristero said.
Here's my favorite(s):
A very large number of right wing legal scholars seem to have the unusual view that a president has committed high crimes and misdemeanors if he lies about a sexual affair, but he has ultimate authority to do anything he chooses in his role as president.
Oh, and don't forget this one:
I think Rudy won it. These people don’t care if he’s wearing a teddy under his suit and sleeping with the family schnauzer as long as he promises to spill as much blood as possible.
And then there's....oh, just go read them all.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Doing it by the book 

Typical, isn't it.
The Tories need a cheat sheet even to cheat! The Tory committee chairs can't figure out how to disrupt and paralyze their own committees, they need the Prime Minister's Office to do it for them. All aimed, of course, at provoking an election while the Tories try to pretend it wasn't their idea.
This CP story describes the 200-page manual of Tory dirty tricks:
New Democrat Libby Davies said the manual explodes the Tories' contention that opposition parties are to blame for the parliamentary constipation.
"So much for blaming the opposition for the obstruction of Parliament," she said.
"Now we learn, in fact, that the monkey wrench gang have had a plan all along and not just any plan, a 200-page playbook on how to frustrate, obstruct and shut down the democratic process."
The manual was apparently distributed to Tory committee chairs, and somebody leaked it. Not having heard of that new invention, the xerox machine, the PMO tried to hunt down the leaker:
The government was so embarrassed and annoyed by the leak, that, according to a source, it ordered all committee chairs to return their copies of the handbook, apparently in a bid to determine who broke confidence.
I'll bet someone in the PMOs office is now hard at work on some foolproof way to ID leakers -- like in Tom Clancy novels, where each person's copy secretly has one word changed in some key paragraph.
Anyway, this news story doesn't quote from the manual directly, but CP gives a summary of recent events, apparently all mandated by the Tricks Treatise:
The handbook reportedly advises chairs on how to promote the government's agenda, select witnesses friendly to the Conservative party and coach them to give favourable testimony. It also reportedly instructs them on how to filibuster and otherwise disrupt committee proceedings and, if all else fails, how to shut committees down entirely.
Some of those stalling tactics have been on display this week.
Tory MPs on the information and ethics committee stalled an inquiry into alleged censorship of a report on the treatment of Afghan detainees. They debated the propriety of the witness list for more than five hours while two critics of the government's handling of the matter cooled their heels in the corridor.
The official languages committee has been shut down all week after Tory chair Guy Lauzon cancelled a hearing moments before witnesses were to testify about the impact of the government's cancellation of the court challenges program. All three opposition parties voted to remove Lauzon from the chair but the Tories are refusing to select a replacement, leaving the committee in limbo.
Tories have also launched filibusters to obstruct proceedings in the Commons agriculture and procedural affairs committees and a Senate committee study of a Liberal bill requiring the government to adhere to the Kyoto treaty on greenhouse gas emissions.
Of course, CP does the obligatory "rowboat" paragraph to forestall accusations of that ole Librull bias:
The previous Liberal regime also tried to control the conduct of committees. Former prime minister Jean Chretien even faced a mini-rebellion during his final months in office from backbenchers who chafed at being told what to say and do at committee. They demanded the right to choose their own committee chairs.
CP doesn't mention this, but it was Paul Martin who led this reform movement and who, when he was prime minister, continued to allow committees the right to select their own chairs -- even when opposition MPs repaid his democratic largesse by setting out to embarrass him in any way they could through committee hearings. But for Martin, a basic belief in democracy trumped PMO control. Not so, with either Chretien or, now, Harper:
But Davies, a 10-year parliamentary veteran, said the Tories have taken manipulation to extremes she's never seen before.
"They've codified it. They've set it down. They've given instructions."
Both Davies and Goodale agreed that the recent dysfunction may be part of a long term Tory strategy to persuade voters that minority Parliaments don't work, that they need to elect a majority next time.
But Goodale predicted the ploy won't work because Canadians will realize that the Tories are the "authors of this stalemate."
Goodale said the manual also demonstrates that the government is in the grip of an "obsessive, manipulative mania," run by a prime minister who has "a kind of control fetish" in which there can't be "one comma or one sentence or one word uttered without his personal approval."
If they keep up these kind of tactics, they will end up proving to voters is that its a government led by Steven Harper that doesn't work.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Nobody expects.... 

Hmmm... what does the incompetent thuggery of Bush, Gonzales and Card remind me of?

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Signs of spring, at last 

It has finally warmed up here, so here are some photos of spring and funny things:










Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A tragedy of errors 

The testimony at the Air India inquiry is revealing a chain of brushed-aside warnings, missing dogs, coincidence, circumstance, and tragic happenstance.
Bear in mind there are two facts which I haven't seen covered yet in the news accounts of the inquiry.
First, Air India apparently only flew from Canada to India once a week. So it wasn't as though putting on extra security for the Air India flights created a huge 24/7 security burden at Canadian airports. Second, remember that very same day, another bomb had been successfully hidden on a CP Air Lines flight from Vancouver, which exploded in Tokyo. So any discussion about why the Air India bomb wasn't found also needs to explain why the CP bomb wasn't found either.
As for the inquiry testimony, here's what we're learning. According to the Globe and Mail:
Flight 182 was considered at high risk of attack by Sikh extremists.
Yet according to Canadian Press, the RCMP at the Montreal airport thought there wasn't any particular danger:
...it appears from documents tabled Wednesday that D'Souza never consulted the RCMP. Sgt. J.N. Leblanc, the watch commander at the airport, later told investigators he learned of the three suspect bags only after the plane took off.
Leblanc said he decided not to recall the flight to Mirabel since "no other information had come to our attention that there could be any danger whatsoever to the plane."
From previous testimony, it appears there was actually plenty of information about Air India threats -- but apparently it wasn't passed on to the people who might have acted on it:
The RCMP's former head of airport security was not told that a group of Sikhs were plotting a suicide attack on an Air India jet leaving Montreal on June 16, 1984. . .
Sadder still, a tragic series of coincidences allowed the doomed flight to take off with a bomb on board:
. . . Flight 182 wasn't held at Mirabel to have all the baggage unloaded and matched up against passengers. If that had been done, the unaccompanied bag that contained the bomb would likely have been discovered.
. . . the X-ray machine used at Pearson broke down, and a hand-held electronic detector used in its place had been shown to be unreliable in tests conducted six months earlier.
Moreover, no sniffer dog was available in Toronto because all the RCMP's explosives-detection canine teams were on a training course that weekend.
So it all makes me wonder.
Maybe other bombs have been found aboard other Canadian planes in the last 20 years, but I haven't heard about any.
So we are left with this uncomfortable realization: after decades of security checks on thousands of airplane at hundreds of airports across the country, there were two times, perhaps ONLY two times, that bombs were hidden on in suitcases. And these two times, they didn't get found because of poor communications, inter-agency rivalry, and the incredible bad luck that a never-to-be-repeated series of coincidences occurred on one weekend in June in 1985.
This is the stuff of which conspiracy theories are born.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Long and hot summer 



This is the video that has raised all the fuss - "When justice fails, stop the rails". It's a cute slogan, yes, and apparently a non-violent way to protest-- it says that wrapping copper wire about a rail line will just cause the train's electronic sensors to think the line is broken and therefore bring the train to a stop.
Now, I'm not sure this is as harmless as it is purported to be -- what if a train stops and another train slams into it? What if train passengers are stranded?
And I'm not sure what it accomplishes to stop trains, except to cost farmers a lot of money when their grain can't be shipped to ports.
That said, the situation for many Aboriginal families on reserves today is unconscionable. Assembly of First Nations head Phil Fontaine spoke today to the Canadian Club, and CP describes the scene:
Fontaine has always preferred peaceful diplomacy over the risk of alienating public support.
"But First Nations people are beginning to question the so-called rational process," he said during a luncheon speech Tuesday to the Canadian Club of Ottawa.
"At this point you must realize we have a right to be frustrated, concerned, angry," he told the well-heeled luncheon crowd of business, political, academic and cultural leaders.
They filled the gilded ballroom of the Chateau Laurier hotel,? sipping coffee and finishing dessert as Fontaine described 28 people living in two-bedroom houses on the Pukatawagan reserve in Northern Manitoba.
Vicious murders of native women go all but unnoticed, he said. And federal spending hasn't kept pace with inflation or population growth for years.
Railways apparently have involved themselves now in the land claims disputes.
. . . Chief Terry Nelson of Manitoba's Roseau River First Nation, says he'll follow through on rail blockades included in a resolution passed by chiefs at an Assembly of First Nations meeting last December.
It calls for a 24-hour disruption (from 4 p.m. next June 29 to 4 p.m. June 30) "to reaffirm the need for the Canadian government to establish a reasonable time-frame for settlement of Indigenous rights."
Nelson has since said that such action could escalate if rail companies persist in suing demonstrators for related economic chaos. He argues that the rail company has access to traditional native territory because a related historic treaty wasn't properly honoured by Ottawa.
Compensation for commercial use of claimed land is a major snag in several cases. CN sued after a splinter group of Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte near Deseronto, Ont. blocked freight and passenger traffic for more than a day on the busy line between Toronto and Ottawa last month.
It could be a long, hot summer if protests escalate:
Fontaine says there's still time to avoid all-out conflict.
"But what's incumbent upon us is to put out a proposition that's so compelling it actually gives First Nations hope."
That's increasingly tough, he said, under a Conservative government that gutted the $5-billion Kelowna Accord to improve First Nations health, housing and education, before virtually excluding new spending for cash-strapped reserves in the last federal budget.
Still, he met with [Indian Affairs minister] Prentice on Monday and is willing to keep trying.
"In spite of all of the resistance we've encountered in the last while, we've made it very clear that we're still committed to engaging with the government in a process that will bring about good results for First Nations people and Canadians."
. . . "it's an intolerable situation" on many of Canada's more than 600 reserves, most of which are denied any share of lucrative resources on their traditional lands.
"There's no reason why First Nations people should be as poor as we are."
He's convinced that most Canadians want that black mark erased.
Until then, said Fontaine, "we're still committed to do the right thing."
If things get bad, the Harper government may yet regret having stiffed Canada's Aboriginal communities by bailing out of the Kelowna Accord -- and after promising during the election campaign that they wouldn't do that.
In the end, the $5 billion promised by the Accord may well turn out to be a lot less expensive than what nationwide Aboriginal protests will cost us all, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal alike. And not just in terms of money.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Great line of the day 

From Rick Perlstein at Campaign for America's Future:
Now that Padilla's finally going on trial - an eventuality the government worked very, very hard to render impossible - the restrictions on reporters are unprecedented. Washington claims security concerns. Almost certainly, what they're really afraid of is embarrassment. If George Orwell and Franz Kafka had a love child, it would look like the Padilla case.
Emphasis mine.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Hearts and minds 

Dave at Galloping Beaver flags this New York Times story about how the increasing number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan is damaging public support for the Afghan government and the war.
He notes this paragraph in particular:
The public mood hardened against foreign forces in the southern city of Kandahar after British troops fired on civilians while driving through the streets after a suicide bombing last year, and Canadian soldiers have repeatedly killed and wounded civilians while on patrol in civilian areas.
Really? Our troops have developed a reputation for repeatedly killing civilians? Now, I don't comb the papers for Afghan news every day, but I don't remember getting the impression that Canadian solders are "repeatedly' firing on civilians.
So I googled, and found this December article from Seven Oaks magazine, which explains why I hadn't heard about it -- because our Canadian media hasn't been giving this issue systematic coverage:
. . . our most respected media went to considerable lengths to avoid negative portrayals of our military role and that of our NATO allies, even to the point of completely ignoring certain shocking and disastrous events which are of vital importance in understanding the role of our military in Afghanistan and its effects on the people of that country.
Here's some of the stories you didn't hear about:
At around 2am on October 18, NATO helicopters firing on houses in the village of Ashogo in Kandahar killed between nine and thirteen civilians, including women and children. Almost simultaneously, in neighboring Helmand province, another NATO air strike killed a reported thirteen civilians. Additionally, NATO revealed that just one purported Taliban insurgent was killed in the attacks. In fact, during the attack on Ashogo, there were no Taliban whatsoever in the village, according to local officials. NATO blamed the botched attacks on intelligence failures.
And here's another one:
. . . an Afghan father's accusations that during the Kandahar attack NATO troops had executed his wounded son when the soldiers had entered their house . . . NATO later announced that they had exonerated themselves on the matter
And a week later:
Before dawn on October 24 -- and on the cusp of Eid celebrations -- NATO air strikes in the Panjwaii district of Kandahar, ostensibly aimed at Taliban insurgents, claimed the lives of numerous innocent civilians. Estimates at the time ranged from 30 to 90 dead villagers; NATO initially conceded only 11 civilian deaths while claiming 48 dead insurgents. Survivors told of their homes being bombed and of fleeing across fields with their families, while NATO planes strafed them. Reportedly, over 50 homes were destroyed.
We are also creating refugees:
. . . at the end of November, Amnesty noted that NATO operations in Afghanistan had contributed to the displacement of up to 90,000 people . . .
Here's another incident:
On December 12, a Canadian soldier on guard duty shot and killed an Afghan senior citizen in Kandahar City. The man, 90 year-old Haji Abdul Rahman, had approached the provincial governor's palace on his motorcycle. A frequent visitor to the palace, the elderly former teacher had come to pay a visit to his old pupil: Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai. Afghan soldiers in charge of an outer checkpoint, evidently familiar with the locally famous man, had let him pass without questioning him. Upon seeing this, the Canadian soldier became suspicious or alarmed and commenced verbal warnings aimed at the elderly motorcyclist. When these signals did not have the desired effect (a common occurrence, it must be noted, in this conflict as well as the one in Iraq), the soldier fired a warning shot which ricocheted and killed the man, according to a Canadian Forces spokesperson.
And there were three more incidents in February:
Maj. Dale MacEachern, a spokesman for the Canadian Forces, said the group of Canadians signalled for the approaching vehicle to stop, but troops opened fire when the civilian driver proceeded . . . The Afghan driver was killed and a passenger was wounded . . . On Feb. 18, Canadian soldiers killed an Afghan civilian and a member of the Afghan national police following an attack on a Canadian convoy. The military said the civilian approached Canadian Forces soldiers while they were engaged in a gun battle with insurgents and did not heed repeated warnings to move away.
A day earlier, Canadian troops also shot and killed an Afghan civilian.
While reporting on other civilian deaths in Afghanistan in early May, due to US bombing, the BBC provides this statistic:
About 4,000 people were killed in Afghanistan last year, about a quarter of them civilians.
This Wikipedia article provides more detail about all of the civilian deaths in Afghanistan, including the ones attributed to US soldiers.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Monday, May 14, 2007

Great line of the day 

Ottawa Citizen columnist Margret Kopala publishes a profoundly offensive and racist rant that 'real' Canadians aren't having enough children so all we have to hope for is "a quiet death in a clean facility where the immigrant workers speak our language". It's all the fault of gay marriage or teen sex or frankenfood or electrical transmissions or something.
Anyway, credit Tbogg for the Shorter Margret: "I don't want to die surrounded by brown people".
And credit Tbogg commenter Rugosa for today's Great Line:
As a person of whiteness, I've always been astounded by the level of care and professionalism the brown hordes bring to their jobs. Considering how we've treated them, spitting in our soup is the least we deserve from them.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Nice, but not easy 



Ian Welsh has a brilliant post over at Firedoglake, which anyone who is listening to politician speeches needs to read:
The problem is the use of simple as a synonym for easy; and hard as a synonym for complicated.
And I can't really give you the gist of it with any more excerpts -- just go read it.
(And whenever Youtube is working again, come back to hear Tina.)

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Great line of the day 

Josh Marshall talks about political "orthodoxy":
In our society, at least in most of it, the word 'orthodoxy' comes with at least a loose negative connotation. We're open-minded, tolerant people. So to call one of a political party's bedrock issues an 'orthodoxy', as the Times does here, is at least to slightly prejudice the question . . . But why do Republicans need to give up these 'orthodoxies'...Why shouldn't they organize their voting around these issues that mean so much to them?
It reminds of the predictable-as-the-seasons articles you'll read every few years in the Post and other papers asking whether Democrats are going to give up their hidebound orthodoxies of supporting Social Security or the progressive income tax or civil rights. For many of us those are precisely the reasons we're involved in politics, so why should we give them up because some frivolous oped writer who doesn't know the first thing about public policy thinks it's the hip new thing to do?
How many Democrats would support a flat-tax, pro-privatization, anti-gay rights candidate for president? And why should they? Washington's beautiful people, the froth at the top of the politico-cultural mug, look down on everybody, right and left, who's really committed politically. It's a mild embarrassment, like loud clothes or poor table manners.
Emphasis mine.
And I think this is why so much political coverage from both Washington and Ottawa is just "horse-race" coverage or got-ya gonzo journalism -- because too many of our national reporters on both sides of the border are just too, too sophisticated (and too, too rich) to really care about any of the social or economic issues the candidates are talking about.
They act like nobody else should care either. So gauche!

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Call Me Al 

Comments aren't working, apparently. So just enjoy:

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Household hints 

In honour of Mother's Day, The Onion is running a special issue just for us girls -- including some very useful household hints:
* You may find yourself lying in bed at night beside your husband thinking, "Is this all?" It isn't, sister. With a cup of corn starch in your sheet laundry, you can achieve those perfect hospital corners.
* The only way for a woman to know herself as a person is through creative work of her own. Cut grilled cheese sandwichces diagonally and let your spirit soar!
* Power that pan clean with Girl Power! The same goes for counters, collars, rugs, curtains, tile, grout, duvet covers, venetian blinds, and problem areas.
* When you open yourself to the abundance of the universe, anything is possible... even getting a clean toilet with NO SCRUBBING! Pour a can of Coca-Cola into the toilet, let it sit for one hour, and then flush it clean. You can use that extra sixty minutes of free time to believe, breathe, dream, laugh, or CELEBRATE what makes you UNIQUE!
* Do you often find yourself wishing there were more hours in the day? Juggling a career, a home, and a relationship can be hard, but you can't let any one of those things go, or you will be a failure as a woman. Taking a regular dose of methamphetamine will give you the energy to successfully manage all three and spare you the inconvenience of sleep.
* Liberate yourself from household chores: Have children!

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Friday, May 11, 2007

Document dump? 

Wow -- Cheney is threatening Iran again AND there's a big announcement about a terrorist threat in Germany.
Must be some really bad news for the Bush administration coming out this afternoon.
UPDATE: Here is the bad news. Or maybe it's this embarrassment.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Great line of the day 

Josh Marshall writes about the real question raised by many of the recent "terrorism cult" arrests in the United States:- like these guys, and now these guys:
. ..the real jokers they actually bust turn out to be such hopeless goofs that it's hard to know whether ... if Islamic terrorism is catching on in the US, that it's only doing so among the deeply stupid, or that these are the only ones our guys can catch.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Cab-driver Journalism 



Some interesting posts today about the conceit of rich, white, old political journalists who think they are "men of the people".
Glenn Greenwald writes:
Claims that one's own views are what 'Americans think,' when unaccompanied by empirical data, are worthless. And patronizingly joining the 'real people' in a coffee shop a few times a year is meaningless. It certainly does not make one qualified to speak on behalf of anyone.
Digby follows up:
[These journalists have] a sort of pre-conceived notion of what defines "the people" that appears to have been formed by TV sit-coms in 1955 . . . invariably these middle-aged white men say the country is going to hell in a handbasket and they want the government to do more and they hate paying taxes . . . Meanwhile, someone like me, who lives in a big city on the west coast and who doesn't hang out in diners with middle aged white men are used as an example of the "fringe" even though I too am one of "the people" as are many others --- like hispanic youths or single urban mothers or dot-com millionaires or elderly southern black granddads or Korean entrepreneurs
What Greenwald and Digby are describing is what I call "cab-driver journalism" and it works like this:
a reporter from Washington or Toronto flies into Podunk, Nebraska or Riverwart, Alberta or even a city like Los Angeles or Halifax to cover something -- maybe a political convention or a space launch or a missing white woman or a big storm or a trial or whatever.
And the first thing he does is hop into a cab to get to his hotel from the airport.
And on the way into town, usually a half-hour trip or more, he invariably asks the cab driver what he thinks about the convention/space launch/missing woman/storm/trial/whatever. And so the cab driver tells him.
And chances are, this will be the ONLY actual citizen the reporter ever talks to -- unless he hops another cab to go somewhere else -- because everyone else he meets, from the desk clerk to the waitress to the doorman to the office secretary, is busy working and they don't have time.
So then the reporter writes a sidebar story, beginning something like "People in Podunk are getting tired of ______ already and ____ hasn't even started yet. They're wondering why the government would spend a dime on _____"
And then when the reporter goes home, he spends the next several months telling his co-workers things like "When I was in Podunk, people were saying.....", to the point that he eventually believes he really did talk to a lot of people there.
Personally, just about everything I know about Nashville, and Seattle, and Detroit, and Boulder, and Boston, and London, Ontario, and Fredrickton, and Toronto, I learned from cab drivers.
In retrospect, though some of the rides certainly were interesting, and the stories I heard certainly amusing, I doubt that I have a particularly broad or well- informed view of those cities or what their people think.
So next time some pundit starts writing about what the people of your town "really think", don't be surprised if it sounds just like the yap you heard during your last cab ride.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Great line of the day 

Alison at Creekside gives the Globe and Mail a rap on the knuckles for daring to use the term "prisoners" to describe Afghan prisoners. She asks how long will Canada put up with this?
I thought we settled this already.
The Afghan people are "insurgents" until such time as they are killed or handed over to Afghan authorities to be tortured, at which point they become "scumbags", terrorists, and Taliban.
How many times do we have to go over this?

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Chow down 

Maybe we should all be putting in our own big gardens this spring. And finding a local farmer to sell us a beef quarter from an animal he raised himself.
Here's a chilling summary of the melamine contamination issue, titled FDA: the “Faith-based Dining Administration”:
. . . USDA/FDA say they believe the melamine level in meat would be very low, but they haven’t bothered to test it. They say they believe melamine is nontoxic to humans, but then, a few months ago we believed it was nontoxic to dogs and cats too. They say they believe that there have been no human health problems due to eating tainted pork and chicken, but admit that the Centers for Disease Control has “limited ability to detect subtle problems due to melamine and melamine-related compounds.”
And while USDA/FDA have focused their efforts almost entirely on inspecting imports of vegetable protein concentrates, and on tracking contaminated product through the animal and human food supply, the import of processed foods, meat and farmed seafood products from China has continued unchecked and unabated, despite the obvious potential of contamination within China’s own, largely unregulated, agriculture and food industries.
I don't think we've heard the last of this one.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Crazy line of the day 

From a crazy pundit called Dick Morris:
. . . if we stay in Iraq, it gives them the opportunity to kill more Americans, which they really like.
One of the things, though, that I think the antiwar crowd has not considered is that, if we’re putting the Americans right within their arms’ reach, they don’t have to come to Wall Street to kill Americans. They don’t have to knock down the trade center. They can do it around the corner, and convenience is a big factor when you’re a terrorist.
So now we finally know why American soldiers are in Iraq -- to be targets.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Monday, May 07, 2007

Iraq's poster child 



Here's one of the saddest stories you will ever read:
The tiny photo shop is an open shutter onto Iraq's woes, and Farouq has reluctantly plunged into a somber new specialty. "Almost all my work now is focused on martyrs," he said . . .
He used to dote over each picture, sharpening contrast, adjusting light and finding the perfect tint for green grasses and blue skies. Now he's fixing the reds in a pool of blood. . . the only steady business that doesn't involve death and destruction is the booming demand for passport photos.
Some Republican was talking tonight on MSNBC about how, if things aren't better by September, then Bush will just have to develop a new policy.
What a joke! He won't do that -- Cheney won't let him.
And even if Bush wanted to, he can't do it--he doesn't know how. He'll just continue to sit there, reading My Pet Goat while children die.
The little girl pictured above was killed by a car bomb with her parents.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Great line of the day 

From Tristero at Hullabaloo:
It blows my mind to think 28 percent of this country still thinks God's Joke From Texas is doing a fine job. Ok, ok, I know it's not entirely scientifically kosher, but that sort of means you go walking down a street - or go to a mall - and more than 1 out of every 4 people you pass is completely insane.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Queen 


Annie Leibovitz's new portrait of the queen.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

The "R" Word 


Anyone who remembers Paul Henderson's goal would once have been surprised by this photo.
In the Canada of the 1970s, and before, nobody ever saw turbaned Sikhs in Canadian police uniforms.
You didn't see very many women, either, of course.
But it is the Sikh officers I noticed in this photo -- because in reading the latest news from the Air India inquiry, I'm wondering if anyone is mentioning the "R" word there.
Can I mention it here? The "R" word is Racism.
Now, I haven't undertaken any kind of detailed research into the ins and outs of the trials or the recent news from the inquiry now going on. But I lived through those times. I remember. And I believe to this day that racism in BC and in Canada against Sikhs, and Asians generally, was a factor, perhaps a significant factor, in the failure of the Air India investigation.
Over the years, many things have been blamed for the chaotic, unfocused nature of this whole investigation, from the initial failure to take the warnings seriously, to the antiquated personnel policies of RCMP and Vancouver police which limited recruitment of non-white officers, to inter-service rivalries between the RCMP and CSIS which apparently led to mishanding of evidence and the inability of prosecutors to bring anyone to justice.
But underneath it all is a racist taint. The lives of the victims were devalued because they were of East Indian heritage. As a result, irrelevancies and distractions like inter-service rivalries and office politics were allowed to dominate and ultimately derail the investigation.
Here's one example of this devaluation which I still remember vividly:
The explosion happened June 23, 1985, one of the worst disasters in Canadian history. Macleans magazine didn't even stop the presses and pull their cover story. They just put a banner across the top right corner. I have never forgotten my shock when I saw that cover -- a major Canadian disaster, and our major news magazine doesn't even make it their cover story? It was as though it was just another disaster in a foreign country, rather than a disaster for citizens of Canada.
Here is testimony from Toronto engineer Bal Gupta to the inquiry in September, describing what the Air India disaster did to Canadian families:
... 329 persons were murdered, most of them Canadians. Twenty-nine families were completely wiped out, 32 families had one spouse left alone. Eight couples lost all their children, and two children lost both parents...
Yet Prime Minister Mulroney did not call the families. Gupta testified:
"The Government of Canada did not set up any information line and did not offer any other administrative or emotional help immediately or any time thereafter. Instead we heard that Prime Minister Brian Mulroney sent condolences to Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi."
Here are some of the historic events from that time in Sikh-Canadian history -- and all of them happened in the decade AFTER the Air India disaster:
1986
Metro Toronto Police permitted Sikhs to wear their turbans while on duty with the force.
1986
First Sikh elected to any provincial legislature in Canada was Manmohan (Moe) Sahota from Esquimalt, British Colombia.
1988
March 10, the Canadian Parliament devoted a whole day to debate the issue of the Sikh's rights and the issue of Khalistan.
1988
Dr. Gulzar Singh Cheema was elected as an M.L.A. to the Manitoba legislature.
1990
A plaque commemorating the Komagala Maru Incident was placed at Portal Park in Vancouver on May 23 jointly by the municipal, provincial, and federal Governments.
1990
March 15, the solicitor General of Canada announced that the RCMP dress code would be amended to have a turbaned Sikh join the force. Constable Baltej Singh Dhillon had the honour of becoming the first baptized Sikh to join the RCMP.
1991
Three Sikhs were elected to the British Columbia legislature. Manmohan (Moe) Sihota, and Ujjal Dosanjh have held various cabinet posts, and the other M.L.A. is Harbhajan (Harry) Lalli.
1993
Gurbax Singh Mahli and Harbans (Herb) Dhaliwal were the first Sikhs elected to the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa.
1993
In July, Vancouver Punjabi Market at Main and 49th Street was officially recognized with bilingual signs in English and Punjabi.
1993
Five Sikh veterans were invited to participate in a Remembrance Day parade on November 11, but were denied entry to the Royal Canadian Legion in Newton, B.C.
1995
The B.C. Government officially recognized the Vaisakhi Parade and published a brochure.
1996
February 15, the Supreme Court of Canada reaffirmed a Sikh officers right to wear a turban.
I remember that stupid turban battle which went on and on and on, embittering so many people and setting Canadians against each other. And I remember that ridiculous flap about wearing a turban into a Royal Canadian Legion, as if East Indian veterans weren't quite "good enough" to associate with the "real" Canadians.
I hope we are living in a better Canada today. In 2005, then-prime minister Paul Martin declared June 23, 2005, as a national day of mourning and said June 23 would be Canada's National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism.
Ujjal Dosanjh was quoted in Macleans just yesterday:
Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh says he's shocked but not surprised that police did not take seriously warnings that Sikh extremists planned to blow up an Air India jetliner two decades ago.
In the months preceding the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182, Dosanjh said it was clear that police didn't understand or care about tensions within British Columbia's Indo-Canadian community.
"There was at that time a basic perception (that) here are some brown guys with turbans fighting each other, maybe hurting each other," Dosanjh said Thursday.
"The rest of the society really didn't know the culture, didn't know the language, didn't really know the issues, didn't in fact care very much. And that permeated throughout the (police) forces . . . I'm not blaming them but that was the environment at that time." . . .
"Maybe it's harsh coming from me at this day and age but I genuinely believe if you had 329 white Anglo-Saxons killed in an Air India disaster, you would have had an inquiry in no time."
Dosanjh had been relatively circumspect in his comments about Air India until now. But evidence coming out of the Air India inquiry about ignored warnings and investigative foul-ups prompted him to bluntly suggest that racism was part of the problem.
"I've never spoken so harshly before but that's the truth and Canadians have to, we have to confront that truth," he said.
"The fact is racism lurks in various nooks and crannies of this society. All of us have dark corners in our hearts. We have biases and prejudices that we live with. We have to all kind of come clean and deal with these issues."

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Great line of the day 

Timothy Gatto on The Smirking Chimp writes about a McCain comment during the Republican Debate:
John McCain had to qualify that vote for evolution by saying that when he walks through the Grand Canyon, he see’s God’s hand over the horizon. He doesn’t know it, but that’s God waving goodbye to any chance of him becoming the Republican candidate.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Embryo "farming"? 

I'm listening to the Republican debate on TV in the background and somebody just said they don't support embryo farming.
Whew! That's a relief. We won't need a new marketing board, I guess.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Nobody does it better 


No neocon is ever, ever going to complain again about Steven Colbert saying something inaccurate -- just watch this piece at Crooks and Liars, where Colbert uses his "apology" to twist the knife a little deeper into Doug Feith -- couldn't happen to a more deserving guy! -- and then in passing nails William Kristol and Paul Wolfowitz too. That'll teach 'em!

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

Don't believe everything you read 

Oh wow, this sure does look like a really big story from Canadian Press: New report suggests Vancouver's safe-injection site a failure. But folks, it's tripe. Overblown, inaccurate, poorly researched, ideological tripe. Canadian Press should be ashamed of themselves.
Here's the story:
A new study suggests a safe-drug-injection site in Vancouver that has been hailed by scientists as a success is really a failure.
The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice, says there are serious problems in the interpretation of findings about Insite - the first such facility in North America - which opened as a pilot project over three years ago.
. . . report author Colin Mangham, director of research with the Drug Prevention Network of Canada, refutes such claims, saying positive findings about Insite have been overstated while negative ones have been ignored.
"(The findings) give an impression the facility is successful, when in fact the research clearly shows a lack of program impact and success."
First, the study's author Colin Mangham has been publishing reports for years against "harm reduction" drug policies -- which, briefly, are policies which tolerate drug use rather than try to prevent it. The safe injection site is a prime example of just such a policy in action -- and therefore, in this man's opinion, it must be stopped. What's the harm? Well, the problem seems to be that the harm reduction "ideology" makes us "vulnerable to the drug legalization movement". Can't have that, I guess.
Second, the Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice is an on-line journal which has published only two issues, with articles like "The Lure and the Loss of Harm Reduction in UK Drug Policy and Practice" and "Is it Harm Reduction Or Harm Continuation?"
Third, the Drug Prevention Network of Canada is a pretty small organization which takes a fairly conservative approach to social problems. On their website, they post articles with titles like "In defense of the drug war" and "Cannabis - A General Survey of it's (sic) harmful effects" .
Fourth, though Canadian Press acts like Mangham's article is a research study itself, it's not. It is actually a personal critique of ten research studies which Mangham says are biased, weak, overstated, misleading. Here's the list:
Wood E, Kerr T, Montaner JS, Strathdee SA, Wodak A, Hankins CA, et al. Rationale for evaluating North America’s first medically supervised safer injecting facility. Lancet 2004;4:301-6.
Wood E, Kerr T, Lloyd-Smith E, Buchner C, Marsh D, Montaner J, Tyndall M. Methodology for evaluating Insite: Canada’s first medically supervised safer injection facility for injection drug users. Harm Reduction Journal 2004; 1-5.
Wood E, Tyndall M, Li K, Lloyd-Smith E, Small W, Montaner J, Kerr T. Do supervised injecting facilities attract higher-risk injection drug users? American Journal of Preventative Medicine. 2005; 29: 126-130.
Wood, E., Tyndall, M., Qui Z., Zhang, R., Montaner J., & Kerr T, Service Uptake and Characteristics of Injection Drug Users Utilizing North America’s First Medically Supervised Safer Injecting Facility. American Journal of Public Health, 2005, 5, 770-73.
Kerr T, Stoltz J, Tyndall M, Li K, Zhang R, Montaner J, Wood E. Impact of a medically supervised safer injection facility on community drug use patterns: a before and after study. BMJ 2006; 332:220-222.
Wood E, Kerr T, Stoltz J, Quia Z, Zhanga R, Montanera SG, & Tyndall MW. Prevalence and correlates of hepatitis C infection among users of North America’s first medically supervised safer injection facility. Public Health (2005) 119, 1111–1115
Wood E, Tyndall M, Stoltz J, Small W, Lloyd-Smith E, Zhang R, Montaner J, Kerr T. Factors associated with syringe sharing among users of a medically supervised safer injecting facility. American Journal of Infectious Diseases 2005, 50-54.
Wood E, Tyndall MW, Lai C, Montaner JG, & Kerr T. Impact of a medically supervised safer injecting facility on drug dealing and other drug-related crime. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 2006, 1:13.
Wood E, Tyndall M, Stoltz J, Small W, Zhang R, O’Connell J, Montaner J, Kerr T. Safer injecting education for HIV prevention within a medically supervised safer injecting facility. International Journal of Drug Policy 2005; 281-284.
Kerr T, Tyndall M, Li K, Montaner J, Wood E. Safer injection facility use and syringe sharing in injection drug users. Lancet 2005; 366:316-8.
Wood E, Kerr T, Small W, Li K, Marsh D, Montaner J, et al. Changes in public order after the opening of a medically supervised safer injecting facility for illicit injection drug users. Canadian Medical Association Journal 2004; 171:731-4
Tyndall MW, Kerr T, Zhang R, King E, Montaner JG, Wood E. Attendance, drug use patterns, and referrals made from North America’s first supervised injection facility. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 83 (2006) 193–198.
Wood E et al. Attendance at Supervised Injecting Facilities and Use of Detoxification Services. New England Journal of Medicine, June 8, 2006.

Evan Wood, Mark Tyndall, Julio Montaner, and Thomas Kerr are all at UBC; Ruth Zhang, Jo-Anne Stoltz and Calvin Lai are at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, British Medical Journal? These are the top medical journals in the world.
And all these established senior researchers and highly reputable journals are just so blinded by their ideological allegiance to harm reduction that they are publishing misleading, weak research?
And Colin Mangham has found them out? Oh, sure.
If you want to read these articles for yourself, go here -- it is the "Insite For Community Safety" website which has direct links to the articles themselves.
I'm sure Canadian Press has read none of them. Nor did they call anyone from Insite or any of the researchers involved in these articles to get any response before publishing their smear article.
Now, I really don't care what people like Mangham believe or what point of view he may be trying to promote.
What bothers me is the udeserved credibility now given to this point of view by Canadian Press. This story allows people opposed to the safe injection site to proclaim righteously "it's a failure; I read it in the news".

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 0 comments

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Email me!