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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Kung Fu Fighting 

John Cole posts about Chris Matthew's latest Thing of Beauty:
MATTHEWS: And I think we have got to get serious about catching terrorists, not just catching weapons. I‘m waiting for the terrorist who knows kung fu or something that gets on an airplane without a weapon. God knows what that is going to be like.
Cole calls it a "Palinesque work of art" but it is the Comments that are really priceless:
We just need to put ninjas on planes and maybe some pirates for good measure but they may go after the ninjas.
Oh, come on! A ninja would totally kick a pirate’s ass.
Depends. Does the pirate have his trusty parrot with him?
Just put some motherfucking snakes on the motherfucking planes, and they’ll take care of the motherfucking ninja terrorists.

I guess Jackie Chan will be on the no-fly list now.
[And other commenters also suggested:
Jet Li
Chow-Yun Fat
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Neo
Hong Kong Fooey
Kung-fu Panda
Ralph Macchia
Inspector Clouseau
Carl Douglas
Friends of Eddie Kim

God dammit, Mathews. The first rule of Terrorist Fight Club is that you do not talk about Terrorist Fight Club!

Just last week on a nonstop from Pittsburgh to LAX I had to subdue a determined group of muslim kung fu fighters who were intent on hogging all the pillows and magazines. Let me tell you, those cats were fast as lightning. Fortunately, they had this weird habit of taking turns, one by one, to fight me, and, as was covered in a brief montage, I’d spent a few months brushing up my grab-beard-crack-skull skills.
Hey, at least you weren’t flying out of Mumbai. Then a big Bollywood dance number would have broken out, and you know how crowded those aisles can be back in coach.
Forget kung fu terrorists. I’m more worried about dogs with bees in their mouth so when they bark they shoot bees at me. Because if we’re going to worry about bullshit things, let’s at least go all-out Homer-style when we do it.

What I’m really worried about are the terrorists that can control magnetic fields or take the form of any other individual. If those guys get on a plane, we are so fucked.

What if the guys that stare at goats don’t really need to see the goats? What if they can just squeeze their eyes shut and imagine staring at goats? Now just take that one wee bit farther, and I’m sure we can all easily imagine that, those guys can stare at pilots in the cockpits while their eyes are closed. I must sent an email right away to the TSA to warn them that passengers with their eyes closed could easily be terrorists planning to kill the flight crew. And please, no damn goat fucking jokes, this is a serious threat to airline safety here.

Every time Tweety sneezes he’s in danger of blowing out his brains
Oh, and this too:

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Great line of the day 

Steve writes about the 2009 Prorogue:
This prorogue is the great test. If there is no recourse, then the Conservative view of Canadians is cemented, and really its success only perpetuates the future reality. There is no real rationale to prorogue Parliament, the Conservative justifications bordering on insult. There are many fundamental reasons why this prorogue should bring fury, it speaks to a host of intellectual democratic considerations. This decision should matter, and yet a learned calculation suggests it probably won't. It's actually a sad statement on how Harper has fundamentally altered our political landscape, the new "norm" represents a new low.
. . . Harper has trashed every single tenet that his old movement supposedly stood for, he has become the antithesis.
Emphasis mine.

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Calling in Afghanistan 

I thought Obama's December speech on Afghanistan was remarkable in finally defining what the United States intended to accomplish in this war.
Today, Matt Yglesias refers to the analysis from Middle Eastern expert Rory Stewart on the poker strategy Obama is using to end this war:
Obama has acquired leverage over the generals and some support from the public by making it clear that he will not increase troop strength further. He has gained leverage over Karzai by showing that he has options other than investing in Afghanistan. Now he needs to regain leverage over the Taliban by showing them that he is not about to abandon Afghanistan and that their best option is to negotiate. . . . With the right patient leadership, a political strategy could leave Afghanistan in twenty years' time more prosperous, stable, and humane than it is today. That would be excellent for Afghans and good for the world.
Steward also discusses Obama's overall strategy for his foreign policy:
... Obama's broader strategic argument must not be lost. He has grasped that the foreign policy of the president should not consist in a series of extravagant, brief, Manichaean battles, driven by exaggerated fears, grandiloquent promises, and fragile edifices of doctrine. Instead the foreign policy of a great power should be the responsible exercise of limited power and knowledge in concurrent situations of radical uncertainty. Obama, we may hope, will develop this elusive insight. And then it might become possible to find the right places in which to deploy the wealth, the courage, and the political capital of the United States . . .
I began by saying that "calling" in poker was childish and that grownups raise or fold. But there is another category of people who raise or fold: those who are anxious to leave the table. They go all in to exit, hoping to get lucky but if not then at least to finish. They do not do this on the basis of their cards or the pot. They do it because they lack the patience, the interest, the focus, or the confidence to pace themselves carefully through the long and exhausting hours. They no longer care enough about the game. Obama is a famously keen poker player. He should never be in a hurry to leave the table.
Perhaps we should call this the Obama Doctrine.
With today's terrible news of five more Canadian deaths in Afghanistan, it is more important than ever that Canadians know whether we are accomplishing anything there.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tis the season 

Every now and then I check out the Not Always Right website for the latest in customer stupidity stories. Here's one from Newfoundland:
Me: “Hello, ma’am. Did you find everything you were looking for today?”
Customer: “Yes, yes. Sure is busy here.”
Me: “I guess that’s because of the season, ma’am. Everyone’s out getting last-minute holiday gifts.”
Customer: “Oh, I see, yes. I haven’t needed to buy any gifts for a while. Everyone I love is dead.”
Me: “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that!”
Customer: [stares at me intently] “Someday, everyone you love will be dead, too.”
Me: “Uh…”
Customer: “Merry Christmas, now!”
Sort of existential, isn't it?

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney 

This sorta has the flavour of "Let's put on a show in the old barn!"

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Star Phoenix Fail 

This Star Phoenix editorial -- Native advocate in health system requires review -- has to have reached some kind of record in patronizing insult and overreaching analysis.
Here's the story: a five-month-old baby boy, Mason Fullerton, died last spring of bacterial pneumonia. In the five days before he died, his increasingly-frantic mother Beverly had taken him to see several doctors, including his family doctor and two emergency rooms. Nobody did an x-ray of his lungs. Nobody gave him antibiotics. Everybody patted Beverley on the head and told her it was just a virus, that our health care system has important things to worry about like the long-term societal expense of overuse of xrays and antibiotics, while she, the mother of three other children, was obviously misjudging the situation and she should just take Mason home.
So little Mason died on an April morning, sitting in his rocking chair, as Beverley was getting ready for another trip to Emergency.
And since Mason's pointless death, there has apparently not been an inquest or an investigation of why our health care system let Mason and his family down so badly.
The whole story is somewhat inexplicable, until you realize that Beverley is Aboriginal and so was Mason. Did that have anything to do with how Mason was misdiagnosed, and Beverley's concerns were dismissed? We don't know, but the FSIN has now asked for an Aboriginal advocate to investigate problematic Aboriginal health care cases.
So now the Star Phoenix leaps into action.
They didn't do an editorial about how badly the health care system let down this family. They didn't demand that little Mason's death be investigated.
But now they have trained their editorial distain on the only suggestion made so far which might discern the truth about why this baby was not treated. Here's an example of the tone:
Whether or not the baby's death was avoidable is something that warrants investigation. But to do so in a confrontational manner generally won't improve care at the hospital, or bring back the baby. It also could be highly damaging for health-care providers and other patients if authorities resort to over-testing and redundant reporting simply to avoid blame.
Because Heaven forbid we should get confrontational over the needless death of an innocent baby. Why, someone's feelings might be hurt!
They go on to pearl-clutch over how truly awful it would be if someone actually got sued over this case:
It could be even more disastrous to the health system if the baby Mason case has to be sorted out in court . . . The risk of litigation also has led to hospitals and doctors ordering redundant and mostly unnecessary tests as a way to avoid being held liable.
In a Canadian health-care system that is already hard-pressed to find the manpower and resources to do vital medical tests, it is frightening to think what would happen if lawyers as well as doctors demand that it perform more.
Well apparently in this case, the system could hardly have done less.
But the stupidest statement in this editorial is this astounding sentence
Of even greater concern is the pain and discomfort small children would have to endure as health-care workers extract more bodily fluids -- not to improve care but to mitigate legal liability.
How noble, its all about the children, really.... but does this editorial writer really mean to imply that death is better than an uncomfortable medical test? Besides, a simple chest xray hardly falls into the category of a medical test which requires endurance.
The editorial wraps up with statement about how an advocate "could easily result in a loss of trust on both sides."
So what? If trust is the casualty of better care, then that's a trade-off we should all be quite willing to make.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Classy 

Our Prime Minister's Office is staffed by 14-year-old boys.

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Great line of the day 

Booman writes about Obama's first year:
Obama is by nature a bridge-builder. He isn't afraid of the other side and sees value-in-itself to working with them. He assembled a Team of Rivals and former opponents in his cabinet. Early on, he reached out by inviting Republicans to attend public workshops at the White House. The response was an embrace of Birtherism and Teabagging, combined with rigidly disciplined obstruction on a totally unprecedented scale . . .
Obama will need to become tougher. His challenge will be to do so without losing that bridge-building quality that was so integral to his message of hope.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Napolitano is an idiot 

As a mother who just watched her two children get on a plane today, I found this CNN interview with Janet Napolitano profoundly bizarre.
She babbles perky talking points about how everything is just great and everyone should feel perfectly safe because "the system worked" and other airlines were warned about the Detroit bomber right away and nothing bad happened -- and she blithely ignores Crowley's observations that it was apparently only the bomber's own ineptitude and the quick thinking of other passengers, not federal watch lists or airline security procedures, which prevented a tragedy.
I don't know who told Napolitano that her job was to pat people on the head and focus on airline profitability instead of public safety, but she needs to cut it out. This interview hit a sour note.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Enjoy! 

From the Claymation Christmas special:






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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Again? 

Harper is talking about proroging Parliament again, I guess to avoid having to deal with Ignatieff and his Liberals over torture, climate change policy, the list goes on.
Sure Steve, you just do that.
Canadians who are struggling to find work and to pay their bills and their taxes are sure to be sympathetic -- Prime Ministering is such hard work, ya know, that sometimes you just need to throw the country into an uproar so you can get a few days of peace and quiet, without those annoying questions coming up again and again.
The most pathetic and enduring image from last December was Rick Mercer's report about how Conservative staffers had to show up at 24 Sussex at 6 am to cheer when Harper drove by, so he would be in a better mood when he got to the office.
He thought they were real.

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Happy Festivus 


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Top ten list 

The Onion selects the top ten news stories of the last 4.5 billion years.

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Take your pick 

Theft? Or incompentence? Not much of a choice, but there it is.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Is my memory failing? 

So our finance minister is scolding Obama about the US debt.
Funny, I don't recall Flaherty ever saying anything to George Bush about his deficit, but of course, my memory could be failing.

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Great line of the day 

Jane Hampsher has lost her mind and Ezra Klein calls her on it while also providing a rationale for the American health care reform bill:
. . . Hamsher's list implies that the bill is failing relative to a world in which we don't kill the bill.
But in that world, there's still no drug re-importation. Still 50 million uninsured. Still rampant cost growth. In the world where we pass the bill, most everything gets somewhat better, if not good enough. More people have insurance. The insurance industry ditches its worst practices. Fewer families go medically bankrupt. More people catch diseases early, when they can be cured, rather than late, when they become fatal. People who would otherwise have died live. The medical system begins the process of updating itself for the 21st Century, and responding to the cost pressures it's placing on the rest of the country.
The world in which we kill the bill is a world in which everything just continues to get worse, and politicians are scared away from the issue for decades. A world in which we pass the bill is a world in which things get better, and politicians remember that they can pass big pieces of legislation that take on, or begin taking on, big problems.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Death Star anniversary 

This is a little grim but has its moments. "If we don't rebuild, the Jedi's win"

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Nobody tells MacKay nuthin' 

Dawg alerts us to this horrible story about a prisoner being kept in a intolerably hot cell, and once again poor Peter MacKay just didn't know anything about it:
Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s office said the Global National report was the first they had heard of the incident and they’ve asked the defence department for more information.
Isn't it just too bad that nobody associated with the Canadian military in Afghanistan thinks to tell the Minister about this stuff?
Or so we hear.
Could I suggest something? Perhaps the Canadian government could write up some sort of document -- call it a "policy" or a "directive" or something like that -- which lists all of the offices which are to be told about bad things that happen in Afghanistan. And perhaps the office of the Defense Minister could be on that list?
Just a suggestion...

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Advice for Tiger 

ESPN reporter Bill Simmons passes on the list of things Tiger Woods should do according to PR advisor Dan Klores:
1. If you can’t tell your wife the truth from the get-go, recognize immediately that you shouldn’t marry again, and that the grass isn’t always greener from the other side.
2. Hit the links, start giving huge bucks to African-American charities, show up at church, double your dose of Viagra and use it for your wife, understand “it’s never going to be the same,” see a shrink two to three times per week minimum, do Larry King, then a few weeks later do Leno.
3. Demand your money back from The Enquirer, and demand your money back from any of the girlfriends.
4. Ignore every so-called “crisis communication” expert who sought a headline by claiming you didn’t get out in front of the story, because they have obviously never been caught cheating on their wives.
5. Attend the NBA All-Star Weekend’s slam dunk contest.
6. Tell the world that Sarah Palin is an idiot so at least 52.9 percent of Americans will agree with you.
I thought the last one showed flair.

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Goodbye to the Doctor 


Well, losing the doctor may be a brilliant negotiating triumph but we saw Halladay pitch in the game we went to in Toronto last summer, and he was a joy to watch and I'm sorry to see him go.

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What I learned 

Reading the latest comments to my Olympics post, I guess I can admit that I have learned something from this post.
If all politics are local, then some are very local indeed. I had no idea there was such a depth of anti-Olympic feeling in Vancouver, and I think many people in the rest of Canada would also be surprised. Here I was thinking that Vancouver as a whole was proud to be chosen to host such an event, and that the people who lived there were lucky to be involved in the Olympic events.
Instead, I am wondering whether there has ever been another Olympics where such a number of people in the host city are so vehemently opposed, and their opposition is so heartfelt and entrenched, that they can find nothing good to say about it.
Sort of the way I felt about George Bush coming to speak in Saskatoon.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Octopus's garden 

Scientists find octopus that carries, assembles coconuts for shelter. Ringo was right:
I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus' garden in the shade
He'd let us in, knows where we've been
In his octopus' garden in the shade


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Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Canadian story 

There is something quintessentially Canadian about this:
A Regina bylaw is being misused by police as a tool to curb street begging and should be repealed, city administrators are recommending.. . . the Tag Day Bylaw was originally intended to regulate fundraising by charitable organizations.
"The bylaw was not intended to regulate the solicitation of funds for personal gain," the report noted. Police in Regina, however, have been applying the law to discourage street begging.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

The line forms to the right, babe! 

So today the CRTC joins the Wheat Board, Atomic Energy of Canada, Elections Canada, the Canada Food Inspection Agency, the RCMP Complaints Commission, the Military Police Complaints Commission, and the Marquee Tourism Events Program as another federal agency which is apparently being run by ignoramuses who aren't doing their jobs very well.
Isn't it wonderful that we have the Prime Minister and his Conservative cabinet ministers to overturn the decisions made by all these know-nothings?
But unlike many of these other agencies, the telcom decision is worth millions of dollars. So by next week I expect the goodies will start to flow -- every company that was ever turned down by a Canadian bureaucrat will start lobbying for a do-over, while every company which has been following the rules will be lobbying even harder to maintain the status quo.
And a good time will be had by all!

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Get with the program 

This is a beautiful moment


This is not:

The anti-Olympics industry in Vancouver is getting tiresome and old.
It's perfectly possible to object to sexist decisions against women ski-jumpers, and its quite legitimate to demand that Vancouver's homeless are treated with humanity during the games, and its absolutely appropriate to make sure nobody is stealing the money.
But after two decades of stagnation, Vancouver is going to be showcased as a world city by these Olympics, and Canadians should take pride in that.

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Great line of the day 

Josh Marshall asks Hard Questions:
Who to believe on climate change mystery: scientists or conservative pundits? Any thoughts?

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Rescue 



Muhei waited below, his arms outstretched. Liza turned to him, shaking with joy as she was passed to her owner.
Muhei whispered into her ear as he stepped over broken bricks, then put Liza down. Her tail never stopped wagging as Muhei rubbed her neck and ears as she lapped water from a muddy puddle.
One good news story from Baghdad today.

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Obama's theme song 

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you.


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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Be careful what you wish for 

Hoist on his own petard!
So Conservative blogger Stephen Taylor tried to put down the Liberals by posting this graph showing how many so called "fossil of the day awards" the Chretien/Martin Liberals "won" for blocking progress at the United Nations Climate Change negotations:



In reply, Steve V gives us this graph showing how the Harper Conservatives managed to surpass both the Saudis and the US to lead the world in fossil awards at the last round of climate talks at Bali:



So I guess we can conclude that the Liberal "achievement" over five years doesn't compare to what Harper managed in just 10 days!
Seems like we're on pace at Copenhagen, too, tying with the Saudis for third place on day one. Go, team, go!

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Legacy 

I think this is sad:
"[The long gun registry] was the centrepiece of their legacy, the biggest thing we did over the last 20 years," said Sylvie Haviernick, who lost her sister, Maud, to Marc Lépine's killing spree. "We can't in all decency let it go."
So apparently we've given up on achieving a society where men don't resent women for entering "male" professions like engineering. And we're not focusing on improving our capacity to identify and treat psychotics before they explode. Can it be true that all we have done in two decades for the Montreal massacre victims is spend millions of dollars to make it more bureaucratic for hunters to own rifles?
Seems to me that the only real accomplishment of the long gun registry has been to make it almost impossible for Liberals to get elected west of the Lakehead.
That's not the memorial these women deserved.

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Shorter 

Shorter Maureen Dowd
How dare those dusky people act like us?

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Sick and tired 

Sore throat and cough (yes, I had the shot last week so its not that) but I've had to miss going to some things I wanted to go to, and now I'm just sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Here's about all the complexity I can handle right now:


And this one:

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Friday, December 04, 2009

Is there something wrong with me? 

I could care less about Tiger Woods and the Salahis I guess that makes me some kind of weird, eh?

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

The beatings will continue until morale improves 

Dawg sums up the Harper government's tortuous torture story with this "unfortunate analogy":>
An unfortunate analogy occurs to me. The Harper government is behaving very much like a stubborn prisoner reluctant to confess. Electric cables and beatings are obviously not ours to deploy, even if by now we were to have the unpleasant urge to use such devices. Nevertheless, we--blogospherians, frustrated parliamentary committee members, bloodhound journos, various fed-up officials, human rights activists, maybe even The Hague--have ways of making you talk.
It's just a matter of time. And there's no point screaming--because we don't give a damn about your pain.
Drip, drip, drip... the revelations keep coming day by day.
Here's the latest one in which we hear the most convoluted scenario I have ever read, all about how our military says they don't want to be policemen but they have been arresting people without evidence that justifies the arrest and then the Afghan authorities are releasing those people without, apparently, torturing them for confessions, so our soldiers are supposed to be all discouraged and disheartened.
More discouraging, I would think, is how nobody seems to be able to say why these people were being arrested in the first place, if they weren't committing a crime.
But at least Obama, for all the criticism of his speech, has finally laid out a rationale for why the Afghanistan war is continuing -- its not about nation building
he made explicitly clear that we are in Afghanistan to serve our own interests (as he perceives them), not to build a better nation for Afghans. Nation-building, he said, goes "beyond ... what we need to achieve to secure our interests" and "go beyond our responsibility."
They're not making the world safe for democracy; they're making it safe for the United States.
So now, finally, Canada can decide whether that is a goal we can share.

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Being a parent 

Jim Griffieon writes about being a parent in a post titled Gratitude. It starts
Several friends and acquaintances have recently announced their first pregnancies, and I find myself offering the usual pithy niceties and dull truisms, an aloof veteran patting the backs of the new recruits just before they hoist themselves over the top into the maelstrom of shrapnel and armament. Welcome to the trenches. I hope you don't mind the smell of human excrement.
But there's more to it than just that....
Thanks to Nancy Nall for linking to this piece.

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Broken record 

Shorter Peter MacKay:
You've obviously mistaken me for someone who gives a shit.
Actually, I don't know why we would be the least bit surprised that our Conservative government didn't care about what was being done to Afghan prisoners -- they don't think it's their job to help Canadians who get into trouble abroad either.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Disconnect 

Dawg finds the smoking gun -- the Corrections Canada official who testified today that she saw no signs of torture when she was in Afghanistan is the same person who complained three years ago about needing new boots because she was walking through too much blood and shit in the Afghanistan jail cells.
So was she lying then? Or now?

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