Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Kodachrome: 1935-2010

Today is the end of Kodachrome with the closure of the last processing lab in the US:
One of the toughest decisions was how to deal with the dozens of requests from amateurs and professionals alike to provide the last roll to be processed.
In the end, it was determined that a roll belonging to Dwayne Steinle, the owner, would be last. It took three tries to find a camera that worked. And over the course of the week he fired off shots of his house, his family and downtown Parsons. The last frame is already planned for Thursday, a picture of all the employees standing in front of Dwayne’s wearing shirts with the epitaph: “The best slide and movie film in history is now officially retired. Kodachrome: 1935-2010.”


From Attaturk

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Compare and contrast

George Bush complains his fee-fees were hurt when Kanye West said he didn't like black people.
Jimmy Carter eradicates a disease that has plagued millions of African people.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Great Christmas photos

From AP and Reuters:

choristers proceed from the nearby King's College School to the chapel at King's College, Cambridge, to take part in final rehearsals for the annual Christmas Eve Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

a Christmas party at the Small World school in Amman

the traditional Christmas bath in Monaco December 19

Shoppers at Baclaran market in Paranaque city, metro Manila December 18, 2010. The Philippines, the largest Roman Catholic state in Asia, observes one of the longest Christmas holidays in the world, beginning with dawn masses on December 16 to the feast of the Three Kings in January

a portion of Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, ... The writing on the wall reads 'Merry Christmas world from Bethlehem ghetto'

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Questions about G20 remain

Gratifying news today that finally a Toronto police officer is being charged with a G20 assault. But Joe Warmington asks the follow-up questions:
What is still unknown is who made the decision to create the climate that resulted in this occurring in the designated protest area at Queen’s Park — the home base of the premier, democracy and free speech? Also, who told police officers to run away, and turn away, from real criminal activity on the Saturday and who flicked the switch to inflict repugnant pay back against mainly innocent people Sunday?
And where is Chief Blair?

Stormy weather

When I read stories like this and this, I'm glad I live in Saskatchewan, where it is mostly just cold.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Declare victory and leave

Booman would be happy if Obama could just declare victory and leave Afghanistan:
If we try to stay there forever, we will lose. Anyone who thinks the best use of our troops is in Afghanistan has been smoking too much hashish. Any honest, sentient human being knows this.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Amazing stories of resourcefulness and determination from the hundreds of people stranded on that Ontario highway, as well as from the courageous police and military rescuers who searched so diligently to make sure everyone was safe.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rant of the day

Montreal Gazette sportswriter Jack Todd on Canada's loudmouthed lout, Don Cherry:
. . . the man has morphed into Glenn Beck in sequins, out to prove that he who shouts loudest is always right. It's always the same thing: the rage, the name-calling, the complete absence of reason.
Every time I see a Tea Party rally or listen to Cherry rant, I wonder: Why are these people so angry? What are they so mad about? All these rich, fat, angry white men and rich, thin, angry white women, what is their problem?
They aren't begging on the street in Delhi, or working a mine in the Congo, or taking a bus and two subway trains to spend the night cleaning an office in Toronto before taking two subway trains and a bus to get home. Yet to hear the right-wing elite tell it, one of the great outrages in history is that the government actually wants them to pay taxes on the millions or tens of millions they earn. Imagine, the scandal of it all.
H/T Rev Paperboy

Friday, December 10, 2010

G20 land

I call bullsh**t on Ontario premier Dalton McGinty and Toronto police chief Bill Blair.
They're all coy and stuff now about how they just didn't realize what the secret G20 law really meant and how they didn't really intend to abuse anyone. And they just can't quite remember now why they didn't explain it at the time.
They know quite well why they passed that law, and how they intended to use it.
Toronto police wanted to create G20 land, where they could arrest anyone, anywhere, anytime, for no reason at all.
And the Ontario government gave it to them.

Thanks but no thanks

Cariboo Barbie is planning on going to Haiti.
Don't they have enough problems already?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The horror! The horror!

You know, if Sun TV ever gets onto the air, they'll probably give Don Cherry a show.

"the most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history"

Well, its about time.
Ontario ombudsman Andre Martin describes the G20 arrests as "the most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history". Joe Warmington says Toronto police chief Bill Blair should resign.
...because of this phony secret law that was “likely unconstitutional,” people were beaten, punched, arrested, detained, strip searched, humiliated and shot at with rubber bullets, tear gas or pepper spray. History will show the real criminals got away. And then police turned on their own citizens....
It is a disgrace that before Marin’s report, not one public official questioned any of this obscene abuse of policing privilege by people who are employed by us to uphold the law.

Halifax explosion

Dr. Grumpy writes about the Halifax explosion on December 6, 1917:
Although there were many heroes that awful day, one man stands out. His name was Vince Coleman, and he was a railway dispatcher ashore. When he learned of the burning ammunition ship, he realized that a loaded passenger train was on it's way to the waterfront depot, and would be there in a few minutes. Instead of saving himself, he ran to the telegraph key and quickly tapped out "Stop trains. Munitions ship on fire. Approaching Pier 6. Goodbye." He was killed a few seconds later in the explosion, and is credited with saving at least 300 lives.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

New links

I finally updated my blogroll with some new links over to the right there. Moved the previous new links into the other lists. By the way, there's a big flap going on at Daily Kos about Blackwaterdog and progressive sites that are supportive of Obama vs progressive sites that are not. Oh, well, at least Balloon Juice is safe -- oh, wait...

Friday, December 03, 2010

Great line of the day

Montreal Simon writes about Wikileaks:
...those jealously protective of the privileges of unaccountable state power will tell us that people will die if we can read their email, but so what? Different people, maybe more people, will die if we can't.

Don't stop thinking about tomorrow

Just when I am convinced about how predictable everything is, something like this happens: NASA Finds New Life Form.
There is still wonder in the world.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Gag reflex

With all the police violence at the G20 protests, this video finally seems to have triggered the media's gag reflex:

This is the video which Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said must have been tampered with to delete some supposedly awful thing done by Adam Nobody. So now the Special Investigations Unit is reopening its investigation.
The National Post editorial board writes:
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair ... suggests the few seconds of footage missing from the video of Mr. Nobody’s arrest “very likely … sheds light on why the man was arrested, and why force was used.”
OK. But he doesn’t know, and we can’t help noticing he doesn’t seem very interested in finding out. In any event, last we checked, freedom from police brutality is not a right Canadians waive while being arrested.
The Toronto Star editorial says:
The Nobody video shows a half-dozen officers arresting him; yet no one can identify the officer throwing the punches, and a bogus badge number was written on the arrest sheet.
This looks like police shielding themselves, before, during and after behaving badly. It’s worrisome. And indefensible.
Blair has even lost the Toronto Sun:
We are long-time supporters of Chief Blair . . . We have also said there shouldn’t be a full inquiry into policing at the G20.
But Blair looks like a scrambling man spinning stories. It makes us think he’s hiding something.
A police source told the Toronto Sun’s Joe Warmington, “The chief has lost the room.”
On this one, the chief has lost us.
And maybe we're all realizing now that the police violence at the G20 protests was more than just a few "bad apples" In today's testimony to the Public Safety Committee, Mike Leitold, a lawyer with the Law Union of Ontario, described the broader pattern of illegal searches and harassment of activists in advance of the G20:
“We received reports leading up to the demonstrations” of 29 instances involving visits by RCMP officers to the work places, schools or homes of protest organizers, he said.
In the week leading up to the G20, he said, the Law Union received dozens of reports of young people being surrounded by armed police while walking down the street in Toronto and forced to undergo searches “without reasonable grounds” by the officers.
Leitold said the police also repeatedly cited “fictitious” powers to justify questionable searches during the summit. An inquiry should find out who ordered what he described as a “blatant pattern of bad-faith searches” by police and “a pattern of proactive targeting of activists that began well in advance of Saturday, June 26.”
He also raised concerns about the use of “excessive force” by police during demonstrations at Queen’s Park and what he said was the breach of rights of those who were detained, including their inability in many cases to access a lawyer quickly or to be brought before a judge “in a timely manner.”
It’s vital to find out how this happened and who directed police conduct during the G20, Leitold said.
You know, I read a couple of stories about this type of thuggish police behaviour toward protesters prior to the Vancouver Olympics.
Maybe its more than a pattern, its a procedure.
Is Scary Cop Lady the new face of Canadian policing?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Derailing the narrative

Well, at least the Liberal win in Winnipeg North should help to derail the developing narrative that Ignatieff is losing by-elections -- though some will still cling to it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

More violent videos

As upsetting as the Stacey Bonds video is, I am equally upset by these G20 videos. But the SIU just couldn't figure out who did what...

Man run down by mounted police:

Violent snatch and grabs:

Fired on with no warning:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Still crazy after all these years

As much as I disagree with using recalls to try to punish politicians for being politicians and voting their party line -- that's what elections are for -- I can understand why people in BC are very angry about this kind of ridiculous stuff too:
Elections BC’s drafting of new recall rules after anti-HST organizers had already submitted their petition against a Vancouver Island MLA reeks of incompetence and “amateur hour,” says a political scientist.
What do they think, that they can stop these recalls by nitpicking the petitions? It's just bizarre.
If I ran the circus, Gordon Campbell would be gone tomorrow, and the HST would be gone the day after that, and then everybody in BC could just take a vacation from politics until after Christmas.
But no, the BC Liberals are determined to let a stupid HST decision destroy their party. They are going to let Campbell stay and stay and stay, and they going to continue to argue and argue and argue about how great the HST is really, and meanwhile dozens of their MLAs are going to be embroiled in recall some point, don't you think someone would call a halt?
BC politics, still crazy after all these years.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


The headline says Police cleared in six G20 incidents but this is certainly a funny way to define "cleared":
In the majority of the cases, the officers accused of police brutality exercised their right to refuse to be interviewed by the agency.
The SIU said that it was difficult to prove any criminal liability in the cases because many of the officers could not be identified, because they weren't wearing badge numbers and were wearing similar-looking clothing.
In one case, the agency concluded that a 27-year-old man who sustained an eye fracture during a scuffle was the victim of force used by a police officer. The same officer was believed to have arrested the man, but when the agency went to look up the police report, they found the badge number that was recorded to not exist.

A Nelson week

Sorry for the lack of blogging this week -- but its been one of those "Ha Ha!" weeks, hasn't it.
Great day! Another mudfish beached
Cookie incident uproar costs Alberta health official his job
Tom Delay convicted of money-laundering
Taliban leader in secret talks was an imposter
Bristol Palin comes third while her mom declares war on South Korea
And I guess the only person who can find Julian Fantino these days is Don Cherry.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What's that smell?

Dave asks:
Why is Harper afraid of a parliamentary debate on Afghanistan? Because there's obviously something he's not telling you and a debate would require someone to answer some very embarrassing questions.
Steve says:
There is something anti-democratic, backroom, end around, to this whole affair. No matter the rationalizations, the stench is there and it is very, very real. It has become even more bizarre now, that we have people lauding this process and bastardizing the word "bi-partisan". Frankly, it's a joke at this point to say the Liberals support this Afghanistan extension. As a matter of fact, it looks like most Liberal MP's don't, which explains the detour tactics employed ...
POGGE notes "this ode to Bob Rae" from this morning's Globe and Mail, and says:
What's described here is a conscious attempt to avoid parliament and the people. The article celebrates a process specifically designed to ignore public opinion and get the deal done, or as close to done as possible, before the public even knows what's going on. We've been rendered impotent and irrelevant by our own elected representatives and this article glorifies it.
And the next election, all these politicians will be pontificating about how important it is that the public be engaged with the political process and come out to vote.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Where will he find 65 million voters in 2012?

Digby is absolutely right about Obama:
...despite the fact that he spent the first two years of his presidency doing back flips to get even one Republican to vote for his program, even as they demonized him as a socialist and a coward, he is assuming responsibility for the failure and earnestly promising to do better. And just like before, when the Republicans rebuff his every gesture, the American people will see someone who is unable to fulfill his promises and will blame this failure for all their problems.
If Obama wanted to be like Gandhi or Jesus he should have started a movement or a religion instead of becoming a politician. Politics is about persuasion and power, not transcending human nature. He's going to lose in two years if he doesn't start using the power of his office to fix this economy instead of moping around about "tone." If he doesn't fight, the only politicians the voters will see fighting for them are the Tea Partiers.
Americans hate losers. Voters in other nations will sometimes give a politician another election to prove himself. Americans will not.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The sound of one hand clapping

John Doyle mentions a Canadian satirical news website, in the style of The Onion, which is called I hadn't read them before, but the bookmark is now made.
Here's their take on Harper's Afghanistan decision:
Canada must stay in Afghanistan until 2014 because the sit­u­a­tion there is about to mag­i­cally change for the bet­ter, accord­ing to con­ser­v­a­tive spokesman Dun­ning Kruger. “Hey, The West has been at this since the time of Alexan­der the Great, and we are very close to bring­ing Afghans around to our way of thinking.”
They also predict Harper is about to abandon the title of Prime Minister and adopt the honorific
“Steve Harper, Beloved and Respected Pianist to the Nation; Cor­rec­tor of the Way­ward, Who is a Great Man; Head in Chief, Com­man­der of Wings, Pro­tec­tor of All Things Great and Rich; Shim­mer­ing Light of the Rocky Moun­tains, Descended from Heaven; Tumes­cent Mem­ber from Cal­gary; Exalted Son of Eto­bi­coke; Tremen­dous Loss Leader; Mas­ter­mind of Unerr­ing Polit­i­cal Instincts; Med­icated Depres­sive; Suc­cor Puncher.”
He hears the sound of one hand clapping.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The economy explained

Mound of Sound posts this bit of brilliance -- I would love to find out what Paul Krugman thinks of this:

Great line of the day

Covering the Canadian Civil Liberties Association hearings into the G20 protests, Stageleft writes
As for the police, well .... don't ask why people like me distrust you on sight; your fellow officers, and the system that has been allowed to protect them, is your real problem - deal with it.
Oh, and I got an email today from the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario looking for the source of a G20 photo I ran on my blog back in July:

This and many other photos are from the G20Justice.Com website.

Crazy? Don't mind if I do!

We now have 23 months to watch the Anti-Obama Idiots in the United States go completely crazy.
The Washington Post fired the opening shot, actually publishing an opinion from two guys that the solution is for Obama not to run in 2010. As John Cole says:
Can you, for one minute, imagine Caddell and Schoen suggesting that the way to end all the nasty partisanship is for the Republicans to promise to not run anyone in 2012? Can you imagine Hiatt printing it? Of course not. In the eyes of the beltway, partisanship only occurs when the Democrats refuse to roll over and do whatever the Republicans want
The Republicans are getting so hysterical about controlling the House of Representatives that they think they are running the country -- the Minority Whip now thinks he is in charge of US foreign relations in the Middle East. IOKIYAR
And we will have 23 months of Huffington Post and Firedoglake pitching a fit over every speculative White House twitch -- they have become the left wing answer to the Drudge Report.
Meanwhile, here in the real world...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

House of cards

George Price

Tom Levenson writes about the Canadian boy who was the last soldier one of the last soldiers to die in World War I:
There was one incident that captured the essence of war on the western front, the distillation of its arbitrary violence. At two minutes to eleven in the vicinity of Mons a Canadian private named George Price was hit by a sniper’s bullet. He died instantly. The man who killed him remains unknown. That man made a choice. He was a marksman, a skilled soldier. He had just moments remaining in which it was legal for him to kill. There was no need to fire, no purpose, and some risk at least to himself and any comrades near him. If he waited until eleven, and then put his gun down, the only consequence would be that a young stranger would go home. Instead, the shot rang out. Two minutes ticked past. The war ended. George Price lay dead.
What a pointless, stupid war that was.

UPDATE: Corrected.

G20 protests are the story that just won't die

The Dominion provides the latest summary of the G20 protesters who are still facing charges or in jail:
“I think it’s rare for this much resources and energy to be put into so vehemently going after people who are allegedly guilty of nothing more than vandalism,” said Jonah Hundert.
Yes, that's for sure. The hearings being held by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and National Union of Public and General Employees in Toronto are now getting some coverage, even in the National Post.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Disappearing the disappeared

The Native Women's Association of Canada Sisters In Spirit campaign -- set up several years ago by the federal Liberals -- has apparently hurt the delicate fee-fees of the Harper Conservatives, the RCMP and police departments.
What did they do? They collected data and raised public awareness about the 582 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.
This made police look bad. Very bad. All these women disappearing year after year after year, and police departments across the nation greeting the news with a collective yawn.
What to do? Well, Allison reports the Conservatives have now found millions of dollars to set up a National Police Support Centre for Missing Persons. But they're not going to fund the NWAC anymore unless they drop the "Sisters in Spirit" name and stop maintaining their database.
Way to solve the problem guys -- if nobody knows about it, then it isn't a problem anymore!
Oh, wait, we tried that already, didn't we?
Quite honestly, the Harper Conservatives just make me sick -- taking a profoundly important initiative that has great significance to Aboriginal families across the country, twisting it to advance their own agenda, then trashing it to make it all go away.
Trying to make it disappear just like all those women have disappeared.
And lets also keep a wary eye on that Conservative idea that they're going to make "amendments to the Criminal Code to streamline the warrants application process where wiretaps are required in missing person cases". Thin edge of the wedge and all that...

Fool me once

I was going to post something about how offensive it was to hear Rob Ford boasting about the dirty tricks he used to become mayor of Toronto, but now I don't have to because Rev Paperboy has said everything that needs to be said:
...people who like to brag about how dirty they played and how low they stooped will eventually find that the only people impressed are other shitheels and grifters ...
Time and Karma will not be kind to Rob Ford and his campaign team and hubris will eventually prove their undoing. Nobody likes a sore loser, but most of us hate a bad winner just as much.
Yes, because the take-away message from this sorry incident is that Ford thinks the people of Toronto are stupid.
Nice mayor you've got there, guys!

Friday, November 05, 2010

More G20 stories

More G20 stories are trickling out.
Today's Friday document dump revealed more about G20 costs. Greg Elmer twitters "best expense so far: $17,482.50 for six shredders."
This week we found out that the police who removed their name tags because they were ashamed about what they did are actually being disciplined. Not, of course, much...

I guess kicking people in the face can jar loose your nametag -- who knew?
We also found out that the reason charges are being dropped against G20 protesters is due to "legal technicalities" -- yeah, like no evidence. Funny how that happens.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is finally going to hold some hearings next week about what happened and will produce a report in January.
The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP is also opening an investigation into, among other things "whether the Mounties were involved in infiltration and surveillance of individuals and groups before and during the summits."
The Globe and Mail has a big story on Saturday about some of the innocent people who were trapped and tormented by police.
The Toronto Star has lifted the rock under which the Toronto Special Investigations Unit has been hiding, and now we're watching what is scuttling out.
But Alex Hundert was in jail for Thanksgiving and will be in jail for Remembrance Day.
God, what a disaster the G8/G20 was for thousands of Canadians. Chris Selley writes:
the optics are similar in both the G20 and David Chen cases: Law-breakers (window-smashers, produce-snatchers) appear to have free reign; law-abiders (grocers, peaceful protesters) take it on the chin.


From last night's Daily Show:
The doorbell rings and the guy opens it to find a snail on his front step.
The snail says "I'm selling magazine subscriptions and ..."
The guy immediately kicks him off the step.
Two years later, the doorbell rings again.
"What the f**k was that all about?" asks the snail.

Sir Galahad

In Canada, it is often less difficult and certainly less contentious to run for party leadership from outside the party rather than from inside it.
Two examples --John Turner and Brian Mulroney, who built their campaign organizations and wrote their speeches while lunching at their clubs rather than scarfing a sandwich in the Parliamentary dining room and running back to the House for a vote. They did not have to endure the insular hothouse Ottawa atmosphere, the sneers of the press gallery, and the Cabinet back-stabbing that so damaged Paul Martin's relationship with Chretien and his supporters over that endless last year of Chretien's prime ministership.
So when we wonder why Jim Prentice is leaving now, perhaps it is because he expects the Conservatives will be looking for a White Knight someday soon.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Great line of the day

Tbogg on Twitter:
25% of the electorate is 65+ and they want the government to stop spending. Also they would like their benefits checks earlier in the month.

Two surprises

Both welcome: Campbell resigning and the Harper Conservatives turning down the BHP Billingon takeover of the Potash Corporation.
I don't think anybody in Saskatchewan believed that Brad Wall was going to succeed. But he did. And he turned himself into a national political leader in the process.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Lessons learned

Based on what I am already reading, the lessons that progressive bloggers, Democrats, conservative bloggers, Republicans, Fox News and the Teapartiers will take away from the American election results is that the American people want them to continue doing exactly what they were already doing before, only more so.
There, that was easy.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Its a win-win

The Democrats are going to be so happy on Tuesday.
After a four-year national nightmare of productive and progressive legislative sessions, they're going to lose control of the House of Representatives on Tuesday. This means they can breathe a sign of relief because they won't be responsible anymore for how bad things are.
And with any luck, the Dems will retain the Senate, so then the Republicans won't have to accept any responsibility either for doing anything whatsoever about how bad things are.
Except, of course, for the American people, but when did Washington care about them anyway?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

What's with the Globe and Mail?

Can anybody make sense of what the Globe and Mail is doing with its newspaper these days?
On the web, the newspaper makes sense -- a perfectly logical line up of the major stories of the day, today beginning with the UAE terror plot.
The print version of the paper? Different story. Its impossible to tell what the major news story of the day is -- each department apparently gets to throw a headline onto the front page, and some graphic artist just fits them together as best she can.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Great post of the day

James Howard Kunstler writes about the American mortgage meltdown AKA the Masque of the Red Death:
...The bankers say, just bring a "lost note" letter to the closing. "The dog ate it." Signed, Mom. Like, that's an okay substitute for the rule of law. Oh, and, by the way, the dog ate the title, too. Congress even tried to get in on the act last week with a bill that would have essentially negated the significance of notarization. . . "Oh, the dog also ate my signature...." President Obama vetoed the damn thing, which was passed in the US Senate unanimously by the human dung-beetles who work that manure pile. The dog ate your financial system.
...the upshot will be a paralyzed property sales industry. Who will want to buy property when there is any question about owning it free and clear? You can be sure the sickness will spread into commercial real estate, with its much shorter-term loans and its desperate rollover deadlines. Things begin to look a bit gruesome. But 'tis the season for it! The night of the Blood Beast comes Sunday, just in time for the All Souls Day open of the equity markets. That's the day when the costumes come off and we stop pretending. That's the day that the skeletons dance on the real estate destined to be our graves.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pull up a chair and grab some popcorn

Warren Kinsella thinks the Rob Ford administration isn't going to work out very well:
Here’s the paradox about the Etobicoke-based mayor-elect: The very thing that won him the mayor’s chair is the same thing that will sink him. For a decade, Ford’s brand has been that of the angry, fed-up City Council outsider — the guy who refuses to go along with the rest of council. That “outsider” reputation obviously didn’t hurt him on Election Day. But it will hinder him in the months ahead — too many councillors just don’t like him. And the mayor always needs council to implement his agenda.
Oh, this ain't gonna be pretty.

There but for the grace of Vic Toews...

I was glad to see CBC News cover the Conservative prisoner transfer scandal where ideological Conservative ministers have decided they were elected to abandon Canadian citizens imprisoned abroad:
According to a document obtained by CBC News, of the 49 applications investigated in 2006, seven were denied. In 2007, 43 per cent of the applications were rejected, 15.5 per cent in 2008 and 62 per cent in 2009.

Ontario justice system vs Alex Hundert

Regarding the latest charge against G20 protester Alex Hundert -- that he supposedly tried to intimidate two Crown attorneys during his court appearance last week -- POGGE writes:
The stench from this is becoming overpowering.
This is starting to remind me of how the Pentagon described Guantanamo suicide attempts as asymmetric warfare.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Getting to know Alex Hundert

This Star article points out one other significant development in the Alex Hundert story -- the more police harass him, the more he is becoming a national figure and an intriguing person for the media.
If you google Hundert's name, you now get 20,000 links. I see stories about him on blogs in Denver and in the UK.
So I hope he gets some solace from the fact that his causes are being publicized along with the multiple arrests:
So who is this guy?
Hundert, 30, is described by his friends as a serious, committed activist who works full time for social justice. Bearded and bespectacled, he wears his hair long and puts most of his energy into campaigning for indigenous land rights and environmental protection.
“He’s really most passionate about doing work in indigenous communities that are struggling for their sovereignty,” says friend Rachel Avery who is currently on a non-association order with Hundert, so her comments come from their history together and not any recent conversations. “He really believes firmly in social and environmental justice.”

Revolving door for Alex Hundert

I'm waiting to see what caused Canada's scariest criminal mastermind™ AKA Alex Hundert to be arrested again on Saturday but of course it must have been something truly heinous.
Like getting into an argument with someone. How awful.
Or maybe he spit on the sidewalk? Awfuller still!
I just hope he didn't take the crown prosecutor seriously and actually speak to a reporter.
The Canadian justice system appears to be a revolving door for Hundert now, with previous accusations justifying new incarcerations.

Neat II


Martha Mitchell lives!

This whole Ginny Thomas-Anita Hill-Lillian McEwen story is hilarious, actually -- an only-in-Washington breakfastini moment becomes a cautionary tale which bites the biter in the end or in the ass or whatever.
Somewhere, Martha Mitchell is laughing...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Second envelope

The three-envelope joke goes like this:
A new manager takes over and finds on his desk three envelopes from his predecessor, with instructions to open them in order whenever he gets into trouble.
Well, things go along OK at first and then he starts having trouble. So he opens the first envelope and it says "blame your predecessor."
That works for a while, but then problems build up again. So he opens the second envelope and it says "reorganize".
That works for a while, too, but then he gets into trouble again. So he opens the third envelope.
It says "prepare three envelopes."
RCMP Commissioner William Elliott has opened the second envelope.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lessons learned?

Orwell's Bastard flags this posting about the G20 police riot from the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition:
. . . While sleeping on the floor of a University of Toronto building, [Quebec students] were woken by a police raid. About 110 students were arrested and taken to the Eastern Street detention centre where they were strip-searched, charged with conspiracy, and then kept for 36 - 48 hours before being given bail and released. They were required to return to Toronto three times for procedural matters before the court, On October 13, three and one half months after being charged, the students were told that all charges would be dropped.
This seems similar to strategies used in other parts of the world against students threaten them with the humiliation of strip-searches and jail, then leave them dangling for a while before announcing that there were no grounds for arresting them in the first place. The might be contrary to the Charter or Rights and Freedom, but once the police have used these tactics in Canada and emerged without consequence, other police might decide this is the way to behave.
O.B. concludes
As things stand currently, there doesn't seem to be any effective institutional remedy, even in the face of massive and egregious violations of the Charter. In other words, the cops know perfectly well that they can use the highest law of the land for toilet paper, and nobody's going to call them on it.

Brad Who?

Spike tells Chester Ah, shadupp!

What a series

The ALCS and NLCS series are getting really interesting. TSN's poll says that 51 per cent thought the World Series will be between the Yanks and the Phillies, while only 10 percent thought it will be Rangers vs. Giants. Well, but what do us fans know anyway?
Its great ball.

Good for you, Hilary

Wear purple.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Will Spike listen to Chester this time?

Saskatchewan probably is going to ask Ottawa to block the potash corp sale to BHP Billinton but "some Conservative MPs" don't seem to care very much what Saskatchewan wants.
Some Conservative MPs feel potash is a strategic resource that must be kept in Canadian hands, but they can’t see overwhelming opposition to a deal. “This, frankly, isn’t a great commercial deal,” the senior Tory MP said. “There’s a lot of people who say, ‘I’m not sure I’d stop this deal, but I am not sure I am a big fan of it.’
“Unless there's something else in the works [another deal], it’s kind of hard to see Ottawa saying no. I think a lot of people in government would like to see Canadian champions, but there don’t seem to be many Canadian players willing to step forward,” the former official said.
Brad Wall has made a big deal about how important he thinks it is for Saskatchewan to get along well with Stephen Harper, and in the past Wall's willingness to go along with what Harper wants has cost Saskatchewan a lot of money. Now I wonder whether this Spike-and-Chester relationship will cost Saskatchewan its potash?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Killing the goose

The Progressive Economics Forum explains the recession:
The real cause of the Great Recession is the fact that workers, consumers and the middle class are simply too broke to buy the goods necessary to stimulate the global economy and get people back to work. They no longer earn enough disposable income and are swimming in too much debt to accomplish this.
This articulates a feeling I have had that people in our society who complain about their unionized friends and neighbours and relatives getting paid "too much" just haven't realized where their own best interests really lie -- nobody buys a house or a car or sends their kids to university or builds their community on minimum wage.

Music to drive by

Booman alerts us to the 885 Ultimate Road Trip Songs contest. Here's number one:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hundert is now Canada's Own Invisible Man

Canada's scariest criminal mastermind™ Alex Hundert has now become Canada's Invisible Man due to the ‘silent’ bail conditions that he accepted this week.
It was the prohibition from speaking to the press that finally got the national media to notice the Hundert case -- if there is one thing reporters hate, its when someone won't, or can't, talk to them.
UPDATE: Alison posts an interview with Mr. Invisible.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tinker Bell houses

Bloggers in the States have been writing for years about the looming economic disaster of the housing meltdown, but I don't think anyone predicted the unfolding mortgage disaster now underway.
In my adult lifetime, housing markets have always had a Tinker Bell component to them -- what a house is "worth" has much less to do with reality than with fantasy -- how much more can you get if everyone keeps clapping louder and louder about buying now! now! now! before the prices go up! up! up!
A three-bedroom bungalow "worth" $20,000 in 1970 is now "worth" $300,000, and that's in Saskatoon. In Vancouver, the same house is, or was, "worth" three-quarters of a million.
But if no one can figure out who owns the house, and if no one can figure out how to register a legal sale of the house, and if the company trying to lend money to a buyer to buy the house cannot register its mortgage against the title, THEN how much is that house "worth"?
Hell if I know!
And this goes way beyond ideology or whether a blogger hates Obama or Hank Paulson. Booman writes:
. . . it's easy to call for creative destruction from the sidelines but the people who have to actually make these decisions have a very weighty responsibility. As a matter of justice and political survival, they should absolutely start putting some people in prison. But as for how they should clean up this mess so that it both fixes the problem and doesn't cause another wave of mass unemployment? Well, hell if I know. . . . we need a financial services industry to keep credit flowing and, therefore, keep the economy growing. Lazy snark about 'extend and pretend' might feel good, but the gravity of the problem is large and the potential consequences so grave, that calls to lance the wound and take the pain all at once are far too smug.
In the big picture, the moratorium is small potatoes. The real issue is how the document trail issue is resolved. If it is resolved in a way that forces the banks to eat their shitpile in one sudden burst, and there is no will to bail them out again, then we're back September 2008. But, this time, the ship goes down to the bottom of the sea. So, I guess what I am saying is, be careful what you wish for and don't be so quick to judge the people who are responsible for keeping us out of a true Depression.

Great line of the day

From Gin and Tacos
Anti-tax zealots are the Harlem Globetrotters of politics. Having mastered the arts of deception and loaded their repertoire with all kinds of sleight-of-hand tricks, they can magically turn any argument about taxes into a series of bewildering hypotheticals that collapse under the slightest hint of scrutiny.
Emphasis mine.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Meeting Iggy

I think this is great

Picturing Africa

From Calabar Boy via Balloon Juice, here is a map showing the true size of Africa:

Right wing vs wingnut

Here's a new dividing line in Canada between the "right wing" and the "wing nut":
Canada's right wing, though they generally support the Harper Conservatives, also know that, first, it was important for Canada to get a seat on the UN Security Council, and second, it was Harper's own fault that Canada didn't get it -- for example, this commentary in the Calgary Herald, this Star Phoenix editorial, this Economist story.
Canada's wingnuts, on the other hand, are sticking out their tongues at the UN and crying "Nyaah nyaah! We're better than you are and we never wanted to be in your crummy Security Council anyway so there!"
UPDATE: Link updated.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Alex Hundert update

This is a sad day for Canadian justice. G20 protester Alex Hundert declines bail because he refuses to shut up about his political beliefs:
According to a release by his allies, if he were to have accepted bail yesterday, Hundert would have been faced with "additional conditions of non association with Harsha Walia, Dan Kellar, AW@L, SOAR, NOII, no planning/participating/planning public meetings or marches, and no expressing political views including in the media, amongst others."
But regardless of his ongoing incarceration, Hundert insists that his supporters need to continue organizing, and not focus on his plight.
"Too much attention has been paid to a small number of cases of repression, particularly my own, when people need to be focused on and fighting back against broader patterns of oppression that flow from the racist capitalist system propagated by the G20 states, their corporations, their militaries, and their police," he told an ally in a phone call from jail on October 11.
Rabble reporter Krystalline Kraus has more.
UPDATE on the update:
POGGE makes a very important point about the bail condition that would have prevented Hundert from speaking to the media:
That's real censorship. That's the state, in this case the province of Ontario, forbidding someone from publicly expressing political opinion. It doesn't sound like it's any particular opinion that concerns them. It's obviously not hate speech that they're worried about because they wouldn't have to include that in bail conditions. This is the state telling a citizen who hasn't yet been found guilty of a crime that his views are already regarded as illegitimate before he's even expressed them.

Great line of the day

Disaffected Lib, the Mound of Sound, writes about how a dictatorial Harper cut MacKay, Ritz and Van Loan out of the UAE negotiations:
There's a man with some serious emotional problems. Cutting your defence minister, agricultural minister and international trade minister out of negotiations with an Arab country that, for nine years, has allowed you to use their territory for a vital forward base? Captain Queeg to the bridge. Captain Queeg to the bridge.
Emphasis mine.

Freeway blogging for Alex Hundert

Activists hung a banner on a Toronto highway to protest the continued detention of Alex Hundert and there were protests scheduled across the country in support of Canada's scariest criminal mastermind™.
You know, this isn't going to stop. We're going to keep on covering the story of the G20 police riot as the puffed-up legal cases against the protesters collapse and the inquiries pick up steam.
Toronto authorities are dropping more charges daily -- remember those Quebec students who were hauled out of the U of T gym on that Sunday morning and marched to jail in their pajamas? Those charges were all quietly dropped last Friday.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Photo ops with Sergeant Preston?

Tell me the Harper Cons didn't actually think that United Nations diplomats would vote for a Canadian seat on the Security Council if they got a photo op with Sergeant Preston?
In the final days of Tuesday's bid, Canada wined and dined diplomats, offering them gifts of Canadian beer and maple syrup.
Canada even had a Mountie in red serge as a prop flown in so the 192 foreign diplomats who were casting ballots could get a photo with him.
I'm just, like, totally surprised the UN didn't think Canada would be a serious contributor.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Friday, October 08, 2010

In jail for Thanksgiving

Canada's scariest criminal mastermind Alex Hundert will be spending Thanksgiving in jail.
Because he went to a meeting.
The conclusion we are supposed to draw, I guess, is that speaking at meetings can be dangerous.

And by the way, why is a Justice of the Peace making such an important bail decision, rather than a judge?

John Lennon

I miss the music he never got the chance to write.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Monday, October 04, 2010

Bail hearing for G20 protester Alex Hundert

Canada's scariest criminal mastermind Alex Hundert -- shown here washing dishes -- is finally starting a three-day bail hearing tomorrow in Scarborough.
Krystalline Kraus reports:
He has been behind bars since September 17th for an alleged breach of his existing bail condition to not participate in any public demonstration. The police and Crown have made the preposterous claim that Alex's two public speaking events on university campuses in Kitchener and Toronto are public demonstrations. The Crown is also seeking to revoke Alex's bail entirely and keep him behind bars until trial.
If you want to find out a little more about Alex Hundert, read this.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The new rulez

Balbulican summarizes:
In Harper's Neues Kanada, you can now be barred by the diktat of a Federal Minister from speaking to an organization you've been invited to address - not because of something you've said, and not because of something your employer said, but because of something that someone who once worked with your employer said six years ago.
So I guess the rule is that we're all got to watch what everybody we are associated with has ever said at all times.
Or else we can just do everything Charles McVety wants -- yeah, that's a lot easier. Why make our own decisions when McVety can make them for us.
H/T Dave

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Out of control

Are Toronto police out of control?
They're not just criminalizing dissent, now they're criminalizing being a student.
A couple of weeks ago, it was Alex Hundert.
Yesterday it was Jaroslava Avila.
These people are just trying to do student stuff, like living a normal life and participating in discussion panels. Toronto police act like these people are violent "most wanted" fugitives -- stalking them, targeting them, tracking them down late at night and arresting them for violating their G20 bail conditions.
I'm waiting for the Canadian judicial system to put a stop to this, because when people get arrested the impact on their lives can be terrible. (HT Chet)
I expect police chief Bill Blair will asked WTF is going on in Toronto, during his interview on Monday with Steve Paikin. Yes, that Steve Paikin.
"I keep on speaking because that's all I have" says one of the protesters in this video --

Get real

Maybe its because I don't live there, but I don’t really care how disdainful everyone feels toward Obama or how disappointed everyone is with him or how Obama's minions have hurt the delicate fee-fees of the progressive left.
I attribute a lot of the crap dished out at Obama to racism - I'm not saying some criticism isn't deserved, but a lot of it is not.
However, be that as it may, we still need to get real. Here's my point -- the present Democratic party in the US may not be particularly progressive, but the Republicans and their nutcase hangers-on and acolytes and lobbyists and appointees are stupid or evil or both.
Anyone who thinks the United States is better off with the Republicans in power rather than the Democrats does not have the best interests of the American people at heart, nor of the world. Over just eight years, Bush and Cheney and the Republicans almost destroyed the US economy, and they almost took the rest of us down with them.
If they get into power again, they will run the United States into the ground.
No country in the world — particularly Canada — should want to see another Republican administration take power in the United States.

The tabloid formerly known as Macleans

I was glad to see Parliament condemn Macleans magazine for their smear-article about Quebec.
When the American tabloids blared that aliens endorsed Clinton, they at least had a photo! Macleans had nothing, except ancient prejudice.
Warren Kinsella points out that the Macleans is printing a tired old retread of a decade-old smear
Patriquin’s “story” declines to provide the reader with a study – any study – that proves that Quebec is “the most corrupt province in Canada.” They won’t, either, because no such study exists. Patriquin just made it up, and someone at the magazine went along with it because they thought they’d dazzle a few more dentist waiting rooms with their wit. Personally, I hope every person in Canadian public life kicks the living shit of Matrin Patriquin and his magazine this week. They richly deserve it.
And Montreal Simon adds:
while Patriquin's article was shabby and ridiculous, Andrew Coyne's stinky little sidebar was far more grotesque. A hideous mixture of selective facts, gross generalizations, and psycho-social babble that should, if there was any justice, shame him FOREVER.
I wonder if Chantal Hebert will be continuing to appear with Coyne on the National's At Issue panel? She doesn't particularly like Quebec-bashers.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The other shoe just dropped

The feds announced several deputy minister appointments at 5 pm last Friday and now we know why -- sounds like they didn't want anyone to notice that their Throne Speech announcement to review government operations and find millions in "government-wide efficiencies" is finished.
Wow, that was quick!
So I think we can all anticipate the conclusion which such a superficial review is going to reach: privatize!
And now do we also have an explanation for some inexplicable decisions -- like, for example, ordering Statistics Canada not to do the long-form census anymore? If corporations and agencies want the kind of data that they used to get from the long-form census, they're now going to have to hire someone's private company to get it for them.

Explaining the Tea Party

I've been trying hard for the last few months to wrap my head around the Tea Party in the States, trying to understand what their problem is. Now, thanks to Matt Tabbi, I can just stop trying:
"Let me get this straight," I say to David. "You've been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?"
"Well," he says, "there's a lot of people on welfare who don't deserve it. Too many people are living off the government."
"But," I protest, "you live off the government. And have been your whole life!"
"Yeah," he says, "but I don't make very much." Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it's going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I've concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They're full of shit.
And their name is stupid, too.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thanks but no thanks?

First we read that Conservative finance minister Jim Flaherty endorsed Toronto mayoral candidate Rob Ford and then we see that Ford's support is dropping.
Hmmm -- I wonder what would happen if MORE federal Conservatives started helping the Ford campaign?

Thin edge

This is another "thin edge of the wedge" story but its going our way for a change.
One of the unintended side-effects of cases like the Robert Dziekański tasering has been that police are increasingly hostile toward anyone near them with camera -- we saw lots of this during the G20 protests, when people had their camera memory cards wiped.
Now a circuit court judge in Maryland has dismissed the "wiretapping" charges that an ambitious prosecutor tried to bring against a motorist who posted a video on YouTube of a policeman giving him a ticket.
Not so fast, said the judge:
Judge Emory A. Pitt Jr. had to decide whether police performing their duties have an expectation of privacy in public space. Pitt ruled that police can have no such expectation in their public, on-the-job communications.
Pitt wrote: "Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public. When we exercise that power in public fora, we should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation. 'Sed quis custodiet ipsos cutodes' ("Who watches the watchmen?”)."
Graber was also charged with possessing a “device primarily useful for the purpose of the surreptitious interception of oral communications" -- referring to the video camera on his helmet. The judge disagreed with the prosecutor that the helmet cam was illegal, and concluded the state's argument would render illegal “almost every cell phone, Blackberry, and every similar device, not to mention dictation equipment and other types of recording devices."


Shorter Immigration minister Jason Kenney:
Not only do I not want to be bothered with actual facts, I want my department to make up some facts that will support my opinion!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Friday afternoon news dump

So the Cons are playing musical chairs with their deputy ministers, announcing these appointments at 5 pm on Friday afternoon even though they aren't taking effect for two weeks.
Which possibly means that one or more are controversial -- any thoughts about which ones?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Great line of the day

From Dr. William F. Harrison who provided abortions at his Arkansas clinic in spite of threats:
It is not always possible for one to determine how we will die, but it is always ours to choose how we will LIVE. I choose to live unafraid.

TV week

This was the week of the new TV shows. Here are some quick takes:
I really liked Detroit 187 -- with the mild quibble that the "rogue cop with a tragic backstory and a heart of gold" scenario is getting rather tired. But Shaun Majumder is going to be pretty good in this, I think. And they actually film it in Detroit, which is an interesting city visually as well as socially.
Boardwark Empire? Eh, not so much -- the script is trying to repeat the Sopranos formula, but Steve Buscemi, as much as I love him, can't pull off Gandolfini's genial psychopath with a heart of gold.
Blue Blood also had the tired "rogue cop rescues the child by torturing the scumbag" scenario, but had a neat twist at the end with the secret society stuff.
Not sure about The Event -- likable characters, but I lost it at the third or fourth flashback within a flashback. And does anyone actually think that Blair Underwood looks Hispanic? So just do the big Kang-and-Kodos reveal already and lets move on! Now, Jimmy Smits looks Hispanic though I'm not sure whether he can singlehandedly save Outlaw when everyone else in the cast seems to be a cardboard replica of a real person.
Defenders was much more interesting than I had thought it would be -- interesting characters and a truly intriguing legal case with the involuntary manslaughter angle and gaming the judge not to properly instruct the jury. If they keep this up. they could have a real show here. We passed on Hawaii 5-0, thinking it would probably be terrible, but apparently it wasn't.
Good Guys has improved so much it is almost unrecognizable from the early shows -- particularly Colin Hanks.
Castle just gets better and better -- interesting plots, and one of the only shows on TV that shows a normal relationship between a father, teenage daughter, and grandmother. Though of course there is also Modern Family - hysterical. And I know exactly what Claire means about appreciating memories with your family -- saving sunshine in a jar.
NCIS seems to be bringing the Director into the stories more now, a good thing because the Director/Gibbs relationship is more nuanced. And I hope they're cutting down on the Crazy Abby subplots.
For a while there, NCIS was falling into the familiar pattern which we often see on TV shows written primarily by men, where the men characters are just normal people but the women are all types -- nurturing mother, sexy bitch, little girl lost, crazy comic relief.
I guess CSI and Criminal Intent are what they are -- serial killers, explosions, autopsy porn, everybody spends 20 hours a day at work. And this year's soap opera on Bones is going to be Angela's pregnancy? Oh, please!
Next week -- The Good Wife, and Human Target!
And I think Flashpoint will be back sometime, too.
Every fall we go through this -- we enjoy catching the new shows when they come out, but then we usually only watch a few over the rest of the season. Considering that there is only a couple of hours of TV watching time available for us in the evenings, if that, and considering that we also want to keep up with sports, not to mention the occasional movie or documentary or Dog Whisperer or Sell This House -- and blogging, don't forget blogging -- it means there's never any way that we could watch all the TV series that we potentially might enjoy. We now have one of those TV boxes where you can record a show anytime, and now I've got several hours of recordings that I am not sure when, if ever, I will watch.
And every fall, it seems that at least one of the shows I like dies an early death

Thursday, September 23, 2010


On The National tonight the At Issue panel was talking about the relationship between the Harper government and the senior civil service. Chantal Hebert said "What do you do with a government that doesn't let the facts get in the way...that says experts are not useful?" Alan Gregg noted that Mulroney listened to the civil service, while the Harper government "is unique in not doing that."
Well, I guess Harper wanted to go down in history for SOMETHING unique.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Moscow Cat Theatre

What a video!

1.7 million views already

Here is how they did it -- only took 124 takes!

Reading the tea leaves

I expect the next few weeks will be rife with election speculation.
While John Baird perishes the thought, Flaherty is busy issuing The Usual Warnings Of Doom.
And if Harper is successful in winning a Canadian seat on the Security Council on Oct. 12, and considering how the Bastarache Inquiry in Quebec is going to echo the federal Liberal sponsorship scandal, and considering how the Harper Cons are hopeful that the long gun registry vote will jeopardize some NDP rural seats, and while the Afghanistan prisoner torture issue is in a lull, and before the Cons have to table a fall fiscal update, and before Sheila Fraser or the Parliamentary Budget Office can publish more critical reports, and before everybody's EI premiums go up, and maybe Harper can go a month or six weeks without firing some long-suffering civil servant, and . . .
Fixed election dates? What a quaint idea.