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