Friday, December 26, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Another outstanding Harper choice!

Canada's newest Harper-picked Supreme Court Justice may well turn out to be another Mike Duffy or Pam Wallin in the making.
In this Toronto Star article, she sounds like an entitled and egotistical nut case:
...Madame Justice Suzanne Côté battled five years with Revenu Québec, the provincial tax agency, after she claimed annual expenses of $50,000 to buy work clothes for each of three years from 2004 to 2006. During that same period, the top-flight Montreal lawyer claimed more than $25,000 in expenses related to personal care, as well as other miscellaneous items.
Court documents show that Côté made claims for tax deductions totalling $204,685 over those three years and that those claims were rejected by the Quebec tax agency.
...
Revenu Québec noted in a statement of defence that it began auditing Côté’s expense claims in 2007 and that she refused on four separate occasions to provide receipts or other documents that would justify her claims.
Fighting a five-year legal battle? To defend a $200,000 deduction? For clothing?
Apparently the usual black legal gowns that lawyers wear in court cost about $800.  How many did she buy?  Or does she think the Quebec bar also requires its high-powered lawyers to wear fur coats and Armani suits?
Of course, all the receipt documentation has now been withdrawn so we -- the public who will be paying her salary for the next four decades -- aren't going to be allowed to know exactly what items of clothing or grooming she thinks she should be entitled to deduct from her taxable income.
Oh well, if her bills get to be too high, we can always cut back on payments to veterans...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Oh, you shouldn't have!

Just a little bloggy roundup of some really bad gift ideas from here and there on the web.
First, a jolly old elf, from Mock Paper Scissors:

Hummer for a White Christmas

From Dr. Grumpy, a really cute little toy giraffe which you should definitely give to someone with really awful kids:


And what real guy wouldn't love this calendar featuring girls, and fish:


From Marie Claire, a "Life Gem" -- it looks sort of pretty, doesn't it?  But then you find out what its actually made of....

<strong><a href="http://www.lifegem.com/" target="blank">LIFE GEM</a></strong>, $2,699-$24,999.<br /><br />You can't go wrong with diamonds — unless those diamonds are a by-product of recently deceased Fluffy's remains. Life Gem cremates departed pets, using the carbon to create a unique gem with a creepy backstory.

Finally, this...

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Shorter

Shorter US torture report:

Bush and Cheney corrupted the soul of the United States when they adopted torture as a state policy -- and in return all they got was a s**t sandwich.

Friday, December 05, 2014

#ICantBreathe



Ann Telnaes writes
White Americans don’t understand the racial profiling black Americans deal with on a daily basis.
The New York Times quotes protestors across the country saying "No justice. No peace. No racist police." Yes, they're finally calling police racist, in spite of the pearl-clutchers at Fox News.
As Charles Blow writes
Racism is a real thing, not because the “racial grievance industry” refuses to release it, but because society has failed to eradicate it.
Racism is interpersonal and structural; it is current and historical; it is explicit and implicit; it is articulated and silent.
Biases are pervasive, but can also be spectral: moving in and out of consideration with little or no notice, without leaving a trace, even without our own awareness. Sometimes the only way to see bias is in the aggregate, to stop staring so hard at a data point and step back so that you can see the data set. Only then can you detect the trails in the dust. Only then can the data do battle with denial.. . .
The activism that followed Ferguson and that is likely to be intensified by what happened in New York isn’t about making a martyr of “Big Mike” or “Big E” as much as it is about making the most of a moment, counternarratives notwithstanding.
In this most trying of moments, black men, supported by the people who understand their plight and feel their pain, are saying to the police culture of America, “We can’t breathe!”

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Reflections on racism and the police


Two long reads from Gawker, of all places, on racism and police: Why Should Anyone "Respect" the Law?:
How can you ask people to respect the law when the law does not respect them? How can you remind them of the importance of the process when Missouri and New York are reminding us the process is hopelessly broken?
There is a troubling trend in American thought that holds we should "respect" cops as we might "respect" venomous snakes: by staying away from them, by avoiding eye contact, by not making threatening gestures.
Can You Breathe? Reflections on Non-Indictments, Activism and Black Life
It's hard to continue to care. For many of us, by the time we heard the non-indictment of Garner come down we were numb. Some of us got numb when we saw loved ones beaten within an inch of their lives by cops and realized that no one cared—not the grand jury, not internal affairs, not the mayor, not even the politician who promised to get tough on corruption. Some of us have been numbed by what we have access to—hey, who doesn't want to get that 60-inch flatscreen TV on discount? Some of us are numb because the cost of caring is reckoning with the vulnerability we all must come to grips with—you may have three or four college degrees but your skin remains a target. We've got to care enough to fight.
We've got to fight the system. We've got to struggle with ourselves. Love ourselves enough to correct ourselves. Love each other enough to remind each other that we got this. That our ancestors have already showed us ways and walk with us now. We've got to love so that we can see a new day. When I look at my daughter in resting slumber, I get haunted with visions of the reality that she will face. I get scared. I get angry. I fight that with ancestral love. I fight it with knowledge that if we wake up, nothing can put us to sleep. I fight because I love her.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Trying to put lipstick on a pig

The Harper Cons are trying to put lipstick on a pig:
An aide to Prime Minister Stephen Harper has taken over as chief of staff to embattled Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino as opposition MPs call for his resignation.
...Fantino, who has appeared chippy in his dealings with some veterans. In February, he was forced to apologize for his snub of veterans upset by the closing of regional Veterans Affairs offices. More recently, he was chased down a hall by a woman crying out to him, seeking help for her husband suffering from post-traumatic stress. Fantino didn’t stop to talk with her.
Fantino is the face of the problem but the problems run deeper into the bureaucracy that has an insurance company mindset in dealing with veterans who need help, said retired colonel Pat Stogran
Actually, my husband worked forty years with insurance companies -- any company that treated people like this would have gone out of business. And a CEO who acted like Fantino would have been fired long ago.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Taken to the cleaners in #Ferguson



Tabitha Southey has a brilliant column in the Globe and Mail  Hey, white person, imagine if you were stopped as though you were black :
...Let’s imagine, for example, you’re being stopped and questioned by dry cleaners, and see how that goes.
Dry cleaners approach you often. You get to know the drill. “It’s linen, dry cleaner,” you say politely, as your mother taught you to do. “Natural fibres do wrinkle; it’ll relax in the heat. You don’t need to press this. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for a meeting.”
It starts to get to you after a while, white people – a short while, I imagine, knowing you as I do. “No, I don’t need to come in,” you snap one day, upon your third grilling that month. “It’s hand wash, dry flat. I read the label, I know what I’m doing here, I got this one.”
Yet, still they stop and ask, “Do you starch that collar?” or demand to see your dry-cleaning ticket.” They check your pockets and when you complain about it, people tell you that’s their job.
Now, suppose on top of everything else, when you do go to the dry cleaners, when they’re needed, their response time is terrible. There’s no same-day service for you, white people, even when you’ve a wedding to go to and you ask the local dry cleaner nicely. It’s like you don’t pay the same dollar as everyone else for the service.
Imagine you’re told that things will get better, yet still those dry cleaners remark on your pleats as you walk down the street, as if just being on the street were an issue. Maybe white people, while being grilled, you see black people walking by – the status of the lining of their smart fall coats unchallenged.
I know you would get angry, white people.
...and maybe black people would then say, “If you weren’t out on the dirty streets, you wouldn’t need a dry cleaner, but there you are, making trouble.”
Some white guys would tip a Volvo during one of these protests, as if their team lost the Cup.
Perhaps that car lit on fire would be virtually all that got reported. A car burning in the street unattended for three hours sparks more network hand-wringing than a black boy’s body left for four.
“Look at all that grey smoke,” non-white pundits would say, gravely. “The dry-cleaning bill is going to be huge.”
UPDATE: The outrage in the Comments is telling, isn't it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

#BlackLivesMatter but not in #ferguson

The failure to indict Darren Wilson is a travesty.



 By Langston Hughes:
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Ferguson:
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Chicago:
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Seattle:
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New York:
Image

Los Angeles:
View image on Twitter

Washington:


And in Toronto tomorrow

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fantino "explains" government budgeting

So it has been revealed that Veterans Affairs had $1.1 billion dollars in unused funding over seven years. Now Veterans Affairs minister Julian Fantino is claiming that the Harper Con's "balanced" budgets where not achieved at the expense of our veterans. He is minister-splaining the government budget to us ignorant plebs:
Fantino said claims that the unused funds were a strategy to balance the budget are false.
"The funding is allocated and if it's not spent it's recycled back into continuing programs and services for veterans. It's not lost money," said Fantino.
He called it a technical budget process that does not hamper services and programs for veterans.
"If I can put it bluntly, this is a technical kind of to and fro in the budgeting process of government," he said.
Oh, sure, that makes sense.  And those flying pigs over there are actually F-35s.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ferguson waits

Decision day in Ferguson will be Monday at the earliest | Toronto Star:

“We’re living under a governor’s declared State of Emergency, we’re facing school closures, and we’ve got enough extra law enforcement here to make us all feel like enemies in our own country. And all over a process that should have been decided months ago.”
Is there anyone, anywhere, who thinks that Darren Wilson will be indicted?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sounds of silence



Just a note that I'm sorry for my silence this month.
Some family stuff is keeping me busy, but also I am being distracted by technology -- I now have a little tablet computer and I find I am using it more often during the day to check email and surf the web, and it is not set up to let me also do blockquotes and blog posts, etc.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Misconduct charges cannot be anonymous

In my previous job, I was involved in dealing with accusations of misconduct. One of the basic principles of procedural fairness is that accusations cannot be taken seriously if they are anonymous. An accuser has to be willing to come forward before the charge can be dealt with and accused can be required to answer to it.
Imagine if your career could be ruined by an anonymous charge of assault, and you were not permitted to know who made the accusation or where the accusation had come from?
That's a kangaroo court.
So Trudeau was informed about the misconduct charges against two Liberal MPs late last week, then he acted immediately to suspend them.
And now Mulcair and NDP whip Turmel are "shocked" that Trudeau "went public" against the wishes of the alleged victims?
Was Trudeau supposed to just keep quiet and do nothing?
Is that what the NDP would have done?
Is that what they did?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Follow-up

Just to follow up on my previous post, Annie Laurie provides links to discuss the Terrorist or Head Case? question.
She notes this article from The New Yorker The Line Between Terrorism and Mental Illness
In a world where “clash of civilizations” rhetoric is pervasive, it is possible that radical Islam offers the same appeal to some unstable individuals that anarchism had for Leon Czolgosz, who killed President William McKinley in 1901, and that Marxism had for Lee Harvey Oswald. If you are alienated from the existing social order, the possibility of joining, even as a “lone wolf” killer, any larger social movement that promises to overturn that society may be attractive. For a person radicalized in this manner, the fantasy of political violence is a chance to gain agency, make history, and be part of something larger.
She also posts some off-the-wall opinions from, who else, The War Nerd.
These guys are surplus, after all, surplus males in an era doing some fairly frantic tinkering with that whole concept. The best way to deal with them is let them take one for the team they’ve talked themselves into joining. ...
Islamic State is such a perfect organ for draining the surplus reactionary-male rage from a certain demographic of the secular West ... a sort of global kidney, drawing in and filtering out a pool of potentially troublesome young males. And all done far away, in the bowels of Syria. But only if places like Canada have enough cold-blooded sense to let this piece of luck keep doing its job. And that means only one thing: business class upgrades for every male under 25 with a record of jihadist rants and a one-way ticket to Istanbul.
And by the way, we're going on holidays this week, so I won't be able to post anything or even check on the blog until next weekend. Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 24, 2014

It isn't "terrorism", its mental illness

What Canada should always remember about Wednesday was the courage of our politicians -- hearing a fusillade of gunfire right outside their meeting room, they armed themselves with flagpoles and prepared to defend Parliament and their colleagues against what they must have believed at the time to be an invading force.
But to me, it inflates the importance and significance of Wednesday's attack in Ottawa to continue to call it "terrorism" or even "micro-terrorism".
It actually appears to be an almost-random outburst by a mentally ill man.
While Michael Zehaf-Bibeau may well have thought of himself as an "ISIS terrorist", the attack he made was apparently not planned out in any particular fashion nor was it pointed towards any real goal -- according to the Globe and Mail, he first shot an unarmed soldier who was out in the open, standing still, then he ran crazily down the street, hijacked a car, drove to the Centre Block, and ran inside the Parliament Building. If he was thinking to shoot up the caucus meetings or kill politicians, he didn't even seem to know exactly where they were, apparently running right past the caucus meeting rooms before he was shot down.
Even if he was wearing a ghutra, this doesn't make it terrorism; its mental illness.
Rather than worrying too much about terrorism in Canada, we would do better to make sure a person this delusional doesn't have access to a rifle.
Oh, wait...
As Montreal Simon says about both this attack and the running down of two soldiers in Quebec:
For the day we allow some deranged gunman, or some ISIS wannabe from small town Quebec, or just two pathetic losers like these...To scare us, and change our Canadian way of life, is the day we lose our last shred of self respect.
It's the day the crazies WIN.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saskatoon snatches defeat from the jaws of victory UPDATE: lockout is over!

So you might think that the reluctant LRB ruling both the transit lockout and the pension bylaw illegal would have provided the Saskatoon civic administration with a great opportunity to rethink their whole strategy with this labour dispute, and come up with something that would work better.
But you would be wrong!
The city strategy of trying to starve the bus drivers into an agreement was never going to work, and now it is in tatters -- the drivers know they will eventually get their back pay for the 27 days the strike has lasted so far.  But the union was so happy about the LRB ruling, that the drivers would have cheerfully gone back to work without an agreement, and they would not have dared to go on strike.
So the city could have jumped at the opportunity to get everyone on board with the obvious way to end this dispute -- the same pension changes as everyone else, a slightly higher percentage increase than the rest of the city unions got, but with a longer contract to justify the difference. There, done!
But no.
Clearly, the city was in the wrong with this lockout, and that what the LRB ruled, but the powers that be in the city administration just couldn't accept "losing".
They doubled down by immediately issuing a new lockout notice to the transit union.
“My first thought is ‘Oh my goodness, they’re going to do this to the citizens of Saskatoon again,’ ” ATU local 615 president Jim Yakubowski told reporters outside City Hall Saturday morning. “They don’t deserve that, nor do our members deserve this.”
And the people are furious:







I don't know how this will end now, but it isn't going to be pretty.
UPDATE: Wiser, or cooler, heads have prevailed.
City Council held an emergency meeting this afternoon and voted unanimously to tell the city administration to lift the lockout.  So the buses are back as of 6 am on Monday morning.  Hooray!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oh, the humanity

Happy thanksgiving everyone, though somewhat belated.




The greatest line in television history: As god is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Playing with the big boys

I haven't written anything about the Harper Cons enthusiastic support for Canada's participation in Son Of Iraqi Freedom Part Deux because I haven't really known where I stand on this.
I can't say I have thought it through still, but two things struck me today.
First, Michael Den Tandt explains why Harper wants Canadian fighter jets to participate
The PM told the House of Commons Friday – and there is no reason to disbelieve him – that he made the decision to deploy warplanes knowing that doing so is politically difficult, particularly in an election year. He also acknowledged, laudably in terms of simple frankness, what appears to be his main rationale. “If Canada wants to keep its voice in the world – and we should, since so many of our challenges are global – being a free rider means you are not taken seriously.”
In other words, we're not throwing our marbles into the ring because the Harper Cons think our participation will actually make a difference in a fight against an awful enemy, but rather just so the rest of the guys on our side will still be our pals.
At least this time the goal of the whole exercise is clear -- to degrade and destroy ISIS.  If Obama has his way, western armies won't be an occupying force, handing out money and Viagra to warlords, sending soldiers out on meaningless and dangerous patrols, running prisons.
But if we're participating in a potential quagmire without any actual sense of mission ourselves, except to show everybody that we have jets too, then I wonder how Canadians will feel when we have more hearses to salute on the Highway of Heroes.
And that brings me to my second observation, about Trudeau's supposedly juvenile and much-criticized comparison of our CF-18s to big swinging dicks.
If Canada is flying combat missions only because we are trying to impress the big boys, then maybe we actually are just participating in a dick-measuring contest.

Yes, it is astonishing

The US Supreme Court basically ruled today that all those lower court decisions authorizing gay marriage in a number of states are constitutional.
In celebration, Andrew Sullivan has written The Astonishing Actual History Of The Gay Rights Movement, from the despair of AIDS to today's victory:

Using the institutions and self-knowledge and smarts that had somehow defeated the plague, gay men charted a future when nothing like this would happen again, when gay men would never be parted from their spouses on their death beds, when gay men’s physical and psychological health would never be treated as insignificant, when gay men would never suffer the indignity that so many endured in front of our eyes. And so we built the case for marriage equality and for open military service as a recognition of the self-worth our survival had given some of us, and to pay some kind of tribute to those who had fallen.

We went, in other words, from about the deepest hole you can imagine to a determination not just to get out of it, but to see the mountaintop in our lifetimes.

...We are on this mountaintop together, even as so many dead lie round.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Field of dreams


Loved watching tonight's ball game.
There is no game but baseball where the team that wants it more can come back to win, even against a better opponent.

KC may not get very far against the LA Angels, but you never know.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Our parliamentary secretary for short pants

The Harper Cons went just a little too far this week in demonstrating their disrespect for Parliament, and finally they got called on it by the Globe and Mail and Ottawa Citizen.
So Paul Calandra apologized -- he's just such a passionate guy ya know and he couldn't help himself and we have to forgive him!
But I don't think he was trying to stop himself from crying as he spoke to the house, but rather from laughing -- he also said he was "fairly certain" he would do it again.
And what's with his "short pants" obsession? He keeps mentioning them....

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sad news

Such sad news today -- the Canadian blogosphere has been informed that Skdadl and Pogge have both died..

Susan Kent Davidson (Skdadl) died yesterday, and Rob Hills (Pogge) in July -- they had both blogged at Peace, Order and Good Government, Eh, which had gone dark lately and I didn't know why.

Skdadl's obituary is here: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thestar/obituary.aspx?pid=172542918 and Pogge's is here: http://www.aftercare.org/obituaries/David-Rob-Hills/

Covering the Impact of the transit lockout

CBC Saskatoon is doing a good job covering the impact of the transit lockout. Today there are two stories -- this one: Saskatoon transit lockout affects high school attendance:

Of the more than 300 people that are registered students at Oskayak High School, more than half missed class on Wednesday...the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools board is looking into hiring a bus to pick students up from an area where the greatest number of absentees live. The buses can carry 72 passengers, but if more students need a ride to Oskayak, they may look into acquiring a second bus.

In the meantime, some staff members from other Catholic schools are going out of their way to get students to school.
and this story: Transit lockout hitting Sheena Bird's family hard

Bird said the city's decision to shut down bus service might force her to keep her son out of school.

"Usually I have to drop him off and then I take the bus to work after I drop him off early," Bird said. "But now I can't get him to school at 9 and be at work at 9. I have to now walk an hour to get to work."

...Bird's husband is walking about 45 minutes to work.
The Star Phoenix is doing an abysmal job -- a "both sides are to blame" editorial a day ago which I cannot link to because it is not online; and no other coverage today at all.  Great leadership!

Monday, September 22, 2014

What's the rush, Saskatoon?

Transit workers picket to protest lockout, roads jammed during morning commute
I guess the idea is because the city administration has failed to negotiate a contract, then City Council should just implement the pension changes by fiat.
Yeah, that'll calm things down.
Saskatoon's transit lockout experienced its first workday morning today.
The next big story will be tonight's so-called emergency city council meeting -- when our councilors are supposed to vote on a bylaw that would impose the pension changes on the transit union.
The city and union have been warring over pensions and wages for months. The city has offered a 10-per-cent wage increase over four years with changes to the defined benefits pension plan — an offer the union voted 91 per cent against. City council had scheduled an emergency meeting Monday to legislate changes to the pension plan and force the union to accept the pension changes, but the move won’t end the lockout. The union calls the legislation a “bullying tactic” and said it would only accept the new pension arrangement in exchange for a 22-per-cent wage increase over five years.
So negotiations have been going on for a year, and the pension problems have been an issue for much longer, but its just terribly, terribly urgent that the pension be resolved TODAY?
Why don't I think anyone is going to buy this?  I hope councilors can resist getting sucked into this rush to judgement.
And now the union that represents many of the other city workers is entering the fray:
The national office at CUPE, the union representing four locals and more than 2,500 city workers in Saskatoon, now agrees with the locked out transit workers that the pension plan is sound.
The Amalgamated Transit Workers Union (ATU) is arguing that the city’s pension plan is now in a surplus position, not in a deficit, as officials have stated.
Today, a CUPE national spokesperson said they agree with the ATU.
CUPE has had its own pension experts look at the latest data from the City of Saskatoon and they tell the union that there is no deficit.
What’s more, said national representative Rhonda Heisler, the four locals in Saskatoon believe that they were misled when they signed their latest contract.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Checking out the People's Climate Marches

Some memorable photos --
New York city
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People's Climate on Twitter:
Sydney, Australia: Beyond Coal + Gas
Berlin
Paris
Toronto

Saskatoon's Press Release War has begun!

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I see the first shot in the press release war between the city of Saskatoon and its bus union was fired by the city tonight when they locked out the bus drivers -- likely we can expect to see an answer tomorrow from ATU Local 615.*
I am totally annoyed about how the city has been managing our transit system lately -- this lockout is the last straw. SaskatoonHomepage News summed it up today:
Saskatoon Transit is dealing with a multitude of issues at the moment: a transit union dispute, lack of mechanics, lack of available buses and route disruptions. And that doesn't even touch on the recent incident where a 9 year old stole a city bus that had been left running. SaskatoonHomePage News has asked repeatedly in the last week what the status of the [Calgary] buses are, that were ordered to alleviate the shortage of working buses, which have caused service interruptions for riders. The response from the city has been "we're working on it". Working on what has not been specified.
Of course, if the "previously-owned" buses need repairs, the city has locked out the bus mechanics, too.
But if you want to see someone who is absolutely furious, don't miss the tweets from Max FineDay, president of the 11,000-strong University of Saskatchewan Students Union. It was only a few years ago that the city and the student union worked out a deal whereby all students would pay for bus passes with the guarantee that the transit system would improve for students.
Yeah, right:

*Here it is already!


Here is the document (PDF).

Friday, September 19, 2014

Defending our right to choose


I'm glad to see Trudeau and the Liberal Party hit back hard against the so-called Liberals who thought they could generate some traction for the Harper Cons by criticizing Liberal policy requiring MPs to vote pro-choice on any abortion bills:
"Anyone is entitled to hold their own personal views, but Canadians deserve to know that when they vote Liberal they will get an MP who will vote to defend women's rights in the House," party spokeswoman Kate Purchase said in a statement.
"Women's rights are long-held Liberal values that we will not back down from."
Not surprisingly, the National Post editorial board has weighed in to decry Trudeau's "troubling stance".
But it is absolutely clear that Trudeau never said, and is not saying now, that Liberals must support abortion.
Rather, he requires that  Liberal MPs must promise to support a woman's right to make her own choice.
And these old men never will.




h/t illustration 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Whoever has the most trucks wins: redefining winning in war


Our ideas about war have mostly been patterned after WW1 and WW2, where states sent their armies to war against other states, eventually somebody won, peace agreements were signed, and the soldiers all came home and got real jobs.
That isn't the way war is anymore.
What we see now are numerous smaller wars of "insurgency", where semi-organized ideological well-armed rebel groups grab their guns and leap into their pickup trucks, traveling back and forth across their home territories, killing their enemies as they go, uprooting families, destroying people's ability to raise crops or run a business. Chechnya, Mali, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Syria, eastern Ukraine, the Sudan. Nobody seems to win or lose wars like these, or at least not for long; there is often nobody to sign a peace treaty with and nobody would respect it if one could be negotiated. In these wars, success isn't "winning".  Success seems to be just "not losing" for just long enough to exhaust the opposition and then take back some of the territory lost in the last offensive.
Its the kind of war where apparently some additional air support can give one side a crucial edge.
This appears to be Obama's strategy for dealing with ISIS. From Juan Cole: Obama's ISIL Actions are Defensive, Despite Rhetoric of going on Offense:
Obama hinted in his speech that he wants to help Baghdad and Erbil take back towns from ISIL just as Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the president of Yemen, took back Zinjibar. And just as AQAP hasn’t disappeared in Yemen, Obama expects ISIL to be around for a while. In essence, the Yemen policy has de facto yielded a sort of containment with regard to AQAP, though how successful it will be in the long run can be questioned.
What if Obama is a sharper reader of the Middle East than his critics give him credit for? He knows ISIL is likely not going away, just as, after 13 years, the Taliban have not. US military action may even prolong the lifetime of these groups (that is one argument about AQAP) even as it keeps them from taking more territory.
Don’t listen to his expansive four-stage program or his retooled, stage-managed John Wayne rhetoric. Look at his metaphors. He is telling those who have ears to hear that he is pulling a Yemen in Iraq and Syria. He knows very well what that implies. It is a sort of desultory, staccato containment from the air with a variety of grassroots and governmental forces joining in. Yemen is widely regarded as a failure, but perhaps it is only not a success. And perhaps that is all Obama can realistically hope for.
I don't know if Obama will be right or not, but certainly landing American troops likely wouldn't work any better (see: Mogadishu).
Steve at No More Mister Nice Blog writes:
Obama's job is not to try to rid the world of evil. Obama's job is to protect America and U.S. interests. With regard to ISIS, that means curtailing the group's ability to be a threat to our country and our interests. If Cole is right, and if something like this gets Obama's actual job done, I'd prefer that to a bloodlust-satisfying full-on quagmire of a war that inflames our enemies and inspires ISIS's current enemies in the Arab/Muslim world to rally around the group.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Murder, she wrote

The "root cause" for why Indigenous women are murdered and missing?
Men are killing them. Usually, white men.
Really, its as simple as that.
Sarah Hunt asks why are we so hesitant to name white male violence as the reason for missing and murdered Indigenous women:
I fear that no amount of increased awareness and political organizing will actually end the violence if we continue along this current trajectory because we are still not shining a spotlight on the real causes of violence. No, I'm not talking about the drug use and street involvement that some journalists have drawn attention to in their portrayal of Tina Fontaine's final days. I'm also not talking about widespread poverty on reserve, or even the myriad factors that systematically marginalize Indigenous girls and women.
What this latest round of media coverage has failed to address is simply this: white male violence.
Indeed, the erasure of that violence as a topic of social and political concern is arguably a form of violence itself, as it serves to remove white men from the equation. White men get away with being unmarked by the violence they perpetrate, not at fault for carrying out a form of violation that is as old as colonialism itself.
She adds that the search for ways to blame First Nations for the problem, and the reluctance to ascribe responsibility for violence to its actual perpetrators, also serves to marginalize Indigenous women:
Maybe all those white male 'experts' who have weighed in on this issue during these past few weeks would make better use of their energy by turning their attention to the obvious: that serial killers like Legebokoff and Pickton are their peers. Where is the national action plan to address the violence that starts with them?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

What a strange week

What a strange week it has been -- horrible bus crashes and nine-year olds with Uzis and Russia invading the Ukraine but lying about it while the American media flips out about Obama's suit colour and England flips out about ISIS -- and I flip out because Shaw in Saskatoon doesn't carry the new TSN channels yet.
Maybe its time for September Song.



Or maybe someting a little cheerier!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Shorter, on the government jets

Shorter -- why the Harper Cons couldn't decommission four of its six Challenger jets:
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.
In fact, the Harper Cons will likely end up buying two more if they can find some place to hide the bill -- because really, its cheaper in the long run, economies of scale and all that....

Wrong side of history

Well, in one sense, I guess you could argue that Harper is right when he says that bringing to justice the murderers of Aboriginal women is a law enforcement matter. Ultimately, of course it is.
The problem has been that Canadian law enforcement hasn't been finding out why so many Aboriginal women are missing or murdered, and who is doing it.
And the Harper Cons have zero credibility on this issue, anyway, with their funding cuts to the Sisters in Spirit initiative and transferring the money to the RCMP.  If our justice system isn't part of the solution, that means it is part of the problem. And this is why an inquiry is needed, to find out why it has been too easy for Aboriginal women to disappear in our society, and why their murderers are not being brought to justice.
As Trudeau says:


The prime minister has shown himself not to be simply . . . just out of touch with Canadians on this issue, but also on the wrong side of history.”

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Jaywalking in Ferguson

I found this report on Daily Kos to be shocking and horrifying
Ferguson makes 2.6 million dollars a year from court fees. In 2013, the court "disposed of 24,532 warrants and 12,018 cases, or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household."
There's your smoking gun. If it seems the town of Ferguson sees protesters as something less than human and more like cattle that have escaped their pen, it may be because the town has been "farming" their mostly-black population as a vital source of revenue for a good long time. In Ferguson, a ticket for jaywalking can be the gateway to repeated jail stays, homelessness, and a lifetime of poverty.
The white paper which Hunter is discussing is here.
So maybe this helps to explain why Michael Brown was trying to get away from a jaywalking charge -- he didn't have the $275 fine.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ridiculous

Doesn't Canada's official languages commissioner have better things to do than investigate John Baird’s tweets?

Is this the goal, to make the commissioner's office look ridiculous and trivial?
If so, they're succeeding.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Today's flying pigs

Flying pigs were in the news today.

Justice Minister Mackay actually said that the Harper Cons are still considering tickets for pot possession and he expected us to believe it.

Next we'll likely be told that the PMO is reconsidering letting federal research scientists talk about global warming and the CRA is finishing its coercive charity audits.


Why don't they have a protocol for an officer-involved shooting?

One of the many things I don't understand about the Ferguson police department is why they apparently do not have a protocol for dealing with any shooting in which an officer is involved.
It is a routine in Canada when an officer shoots a civilian, that the officer is suspended, an investigation is done right away by a neighbouring police force, and a prosecutor from another jurisdiction is often used to evaluate possible charges.  We might not believe or support the result, but everybody knows what steps need to be taken.
But in Ferguson, they seem to be struggling with these basic steps, and the credibility of the police force in this little town, and the confidence of the entire justice system in Missouri is being destroyed.
Its difficult to see how it will end, because every time things start to calm down, the incompetent Ferguson police release another meaningless tidbit to smear Brown some more.
Overall, I get the impression that nobody is in charge.
On CNN, Jake Tapper says "this doesn't make any sense"
But as the saying goes, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Or, in Saskboy's version:



Friday, August 15, 2014

Ferguson police shoot Brown in the back again

So six days after the shooting, Ferguson police suddenly decide that Michael Brown was a suspect in a robbery? The cynicism of this ploy is incredible.

That was then, this is now

This is becoming painfully stupid.

 Now the braintrust in our PMO think they can get Canadian medical associations to do their dirty work for them by sponsoring anti-Liberal ads next fall.  And they want to spend $5 million of our dollars on this bizarre project.

These are the same guys who ignored doctors last year when they protested the Harper Con decision to deny medical treatment to refugees. And they ignored doctors last month when they protested the Northern Gateway pipeline.

But that was then, this is now.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Pottery Barn Rule

Reading today's news about Iraq -- Obama warns of long-term strikes -- I conclude that the United States is now caught by the Pottery Barn rule -- you broke it, you bought it.
President Barack Obama justified the U.S. military’s return to fighting in Iraq Saturday by saying America must act now to prevent genocide, protect its diplomats and provide humanitarian aid to refugees trapped by Islamic State militants on a mountain ridge near the Syrian border.
“This is going to be a long-term project” that won’t end and can’t succeed unless Iraqis form an inclusive government in Baghdad capable of keeping the country from breaking apart, Obama said at the White House.
As much as they will want to, the United States basically can't just leave Iraq alone anymore -- this artificial construct of a nation with its corrupt central government and divergent, turbulent regions will never be able to withstand attacks from groups like the Islamic State -- and in the unlikely event that they ever do form an inclusive government in Baghdad, then there are still the Kurds and the Iranians and the Syrians and the Saudis all around who will be wanting to pick the bones clean.
I think they're stuck.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Really? Is that all you've got?

Really, Harper Cons? Is this the best you can do? Is this all you've got?
Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney used his parliamentary email account to circulate a Conservative attack on Liberal leader Justin Trudeau over the Liberal leader’s 2011 visit to a mosque in his Montreal riding....
Neither Kenney nor Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, nor Veterans Minister Julian Fantino nor, even, the Prime Minister’s Office or its boosters at Sun Media — who all pushed the same allegations — bothered to note that Trudeau’s visit to the Montreal mosque came in the month before the New York Times reported on the mosque’s alleged al-Qaida link.
Nor did they mention that the Defence Department document quoted by the Times was by then four years old, and based on reports of al-Qaida bad guys who wafted through the mosque in the late 1990s, more than a decade before the honourable member for Papineau popped in...
The Liberals maintain that if the Al-Sunnah Al-Nabawiah mosque really is a training ground for religious extremists, the minister of public safety should probably be doing something about it, rather than using it to score points on the leader of the third party.
Well, I guess the marijuana smears didn't work, and the ads showing Trudeau with his shirt off actually backfired -- no surprise there.
So now we're supposed to be all "oooh, terrorism!"? Ridiculous.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

I have a tablet!

So because of my retirement I had to give up my office laptop so I bought one of my own, just another good old lenovo think pad which I'm used to using now.
And I also wanted a colour version of a kindle so I could use it for cookbooks -- I like my paperwhite kindle well enough for reading, but its really no good for cooking or for cooking websites, because its just black and white.
But then I wasn't sure about how flexible the kindle fire would be in Canada in terms of its operating system, so instead I bought a little Google Nexus 7 Tablet and do I ever like it!
We both miss the IT departments we used to have at work, so we are dealing with a small local company that basically does the same stuff as the IT department used to do for us -- buys the hardware, installs the software, and gets everything set up the way we want it, and answers any questions we have.
Next step is to figure out how to use my phone as a wireless hotspot for the tablet.  And I'm thinking about getting something that will connect us to Netflix, though there's already more stuff on TV than we have time to watch anyway.
I am appalled to realize that I have four -- count 'em, FOUR -- email addresses now.  And I had to buy an address book just to keep track of all my logins and passwords.
When us baby boomers start dying off, there will be millions and millions of lost webpages and email accounts that nobody will have the passwords to access.
Oh well, I won't care....

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Memories

Dr. Grumpy has a post titled Memories... about the lessons he learned when his father helped a stranger one day.

It reminded me of one of my own most distinct memories of my mother:

She was at the bus stop downtown one day when a woman with a young child started to cry. The woman told Mom that she had left her purse on a bus and had no money to get home and she couldn't think of anything to do except to check on every bus that came to the bus stop to see if her purse had been found.

My Mom immediately gave her $20 for a cab home, and made sure she had a key to get into her house.

Later that day the woman and her husband came over to my Mom and Dad's house to return the $20 -- the husband was overcome with gratitude that a total stranger would help his family, and he gave my mom a "praying hands" figurine.

A year later, when my mom was dying of cancer, that figurine was one reminder for her that her life had been meaningful, that she had made a difference.

She died almost 40 years ago, and I still miss her.

Shorter

Shorter President Obama on why the United States "tortured some folks' after 911:

When the going gets tough, how could anyone expect America's leaders to respect its Constitution?
Of course, what Obama doesn't mention is that they had a President who was telling people to go shopping, and a Vice-President who gleefully set up his own CIA to run the country, and a National Security Adviser who never gave a second's thought to national security and a Secretary of Defense who was hellbent on starting wars. No wonder Americans were scared.

Saturday funnies

To start your Saturday, here's some goat balancing fun:

Chèvres en équilibre - goats balancing on a flexible steel ribbon - YouTube:



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Whose job is it to play by the rules?

Here's one thing that I don't blame former Alberta Premier Alison Redford for doing -- taking her daughter with her on many of her government flights was the right thing to do.  This is kind of thing any parent SHOULD do, and we should expect it when we elect people with children to public office.
Now obviously, there was a serious attitude problem here, a inflated and egotistical sense of entitlement by Redford and her office staff which lead to deliberate and gleeful abuse of their access to government flights.
But here's the other thing -- a political studies professor also blames the civil service, and that goes too far:
Lightbody, the political scientist, said many people within Redford's office and various ministries would have known about the "blatant abuse" of government aircraft, yet no one spoke out publicly.
"These are people who work for the citizens of Alberta, and someone, sometime, somehow, should have said, 'No, this is wrong,'" Lightbody said."
Yes, these civil servants are paid by the public, but they don't work for them.
I've worked in the civil service, and I know.  It wasn't "the public" who were in charge of my workload and my paycheque -- it was the politicians who were elected by the public to be my boss, to tell me what to do.
Civil servants did not have any ability at all to stop Redford's abuse, just as none of the staff working for the Senate could have stopped Duffy, or Brazeau, or Wallin -- as taxpayers, we should not expect civil servants to be doing this.
The people we elect are the ones to blame here, for feeding their own sense of entitlement to the point that they didn't even recognize how unethical their behaviour had became.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Shorter

Shorter Mark Levin:
John Baird and Stephen Harper are my new BFFs!
Its nice to know our Canadian leaders are so popular abroad!
Who is Mark Levin? Well, here's how Media Matters describes him:
Levin is known for his inflammatory commentary, including the recent claim that the "key" to a Hillary Clinton presidential run in 2016 would be "her genitalia." He has also accused Obama of abusing children, compared marriage equality to incest, polygamy, and drug use, compared supporters of the Affordable Care Act to Nazi "brown shirts," and advocated for Obama to be impeached
Prince of a fellow!  He should fit right in with the Harper Cons.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My tweets about Duffy

Today's Duffy news about the personal trainer and the makeup artist etc is just a gift to Twitter. Here's my contribution:


Friday, July 18, 2014

The catfight meme



Digby wants Elizabeth Warren to run against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president because she wants to see:
two intelligent, accomplished women stand for president and debate the issues
Unfortunately, I think the rest of the Washington pundits want Warren to run just to so they can create a "catfight" meme to chatter about endlessley.
The thing is, they all seem to think that Clinton is a secret right-winger. In terms of foreign policy, maybe. But in terms of domestic policy, I think Clinton will prove to be more progressive than just about everybody.
When she ran for president seven years ago, Clinton knew she would have to fight Republicans tooth and nail to get anything progressive done, but she was committed to fighting them. It took Obama years to realize that Republicans were never going to let him be the kind of bipartisan president he had wanted to be.
Personally, I can hardly wait to see what Hillary will accomplish as president.

Putin will be the loser

Yesterday Josh Marshall called the Malaysia Airlines disaster a game changer for Vladimir Putin:
For months Putin has been playing with fire, making trouble and having it work mainly to his advantage. Certainly in the context of Russian history and nationalist aspiration reclaiming the Crimea is a vast accomplishment. But the whole thing blew up in his face today in a way, and with repercussions I don't think - even with all wall to wall coverage - we can quite grasp.
Find extremists and hot-heads of the lowest common denominator variety, seed them with weaponry only a few militaries in the world possess - and, well, just see what happens. What could go wrong?
Today the same gang of idiots are shooting at the investigators who are trying to reach the plane crash site.
Andrew Sullivan writes:
If Russia is directly involved in this way, it seems to me that Putin has now over-reached in such a way that all but destroys what’s left of his foreign policy.
And Josh Marshall’s right that the spectacle of Russian cluelessness, amateurism and recklessness could be the worst news of all for Putin. If there’s one thing a neofascist Tsar cannot afford it’s the appearance of incompetence and chaos.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Of course its political!

What's the point of being in power if you can't use government agencies to target and harass your enemies?
It's a time-honoured political tradition around the world, and now it's come to Canada.

The NDP is calling for an independent probe into the Canada Revenue Agency's targeting of some Canadian charities for their political activities.
In a letter Wednesday to Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay, the party says the alleged misuse of tax agency audits against political opponents of the government is muzzling charities and draining them financially.
...A Canadian Press investigation reported that the tax agency has stepped up its probes of charities for their political activities, well beyond a first wave of audits of key environment groups that challenge the government's energy policies.
International aid groups, anti-poverty organizations and human-rights agencies have also been swept up in the net, with some 52 political-activity audits now in progress.
An initial budget of $8 million set out in the 2012 budget has grown to $13 million, and political-activity audits are being made a permanent part of the Canada Revenue Agency's work.
Asked for comment on the NDP letter Wednesday, Findlay's office provided a week-old statement that itself repeated the minister's talking points in the House of Commons: "CRA audits occur at arm's length from the government and are conducted free of any political interference."
Some charities report that the audits are driving up their legal bills, to more than $100,000 in one case, as they consult lawyers to represent their case to the tax agency. Some audits have dragged on for more than two years with no end in sight.
Mere coincidence? Ha, ha, it is to laugh.
We all know that there's a long-standing conservative meme that environmental organizations, anti-poverty groups, social justice charities, international aid NGOs and welfare agencies are all just secret fronts for traitorous evil leftists -- being reality-based, of course these organizations have a liberal bias.
The Harper Cons already know how much of their own support at the polls is coming from conservative-aligned groups like the ethical oil, right-to-lifers and evangelical churches.  So it would also be an article of faith that the leftie organizations must be secretly abusing the nation's charity rules to shill for the Libs and the NDP and the Greens.
The Harper Cons would never believe that their opponents would play by the rules, because they don't themselves, as Carol Goar notes in the Toronto Star:
Many of the “political activity” audits launched by CRA since 2012 were triggered by complaints from Ethical Oil, a lobby group with strong ties to the Harper government and the petroleum sector. This is a departure for CRA. Unlike the random audits it has always conducted — approximately 900 a year — the new ones are susceptible to external direction, compromising the fairness and professionalism in which the tax department has always taken pride.
It wouldn't surprise me if it turns out the whole strategy of targeting left-wing charities and dragging out audits was just another sleazy political tactic from the Harper PMO.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Today's cheap shots

Two cheap shots noted today:
The Harper Cons wouldn't approve a helicopter tour of the Manitoba flood zones by the Leader of the Opposition:
Brig. Gen. Christian Juneau, commander of the third Canadian Division, had agreed to the tour, subject to approval by Defence Minister Rob Nicholson.
But late Tuesday, Mulcair said he was informed by Nicholson's office that his tour had been vetoed.
And Toronto's buffoon-who-thinks-he-is-a-mayor Rob Ford refused to stand and applaud the Toronto citizens who organized the WorldPride event.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford refused to explain today why he remained seated while city council gave a standing ovation to organizers of the recent WorldPride festival.
He did not answer questions from reporters outside his office about why he didn't stand along with fellow councillors, but said he's not homophobic.
Yeah, sure.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Tweet of the day

CTV has a story titled Best Twitter reaction to Germany's 5 goals against Brazil but they missed this one:





Of course, I'm not surprised, really....

Friday, July 04, 2014

Defining moments in Canadian history

I think this is rather neat.  Its from -- Defining moments in Canadian history at a corporate blog for American Appraisal:
here’s a fun infographic with little-known facts about Canada, events that made headlines, and uniquely Canadian milestones.
I found it at Cool Infographics




Government by talk show yahoos

 Christie Blatchford sums it up:
The government brought in a cruel and inhumane program aimed squarely at the most vulnerable people in the country, sold it in the basest way imaginable by appealing to the least generous impulses in us all and hasn’t proved it will save one red cent of the $91-million cost of the program.
The Harper Cons seem to think they should govern based on what some yahoo redneck is whining about on a radio talk show.
If you flick on a radio anywhere between Kamloops and Brandon, I'm sure you've heard these people complaining about how all those  underserving bogus immigrants are stealing all our health care.  It's stupid and they don't know what they're talking about, but don't bother them with the facts, they would rather feel aggrieved and persecuted.
So in response to these ignorant rants, the Harper Cons cut off health care for refugees two years ago.  It was a stupid decision, made by a government that doesn't know what it is talking about.
But at least our Canadian courts still believe that public policy should be based on demonstrable facts, not right-wing fantasies.
To absolutely no one's surprise, the Federal Court of Canada has struck down the Harper Con denial of health care for refugees.
And of course, also to absolutely no one's surprise, federal immigration minister Chris Alexander is going to appeal.
A year or two from now, the Supreme Court will strike down for good the Harper Con denial of health care for refugees.
In the meantime, Hanif Ayubi will have to hope that a pharmaceutical company will continue to give him diabetes medication. And Saleem Akhtar will hope that the Saskatoon Cancer Clinic can continue to pay for his chemo. And Garcia Rodrigues will hope an ophthalmologist will operate on him for free again if he suffers another retinal detachment.
But there is no hope for Naomi Marcos de Arroyo, who won't be going on any field trips with her Sea Cadets friends because she doesn't have health insurance.

Opus Dei comes to Washington

I think the anti-Obama Republicans who think the Hobby Lobby decision is a triumph are going to regret they ever heard of it.
Because this legal decision and the others that will follow are not going to be seen by the general American public as some kind of victory against Obama-care. Instead, its going to be seen as what it is -- the five Catholic Supreme Court justices abusing their oath of office to arrogantly impose the nutty anti-birth-control views of the Catholic Church on women and on their families.
As Booman says:
This battle isn't really over abortion. It's over female equality. And the Republicans are going to lose.
Women are not amused. We have had 50 years of equality and sexual freedom, primarily because we can control whether or not we get pregnant, and we're not going back.
I'm old enough to remember when Jack Kennedy was the first Catholic elected as President of the United States. And him being a Catholic was a very big deal, because a large number of Americans were very worried he would "follow orders" from the Pope rather than from the public. Kennedy even had to give a speech about it, where he had to promise not to be a "Catholic" president.
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference--and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him....
I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for President who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters--and the church does not speak for me.
Whatever issue may come before me as President--on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject--I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.
That was said 55 years ago.  And whether the American government would ever base its decisions on the tenets of a specific religion hasn't come up since.  Until now.
The Hobby Lobby decision is purportedly based on "religious freedom" but people just aren't that dumb. They know it is equality and sexual freedom for both women and men that is at stake here. And I think they are still just as concerned as they were then about anybody trying to impose a narrow religious belief on Americans.
In the news tonight is a story about ministers handing out condoms at a Hobby Lobby store.
The action in Aurora is part of a growing number of religious Americans who are publicly expressing their frustration with the Supreme Court’s decision. Several faith leaders have spoken out against Hobby Lobby’s position even before the decision was announced, and Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, was quick to blast the ruling, saying, “I am horrified by the thought that the owners of Hobby Lobby as Christians think their corporation has a soul, and I’m even more appalled that the Supreme Court agrees.”
Over at Balloon Juice, John Cole says:
...it’s nice to see some people out there telling America that not all people of faith are taking their marching orders from the Opus Dei wing of SCOTUS and the Vatican.
This isn't going to be a vote-getter for the Republicans.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Tennis, anyone?



I love watching tennis now that we have a big screen TV, and its been great to see Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard advance to the semi-finals at Wimbledon.
Two players who have been labouring at Wimbleton all week, under the media radar, are Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil, who are each playing quarter-final matches in men's doubles, and Nestor has also reached the quarters in mixed doubles.
Nestor is some kind of grand old man of Canadian tennis -- he has been competing and winning matches since 1989, including a gold medal in Sydney in 2000. It was Pospisil whose magnificent doubles tennis with Nestor kept Canada contending in the Davis Cup last year.
So good luck to all of you.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

I'm retired!

I've been easing toward retirement for the past several months, but I have finally got everything completed and so I'm outta there!

One of the things I hope I will be able to do now is to blog and tweet more often, though I hope not to the extent that my retirement will be like this:

 


We're both retired now, my husband and I, and we're looking forward to learning some new things and doing some new things, some of the things we never had much time to do before, like volunteer work and swimming and cooking and a little travelling, too.

Provided, of course, that we don't run out of money and have to go back to work somewhere:


September 29, 2009


If we remember how to do it!

Friday, June 27, 2014

#fail

Even Margaret Wente can't quite figure out how to support Peter MacKay:
I’m feeling kind of sorry for Peter MacKay. Nothing has been going right. He tried to appoint a guy to the Supreme Court and it turned into a massive screw-up. The Supremes have been messing with his laws. Judges have been refusing to follow his order to make criminals pay victim fines because it’s pointless and stupid.

And now, he’s been exposed as a blatant chauvinist who is completely out of touch with modern families.

...it’s partly the minister’s fault for landing in the soup. As a long-time politician, he ought to know that there are certain things you can’t say in public, even if (sometimes especially if) they’re true. Anything to do with gender differences, for example. If he isn’t smart enough to know this, then you’ve got to ask whether he’s smart enough to be a cabinet minister.
The answer, of course, is no.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree?

Well, it appears that the Harper Cons may have actually fixed the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in many of the ways suggested by its critics.
I know, I can't believe it either.
But I just wonder if Canadian employers can adjust their thinking? Right now, they're absolutely pissed!
Jason Kenny is absolutely correct here:
...the government wants to return the TFWP to its original objective -- to be the “last, limited and temporary resort for employers who absolutely cannot find qualified Canadians to take jobs at the Canadian wage rate.”
Kenney said some employers, “probably a few thousands in the Canadian economy, primarily out West, have begun building a business model around this program.
“As opposed to it being a last resort, in too many cases it’s become a first or only resort.”
Kenney said the government is aware of 1,100 businesses where half of the workforce is made up of temporary foreign workers.
“That is unacceptable,” he said. “I don’t care how tight the local labour market is, you shouldn’t be setting up a business and spending money on capital for business if you don’t have the human capital to staff it.”
Kenny is on the side of the angels in these remarks.  But Thomas Walkom in the Toronto Star questions the whole approach of the program:
In a country where the official unemployment rate hovers near 7 per cent (the real jobless rate is well above that), there is no shortage of labour willing to work at low-skilled jobs.
What there may be, however, is a shortage of Canadians willing to accept the wages and conditions that these jobs offer.
The market solution would be to offer higher wages and better conditions in the hope of attracting workers. The Conservative solution has been to let fast food outlets and others import temporary foreign workers willing to accept whatever wages employers offer.
Intellectually, Kenney seems to understand this contradiction.
Intellectually, Kenney seems to understand this contradiction. On Friday, he pointed out that real wages adjusted for inflation have fallen in Alberta’s food service industry — thanks to its use of temporary foreign workers.
His reforms would prevent employers in the food, accommodation and retail industries from hiring temporary foreign workers whenever the local unemployment rate is 6 per cent or higher (which, tellingly, excludes his home province of Alberta).
But he very specifically limited this ban to what economists call the non-tradable goods and services sector.
Other sectors that produce commodities traded across borders — including farmers, manufacturers, miners, meat processors and fish packers — would be able to hire temporary foreign workers, regardless of the local jobless rate.
Incidentally, hotels and restaurants in high unemployment area can also continue to hire certain kinds of foreigners — such as students — under reciprocal trade agreements. These temporary foreign workers are not covered by Friday’s announced reforms.
So there may be a few loopholes that business could continue to try to exploit.
I wonder if Canadian companies will adopt the goal of finding new ways to hire more Canadians, rather than just complaining to the Harper Cons and sneaking around to try to subvert the new regulations?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Outraged innocence and plaintive pathos

If you sensed a certain lack of enthusiasm from the Harper Cons about their own decision to approve the Northern Gateway pipeline, you were right.
A day after accepting a review panel’s recommendation to impose more than 200 conditions on the Northern Gateway project, a government spokesman is now insisting the Conservatives have not approved the pipeline.
Instead, it’s just “a maybe,” a spokesman for Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford says.

So when the protests gear up, this is how the Harper Cons are going to play it -- outraged innocence and plaintive pathos.
They will stamp their little feet and proclaim how we have hurt their delicate fee-fees if we dare to claim they approved Northern Gateway.

The coming partition of Iraq

The War Nerd explains what is happening in Iraq -- basically, the country is being violently partitioned into Sunni, Shiite and Kurd countries and there's just about nothing anyone can realistically do, or perhaps should do, to stop this from happening:

ISIS is a sectarian Sunni militia — that’s all. A big one, as militias go, with something like 10,000 fighters. Most of them are Iraqi, a few are Syrian, and a few hundred are those famous “European jihadis” who draw press attention out of all relation to their negligible combat value. The real strength of ISIS comes from its Chechen fighters, up to a thousand of them. A thousand Chechens is a serious force, and a terrifying one if they’re bearing down on your neighborhood. Chechens are the scariest fighters, pound-for-pound, in the world.
But we’re still talking about a conventional military force smaller than a division. That’s a real but very limited amount of combat power. What this means is that, no matter how many scare headlines you read, ISIS will never take Baghdad, let alone Shia cities to the south like Karbala. It won’t be able to dent the Kurds’ territory to the north, either. All it can do—all it has been doing, by moving into Sunni cities like Mosul and Tikrit—is to complete the partition of Iraq begun by our dear ex-president Bush in 2003. 
Yes, it makes sense, though this is not a part of the world that I can easily understand. I keep remembering Robert X. Cringley's description of his experience in Teheran in 1986 when he saw just one horrific battle in the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq War. He wrote this in 2004, just after Bush was reelected:

I...decided to go see the war since I had been in Beirut and Angola, but had never seen trench warfare, which is what I was told they had going in Iran. So I took a taxi to the front, introduced myself to the local commander, who had gone, as I recall, to Iowa State, and spent a couple days waiting for the impending human wave attack. That attack was to be conducted primarily with 11-and 12-year-old boys as troops, nearly all of them unarmed. There were several thousand kids and their job was to rise out of the trench, praising Allah, run across No Man's Land, be killed by the Iraqi machine gunners, then go directly to Paradise, do not pass GO, do not collect 200 dinars. And that's exactly what happened in a battle lasting less than 10 minutes. None of the kids fired a shot or made it all the way to the other side. And when I asked the purpose of this exercise, I was told it was to demoralize the cowardly Iraqi soldiers.

It was the most horrific event I have ever seen, and I once covered a cholera epidemic in Bangladesh that killed 40,000 people.

Waiting those two nights for the attack was surreal. Some kids acted as though nothing was wrong while others cried and puked. But when the time came to praise Allah and enter Paradise, not a single boy tried to stay behind.

Now put this in a current context. What effective limit is there to the number of Islamic kids willing to blow themselves to bits? There is no limit, which means that a Bush Doctrine can't really stand in that part of the world.
So Tony Blair and Paul Wolfowitz and Bill Kristol are again trying to tell everybody how America should pacify Iraq?  Ain't gonna happen.