Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Those mysterious internet policemen

A couple of hours ago I posted a blog about Jimmy Saville introducing the Rolling Stones on British TV in 1964. The post linked to an article at The Guardian in which the video was embedded.

I offered absolutely no editorializing about Mr. Saville and his posthumous legal issues. My only comment was on Brian Jones' great harmonica work.

That blog post had nine looks in the first couple of minutes and hasn't had any since. Usually that kind of first love translates into a bit of a spike in readership.

Somebody obviously stepped on it.

While I realize that the Rolling Stones Inc. legal department are notoriously litigious, I find it hard to believe they would deploy their resources in such an overbearing manner that they could squelch any mention of a Stones-Saville connection, no matter how innocent, within minutes.

Who else could it be?

Founding Fathers eyed four hour work day

Ya, maybe the French have whittled that down to a three hour work day but this is still big news to most Americans.

Ben Franklin himself went on the record as favoring a four hour day.

Take that, Walter Reuther! Nevermind your eight hour day; the Founding Fathers had it pegged at half that.

Funny how we don't hear Glen Beck and the rest of the Founding Fathers fetishists waving their banners about that Founding Father proclamation.

Arab Spring blows into Bangladesh

Bangladesh is one of those out-of-the-way out-of-the-news places that you don't really hear a lot about. Hasn't made much news since their war of independence in the 1970's.

That's about to change. There is a struggle unfolding between the ruling secular type Muslims and your more fundamentalist types.

In case you haven't noticed, the "more fundamentalist types" have been carrying the day in every nation touched by "Arab Spring." Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria...

There remains in the west some vague sense that Arab Spring is about a young generation throwing over their autocrats.

Not at all. It's about fundamentalists using the young generation to throw over the corrupt US-friendly dictators and then imposing theocracy.

Coming soon to Bangladesh.

Coca-Cola boss defends French work ethic

Tristan Farabet, CEO of Coca-Cola France, has come out in defense of the working masses who were so ruthlessly slandered by US tire magnate Mory Taylor last week.

As you may recall, Maurice (hey!... is that not a French name?...) Taylor claimed that French workers only work three hours a day and spend the rest of the work day taking breaks.

Caused a bit of an uproar.

But I think I've figured out Farabet's motivations. He's hoping that after they read his defense of French workers they'll switch to drinking Coca-Cola on their six-hour breaks!

That's gonna kick the shit outta the French wine industry...

But it'll be pure gold for Coca-Cola!

Jimmy Saville introduces the Rolling Stones 1964

A slice of British TV circa 1964. Click on the video.

Must say that's some mighty fine harp by Brian Jones. You can see why the band couldn't carry two front men indefinitely.

Elite US Narcs hop fence to represent top narcos

And who can blame them?

You go from being a Justice Department Prosecutor or DEA field boss making low six numbers, to a highly sought-after defense attorney billing a thousand bucks an hour. Since a hard working attorney can easily bill 3,000 hours a year it's safe to say these guys have seen their incomes go up ten-fold since they switched sides.

And they have the security of knowing their clients can afford the bills.

One would like to think it's not just about the money. These are folks who have seen at first hand the futility and the stupidity and the counter-productivity of America's idiotic "war on drugs." More than a few of them have called for the complete decriminalization of cocaine and marijuana.

More details in this story at The Guardian.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hagel confirmation; symbolic unhitching of American foreign policy from AIPAC warmongers

In confirming Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense the Obama administration has taken a giant step forward in freeing America from Likud authorship of its foreign policy.

There can be no question that this is long over-due.

For a generation the American public has been lulled into the belief that the war-mongers of Likud speak for Israel.

They don't and they never have.

But thanks to AIPAC, most Americans have been under the impression that they do.

The Hagel confirmation is a stunning rebuke of the AIPAC lobby.

Beppe Grillo and the future of democracy

By all accounts Beppe Grillo and the Italian "Five Star" movement have upset the olive-cart of Italian politics.

I have to fess up that I didn't put a lot of faith in Beppe's odds; figured his crew were pretty much an Italian version of the Rhino Party or the Pirate Party, i.e. a collection of eccentrics with their hearts in the right place but doomed to the margins.

But what the hell is this? Grillo and his band of non-conformists have overnight become the power-brokers of the Italian body politic. Suddenly austerity and the euro seem vulnerable.

Good!

Perhaps democracy is alive after all!

At least in Italy...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Big Steve's pogie police are coming for YOU!!

Ya, you know who you are, you malingerers and shirkers you. Construction workers laid off for a few months in the winter. Fishermen. Folks who just got "downsized."

Big Steve is on to you.

You think just because you pay into this "employment insurance plan" they call EI, you should be paid out when you're unemployed?

Ha! Is the joke ever on you my friend!

For generations federal governments have used EI, or UI as it was formerly known, as a cash cow to fluff up general revenues. Instead of using the workers' money to retrain and support workers, it's just a profit centre.

Now it comes out that Service Canada investigators are going to be coming round to see if you're sitting on the couch with a beer in your hand when you're supposedly out looking for work. Not only that, but every investigator is expected to find $485 thousand in "fraud," ie you sitting on the couch with a beer in your hand.

Surely there must be a McDonalds or a Timmies within an hour's drive of your apartment where you could get a minimum wage job instead of being a drain on that "insurance plan" you've been paying into your entire working life.

Youtube restores video of NASCAR crash

The video of the crash  NASCAR didn't want on Youtube is back on Youtube.

NASCAR says they requested the take-down out of respect for the fans who were hurt, and it seems reasonable to give them the benefit of the doubt on that one.

I think this will get you to the video.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

How Barbara Streisand helped me find my glasses

There I was, one eye on the computer screen and one eye on the Academy Awards. Then Barbara comes on and starts singing a song.

God, I want to see this... I reach for my glasses. I reach here and I reach there...

Where's my fucking glasses?

I run upstairs and check out all the usual glasses drop-spots around the commode...

Run down to the cellar and check around the furnace...

Oh my fu....

Oops. Just as I was about to put out an APB about my glasses, I reached up to itch my left eye... oh my God!!!

Ya, I was wearing my glasses the whole time.

Pope Benedict; what did he blow and when did he blow it?

I was baptized into the Christian faith at a Lutheran orphanage on the banks of the River Rhine in 1955.

With both of my parents in attendance.

It was fundamental to Luther's anti-papist propaganda that all adherents of the papist cult were destined for the flames of hell.

And while I have long ago abandoned the more abhorrent strictures of my creed, the travails of this Pope still evoke a whiff of schadenfreude.

At the same time, I think it's way too early to pass judgement on what has caused the first resignation of a sitting pontiff in 600 years.

A black-mailed and/or black-mailing gay sub-culture within the Vatican seems a little too glib an explanation. That's a long-standing reality of Vatican politics and has never before caused a papal resignation, so why now?

But pile that on top of the never-ending abuse scandals involving priests around the world, and the never-ending financial scandals, and the never-ending cover-ups of both the above... maybe Pope Benedict has just had enough.

Let him live out his life in peace.

Leni Riefenstahl gets posthumous lifetime achievement Oscar

Ya, I just made that up, but she should.

After all, she has been an inspiration to a generation of American propaganda makers.

Leni would be more than proud of the folks who made Lincoln, Zero-dark-thirty, and Argo.

All of whom are propagandists in the finest Third Reich tradition.

As propagandists for the Fourth Reich, all of them are in debt to Leni.

As was the case in Leni's time, there is plenty to sweep under the rug in the Fourth Reich. How the richest country in the world has third world infant mortality rates among its minority populations, and all that other anti-American shit that only communist bloggers like me deign to dredge up.

Let's not go there.

Let's glorify Lincoln, who freed the slaves and made black Americans equal to white Americans. Almost 150 years later black Americans are more likely to go to jail than go to college. Black CEO's are non-existant except in niche sectors of the entertainment economy. Yessirree, there is a supposedly black dude in the White House, and he's got the yassa massa gig down better than any of his white predecessors in his relationship with Wall Street.

Let's glorify Argo. Those crazed towelheads are one bunch of wacked-out dudes, are they not? What is it about their crazy religion that makes them hate us so much?

Let's glorify Zero-dark-thirty. Yes, after years of having those towellers stick their fingers in our eye for no reason whatsoever, we finally unleashed a SEAL team on them. Took out the top towelhead just like that. Mind you, we had to torture a bunch of folks to get there, but it's not really torture when you're inflicting pain on lesser humans.

Leni wouldn't just be proud; she'd be in awe.

One of the most significant missions in US history

That's "Mark Owen" on 60 Minutes. He's the guy who wrote the book about the Bin Laden take-down.

Leaving aside for a moment the well-documented history of Bin Laden obituaries before 2012, which cast doubt that this guy they murdered in Pakistan that day was Bin Laden, how does this come anywhere near being "one of the most significant missions in US history?"

No, what we are viewing on 60 Minutes is state of the art propaganda. This is the "liberal media" types at CBS earning their bona fides with the Obama White House.

You know you're in the land 'o bullshit as soon as "Mark Owen" tells you this was definitely a mission to take "Bin Laden" alive.

They killed a tall Paki in cold blood and buried him at sea.

Who the hell will ever know who they killed and buried at sea?

But you must admit it is a beautiful end to the myth of Bin Laden.

Israel braces for third Intifada

The death of a Palestinian demonstrator in Israeli custody has brought the stone-throwers out in force.

Ironically, he was in custody for throwing stones.

But bubbling away in the background is the narrative of the ongoing hunger strike of at least eleven Palestinians.

The Jerusalem Posts claims this is not an "Intifada" yet but IDF forces must exercise restraint to prevent it from becoming one.

IDF showing restraint in the face of those Palestinian stone-throwers?

Fat chance.

Consider the third Intifada game on.

Mali army "poorly trained"... by US, Canada, France and Germany

Here you go, five paragraphs from the bottom. The Nations of Virtue have had their thumbs in the pudding all along.

(And for those sticklers for detail who will e-mail me that the link does not refer to Canadian training, this is for you.)

Which brings me to a matter oft discussed here at Falling Downs. Why would anybody hire the Nations of Virtue to train their armed forces?

When is the last time the west won a military conflict of any significance? I'm thinking that would have to be Operation Urgent Fury, Reagan's rout of alleged commies in Grenada back in '83, and I will let the reader decide for themselves the "significance" of that victory.

The reality is that time and again the most modern best equipped over-priced militaries in the world are worn down and run out of town by guys with WWll era Kalashnikovs and home made bombs.

Those are the guys you want training your army.

Obama most paranoid president in history

Chase Madar has a great opinion piece at Al Jazeera; Why massive national security leaks are good for us.

I couldn't agree more. How free can a "free" society be when the government keeps information away from the voters?

What I didn't realize was how much Obama has tightened the screws on "state secrets." In 2011 the Obama government classified 92 million documents. That's wildly greater than any numbers from the supposed dark ages of Cheney-Bush.

According to Madar, there have been twice as many prosecutions of whistle-blowers under Obama than in all previous administrations combined.

That's some heavy-duty paranoia.

Bare boobs greet Berlusconi at protest

This strategy seems unlikely  to make the desired impression on Prime Minister "Bunga Bunga," at least when the bare breasts belong to young hotties. Silvio Berlusconi has seen more naked young women than any politician in the world with the possible exception of Bill Clinton.

This protest group needs to find a few older gals who have fought the forces of time and gravity for fifty years. Let a few raging grannies flash their sagging bosoms. That would shake up the old lecher.

As for "Basta Berlusconi," I'd certainly agree they've had more than enough, but anybody on the ticket who would turn away from the fraudulent austerity agenda that has been foisted on the country by the previous IMF stooge would get my vote.

By the way, looking at those pictures from the Mail Online, just how many big he-man cops does it take to subdue a 100 pound woman?




50 cent token Black dude at Daytona 500

I've been keeping half an eye on the big race this afternoon and thought I must be dreaming when I saw 50 cent in the Mark Martin booth with a NASCAR headset on.

But no, it's true; and not only that, but Ray Lewis is there too! Actually, it's Lewis who belongs in the Martin pit booth; then the old guys dream team would be complete.

NASCAR has dropped the ball for so long on pitching their product to a black audience that it almost comes as a surprise to see them make the effort. Even the NHL, long America's whitest sport, has more than a handful of black players now, and many more coming up.

But bringing in a few high-profile black dudes for a day isn't nearly enough. What NASCAR needs is prominent black insiders, team owners and especially drivers.

Maybe we'll see a 50 cent team at the Daytona 500 one of these years.

Where was the Office of Religious Freedom when Wally Tucker needed it?

How ironic that not a year after the passing of Church of the Universe founder Reverend Wally Tucker, the same country that hounded him to death for his religious beliefs has established an "Office of Religious Freedom."

This wouldn't have helped Wally in any event, because its mandate is limited to sniffing out religious intolerance outside of Canada. That's because inside of Canada we only persecute people for their religious beliefs if the ruling class find them offensive.

And that of course couldn't be classified as "religious intolerance" because we Canadians are champions of self-righteous do-goodery, so it must be something else.

Black einsatzkommando follows French blitzkrieg into northern Mali

We're not hearing much about Hollande the Conqueror's great Malian adventure these days. Perhaps that's because the French victory has enabled a vicious ethnic cleansing campaign in the north of the country which Hollande and his white liberal cheerleaders in the Nations of Virtue would prefer not to have publicized.

The objective is to eliminate the Arab presence. In Timbuktu there were about 500 Arab families as recently as last month. Now there are three, each of which has already had members disappear.

Meanwhile US troops are digging in for an extended stay in next door Niger, where a regional drone base has already been established.

All in the name of fighting the al Qaeda terror threat!

US special forces face new torture allegations in Afghanistan

Poor Hamid Karzai. Stuck between owing the occupiers a debt of gratitude for having propped him up and letting his clan amass great wealth these last twelve years, and at the same time having to convince his own people that he's not a mere puppet of the west.

That's a tough balancing act, and stories like this don't make it any easier. Locals in Maidan Wardak province claim that US special forces are guilty of abducting residents in night raids who either disappear completely or turn up tortured to death.

Karzai has ordered the Americans out of the province, which might temporarily appease some of his citizens, but he is fully aware that the American troops are the only thing standing between him and the next Taliban government.

Once they're gone, Karzai won't be running for President; he'll be running for Dubai.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

My last resting place

I was on the internet looking at properties for sale on Deer Island. I've visited there a few times and I think I'd like that to be my final resting place.

I've pretty much been resting my entire life, but for a final resting place you want to put some thought into it.

I've impressed upon Junior and all the other Juniors that I want to be cremated when I "buy the farm" as they say.

And I want my ashes spread around the farm. There's at least a couple of the Juniors are gonna try to rip a page out of Keith Richard's "Guidebook for Living" and snort the ashes...

But I insist on the farm. Especially the creek.

But should that eventuality not prove convenient, please scatter my ashes elsewhere. Like in front on my place on Deer Island. That's where I'd like the final resting place to be. Right there in the channel between the south shore of Deer Island and Eastport Maine.

So buck up dear children. Your dear Daddy wants to rest up where he's not rested before. That'll mean a run out to New Brunswick for you, but hopefully I can leave enough in the will to cover the expenses.


Revelstoke fantasies

I was but a youngster when I first thumbed my way through that neck of the woods.

But the beauty of that neck of the woods has stuck with me ever since.

There was a Shell station just off the Trans Canada Highway at the time. I'd had some experience managing John's Supertest well before that. I knew how to pump gas.

Any fucking idiot knows how to pump gas, which is why self-serve destroyed jobs for millions of teens across North America.

But there's ways to make sure the customer stops at your place instead of the next place.

Competitive price.

Clean every windshield every time.

Act like you care even when you couldn't possibly care less.

That's the magic formula that made John's Supertest the second most productive gas station by volume in the entire city.

So when I passed through Revelstoke it briefly occurred to me that I could make a go of that Shell station just off the Trans Canada.

But I thought I had places to go and things to do.

Crop circles reveal Lucy is the messiah

Lucy.

That's shorthand for "Lucifer" in case you don't know.

She's curled up at my feet this very moment, acting all innocent-like; as if she doesn't know who she is and who sent her.

Once again I will have to explain to the doubters that there can be crop circles in winter...

I mean look at Lucy! Isn't that proof enough?

Marines still looking for a few good men and gals


I personally have to admit I don't get the appeal of this activity. It's a
group bonding deal. Building up the esprit de corps.

Powerful religious overtones too. "Ye shall handle serpents and drink
their blood," right out of the Gospel of Mark if I'm not mistaken,
although it's my understanding that the drinking blood part was left
out of the King James and later editions.

As Christian symbolism this may be just what the doctor ordered
before one goes on crusade against the Islamic hordes, although on
the face of it there seems plenty of margin for exegetical error. I mean
 "blood of Christ and blood of the serpent" in such close proximity is a
misunderstanding waiting to happen.

But if the US Marine Corps is into this, it won't be long before it's
 a team-building exercise at Goldman Sachs and Citicorp.

F-35 fiasco continues


The news yesterday that the entire 51 aircraft fleet of F-35 "proto-types" has once again been grounded doesn't come as a surprise to anyone who has been following this debacle.

The "F" in F-35 stands for "fiasco". The aircraft is too heavy, too complicated, too limited in range, and technologically obsolete. Owing to advances in detection technology it is no longer a "stealth" aircraft.

It is also far too expensive, both for the US and the program partners in NATO. Not only that, but it's redundant in the kind of asymmetrical wars of choice that America has been choosing in the post-Cold War era.

But according to some of its fans the F-35 program is too big to cancel. Indeed, the Joint Strike Fighter gravy train now rolls through no less than 45 US states and employs over 133,000 Americans.

If that's what makes it too big to pull the plug on, the bean-counters and policy-analysts should be sent home for a rethink. Since those 133,000 are essentially on the public payroll anyway, they could be put to work doing something useful that would benefit society for generations. 

Like rebuilding bridges and sewers, building affordable housing, cleaning up blighted urban neighborhoods; useful stuff that would improve the quality of life for all Americans.

Youtube blocks video of Nationwide crash

It's only a matter of time before a NASCAR race produces an accident that makes the 1955 Mercedes crash at Le Mans look like small potatoes.

They almost had that crash today at the Nationwide run that goes off before Daytona. I'd like to link you to it but apparently this near-miss is a matter of NASCAR copyright.

We'll see what happens at the big run tomorrow.

But as much as I love NASCAR, at the end of the day fan safety has to trump copyrights.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYxUIdRitfk

Twitter takes over the Oscars

Don't take my word for it; here's the straight skinny.

No less an authority than The Academy has ordered the stars to tweet.

And that's a story that underlines the vacuity of the Oscars like no other.

It also underlines the pervasive and not necessarily benign influence of social media.

Fraser Institute proves lazy public servants vastly overpaid

Yes, it must be true.

Public sector workers are raking in an unbelievable 14% more on average than their counterparts in the private sector.

In fact, it's even worse than the right-wing egg-heads at the Fraser Institute imagine. Mall cops work for minimum wage. Real cops average six numbers.

That's not a 14% difference. It's about a 500% difference.

But that's not something the Fraser Institute posse will focus on, because they're not after $120,000/yr folks in the RCMP.

They're after clerical workers and mid-level managers and bus-drivers and trash collectors. These are the folks who make 14% more in the public service than in the private sector.

And that's what's driving us down the road to ruin.

Overpaid garbage collectors.

Can you imagine garbage collectors making twenty dollars an hour? And having PENSIONS to boot? Well, maybe you can't, but the Fraser Institute certainly can. In fact, they can find plenty of garbage collectors making 30 or 40 dollars an hour.

And the Fraser Institute is well aware that there are lots of starving unemployed folks willing to take a crack at that job for minimum wage.

Which proves to the good folks at the Fraser Institute that minimum wages are way too high.

"A free and prosperous world through choice, markets, and responsibility" is their motto.

Your free choice to work for nothing will be a vote of confidence in the markets your friends at the Fraser Institute champion...


Jobs jobs jobs!!! Brian Mulroney and the NAFTA legacy

It was obvious from the beginning that Mulroney's campaign to push "free trade" down Canada's throat was going to be good for a few of his pals in the ownership classes, or the "one percent" as we refer to them now, and not so great for the rest of us.

But the sales job had an almost-believable appeal to the racism inherent in our society. Our brown-skinned brothers south of the Rio Grande would only get the shit jobs that we didn't want to do anyway.

We'd be doing all those new hi-tech jobs that were beyond the ability of our stupid brown-skinned brothers in Mexico.

Most of my union brothers in the United Steelworkers of America knew the truth right away; this was a fancy way of moving our jobs to Mexico.

But the Mulroney bullshit won the day.

Mulroney was in Toronto the other day to celebrate 25 years of NAFTA.

Mulroney was feted by U of T's Rotman School of Management, where they have no problem celebrating a shit-bag who weaseled his way out of serious bribery charges that followed the revelation that he had taken cash-stuffed envelopes from Karl-Heinz Schreiber, Krupp-Thiessen Ambassador at Large for schmier-geld back in the day.

So Rotman pays Lyin' Brian a speakers fee to come tell all about how great NAFTA has been. It has transformed the land!..

Indeed it has. A few days later The Globe and Mail finds room for this story. Seems twenty-five years after that glorious victory for "free trade"  half of all Toronto area employees are suffering from "precarious employment."

As in no benefits and no job security and if you don't like it, move to Mexico.

That's the real legacy of Mulroney's NAFTA achievement.

Granger the Ranger

Bob Granger was a guy I knew in high school. Had a hard-on for the wilderness even in those early days. When the rest of the guys were getting wasted and getting laid, or at least hoping to, Granger was off on solitary nature hikes.

Granger's nickname was "Danger Granger," which was an exercise in irony, exercised by Granger's high school peers who by and large wouldn't have been able to define irony, but intuitively knew it when they made it up.

Danger Granger could be counted on to always buckle his seat-belt, never drink to excess, just say no to drugs, and file his income tax return on time.

Or so I thought.

I dropped out of high school. Bob "Danger Granger" naturally finished high school and went off to college, where he studied to become a Forestry Conservation Officer.

I totally lost track of Bob the Knob, till a chance encounter about ten years later in a small town in Northern Ontario. I was passing through on my way home from one of my many failed missions to make my fortune in the West. Stopped in at this little bar & grill place on the Trans Canada Highway.

I'd been driving 24 hours straight and finally succumbed to the craving for a pitcher of beer and a jumbo wing platter. Over there in the corner is a table of very rowdy locals, six or so pitchers of beer on the tables in front of them. Seemed every one of them was telling a story at the same time. In the midst of this maelstrom of beer and bullshit I saw...

Danger Granger? No! It couldn't be!

Well fuck me!

Yup, it was little Bob the Knob, Danger Granger. But now he was Danger Granger the Forest Ranger.

Turns out he'd got a job with the Department of Lands and Forests after graduating from college. Worked his way up, and a couple years ago had been assigned to the 150,000 acre conservation area just up the road. He was the Big Dog in his own government sanctioned fiefdom.

Bob had come a long way. From the irony of "Danger Granger" he'd become a very knowledgeable afficianado of guns and motorcycles.

Me and Bob closed the place. Then he had his intern drive us out to his field office. Rustic shack in the woods. Rent free. Comes with the job.

We're barely in the door and set into our chairs in his little field kitchen, when he pulls a garbage bag out of the freezer. Opens it up and passes me a stalk of hemp.

Seems Granger the Forest Ranger is running a 150,000 acre grow op.

His official duties of watching out for poachers, checking hunting licences, and reporting forest fires leave a little time for some amateur horticulture.

Which he obviously excelled at.

After that I made a point of heading up north once in awhile to catch up with Granger the Ranger. We'd meet up in town for wings and beer. Then we'd head out to HQ for serious discussions on solving the problems of the world.

Until one fateful weekend when things went horribly wrong.

I accidentally burned down his field office.

The key word there is "accidentally" and I regret that Granger the Ranger has not come around to seeing the truth of the matter. He prefers to stew in bitterness.

It was me and Bob and a couple of his friends from town, and we'd been sitting around the Field Office having a few beers and sampling the previous season's wares. Somebody was taking way too much time in the bathroom.

I decided to take a whiz in the ash pail. Unfortunately this was just a couple of minutes after I'd filled the ash pail with hot coals out of the wood stove.

There ensued a cloud of smoke and steam that immediately filled the room, causing at least one of those present to panic and start running around in the smoke-filled room screaming for a fire extinguisher. In her panic she tripped over the ash pail, knocking it over and sending the contents all over the floor.

Long story short, there were still enough hot coals to start several small fires throughout the kitchen.

And it was really smokey.

And we were drunk and then some.

And Bob's field office burned to the ground.

And I haven't been invited back since.

But one has to put this sort of life lesson into perspective. In fact I believe there are several life lessons embedded in this story;
  • have a plan B ready when pissing in the ash pail
  • don't piss in the ash pail
  • don't pre-judge your high school peers

Because as the Good Book tells ya, judge not, lest ye be judged.

And Danger Granger the Forest Ranger is just one high school peer deemed way short of the mark back in high school, who ended up way ahead of it twenty years later.

Marines still looking for a few good men and gals to drink cobra blood


I personally have to admit I don't get the appeal of this activity. It's a
group bonding deal. Building up the esprit de corps.

Powerful religious overtones too. "Ye shall handle serpents and drink
their blood," right out of the Gospel of Mark if I'm not mistaken,
although it's my understanding that the drinking blood part was left
out of the King James and later editions.

As Christian symbolism this may be just what the doctor ordered
before one goes on crusade against the Islamic hordes, although on
the face of it there seems plenty of margin for exegetical error. I mean
 "blood of Christ and blood of the serpent" in such close proximity is a
misunderstanding waiting to happen.

But if the US Marine Corps is into this, it won't be long before it's
 a team-building exercise at Goldman Sachs and Citicorp.

F-35 fiasco continues

The news yesterday that the entire 51 aircraft fleet of F-35 "proto-types" has once again been grounded doesn't come as a surprise to anyone who has been following this debacle.

The "F" in F-35 stands for "fiasco". The aircraft is too heavy, too complicated, too limited in range, and technologically obsolete. Owing to advances in detection technology it is no longer a "stealth" aircraft.

It is also far too expensive, both for the US and the program partners in NATO. Not only that, but it's redundant in the kind of asymmetrical wars of choice that America has been choosing in the post-Cold War era.

But according to some of its fans the F-35 program is too big to cancel. Indeed, the Joint Strike Fighter gravy train now rolls through no less than 45 US states and employs over 133,000 Americans.

If that's what makes it too big to pull the plug on, the bean-counters and policy-analysts should be sent home for a rethink. Since those 133,000 are essentially on the public payroll anyway, they could be put to work doing something useful that would benefit society for generations. 

Like rebuilding bridges and sewers, building affordable housing, cleaning up blighted urban neighborhoods; useful stuff that would improve the quality of life for all Americans.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

UN shits on Haiti

The UN has any number of patronizing initiatives ongoing in Haiti at the moment, but here's the nub of their relationship with that benighted land.

That the cholera epidemic was the direct result of the negligent sanitation practices of UN "peacekeepers" is not something merely "widely believed;" it is an indisputable fact, readily available to anyone with access to Google and half an hour of spare time. It is a matter that has been studied to death, and if the conclusion is "widely believed" it is because there is no other plausible explanation.

Haiti has forever been and continues to be punished for the fact that two hundred years ago "niggers" had the audacity to rise up and overthrow their white masters.

Georgia scrambles to speed up executions before lethal injection drugs pass best-before date

Well here's a head-scratcher.

Apparently Georgia's supply of pentobarbitol is stale-dated March 1st. You wouldn't want to snuff some poor schmuck with a dose of poison that's past its best before date.

That would be unethical!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Titan International A-hole Morry Taylor has website hacked hours after slandering French workers

Here's the Titan website after the hack. (website has since been repaired.)

This guy now has control over a number of prominent American brand names.

He obviously has nothing but contempt for the workers who make him rich.

Why does it take a union in France to stand up to this asshole?

Analyzing the analysts

I see where the wizards at Canaccord Genuity made some headlines today with a bleak prognostication on the future of RIM/BlackBerry.

The future of Canaccord Genuity is actually far bleaker than that of RIM, but there is no way for the average reader to know that when they read the grim headlines at the Montreal Gazette or the 101 other portals the story found its way to.

Canaccord ranked 14th out of 15 surveyed investment advisers in the most recent JD Power Investor Satisfaction Survey. They've been losing money hand over fist. They've been very vocal about shorting  RIM for months. 

They'll be out of business long before the wizards from Waterloo.

Colonial masters plead for more guns for their bumboys in Mali

It's a sad story.

Not only is the US/Canadian trained Mali army hopelessly inept, they have been forced to practice their warrior schtick with sticks instead of guns. Yes, that's how bad it is.

So French General Francois Lecointre is pleading with the Nations of Virtue to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE send rocket launchers and surface to air missiles and maybe a few tanks for these Bushmen who have for years proven that they are willing to sell their loyalties to the highest bidder.

What could possibly go wrong?

Pot addled hillbilly notices Samsung making Apple sauce months before Wall Street Journal

Recently there's been a flurry of debate over whether Apple is losing their coolness factor. Ian Sherr and Evan Ramstad triggered the debate with this article in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago.

That's almost six months after Falling Downs raised the same question.

C'mon boys, if you're reading this blog, give credit where credit is due!


Bwana still wields the whip in Africa

Seems more than a little untoward that we are once again seeing Africans being dragged off to Europe in chains to be judged before a tribunal of white men.

That was the spectacle at the International Criminal Court at The Hague today as judicial hearings began that will determine whether former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo should be tried for crimes against humanity.

Gbagbo was removed from office and from Ivory Coast by French forces after a disputed election in 2010. That paved the way for France's and the West's pick for the Presidency, Alassane Ouattara, to take the reins. Ouattara is a former IMF functionary and knows how the game is to be played.

What would be gratifying is to see African commandos swoop down on Paris or London or Lisbon and spirit some of their former colonial masters back to Africa to account for their crimes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jihad is not terrorism

That's straight from the lips of Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's Foreign Minister.

That's because jihadis are fighting for the honor of Allah, while terrorists are fighting for something else.

Any confusion between jihad and terror can be laid at the feet of American neo-cons and the Israel lobby.

Davutoglu is speaking in the context of explaining Turkey's support for al Qaeda "rebels" in Syria. Seems that those al Nusra Front dudes that America has labelled "terrorists" are just jihadis.

I'm guessing his NATO allies will have some questions for him at the next NATO summit.

You too can be an apostle of Christ for $130,000

Here's the story.

Folks are flying in from all over the Americas with suitcases full of cash to join a cult that prohibits bathing and demands participation in group sex with similarly unbathed cultists.

Ya right.

File this one under media bullshit. 

SQ are Quebec's most dangerous gang

There is more than a little irony in today's reports that the SQ are busy raiding Montreal City Hall. 

I have seen the SQ's routine bully tactics first hand. Somewhere in my voluminous archives is a video I took back in the early '90's on one of my regular trips between Ontario and New Brunswick. 

I was on the highway between Montreal and Quebec City, and there was an SQ convoy of about two dozen SQ motorcycle cops on the road in front of me, together with a couple of SQ vans and 4X4's.

Unlike a normal biker run on a four lane highway, these guys wouldn't let anyone pass.

So for a good half hour traffic just bunched up behind these guys making a gratuitous display of their power.

But they have the moral bona fides to raid the office of Montreal mayor Michael Appelbaum today.

It's part of the Charbonneau Inquiry into "organized crime" in Quebec.

That's where every construction contractor in the province with an Italian name gets hauled in to get quizzed about what they know about the Mafia.

Not much, as it unsurprisingly turns out. 

When not exposing massive Mafia plots, Quebec's moral arbiters like to pursue a largely pointless vendetta against the Hells Angels. Apparently some of the Angels, or "Hells" as they like to call them in Quebec, are involved in the drugs trade.

Insofar as that is true, it is only due to the stupidity of Quebec's and Canada's drug laws. Remember, prohibition made some Quebec citizens rich and famous, and the illegal trade in booze ended when prohibition was rescinded. 

Hells Angels involvement in the drugs trade will end when Canada's idiotic drug laws are rescinded.

At which point in time Quebec's morality police may have nothing left to investigate other than their police.

And a thorough investigation of the SQ is long overdue.

What to expect from Canada's new Ambassador for Religious Freedom

Lots of photo ops.

Andrew Bennett is an Ottawa insider who has for the last few years been moonlighting as "Dean" of a "small Catholic university," the five faculty, sixteen student Augustine College.

That's an institution I'd file under home schooling.

Today's announcement is in keeping with the Harper gang's rejigging of foreign aid.

Fob aid delivery off to Christian aid groups like Save the Children, and tie it to foreign ventures by Canadian mining companies.

Bennett will be working out of the office of the seriously conflicted John Baird, who can't decide between adopting Judaism as his official religion or coming out of the closet or both.

Expect lots of defamatory declarations about the lack of religious freedoms in Iran, and lots of celebratory declarations about religious freedom in Israel and Honduras and Colombia.

And lots of photo ops.

Chavez' return puts run to Canada's unctuous Minister of Foreign Affairs

The word from John Baird's office today is that he'll find another mutually convenient time to lecture the Venezuelans on matters of human rights.

As it happened, the Canadians figured any time Chavez was out of the country would have been a good time. That figuring went out the window with the unexpected return of Chavez.

Baird has been on a grand tour of central and south America lecturing all and sundry about human rights. This from the country wherein the native population is abused and neglected on a scale unparalleled in the western hemisphere.

But that's the Canadian way; preaching from the rooftops about your neighbor's moral flaws while steadfastly ignoring the mote in your own eye.

Horsemeat baloney knocks eurocrisis off front page

Does it really matter if the ground "beef" you throw into the chili came from Black Beauty instead of Betsy the cow?

Apparently over there among your effete European connoisseurs of all things beef it does.

Meanwhile there's a move afoot in Oklahoma to reintroduce horse meat processing in the state, which used to account for a healthy export trade of horse meat to Europe.

In Ontario there are at least 13,000 horses destined for the sausage factory since the provincial government stabbed the horse racing industry in the back.

So there's no shortage of product, and the Europeans have been eating the stuff for years, so why the sudden issue?

Even corporate uber-pirate Nestle was in the news today because researchers found horse DNA in some of their processed foods. Of all the indignities Nestle has perpetrated on the food chain I would think this is one of the least malign.

I think it's one of those manufactured front page "issues" designed to take your mind off more important stories.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Vote for Jake

Democracy is great; vote early and vote often!

http://music.cbc.ca/#/Searchlight-Kitchener-Waterloo

Junior is just your vote away from winning fabulous prizes... not sure what they are, but I think a rocket to the top of the charts is included, which will ensure stardom, and ensure me a job polishing his Bentley.

From what I've seen, polishing your kid's Bentley is one of the better gigs available in one's reclining years...

So vote early and vote often!

Rethinking death

Not death so much, but funerals.

As Junior and I were driving back from Toronto today we had the CBC on the car radio, and the presenter posed the question, "with the polar bears' natural habitat shrinking, should we consider feeding them ourselves?"

Now I know she didn't intend to suggest, or at least I assume she didn't, that we consider feeding ourselves to the bears.

But let's think this through.

I'm willing to bet that there's more than a few folks who would be amenable to having their mortal coil left to nature once their souls go to where ever it is that souls go.

When I kick the bucket, why can't the the Farm Manager just have me laid out in the back woodlot for the black bears and the vultures and the coyotes? In the more northerly climes the job would fall to the polar bears. In Kenya it would be the lions, etc.

When you think about it, this is an eminently reasonable idea. Cemeteries take up a lot of valuable real estate and cost a lot to maintain. Being recycled as bear excrement is far better for the environment.

So Junior points out that this wouldn't work in locales where there are no bears, polar or otherwise, or lions, etc.

The zoo! Popping the cadavers over the fence at the lion enclosure would draw an entirely new clientele to the zoo, and would also save the zoo a bundle on the food budget!

Junior has got pretty good critical thinking chops, and right away he comes up with a reasonable objection; who wants to take their three year old to the zoo to see the polar bears munching on dear old grand-dad?

Simple solution - do the feeding in a "premium zone" from which small children and squeamish types can be excluded. The folks who have been waiting their entire lives to see dear old grand-dad ripped to shreds would happily fork over an extra twenty bucks for the opportunity.

I think this could catch on. Your hard-core back-to-nature types would be all over it. Folks who just want to save the cost of a funeral would go along with it. The bears and the lions would approve.

The big obstacle is going to be the funeral directors lobby.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Careers in bullshitting

I've had a bit of fun sniffing out the career paths where your bullshitting skills are going to take you a long way.

Politics.

Economics.

Practically anything with the word "analyst" in the job description.

Psychoanalyst would pretty much be at the top of the pile.

Have you ever noticed that your top Hollywood neurotics have all been in therapy for 20, 30, 40 years?

And they're not getting better?

But I digress.

Here's a stock market analyst  a couple of years ago who sees a $14 share price for Postmedia.

As in most bullshitting trades, you are never held accountable when your bullshit turns out to be bullshit.

Postmedia is about two bucks at the moment, and that is just a temporary hiatus on its way to zero.

Go massive short on this piece of shit. It's not a media play, it's a Lazarus play. A few hedgies bought up the debt from the old Canwest and figured they could breathe life into the paper they bought for ten cents on the dollar.

It's sort of working for them so far, but it won't much longer.

This dog will drown.


Passages

I first met Ed Hutton because his son Bob used to wait for the school bus in front of Kipling's place just outside Guelph.

At the time Kipling's place had some serious high performance iron parked on the front lawn. There was Kipling's 426 Hemi Charger and two of Barney's 396-375 Novas, all festooned with "for sale" signs.

No wonder young Bob fell in love with fast cars.

He also fell in love with Kipling's sister-in-law, but that's another story.

Later on I met Ed in the context of a business deal. Ed was one of those old-school straight ahead guys whose word was his bond. This was a man who you knew implicitly could be trusted on a handshake over a million dollar deal.

Ed was a farmer. Used to tell me stories about how in the old days they used to hardly buy anything off the farm. In the course of his career that changed 180 degrees, to the point where farmers do one crop and buy everything off the farm.

As fate would have it, Ed was just about ready to throw in the towel back in the early sixties, when one of the local road construction guys approached him about digging gravel out of his place.

Long story short, gravel farming made Ed a multi-millionaire. He ended up with half a dozen farms, all on the outskirts of a fast-expanding city.

I lost touch with Ed these last few years.

Kept meaning to drop in and catch up.

Too late now.

Ed passed away a week ago.

And to Florence and the family all I can say is I'm sorry I missed that catching up.

Happy trails, Mr. Hutton!

60 Minutes airs Iron Dome infomercial

The CBS news show 60 Minutes led off tonight's program with what was essentially an infomercial for Raphael Industries' Iron Dome anti-missile missile system.

There is no doubt that Iron Dome is capable of some impressive stuff.

And although 60 Minutes didn't spell it out, there is also no doubt that the Iron Dome advantage will be fully spent within the first ten minutes of the next serious conflagration with Hezbollah.

Estimates of Hezbollah missile stockpiles range from 65,000 to ten times that. The Iron Dome batteries in place today might be capable of taking out some of the first barrage; a few hundred under the most optimistic scenario.

Then what?

When the ever-smug Ehud Barak gloats over how Iron Dome gives Israelis the peace of mind to go jogging on the beach, he is perpetuating a false sense of security.

Real security will only come with making peace with the enemies - all of them. That means talking to Hamas. That means talking to Hezbollah.

That means talking seriously with everybody in the neighborhood.

Iron Dome is a great gambit for fostering a false sense of security.

Peace is something else.

Putin haters at Washington Post plumb depths of absurdity in latest anti-Putin rant

See for yourself.

Yup, Obama is reaching out to the oppressive Bolshevik Putin.

Is it even worth asking the WP Editorial Board in how many countries Russian drones are at this moment terrorizing entire populations?

Putin has good reason to be suspicious of US funded democracy promoters working to subvert his government. Mainly because that's exactly what they're doing.

Oddly enough, the Carnegie Endowment continues to enjoy Putin's hospitality from their Moscow offices even as they work to smear Putin's government.

Obama stares down Israel Lobby in Hagel nomination

If recent statements by Senator McCain are any indication, it looks like Chuck Hagel is in as Secretary of Defence.

This is a good-news story. If the Oracle of Nairobi is going to roll up his sleeves and take on the lobbyists, the Israel Lobby is a good start.

Maybe he can carry on by staring down the Health Insurance Lobby and introduce REAL health care reform.

Putting a stop to blowing up mountains all over Appalachia would mean he has to take on the coal lobby.

And this criminally insane practice of pumping poisons into the earth to release gas and oil means he'll have to take on the frackers lobby.

Some serious regulation of the banksters means he'll have to take on the Wall Street lobbyists.

This could be a busy term for Obama...

But I'm not holding my breath.

Reading The Hindu

The Hindu is India's third largest English language newspaper. It was the first newspaper in India to introduce an on-line edition. I find it an interesting read because it offers an non-Eurocentric, non-Amerocentric  perspective on world events.

Take this story about China's navy holding joint exercises with Pakistan's navy. What's interesting is the casual mention of China's cooperation with both Pakistan and India, two countries invariably portrayed as regional rivals in Western media.

While they may be rivals, neither have any qualms about coordinating their military activities with China.

The passing reference to Chinese cooperation with Japan is also telling. In Western media China-Japan relations have recently been portrayed as having deteriorated to the point that they are on the brink of open warfare.

And how often do you read in Western media that China has a policy of having no military bases outside of China?

The US has over a thousand.

Most telling of all, in a nine paragraph story about Chinese Navy exercises off the coasts of some of America's most dependent client states and supposedly "most dangerous" enemies, there is not a single reference to the US.

Something to ponder.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

US to opt out of G20 uniform corporate tax rate

Well, there I was, just thrilled to learn that the G20 had come up with a good idea. Pretty much a first for that august organization!

That in itself is a novelty worth celebrating. If the multinationals face the same tax rate in every country, there's no reason for them to relocate to avoid taxes.

But there is always a fly in the ointment. There is always a party pooper.

Note about six paragraphs from the end we have an anonymous observer claiming that the US does not "share the enthusiasm" of the Europeans for a uniform tax rate.

That's the end of that.

Mitt Romney can breathe easy.

It's true! G20 to impose uniform corporate tax

I read it at France 24. It must be true!

And it's long overdue. This will allow governments to collect the taxes from those corporate entities that shuffle their subsidiaries to low-tax jurisdictions. That's where the profits are made and the taxes are paid.

At a tax rate of zero or close to it.

This will cramp the style of Mitt Romney's Bain Capital and a thousand other corporate tax evaders.

Reminds me of the big tax case Irving Oil had in the Canadian courts back in the early '90's. I took a special interest in that case because I had just arrived in New Brunswick after being hounded into bankruptcy by Revenue Canada.

From the deck of my new home just below the Martello Tower we would watch the biggest oil tankers in the world glide up the Bay of Fundy to the Canaport oil offloading depot.

That's where oil from the worlds major oil export nations found its way to Canada's biggest oil refinery, owned by the Irvings.

Between the tanker and the oil refinery half a mile away, the oil was bought by an Irving subsidiary in tax-free Bermuda, and then sold at a higher price to Irving Oil.

That made the profits taxable in tax-free Bermuda.

Irving Oil won their case.

I didn't win mine.

How bogus is Barrick Gold's $3.8 billion writedown of its African copper mine?

It is a source of amazement to me that we routinely see these stories and accept them at face value.

In this particular case it's about Barrick, the worlds biggest gold producer, but it's a common enough story. Company A buys company B for X billlions. A year or two later it's "oops, did we ever step in a multi-billion dollar cow-pie on that one! Faces red! So sorry!"

There follows a massive writedown of their asset value. That translates into a loss for tax purposes. That creates massive tax deductions.

There is absolutely no way to confirm the legitimacy of the writedown. Did a bunch of extremely well paid and well educated MBAs really step into a multi-billion dollar cow-pie?

Or are these writedowns just a massive tax dodge?

NEWS FLASH: G20 PLAN UNIFORM CORPORATE TAX RATE!

That's a stunner! I heard it on the CBC News as I was driving the Farm Manager to the Foodland on the weekly resupply junket.

According to the CBC, the news came from a memo leaked from the Moscow G20 meeting this weekend.

I have since spent hours trying to nail the story down. Because it would be a great story. Imagine a single corporate tax rate all across the G20.

And since the G20 are the bully boys of the global economy, they can readily impose a uniform tax on the rest of the world.

Good-bye to corporate tax havens!

Hello billions of dollars for the common good!

Depending on where the tax was set, that could even be trillions!

Alas, I can't seem to find any corroboration for the CBC news story anywhere.

But I can find plenty of stories like this and this.

So I have reluctantly concluded that insofar as the G20 have agreed on a uniform corporate tax rate, the rate will be zero.

Why is Muslim Brotherhood doing Israel's dirty work in Gaza?

There has to be a good deal more to this story than Bloomberg Businessweek is sharing with us.

Flooding the Gaza tunnels is the sort of gesture we would have expected from Mubarak. After all, he was an unapologetic US stooge and everybody knew it.

But Morsi is supposedly a different breed of cat. Hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, just like the Hamas leadership on the other side of the fence.

Is it possible that after mere months in power Morsi has capitulated to US pressure to distance himself from his Islamist brothers in Gaza?

Is it not curious that this story emerges just as Hamas and PA delegations are in Cairo negotiating a reconciliation?

Is this story true or have a few token tunnels been temporarily flooded to make photo-ops and float a propaganda story?

"Oh look, that Morsi is not such a bad chap after all! We can do business with him..."

Move on minimum wage reveals Obama's communist agenda

Not that this is a scoop. If you want proof of Obama's commie cred just go to www.jesus-is-saviour.com. They've had the Oracle of Nairobi pegged for years.

But this brazen talk of a $9/hr minimum wage outs the closet commie once and for all. Hell, in some parts of the USA that's going to put a worker in a full time job over the poverty line!

What next?

A chicken in every pot?

A Dodge Ram 4X4 in every driveway?

The mind boggles....

Al Qaeda militants in control of Benghazi

Reports from Libya indicate that the Ansar al Sharia militia, responsible for the attack on the US consulate last September, have re-emerged and now man checkpoints into the eastern city.

They are for all practical purposes the local branch of the al Qaeda franchise. After the September attack they went low-profile, but as the bellicose rhetoric coming from the likes of Senator John McCain has proved nothing but talk, they are apparently resuming a more visible role once again.

They are also transitioning into a more socially active player in terms of providing social services where the government has been failing the people. Much as Hezbollah was able to win the loyalty of the locals in Southern Lebanon by establishing order and providing services in an area where the government feared to tread, Ansar al Sharia will win adherents among a populace fed up with the incompetence of the NATO installed stooges in Tripoli.

Then we can pat ourselves on the back for having replaced a progressive and secular regime with another al Qaeda affiliated dictatorship.

Libya two years on; the oil is flowing but where's the money going?

According to this report from the US Energy Information Administration oil production in Libya in 2012 virtually drew even with what it was before the NATO intervention. That would mean gross oil revenues of about 50 billion dollars.

Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of the beginning of the so-called revolution that ended with the NATO-sanctioned murder of Colonel Gaddafi. That means we're being treated to a spate of analyses in the media.

Here's a sample from Chris Stephen at The Guardian. Seems that the NATO installed and democratically "elected" government has made a success of restoring oil production and made a shambles of everything else. A year and a half after Gaddafi the government has yet to organize trash collection or basic policing services.

The Libyan economy is "on its knees" we are told.

So where is the money going?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pot addled hillbilly blogger connects Mali to Libya months before MSM

It is today considered obvious that the Mali uprising is related to our liberation of Libya. But that's a revelation that only bubbled up in the mainstream media after Hollande the Conqueror committed French troops to Mali.

The View From Falling Downs had it figured out months before French boots hit the ground.

We're not reading much about the liberation of Mali these days. The story has been eclipsed by malfunctioning cruise ships and meteorites in Siberia and that radical Marxist Obama trying to pry the guns out of the hands of law-abiding Americans.

Please don't drink the windshield washer fluid

The National Post has this story about Buddy buying the farm after drinking stolen windshield washer fluid. He thought he was drinking vodka. The fact that Buddy can't distinguish between vodka and windshield washer fluid tells you something.

The fact that the National Post frames the story as that of a hard-done-by employer being "forced" to pay out $218,000, an amount that represents about fifteen minutes profit for the Brewers Retail monopoly in Ontario, tells you what their bias is, but that's another blog post.

For today I'd like to focus on Buddy.

So Buddy and his buddy work for the contractor who washes Beer Store trucks. While they have no reason to ransack the truck cabs, they find a vodka jug behind the seat of a truck and decide it's party time!

Vodka is not beer. This was a beer truck. The driver had used an empty vodka jug to store windshield washer anti-freeze.

Buddy dies and his buddy undergoes a spell of dialysis.

The National Post want you to believe this story is about over-regulation and courts that are biased against corporations.

I believe this story is about insufficient oversight of contractors who take on work that has been contracted out of big regulated companies into a poorly regulated sector that relies on desperate minimum wage labor to do society's dirty work.

Buddy and his buddy just thought they scored a jug of vodka.

Stealing a jug of vodka doesn't merit a death sentence.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

At last!... a medal for drone operators!

Yesterday Leon Panetta announced a new medal for the drone "pilots" who have risen in importance in the ranks of the US armed services.

While sitting in an air-conditioned office thousands of miles away from the enemy may not seem medal-worthy to old-timers, I guess we're not fully appreciating how stressful it must be to play video-games for a living.

Drone operators are apparently at heightened risk of eye-strain and headaches. Anybody who risks eye-strain and headaches in the service of their country deserves a medal.

Viola! The "Distinguished Warfare Medal."

Hopefully this will restore some of the self-esteem the nerd nose-pickers have lost because ungrateful cynics do not fully appreciate their contribution to maintaining the security of the most free and democratic empire in the history of history.

At long last their prestige will be commensurate with their contribution on the field of battle.

I'm sure this is going to be a hot item among collectors of military memorabilia.

RCMP image makeover out of the gate

The day after Human Rights Watch released a sordid report on RCMP mistreatment of native women and girls, the Globe and Mail has a perky fluff-piece designed to take away any disturbing thoughts you might be having about Canada's finest tasering 12 year olds.

We meet RCMP Corporal Jeff Campbell, who leads a team of volunteer cops policing one of the country's premier ski resorts. Not just the resort, but the actual ski runs too.

Why does Lake Louise need armed cops patrolling its hills on snowboards? Are there terror suspects on the slopes? Koran-crazed Towellers schussing the pistes?

No, but the Mounties get to ski for free, and one day they did catch three guys smoking a joint.

While there seems little point for the Mounties on the mountain, it's not hard to discern the purpose of the story or its timing.

How can it even be imagined that such wholesome civic-minded officers have been smeared by some busy-body gang of foreigners like Human Rights Watch?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How those freedom loving ladies in Tahrir Square can prevent rape

this should do it!

Human Rights Watch claims Mounties sexually abuse native women

I know what most Canadians are thinking when they read about the Human Rights Watch report on the RCMP's abuse of native women.

They are thinking this can't be true. I'll admit that's my first reaction too. It's not something we want to believe is possible, especially insofar as it involves our iconic RCMP.

But there are other things we thought couldn't be true that have been borne out, such as Canadian cops dumping intoxicated natives in the wilderness to freeze to death.

Sadly, if that is possible, anything hinted at in the Human Rights Watch report is possible too.



Mounties offer to investigate themselves after scathing Human Rights Watch report

It's telling that the top brass at the RCMP are so stunned that they think investigating themselves is an appropriate response to the allegations of abuse leveled by Human Rights Watch.

Those folks are seriously out of touch and have been for a long time.

This report needs to be independently investigated by outsiders who are in no way beholden to the RCMP's chain of command or their political masters.

A parliamentary commission is not enough. That same parliament oversees the RCMP and has a conflict of interest in any such investigation.

This requires an international investigation with meaningful First Nations representation.

A UN tribunal is in order.

Carnival of "fecal matter"

There's a few thousand folks out on a Caribbean cruise having second thoughts tonight.

But it's too late.

They're on the cruise from hell.

The Carnival Triumph set sail from Texas a few days ago. Then the onboard generators quit. No lights, no running water, no air-conditioning, and the toilets don't flush.

There's urine and fecal matter all over the floors and running down the walls. That's piss and shit in layman's terms.

From time to time well-meaning friends and relations give me the pep-talk about what a great thing it is to go on a cruise.

At the best of times this strikes me as being trapped in a really big Super 8 for a week with three thousand strangers, except the rooms are way smaller and you can't hop in your car and get away from those three thousand strangers.

People talk about cruises being a "good deal," but I swear if I ever won a cruise I'd pay someone to take it off my hands.

And that's before the generators quit and the shit starts running down the walls.

No thanks!

American Hero

Here's a brief story about the Navy SEAL who took down Bin Laden.

He is now out of the service and back in civilian life. No health care, no job, wondering how long he can last before he's homeless to boot.

There's not a candidate for political office anywhere in America who doesn't lard up every speech with platitudes about "our brave men and women in uniform."

Talk is cheap. After giving his country sixteen of the best years of his life, this guy should not have to worry about scrabbling for a job or being screwed over by private health insurers, and he sure as hell shouldn't have to worry about ending up living in the street.

America can do better.

Analysts see Obama moving to the left and to the right in State of the Union speech

Which just proves once again my theory that "political analyst" is one of those professions in which superior bullshitting skills can take you a long way.

Here's a headline telling us Obama is turning left.

And here's one telling us he's turning right!

Presumably both men were listening to the same speech. I think I'll pull the plug on my brief career as a poet and become a political analyst instead!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Democracy, a poem, on the occasion of Obama's state of the state of war address

a thousand birthdays

a thousand graduations

a thousand times we lost all hope to...

gun violence

gun violence

the victims of Newtown deserve a vote

a thousand birthdays

a thousand graduations

a thousand times they lost all hope

to drone violence

    drone violence

the victims in Pakistan

deserve hope.

State of the Universe; Obama lectures the world. A poem.

our enemies

our enemies

congress must act as well

our enemies

our enemies

not just dangers

not just threats

our enemies

America is a beacon

America is a beacon

for justice

for liberty

and we will insist

in sist

in sist

on the fundamental rights of all people.


And we will maintain the best military the world has ever known.


State of the Union; 2nd half

We gotta be more like the Germans, and if we want them to have chances like the German kids we should obviously send them to the Fatherland.

But my ears twig up when he talks about reforming high school education. But it might take more than having all the kids take a shop class.

Although that would be a good start.

Apparently while he's getting all those ducks in line he's going to do something about immigration reform too.

Holy shit, I just saw Senator Lindsay Graham applauding the oracle of Nairobi.

Now he's saving women... oh no... it's the minimum wage he's onto...

NOBODY WHO WORKS FULL TIME IN THE RICHEST NATION ON EARTH SHOULD LIVE IN POVERTY.

What the hell is this guy?... some kind of commie?


The state of the Union

The Union is fucked.

The housing market has NOT healed. There are more than 10,000,000 vacant homes sitting on the American landscape, in one level or another of the foreclosure processed.

That's not "healing."

Corporate profits have sky-rocketed...

Oh-oh... he's starting in about spending cuts, and he's quoting "economists."

That's the kiss of death right there.

But Obama is an absolutely brilliant orator.

After you listen to the oracle of Nairobi for half an hour you're ready to believe that the housing market has healed.

And that his economists can chart a path out of the current malaise.

He wants to set partisan quibbles aside, and right after he says that he segues into "the greatest nation on earth" rhetoric.

So you know he's trying to take your eye off the ball...

Hard work will henceforth guarantee a dignified standard of living.

The future lies in developing Youngstown Ohio into a center of 3-D printer technology excellence.

The next 3-D printer technology great leap forward is just as important as putting the first man on the moon. Or in space. Or at the window seat at Mama Brown's restaurant for breakfast.

Energy security. Energy security. Obama is talking about energy security.  He talks and he talks...

Infrastructure?

Hold the phone brother... won't that take TAXES?

I have to say that as a socialist Obama is a disappointment.


Canada Foreign Minister admits Afghan mission a failure

John Baird shocked the nation today with his blunt refusal to consider sending Canadian troops into Mali.

Canadians have hitherto been under the impression that their mission in Afghanistan has been a great success. How could they have come to believe such rubbish?

Because for ten years, every time PM Harper or Defense Minister MacKay or a top armed forces honcho visited that benighted land they came back with glowing stories of what a "great success" our mission was.

Here is a typical whopper from Harper as the combat mission was winding down.

"We have to consider the mission a great success."

Obviously if it was such a great success, it wouldn't be cited by Baird today as the reason for steering clear of Mali.

Quite aside from how many Afghan lives we wasted, Canada's ten year war in Afghanistan was a waste of Canadian lives and Canadian money.

The truth of the matter is that Canada's Afghan debacle was a debacle pretty much from the moment General Rick Hillier made his boastful threats about "killing scumbags."

But at some level I suppose it's reassuring that even while the Harperites are lying to us they know the truth.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Snow-plow stories

This isn't really a snow-plow story.

It's a Charlie Hill story. Charlie Hill with a snow-plow.

That was a side deal for Charlie. His main business was well-drilling.

Charlie had that gig down pat. Could do the well-witching trick as good as anybody.

My buddy Lippert maintained that if you dug a hole deep enough you could pretty much strike water anywhere. I think he was right.

My folks moved around a bit in my youth, but three or four times at least Charlie got to drill the well at the new place. That was quite the operation back in the day. They'd set up the rig, and then Charlie or one of his men would be tending the drilling process 24/7 for days and days till they struck water.

Then they'd hoist anchor and head to the next job.

With the wisdom of hindsight, I now realize Charlie probably struck water in his first 24 hours on the property. After that, he just kept the drill rig busy till he was scheduled to start the next well.

Charlie was a business icon for me in my formative years. It was widely known he only had a grade four education.

But he was one savvy chain-smoking smooth-talking wheeler-dealer.

So one winter in my late teens the folks left me in charge of house-sitting while they whisked off to Jamaica or somewhere.

Sure enough, the storm of the century hits. I call up Charlie, because after having drilled three wells he's pretty much a friend of the family, and besides, he's got that six foot blade on the front of his Bronco.

So Charlie comes out, and long story short, he gets his Bronco stuck about twenty feet into the driveway.

The driveway is a half mile long.

I spend an hour with a shovel, shoveling this wet heavy snow that gums up snow-blowers and gets snow-plows stuck.

When Charlie and me finally get his Bronco back to the road, I apologize to him and give him twenty bucks for not plowing out the driveway.

That's how smooth he was!

There's no such thing as "progress"

Consider the ubiquitous snow-blower.

Twenty years ago nobody had one. Maybe a guy on the next block who was known for putting on airs had one.

People known for "putting on airs" are now referred to as "early adapters," and are to be emulated rather than shunned.

Well fuck that!

We're having one of those wet snow evenings, aftermath of Nemo, and I just came in after a half hour of shovel work. That's because this is the kind of snow that gums up a snow-blower in no time. All the folks who traded in their snow shovels for snow-blowers are buying shovels when this kind of snow hits.

You can either start shoveling now, or you can dink around un-gumming the snow-blower two or three times and then start shoveling.


How fighting corruption entrenches the most corrupt


The following comes from the website of Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs. On the face of it we appear to be dealing with a well-intended if somewhat patronizing attempt to impose Dudley Do-right norms on Canadian companies and their business ventures around the world. Let's take a closer look. (Italics mine.)

Strengthening Canada’s Fight Against Foreign Bribery

February 5, 2013 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today announced that the Harper government is taking further steps to combat corruption and bribery by tabling amendments to the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act in the Senate. He delivered the following remarks in Ottawa:
“Our government’s top priority is securing jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. In our international dealings, this takes many forms.

(Securing jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity for who? For a relatively small clique of well-established corporate entities, their shareholders and their management.)

“It involves positioning Canada as a reliable supplier of the resources emerging markets need to grow.

(Reliable supplier of resources? As in hewers of wood and drawers of water? Most of our "resources" go to the developed world. Virtually none of our resources go to "emerging markets," and when they do, the Conservative government is easily persuaded to let foreign companies bring in foreign workers, which clarifies who Baird is "securing jobs" for above. Most of Canada's resources are owned by foreign entities.)

“It involves pursuing an aggressive, pro-trade agenda.

(For the benefit of who?)

“It involves creating the conditions for Canadian businesses to succeed.

(Aha! How do we "create" those conditions?)

“But our government also expects Canadian business to play by the rules.

(Here's the rub; whose rules?)

“Canadian companies can compete with the best and win fairly.

(A harmless bit of nationalistic jingoism, but we're getting to the nitty-gritty...)

“To signal our commitment and our expectation that other countries do the same, I am pleased to announce that our government is redoubling our fight against bribery and corruption.
“Today, reforms are being introduced in the Senate that will further deter and prevent Canadian companies from bribing foreign public officials. These amendments will help ensure that Canadian companies continue to act in good faith in the pursuit of freer markets and expanded global trade.
“Canada is a trading nation. Our economy and future prosperity depend upon expanding our trade ties with the world. This, we hope, is a good faith sign that Canada’s good name retains its currency.”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the first place, while Baird may sincerely harbour delusions about "signalling... our expectation that other countries" play by the same rules, they don't and they won't. In the international arena Canadian mining companies and engineering conglomerates are up against competition from the US, Israel, Brazil, Germany, South Korea, and so on, none of which are bound by Canadian law. The only reason serious Canadian-based international players ever became that are because they were spreading the schmier-geld around like everybody else. 

The recent revelations about SNC Lavalin make a great example. Getting billion dollar contracts sometimes takes millions of dollars of "bribes."

But whatever else he is, Baird is not a stupid man. He knows full well that the big dogs won't be effected by this legislation. The SNC Lavalins and Ledcors and so on can pay their schmier-geld legitimately. Legitimate lobbying. Legitimate consulting contracts. Legitimate advisory fees.

At the highest levels, US conglomerates have Hilary Clinton making their sales calls. That's all perfectly legitimate. In Canada Baird and Harper do the same thing for the big Canadian multi-nationals. All totally legitimate. 

What this legislation is intended to do is keep the competition out, the little guys, the young entrepreneurs who want to do an end run around the sclerotic status quo. Guys like Dan Gertler or Brad Griffiths.

So the Harper gang puts through this bit of legislative tomfoolery designed to cast them as moral exemplars, while the real purpose of this initiative is to protect the establishment and keep the new guys out of the game.




Sunday, February 10, 2013

Serenading Armageddon

Had to watch this a couple of times before I figured out "the girl with the iron nose."  The incongruity of all those happy folks partying their way into oblivion is bracing, but then again I'm watching the Grammys as I write this...

Sharp dressed men; worlds best dressed leaders

File:Muammar al-Gaddafi-30112006.jpg
Alright, now we know why Muammar had
to go... who the hell wears medals on a T-shirt?
Nigeria Big Boss Goodluck Jonathan rocks the
bowler hat like nobody else!






Afghan Supremo Hamid Karzai wears the coolest cape since
Batman!



Canadian journalism's reputation threatened by shabby journalism

That's a lame bit of reportage on view at the Globe and Mail.

Campbell Clark manages to spin 1500 words of uncorroborated speculation into a vaguely threatening yarn about Islamic terrorists using Canadian passports, with not so much as a nod in the direction of the well-documented use of Canadian passports by Israeli agents.

Maybe that's why the Islamists have started using them; border guards around they world will automatically assume they are Israeli secret agents!

Today's Toronto Star offers a similarly ahistorical perspective in a story about women's rights in Afghanistan.
(What Afghan women fear, p A3)  After reading this story by Hamida Ghafour one could be forgiven for thinking Afghan history began in 2001, before which was a period of darkness ruled by Islamic primitives.

This conforms neatly to the narrative the Nations of Virtue like to project; that the world would be a wretched place indeed if not for our civilizing efforts. The truth of the matter is that women in Afghanistan were free to be educated and free to work in the bad old days of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, but Cold War imperatives compelled the USA to destroy that society by creating, arming, and funding the Taliban.

The subtext is obvious; without the civilizing hand of the occupiers, all the gains made by Afghan women in the past ten years are at risk.