Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Rob Ford takes leave of absence from mayor's chair to focus on new reality show

Ya, I know that's not how they're spinning the story at your reputable news outlets, but trust me.

For the straight skinny on a disreputable dude like Ford you have to turn to a disreputable news source like Falling Downs.

Robbie will sign into a high profile addiction palace like Homewood for a few days and then jet off to LA.

Trust me.

The man knows what side his bread is buttered on, and there's way more butter in Hollywood than in Toronto...

And the dude loves butter.

Racism finally expunged from America!

Thank God!

150 years after emancipation America has finally got rid of the last traces of racism!

It all happened when the billionaire owners and the millionaire players and the middle-class fans of the NBA came together to shame 'n shun the senile shitbag Donald Sterling.

Truly a kumbaya moment!...

Ya, I suppose that's better than nothing, but what is it really?

Vacuous symbolism?

From where I'm sitting, it still looks like whitey goes to college and the black dudes go to jail.

But it was one hell of a feel-good moment!

Ukraine Army's midnight military exercises a prelude to coup?

It's become more than obvious over the past few weeks that the high command of the Ukrainian military don't consider themselves accountable to the Nuland-Pyatt government.

So why they would need to hold "military exercises" in Kiev overnight is an interesting question indeed.

The announcement was contradicted within hours by the mayor of Kiev, who claimed that only local police and militia would participate in the exercise.

Meanwhile, the IMF announced a $17 billion loan late today, which is about half of what Ukraine needs over the next two years.

The balance is expected to come out of the hides of the broke and beleaguered people of Ukraine.

That's the reality of Ukraine today; nobody in charge, everything in chaos, and the the only certainty grinding Greek-style poverty for many many years.

Fake Ukraine government doesn't control Ukraine military

Acting Ukrainian President Turchynov is referred to as "acting" because he was never actually elected by anyone other than the US ambassador.

That "presidential" schtick is just an act!

That's probably why the troops theoretically under his control seem to have a hard time taking him seriously. Here's President Turchynov quoted at Kyivpost.com today;

I will be frank: Today, security forces are unable to quickly take the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions under control," said Turchynov.
He said that the situation has detriorated to the point that Kyiv cannont control its own troops. In recent weeks, numerous Ukrainian military and security personnel have defected, turning over their arms to pro-Russian insurgents and joining the separatist movment.
""The security bodies ... are unable to carry out their duties of protecting citizens. They are helpless in those matters. Moreover, some of those units are either helping or cooperating with terrorist organizations," said the interim President.

They have at least enough pride and professionalism and loyalty to Ukraine to refuse orders from a US-installed stooge.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The crazy every-lasting magic circle between foreign policy and war profiteering

When you've spent some time looking at the big picture, it dawns on you that American foreign policy does indeed have goals and objectives.

On the surface, it may be one non-stop cluster-fuck.

You watch America in the abstract, and it's like, holy shit, why do they keep shooting themselves in the foot? And then the other foot?...

But have you noticed that most of our expert think-tankers are just PR folks who cycled through the military-industrial-investment-fund-arms-manufacture-news-media complex?

Is it possible that there might be PR folks pushing for war just because their clients would profit from war?

Blowback against Philippine-US pact begins within 24 hours

If you want to see how retarded American foreign policy is, just check out this story.

Not 24 hours pass after the announcement of a new US-Philippine military base sharing agreement, when the streets of Manila go up in flames...

After a horrendous (for the locals) war of conquest, the Filipinos are so paranoid about keeping US bases out of their country, they actually wrote it into their constitution.

So with a bit of arm-twisting Obama gets to re-establish US military bases in the Philippines.

Little does he realize he has just galvanized, re-activated, re-invigorated, and revitalized the anti-American sector in Filipino politics.

Canada turns to private sector to honour Afghan veterans

When you read up on the folks behind the True Patriot Love Foundation it's really hard not to come away with the impression that the Honouring Afghan Veterans initiative is driven by a bunch of self-promoters eager to ingratiate themselves with the Harper gang.

You've got a guy at the top who is in the business of privatizing health care. A couple of other big dogs are minor players in the hedge fund industry. Top that up with a couple of PR industry insiders, and that's the "True Patriot Love Foundation."

These are the folks we've entrusted to honour our Afghanistan veterans.

May 9 is to be our memorial day to honour the Canadian servicemen and women who died in that country. When the party was initially announced, there was a bit of a kerfluffle over the fact that the promoters of this public-private joint-venture commemoration expected the families of the deceased to pay their own way to Ottawa for the festivities.

Isn't that rich? Ma and Pa from Moose Jaw can pay their own way to Ottawa to celebrate our achievements in Afghanistan which took the life of their child...

That gambit took enough heat that it's now been changed to "somebody" will pick up their travel costs. That somebody doesn't seem to be the Harper government, but rather the "foundation" that put this PR exercise together.

And what exactly are we celebrating here?

Who remembers the bullshit 'n bluster from the Hillier days when our boys were gonna go and fix those murdering scumbag Talibs pronto?

Then we had innumerable quotes from the big dogs, Harper and Defence Minister MacKay, to the effect that us Canadians are not the sort to cut and run and we're gonna be there to the bitter end blahblahblah...

We've long since cut and run, the murdering scumbags are poised to retake the country, 158 Canadians died for nothing, and we're going to have a celebration?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

American society is racist through and through

Spare me the faux outrage over Donald Sterling.

All the usual equality entrepreneurs like Al Sharpton are weighing in on the issue.

Fact is, 150 years after emancipation, white folks go to college while niggers go to jail.

Which is not to denigrate the achievements of those black folks who get to college, or to the NBA. But if one thing is true in America today, it is this; no matter how steep the climb from nothing to middle class "respectability", it's twice as steep for black folks.

So a white fat-cat makes some untoward remarks about black people, and everybody acts like this is some sort of deviation from a civilized norm. It isn't. It's merely a deviation from the norm that we don't talk about our systemic racism in public.

The NBA has produced more black multi-millionaires than any other business venture in American history. Maybe the NFL or MLB gives them a run for their money...  Let's celebrate that, but as we do, let's remember that's the exception.

The unmitigated stupidity of Sterling's remarks put paid to the concept of meritocracy. As far as I can tell, his Clippers are entirely dependent for their success on the black folks both in the stands and on the court.

As a not-too-bright white fat-cat, Donald Sterling may be biting the hand that feeds him, but what his racist ruminations reveal is nothing out of the ordinary in contemporary America.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Allah smites Saudi Arabia

That mystery "MERS" virus has by now taken out close to 100 people in Saudi Arabia.

And do you want to know why?

The Almighty, call Him or Her what you want, and praise be His name, just in case... is Mightily pissed at the rampant misogyny of the House of Saud.

Like, 150 lashes for driving a car seems a bit medieval, no?

Then again, "medieval" pretty much sums up America's second best bestie in the entire Middle East.

Just Eat It; new food doc exposes truth about best before dates

Haven't seen the movie yet, but this new documentary about food looks like a must-see.

The Monsanto crowd wants you to believe the world needs their franken-foods to avoid mass starvation in the years ahead.

Bullshit!

The world already produces enough food to feed 11 billion people. The reason we have hunger on this planet is because the consumerist model of food distribution demands that you go hungry if you can't afford the food. That's also why my cats eat while children in the latest starvation hot spot don't. It's not about being hungry and it's not about a shortage of food; it's about what you can and can't afford. The capitalist food chain would rather throw good food in the dumpster than forward it to hungry people.

Just Eat It calls out the "best before" scam for what it is; a supply chain management device. We gave you the goods on "best before" dates right here at Falling Downs a couple of years ago.

Once again, we were ahead of the curve.






Jason Kenney hopes nobody notices his flaming trousers

Criticism of the Temporary Foreign Worker program has gone from a trickle to a tsunami recently as the media big boys take an interest in the story. It's no longer just fringe bloggers and union types who see a problem with bringing in hundreds of thousands of "temporary foreign workers" at a time when over a million Canadians don't have jobs.

After spending the last couple of years hoping the issue would go away, Kenney has finally been forced into action. The action he is taking meets the most obvious part of the media controversy head-on, namely the revelation that mega fast-food chains Tim Hortons and McDonalds have been bringing in workers by the thousands because no Canadians have the skills to pour coffee or flip burgers.

The Minister announced on Friday that the fast-food industry will be temporarily banned from using the program, until such time as people forget about it, whereupon it will be quietly resurrected. In making the announcement the Minister portrayed himself as the champion of ordinary Canadians. He was, he said with a straight face, giving the employers the message that they should "improve wages and benefits" of their Canadian workers!

Hopefully most Canadians are not that gullible. The exponential growth of the TFW program under the Harper government has been deliberately engineered to erode the wages and benefits of Canadian workers, and it has worked very well in achieving that objective.

Too bad those media busy-bodies had to shine their light on things...

When is a "OSCE observer" actually a NATO spy?

If ever there was an opportunity for the OSCE to achieve something useful, one would think that the Ukraine crisis would represent that chance. After all, both Russia and Ukraine are members.

How odd, then, that the thirteen OSCE "observers" detained in Slavyansk last week all happen to be soldiers from NATO countries? (with the possible exception of a lone Swede among them.)

Like NATO itself, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is one of those Cold War relics that refuses to climb quietly into the dustbin of history. Instead, it provides a cushy sinecure for various well-connected political and military insiders who then face the conundrum of reinventing reasons for its existence.

In the present climate of hysterical propaganda-slinging by all sides, the question of whether this group were "observers" or "spies" is moot.

They were both, and what you call them depends on which direction you're hoping to fan the winds of propaganda.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Why potheads won't ever take over the world

Because they can't be bothered.

Because if the dominos ever fell your way, and you had to actually run something, like a country, in a mature and responsible way, you'd be screwed.

Even before you decreed the official four day weekend, Standard and Poors would have downgraded your rating.

Then everybody would be all over you.

Running a country would be like having x number of millions, depending on the population of the country, all nagging at you at the same time.

Why would you ever want to jeopardize a good buzz with that sort of foolishness?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Child's Play

Guy I knew came up in the occupied territories of Poland back in the day. Occupied by German settlers for hundreds of years.

Towards the end of the WW 2 the Red Army put the run to any German settlers still holding the fort in those occupied territories.

It was an ugly business.


Buddy was one of those German settlers.

Buddy told me that as a child of no more than twelve, he served as a spotter for a Wehrmacht sniper on a train leaving for the coast. A train full of fleeing German settlers heading for the shore and a maritime evacuation. A train that had to make its way through areas already in the hands of the Red Army.

In those dying days of the most deadly of wars, many more people had to die before that which had been obvious for at least the past couple of years played out to its brutal end.

The Russian front broke the back of the Wehrmacht.

At an incredible cost.

That's one reason it's so obscenely off-side when poseurs on the world stage talk about today's Russia being just like Nazi Germany.

Buddy survived his brief career as the sniper's apprentice. He survived die flucht. He survived those five or six years camping in Denmark. He survived as the DP wandering man in Germany and eventually found his way to Canada.

After that, everything was child's play...


Socialists take over venerable right-wing think-tank

What else are we to make of a story emanating from the C.D. Howe Institute claiming that "temporary foreign workers" cause unemployment for Canadians?

The TFW program is doing exactly what it was intended to do; keeping uppity Canadian workers on their toes and saving their bosses oodles of boodle. Since when is this a problem for the Chamber of Commerce types at the C.D. Howe Institute?

Since now apparently, and this is not a good sign for the Harper gang. Once you're alienating your most ardent supporters, your days truly are numbered.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The other side of the TFW debate

 Nobody, but nobody, has been more vocal in the anti-TFW debate than me in the last couple of years. As becomes more evident every day, the Temporary Foreign Worker gig is obviously about cutting the ground out from under Canadian workers.

Why would a Canadian employer have to heed the call of his workers for improved wages and working conditions if they have the option of hiring a TFW crew that glories in the prospect of making twelve bucks an hour and living eight to a room owned by their employer?

The low-water mark of this entire debacle was when the Conservatives decreed that the TFW folks could be paid 15% less than the "prevailing rate."

That aspect of the TFW program has been rescinded thanks to the PR stink it evoked, but the rest of this vile anti-Canadian program continues to fester.

And make no mistake; it is vile, it is anti-worker, and it is anti-Canadian.

Having said that, let's look at a statement the Council of anti-Canadian Workers put out the other day.

Apparently, young Canadians, upon getting a job, want to come in to work when and if they feel like it, and while they are "on the job" as it were, they feel it is their right to check their text messages every five minutes. What employer wants to commit to an employee who has absolutely no sense of the most mundane requirements of what used to be a "job," i.e. getting there on time on a regular basis.

If and when they get to work, young Canadian workers consider it their right to maintain contact with the wider world via their electronic devices, every minute of the workday. Mom wants to know how the new job is working out? Well, she doesn't have to wait till five PM to find out. Luckily you can tell her at 9:30, barely into your orientation session.

What we should be asking ourselves is where young Canadians got this "work" ethic.

Well, take a look at where these young Canadian workers come from. They come from Canadian high schools.

What they learned there is that their "right" to text their Mom about the latest trivialities in their life takes precedence over anything the math or english teacher might have had in mind for that day. Most Canadian classrooms today will tolerate, if not facilitate, having the student text their Mom, Dad, brother, sister, friend, enemy, frenemy, etc. during class time.

And in most Canadian high schools, that bell that once signalled "starting time" is but a mere suggestion. Ya, it's nine o'clock, but don't worry about it. We recognize that you are a sensitive being midway into blossoming into something special and unique, so we are more than happy to accommodate your need to text your Mom, Dad, girlfriend, boyfriend, other girlfriend, etc., until such time as you are ready to join your math/english/geography/whatever class.

And when those work habits you learned in high school turn out to make you unemployable, we blame the employers who are desperate to find somebody who can put in a day of actual work.

Somebody from Mexico or Belize or the Phillipines...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Now that rivers of blood flow in South Sudan, where are those American "policy wonks" who took credit for its creation?

The smug tone of this Reuters story from a couple years ago was nauseatingly offensive then and is even more so now. It is infused from beginning to end with the hubris of privileged white folks dictating to "the darkies" what's best for them.

Not that those meddling Americans would ever use that kind of language. Nope, these would be leading edge capacity builders and civil society enablers and all that other bogus shit that front-runs the neo-colonial drive to get once and for all what we missed last time.

The entire neo-colonial enterprise is naked greed dressed up in the "white man's burden." The drive to "help" the po' folks of South Sudan was motivated by nothing other than the humanitarian instincts of those policy wonks. The oil and other resources in that new country they created had absolutely nothing to do with it.

The New York Times has gone from cheer-leading to hand-wringing in its coverage of South Sudan. It's all about the tribalism, don't you know... meanwhile, African news sources tell a different story.

We've said it before and here it is again; Africa needs to be left to Africans. The do-gooders and the prospectors and the fast-buck artists and the policy wonks and the 101 flavours of evangelists and AFRICOM need to find their busy-work somewhere else.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Should Air Canada fire those baggage handlers?

Air Canada, the once-bankrupt flag carrier for Canada, has recently become the darling of the stock markets.

Frankly, that's an embrace they would do well to avoid.

Anybody who has followed the up and down and down and down trajectory of big-name airlines over the past fifty years knows that whenever a big carrier is having a golden moment in the stock markets, it's time to go short.

The big airplane manufacturers are so hard up for clients that they offer financing deals that make the "zero percent financing" of the big car companies look predatory by comparison. All you need to score 100% financing at 0% interest from Boeing or Bombardier is some vague bullshit business plan that promises them you might need a few of their planes five or ten years down the road.

And of course you need two or three right now just to get the ball rolling.

Done!

No money down and no payments till 2020!

Honestly, it's easier to start an airline than to start a retail clothing shop in your local mall.

The proof of this is the regular cycle of airline bankruptcies.

Eventually they have to pay some bills and they can't...

They declare bankruptcy and start over under a new name a month later.

Because all those heavily subsidized aircraft manufacturers have tons of product to sell...

But back to those Air Canada baggage handlers. Should they be fired?

Air Canada management, like everyone else, knows that they have achieved their "success" by grinding down the wages of everyone from pilots to flight attendants to baggage handlers.

It's become a never-ending race to an ever-receding bottom. If a few workers take some short-cuts to make their jobs do-able, well, that's life in the age of efficiency. I'm sure that if some alert passenger hadn't made a video of this incident, Air Canada wouldn't give it a second thought.

But, thanks to that video, they now need to feign concern for customers.

They should not be fired, but they will be.

After all, Air Canada's share price is on a roll, and we can't afford to jeopardize that.

Making Russia disappear; hanky-panky in the blogosphere

On a typical day this blog can expect to get 50 or 60 page views from Russia. In the three years I've been putting out this unique combine of investment tips, political commentary, highly selective personal memoir, and downright awful offal, page views from Russia rank third in number, after only the US and Canada.

So when there are zero page views for several days in a row, I know something is going on.

My Russian readers are back, as of shortly after noon today. 

It's as if a tap was turned off, and then turned on again.

Was it something I said?

Russians enjoy something lacking in much of the Western world; leadership. There's not a whole lot of folks who don't understand who is in charge in Russia.

We can disagree to the nth degree over whether the man governs for "the people" or for a mafia of oligarchs, but we can all agree that one man is in charge.

Nobody is sure who is in charge in America, but most people are agreed that it ain't Obama. The "Oracle of Nairobi" has pretty much dropped the ball on every file that he's ever handled. 

Single payer universal health care morphs into the biggest profit subsidy for private health care ever imagined.

Closing Gitmo morphs into keeping that festering sore open forever, or till the last inmate dies.

Hope and change morphs into dope and rage...

"Red lines" come and go, as well they should, because most of what comes out of Obama's mouth is about political expediency that doesn't look more than 15 minutes into the future.

The Ukraine fiasco is that only because Obama couldn't decide, and still hasn't, what America's "strategic interests" are in that corner of the world. And unless you buy into the "American exceptionalism" fantasies of the PNAC crowd, you have to admit there are none.

A cursory reading of history and a glance at a map will confirm that Russia, on the other hand, does indeed have legitimate strategic interests in Ukraine, specifically in Crimea, and it didn't take Putin long to act in the interests of the nation he is leading.

The presumptuous dilettantism of Nuland and Pyatt was nipped in the bud before they were done congratulating themselves on their "revolution."

That has of course led to the most embarrassing howls of outrage from the PNAC acolytes in Washington, and also from their more devout devotees like Tusk in Poland and the incomparable Harper-Baird combination in Canada.

I don't for a moment imagine that Putin is some sort of modern day messiah who is leading his people to the promised land. But I do believe he is a hard-nosed realist who is preventing Russia from being steam-rollered by the "American exceptionalism" juggernaut that rules Washington and most of its helper-states these days.

And for that Mr. Putin should be celebrated.

Cathal Kelly rides his anti-Putin bona fides to a slot at Canada's newspaper of record

The big dogs at the Globe keep an eye out for up-and-coming talent they can poach from their competitors. Therefore it was no surprise to see Cathal Kelly disappear from the pages of the soft-lib Star and show up instead in the pages of the more serious news organization around the corner.

I'm guessing it was this seamless melding of sports reporting with political commentary that sealed the deal.

Kelly establishes his mastery of geo-politics with the first two sentences; Vladimir Putin doesn't make entrances. Like the devil, he appears.

I'm sure that his former professors at whatever journalism school Kelly attended were cringing by the time they got that far.

It only gets worse. Kelly destroys virtually every convention of professional journalism with a non-stop propaganda attack on Putin. Did he meet or interview Putin? No, but he saw him at an arena!

That's good enough for Kelly's former bosses, and more than good enough for the new ones! Objective reporting be damned - we got a guy here who can parrot the Harper-Baird anti-Putin rants without even trying... sign him up!

Kelly went on to distinguish himself with a heart-felt plea for Canada's Para Olympic squad to stick it to Putin by boycotting the Para Olympics. Yup, it's not up to the able-bodied professional athletes to sacrifice themselves on the altar of political boycotts, but the "challenged" athletes who have been training for years should step up and make Kelly's political statement.

Cathal Kelly himself could have stood on principle and refused his Sochi assignment.

Why didn't he?

Canada's foreign aid spending way down but bafflegab designed to hide that fact is way up

The Ottawa Citizen has an embarrassing story about Canada's failure to meet its foreign aid commitments.

Apparently the only OECD country whose foreign aid budget is shrinking more rapidly than Canada's is Portugal, which has been wracked by economic crisis and austerity for five years.

Now have a gander at the load of bafflegab that the Minister of International Development, Christian Paradis, dropped on his government website just a couple of days before the Citizen story came out;

“Canada recognizes and supports the vital role that civil society plays in reaching development objectives. Civil society engages citizens in their countries’ decision-making processes that affect them. Empowered by the fundamental rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly, civil society enables citizens to hold their governments to account, providing legitimacy to the governing institutions, which in turn ensures growth and sustainable development and reduces poverty.
“Nearly 2.4 billion people around the globe continue to live in regimes where they have little or no say in who leads their country or in how they are governed. Recently, we have seen an increasing trend of states attempting to close the democratic space and restrict the rights of free of expression and assembly—introducing laws and regulations that undermine civil society's independence, restricting access to foreign assistance, limiting the scope of activities and ability to organize, and imposing prohibitive registration and reporting requirements on the community.
“Canada has committed to “deepen, extend and operationalize the democratic ownership of development policies and processes” and to make multistakeholder partnership models the norm. Inclusive development, underpinned by democratic ownership, is essential to building a Post-2015 Development Agenda that delivers results.
“Canada has a strong track record of support for civil society, one that is recognized around the world and can serve as a model to other nations. As recently mentioned by His Highness the Aga Khan, ‘Canada is uniquely able to articulate and exemplify three critical underpinnings of a quality civil society—a commitment to pluralism, to meritocracy, and to a cosmopolitan ethic.’
“It is because of these values that Canada is working hard to protect and promote a democratic space for civil society around the globe. Since 2009, Canada has participated in the Task Team on CSO Development Effectiveness and Enabling Environment and has chaired the multistakeholder Community of Democracies’ Working Group on Enabling and Protecting Civil Society.
“Through its role as Chair of the Working Group, Canada coordinates global actions to counter legislation that restricts civil society. By engaging in principled diplomacy, advocacy and technical assistance activities, we will continue to oppose the adoption of restrictive laws that target civil society, and to support the development and implementation of enabling laws that empower civil society to thrive.
“Going forward, we will continue our commitment to advancing freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law around the world by protecting and promoting an enabling environment for civil society—in law, in policy and in practice. To that end we recognize the need to:
  • Ensure that civil society is included in the development, reform, implementation and monitoring of legal, policy and regulatory regimes that target civil society.
  • Promote, protect and respect fundamental rights and freedoms, particularly the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, the right to free association, the right to freedom of expression, and the freedom to communicate and cooperate with others in all sectors, within and across borders. This right includes cooperation in coalitions and networks using all forms of communication.
  • Ensure the judicious application and monitoring of the rule of law, preventing human rights abuse and protecting human rights defenders against harassment and violence, taking account of special circumstances of human rights defenders for religious freedoms, women and children.
  • Protect the democratic space to ensure that civil society can operate free from unwarranted state intrusion in their affairs; pursue a broad range of self-defined objectives; and seek and secure funding from domestic, foreign and international sources.
  • Support civil society to strengthen their own development effectiveness, consistent with the Istanbul Principles, including enhancing their transparency and accountability.
“Canada believes donors have a responsibility to promote an enabling environment for civil society. Canada intends to provide predictable, equitable and transparent funding opportunities through different modalities that support the diverse roles of civil society; and to promote a multistakeholder dialogue to inform and facilitate a diversity of perspectives and approaches.
“Canada is focused on delivering results for those in need around the world. We will continue to pursue inclusive and sustainable development worldwide by promoting and protecting an enabling environment for civil society. We will encourage other development partners to do the same. And we will ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable people, including women and children, are at the core of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.”
Christian Paradis
Minister of International Development and La Francophon

What the hell does any of that mean?

I'm not sure, but you'd never guess that the guy whose name appears at the end of it oversaw the folding of CIDA into Foreign Affairs last year, and presided over the move to tie "foreign aid" to the foreign projects of major Canadian mining conglomerates, would you?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Canada Navy woefully unprepared for Ukraine gambit

Harper and Baird talk a big game but here's the straight skinny.

Canada's maritime forces are spread way too thin to lend a hand in the Black Sea.

Mostly Canada's maritime forces are spread amongst a number of ship repair facilities on both the east and west coasts.

For every 3 months a Canadian ship spends defending democracy, it has to spend 3 years in drydock for a refit. It's a little-known but oft proved bit of conventional wisdom.

At the present time only three Canadian ships are able to sail the seven seas, and they're all in the Arabian sea looking for terrorists and illegal drugs.

Here for example is the story of HMCS Toronto making the biggest drug bust in her history.

It's tough when you have to weigh the war on drugs against the battle for democracy, but we are a small country and we can't be expected to punch above our weight every time.

Mafiastan

I've been reading Fisk for quite a long time and he generally gets it right.

So it's not that I disagree with his premise, but I'm not sure, as Fisk seems to be, that this is necessarily a bad thing.

How is Mafiastan any different from the status quo in most of the world?

The imaginary elimination of so-called corruption merely replaces under-the-table schmiergeld with "official" application fees, processing fees, handling fees, and so on.

You eliminate corruption by institutionalizing it.

If anything, the under-the-table part of the corruption pie is going to folks outside the regular corruption hierarchy...

Schmiergeld represents the democratization of corruption.

Which is why every now and again you'll see the most corrupt regimes launch anti-corruption drives.

It's not that they want to get rid of corruption.

They just want to get rid of the competition.

Enema Action: The Journal of Geriatric Nursing

If you're looking for poo-porn you're in the wrong place.

This is a serious academic journal dedicated to the science of geriatric nursing.

We are dedicated to the professionals who wipe the drool from my chin and the ka-ka from my butt-crack.

And by the way, I'd like to apologize to the afternoon shift at Gateway Acres for the difficulties encountered on Saturday afternoon. It wasn't my idea to feature the cheese souffle on the breakfast menu.

But this is what I love about you PSW professionals. Nobody raised an eyebrow over the obvious difficulties I was enduring. You just allowed that turtle head free reign. Thanks again for the four hours you spent professionally coaxing mister turtle to freedom.

Which brings me to the subject of academic journals. I'm so happy that Enema Action has found traction among the dedicated professional shit and drool wiping PSWs who are the back-bone of professional nursing home staff.

As Editor-in-Chief of Enema Action, I applaud your efforts to professionalize your profession. And a good top-drawer professional journal serves that cause more effectively than you could possibly imagine.

I realize that some of you have looked askance at that $500 article submission fee. Bear in mind that when the editorial committee selects your article for publication in Enema Action, you will be paid a $50 publication fee, putting you, the published author, $50 ahead of the losers who paid five hundred bucks to NOT have their mundane insights into geriatric care published.

Don't worry, this pay-to-publish nonsense is becoming the norm in academic journals.

You may not like it, but that's the way the scro is swingin' in the modern age of academic journals. It's becoming a pay-to-play world.

That's what Sarah Kendzior and others of her ilk fail to appreciate. Instead of moaning about their bad luck and writing innumerable articles for AJE and Huff Post for free, she should just cough up the money and get published in a reputable journal like Enema Action.

For real. And when we get enough publication fees, we're gonna start the journal.

Promise!




Saturday, April 19, 2014

BREAKING NEWS!!! Frogs singing at Falling Downs!

Actually, the frogs are not yet singing at Falling Downs proper; they are singing in the marsh immediately north of Falling Downs.

They are not yet singing in the marsh to the south, nor are they singing in the creek that conjoins the two.

But they are singing!

That's the best indicator of "spring" we've had yet... with all respect to Wiarton Willy

Big Steve and the Missus; Canada's first family of animal welfare

Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen are without a doubt the most critter-friendly Canadian power couple to ever inhabit 24 Sussex Drive.

The minor imbroglio the other day when a heckler interupted Laureen's presentation at a cat-video conference to enquire about missing aboriginal women is a case in point. The Laureen-bashers think she should be ashamed of the fact that she tried to brush off a question about missing and murdered native women because she had more important business to attend to at the moment; a fund-raiser for homeless cats.

On the other hand, Laureen's champions think she done good to put one of those pesky activist types in their proper place; to wit, hold your tongue about missing and murdered native women until Missing and Murdered Native Women's Day comes round, and not befoul Homeless Cat Day with awkward questions in the meantime.

Big Steve has shown a similar commitment to egregious insensitivity, or disciplined focus, depending on your point of view. Last year a contingent of Cree youth, along with a few elders, made a 1,000 mile protest march from their homes in Northern Quebec to Ottawa to draw attention to a host of issues destroying native society. Did they at least get a welcome from the Prime Minister?

Nope.

Big Steve was busy the day they arrived in Ottawa. He had to be in Toronto to greet a couple of Chinese Pandas on loan to a Canadian zoo.

That's a critical skill for a world leader to have, that ability to keep your eye on the ball... 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Worthy causes of the rich and powerful

Did you hear the one about the Prime Minister's wife scolding a protester?

We're here for homeless cats. Maybe we can do dead native women another time...

And seriously, who does this Hailey King think she is, rudely intruding on a cat video conference with questions about missing aboriginal women?


Obama beyond petty with Abutalebi decision

One of the concepts underpinning the UN is that it serves as a forum wherein rivals can communicate and thereby avoid more serious conflicts.

The US, as host country for the UN, typically does not interfere in the selection of delegates sent to serve there. Obama has defied decades of protocol to deny the entry into the US of Iranian ambassador to the UN Hamid Abutalebi.

The rationale for this idiocy is that Abutalebi was involved in the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. Insofar as that is true, it makes him guilty of nothing other than being an Iranian patriot. Should we be surprised that countries send people to the UN who they consider patriots?

This kind of meddling proves the point for those critics who claim that the UN is just another front for "The Empire."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Radar Love

It was pretty wacked how this euro-trash band captured the American drive-fast-on-bennies crowd back in the day.

Radar Love was a veritable anthem among long distance truckers and other folks who had to get far away soon.

A quarter century later, here's what I can't figure out;

An audio of Golden Earring has had three and a half million views.

An actual live video of the band performing their biggest hit in their prime has barely a quarter million views.

I think the take-away is that long-distance truckers can listen to the audio but they can't watch the videos without jeopardizing their careers.

When Ted Nugent rocked

Anybody who has followed Ted's career since the Amboy Dukes days knows already that Terrible Ted knows how to rock.

If you've seen any of his recent shit where he lends his licks to Republican party fundraisers, you know he still knows how to rock.

But his politics are all fucked up.

Ted is one of those lucky guys who got a few breaks and concluded that everybody else got the same breaks.

There is no question of Ted's bona fides.

But there is a huge question about how the small guy who became a big guy managed to abandon his roots and become a shill for the Republican Party and the NRA.

Wake up, Ted.

Those are not your people.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How to spin Ukraine news into anti-Russian propaganda

Versions of this story are all over the internet today.

What seems to be a common thread in most of these stories is this; a column of six Ukraine Army armoured vehicles were on their way to Kramatorsk, a city in eastern Ukraine that has been suffering from mob violence by a pro-Russian mob.

By the time the column reached the town, the Ukraine soldiers aboard had either defected to the other side or had been removed from control of their vehicles. Either way, by the time they reached their destination the armoured vehicles were sporting Russian flags.

The main point of the story would seem to be that Yatsenyuk, America's non-elected leader in Ukraine, has little popular support among either the people or the Ukraine military.

But the headline at the CBC, Canada's government owned broadcaster, frames the story as "Combat vehicles in east Ukraine fly Russian flag."

That's subtle but slick; it leads the reader to surmise that these combat vehicles are part of some Russian subterfuge. They're not armoured cars, they're "combat vehicles." The fact that they fly the Russian flag is proof of Canadian government allegations that Putin is behind the unrest in eastern Ukraine.

That lets the reader avoid the realities of a) Ukraine soldiers defecting against the non-elected and illegitimate goverment of Kiev, and b) massive popular resistance against that government.

This allows the public broadcaster, under severe attack by the Harper government, to score some brownie points with its benefactor. All they had to do was slant the narrative ever-so-slightly to align with the Harper-Baird commitment to that illegitimate government in Kiev.

Mass stabbings ignite knife-control debate

Everybody got something in a kitchen drawer that, when used incorrectly, can sever an artery, or even a head.

Thus far, knife owners have escaped the general opprobrium directed at gun owners.

That's about to change.

In recent weeks mentally unstable folks who were most likely heavily prescribed very legal psychotropic drugs have succeeded in killing dozens in places as far afield as Kunming China, Murrysville Pennsylvania, Regina Saskatchewan, and Calgary Alberta.

With a knife!

Oh-oh!

It's just a matter of time before the do-gooders notice that any mentally unstable idiot can walk into Walmart and walk out with a sharp pointy object that can kill innocent people.

Look for a politician near you starting a debate about a knife registry. Maybe screening for potential knife purchasers. A criminal background check?...

Might as well get used to cutting that T-bone with a butter knife... or not. A butter knife could be modified into a rapid-fire steak knife by anyone with a file or a bench grinder...

Mark my words; in a year or two we'll all be forced to pick up that T-bone and eat it with our hands!

Unless the National Knife Association comes out and impresses upon the public imagination that it's not knives that kill people; it's people that kill people.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Toronto's corporate sports overlords celebrate rare playoff appearance by giving fans a good screwing

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment is the name of the conglomerate that controls professional sports in Canada's biggest market.

They don't really concern themselves with fielding winning teams, because they have found the docile Toronto market will sell out their games year after year even with the most mediocre teams on the ice/pitch/hardwood.

This year was to be a rebuild year for the NBA Raptors, but after getting rid of one of the teams' bigger salaries in mid-season, the team unexpectedly gelled. Not only did they gel, but they're in the play-offs!

For the first time in six years!

So how does MLSE reward their long-suffering fans?

By sticking it to them with the highest playoff ticket prices in the NBA!

And how are the fans responding? They're lining up to buy the tickets, of course!

Don't forget; this is the same town that made Rob Ford their mayor!

American money

Junior been busy...

https://soundcloud.com/#jakeneumann/american-money-unfinished

Baghdad Strong

Boston marked the first anniversary of the Marathon Bombing today, with a timely reminder from VP Biden that "we own the finish line."

What exactly such jingoistic nonsense may actually mean is not a question welcomed on a sombre day such as this. It's enough that the Red Sox are playing again. The Bruins made the Stanley Cup finals mere months after the terror attacks. Boston gamely shook off the effects of a terror attack that killed three. There have been no known terror attacks in Boston either before or since the Marathon Bombings.

Boston Strong.

If you go back to the pre-invasion era, you will find that Baghdad used to be a very peaceable city. Although much larger than Boston, it had a similar number of violent deaths. That all changed in March of 2003.

Since then, three deaths on any given day in Bagdhad would not be considered newsworthy either inside or outside the country. It takes dozens of deaths to get the attention of the media, and even then it will be a story relegated to the back pages.

There is of course no need for commemorations, because Baghdad would never have a chance to do anything else. Every day would be given over to marking the anniversary of one slaughter or another, every one of them dwarfing what happened at the Boston Marathon. Many days would have to commemorate multiple slaughters.

Unlike America, the Iraqis do not "own the finish line." They are victims of history, not makers of history. Specifically, they are the victims of the history that America has made for them.

That's something to remember the next time you hear an American politician speculating about why "those people hate us?"

Sacking of Bandar Bush signals failure of Saudi Syria policy

Bandar bin Sultan is unemployed today. When he was handed the keys to the intelligence apparatus of The Kingdom less than two years ago it was widely assumed that Bandar would use his Washington connections to draw the US more deeply into the Syrian war.

When Obama balked at his own "red line" last year it became obvious that Bandar's influence in Washington wasn't what it used to be.

While the immediate goal of regime change in Syria has reluctantly been abandoned, is there a new strategy?

Coupled with the recent propaganda initiative that claims the US is now giving "rebels" advanced weapons for the first time, it would appear the answer is no. America and its allies are prepared to let Syria burn. In fact, they are determined to keep the fires burning at any cost. The fact that this strategy poses very serious risks for all of America's allies in the region, especially Jordan, Israel, and The Kingdom itself, is a risk that the beltway war-mongers seem willing to take.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Alwayne Bigby to challenge Rob Ford for Mayor's chair?

Now let me make it clear right off the top that Alwayne is presumed innocent until proven guilty. It's just an allegation that he shot that woman having a smoke in her garage, as he was cruising by in his Land Rover.

That's what makes Alwayne uniquely qualified to run for Mayor. The incumbent may strike a gansta pose, but he just cruises his Escalade aimlessly whilst in a drunken stupor. 

Alwayne at least has the brio to shoot off his 9mil while he's cruising his Land Rover down your street.

And it's all allegations of course. We don't even know yet if he is alleged to be the driver or alleged to be the shooter.

So Bigby doesn't have the typical Mayoral wannabe resume, but he's no poseur; four years of NCAA and a Master's degree in education attest to that. He coulda made the NBA if he'd worked a little harder...  Hell, if fate had taken a different bounce he coulda been the chair of the Toronto District School Board some day soon!

I think he could give Ford a run for his money!

Helpless Ukraine is world's 4th largest weapons exporter

That's according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

That didn't stop Senator John McCain from showing up on Face the Nation yesterday to plead for US arming of Ukraine, which is probably just more evidence that McCain inhabits a peculiar time warp wherein the clock is forever stopped a few seconds before midnight and the Ruskies could at any moment trigger the final showdown between the Nations of Virtue and the Evil Empire.

McCain's fantasyland aside, there can be no doubt that the last thing Ukraine needs is more weapons. Nor does it need the kind of belicose talk that never stops coming from the mini-McCains in Ottawa, Mssrs Baird and Harper.

Yatsenyuk took to the airwaves the other day to offer the east of the country more autonomy. That's the official Russian position, and marks the kind of compromise that unfortunately isn't allowed to get traction when the war-mongers and Putin-haters like Harper, Baird, and McCain are vacuuming up all the oxygen in the arena of international public debate.

Ukraine is an economic basket case because for twenty years it has been systematically looted by its own oligarchy. Once "the people" of Ukraine are left to steer their own course, as opposed to being a pawn in America's quest for perpetual Empire, they will find their way. A glance at a map will suggest that they may well have more reasons to have closer ties to their Russian neighbours than to their self-proclaimed champions in the West.

Canada revs up the anti-Russia rhetoric

It was a red-letter day for empty bravado out of Ottawa today. Big Steve and his right-hand man took turns warning the world that we are on the cusp of the most grave crisis to seize modernity since the end of the cold war.

Those mobs taking over government buildings in eastern Ukraine are "strictly the work of Russian provocateurs."

Funny how an anti-Russian mob taking over a government building in Kiev is an expression of the will of the people and worthy of our unquestioning support, but an anti-US mob doing the same in the east a few weeks later can only be orchestrated by Putin and must be stopped at all costs.

Meanwhile, the Canadian media is trotting out speculative "journalism" like this to prepare the ground for the concept of Canadian participation in a NATO occupation of Ukraine. That would be the shit-show to end all shit-shows.

NATO has had nothing to do since the fall of the Wall and therefore its huge bureaucracy has been busy fabricating reasons for being. As the sociology of organizations has long taught us, the primary mission of any large organization over time is to perpetuate itself. That's been a challenge.

That's led to a lot of posing and bluster and the occasional burst of activity; bombing Serbia or Libya, restoring democracy in Afghanistan, and so on.

The latter exercise should give the plump waddlers who populate NATO HQ in Brussels pause for thought. How did that 12 year campaign against illiterate tribalists, armed with the latest 1930's technology, turn out for NATO?

Then how do they suppose an occupation of Ukraine might go?

These NATO delusions of relevance, nowhere espoused more belligerently than in that insignificant backwater Ottawa, should be shot down before somebody gets hurt.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Another "first" for Canada!

This story in the Guardian confirms that Canadians have more than the recent Sochi hockey gold trifecta to be proud of.

Canada is the first of the G-20 countries to not have door-to-door mail delivery! According to Canada Post head honcho Deepak Chopra, Canadians have for a long time been deluging him with requests to eliminate home mail delivery so that they could instead enjoy a bracing ramble in the fresh air to a community mail drop some miles hence!

Which will no doubt result in even more savings as the citizens get healthier and health care expenditures plummet!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Canada leads world in hypocrisy

The ever-blustery bullshitter John Baird came out with another whopper today;

Canada cannot sit idly by while Russia illegally occupies Ukraine.

That's funny; Canada has had no trouble whatsoever sitting idly by while Israel has illegally occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967.

Nor has Canada had the slightest qualms about illegally occupying native lands in Canada since well before the official formation of Canada in 1867.

Canada's deafening silence on the slaughter in the CAR

In the last two months, Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs has issued exactly one press release about the genocide unfolding in the Central African Republic. That was a March 27 missive promising more humanitarian aid.

The last two months have witnessed the wholesale ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population of the country. Hundreds of thousands have fled and thousands have been slaughtered by Christian militias.

Meanwhile, during that same interval the same Department of Foreign Affairs issued 17 press releases about alleged Russian designs on Ukraine and other former Soviet satellites in the neighbourhood. The sum total of casualties as the result of Russian aggression?

Zero.

Canada plunks down a cool million to secure religious freedom in Pakistan

I certainly don't begrudge Andrew Bennett his job. Plucked out of the obscurity of running a "private Christian college" with five or six students, Bennett was thrust into the newly created "Minister of Religious Freedom" portfolio because Big Steve met him at a church function and he seemed like a nice enough guy.

Bennett has since then been forced to endure a series of inevitably trite announcements about what great things he is doing in his imaginary job.

His latest great thing is lobbying for religious freedom in Pakistan.

Pakistan is a multi-faith and multi-cultural country much like Canada, don't you know, and if it wasn't for those pesky extremists Karachi could be just like Brampton...

So Bennett has announced that Canada is donating a million dollars to further religious freedom in Pakistan. That translates into about a half a cent per Pakistani, and is slightly less than the amount Big Steve paid to have his armoured limos shipped to India last year for a three day visit.

Hmm... armoured limos... religious freedom... what the hell, we're a small country and we can't be expected to punch above our weight on every file, can we?

BREAKTHROUGH!!! Scientists can now grow you a new vagina in the lab!

Yup, even if, like me, you never had one to begin with.

They can grow you a new nose in the petri dish too, in case you need a new nose more than you need a new vagina.

Let's just hope that when the medical team is attaching the replacement parts they go in the correct spots... otherwise there'll be a whole new literalism to the expression "c***face".

Apparently a lot of this research comes from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Baptists making artificial vaginas in petri dishes?

Get outta here!

That's gotta be the best punch-line ever just looking for a joke.

All joking aside, this strikes me as an astonishing level of frippery in a country where 50 million citizens cannot afford health insurance.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

If I dropped dead this minute I would die happy

Just got off the phone with my twenty-something daughter.

She's twenty something. Her career is getting some traction. She likes, maybe even loves, the person she is spending her private time with...  She is happy in her life!

And isn't that what parenting is all about? As a parent, you're like one of those push cars at the Bonneville Flats. Watch Anthony Hopkins in The World's Fastest Indian if you don't know what I'm talking about.

The push car has turned off and my dear daughter is facing the salt flats and the world beyond in her own way, on her own terms. She's a grown-up now.

All that's left for me to do is to stand back and cheer.

Jim Flaherty

Jim Flaherty bought the farm today at the much-too-young age of 64.

Flaherty should be a dyed-in-the-wool enemy of everything this blog stands for, both for his Harris years in Ontario and in his service for the Prince of Darkness, Big Steve Harper for the last ten years.

Oddly enough, there has been but one reference to Flaherty in the years I've been writing this blog, and that was as a brief side-show reference to the Israel-Palestine drama.

Even oddlier, this was a guy who managed to get through a life-long career of public service without the slightest whiff of scandal ever befouling his reputation.

While I may not have agreed with his politics, I have to respect that.

Bon voyage, Mr. Flaherty.

The Canadian political arena is a poorer place without you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Most shameless PM in Canadian history gets speakers fee for sharing vision of Canada in 2020

Brian Mulroney made a few headlines across the land today when he addressed a conference put on by the think tank Canada2020.  That's an outfit that, while "non-partisan," is very much partial to the rampant exploitation of Canada in the interests of big capital.

In case you've forgotten Lyin' Brian's bona fides, he's the guy who drove the Progressive Conservative Party so deep into the ground that after he handed it off to Kim Campbell it lost all but two seats in the next election, an epic fail the likes of which have never been seen before or since in Canadian politics. That's what brought about the Reform Party's (Canada's Tea Party) rise to a place where they could take over the venerable Tory party.

That was far from his only accomplishment. The wily sleazebag also made a name for himself for the Karlheinz Schreiber scandal, wherein the bagman for the German Thiessen-Krupp conglomerate handed cash-stuffed envelopes to Prime Minister Mulroney, who was apparently having a moment of "poor judgement" at the time.

And who can forget Mr. Mulroney's principled stand against apartheid in South Africa?

Although he never expressed any reservations about the apartheid regime he presided over vis-a-vis Canadian aboriginals, Mr. Mulroney was deeply concerned about apartheid in South Africa, to such an extent that he is to this day considered in some quarters to have been one of the world leaders who headed up anti-apartheid sanctions against that country.

South Africa at the time had the dominant gold coin in circulation among those who need to hoard gold, the Krugerrand. Canada was on the threshold of introducing its own gold coin.

By the most fortuitous stroke of coincidence, after his retirement from politics Mulroney reaped many millions of dollars from a generous sinecure at Canada's biggest gold producer, Barrick.

But that's all in the past. What is Brian's vision for Canada in 2020?

Well, Canada's future hinges on the unhinged and unregulated exploitation of Canada's natural resources. Good leadership is leadership that overcomes the objections of natives and environmentalists and pinkos of all stripes as it secures Canada's future by turning it into a one-trick economy predicated on rampant resource exploitation.

Since the NAFTA deal he lobbied so tirelessly for has all but destroyed Canada's manufacturing sector, he could well be on to something. Like, what the hell else can we do?

Turn back the clock? Undo NAFTA? Make peace with our Indian population? Secure our natural resources for future generations to harvest in a responsible way? Put the interests of Canadians ahead of the interests of multi-national conglomerates? Favour Canadian workers over Filipinos and Mexicans? Favour the environment over pell-mell resource exploitation?...

Nope, not a chance. Our hands are tied... it's time to forget the pipe-dreams and forge ahead with the pipelines.



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mayor Ford emerges from crack binge to discover he has hired Big Ben Johnson and Caveman Losco to run his re-election campaign

You just couldn't make this stuff up!

Rob Ford's re-election campaign has hired the disgraced sprinter Ben Johnson and Trailer Park Boys minor character Caveman Losco.

Johnson was very briefly the fastest man in the world after winning gold in the 100m in the '88 Olympics. Less than 24 hours later his pee-test suffered an epic fail, and that was the end of that. He went on to become the personal trainer for one of the Gaddafi kids in Libya.

If you're not familiar with Caveman, here's a sampler. Yes, Trailer Park Boys is one of the most brilliant TV sitcoms of all time, and maybe if Ford coulda got Bubbles or Randy he'd be onto something...

But Caveman?

For God's sakes, yer honour; your extra-curriculars are starting to impact your better judgement!

Pot-addled blogger instrumental in bringing down PQ!

We were all over the putrid Bill 60 long before Pauline called the ill-considered election.

And when she did, we didn't waste any time declaring what a nightmare Pierre Karl would be for the people of Quebec.

And while the Quebecois are not known for heeding Anglo voices, ours was a plea for sanity that they obviously could not resist.

Pauline's political career is over. Alas, PKP won his seat, so our neighbours may have to put up with a little huffing and puffing until he finds new challenges.

The unfortunate reality is that the man literally is the Berlusconi of Quebec, and has the resources to huff and puff very loudly for a long time.

But really, what was Pauline thinking? Bill 60 was a brazen attempt to legitimize very marginal racist sentiments; to make a problem where none existed, and then win an election on the basis of those racist sentiments.

The result of the election has proven that there are insufficient racists in Quebec to permit that kind of blatant exploitation of differences.

Or in other words, if my doctor or my teacher wears a turban or a kippa, that's just fine so long as they're competent in what they are doing for me. And that is as it should be.

All in all yesterday was a great day for Quebec and a great day for Canada.

Now if only the Anglo part of the country can do something about that Harper scourge in the next federal election...

Stop reading that senile liar Seymour Hersh and get the truth from the NYT and Wall Street Journal!

I was somewhat taken aback by Louis Proyect's character assassination of Seymour Hersh.

In fact, I had to read it a couple of times just to make sure I wasn't missing a level of irony or two, but no, Proyect seems to be serious.

Proyect styles himself "the unrepentant Marxist." Fair enough, I suppose, but it's a strange sort of Marxism that turns to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal for its truths.

What we know for sure is that regime change in Syria is something that has been on the agenda of The Empire for many years. Many of the details of how that is playing out have been obscured by the fog of war.

I am reasonably confident that the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have spread far more fog than Seymour Hersh.

And as for senility, Proyect's not that far behind Hersh in that trip down the Alzheimer highway.

US claims Putin stirring up trouble in Ukraine

John Kerry had some startling revelations in a presentation to Congress today; Russia is behind the unrest in Eastern Ukraine.

Yup, in the last 48 hours we've seen the handiwork of Russian agents sent to create chaos.

This is surely one of the most shameless cases of the pot calling the kettle names in all of history. Check out Victoria Nuland's comments last December, when she admitted that the US has spent $5 billions stirring up chaos in Ukraine.

And it was Nuland and US ambassador Geoff Pyatt who were caught out selecting a new non-elected government for the country.

While no one's hands may be clean, who's are dirtier?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Search for MH370 leads to discovery of new sea turtle species

The thus-far fruitless searth for that Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 has not been completely fruitless.

Scientists in Perth today announced the discovery of a species of sea turtle never known to science before. Dubbed the "Chelonioidea Pingnatius," the new species apparently uses electrolytes in sea-water to produce an electronic "pinging" sound.

While there has not been sufficient research for a credible conclusion, early indications are that this process is part of the mating ritual among this new species of sea turtle.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Generous Electric

Believe it or not, that's what they used to call GE. Obviously that was many years before the unctuous a-hole Immelt was lecturing the lads and lassies about how to make do with less.

That's what it's about these days. Y'all better adjust your expectations, 'cause if you don't this factory is heading to (PICK ONE) China, Mexico, Bulgaria, anywhere we can successfully bully the workers.

When my forbears left a broken Europe, GE was one of their favorite destinations. Uncle Horst, who had got his millwright ticket in Switzerland, was the first of the immediate family to decamp to the new world, and it was to take a job at the new GE plant in Guelph circa 1955.

He became a welding inspector there. His brother Werner soon followed. Werner went on to several welding gigs before breaking out to become one of the world's leading scholars of reformation history.

Numerous relations followed. I served time at GE, as did two of my three brothers. Innumerable nephews did too. Uncle Horst paved the way for at least two dozen family members to get some serious stuff on their resumes.

And then GE morphed into Westinghouse which morphed into ABB which eventually closed the plant but miraculously opened one in Mexico!

And that miracle was the result of the folks in Ottawa pushing "free trade" on those of us who were supposedly going to benefit from it.

Raw power

Thomas Stephens is one of the good guys working his ass off to save what's left of Detroit.

All the folks who got rich off Detroit have decamped to more hospitable climes.

Where is the "Save Detroit" campaign?

Kid Rock? I know you care about Detroit. Speak up!

Iggy? I know you care about Detroit. Speak up!

Terrible Ted? I may not like your politics but I love your music. Speak up!

Eminem? Dude, they're killing your city!

Speak up for Christ's sakes...

Or at least for Detroit!

After two generations of brainwashing and a 13 year occupation Afghans almost believe in "democracy"

Of course they do!

Just look at this story.

Those Afghans are lining up to put democracy into action.

The think tank here at Falling Downs estimates that "democracy" will last about zero minutes and zero seconds after the Western subsidies run out.

Thank Allah that we've trained up their police and army to keep democracy safe in Afghanistan!

OMG!!! They got PORK in the school cafeteria...

France 24 is the duly digitized version of one of the most venerable news-gathering institutions of all time.

And it sucks.

Whereas they once led the world 'o news with ground-breaking stories, they are now reduced to breaking stories like this.

Far right mayors may insist on pork in school cafeterias.

Apparently this may offend Jews or Muslims.

This is a story?

I'm guessing the Jews or Muslims will deal with this controversy the way they always have; by not buying the pork!

It's really simple!

Where is the story?

And that's where we're at with what used to be one of the prime news-gathering institutions in the world of news...

Friday, April 4, 2014

Rob Ford brand lends invisibility to Foggy Dew pub

Apparently it's a bad bad thing to serve patrons after hours at a venue licensed to sell booze. When Rob Ford found himself thirsty in BC a couple months ago, his minders prevailed upon a local drinking establishment to keep the taps open past the official closing time.

That got them in a heap 'o trouble.

Fortunately, the storm has passed and it's back to business as usual for the Foggy Dew.

But I don't get the big deal. I remember when my missus of the time and her U of G girlfriends used to frequent a place in Guelph called the Baker Street Bistro. Alvin the proprietor got sick to death of them hanging around drinking their wine spritzers till all hours, so he made a deal with them. He'd go home and they could lock up when they left. Just don't let in any new folks, and we'll settle the tab next time we see you.

So the Alcoholic Feminists got free range of the Baker Street Bistro, and Alvin got hundreds of dollars of bar sales when the place was closed. Clearly a win-win for all concerned. And the gals knew they had a good thing going, so they never abused the priviledge.

That's a far cry from the only time I had free-range after hours at a drinking establishment. That involved locking the janitor and the stragglers of the wait staff in the walk-in freezer... how was I to know they had a gun in there?

...how was I to know they could get out?

Anyway, that's another story...

Full speed ahead for Bahrain Grand Prix in spite of massive protests

Bernie Ecclestone's F1 circus will exact its tribute from the Gulf statelet Bahrain in spite of massive popular opposition to the race. It's a move that puts short term profit ahead of the long-term financial stability of F1.



 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Is the USA a fascist state?

Antonio Gramsci and Dwight Eisenhower probably didn't have a whole lot in common, but both of them warned us about the rise of fascism.

Of course Dwight had enough couth to avoid calling a spade a spade. He turned "fascism" into the military-industrial-complex.

Perhaps it's not quite that simple, but it's obvious, at least beyond the Beltway, that we've made it!

You see the war-mongers picking at scabs all around the world, hoping to stir things up. War-mongers today come almost exclusively from the war-profiteer class.

Which is to say they stand to profit from war, war preparations, war reparations, ceasefires, peace-keepers, negotiators, arbitrators, and war crimes of every description.

Age-old enmities may still play out on the field of battle, but today age-old enmities are typically financed by the new age war profiteers.

There's big money in hate.

Big money in war.

Is the USA a fascist state?

The Israel-Palestine "peace process" in plain English

In plain English, one side has stolen land and resources belonging to the other and refuses to give them up. The thief is supported by powerful external agencies, while the losing side has no equivalent support. In this situation, it would be normal to call on an independent force or arbiter to compel the thief to return the stolen goods, and "compromise" would not be applicable.
But in the peace process as configured by those on the side of the thief, there is no independent agency, only an "arbiter" whose starting point is one of total commitment to the thief's welfare. How then, to solve the conflict that has arisen because of the robbery, but without penalising the robber or forcing him to return the booty? That, in essence, is where the problem lies for Kerry and his predecessors.

That's from a story at AJE today by Ghada Karmi, and it is perhaps the most succinct summary ever of this never-ending imaginary "peace process".

Grooming Cuban "smart mobs" in the service of American Empire

The Associated Press has a fascinating story about how various US agencies set up a social media network in Cuba in an attempt to groom "smart mobs" to destabilize Cuba.

The ZunZuneo network operated for several years and was eventually shut down as its creators grew skittish about being discovered by Cuban security. The project was as usual well-concealed from the US taxpayer who was footing the bill.

There are a couple of salient points to take away from this story.

The US government literally knows no limits when it comes to deceiving its own citizens and the world at large about clandestine programs designed to stir up trouble in other countries.

There is no reluctance on the part of the tech community to participate in and profit from these unethical initiatives. That should be particularly worrying to those Americans who are unneasy with the increasingly cosy relationship between "big technology" and big government.

AP has discovered this particular plot aimed at destabilizing Cuba, but there can be no doubt that similar projects are in play in many other countries.

Read the full story here;



http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_SECRET_CUBAN_TWITTER?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2014-04-03-18-29-30

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Canada's shameful treatment of her veterans

With all their effusive lip service to the sacrifices made by "our heroic men and women in uniform," you'd expect that the Harper gang would score high marks for how they treat our veterans.

You'd be wronger than wrong.

The National Post has a story today about veterans being coerced into signing a confidentiality agreement as a condition to getting service from the Joint Personnel Support Unit. Isn't that rich! These are folks who suffered grievously to serve their country. Every one of them thought they were fighting for freedom and democracy, those Canadian values that Harper and Baird can't ever stop talking about.

But apparently it just won't do to allow Canada's veterans the freedom to criticize the Canadian military in this free and democratic nation.

Freedom of speech isn't something we actually want our veterans to enjoy. It's something they can fight and die for in Afghanistan, but it's a little too risky to let loose in Canada.

The Harper gang's shabby treatment of veterans goes right back to the earliest days of the Harper regime, with the passage of Bill C-45 in 2005, and continues unabated to this day.

Meanwhile, it's full speed ahead for a garish statue on the Cape Breton coast celebrating the sacrifices of our brave men and women in uniform...

The hypocrisy is mind boggling.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How the plutocrats are saving the planet

Popular wisdom, at least in the alternative media, has the plutocrats destroying the livelihoods and the lives of regular folks in the hundreds of millions.

What a shamefully unbalanced world view.

The uber-rich aren't wrecking the world, they're saving it!

Join me aboard the way-back machine as we go way back in time to the 60's and 70's.

That was the high-water mark for workers' living standards.

Your pinko commentators want you to believe that it's been all down-hill since then.

Well, if you're a worker, that's probably right.

Whereas once you could afford a car, now you can afford a cell-phone.

Whereas once you could afford a bungalow in the burbs, now you can afford a basement apartment.

But stop being so selfish. Step back a few paces and have a look at the big picture.

Let's have a look at the lifestyle of the typical worker circa 1968.

That's when regular factory workers used to own their own homes. Like, what the fuck is wrong with that picture? Where did the masses ever get the idea that workers needed to own homes? You're a worker, for fucks sakes! It was just an unfortunate accident of geography that prevented the cardboard box your new fridge came in from becoming an addition to your home. A nice spare room for the kids.

That cardboard room may not work out well in Detroit or Kenosha, but it works pretty well in Mexico!

That mid-century burst of prosperity gave lots of undeserving folks the idea, largely propagated by unions, that they needed something other than a cardboard box to live in.

And then there is the matter of cars. By the 60's the idea that they had to own a car, or even two, was a virtual entitlement among the laboring classes, especially the unionized ones. And look at the cars they gravitated to; hemi-Chargers, 427 Camaros, Mach 1 Mustangs... the working classes were utterly fixated on cars that got 8 miles to a gallon of fuel!

Fast forward to the modern era. Factory hands no longer drive 427 Camaros; they take the bus! Multiply that by 75 million Americans no longer able to afford a car, and just imagine the savings in greenhouse gasses!

Sure, where thousands of Cat employees were once able to own cars, even nice ones, we're now down to a couple dozen guys at head office with Bentleys and Porsches, but greenhouse gas is WAY down. The cars may still get 8 mpg, but at least the folks driving them deserve them.

And relatively speaking there's hardly any of them on the road.

Here's another market that is thankfully gone; recreational boating. Back in the 60s the Detroit River all the way down to Lake Erie and all the up to St. Clair was just plugged with Ford workers piloting their very own 30 foot Chris-Crafts. Like what the fuck was that all about? Factory dudes with yachts?

Does anybody really think that was sustainable?

Here's what's sustainable; a few hundred billionaires with environmentally friendly mega-yachts, instead of a few million factory yobs with 30 foot Chrissies.

How can anyone argue this is bad for the planet?

The Detroit River is much safer and much quieter today, with the few factory types who still find their way there sticking close to shore in their 14 foot canoes.

So next time you step outside for a breath of fresh air, remember that the air is only fresh because of the efforts of the few, the rich, the plutocrats. When they're turning those $25/hr union jobs into $10/hr jobs in a "right to work" state, they're doing all of us a favor.

Building a nation on the backs of Temporary Foreign Workers

BC Premier Christy Clark was in Ottawa yesterday signing an agreement that greenlights in advance the unlimited use of Temporary Foreign Workers in the development of Liquified Natural Gas infrastructure.

This is a stab in the back to all Canadian workers and a betrayal of those Canadian employers who do make the investment in training their workforce.

Here is an except from the Vancouver Sun;

OTTAWA — B.C.’s natural resources sector, including the budding liquefied natural gas industry, was declared to be in Canada’s strategic interests Monday as part of a non-binding federal-provincial deal that includes a commitment to encourage the active use of the Temporary Foreign Worker program.
The accord was signed as Premier Christy Clark, bringing with her what she described as possibly the largest B.C. delegation to Ottawa in Canadian history, declared that the LNG sector could be a “nation-builder” at least as important as Alberta’s oil wealth.
But she said that the industry’s enormous LNG potential depends on access to skilled Canadian and, if necessary, foreign workers.
Without that workforce the industry could look for other opportunities, she warned.
“You cannot build an economy without people who are trained and ready to take those jobs,” she told a gathering of federal and B.C. politicians.

What Canadian politicians should be talking about is their commitment to training Canadians, not their commitment to encouraging the use of Temporary Foreign Workers.

What kind of nation is it that Clark and her Conservative counterparts in Ottawa intend to build? Obviously one in which concerns about the environment and the interests of Canadian workers are a distant afterthought to the "need" of energy and construction conglomerates to maximize their profits.

Explaining the Harperite infatuation with Ukraine

Canada's Conservative government has made a point of aligning itself with the un-elected leaders who seized power in Kiev a few weeks ago. In their haste to justify their embrace of the new non-elected leaders, both PM Harper and FM John Baird have made numerous convoluted statements about how the democratically elected Yanukovik government was in fact a dictatorship, while the coup itself was a product not of mob rule and years of US-led agitation, but some more authentic manifestation of true democracy.

The following article was written by Lee Berthiaume and appeared in a number of PostMedia titles on March 5th. It does a great job of showing why an incoherent and contradictory foreign policy is actually the result of opportunistic political maneuvering by the Conservatives.

While it might be understandable that a party declining in popularity would bend over backwards to attract the votes of those million plus Ukrainian-Canadians, they might want to remember that there are over 30 million Canadians who are not of Ukrainian ancestry who might be sufficiently put off by the Harperite grand-standing and double-talk to take their vote somewhere else.

***


“I think you have a lot of Ukrainians who will look at a member of Parliament and say ‘He’s really good for the riding and done a nice job, but the party that he or she comes from failed us on this issue,’ ” said Royal Military College professor and Ukrainian-Canadian Lubomyr Luciuk. “Or the party worked with us on this issue. And that can swing some votes and be decisive.”
Here are a few examples:
Manitoba
In the last election, there were several close results around Winnipeg, where Ukrainian-Canadians represent a significant percentage of the population. None was closer than in Winnipeg North where Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux beat his NDP opponent by just 44 votes. The riding is home to 11,105 Ukrainian-Canadians, representing 13.3 per cent of the population.
Luciuk says Ukrainian-Canadians actually helped Lamoureux win, as the Liberal MP opposed the Holocaust being given higher billing in the Winnipeg-based Canadian Museum for Human Rights than other genocides. That includes the Holodomor, a famine in Ukraine in the 1930s that Canada has recognized as a deliberate genocide perpetrated by Soviet Russia.
“So Lamoureux got some votes because he took a position that was positive,” Luciuk said.
Meanwhile, in the nearby Winnipeg riding of Elmwood-Transcona, Conservative MP Lawrence Toet defeated NDP incumbent Jim Maloway by only 300 votes. The riding counts 16,935 Ukrainian-Canadians, or about 20.6 per cent of the population.
And Conservative MP Joyce Bateman beat Liberal incumbent Anita Neville by 722 votes in nearby Winnipeg South Centre, where 10,240 Ukrainian-Canadians live, representing 13.4 per cent of the population.
Outside Winnipeg, Conservative MP Larry Maguire edged out Liberal challenger Rolf Dinsdale in a byelection in Brandon-Souris in November, 2013. Maguire won by 389 votes, in a riding where 17,360 people, or 11.3 per cent of the population, identified themselves as being of Ukrainian descent.
Saskatchewan
If there’s one riding that screams “Ukraine!” more than any other in Canada, it’s Yorkton-Melville in Saskatchewan. That’s because fully 29.3 per cent of the population self-identifies as being of Ukrainian descent, which is nearly five per cent more than the next closest. But it doesn’t appear Conservative MP Garry Breitkreuz has anything to worry about; he’s represented the riding since 1993.
The same can’t be said for some other Saskatchewan MPs, starting with Conservative MP Kelly Block. The representative for Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar defeated her NDP challenger by 538 votes, in a riding where Ukrainian-Canadians number 9,720, or 13.7 per cent of the population.

Fellow Conservative MP Ray Boughen, who represents the riding of Palliser, near Regina, edged out his own NDP challenger by 766 votes. Palliser is home to 7,520 Ukrainian-Canadians, who represent 11.1 per cent of the population.
And Liberal MP Ralph Goodale, the only Liberal to have been elected in Saskatchewan since 2006, held onto his seat in Wascana in the last election by just over 1,500 votes. The riding is home to 10,530 people who identify themselves as being of Ukrainian descent, representing 13.1 per cent of the population.
Luciuk says Goodale is an example of an MP who has been a stalwart champion of Ukrainian-Canadian interests and earned the respect of the community, which has translated into continued electoral success.
Ontario
Thunder Bay was the mecca for Ukrainian-Canadians settling in Ontario. The two ridings that surround the northern Ontario city, represented by NDP MP John Rafferty and NDP-turned-Green Party MP Bruce Hyer, are each chockful of people of Ukrainian descent. Both Rafferty and Hyer earned comfortable victories in 2011.
On the other hand, Conservative MP Ted Opitz barely eked out victory in the Toronto-area riding of Etobicoke Centre over Liberal incumbent Borys Wrzesnewskyj, who is of Ukrainian descent. The margin of victory was 26 votes.
Before the election, the Conservatives accidentally released documents that confirmed they were targeting the riding’s Ukrainian-Canadian community, which numbers 7,955 and represents 7.1 per cent of the population.
Luciuk says the Ukrainian-Canadian vote played a critical role in Etobicoke Centre, and while Wrzesnewskyj is a member of the community, this was a situation where party affiliation mattered more than the individual MP’s identity — a situation he says is the norm.
“There were Ukrainian-Canadians working for Ted Opitz against a Ukrainian-Canadian because he was in the wrong party at that time,” Luciuk said. “Whereas the Conservative party was making all the right sounds about things Ukrainian.”
“And I think most Canadians of Ukrainian heritage, even those who would not necessarily politically support (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper if there were an election next week or next month, are looking at his general overall performance on (the current crisis in Ukraine), and saying: ‘Good for you. Thank you Mr. Prime Minister.’ ”