December 2007 Archives

December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

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Congratulations to all the POGGE gang and our friends. Despite best efforts by some of us, we have all managed to survive another one. I don't have to bother with the customary curse because it's quite clear we are already living in interesting times ....that are likely to get even more interesting and not necessarily for the better.

So cheer (or mourn) the passing of another one and keep your powder dry, your bong stoked, your still cooking and your head down. And report for work on Wednesday with a bad attitude and ready to do battle with the forces of darkness for another year.

Best wishes to all for twenty-ought-eight.

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December 30, 2007

Can I get a smile for the camera?

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In an update to this post about the American oligarchy, Glenn Greenwald provides a link to Privacy International's 2007 International Privacy Ranking. His concern is that the US is now ranked with the worst offenders in terms of violating the privacy of their citizens. Which doesn't surprise me a bit.

So how does Canada rate? Our 2007 grade is "Some safeguards but weakened protections." The comparison to last year's ranking gets us a "Decaying" which translates as "Alarming rate of fall in protections."

The details behind that ranking are here. Happy New Year.

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December 29, 2007

Heckuva job, Harpie

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A tip of the hat to mahigan who, via email, pointed me to an interesting article by David Olive on the changing international balance of power. Short version: the American position as the world's lone hyperpower is slipping as China, India, the European Union and Russia all gain in relative power and influence. The trend was already there but Olive lays out how Dubya and crew have definitely accelerated the process.

And of course that fits in really well with our own government's policy of closing foreign consulates while focusing ever more attention on the U.S. and of generally sidelining the Department of Foreign Affairs.

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There are several end-of-year update squibs that I want to write, some cheerful (Ipperwash), some pretty grim (Pakistan).

But 'way back in August, in comments to our discussion about Montebello, Alison of Creekside, who also writes to The Galloping Beaver and who has taught many of us so much about the dreaded SPP, reported on a failure of mainstream Canadian journalism that I think has much wider implications. I meant to write about it then and didn't, so I do it now.

Here is what Alison wrote:

Re media anodyne dismissals. If I may rant on a little bit here, CBC's news coverage of Harper's jelly bean comment is a horrendous case in point.

Their tv coverage of it opened with Harper's comment : “Is the sovereignty of Canada going to fall apart if we standardize the jellybeans? Maybe Mr. Dion thinks so."

Then they cut to a folksy street interview with jelly bean manufacturer David Ganong and ask him about his cross border packaging problems.

No mention that David Ganong is one of the ten Canadian business leaders in the North American Competitiveness Council advising Harper on deregulation, no mention that he's a director of the CCCE and has endorsed their vision of "deeper economic integration", no mention that he's a director of the Conference Board of Canada, no mention that he's a director of SunLife Financial and past director of Air Canada, no mention that he is a donor and sponsor of Atlantica, the plan to form an economic unit of New England states and Atlantic provinces, and no mention of his real problem with jelly beans, which is that his Mexican competitors manufacture them for a fraction of his cost.

Nope, CBC left all this out, leaving the impression that he's just a nice old guy unnecessarily hampered by government bureaucracy while trying to eke out a living making jelly beans.

Bah.

I think that that is easily one of the most significant pieces of well-informed commentary I've met in the last year, and I think that especially because of how I have spent far too much of my time this past year. Scandalous gossip follows on the turn.


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December 28, 2007

Friday night blues blogging

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There isn't a hint of Christmas music in tonight's post. Deal with it. Robben Ford and the Blue Line. You Cut Me To The Bone.

Same band. He Don't Play Nothin' But The Blues.


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December 25, 2007

Fairytale of New York

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For some reason, this has always been my favorite Christmas carol. Enjoy, and I hope you all had a wonderful time with your families.

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December 24, 2007

For nineteen years now, I guess it is, Christmas Eve has made me think of the little town of Lockerbie, a pretty hillside town in the Scottish Borders, where one December night in 1988 all hell rained out of the skies on to bewildered good people -- as, of course, happens so often to bewildered good people in so many places these days.

I hear choirs singing "Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem," and I think of the quiet hills around Lockerbie, and then of course I remember the actual Bethlehem on the West Bank, and I am lost in sorrow over the destruction that my culture has visited on innocent people. I know that I cannot stop the slaughter that will continue tomorrow, and I'm sure that my sorrow hardly matters in the greater scheme of things, but I think it does matter that those of us who sorrow continue to testify. We must keep repeating: Not in my name. We must be known in our numbers.

On this night, our culture remembers its dream of peace. Or tries to. Or pretends to.

The Thomanerchor (Leipzig), the St Thomas Boys' Choir, which dates from 1200, with a song you all know:


And then we'll leave you with a slightly different message. (Sorry: embedding disabled.) Those of us who lived through it the first time are not happy to hear such precise echos forty years later. A change has gotta come.

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Oscar Peterson 1925-2007

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O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?

-- William Butler Yeats, "Among School Children"

Oscar Peterson died yesterday at age 82. As an artist and a man, he was a glorious citizen of Canada and the world. We remember with joy his life and his conversations with his piano.

Here is "Cubana Chant" from his 1964 concert in London.


Thanks to sparqui at Bread and Roses for finding Tatane73's treasure trove at YouTube.

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Simple Pleasures

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I could easily sit down this morning and write a dozen posts about the terminal stupidity of some people I am increasingly hesitant to refer to as "my fellow man". But I'm not going to. Instead, its time - certainly for me and probably for you - to take a break for a couple of days from the streaming ugliness that constitutes 'way too much of our everyday lives. And this time of year with its symbolic rebirth and various celebrations is as good a time as any.


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Greg Lake.



Stay safe, everyone.

PS: If you're still doing your shopping, I seem to have the names of several people in my Inbox who have watches for sale. I could put you in touch with them.

PPS: I heard that. No, the people aren't actually in my Inbox.

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December 22, 2007

Awesome

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Turkish warplanes attack Kurdish targets in Iraq

Turkish warplanes bombed separatist Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq on Saturday, a statement posted on the military's Web site said.

The military vowed to continue operations on both sides of Turkish-Iraqi border "no matter how the conditions are."

Turkish jet fighters bombed rebel bases in northern Iraq Sunday in the first confirmed air assault on Iraqi soil since the U.S.-led invasion.


Because nothing says "Let Freedom Reign" like a wider regional war.

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Saturday morning bonus track

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Think of it as an early Christmas present. Joe Walsh and some pretty high quality help. Funk 49.


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December 21, 2007

Friday night blues blogging

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If this doesn't get your foot tapping, you're probably dead. Jimmie Vaughan and Robert Cray on Extra Jimmies.

As someone who smoked for nearly forty years and hasn't had a cigarette since early in May, this one has a certain appeal. Robert Cray performs My Last Regret.


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December 20, 2007

QOTD

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Scott Lemieux notes all the jeering in the media aimed at Britney Spears younger sister and writes:

My question: how many of the men attacking Spears weren't having sex at age 16? OK, well, probably a substantial number. To be more precise, how many of the men attacking Spears wouldn't have had sex if they actually knew someone with the misfortune to be a willing partner? Given that I suspect the answer is somewhere in the order of "none," all of these people need to shut the hell up.

Works for me.

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Merry Christmas to me

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I'd like to pause for a moment to send out a message to Bill O'Reilly and all the other stalwart defenders of our precious bodily fluids: Happy Holidays and Seasons Greetings. That's just so I can imagine the sound of their heads exploding.

Okay, moment's over.

Update:

Was this really as obscure as one email correspondent suggested? Saying "Happy Holidays" to Bill O would enrage him because he thinks there's a war on Christmas and "Happy Holidays" is one of those politically correct substitutes we damn dirty liberals have foisted on an endangered Christian culture. Get it?

They're just no good if you have to explain 'em.

An oops update:

Didn't realize I had comments disabled. Sorry if anyone wanted to yell at me. Fire at will.

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December 19, 2007

White House press secretary Dana Perino, in response to this morning's report in the New York Times that the involvement of White House officials in the destruction of CIA torture tapes may have been more extensive than the administration has admitted:

The New York Times today implies that the White House has been misleading in publicly acknowledging or discussing details related to the CIA's decision to destroy interrogation tapes.

The sub-headline of the story inaccurately says that the "White House Role Was Wider Than It Said", and the story states that "...the involvement of White House officials in the discussions before the destruction of the tapes...was more extensive than Bush administration officials have acknowledged."

Under direction from the White House General Counsel while the Department of Justice and the CIA Inspector General conduct a preliminary inquiry, we have not publicly commented on facts relating to this issue, except to note President Bush's immediate reaction upon being briefed on the matter. Furthermore, we have not described - neither to highlight, nor to minimize -- the role or deliberations of White House officials in this matter.

The New York Times' inference that there is an effort to mislead in this matter is pernicious and troubling, and we are formally requesting that NYT correct the sub-headline of this story.


Shorter Dana Perino: You can't say that the White House role was wider than we said it was because, officially, we haven't said anything.

In other words, the White House role was wide.

Predictably, the NYT revised its head and subhead immediately on White House demand. But the line-up of lawerly mugshots is still there, along with tasty tidbits like this:

One former senior intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter said there had been “vigorous sentiment” among some top White House officials to destroy the tapes. The former official did not specify which White House officials took this position, but he said that some believed in 2005 that any disclosure of the tapes could have been particularly damaging after revelations a year earlier of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"Vigorous sentiment" -- I think that means that Dick has been shouting again. Or maybe that was Addington -- I understand that he also shouts a lot. There has also apparently been a fire this morning in ceremonial VP offices right next to his. I'm sure that's just a coincidence, though. Got my tinfoil hat on, I do.

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December 18, 2007

Journamalism

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I can honestly say there was a time when I looked forward to living the rest of my life without having to think about Brian Mulroney every day. After all, I'm old enough to have lived through this mess the first time. At this point I don't think I could work up any enthusiasm even if I found out he and Conrad Black were about to become room-mates. If you know what I mean.

I've also long since decided that any story about a poll that doesn't provide the exact questions along with the results should probably be ignored.

Watch as these two small bits of cynicism come together to create a giant-sized package of cynicism.

Impolitical points us to a story that claims a poll indicates a majority of Canadians don't want a public inquiry into the "Mulroney-Schreiber affair." Along the way, Impolitical highlights language in the story that suggests the results may actually be a bit, um, skewed. In other words, it may be a push poll.

...the poll found that only 32 per cent of those surveyed wanted to see a public inquiry delve into the details of the Mulroney-Schreiber affair. The majority (52 per cent) said they would rather avoid that spectacle.

But it's difficult to say since the story doesn't provide us with the exact questions so we don't know if those responding to the poll were asked "or would you rather avoid a spectacle?" It should also be noted that, as the story points out and I'll give credit for that much, this would probably be the result that Canada's Shabby Government™ would prefer. The latest Conservative talking point is that the Ethics Committee hearings have rendered a public inquiry unnecessary.

The reason I'm going to point you to the Canadian Press version of the story, and the reason I've titled my post as I have, is because if I read the story correctly the poll was commissioned by Canadian Press itself. Here we have a news organization literally creating the news by commissioning a poll and then reporting on it and it fails to provide the exact questions so we can judge the usefulness of the poll.

I call bullshit. When an organization in the news business is responsible for the poll in the first place, I shouldn't have to wonder what's going on here.

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December 17, 2007

QOTD

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There is heated debate today in the US Senate regarding what's being referred to as the FISA bill, i.e. legislation affecting government's ability to snoop on people's phone calls. One of the more contentious issues involved is a proposal to grant retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies which have cooperated in the past with the Bush administration's illegal wiretapping program. Courtesy of BarbinMD at Daily Kos, here's Ted Kennedy:

The President has said that American lives will be sacrificed if Congress does not change FISA. But he has also said that he will veto any FISA bill that does not grant retro-active immunity. No immunity, no FISA bill. So if we take the President at his word, he's willing to let Americans die to protect the phone companies.

Normally that would leave a mark. But this is the Bush administration we're talking about along with a Democratic congress that's making a career out of wimping out. Kudos to Kennedy, Dodd and Feingold for trying, at least.

Update:
According to Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake, the Senate Majority leader has pulled the FISA bill until after the new year. Dodd's filibuster worked, at least for now.

Thanks to skdadl in comments.

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Er, um, thanks

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I know I was out of commission for a while this year but apparently I missed this entirely and frankly, I'm embarrassed. We won something. Obviously, thanks to everyone for the support and thanks to the management at Lefty Blog Awards. I guess we better keep posting, eh? The badge will be up in the sidebar momentarily.

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December 15, 2007

The Right's dependence on failure

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The title sounds odd, I expect. I'm going to go on another of my philosophical meanderings, but I think there's something here.

It started with some musings about immigration. Leftists tend, due to our values, to support immigrants, but in many ways large scale immigration actually tends to be bad for the left. When there are lots of relatively recent immigrants, it tends to create an underclass that will sit still for being victimized, will be afraid to join unions, will accept jobs under terrible conditions, and thus working class solidarity and leverage are undermined. It gives the right something to demonize, to point the longer-established underclass at so they won't notice the rich picking their pockets. So why, I thought, are the right always so down on immigration? And then it occurred to me that the right never seems to actually do anything much to stop immigration. The point isn't to reduce the immigration itself, the point is to set the stage for popular support for harassing and victimizing the immigrants once they've arrived. The border patrols and “tough” immigration boards and walls are just window dressing, really—if any of them threatened to actually reduce the flow of migrant low-wage workers, something would be quietly done to make sure they didn't. The political success of conservative opposition to immigration depends on its actual failure.

And that made me think about some other facets of right wing orthodoxy. Tough on crime, for instance.


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The Merry Minuet

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There is a song called the Merry Minuet that has been stuck in my head for months. The minuet is a courtly European dance that was popular in the 17th & 18th century - about the era of Marie Antoinette.

There is a delicious absurdity to the image of Europe's rich and powerful dancing the stately minuet dressed in all their sartorial splendour complete with powdered wigs oblivious to (or at least unconcerned about) the fact that most of the rest of Europe lived and died in squalor just outside the walls of their mansions.


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Another phony scandal

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The Blogging Tories are apparently having six fits because a CBC reporter "colluded" with the Liberals by suggesting one or more questions to be asked at a parliamentary committee session. Then along comes Paul Wells:

... reporters have been planting questions with MPs at committee hearings since the dawn of time.
...
I know this will come as a shock to people who think the state broadcaster must be barred from embarrassing the government.

That last sentence gets to the heart of the matter. I suspect that if the government being embarrassed was anything other than Conservative, then Blogging Tories would be maintaining a studious silence in public and high-fiving each other in private. (And can we overlook the irony that the Blogging Tories seem to live to repeat the daily Harper Talking Points ad nauseam?)

Embarrassing the government is a good thing for a news organization to do. In fact it may be the most important thing a news organization can do. One of the reasons I think we need a state broadcaster is because there are issues on which we can't necessarily count on media owned by large corporations to do that job.

The CBC is now conducting an internal investigation into the matter. Here's hoping it doesn't overreact. Let's not lose sight of the way the Mighty Wurlitzer in the U.S. has worked the referees to the point where "liberal" is a dirty word and the beltway pundits, in particular, have become an extension of the GOP's public relations effort.

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December 14, 2007

Friday afternoon blues blogging

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Yeah, I'm a little early. I have a family function this evening so I'll put up this mixed bag of tracks and y'all can enjoy at your leisure. Since this Stevie Ray Vaughan clip of Testify has the fancy introductory graphics, I'll lead with it. It was the first piece at the El Mocambo concert in the '80's that's all over YouTube.


Here's a Ry Cooder tune called Tattler.

And as a bonus, here's Lyle Lovett and His Large Band from the same show that I drew from to feature Francine Reed a couple of weeks back. She makes me feel good.


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Another tip of the hat to Greg for the link to this article concerning Environment Minister John Baird's absence from critical negotiations at the climate talks in Bali. Environmental groups are rightly accusing Canada of sabotaging the discussions but there's also a serious misunderstanding on their part about the way Canada's government works these days.

The green groups said Baird sent bureaucrats to represent Canada at the negotiations, convened by a special invitation from the president of the UN summit. This, they said, would ensure that the talks remain deadlocked.

"What does it say about how serious Mr. Baird is taking these negotiations?" asked Equiterre spokesman Steven Guilbeault. "Imagine, you're a junior bureaucrat, and you have in front of you the equivalent of a U.S. minister or a Chinese minister or a Japanese minister. I mean, there's a huge gap in terms of the authority, in terms of how autonomous the decisions you make can be without having to go back and consult the delegation."


The talks would have been deadlocked even if Baird had been in the room because that's the way Steverino wanted it. Anyone who thinks Baird had the authority to even go to the bathroom without Harper's permission hasn't been paying attention. Baird is a mouthpiece who's doing Harper's dirty work. That's all he is. He's not the environment minister because he's better on the issues than his predecessor. He's just got a bigger mouth and a thicker skin than she had.

I'm a little annoyed at Canada's Shabby Government™. Does it show?

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Not really

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This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions. Heckuva job, Harpie.

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December 13, 2007

Shorter Stephen Harper: Yes, I realize that AECL screwed up but if I don't point the finger at the CNSC while weakening their ability to fight back and to continue to do their job, how can I blame the Liberals?

ETA: H/T to BIGCITYLIB.

Update:
OK, this is starting to smell even worse. If you want to get into it, go see Dave who will lay things out for you and send you on to a couple of other bloggers who have even more detail. The closer we look at our current government, the worse it seems to get. Remind you of anyone?

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December 12, 2007

You say that like it's a bad thing

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Flaherty accuses NDP of stalling GST-cut bill

Canadian shoppers may not get the benefit of the GST cut to five per cent on Jan. 1 if the implementation bill containing the measure is stalled by opposition stalling tactics, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Tuesday.

Apparently frustrated by the continuing debate over the measure, mostly headed by the NDP, the finance minister told reporters after question period that the Jan. 1 date for cutting the GST from six per cent to five per cent was in jeopardy.

"I said yesterday the bill was moving ahead and was likely to get through the House and Senate before Christmas, now we have the NDP blocking progress of the bill right in the House of Commons,'' he said.


Oh noes! The opposition is actually acting like an opposition! They actually want to debate policy! This could be the end of democracy as we know it!

But seriously, folks. The NDP opposes the tax cuts and has made no secret of that. I knew Flaherty was someone whose politics I disagree with but I didn't realize he was this much of a whiner. Do the Conservatives really expect the opposition parties to play dead and make everything easy for them? Oh, wait...

Normally tax measures do not need passage of legislation in parliament before they are implemented, but Flaherty said the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) has told him it might be a "challenge'' to implement the GST cut without parliamentary passage of the bill.

"There will be a challenge with the CRA vis-a-vis a GST change and how it's handled by retailers,'' he said. "I hope we don't get into that issue, I hope the bill passes in the normal course. We have lots of support in the House, we know it will pass if the NDP lets it get to a vote.''


I don't suppose it's occurred to Flaherty that he could have taken that into account when he set Jan. 1st as the effective date. Let's all remember that it was his boss who decided to take an extra month's holiday before parliament resumed this fall.

So there you have it folks. Canada's Shabby Government™: Not Quite Up To A Challenge.

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December 11, 2007

Bali low

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Is everybody ashamed yet?

Climate Action Network Canada

Press release, December 7, 2007

Leaked Negotiating Instructions Show Canada Set to Block Negotiations in Bali

Bali — A leaked federal document shows Canadian negotiators in Bali are under explicit instruction to undermine a fundamental principle of the Kyoto Protocol - a move guaranteed to derail momentum as UN climate negotiations enter their critical final week.

The leaked instructions direct Canadian negotiators to demand that poorer nations accept the same binding absolute emission reduction targets as developed nations. Canada also clearly wants other countries to recognize that its so-called “national circumstances” entitle Canada to a weaker target.

“Canada is driving a tar sands truck right through the middle of the negotiations here in Bali,” said Steven Guilbeault, Équiterre. “The Kyoto Protocol is built on the recognition that industrialized countries are largely responsible for the problem of climate change, and must take the lead in tackling it. Canada is trying to rewrite history by putting the burden of emissions reductions on poorer countries.”

The approach described in the leaked instructions violates a fundamental principle of the Kyoto Protocol, that of “common but differentiated responsibilities” amongst nations for emission reductions. Kyoto requires that industrialized countries — with their far higher per-capita emissions, per-capita wealth and share of historical responsibility for global warming — take the lead in reducing emissions.

Although countries such as China and India need to significantly slow their emissions growth, they should not, in the near term, be subject to the absolute emission reduction targets that are appropriate for industrialized countries. Canada’s per-capita emissions and wealth are about 10 times higher than India’s and five times higher than China’s.

“Canada is setting unfair conditions that developing countries cannot accept,” said Dale Marshall, David Suzuki Foundation. “By walking away from its own Kyoto Protocol target, Canada squandered any credibility in asking other countries to take on binding targets.”

Canada’s lack of credibility was reinforced this week when Rajendra K. Pachauri — chair of the Nobel-Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — said that Canada has “a government of skeptics” that “do not want to do anything on climate change.” Also this week, Canada was ranked 53rd out of 56 in a comparison of the climate change performance of the world’s top emitting countries.

“Canada’s irresponsible position will make Canada even more isolated on the world stage,” said Emilie Moorhouse, Sierra Club of Canada. “At a time when countries like China, South Africa and Brazil are committing to do more, Canada is heading in exactly the wrong direction.”

-30-

Contacts:

Jean-Francois Nolet, Equiterre, +62-81-338-969139

Dale Marshall, David Suzuki Foundation, 613-302-9913

Emilie Moorhouse, Sierra Club of Canada, +62-81-338-969125

Matthew Bramley, Pembina Institute, +62-81-338-969113

Sarah Marchildon, David Suzuki Foundation, +62-81-338-989047

Claire Stockwell, Greenpeace, +62-81-337-949709


Dr. Tony Weis
Assistant Professor
Department of Geography
The University of Western Ontario
London, ON, N6A 5C2
email: aweis@uwo.ca
phone: (519) 661-2111 x. 87472
http://geography.ssc.uwo.ca/faculty/weis/index.htm

Hat tip to Berlynn at Bread and Roses

Updates:

Sarah Marchildon of the Suzuki Foundation blogging from Bali.

Relentlessly Progressive Economics: "Who Bears Responsibility for Climate Change?"

Maclean's: "Canadian youths walk out in frustration with Baird at UN climate conference"

H/t Holly Stick at Bread and Roses. I'm just too tired to compose today, but I can read and link, at least.

Alison at Creekside and The Galloping Beaver: brilliant snark from eco-activist Tzeporah Berman

The famous leaked document, via DeSmogBlog

Canadian government rep tries to intimidate Canadian youth with bogeyman of the Indonesian police, via Video Vox. Do you ever get the feeling that these guys (I mean the intimidator and Harper's spokesperson) have got turned all upside-down on the representation front?

Mike De Souza, blogging for Canada.com, an msm source for the last story above. I think you might want to read more of that on the turn:


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December 8, 2007

There is a lot of anger being directed at Canadian Industry Minister Jim Prentice and his party over what everyone anticipates will be a particularly odious piece of legislation that's been placed on the Notice Paper for next week and is expected to be introduced on Tuesday. And this is by no means intended to stop anyone from voicing his or her displeasure at Prentice.

But let's all remember that the Conservatives are in the minority in the House of Commons. Canada's Shabby Government™ can't pass this legislation without the support of at least one other party so this could get interesting. Not too many years ago the Liberals, with Our Lady of the Lobbyists Sarmite Bulte leading the way, had their own bad ideas concerning intellectual property and their own proposals for ruining the internet.

So let's keep one eye on the opposition. They can stop Canada's answer to the DMCA dead in its tracks, at least for now. Or they can get stupid and get behind it.

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December 7, 2007

Dear Western Digital

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I should tell you that over the years I've been a big fan of your hard drives. It's been two decades since I purchased a branded computer. I prefer to use a "white box" builder and to specify the parts I buy. Since I've had great luck with WD hard drives, I've gotten into the habit of simply requesting whatever WD product comes closest to my estimated requirements whenever I need more storage.

Unfortunately, unless and until the rest of the hard drive manufacturers start doing this crap I'll be breaking that habit and giving my business to someone else. It's not that I share any of those file formats. It's just that I have no intention of giving you money so you can stick your fucking nose in my business and play copyright cop.

By the way, did I mention that I'm self-employed and that some of my customers rely on me to advise on their hardware purchases? I may not cost you much but I intend to cost you a little.

It's been nice knowing you,
pogge

(Hat-tip to Saskboy.)

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Friday night blues blogging

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I've still got a hankering for harp. Here's Rick Estrin fronting Little Charlie and the Nightcats on Hurry Up and Wait. Nice bit towards the end of the solo. Don't know that I've ever seen that before but I don't get out much lately.

And a bonus: a little boogie harp from Kim Wilson (with a piano player whose name I wish I knew).


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December 6, 2007


They need to be, too, given too many truths about the world we still live in. No one is strong enough to resist a semi-automatic rifle, though, and today we remember again the fourteen beautiful young women murdered in Montreal that awful day in 1989. Above all we remember: they died because they were women. Their killer may have been driven by any number of devils to do what he did, but his devils told him that killing women would somehow justify his own martyrdom, so that's what he did.

From my friend Miss Vicky, I copy and number out the names of the dead again:

Geneviève Bergeron (b. 1968), civil engineering student.
Hélène Colgan (b. 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Nathalie Croteau (b. 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Barbara Daigneault (b. 1967), mechanical engineering student.
Anne-Marie Edward (b. 1968), chemical engineering student.
Maud Haviernick (b. 1960), materials engineering student.
Maryse Laganière (b. 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique's finance department.
Maryse Leclair (b. 1966), materials engineering student.
Anne-Marie Lemay (b. 1967), mechanical engineering student.
Sonia Pelletier (b. 1961), mechanical engineering student.
Michèle Richard (b. 1968), materials engineering student.
Annie St-Arneault (b. 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Annie Turcotte (b. 1969), materials engineering student.
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (b. 1958), nursing student.


A week ago, in anticipation of this sad anniversary, April Reign wrote a powerful reflection on the way we remember Our Glorious Dead. Predictably, one of the usual suspects has befouled this day of tribute and meditation, and I am very tempted to bite back at anyone brutal and vulgar enough to set one kind of memorial and grief against any other. But I won't say more than that, not today.

I would like to repeat the lovely lines from Edna St Vincent Millay that April Reign closed with last week:

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.


Photo courtesy Mind the Gap

H/t mattt with three tees at bastard.logic

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December 5, 2007

Ok, by now, they probably don't really need Karl Rove. I mean, what he did and sometimes still does was not exactly rocket science, and by now you'd think that everyone who is willing to become a low-down dirty rotten crook and liar would have learned how to do this stuff.

And so they have. If I'm reading this report from Johann Hari of the Independent (via the Seattle Post Intelligencer) properly, this was probably hatched in a brainstorming session at the Giuliani campaign and has gone all feral and viral since then.

Hari is very good at explaining to non-Merkins how sensitive the U.S. Electoral College system could be to phony attempts to democratize the system in one state alone -- one strategic state, California -- while maintaining the system elsewhere:

Today, the Republicans are trying to exploit the discontent with the Electoral College among Americans in a way that would rig the system in their favor. At the moment, every state apart from Maine and Nebraska hands out its Electoral College votes according to a winner-takes-all system. This means that if 51 percent of people in California vote Democrat, the Democrats get 100 percent of California's electoral votes; if 51 percent of people in Texas vote Republican, the Republicans get 100 percent of Texas' electoral votes.

The Republicans want to change this -- but in only one Democrat-leaning state. California has gone Democratic in presidential elections since 1988, and winning the sunny state is essential if the Democrats are going to retake the White House. So the Republicans have now begun a plan to break up California's Electoral College votes and award a huge chunk of them to their side.

They have launched a campaign called California Counts, and they are trying to secure a statewide referendum in June to implement their plan. They want California's electoral votes to be divvied up not on a big statewide basis, but according to the much smaller congressional districts. The practical result? Instead of all the state's 54 Electoral College votes going to the Democratic candidate, around 20 would go to the Republicans.

If this were being done in every state, everywhere, it would be an improvement. California's forgotten Republicans would be represented in the Electoral College, and so would Texas' forgotten Democrats. But by doing it in California alone, they are simply giving the Republicans a massive electoral gift. Suddenly it would be extremely hard for a Democrat ever to win the White House; they would need a landslide victory everywhere else to counter this vast structural imbalance against them on the West Coast.

Fiendish, yes? And read on for the profiles of the particular fiends involved.

We are facing some seriously unpleasant people in North America these days, are we not? It is still hard for me to accept that the bastards really are such bastards and do have such power. But it seems that they are, and they do.

There are some nice North Americans, though. H/t on this story to my friend strategerie at The Little Pink Clubhouse, aka The Heartbreak Blog, who is always there with the chocolate and the kleenex.

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Ernestine just suffered a setback. She will be huffy.

The CRTC has granted the request of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) for compensation for the cost of preparing a submission to a public hearing on lifting regulatory constraints on telephone companies' basic rates. From Michael Lithgow at Canadians for Democratic Media:

The public hearing (Telecom Public Notice CRTC 2006-10) was instigated in response to a letter from Bell Canada requesting deregulation of basic phone service fees. PIAC was strongly opposed to such a move, and included with its submission a request under s.44 of the CRTC Telecommunications Rules of Procedure for compensation for the costs of preparing its submission. Under s.44, the CRTC can award costs against a regulated company to an intervener who represents a class of subscribers with an interest in the outcome, who has participated in a responsible way, and who has contributed to a better understanding of the issues. The CRTC has ordered that PIAC be compensated in the amount of $20,182.74.

Bell Canada (on behalf of itself, Bell Aliant Regional Communications, and Saskatchewan Telecommunications) argued against the application for compensation, suggesting that PIAC had not been responsible, that they had unnecessarily delayed the proceedings and had made unsubstantiated allegations during the hearing. The CRTC found unequivocally that PIAC had participated in a responsible way and had contributed to a better understanding of the issues.


"Unnecessarily delayed the proceedings" -- that sort of thing seems to be distressing our wee corporate Masters of the Universe a lot these days, doesn't it. Damn democracy. So time consuming. Everyone wants ... a voice.

Heh heh heh. Snerk. I mean snort. I can hardly wait to tell Mr Veedle.

Gee: if we were in the U.S., just for writing this rude post I could be in danger of losing my access. But that couldn't happen here. Could it.

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December 2, 2007

Paul Wolfowitz is one of those distinguished individuals whose name often appears in the same sentence with the phrase "one of the architects of the Iraq war." His punishment reward for his sterling service in that area was to be appointed president of the World Bank, a gig he managed to screw up by become embroiled in controversy when he gave his girlfriend a high paying job. So I guess this shouldn't be a big surprise.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has offered Wolfowitz, a prime architect of the Iraq War, a position as chairman of the International Security Advisory Board, a prestigious State Department panel, according to two department sources who declined to be identified discussing personnel matters. The 18-member panel, which has access to highly classified intelligence, advises Rice on disarmament, nuclear proliferation, WMD issues and other matters. "We think he is well suited and will do an excellent job," said one senior official.

The position he would fill was vacated by Fred Thompson who left to sleepwalk through his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. So how hard can it be?

Still, one wonders how badly these people have to screw up before they become too radioactive for a move like this to even be considered.

Hat-tip to Laura Rozen.

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