April 2009 Archives

April 30, 2009

What thwap said

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In addressing the latest manufactured outrage on the right — the Zerb's Twitter comment about Michelle Malkin — thwap warns us that he's about to broach a subject he knows little about and then sums things up quite nicely in a single paragraph:

I'm sorry, but there have been incidents of verbal violence and eliminationist rhetoric coming from the right-wing over the years that are too numerous to mention. This is an inarguable fact. If you disagree, then tell me (as I asked a while back) where are the leftist snipers and bombers? Where (in North America) has a leftist gone to a place where right-wingers are suspected of congregating, and shot the place up? Where are the buildings they've blown up? Where are the cops they've shot dead?

Have Stephen Taylor and his merry band of miscreants addressed this? Or are they too busy trying to figure out how they can milk this distraction even if they have to mangle the original comment to do it?

This has been another edition of What thwap said.

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Journamalism

My main question concerning this story and others like it probably won't come as a surprise because I've asked it before. What is there about what these unnamed "Tory insiders" have said that justifies granting them anonymity? How is reporting in this way anything other than simply providing one set of partisans or another a chance to push their spin or float their trial balloons without having to wear their words?

I'm a lot more interested in what actually gets done in Ottawa and what it actually means to us than in the way so-called insiders are spinning things that haven't actually happened yet.

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April 29, 2009

Peter J. Tinsley may yet get his wish.

Efforts to thwart public hearings into allegations that Canada knowingly transferred prisoners to likely torturers in Afghanistan were dealt another defeat yesterday by a federal court judge who denied the government's application for an indefinite stay.

The Chair of the Military Police Complaints Commission has been trying to hold public hearings into this matter since March of last year. The government could still try and stop it but according to this story Justice Anne Mactavish was pretty firm in rejecting all of the government's arguments. So maybe Hapless Harper will take the hint and just get out of the way. Finally.

H/t to Scott Tribe.

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Pandemics, pundits and perspective

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I think the best indication that Don Martin doesn't know what he's writing about when he discusses the 1918 pandemic is here:

That virus hit with astonishing speed in an age before vaccines were mass produced. One newspaper reported that four women had been happily playing bridge late into the night. By the next morning, three were dead.

The Alberta government ordered all residents to wear masks outdoors that horrific autumn. A sneeze or a cough in a public place would cost you a fine in Regina.

That was the second wave. The pandemic of 1918 began in the spring, not the autumn. And it began with a relatively mild illness that evolved into something more virulent when it came back for a second round. (And there was a third wave, too.) So when Martin wants to blow this current flu off by saying there's simply no comparison to what is popularly known as the Spanish Flu, I'd say he should really stick to politics.

He is right when he suggests this might fizzle out. But it might not and it's too soon to say. As DemFromCT writes here, the proper attitude for now is probably "[c]oncern, not alarm." But concern isn't complacency and Martin does his readers no service by sneering at the idea that this might be a serious event. I think it's far better to prepare people for what, at the moment, remains only a possibility than to ignore any chance of a serious pandemic only to have to hit the panic button when there is a flu bug that can strike with "astonishing speed." And incidentally, it still takes months to develop a flu vaccine.

I would hope that if pundits like Don Martin continue to rely on comparisons to historical events to try and explain current events to their readers, they'll take the trouble to understand those historical events first. Otherwise they can do more harm than good.

H/t to Montreal Simon who has more and appears to be better informed in this area than your average National Post pundit.

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April 28, 2009

More like this, please

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With all the flak I've sent Michael Ignatieff's way it's only fair I applaud him for doing something I like. And I guess it's ironic that I'm applauding him for absenting himself from the House of Commons.

Then, with the second last question of the day, the Conservatives sent up Jeff Watson, the giddy backbencher who'd wandered into the House earlier with a pair of sunglasses perched atop his head. "Mr. Speaker, on April 14 the Liberal leader said, and I quote, 'We will have to raise taxes,'" he said, expending great energy to seem serious. "Does the government agree with the Liberal leader when he says, and I quote, 'We will have to raise taxes,' and should Canadians take him at his word?"

The Liberals groaned, then moaned as the government sent up Pierre Poilievre to answer. At the sight of the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary, Ignatieff decided the proceedings moot, packed up his papers and left the House, the Conservatives calling after him to stay.

While there's definitely something to be said for showing due respect to those who have opinions that differ from yours, the behaviour of Poilièvre and the other Conservative attack puppies in the House of Commons has been contemptible. So by all means, treat it with contempt. Obviously MPs from the opposition parties need to be in attendance when there's real business to be done. But on other occasions, when the Conservatives start their nonsense, walking out is the appropriate response. Don't feed the trolls.

Update:

Sorry. H/t Far and Wide by way of Scott Tribe.

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How low can they go?

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Ottawa presses Abdelrazik to admit to being al-Qaeda

More than 16 months after Canada's security agencies cleared Abousfian Abdelrazik, government lawyers are now pressing him to admit to being a senior al-Qaeda operative, echoing American accusations apparently extracted from Abu Zubaydah, the al-Qaeda leader water boarded more than 80 times under the Bush administration.

In written cross-examination over the past week, expected to be filed Tuesday in federal court, the Harper government accuses Mr. Abdelrazik, the Canadian citizen it has barred from returning home, of being "close to Abu Zubaydah, a former lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, involved in al Qaeda training and recruitment."

Canada is now relying on accusations that "are tainted by the use of torture," said Yavar Hameed, Mr. Abdelrazik's lawyer.

I just deleted the original paragraph of comment because I scanned the first couple of paragraphs of that article too quickly. I should have actually read to the end because the situation is even more ludicrous than I thought. While the rest of the world is coming to terms with the fact that the Bush administration was actually using torture to elicit false confessions in an effort to justify their invasion of Iraq, the Hapless Government™ is trying to use statements from a man who was waterboarded 83 times to prove that Abdelrazik is a terrorist.

Our own intelligence agents have long since cleared the man of any wrongdoing and without any criminal charge there is still no justification for preventing him from returning to Canada under the allowable exemption to the travel ban. But that won't stop Harper and his merry band of fuckwits from trying to justify their past policy of refusing to allow him back into the country. Never admit a mistake.

H/t to Greg.

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April 26, 2009

Journamalism

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Or maybe I should call this one "Zombie lies" because this is one that won't seem to die. In reporting that the Hapless Government™ is still considering an appeal of the decision that instructed them to seek Omar Khadr's repatriation, CTV tells us:

Khadr, 22, has spent years in the detention facility on charges that he killed an American medic in Afghanistan in 2002.

As I've said before, Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer was a special forces soldier with cross-training as a paramedic. On the day he was killed he was not wearing the appropriate insignia nor was he acting as a medic; he was acting as a combat soldier. To continue to repeat that Omar Khadr is charged with killing a medic after all this time is just sloppy reporting.

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April 25, 2009

In August 1970, during the trial of Charles Manson and three co-defendants, President Richard Nixon went on one of his resentful verbal rambles against the press, using what he considered the sensational coverage of the Manson trial to snipe at the fourth estate. (In fact, coverage of the trial by the LA press, if steady, was considered fastidiously restrained at the time.) Carried away by the sound of his own voice, Nixon charged that the press were romanticizing Manson, and then said: "Here was a man who was guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders without reason."

"MANSON GUILTY, NIXON DECLARES." The Manson trial was already an intense and dangerous process. The jury were sequestered; assault and death threats were common and believable; one defence attorney would die under suspect circumstances during the trial. Recognizing immediately what the president had done, the presiding judge ordered the windows of the jury's bus covered and forbade anyone to bring a newspaper into his courtroom. One defence attorney did, however, and left the paper (negligently or maybe not) lying on his table. Manson leapt forward, grabbed the paper with that headline in huge bold type and held it up for the jury to view.

The judge was forced to halt proceedings and debrief all the jurors. Some had not seen the headline; those who had were predictably incensed that the president would try to usurp their authority to try the case; and all was well ... until the next day, when Manson's female co-defendants rose in court and chanted out Nixon's charge all over again.

Fast forward to the House of Commons, 24 April 2009, rambling remarks from Lawrence Cannon, boy foreign minister, on the ruling of Federal Court Judge James W. O'Reilly that the Canadian government has a duty to repatriate Omar Khadr from Guantanamo Bay:

... Mr. Cannon's comments in the Commons yesterday also strayed from the usual Conservative talking points on the file - namely, that Mr. Khadr faces serious charges, including murder, and that Ottawa will not interfere with continuing legal proceedings in the United States.


"As a matter of fact, last night we were able to see television footage of Mr. Khadr's alleged building and planting of explosive devices that are actually planted in Afghanistan," Mr. Cannon told the House. "Those devices are the devices that basically have taken away the lives of young Canadian men and women."

Mr. Cannon was apparently referring to footage that was previously leaked, in violation of court rules, to the news show 60 Minutes. Mr. Khadr's defence lawyers have so far been unable to prove who leaked the video.

"There's never been any allegation that Omar conspired to injure Canadians," said Nate Whitling, one of Mr. Khadr's Canadian lawyers. "This is clearly an attempt to prejudice our client on spurious grounds."

I am not a lawyer, so I don't know the grounds on which a court or the Speaker could censure Mr Cannon for remarks made in Parliament, but that statement is surely deserving of censure. The odd reference to viewing a video "last night," a video that has been around for a long time and about which there is much prior intelligent comment, suggests that Mr Cannon is simply clueless on this file, as does the cover-up conflicting statement from his communications director.

But it seems to me a terrible abuse of power that government ministers (or even little spokespersons) should be able to make insinuations about the criminal guilt of individual Canadian citizens, especially when no legitimate prosecutor has ever raised such charges and when Omar Khadr is still, under any legal process, however suspect, as the U.S. military commissions are universally considered to be (well, except by the Harper cabinet), entitled to the presumption of innocence.

The continued persecution of Omar Khadr would be farcical if it weren't also verging on sadistic. Bring him home, you incompetent pinheads.


Catching-update: Very interesting to read, on Aaron Wherry's blog at Maclean's, the scrums with Bob Rae and Paul Dewar following minister Cannon's performance yesterday. Just keep reading and clicking through the transcripts until you get to Wherry's conversation with li'l Kory.

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April 24, 2009

Friday night

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Let's see if skdadl can keep up with Pinetop Perkins.


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April 23, 2009

"the multiplicity of departures from international norms that have taken place"

And that, my fellow citizens, is what I think we call a shot across the bow. Across the bow of not just one but two ships of state.

And then Judge O'Reilly reinforced the point:

"I find, therefore, that the principles of fundamental justice obliged Canada to protect Mr. Khadr by taking appropriate steps to ensure that his treatment accorded with international human rights norms."

Shame that the Globe and Mail decided to scale down their original report on Judge O'Reilly's order that the Canadian government get to work at bringing Omar Khadr home, at getting him out of a system that the whole world now knows has been criminal on a world-historical level, but you can read the full ruling here (pdf).

Harper mulls appeal, of course. Oh, and Iggy is probably mulling too. That's what our current hopeless crop of politicians do, I guess -- mull.

Luckily, we seem to have more than a few judges with brains and spines and some clearly defined notions of the ground rules essential to the survival of basic human decency.

In tribute to Judge O'Reilly, and with unfailing concern for our fellow citizen, Omar Khadr:

Colm Wilkinson, singing "Bring Him Home" from Les Misérables


Thanks to pogge and Alison at Bread and Roses.

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I believe that this is Jonathan Mann, aka RockCookieBottom, singing "Torture Memos: Waterboarding."



I do believe that over the last week or so we may have reached tipping point, or critical mass, or something. Let's hear it for momentum.

Via Andrew Sullivan, "The Daily Dish," and Croghan at Bread and Roses.

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Iggy spoke. But did Larry listen?

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The Canadian Press is reporting that Michael Ignatieff stood up for Canada today. He wanted to express some displeasure on our behalf about newly minted homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano's comments concerning border security. So he delivered his message to Larry Summers, an old friend of his and one of President Obama's chief economic advisers. I'd be curious to know whether that conversation took place before or after this meeting. Iggy may have to work on his delivery.

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April 22, 2009

No one could have predicted

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That using Monsanto products might have negative consequences.

In late 2004, "superweeds" that resisted Monsanto's iconic "Roundup" herbicide, popped up in GM crops in the county of Macon, Georgia. Monsanto, the US multinational biotech corporation, is the world's leading producer of Roundup, as well as genetically engineered seeds. Company figures show that nine out of 10 US farmers produce Roundup Ready seeds for their soybean crops.

Superweeds have since alarmingly appeared in other parts of Georgia, as well as South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri, according to media reports. Roundup contains the active ingredient glyphosate, which is the most used herbicide in the USA.

How has this happened? Farmers over-relied on Monsanto's revolutionary and controversial combination of a single "round up" herbicide and a high-tech seed with a built-in resistance to glyphosate, scientists say.

If you read on you'll find that it's gotten so bad, some farmers are simply abandoning their fields. The hat-tip for this story goes to Inky99 at Daily Kos and if you follow up by checking out his diary you'll find that Monsanto does have a solution. It seems the brightest lights in Agro Biz did anticipate this kind of development. And did they rethink the merits of their product offerings? No, they just began trying to corner the market on the ingredients necessary to solve the problem they were in the process of creating.

Is that what they mean by disaster capitalism?

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April 20, 2009

I wonder if Tony Clement knew about this when he inserted himself into negotiations between Chrylser and the CAW by insisting that the union had to make large concessions.

Top officials at Chrysler Financial turned away a $750 million government loan because executives didn't want to abide by new federal limits on pay, sources familiar with the matter say.

The government had been offering the loan earlier this month as part of its efforts to prop up the ailing auto industry, including Chrysler, which is racing to avoid bankruptcy. Chrysler Financial is a vital lender to Chrysler dealerships and customers.

In forgoing the loan, Chrysler Financial opted to use more expensive financing from private banks, adding to the burdens of the already fragile automaker and its financing company.

But if Chrysler goes down, it's the union's fault.
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April 3, 2009:

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Friday the country is in a mild recession and that Canada will come out of it strongly.

Flaherty delivered his upbeat message in London, England, to a meeting of the Canada-U.K. Chamber of Commerce.

"Relatively speaking, this is a mild economic recession," Flaherty said.

April 20, 2009:

Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says the worst economic downturn since the Second World War is a "serious recession" and expects 2009 to continue to be a "difficult year," especially in the manufacturing and auto sectors. But he also says the government has "taken the necessary steps" to help mitigate the effects.

"Canada is not an island, so we're affected as a trading economy. There's significant unemployment, but interest rates are low, relatively speaking, so this is quite different from the recession we went through in the 1980s when the prime rate was in excess of 20 per cent," Mr. Jim Flaherty (Whitby-Oshawa, Ont.) told The Hill Times last week in a telephone interview. "This is a different situation now. But it is a serious recession and that's why we've taken the steps we've taken, quite dramatic steps, in the budget."

From mild to serious in 17 days. (Actually less since the interview was last week.)

And incidentally, while he insists the government has taken "the necessary steps," he's already backing off the claim that those steps will create 190,000 jobs by 2010. That claim is only, what, 3 months old?

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Watching them like hawks

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Perhaps someone should mention to Michael Ignatieff that it's easier to keep a close eye on the Conservatives if you're actually in the same room as they are.

I don't think the numbers are quite as bad as they were during Dion's time at the helm but the trend doesn't look that good.

H/t to JanfromtheBruce.

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April 19, 2009

Former CIA and NSA director General (ret'd) Michael Hayden on Meet the Press this morning:

"I mean, if you were to go to an agency officer today and say 'go do this' ... [they'd respond] 'why am I authorized to do this?' I say it's authorized by the president, the attorney general said it's lawful and it's been briefed to congress. That agency officer is gonna say 'yeah I know... but have you run it by the ACLU. What about the New York Times editorial board? Have you discussed this with any potential presidential candidates?' You're going to have this agency on the front line of this current war playing back from the line."



The cheap sarcasm is getting even more petty and personal and openly partisan lately, isn't it? I guess we can understand why a man who has worked hard to minimize the CIA torture program in congressional testimony about, for instance, waterboarding (used on "only three detainees" -- except he didn't tell us how many times it was used on those three), who is still claiming that the CIA gained "half the intelligence" it has about al-Qaeda from enhanced interrogations (except he isn't telling us how that half is calculated), the man who started a professional investigation of his own inspector general after the IG produced a still-classified report that may play an important role in the story of the torture memos and tapes -- I guess we can understand why that man might have been a little cranky before breakfast this morning.

Quite apart from the coarse trivialization of horror, though, Hayden's sniping bothered me for the same reason that the memos and the behaviour of everyone who participated in any of the torture programs bother me. What kind of moral idiot needs to check with anyone, absolutely anyone, from the ACLU to the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), to know that all these antiseptically described assaults on human bodies and minds are wrong, utterly wrong, 'way beyond the pale in any civilized society?

That people felt they needed a piece of paper from the OLC to wave about before they acted, but then were perfectly willing to act -- that is the bleeding problem. Nuremberg, mon amour.

There is a great deal to be said about the release of the torture memos, about what they are missing, about the gaps between them and much other evidence we have from other sources, about how investigations could and should still go forward, but I wanted to keep this a short, pleasant pastoral post on this lovely spring Sunday evening.

I note only that worrying over Obama's statement on Thursday has probably become a red herring on this turf. Obama will not be the arbiter of any solid case brought together by congressional or other investigators, and I think those cases are inevitably going to be made. When that happens, Eric Holder will have to look at them without considering policy. Or at least, that's the way it's supposed to work. That's the hope.

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Statistic of the day

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Courtesy of the Winnipeg Free Press:

It is precisely for such times [as these] that unemployment insurance was created and worked relatively well during the recessions of the early 1980s and 1990s.

But unlike the past two slumps, when about 80 per cent of the unemployed collected unemployment insurance, today less than 43 per cent, or 560,000 of the 1.3 million Canadians who were officially jobless in January, are collecting benefits.

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April 17, 2009

Friday night

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Here's a couple of unplugged performances for a Friday night. I was just passing through looking for something else but felt compelled to check one out when I noticed that the venue is called the MoBoogie Loft. It sounded interesting. I apologize to skdadl for the lack of a piano. But look! Bongos!


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April 16, 2009

No one could have predicted

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That "Ignatieff" and "backpedals" would appear in the same headline. I realize that by now Iggy's supporters will all be inclined to take what I have to say with a grain of salt but I'll offer this advice anyway: the next time he opens his mouth in public and you're tempted to applaud him for it, wait a day or two. When it sounds like he's actually being courageous he generally walks it back almost immediately.

Meanwhile, I find myself having to acknowledge that one of his Conservative adversaries actually has a point.

"His position is that he's going to raise taxes. Which taxes will he raise?" Transport Minister John Baird said in an interview.

Of course this is followed by the usual tax cut mantra because the Conservative answer to every problem is to cut taxes. But while the GST cuts can certainly be laid at Jim Flaherty's feet, the Liberals have done their share when it comes to shifting the tax burden to those who rely on their labour to live, to the benefit of those who can afford to have their money earn more money. So Baird raises a fair question. It would be nice to know what the Liberal policy regarding taxation actually is. Don't hold your breath waiting for an answer.

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Oooooh, THAT Mike McCurry

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I imagine that this news will be greeted with a fair amount of grumbling about Canadian tax dollars going to pay someone as dishonest as Ari Fleischer. But let's not overlook the failings of our other new employee. While Mike McCurry is probably best known as a former press secretary for the Clinton administration, his more recent activities have included lobbying against network neutrality on behalf of the big American telcos. In that capacity he has inspired the following from the Great Orange Satan himself:

What a dishonest piece of shit McCurry has become.

I just thought you'd like to know that there's some consistency in Harper's personnel decisions.

H/t to Impolitical for the original story.

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April 14, 2009

Watch what they do, not what they say

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Less than two months ago, Iggy made comments that had everyone talking and his supporters all said that it was just, you know, politics and we shouldn't take it too seriously. At the time I asked how I was supposed to tell the difference between an Iggy comment that I was to take seriously and an Iggy comment I could safely ignore. I never did get a satisfactory answer so while I note that apparently he recently made a comment that has everyone talking (at least if the front page at Progressive Bloggers is any indication), I'm going to err on the side of ignoring it. Let me know when he actually does something.

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Dear Jack Layton

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I don't care who's calling, robocalls are the work of the devil. Just stop it.

Love,
pogge

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April 13, 2009

A few other media outlets have already reported on this over the weekend but Paul Koring at the Globe and Mail got caught up with the latest on the Abousfian Abdelrazik story today and brought a little something extra to the table.

The government has unveiled new and unprecedented reasons barring the return of Canadian citizen Abousfian Abdelrazik, claiming every country he might fly over on the way home from Khartoum needed to give explicit permission.

In a federal-court filing, the government says its hands are tied and that neither Mr. Abdelrazik's Charter right as a citizen to enter Canada nor the UN's specific travel-ban exemption permitting those on its terrorist blacklist to return home requires it let him fly back to his family in Montreal.

It says the UN travel ban "prohibits other states" from allowing Mr. Abdelrazik or anyone else on what's called the 1267 list of al-Qaeda suspects "to enter into and travel through their territories which includes land, airspace and territorial waters."

What a sharp government we have. They've figured out what so many others appear to have missed: the 1267 travel-ban exemption is meaningless and unworkable unless the individual in question is already in the country next door to his country of citizenship. We've got some pretty good legal talent working for us, eh?

Except...what's this?


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April 12, 2009

In August of last year I joined a blog burst intended to draw attention to the Cree community in Attawapiskat where they would very much like to have a real school for their children before those children are old enough to retire. We're doing it again. At the time I felt that Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl needed some help in sorting out his priorities. He still does because if anything the situation has worsened. When the old, condemned school was torn down it uncovered an old diesel fuel spill which is now emitting fumes that are noxious enough to make everyone sick. Even the portables that were in use to educate the children have been abandoned because of the fumes.

MP Charlie Angus and MPP Gilles Bisson paid a visit to the community and the result of that trip, among other things, is the YouTube video embedded below. If you have a blog or some other form of soap box, this would be a good time to use it to spread the word. (And post the video if you can. This link will take you to the YouTube page.) Maybe it will occur to the bright lights in the Hapless Government™ that a real clean-up and a new school would be good economic stimulus as well as, quite simply, the right thing to do for those children.

If you want thorough coverage of this story, go visit Northwestern Lad whose most recent post is here.

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Sunday morning

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(It's actually called A Pause in the Rain. But you'd probably figured that out.)

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April 10, 2009

Friday night

Party time! This first one features Jimmy Vaughan on guitar.


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April 9, 2009

Wal-Mart watch

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Unionized Quebec Wal-Mart workers get 1st contract

It took nearly four years, but unionized workers at a Quebec Wal-Mart store now have their first collective agreement, a first in North America.

A Quebec arbitrator sealed the two-year deal for employees at the St-Hyacinthe Wal-Mart east of Montreal earlier this week.

Some 200 workers at the store received their union accreditation in January 2005, but called on an arbitrator when contract negotiations with the retail giant stalled.

Should we start a pool on how long it takes for Wal-Mart to announce that this location is no longer economically viable and is being shut down? The union official quoted in the story says he doesn't anticipate that happening but, to be blunt, I think that's wishful thinking. As recently as October of last year they closed a tire-and-lube garage in Gatineau because collective bargaining is "incompatible" with the Wal-Mart way of doing business. I doubt that much has changed since then but I guess time will tell.

H/t to Unionist at babble.

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Deep thought

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I was already tired of talking about Brian Mulroney while he was still the prime minister.

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April 7, 2009

In February the Public Service Alliance of Canada announced that it intended to fight provisions in The Hapless Government™'s budget implementation bill that undermined collective bargaining and pay equity. I don't know if the PSAC has taken it any further than that but another public service union has.

One of the largest federal unions is challenging the constitutionality of the Harper government's budget legislation for taking away collective bargaining in the public service and pay equity as a human right for federal workers.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada filed its lawsuit in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Toronto, arguing the budget legislation's "regressive and illegal provisions" violate federal workers' rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, said acting president Gary Corbett.

The article quotes the co-chair of the National Joint Council as suggesting that 17 other unions are expected to mount their own challenges to the budget. They would all join the Mounties who filed suit in January because the government rolled back a pay increase that had been negotiated last June.

We seem to be moving closer to the American system despite ourselves. Bad legislation sails through without sufficient opposition and the real fight happens in the courts.

.
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April 3, 2009

Lies and the lying liars

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Returning to the Abousfian Abdelrazik story briefly because of this from the latest CTV story on today's development:

Deepak Obhari, [Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence] Cannon's parliamentary secretary, said Abdelrazik can't fly home until he is removed from a United Nations no-fly list.

"So that creates a very serious problem for us (in) a legal aspect," said Obhari.

Now don't just take my word for it. This is from Paul Koring's Globe and Mail story earlier today and is in reference to the UN list that Obhrai claims is causing a legal problem.

Although the blacklist imposes a travel ban, it includes a specific exemption for citizens to return home.

Abousfian Abdelrazik has been a Canadian citizen for almost 15 years and his home is in Montreal. Deepak Obhrai's pants are in flames.

Aside: CTV News badly needs a copy editor. It's Deepak Obhrai, not Deepak Obhari.

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Friday night

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The opening tune was inspired by the earworm that settled in some time yesterday evening. That should tell you what kind of week I've had. There's more from Jake and Elwood on the flip.


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Still stranded

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Canada denies passport to blacklisted citizen

The Conservative government reversed itself today and denied an emergency passport to Abousfian Abdelrazik, preventing the Canadian citizen - blacklisted as a terrorist - from flying home to Montreal.

In a terse explanation, it said Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon considers Mr. Abdelrazik a national security threat.

In a one-sentence letter, delivered this morning to Mr. Abdelrazik's lawyers, the justice department said "the minister of foreign affairs has decided to refuse your client's request for an emergency passport." It cited Section 10.1 of the Canada Passport Order which says "the minister may refuse or revoke a passport if the minister is of the option that such action is necessary for the national security of Canada or another country."

It's been reported on numerous occasions that CSIS, the RCMP and the Sudanese government have all cleared Abdelrazik. No one can point to any proof that he's a threat to anyone's security. I'm going to go out on a limb and say Lawrence Cannon is a big fat liar. Our government seems intent on keeping a citizen of this country in a form of prison indefinitely without any kind of due process. Have they come up with a variation that even the Bush administration didn't think of?

H/t to Chet Scoville

Update:

The Globe's headline didn't really sink in at first but the use of the word "blacklisted" really is appropriate here. Whether it's Abousfian Abdelrazik or George Galloway or who knows who else, the government seems to be making up a list of people it doesn't like and just arbitrarily keeping them out of the country by whatever means it can dream up. Joe McCarthy would be proud.

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