Sunday, May 31, 2009

No More

The Brains

Calling an Abortion Provider a 'Murderer' is an Incitement to Terrorism

Suits should be filed using Harper's new law as soon as it is enacted, against anti-choice individuals and organizations who have provided material support or violent incitement to terrorist acts. I doubt its the use he had planned but there can be no arguing its applicability.
The federal government will soon introduce legislation that will allow victims of terrorism to sue perpetrators in Canadian courts, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Sunday.

Harper made the announcement at a Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) event in Toronto where he received the Saul Hayes Human Rights Award.

He said the legislation would allow "victims of terrorism to seek justice against individuals, organizations and foreign states that support terrorism."

UPDATE: Should the suspect in this act of terrorism and murder be water-boarded to find out who his accomplices are? If not will the supporters of torture against terrorists explain what distinction beyond skin colour exists between white terrorists and brown ones?

Sunday Linkblast - May 31

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Blood and Thunder

MASTODON
This one goes out to my friends in the Calgary freakshow community
(Yes there is one - or at least there used to be.)

Friday, May 29, 2009

"What the Hell do they want from me?"

Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel is stunned and horrified. The Americans are telling him to end all settlement building, even so called 'natural growth' construction. Worse, they seem to mean it.

Israel's leaders are used to the old game: The occasional public call from US Presidents to freeze construction to at least present the appearance of impartiality and honest brokerage - accompanied by private winks that it's all for show. At worst, successive Israeli governments knew they could count on an out-sized influence in the US Congress and Senate to whip recalcitrant Presidents into line if they pushed too hard, as George H. W. Bush learned when he threatened to link American aid to issues of construction on occupied Palestinian land.

But even that doesn't seem to be working this time. Shockingly, every branch of the US government seems to have experienced a sea change, stunningly Obama seems to mean no more or less than what he says and an appalled Israeli leadership confronts the terrifying prospect that the old game doesn't work anymore.
Last night, shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told journalists that the Obama administration "wants to see a stop to settlements -- not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a confidante. Referring to Clinton's call for a settlement freeze, Netanyahu groused, "What the hell do they want from me?" according to his associate, who added, "I gathered that he heard some bad vibes in his meetings with [U.S.] congressional delegations this week."

In the 10 days since Netanyahu and President Barack Obama held a meeting at the White House, the Obama administration has made clear in public and private meetings with Israeli officials that it intends to hold a firm line on Obama's call to stop Israeli settlements. According to many observers in Washington and Israel, the Israeli prime minister, looking for loopholes and hidden agreements that have often existed in the past with Washington, has been flummoxed by an unusually united line that has come not just from Obama White House and the secretary of state, but also from pro-Israel congressmen and women who have come through Israel for meetings with him over Memorial Day recess. To Netanyahu's dismay, Obama doesn't appear to have a hidden policy. It is what he said it was.
Is it possible that the Americans have finally realized that giving Israel anything it wants any time it demands it is no more in Israel's interest than anyone else's?

And how will an increasingly aggressive, theocratic and aberrant settler movement that has made frightening inroads into the Israeli Defense Forces react to these possible new geo-political realities?

UPDATE: More from a former US Ambassador:
If you were in the administration today, we said, how would you treat Netanyahu?
“I think,” he said, “that Bibi suffers from the fact that many people in the Obama administration know him too well: they were there during Clinton’s time. They have not forgotten.”
And The Onion's take:
JERUSALEM—In a historic speech before the U.N. Tuesday, newly elected Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled a comprehensive plan to extend political discord and senseless violence in the Middle East through the next 25 years.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

False Advertising

As of today this blog will no longer have Google AdSense or any other advertising.

I only added it out of curiosity. I never really expected it to rake in the dough and it didn't - it only lasted as long as it did because I never got around to getting rid of it. I use FireFox at home with Ad Block - so I never even saw it usually.

But I checked out my blog from another computer on Explorer today, and on a post about BC's abortion clinic bubble law I did a few months ago that I referenced recently I noticed AdSense was referring my readers to the Calgary Crisis Pregnancy Center.

And the Calgary Crisis Pregnancy Center like other CPC's, is an evangelical anti-choice front group carefully disguised as an unbiased health resource for pregnant women. (PDF Link)


They would doubtless argue the description. They are very careful to hide what they are really about on their website and the astro-turf carpet bomb linking that is the first several pages of Google results for them. Nowhere on their website soliciting women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy (No, I won't be linking to it.) are they upfront about the fact that despite claiming to be a one stop 'non-judgemental' resource of options they will never, under any circumstance refer women to an abortion provider. That they oppose all forms of birth-control. That they promote a guilt oriented post abortion 'counseling program' designed to make women regret that they had the choice to end a pregnancy.

They certainly won't reveal that Crisis Pregnancy Centers have been credibly accused of coercive practices, adoption irregularities, links to violent extremists (Gunman James Kopp was affiliated with a CPC and was investigated for attempting to coerce and take out of state a teenage girl.) and deliberately stringing vulnerable women along until their pregnancies reach an advanced stage where abortions would be dangerous.

I absolutely refuse to have my blog associated with such unethical people. Bye bye AdSense.

The Death of Crime

In the Netherlands, the crime rate is so low they are soon going to have to either shut down some of their prisons or import felons from Belgium.

Let's hear it for a generous welfare state and decriminalizing practically all victimless crimes.
The Dutch justice ministry has announced it will close eight prisons and cut 1,200 jobs in the prison system. A decline in crime has left many cells empty.

During the 1990s the Netherlands faced a shortage of prison cells, but a decline in crime has since led to overcapacity in the prison system. The country now has capacity for 14,000 prisoners but only 12,000 detainees.

Deputy justice minister Nebahat Albayrak announced on Tuesday that eight prisons will be closed, resulting in the loss of 1,200 jobs. Natural redundancy and other measures should prevent any forced lay-offs, the minister said.

The overcapacity is a result of the declining crime rate, which the ministry's research department expects to continue for some time.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Omar Khadr repeatedly threatened with rape in Gitmo

While he was at Guantanamo, Omar Khadr was beaten to the head, nearly suffocated, threatened with having his clothes taken indefinitely, and lunged at by attack dogs while wearing a bag over his head. “Your life is in my hands,” an intelligence officer told him during an interrogation in the spring of 2003.

During the questioning, Omar gave an answer the interrogator did not like. The man spat in his face and threatened to send him to Israel, Egypt, Jordan or Syria—places where they tortured people the old-fashioned way: very slowly, analytically removing body parts. The Egyptians, the interrogator told Omar, would hand him to Askri raqm tisa—Soldier Number Nine. Soldier Number Nine, the interrogator explained, was a guard who specialized in raping prisoners.

Omar’s chair was removed. Because his hands and ankles were shackled, he fell to the floor. His interrogator told him to get up. Standing up was hard, because he could not use his hands. When he did, his interrogator told him to sit down again. When he sat, the interrogator told him to stand again. He refused. The interrogator called two guards into the room, who grabbed Omar by the neck and arms, lifted him into the air, and dropped him onto the floor. The interrogator told them to do it again. He told them to do it again, and again, and again. Then he said he was locking Omar’s case file in a safe: Omar would spend the rest of his life in a cell at Guantanamo Bay.

Several weeks later, a man who claimed to be Afghani interrogated Omar. He wore an American flag on his uniform pants. He said his name was “Izmarai”—lion—and that he was from Wardeq. He spoke in Farsi, and occasionally Pashto and English. Izmarai said a new prison was under construction in Afghanistan for uncooperative detainees. “In Afghanistan,” Izmarai said, “they like small boys.” He pulled out a photograph of Omar and wrote on it, in Pashto, “This detainee must be transferred to Bagram.”

Omar was taken from his chair and short-shackled to an eye-bolt in the floor, his hands behind his knees. He was left that way for six hours, during which time he soiled himself and guards and intelligence officers came in and laughed at him.

UPDATE: Some of the detainee abuse photos Obama is trying to suppress are reported to be of the rape of male and female detainees.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tax-payer funded Plagiarism

Michael Geist spots and Boing Boing pounces on, the Conference Board of Canada taking $15,000 in tax-payers money - to copy and paste a US recording industry report on copyright and claim it as their own.
The Conference Board of Canada has issued a response to my posting on its Digital Economy report. The organization defends the report, arguing that there was only one case of a missed citation (which it has corrected) and acknowledging that "some of the cited paragraphs closely approximate the wording of a source document." It claims that it conducted a full review of the various arguments and included "those arguments considered most relevant to the policy under review." Since this is contract research funded by the copyright lobby groups and the Ontario government, the Conference Board refuses to disclose the terms of the contract.

Leaving aside the fact that all the most relevant arguments just happen to come from a U.S. lobby group with direct links to the funders of the Digital Economy report, the Conference Board of Canada has failed to understand the rules associated with plagiarism as a sprinkling of citations is simply not good enough. As the University of Ottawa's plagiarism guidelines (which are mirrored in academic institutions around the world) note "if you use someone else's words, data, etc., use quotation marks and give a complete reference." The Digital Economy report repeatedly used the same or very similar wording to the IIPA document and does not use quotations. Moreover, my posting cited to factual errors contained within the report and the press release. For example, the Conference Board claimed that the OECD concluded that Canada is the world's file sharing capital on a per capita basis. This is simply false as anyone who reads the OECD report will find that it did not reach that conclusion. Nevertheless, the Conference Board has chosen not to respond to this issue.
Leaving aside the irony of a stolen defense of strict copyright laws, how do you like your tax dollars paying for false statistics about Canadian file-sharing in an effort to reduce your digital rights?

UPDATE: Days after the Conference Board Report was revealed to be riddled with inaccuracies and blatant plagiarism CanWest reports on it - without ever mentioning any of this.

UPDATE 2 - May 28: The Conference Board of Canada washes their hands of the disgraced report.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Psychobilly Freakout

Reverend Horton Heat

Sunday Linkblast - May 24

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Fight the real enemy

It's been almost eighteen years since Sinéad O'Connor's infamous appearance on Saturday Night Live. That was the acapella performance of the Bob Marley song War that she capped by holding up a picture of the pope saying 'Fight the real enemy.' and carefully tearing it to pieces live on camera.

People went crazy of course. She was vilified, condemned and there were organized campaigns to burn or crush her albums.

What her critics flat out refused to do was address her reasons for dong what she did. She was trying to draw attention to a long toxic history of horrific child abuse by church institutions and representatives. Specifically to the Irish experience of the various residence schools, reformatories and orphanages run by the church. Over the years O'Connor has vacillated between ruing an act she has described as adolescent rebellion and defiantly refusing to apologize for it.

Now a report has come out in Ireland detailing the systemic abuse she was protesting.

Irish people had some knowledge before this of the obscene depravity that permeated the industrial school system that existed in Ireland until the 1980s. The commission began gathering evidence in 2000 after a series on RTE (Irish national television), called "States of Fear," provided documentary evidence of the reign of terror in institutions for homeless, abandoned and delinquent children. And some victims of abuse, like the writer and actor Mannix Flynn, who "served time" in St. Josephs Industrial School in Letterfrack after he stole a bicycle, published compelling accounts of their mistreatment more than 10 years ago.

However the revelation this week of the full extent of the "savage reality" of life in these schools has come as a profound shock, and raised disturbing questions about the kind of society that existed in Ireland for most of the 20th century.

Violence in almost all Irish schools was once the norm. (De La Salle Brothers in the high school I attended in the 1950s used a hammer handle and straps to administer punishment.) But even by the standards of the time, the treatment meted out to the nation's most defenseless children was vicious and inhumane. The report of the commission, chaired by Judge Sean Ryan, undermines any defense that ill-treatment of children was the exception, or that the industrial schools were essentially benign institutions. It detailed abuse, much of it sexual, some of it physical, in 216 institutions and implicated 800 brothers, nuns and lay people.

In a typical victim testimony, a boy recounted how "one brother kept watch while the other abused me (sexually) ... then they changed over." He added, "Every time it ended with a beating. When I told the priest about it in confession, he called me a liar."

Ireland has a long record of "running away from the appalling truth of the physical and sexual torture experienced by so many children," commented Mary Raftery, producer of the "States of Fear" television series, in Thursday's Irish Times. No one could now plead that just a few "bad apples" were responsible or that it was all in the past, she wrote, nor could anyone make "snide suggestions" that those revealing their abuse were motivated by the prospect of financial compensation.

Locking up children and treating them cruelly was not unknown in other western European countries in the 20th century, but Ireland did it on an industrial scale. The numbers of children incarcerated in Irish institutions -- for truancy, begging, running away from home, or simply because they were put there by their parents -- was higher than in England, Scotland and Wales combined. The commission was especially critical of the Irish Department of Education for its "deferential" and "submissive" attitude toward the religious orders, especially the Christian Brothers, who received taxpayers' money to house the country's most inconvenient children.

Sinéad was responding to injustice on a scale that's hard to imagine. Even now the Catholic religious orders responsible for decades of horrific abuse had enough power in Ireland to force the commission to withhold names and protect the perpetrators of multiple rapes, torture and abuse.

In the US a retired ArchBishop, himself responsible for hiding and minimizing acts of abuse by himself and others says that the church representatives responsible for these acts just didn't know they were doing anything wrong.

Said Rembert G Weakland:

We all considered sexual abuse of minors as a moral evil, but had no understanding of its criminal nature.

Weakland, who retired in 2002 after it became known that he paid $450,000 in 1998 to a man who had accused him of date rape years earlier, said he initially:

Accepted naively the common view that it was not necessary to worry about the effects on the youngsters: either they would not remember or they would ‘grow out of it’.

Calling these people and the institution that protected and enabled them 'the real enemy' seems reasonable to me.

Lots of people addressing this in the blogosphere, here's some highlights:

Damnit Janet!: They hate children don't they?

Canadian Cynic: The Catholic Problem

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Telus payroll outsourcing firm sued for incompetence

As someone formerly reluctantly dependent on the soul crushing hell of red tape, open disdain and double-talk that is the Telus payroll department, this isn't even remotely surprising.

CALGARY — Calgary health-care workers have filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the company that handles their payroll and benefits.

The proposed class action against Telus Sourcing Solutions alleges that years of payroll errors, over-and under-payments and pension problems have left workers in the former Calgary health region frustrated and angry. Some workers claim they are out of pocket as well.

"I want to use my energy to do a good job," said Maureen Mackrory, a social worker who deals with domestic violence prevention and works with men who are charged and convicted.

"I can't do that when I'm distracted all the time with people telling me stories about how they were underpaid or not paid and I just want something to be done," she said Thursday.

"When we had in-house workers on our pension benefits and salaries, we didn't have the hassle and now it's just chaos."

Alberta Health Services contracted out payroll and benefits to Telus Sourcing Solutions in 2003.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of more than 4,000 health-care employees. If it is certified and then successful, any money awarded will be donated to charity.

UPDATE: Internal Telus documents directly refute their claim of 99.9% payroll accuracy.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rights aren't rights if someone can take them away

WASHINGTON — A federal judge says the United States can continue to hold some prisoners at Guantanamo Bay indefinitely without any charges.

U.S. District Judge John Bates' opinion issued Tuesday night limited the Obama administration's definition of who can be held. But he said Congress in the days after Sept. 11, 2001 gave the president the authority to hold anyone involved in planning, aiding or carrying out the terrorist attacks.


"Rights aren't rights if someone can take them away, they're privileges. That's all we've ever had in this country, a bill of temporary privileges." - George Carlin

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

The unreliability of torture was the point

It's becoming clearer all the time that to Dick Cheney the unreliability of torture, the tendency of people being tortured to confabulate, to tell their tormentors whatever they want to hear wasn't a bug, it was a feature.
(CNN) -- Finding a "smoking gun" linking Iraq and al Qaeda became the main purpose of the abusive interrogation program the Bush administration authorized in 2002, a former State Department official told CNN on Thursday.

Dick Cheney's office ordered use of "alternative" techniques against CIA's recommendations, aide says.

The allegation was included in an online broadside aimed at former Vice President Dick Cheney by Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff for then-Secretary of State Colin Powell. In it, Wilkerson wrote that the interrogation program began in April and May of 2002, and then-Vice President Cheney's office kept close tabs on the questioning.
"Its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at preempting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al Qaeda," Wilkerson wrote in The Washington Note, an online political journal.
Torture was never about saving lives or mythical TV ticking bomb scenarios. It was all about getting confirmation of an Iraq/al Qaeda link. Since such a link between a secular police state and fanatical opponents of all secular states in the Middle East did not exist, the unreliability of torture was necessary to get the false confirmation the Bush administration wanted.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Extending sympathies

This is a condolence post to my friends in the BC blogosphere. Some of you may know that before Calgary and a brief sojourn up north I lived in the lower mainland for over ten years. I regularly check in on more BC bloggers than from any other province besides my own and they all have my sympathies today.

Trust me folks, I know what it's like feeling like you live in occupied territory, at least you actually have an opposition big enough to be an opposition.

I'm not interested now in Monday morning quarterbacking - which will doubtless focus on the carbon tax. Of course, following the standard of the reporting on the controversy so far and taking their cue from BC's hard right Canwest corporate media domination, the focus will still be on the politics and the optics and ignore the substantive arguments about efficacy and equity of carbon tax VS cap and trade. Like most people I'm inclined to think we need both but I do believe this was a good faith policy position.

Shouting out to some of my favorite BC bloggers Rossk, Allison, Northern BC Dipper, courage, and cut the cards. The only slim consolation I can give you; I suspect governments that infuriate you produce more blogging than a government you agree more than disagree with.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

An open letter to Americans from a Canadian about healthcare.

Hi folks, first, congratulations on Obama winning! That and the stunning, historic collapse of your major right wing party into the creepy muttering guy who avoids your eyes and shoves mimeographed tracks about cleansing rains under your door. Demographically, this doesn't seem like a voting block likely to return them to power while the Jonas Brothers are still touring.

In fact, what you really need to worry about is a Democratic Party that never saw a huge overwhelming victory they couldn't compromise and water down to nothing. Supporters of the single-payer, universal healthcare model - consistently the preferred choice of the majority of you - aren't even allowed in the room.

And 'Canada' has become a bad word.

There are forces working against the idea of Canadian style universal single-payer healthcare in America, even a few Canadians have joined in. A prominent one is Doctor Brian Day, the owner of a chain of private clinics. Doctor Day passionately believes that laws that protect public healthcare at the expense of his income are wrong.

The homegrown opponents of public healthcare are a mixed bag of frustrated right wingers, boardroom libertarians with well thumbed copies of the Fountainhead by their bedsides and as mentioned, by those with explicit business interests in the downfall of public healthcare. Our current extremely right wing Prime Minister used to run a 'tax-payers rights' group called the National Citizens Coalition, founded by an Insurance company owner who lost money when healthcare became a right in Canada.

When you hear people slamming Canadian healthcare, keep a few facts in mind.
  • Overwhelmingly, in poll after poll Canadians support our public healthcare system, oppose further intrusion into it by the private sector and are prepared to pay higher taxes if necessary to improve and protect it.
  • The Canadian healthcare system costs significantly less, per capita and as a percentage of GDP than the American healthcare system. We have drastically less red tape and paperwork as there's only one insurer, they have to cover you, and they don't contest any claims.
  • While costing less than the American system, the Canadian system covers everybody and in the event of a family medical crisis, allows families to deal with pain and loss without losing their homes.
And right now, just for a little while maybe, you have the kind of political momentum that could get you a fully public, universal healthcare system like ours. But the option isn't even allowed in the discussion.

Listen, when Canadians pontificate about how much better our healthcare system is than yours I bet we come off like snide douchebags sometimes, present company included. But its basically because we hope you take our word for it and try it.

Try not worrying if you'll lose your house because somebody got sick. Try going through a day knowing you have quality guaranteed healthcare without a premium that has you stretching the leftovers. Try having a healthier population and a more competitive economy. Try getting medical care based on first come first served balanced with medical judgement, with no one able to buy their way ahead of you.

I really think if you tried it you'd like it and so do they, which is why they're trying to kill it. They want you to believe that no serious person is even considering a public single-payer model and the best solution is to subsidize the same health insurance companies that have been measuring out people's life blood right up to the edge of their profit margin and no further. The same bastards but even richer and more powerful in other words.

Hey aren't you Americans? Since when do you settle for second best?

UPDATE: A word from the Edmonton Journal:
The reason we like our system here is simple enough and certainly has nothing to do with a proclivity for collectivism or dim-witted national bravado. We fully recognize the myriad problems, such as wait times. But most of the time, it just works -- and works equally for people across the economic spectrum. Canadians live longer, are statistically more healthy and spend far less per capita on health care than our American neighbours.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Police/State?

I did a callback to a piece I did a couple months ago and it caught people's eye this time. Appearing and then disappearing in the wink of an eye and never noted in the media in English Canada, the fact that at least three of the undercover Quebec police officers at the SPP protests in Montebello were officially listed in internal police documents as 'provocateurs'.

Last month in Vancouver a newspaper photographer was assaulted and his camera seized at the scene of a shooting by a police officer.

Last year in Vancouver a Polish man was electrocuted to death by the RCMP, who then seized a witness's video camera and tried to withhold its contents while releasing statements that directly contradicted the video in their possession.

I submit that the brutality, deception, swarm attack tactical sense and aversion to oversight that ties these incidents together stems from the same malign influence from south of the border: The militarization of civilian police.

In the US police militarization stems from the drug war, more specifically from the turf war mentality of multiple branches of law enforcement all fighting for funding. Combined with draconian asset forfeiture laws, American police operate under a range of perverse incentives to engage in large scale legal robbery with violence.

Want to know what it's like to be on the receiving end of American military anti-insurgent tactics? Live in the American inner city and you have a decent chance of finding out.

From a tactical militarized perspective, viewing everyone but your brothers as potential enemies permits a range of responses that the traditional people's servant role of a civilian police force does not. Using a hand held cattle prod on the enemy is acceptable. Suppressing evidence of wrong doing, even destroying video and assaulting journalists is acceptable if the public is the enemy.

Using undercover police tasked to provoke violence to justify an overwhelming police response is acceptable - protesters are the enemy after all, get the basis established for bashing their heads now. Got to justify that tactical budget or we won't get anymore toys.

It seems to me that we're at a crisis point. A point where we decide once and for all what kind of society we will be living in. US style hyper aggressive military style policing or a police force that sees fellow citizens rather than potential targets. We have courts pushing back against this kind of behavior on the one hand, and police commissions finding that it's possible to shoot a prisoner in the back of the head in self defense on the other.

We can't hope for the courts to restrain this philosophy of policing, we need to make police reform, radical police reform nation wide at the federal, provincial and municipal level part of the political agenda.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Montebello flashback

An MP who was involved in last month's G20 protests in London is to call for an investigation into whether the police used agents provocateurs to incite the crowds.

Liberal Democrat Tom Brake says he saw what he believed to be two plain-clothes police officers go through a police cordon after presenting their ID cards.

Brake, who along with hundreds of others was corralled behind police lines near Bank tube station in the City of London on the day of the protests, says he was informed by people in the crowd that the men had been seen to throw bottles at the police and had encouraged others to do the same shortly before they passed through the cordon.

Brake, a member of the influential home affairs select committee, will raise the allegations when he gives evidence before parliament's joint committee on human rights on Tuesday.

"When I was in the middle of the crowd, two people came over to me and said, 'There are people over there who we believe are policemen and who have been encouraging the crowd to throw things at the police,'" Brake said. But when the crowd became suspicious of the men and accused them of being police officers, the pair approached the police line and passed through after showing some form of identification.

Brake has produced a draft report of his experiences for the human rights committee, having received written statements from people in the crowd. These include Tony Amos, a photographer who was standing with protesters in the Royal Exchange between 5pm and 6pm. "He [one of the alleged officers] was egging protesters on. It was very noticeable," Amos said. "Then suddenly a protester seemed to identify him as a policeman and turned on him. He ­legged it towards the police line, flashed some ID and they just let him through, no questions asked."

Amos added: "He was pretty much inciting the crowd. He could not be called an observer. I don't believe in conspiracy theories but this really struck me. Hopefully, a review of video evidence will clear this up."

Flashback: Undercover police provocateurs exposed by protesters. A year later access to information turned up Sûreté documents officially listing undercover officers as 'provocateurs'.

"You seem to be trying to write an angry rant, can I help?"

You're familiar with spell check and grammar check, are you ready for word processors with an emotional content check?

These "sentiment analysis" tools are a branch of a wider area of computer science that is trying to teach computers to understand the feelings expressed in text just as well as humans do, and the commercial applications of such technology are already starting to be realised.

The early adopters of these tools are the owners of big brand names in a world where company reputations are affected by customer blogs as much as advertising campaigns. A small but growing group of firms is developing tools that can trawl blogs and online comments, gauging the emotional responses brought about by the company or its products.

This reminds me of the cellphone apps that you can program to not let you call your ex when you're drunk.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Haunted

A tasty slice of Shock Rock from my local hometown ghoulies
Forbidden Dimension

Brian Day VS Universal Healthcare

The Canadian Medical Association has moved on from a dubious flirtation with healthcare privatization and two successive private clinic entrepreneurs as President. Incoming President Jeff Turnbull is a fierce defender of wholly public, universal care. But the ghosts of hacks for corporate care past live on.

Former CMA President Brian Day shows his true colours, doing a hit job on Canadian Care for a right wing anti-public healthcare group in the States. A group headed by the disgraced former head of a private clinic chain that paid over a billion dollars in fines for defrauding the government.

Unsurprisingly Day's factually weak context free attacks on public care are part of his ongoing pattern of 'truthiness'.
OTTAWA, May 8 /CNW Telbec/ - In a tough open letter to President Barack Obama, the Canadian Health Coalition (CHC) is taking on Dr. Brian Day, current past president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), and an American conservative group running TV ads against health care reform.
"We are urging President Obama to listen to the overwhelming number of Canadians who value and depend on our public health care, not to Brian Day and his for-profit friends," said Michael McBane, national coordinator of the Canadian Health Coalition. "Medicare has been good to Canadians since the 1960s when we parted from the American model."
Dr. Day, whose private surgical clinic in British Columbia is currently under investigation by the B.C. government for illegal billing practices, appears in an ad running on American TV for Conservatives for Patient's Rights (CPR). (http://www.cpractionfund.org/) The ad is part of a million dollar campaign attacking President Obama's plan to overhaul the nation's health care system. In the ad, Dr. Day - a strong proponent of privatizing Canada's public health system - sides with those who would privatize the system, sharing horror stories of government-run health care programs.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

This wasn't already the law?

CALGARY - The Alberta government wants to compel medical workers to alert police about patients who've been shot or stabbed, one of several legislative changes being sought to combat growing gang problems in some communities.

The proposed bill, called the Gunshot and Stab Wound Mandatory Disclosure Act, would turn what has been a discretionary practice by health care workers into legal a requirement.

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