Sunday, August 30, 2009
This has been coming for awhile as the LDP systematically alienated every sector of Japanese society, particularly women, youth, and seniors. The last was probably the deathblow and it happened over two years ago when the government admitted they had misplaced about 50 million pension files and therefore millions of seniors were going to get less pensions than they were entitled to.
TOKYO — Japan's opposition swept to a historic victory in elections Sunday, crushing the ruling conservative party that has run the country for most of the postwar era and assuming the daunting task of pulling the economy out of its worst slump since World War II.
A grim-looking Prime Minister Taro Aso conceded defeat just a couple hours after polls had closed, suggesting he would quit as president of the Liberal Democratic Party, which has ruled Japan for all but 11 months since 1955.
"The results are very severe," Aso said. "There has been a deep dissatisfaction with our party."
Unemployment and deflation – and an aging, shrinking population – have left families fearful of what the future holds.
Fed up with the LDP, voters turned overwhelmingly to the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, which ran a populist-leaning platform with plans for cash handouts to families with children and expanding the social safety net.
"This is a victory for the people," said Yukio Hatoyama, leader of the Democrats and almost certainly Japan's next prime minister. "We want to build a new government that hears the voices of the nation."
Hatoyama and his party – an eclectic mix of former Liberal Democrats, socialists and progressives – face a daunting array of challenges, economic and demographic.
Considering the segment of the population that reliably comes out and votes the most, the LDP were probably a dead party walking from that point on.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
And it certainly shouldn't concern anyone that they're also experimenting with things like solar powered drones that could go up and stay up for months or years and a panoramic view aerial observation technology with the reassuring name 'The Gorgon's Stare' to be used against insurgents in Afghanistan.
Nor should anyone be unduly disturbed Sierra Nevada is testing aircraft that look exactly like 'Rover' the robotic border guards in the dystopian paranoid TV fantasy, 'The Prisoner'.
Seriously, this is like a James Bond super-villain's front company. Does their CEO go drinking with the head of Blackwater?
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Police think this is a relatively new innovation, but it's spreading quickly.
TULSA, Okla. — This is the new formula for methamphetamine: a two-liter soda bottle, a few handfuls of cold pills and some noxious chemicals. Shake the bottle and the volatile reaction produces one of the world's most addictive drugs.
Only a few years ago, making meth required an elaborate lab – with filthy containers simmering over open flames, cans of flammable liquids and hundreds of pills. The process gave off foul odors, sometimes sparked explosions and was so hard to conceal that dealers often "cooked" their drugs in rural areas.
But now drug users are making their own meth in small batches using a faster, cheaper and much simpler method with ingredients that can be carried in a knapsack and mixed on the run. The "shake-and-bake" approach has become popular because it requires a relatively small number of pills of the decongestant pseudoephedrine – an amount easily obtained under even the toughest anti-meth laws that have been adopted across the nation to restrict large purchases of some cold medication.
This story has some pretty horrifying implications if you game it through.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The last thing Canadians want? In fact in election after election that seems to be exactly what about 7 out of 10 Canadians want.
The Conservatives have 143 seats in the House of Commons, only 12 seats away from a clear majority in the 308-seat chamber.
Conservative Party officials said it would simply not make sense to call for a "stronger mandate," as Mr. Harper did in the last campaign, which the Conservatives started at 127 seats.
While he broke his promise for fixed-date elections last year, Mr. Harper is now actively campaigning against a fall election and emphasized last week that this is not the time for political instability.
"The last thing Canadians want is a Liberal government propped up by the NDP and the Bloc Québécois," Mr. Harper said at the event in Mr. Calandra's riding.
I think the Conservatives should be encouraged to follow this strategy. It doesn't help that the Liberals have only stood up to their agenda once, when a direct attack on their party financing made it personal, but it would still be easy, and true, to argue that there's stuff that the Conservatives haven't even tried to ram through in a minority that would be on the order paper in a month in a majority.
I can't think of a better election strategy to remind Canadians about everything they they don't like or trust about the Conservatives.
Does anyone have a copy of the porn flick Foreskin Gump
lying around? It's a hugely important porn title from the early 1990s. I need a picture—a large one—of the box. All I can find online is this small image. Anyone got a copy? What would I have to do to get you to scan it and send me a high resolution picture? I'm desperate here. Help me, Sloggers, you're my only hope!Be sure to read the comments.
If you have the box, email me the image here.
Monday, August 17, 2009
A recent British protest shows, nonviolent civil disobedience may be our best hope to counteract global warming.
The case took on historic weight only after the Kingsnorth Six went to court, where they presented to a jury what is known in the United States as a "necessity" defense. This defense applies to situations in which a person violates a law to prevent a greater, imminent harm from occurring: for example, when someone breaks down a door to put out a fire in a burning building.
In the Kingsnorth case, world-renowned climate scientist James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, flew to England to testify. According to the Guardian, he presented evidence that the Kingsnorth plant alone could be expected to cause sufficient global warming to prompt "the extinction of 400 species over its lifetime." Citing a British government study showing that each ton of released carbon dioxide incurs $85 in future climate-change costs, the activists contended that shutting the plant down for the day had prevented $1.6 million in damages -- a far greater harm to society than any rendered by their paint -- and that their transgressions should therefore be excused.
What surprised both Greenpeace and the prosecution was that 12 ordinary Britons agreed. The jury returned with an acquittal, and the freed defendants made the front pages of newspapers throughout the country. The tumult also produced political results. In April, British energy and climate change minister Ed Miliband announced a reversal in governmental policy on power stations, declaring, "The era of new unabated coal has come to an end." Discussing Kingsnorth, Daniel Mittler, a longtime environmental activist in Germany, told me recently, "it was probably one of the most impactful civil disobedience cases the world has ever seen, because it was the right action at the right time."
Sunday, August 16, 2009
- The 'New' is for the ideas and the kind of politics
The name won't be changed, credit Broadbent's speech and the unfortunate connotation the new acronym would have had in Quebec for nobody being too upset that time ran out before the idea could be debated.
- Momentum may be shifting in US Healthcare debate
But given a chance the Democrats will negotiate away any real reform.
- Pop Culture blender at Bourbon and Bongwater
Reviews, music and comics with an emphasis on sex, drugs and zombie movies.
- To Kill a Mockingbird banned by Catholic High School in Ontario
Principal: It's not really censorship because I'm just yanking it from the approved curriculum and barring classroom discussions because of the complaint of one parent.
- A Modest Proposal
NASA scientists suggest that if Earth gets too hot we could move it to cooler parts of the Solar System
- Kiss-ins at Mormon Churches
The Latter Day Saints AKA the Mormons only let non-whites hold leadership roles in the church in the 1970's. They promoted and financed the Proposition 8 referendum on stripping a California minority of some of their civil rights last year. They have a right to freely practice their faith and the minority they are attacking have a right to freely protest those attacks.
- Going Viral
A new mathematical model for determining how some information achieves a critical mass of explosive dissemination
- The Anti-Healthcare forces in the US argue that under a government run healthcare system like Britain's, Stephen Hawkins would have been judged unfit and could never have survived as long as he has. Just a few problems with this remarkable suggestion...
Investors Business Daily is apparently the paper for those who think the Wall Street Journal is run by a bunch of squishy leftists.
- The Quest for the acid spitting Mongolian Death Worm
A story from the real world that sounds straight to video.
Friday, August 14, 2009
On the one hand she reluctantly acknowledges Israeli excesses in the last paragraph of her screed while still minimizing them:
Israel can be condemned for many things, including bad judgment, botched military campaigns, unnecessary harshness and occasional brutality. So can lots of other countries.But she is dismissive of the comparison with Apartheid South Africa while still admitting that Black South Africans who lived under it like Bishop Tutu find it an accurate comparison.
But the analogy with South Africa is badly flawed. Under apartheid, non-white South Africans were denied the right to vote, to organize, to live where they wanted or to marry across racial lines. A small white minority ruled a large black underclass.Denied the right to live where they wanted? Is she suggesting that Palestinians in the occupied territories have this right? In fact she repeatedly and deliberately tries to confuse the issue by referring to Israeli Arabs living within Israel rather than Palestinians living in the occupied territories - she knows better what the debate is about but obfuscation has always been her favorite tactic.
Palestinians in the occupied territories have no vote in the state that controls them and in South Africa at its worst they didn't have whites only highways which nonwhites could be shot for setting foot on and had more freedom of movement than Palestinians in the open area prison of Gaza do now. At the height of resistance to Apartheid - which Apartheid apologists in the west sounding a lot like Wente described as 'communist terrorism' - black townships weren't being shelled with heavy artillery and white phosphorus.
In fact within Israel the debate about the occupied territories is much more robust than Israel's apologists would prefer was allowed here and Apartheid is a term that is regularly used. Arguments that get fierce accusations of antisemitism thrown at them here are routinely made by Jewish Israelis within Israel.
Just another Wente column with her usual mix of snide sarcasm and selective application of the facts.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
NEW YORK — Les Paul, the guitar virtuoso and inventor who revolutionized music and created rock 'n' roll as surely as Elvis Presley and the Beatles by developing the solid-body electric guitar and multitrack recording, died Thursday at age 94.
Known for his lightning-fast riffs, Paul performed with some of early pop's biggest names and produced a slew of hits, many with wife Mary Ford. But it was his inventive streak that made him universally revered by guitar gods as their original ancestor and earned his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the most important forces in popular music.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Nonetheless, expect the reaction from Liberals to Brad Lavigne's straightforward declaration of war and signal of the intent to fight to win the inevitable impending election to be the fits, the shits and the blind staggers.
Lloyd Axworthy warned last October of the political 'death wish' of right wing pro-corporate Liberals who in defiance of the facts, the polls and simple common sense believed the future of the Liberal Party was to the political right.
“Mr. Ignatieff has defended and supported the war in Iraq … If Mr. Ignatieff or Mr. Harper were prime minister in 2004, Canada would still be in Iraq today.”
At least it can be said that Liberals didn't choose the bottle of hemlock; it was chosen for them, in the backrooms, without any of that messy democracy that has a distressing tendency of not putting the needs of the elites first. The draught will be no less fatal because of it, probably more so in fact.
One major question mark in all this will be the Liberal leadership contest, already under way in sub rosa fashion. Will a leader emerge who is willing to take a chance and be ready to embrace, indeed take a lead in forming, a different kind of political constellation? Or will there be a push by that faction of the party that believes a return to right-of-centre politics will offset the present Conservative advantage.
To this death wish, I am reminded of the comment of Keith Davey, renowned Liberal party organizer, who said that Canadians given a choice will always vote for a real Tory, not a pseudo-Tory in Liberal clothing.
The NDP's numbers have been trending upwards, the Liberals have no where to go but down - as Campbell Clark pointed out today Michael Ignatieff is sitting where Stéphane Dion was a year ago, and counting on breakthroughs in the west and a phoenix like restoration in Quebec isn't so much a political strategy as a desperate prayer for divine intervention.
Liberals, we intend to cut your grass. Debates about name changes are mere sideshow and the smugly inevitable and perennial predictions of the NDP's demise begin to take on the whiff of desperate hope. Stephen Harper may lose the election but we intend to make the price of the Liberals winning it a dear one.
The next coalition will be on the NDP's terms. Expect Michael Ignatieff to experience an unconvincing road to Damascus moment and be transfigured into a born again progressive out to protect the interests of the Canadian public against those of the Canadian elites. This will be simply bowing to the inevitability of political reality.
“I've said that the Canadian model works for Canada,” Obama said, “It would not work for the United States, in part simply because we've evolved differently. We have a employer-based system and a private-based health care system that stands side-by-side with Medicare and Medicaid and our Veterans Administration health care system. And so, we've got to develop a uniquely American approach to this problem.”...because the insurance lobbyists who own our political system outright would never allow anything that threatened their meal-ticket.
Monday, August 10, 2009
When considering his novel suggestions, its worth wondering why a rabid right winger would want to help the only real left wing party in Canada with sitting Members in parliament. A party that has been increasing its vote count and number of seats every election for the last decade, just elected it's first provincial government east of Ontario and in Manitoba is running the only province to table a balanced budget since the economic collapse. A party with an economic world view that has been massively vindicated by recent events and which is poised to make major gains in the next election with Iggy's honeymoon over and people actually starting to think about party platforms in the context of an election campaign.
A lot of people have been offering helpful advice and the NDP do have major policy considerations ahead - but the advice of Kelly McParland can safely be ignored except as what not to do.
There are many disturbing details in the current bill that Washington is trying to rush through Congress, but we must stick to a discussion of the issues and not get sidetracked by tactics that can be accused of leading to intimidation or harassment. Such tactics diminish our nation's civil discourse which we need now more than ever because the fine print in this outrageous health care proposal must be understood clearly and not get lost in conscientious voters' passion to want to make elected officials hear what we are saying. Let's not give the proponents of nationalized health care any reason to criticize us.
If you have guaranteed emergency room care for the uninsured at public expense, you have already effectively socialized medicine. It makes no sense not to bring these people into the insurance system, and to offer less expensive, long-term preventive healthcare. To insist that ideology stand in the way of this piece of compassionate common sense is irresponsible.
I've come to accept that the fiscal and economic costs of the current system, however wonderful it has been for a few decades, simply cannot be sustained much longer. I say that not because I have become a socialist, but because the US is on the brink of the kind of bankruptcy it will be very hard to recover from if we do not tackle its source now. Taking measures to avoid fiscal collapse even greater than today's is a conservative impulse. Letting one sector of the economy destroy the rest of it - and public finances too - is sheer recklessness.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
Gothic novelist Horace Walpole, observing the (early balloon flights), delivered one of the most prescient comments ever about the dark side of science. "Well! I hope these new mechanic meteors will prove only playthings for the learned and idle, and not be converted into new engines of destruction to the human race -- as is so often the case of refinements or discoveries in Science," he wrote. "The wicked wit of man always studies to apply the results of talents to enslaving, destroying, or cheating his fellow creatures. Could we reach the moon, we should think of reducing it to a province of some European kingdom."
- Calgary 911 workers vote overwhelmingly for strike action
Negotiations continue with a facilitator but legally, they could go out with 72 hours notice.
- Myths about Unions
Addressing some of the most common misconceptions deliberately cultivated by employers and reactionary politicians.
- The biggest cases of corporate fraud against the public in US history
Are from the private medical corporations fighting tooth and nail against healthcare reform.
- "Have you no Decency Sarah Palin?"
Sarah Palin tells a horrific lie to oppose the idea of rationing Healthcare according to medical necessity - but she's fighting to let insurance corporations continue rationing healthcare by poverty.
- Andrew Sullivan's evolution continues
A progressive Tory, Sullivan's sympathies were with Republican rhetoric when he arrived in the US. Slowly but surely he begins to see the fear and hatred underneath the calls for 'liberty' from America's political right.
- Book Signing
If you're in Calgary on August 15, and you harbour ambitions to conquer the Universe, my friend Matthew is conducting a book signing you need to attend. Facebook link.
- Fantasy Gardens reclaimed by nature
Bill Vander Zalm was the toothy religious fanatic who was Premier of BC when I lived there. He owned a breathtakingly tacky 'Christian amusement park' and was forced to resign when he used his position to get a sweet deal when he sold it to a Taiwan businessman. As it decays it becomes more visually interesting than it ever was when it was open.
- Cheap Fusion
The power source of the future?
- Dogs are as smart as toddlers
And Orangutans are making musical instruments out of leaves. The ongoing reassessment of the limits of animal intelligence continues.
Friday, August 07, 2009
Telling this kind of unspeakably vile lie, putting this kind of unfounded fear into the parents of disabled children, is literally unforgivable.
Sarah Palin might not be the governor of Alaska anymore, but she's still weighing in on politics. Friday afternoon, she took to her Facebook page to warn of the dangers of Democratic healthcare plans.
"The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care," Palin wrote.
You thought the Republican Party was crazy in power, with their power and influence taken away from them, they've gone utterly bugfuck insane.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
John Hughes, biographer of the American teen and revolutionary. He will be missed.
Julian Assange is in jail in UK facing deportation to Sweden on charges of rape. Many people, otherwise sympathetic to Assange and Wikileak...
Octopuses are smarter than they should be. Every other invertebrate registers as static on an EEG. An Octopus generates the kind of slow l...
For the comic book fans, hat tip to Andrew Sullivan : Frank Miller is the comic book artist and writer behind The Dark Knight, a bunch of gr...
Tragic News For Albertans You bastards. You lousy bastards. The Alberta provincial government has outlawed $1 drink specials and limited Ha...
Spotted at Scott's Dia Tribes : Rachel Marsden , serial stalker, Anne Coulter wannabe, former Fox News personality fired for being too...
The pathologically sadistic and demented Harper government has now gone so far they managed to shock the conscience of Saskatchwan's rig...
More evidence that many police officers extend their 'us and them' attitude to all of us not just criminals. A woman who was bound ...
Ottawa Police officer Steve Desjourdy appears to have a serious problem with any woman who gets 'uppity' with him. On Wednesday, ...
The context: Ezra Levant spits venom at the doctor who brought attention to increased cancer rates downstream from the tarsands. Antonia...