Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Harper v Canada

I'm late to this party as Alison and Buckdog have already noted this amazing Guardian piece by Dimitry Anastakis and Jeet Heer:

The historian Garry Wills once observed that Richard Nixon wanted to be president not to govern the nation but to undermine the government. The Nixon presidency was one long counterinsurgency campaign against key American institutions like the courts, the FBI, the state department and the CIA. Harper has the same basic approach to politics: attack not just political foes but the very institutions that make governing possible. The state for Nixon and Harper exists not as an instrument of policy making but as an alien force to be subdued.

Canadians have never had a prime minister who has literally made his career attacking and undermining the legitimacy of Canadian institutions.

Until now.

Tom Flanagan has bragged about the same tendency in the Harper government's deliberate impoverishment of the federal government and I blogged about how expecting good government from movement conservatives is really just missing the point.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pretty White Girl Alert!

Because nothing is more important. As sitcom actor Johnny Galecki quipped on the View when asked about the great Miley Cyrus crisis. "I saw all this news coverage and I figure this is a great day. The war must be over." Clearly he's some sort of communist heathen.

  • The idea that 15 year olds are non-sexual beings is dangerous nonsense promulgated by people who apparently don't remember being 15 years old.
  • A large part of the so called scandal of these Vanity Fair photos and Miley Cyrus's statement of contrition seems to have been engineered by Disney as part of her constructed identity as the virginal wholesome girl next door. Remember one of the other Disney 'It' girls forced into this same constructed identity? Worked really well for Brittany didn't it? How can any adolescent construct a post childhood identity of their own if it's devised for them by a marketing department? That way lies head-shaven meltdown.
  • On the other hand, Vanity Fair is a magazine created and marketed for older professional men. There is something a little creepy about a photo-spread of a tousled, unclothed 15 year old being marketed to this group.
  • Finally, come on, she's the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus, it's a wonder she can tie her own shoes.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

John McCain: The Torture candidate

From Glenn Greenwald:
The mirage-like nature of McCain's alleged convictions can be seen most clearly, and most depressingly, with his public posturing over the issue of torture. Time and again, McCain has made a dramatic showing of standing firm against the use of torture by the United States only to reveal that his so-called principles are confined to the realm of rhetoric and theater, but never action that follows through on that rhetoric.

In 2005, McCain led the effort in the Senate to pass the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA), which made the use of torture illegal. While claiming that he had succeeded in passing a categorical ban on torture, however, McCain meekly accepted two White House maneuvers that diluted his legislation to the point of meaningless: (1) the torture ban expressly applied only to the U.S. military, but not to the intelligence community, which was exempt, thus ensuring that the C.I.A.—the principal torture agent for the United States—could continue to torture legally; and (2) after signing the DTA into law, which passed the Senate by a vote of 90–9, President Bush issued one of his first controversial "signing statements" in which he, in essence, declared that, as President, he had the power to disregard even the limited prohibitions on torture imposed by McCain's law.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Hacks get hacked

Oilweek, the industry paper that managed, through great effort, to report the story about Greenpeace's banner at the Stelmach speech without actually reporting the story gets hacked:
This is very wrong. So is finding it very funny.

Greenpeace 'bullying' Stelmach?

Oh suck it up buttercup!

The Edmonton Journal says that Greenpeace overplayed their hand with their banner stunt and Abertans don't appreciate seeing their premier 'bullied'.
By targeting Stelmach as the baby-seal basher of Alberta's environment, Greenpeace might have gone too far and is setting up Stelmach as the victim to the environmental bullies.
In the strange world of Alberta politics, Greenpeace might be the one left dangling on this issue, rejected by a significant number of Albertans who supported the Stelmach government and who don't appreciate being compared to whale hunters and baby-seal killers.
'A significant number of Albertans' what, all 20% of eligible voters who voted in this government?

UPDATE 1: I turned this post into a letter to the Journal.

UPDATE 2: And as Alison kindly pointed out in the comments, the Journal has led the way and the rest of Alberta's MSM has followed, on the huge story that a Greenpeace activist is also active in the NDP.

Two observations: As Thought Interrupted points out, the MSM's premise is apparently that as a part-time paid staffer with the NDP anything she ever does on her own time is NDP related. Never mind if this conflicts in any way with the cherished media narrative that environmentalists are turning away from the NDP and to the Green Party. That manufactured premise will return when convenient.

Second observation: If this is the new rule, it of course has to apply to all the professional right wingers dividing their time between various 'think tanks', lobby groups and the Conservative Party as well. It means that any paid staffer for the Conservatives, provincially or federally from this point forward found to involved in any kind of extremist behavior or message on their own time were of course acting as official representatives of the Conservative Party.

I'm sure we can count on the mainstream media to be consistent in their application of this new principal, right?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Senator McFlip-Flop

As almost anyone could have predicted, now that he's sewn up the nomination by re-branding himself as a doctrinaire Republican, John McCain has begun the process of swinging back to the 'maverick' who stands up to Republican orthodoxy by harshly condemning President Bush's incompetent handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

Why is it that any Democrat candidate who evolves their positions gets piled on for being a 'flip-flopper' but Republicans can engage in the most blatant pandering depending on which audience they are playing to without the media calling them on it?

The Best Premier Oil Money Can Buy

It was just as Ed was really working up a froth against Greenpeace that they managed to unfurl their retort above him for all to see:Spotted at Alberta: Get Rich or die Trying

UPDATE: Oilweek 'reports' the story, without actually reporting what the banner said. Too close to home?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Quote of the Day

From John Cole at Balloon Juice to his Canadian readers:
We have six more months of Bush, and at this rate, what we need most from our allies are a stable currency and the willingness to send in the RCMP to help stop the food riots. Thanks in advance.
Scary thing is, I think he's only half joking...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Yet another Liberal sellout of Canadians

Last year the Liberals helped kill the two most draconian provisions of the deeply undemocratic 2001 terror laws package, preventative detention and compelled testimony. "The government needs to do more than just repair these defective clauses," Ignatieff said then. "The entire architecture of Canada's anti-terrorism laws requires substantial amendment."

That was then, when there was political hay to be made in differentiating the Liberals under Dion from both the Harper government and the Liberal's own recent Martin era that passed the laws in the first place.

This is now.

However, the Liberals themselves were split, with many prominent figures arguing that both powers should be kept.
So it should come as no surprise that the Liberals have – again – changed their minds. The Harper government has passed in the Senate and introduced into the Commons a new bill to reimplement slightly amended versions of both measures. Now, the Liberals say they will support them. In fact, the Liberals now use the same arguments once employed against them.
"We recognize that this is necessary," public safety critic Ujjal Dosanjh said in an interview this week. "Other countries have much more stringent laws."
To explain his party's latest about-face, Dosanjh points to three new provisions.
One would make police prove that they had exhausted all other reasonable means before bringing someone before an investigative hearing; a second would require the government to annually justify the two measures; a third would slightly narrow the grounds for detaining someone without charge.
However, these amendments are considerably more modest than the Liberal demands of 14 months ago. Then the Liberals insisted that the government had to rethink all aspects of the anti-terror laws.
"The government needs to do more than just repair these defective clauses," Ignatieff said then. "The entire architecture of Canada's anti-terrorism laws requires
substantial amendment."
As part of that sweeping re-evaluation, he said then, preventive detention should be scrapped entirely since it was "in our judgment, strictly unnecessary."
But in the bill that the Liberals now say they will support, none of this sweeping change has happened. Indeed, even fairly minor changes suggested by all-party Commons and Senate committees have been ignored.

Anyone surprised by such enthusiastic compromise and duplicity on the part of the Liberals really hasn't been paying attention. Some of us said quite awhile ago that the Liberal's opposition to renewing the anti-terror provisions was purely expediency.

Spotted by Alison at Creekside, which is good because you sure haven't seen much about it in the MSM have you?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

'Handpicked representatives of the press'

The Conservative plan to get on top of the RCMP raid story by putting out their response to select friendly press went horribly awry for them Sunday.

Partly because political reporters on the front line tend to talk to each other, even if they're from competing news outlets, as explained by Kady O'Malley, delightfully referencing Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (I think I'm in love.) and partly because when reporters are accused of being 'friendly' they tend to compensate by being aggressively unfriendly. See Exhibit A and Exhibit B.

Plus of course, when media management itself becomes the story it can only be described as very bad media management.

This all falls in line with Harper's childish obsession with scheming manipulation for its own sake. Amateurs think about tactics, professionals think about strategy, as Andrew Sullivan said of Karl Rove, ' If you have a reputation for being a Machiavellian, you aren’t one.' and Harper is all about the blatantly Machiavellian tactics.

The whole affair has been covered extensively by Impolitical.

UPDATE: Calling Stephen Harper a 'control freak' is a bit like saying 'Gee that Atlantic Ocean is kind of damp isn't it?'

Clinton now supported by former arch-foe of the Clintons

Richard Mellon Scaife who financed and spear-headed the political right's long war against Bill Clinton has come out in support of the Clintons. In other news, Satan was seen ice-skating to work.
PITTSBURGH Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton was endorsed Sunday by a former foe who personally funded many of the investigations that led to her husband President Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998.

The unexpected nod came from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper, whose owner and publisher, billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, in the 1990s helped support conservative groups and publications investigating the then-president's financial dealings and sex life.
Scaife was the far right's sugar daddy for much of the 1990's, financing an endless stream of newspapers, websites and talk radio station's howling around the Clinton White House doors.
Richard Scaife rarely speaks to the press. After several unsuccessful efforts to obtain an interview, this reporter decided to make one last attempt in Boston, where Scaife was scheduled to attend the annual meeting of the First Boston Corporation.

Scaife, a company director, did not show up while the meeting was in progress. Reached eventually by telephone as he dined with the other directors at the exclusive Union Club, he hung up the moment he heard the caller's name. A few minutes later he appeared at the top of the Club steps. At the bottom of the stairs, the following exchange occurred:

"Mr. Scaife, could you explain why you give so much money to the New Right?"

"You fucking Communist cunt, get out of here."

Well. The rest of the five-minute interview was conducted at a rapid trot down Park Street, during which Scaife tried to hail a taxi. Scaife volunteered two statements of opinion regarding his questioner's personal appearance - he said she was ugly and that her teeth were "terrible" - and also the comment that she was engaged in "hatchet journalism." His questioner thanked Scaife for his time. "Don't look behind you," Scaife offered by way of a goodbye.

Not quite sure what this remark meant, the reporter suggested that if someone were approaching it was probably her mother, whom she had arranged to meet nearby. "She's ugly, too," Scaife said, and strode off.

This is who Hillary is allying herself with, why anyone would consider her campaign a continuation of old style politics I can't imagine...

Sunday Linkblast - April 20

Friday, April 18, 2008

Private Healthcare scam factory

You're an American health insurer and you find discrepancies in your customer's policies, pre-existing conditions for example, that would void their coverage and allow you to reject any claims they made.

Do you
A: Advise the customer of the discrepancy and tell them that they aren't covered and need to revise their plan with you or find another insurer?

B: Quietly keep raking in their premiums, sometimes for years, and wait for them to submit a claim which you already know you have grounds to deny?
For the second time, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo is suing a health plan provider, the first being Health Net Inc. in February. Today, the announcement to sue Anthem Blue Cross of California and Anthem Blue Cross Life & Health came after launching, a city website to "law enforcement investigation regarding denial of health insurance claims or coverage due to unlawful, fraudulent or unfair practices."
The website lets consumers directly make complaints to the city."The company has engaged in an egregious scheme to not only delay or deny the payment of thousands of legitimate medical claims but also to jeopardize the health of more than 6,000 customers by retroactively canceling their health insurance when they needed it most," Delgadillo told the LA Times. "We further allege that more than 500,000 consumers have been tricked into purchasing largely illusory healthcare coverage based upon the company's false promise."
Blue Cross, of course, disagrees. If Los Angeles wins, Delgadillo says after a fine of $2,500 to $5,000 per violation, the maximum penalty could be more than $1 billion.

And still groups like the Fraser Institute carry the private insurance industry's water, pushing the idea that what Canada's health system really needs is more of this kind of 'innovative' private sector thinking.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Iceland and economic warfare

There's conventional warfare with guns and tanks, there are cold wars of espionage and diplomatic wars of words. Of late we've heard of cyber-warfare where concentrated organized attacks are made on a country's computer and telecommunications infrastructure.

Now there's every indication that Iceland has recently been subjected to a planned and organized campaign of economic warfare perpetrated by huge multi-national hedge funds.
Getting back to the Iceland story; according to another recent Bloomberg report; Richard Portes, president of the independent Centre for Economic Policy Research, said a hedge fund tried to get him to bad mouth Iceland's economy. To his credit, he reported this event to regulators. Apparently one of the founding partners and senior executives of unnamed fund was trying to spread a meme that that Iceland's banks were in trouble for the purpose of capitalizing on the subsequent collapse in stock price (via short-sales and other 'negative bets' such as put options) that would skyrocket in price in the new global world casino bank.
As rumors are spread about Iceland, the fund sells short the Icelandic banks stock; driving the price down -- which has the effect of virtually validating the rumor -- with computers kicking in sell orders without any human intervention. More traders, hedge funds, and computers jump on the band wagon selling more stock short -- weakening the balance sheet of the bank - who is turn sends out distress signals to creditors -- and these signals get picked up by the funds (and computers) -- who in turn sell more stock short. The vicious circle repeats again.
Icelandic banks have had their ratings lowered and seen their value plummet - despite the grudging acknowledgement of the institutions doing the devaluing that nothing in their fundamentals justifies it. Nothing but a seemingly organized whisper campaign apparently planned and executed to profit a small group of hedge funds at the expense of Iceland's economy.

The same thing was supposedly done to Hong Kong and Australia and may be currently happening to banks in England and Ireland.
In other words, individual's net worths, house prices, jobs and the value of the currency in their pockets is becoming more volatile based on the behavior and rumor mill of a few hedge fund managers and bankers who operate as non-sovereign pirates on the high seas of finance. There size is now big enough to make it as easy to play around with the multi-hundred trillion dollar currency markets as it is to play around with the multi-hundred billion dollar stock and bond markets. And since the currency prices (and price signals) that are affected with these fund's raids are indistinguishable from the prices (and price signals) generated by more legitimate economic activity; used in part as the basis to determine political policies - it can be said that the funds have engineered a back door gateway into establishing a de facto world casino banking operation that can influence laws as well as currency prices to their benefit.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mr McVety goes to Ottawa

...and gets smacked around like a narc at a biker rally as masterfully liveblogged by Kady O'Malley.
4:53:47 PM
Now the senators are kind of ganging up on him, and daring him to do tricky things like define pornography, or come up with a single pornographic film that has received government funding.
McVety is going on and on about the survey from Compas, which, as it turns out, to no one's surprise at all, was commissioned by... Focus on the Family. I do love how McVety pretends to have been surprised by the results.

4:56:54 PM
The first woman to speak up so far is Senator Line Gravel, who also points out this is the first time the bill has received any significant amount of scrutiny because the House committee dropped the ball.

4:58:15 PM

McVety tries to be clever, and asks whether Gravel is accusing St├ęphane Dion of abdicating his responsibilities. With a withering glance, she tells him that she's not interested in making this about politics, and when McVety claims that he isn't either, another senator notes that it certainly sounds like he is. Then, while McVety flails, and Rushfeldt attempts to pull him out of the radius of the propeller, she smacks him around with the point that if this bill passes, American films will be able to qualify for the tax credit when Canadian films would not.

This is almost painful to watch. Also, "Family tax dollars" is the phrase du jour. Coming soon to a talking point near you!

5:03:18 PM
Finally, Gravel tells McVety she's seen him on television many times, and has heard him take credit with her own ears, so he can just quit with the disingenuous denials. Okay, I may have paraphrased the last bit, but that was the gist.


5:07:51 PM
Now McVety is going on a poor-me monologue. Poor, poor Charles McVety. He's "irrelevant" to this process, and yet he gets beaten up (in debate) by people who make fun of his faith. Or, as is the case here, very politely eviscerate his argument by demonstrating that he can't answer even the most basic questions on the policy without speaking notes.

5:10:35 PM
If this bill is rejected, it will delay accountability for another year, he says. Accountability delayed is accountability denied! Wilfrid Moore, again, like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, notes the document McVety is citing - an AG report - doesn't actually say what he claims it does. Which is always embarrassing.

5:12:53 PM
Finally, it's time for Trevor Eyton, the sponsor of the bill. Remember, senators tend to be far more independent-minded, which means he's not just the government's dogsbody on this file. He promptly breaks McVety's heart by asking him, once again, whether he spoke with anyone in government about the issue. And once again, McVety adamantly denies any discussions. "Some of the media has been misreporting that," says another senator.

5:15:53 PM
Eyton brings up the minister's now infamous slip of the mic, when she admitted that she hated the bill, and plans to hold consultations during the parliamentary hiatus. McVety makes sad noises over the suggestion that she'll only talk to the industry and not "community groups" like, well, his organization.


5:21:36 PM
Having had a chance to look at the survey, the chair is now picking it apart, much to McVety's discomfort. He brings up another survey by Angus Reid that asked specifically about the bill, and found 47% were against C-10 being passed in its current form. McVety tries to interrupt, and the chair smacks him down. "I didn't interrupt you," he reminds McVety.

"I'm not," McVety interrupts, sulkily.

The exchange then descends into utter farce when McVety is forced to admit that the only way he got his poll to say what it did was by asking a ridiculous question like, "Should the government fund child pornography?"

5:27:07 PM
David Angus tries to force McVety to admit that he misrepresented the AG's report, which didn't say one word about pornography, and he gets all bale-faced and balky.
Spotted at Scottsdiatribes

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

NOW he's ashamed?

Pope Benedict today said he was 'deeply ashamed' of the actions of pedophile priests.
“It’s difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betrayed in this way their mission to give healing, to give the love of God to these children,” the pope said, adding that the church would work to exclude pedophiles from the priesthood.

“It is more important to have good priests than to have many priests,” he said.

But in 2001, while still just Cardinal Ratzinger he issued an update to a secret Vatican edict to Catholic bishops all over the world, arguably instructing them to put the Church's interests ahead of child safety.

The document recommended that rather than reporting sexual abuse to the relevant legal authorities, bishops should encourage the victim, witnesses and perpetrator not to talk about it. And, to keep victims quiet, it threatened that if they repeat the allegations they would be excommunicated.

Cardinal Ratzinger was accused of being personally involved in cover ups and allegedly tried to convince victims of abuse that it wouldn't be 'prudent' to punish their abusers.
The allegations were presented to Pope Benedict XVI in 1998 when he was a cardinal. Some of the accusers said then-Cardinal Ratzinger attempted to cover up the case because of Maciel's prominence and close relationship with Pope John Paul II.

The then-Cardinal Ratzinger became visibly upset when asked about the Maciel case by ABC News' Brian Ross in April 2002.

"You do not ask such questions," he said and then slapped Ross's hand.

Doesn't forgiveness require true repentance?

Hey Libs, is it time to put the 'opposition' in Official Opposition yet?

Canadians have been reminded of the knuckle-dragger factor by the Lukiwski scandal and the clumsy attack on arts funding that Canada's answer to Jerry Falwell took credit for. Maxime Bernier pulled aside the curtain on the illusion of the Afghanistan government's independence, the polls show that the Conservative's brief flirtation with Majority status was scuttled by Flaherty's attacks on Ontario, their over-reaching Chief of Defence staff is stepping aside and at this moment the RCMP are raiding the Conservative Party's headquarters at the request of Elections Canada.
Libs, the Conservatives are lying on the ground bleeding and dazed, it's probably safe for you to uncurl and put the boots in now.

You're not supposed to let the puppets see the strings

After two and a half years in power the Conservatives still aren't ready for prime time.

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN -- A quiet campaign by Canadian diplomats, who have been working to ease the governor of Kandahar out of his job, was thrown into chaos yesterday as Canada's Foreign Minister, Maxime Bernier, shattered months of secrecy and spoke out against the governor in public.
Mr. Bernier made the statement at the end of a three-day visit to Afghanistan, during a relaxed meeting with reporters outside Canadian military headquarters in Kandahar. He told the journalists about his talks on Saturday with Mr. Karzai, saying he pushed the President for action against corruption.
"For example, what can Karzai do on corruption?" a reporter asked.
"What can he do? As you know, there is the question of the governor here," Mr. Bernier said.
"There is the question to maybe have a new governor," he added.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Net Neutrality isn't the issue

As this article points out, the Bell throttling of independent ISPs situation isn't so much an issue of net neutrality as it is of Bell misusing it's last mile monopoly. If Bell wants to alienate their customers by deliberately crippling their Internet access there's an argument to be made that the marketplace will solve that problem.

But not if Bell also cripples the Internet access of it's competitors, the independent ISPs who have no choice but to get their ADSL trunks from the last mile monopoly of the ICLECs, the Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers.

There are times when congestion exists on the Internet (sometimes legitimate, and sometimes not), and customers should be able to hire an ISP that best matches their own beliefs in how to handle this congestion. While I believe that the government should mandate disclosure of routing policies by ISPs, I believe that regulating “Net Neutrality” directly may backfire.

This is an entirely different question than the fact that existing regulation of the “last mile” monopoly must be enforced and strengthened. There will always be a “last mile” monopoly for telecommunications for the same reason there is for roads: it makes no more sense for every telecommunications provider to run separate wires into our homes than for every retailer to run separate roads to our homes.

Solving the Net Neutrality ISP issues through competition requires that a competitive marketplace exist, and that requires that those managing that “last mile” are not able to leverage that monopoly to wipe out competition.

American conservatives oppose Universal Healthcare not because they don't think it would work...

...but because they're afraid that it would.

The plain truth is that the [Republican] party faces a cataclysm, a rout that would give Democrats control of the White House and enhanced majorities in the House and the Senate. That defeat would, in turn, guarantee the confirmation of a couple of young, liberal Supreme Court nominees, putting the goal of moving the Court in a more constitutionalist direction out of reach for another generation. It would probably also mean a national health-insurance program that would irrevocably expand government involvement in the economy and American life, and itself make voters less likely to turn toward conservatism in the future. (emphasis added)

Speaking as a non-American, how very reassuring.

"I've made it very clear, I've made it very clear in my statements and in my support of the Detainee Treatment Act, the Geneva Conventions, etc., that there may be some additional techniques to be used, but none of those would violate the Geneva Conventions, the Detainee Treatment Act.... And we cannot ever, in my view, torture any American, that includes waterboarding."-John McCain

CanWest SLAPPing freedom of speech around

The struggling CanWest media empire has always been touchy about criticism - particularly about it's...ahem... fair and balanced approach to Middle Eastern news, now they seem to have decided to launch all out war on anyone who dares to even mock them.

Mordecai Briemberg a long time activist for peace and justice issues picked up a mildly amusing little parody of CanWest's lower mainland paper the Vancouver Sun at an event at the Vancouver public library marking the 40th year of occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The 4 page spoof was an unambiguous satire with bylines like P. Rupa Ghanda and Cyn Sorsheep. It even outright declares itself as such with the internal headline "Who Produced This Vancouver Sun Parody and Why?" Other such parodies have been created before and will be again. The Wall Street Journal has recently been embarrassed by a similar spoof (Warning this link goes to an image that you will never be able to un-see.) marking Rupert Murdoch's takeover.

Briemberg got a chuckle out of the joke paper, picked up a couple copies and left them at a bus stop on the way home.

Six months later he was served with a writ by CanWest
suing him for producing the parody and violating CanWest's trademark and demanding an injunction restraining Briemberg and various John Doe defendants from ever again "publishing injurious falsehoods by way of newspapers or other publications, on the internet or otherwise". Briemberg will have to spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours at least defending himself in the case.

The other defendants in the lawsuit are a printing company and its president, plus three "John Does" and three "Jane Does" who, CanWest claims, were in a conspiracy.

"Each of the defendants is involved, directly or indirectly, in anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian media activities. Further, the defendants, or some of them, harbour antagonist views toward the plaintiff, its principal shareholders and the reporting and editorial opinions expressed in the plaintiff's publications."

In other words CanWest seems as upset by the beliefs behind the parody as they are about the parody itself. This seems to be an almost perfect example of a SLAPP suit.

Finding examples of CanWest distortion on the subject of Israel isn't particularly difficult. At one point they had to be publicly scolded by Reuters to get them to stop re-writing the wire service's copy to make the Palestinians look worse and Israelis' look utterly blameless. They were caught doing it to AP and CP copy too. Which may explain why CanWest eventually created their own wire service, presumably so that they could insert any message they wished into the news without being called on it.

As Dr Dawg points out, the Briemberg case is an example of censorship by legal assault that the right wing screechers so incensed with human rights tribunals right now seem to show very little interest in.

Briemberg isn't the only target of CanWest's hair trigger legal department of late. When Rafe Mair at the Tyee accused CanWest's corporate office of being behind the firing of two of the Province's cartoonists CanWest responded with a lawsuit.

You read that right by the way, both of the two largest dailies on the lower mainland the Sun and the Province are owned by CanWest, along with Global TV providing the lion's share of regional TV news as well. As FAIR pointed out recently all the major media owners in Canada could fit comfortably in one small office. Media concentration has led to the centralization of news gathering and severe cutbacks to actual newsroom staff.

The Tyee acknowledged errors in the story, amended it, then retracted it altogether and ultimately apologized for it in print three times. CanWest responded by filing suit 'claiming that Mair’s column injured the Province newspaper’s character, credit and reputation. The writ also claimed Mair and The Tyee showed malice towards CanWest in publishing untrue facts.'

The Tyee points out that the retraction and apology have received more than six times the reader views the original article ever did.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Translating the spin

Loyola Hearn: The Canadian government has shown fellow governments such as Japan, Norway and Iceland -- that have also faced direct actions by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society -- that "we're not putting up with it any more," he said.
Translation: We're making common cause with nations engaging in massive whaling operations in defiance of international law and opinion.
Watson has argued that his vessel, registered in the Netherlands, was in international waters and that Europe will be angered by Canada's actions.
Hearn said the vessel was in "Canadian territorial waters" but didn't say if it was within 12 nautical miles (19.2 kilometres) of the coastline. The minister has also said the Fisheries Act gave him the leeway to act outside the 12-mile limit.
Translation: Yeah, they were in international waters.
The arrests were necessary to prevent future danger to sealers, fisheries officers and observers, he said.
Translation: This was an act of preventative detention. Preventing what exactly?
Captain Alexander Cornelissen and First Officer Peter Hammarstedt are alleged to have broken rules that prohibit anyone from coming within 900 metres of the hunt unless they have an observer's permit.
Translation: They were getting close enough to take extremely gory photos of adorable baby seals being beaten to death with clubs.

Canada's fisheries minister denies he has handed anti-sealing forces a win with Saturday's storming and seizure of a militant conservation group's boat.
"No, we haven't handed them a gift at all," Loyola Hearn told CTV's Question Period on Sunday.
Translation: The Canadian people are about to pay in the courts, in the European parliament and in international public opinion for a short term propaganda boost for the Conservative Party in the Maritimes where they are desperate to improve their standing.

Lost in the Supermarket

The Clash
As powerful a song now as when it first came out.

Sunday Linkblast - April 13

1001st Post!
And finally, never fear the answers to all our problems are now out in the bookstores:

Friday, April 11, 2008

"Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."

OK, when John frigging Ashcroft thinks detailed torture planning in the White House is a bad idea...
President Bush says he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details about how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to an exclusive interview with ABC News Friday. "Well, we started to connect the dots in order to protect the American people." Bush told ABC News White House correspondent Martha Raddatz. "And yes, I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved." As first reported by ABC News Wednesday, the most senior Bush administration officials repeatedly discussed and approved specific details of exactly how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the CIA.

The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.

These top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects -- whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding, sources told ABC news.


Ashcroft was troubled by the discussions. He agreed with the general policy decision to allow aggressive tactics and had repeatedly advised that they were legal. But he argued that senior White House advisers should not be involved in the grim details of interrogations, sources said.

According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."


Kids in the Hall
I've run this one before. In honor of the Kids in the Hall reunion tour here it is again.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Wal-Mart: The high cost of being cheap bastards

After three decades as Wal-Mart's official videographers Flagler Productions were dropped by the retail giant in 2006. Wal-Mart was 95% of the company's business and the loss of the contract nearly forced them under.

But Flagler had never had a formal agreement with Wal-Mart since they began filming for them back in the 1970's. The same lack of a formal agreement that allowed Wal-Mart to end their business relationship so suddenly, also left Flagler in possession of thousands of hours of footage. Corporate events, training videos, board meetings, all remain the possession of Flagler and when Wal-Mart compounded injury with insult with a low-ball offer of $500,000 for the decades of archive footage Flagler instead put the collection on the open market.

Their most avid customers have been trade unions, journalists and plaintiffs filing lawsuits against Wal-Mart.

Many current and former Telus employees will be thinking of the Telus Idol controversy and having a good laugh.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Liberals stand by as Tories shaft immigrants

As predicted here, the Liberal Party of Canada stood by today, and will let the Harper government institute dangerously discriminatory changes to immigration policy. Standing up for immigrants would have required standing up to the Conservatives and facing the Canadian people, two things that terrify the Liberal Party.

The absent opposition continues to grovel for the government while yapping loudly against legislation they have no intention of opposing.


Seasick Steve and the Level Devils

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Senator McClueless

No matter how often it's explained to him, no matter how often he's corrected on it John McCain seems utterly unable to grasp that Al Qaeda is a Sunni organization - or more accurately a Sunni meme - violently opposed to Shiites.

Or is it that acknowledging that the American right wing's premier Islamic bogeyman has nothing to do with Iran, is in fact an inimical foe of Iran's Shia state doesn't fit the narrative? To the extent that any state actor is linked to Al Qaeda as an organization or ideology it's Saudi Arabia, in terms of money, personnel and theology Al Qaeda is a Saudi entity.

But Saudi Arabia and it's deeply corrupt royal elite the House of Saud are allies - most specifically with the House of Bush - while Iran is the preferred threat du jour of the American Republican hawks. McCain may be having a 'senior moment' - or multiple, repeated senior moments - or this repeated falsehood may be entirely deliberate.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sunday Linkblast - April 6

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Peacenik Defence

If you haven't already, check out Dr Dawg's excellent post from Friday with it's point by point refutation of the standard deceptive right wing tropes about progressives and the peace movement. Antisemitism, common cause with Islamist hatemongers, naivete, feminist abandonment of principals, all the usual bullshit the right tries to tar the left with to avoid actually engaging our positions all get a thorough trouncing.

Well they are Social Darwinists...

Maybe Richard Dawkins will explain to the Fraser Institute that Social Darwinism is a rather moronic misapplication of Darwin's theories and that Survival of the Fittest is as much about the most effective cooperators as the most fierce competitors.
My own view, frequently expressed (for example in the The Selfish Gene and especially in the title chapter of A Devil's Chaplain) is that there are two reasons why we need to take Darwinian natural selection seriously. Firstly, it is the most important element in the explanation for our own existence and that of all life. Secondly, natural selection is a good object lesson in how NOT to organize a society. As I have often said before, as a scientist I am a passionate Darwinian. But as a citizen and a human being, I want to construct a society which is about as un-Darwinian as we can make it. I approve of looking after the poor (very un-Darwinian). I approve of universal medical care (very un-Darwinian).

Friday, April 04, 2008

This is who they really are

I'm sure Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski is very sorry...that he got caught being a bigoted hatemonger. I believe that Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is deeply regretful... that there's a video record of his mocking contempt for Canadians of Ukrainian heritage. I'm quite sure that Canadian conservatives are deeply embarrassed...that their contempt for women has again been revealed.

Are they sorry for what it is they actually said and did? Nope, sorry. I don't believe that for a second.

To anyone who's spent any time around Conservatives and before that Alliance members and before that Reformers when they felt unguarded and around like minded people, none of this is news. None of this sounds uncharacteristic. If anything it barely goes beneath the surface of the deep wells of bile and hatred among Canada's right wing. I'm quite sure that in private conversations right now various figures in this mess are raging about political correctness run amok and dismissing the whole matter as nothing more than a PR problem.

This is who they are. Are there socially moderate fiscal and even cultural conservatives in Canada who are appalled by this kind of language and behaviour? Sure, but far too often they seem quite willing to overlook it among their allies on the hard right and a lot of them are probably just offended by the crudity with which they were expressed, not the sentiments themselves.

Government House leader Peter Van Loan was pantingly eager to accept Lukiwski's expedient apology and declare that the end of the matter.

An apology wasn't good enough for David Ahenakew. Both the Saskatchewan and federal governments made it clear that his hateful remarks put him permanently beyond the pale, tainted the organization he was part of and would even make it impossible for the Saskatchewan government to deal with him in any official role.

Are the rules different for hatred spewed at gays rather than Jews? Are the rules different for conservative politicians?

Or are they just different for white people?

UPDATE: Why yes, says the Globe and Mail editorial board, the rules are different for hateful remarks made about gays as opposed to equally hateful remarks based on race or religion, or at least they were in 1991. See, everyone knew better than to say hateful things about race or religion back in the far distant days of the early 90's, but homophobia was still A-OK.

UPDATE 2: Why are Canadian right wingers so utterly incapable of not leaving behind damning evidence when handing over their opposition offices to their political enemies? Is it a political death wish?

UPDATE 3: Oh look, its Tom Lukiwski being a bigoted homophobic dick just three years ago. I'm sure the apologists still want to give him the benefit of the doubt though.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The American anti-family healthcare system

One final thought on the Shank family now that Wal-Mart has bowed to the pressure of universal outrage at their callousness and promised not to try to collect on their judgement.

Jim Shank had to divorce his beloved wife so that she would get the Medicaid benefits available to singles - basically the American healthcare non-system forced this family to end their marriage simply to survive.

Americans should think about that the next time some Republican politician blurbles about 'family values' - while decrying universal healthcare as Godless socialism. It is literally and unambiguously an anti-family position.

One would hope that the various Canadians - some who even have the gall to call themselves progressives - who push for greater private sector involvement in our healthcare system take a long hard look at the travails of the Shank family. This is what lies at the end of that road.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am.

So I hit the big 4-Oh today.

Heh, no. Not that big 4-Oh - not for a few more years at least. April Fools.

As of late this afternoon I hit 40,000 hits recorded since I put Statcounter on this blog back in 2006.

Woo and also hoo.

Walmart:"We're only mugging the brain-damaged woman for what's actually in her pockets."

Debbie Shank a 52 year old former Wal-Mart employee was permanently disabled in a car crash and will require round the clock care for the rest of her life. When her family successfully sued the trucking firm responsible for the accident, her employer Wal-Mart sued to take away the settlement the Shank family received to pay for the lifetime of care she will need.

Debbie's son was killed in Iraq. She has no short term memory so every time she's told about his death she's grieving for the first time.

Keith Olberman has made Wal-Mart his worst person in the world every night since last Wednesday. Wal-Mart finally responded:

"This is a very sad case and we understand that people will naturally have an emotional and sympathetic reaction. While the Shank case involves a tragic situation, the reality is that the health plan is required to protect its assets so that it can pay the future claims of other associates and their family members. These plans are funded by associate premiums and company contributions. Any money recovered is returned to the health plan, not to the business. This is done out of fairness to everyone who contributes to and benefits from the plan. The Supreme Court recently declined to hear an appeal of the case, which concludes all litigation. While Wal-Mart's benefit plan was entitled to more than the amount that remained in the Shank trust, the plan only recovered the funds remaining in that trust," which according to reports amounted to about $277,000. (emphasis added)
They want credit for only looting the family of everything they have and not garnisheeing her grieving husband's future wages.

Worst person indeed.

UPDATE: Wal-Mart backs down. You have to wonder how much their decision today to cease attempting to collect the remainder of the Shank's settlement was due to the toxic PR. You also have to wonder if they put this family through all this hell up to today just for the legal precedent and didn't plan to collect after it became clear how bad this heartlessness was making them look.

Screw you guys, I'm going home!

The candidate he hitched his star to is widely considered to be a disaster, his iron-fisted attempts to control dissent within Liblogs resulted in fierce opposition and his incredibly tacky attempts to spread defamatory rumors about Olivia Chow were met with almost universal scorn.

Jason Cherniak has decided to take his ball and leave.

UPDATE: Yes, I know what day it is.

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