Monday, September 28, 2009

Just another day in American Healthcare

"One of the leaders, I won't mention who it was, he comes up to me and ... he says, 'Barack, explain to me this health care debate.' He says, 'We don't understand it. You're trying to make sure everyone has health care and they're putting a Hitler moustache on you. That doesn't make sense to me, explain that to me,'" Obama said. "He didn't understand."
Not like he's the only one...

And in other news:

Monique Zimmerman-Stein has been nearly blind for the last two years from Stickler syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. She recently decided to forego her own treatment to save funds to treat her two daughters, who also suffer from the condition, reports Lane DeGregory of the St. Petersburg Times.

The family is covered under husband Gary's Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan, but that coverage only pays for 80 percent of medical expenses.

She will no longer get treatment to preserve that last slice of light. The injections that might help cost $380 after insurance, and she needs one every six weeks. She could be spending that money on her daughters' care.

If forgoing treatment might help them see, she said, "That's a choice any mom would make."

No one should have to make such sacrifices, said her husband. He hopes the new health plan will include a public option and won't exclude people with pre-existing conditions -- like his wife and daughters.

The expensive care has already forced the family out of their home, which was foreclosed, and forced them to sell their furniture and to cash in their life insurance.

Friday, September 25, 2009

What the Hell?

Apparent soldiers in military fatigues seemingly abducting a G-20 protester in Pittsburgh. Did this guy just get officially disappeared?

UPDATE: See Prison Planet's take.

Don't mess with Canadian women

Ashley Wolfe, 5 ft 2 and a petitie 125 pounds was convicted for beating up British soldiers in a bar brawl in Hungary.

BUDAPEST — Canadian Ashley Wolfe said Thursday she's proud of her performance in a bloody melee with burly British soldiers and insists she's a victim who shouldn't have been convicted last week on assault charges.
Wolfe, a 24-year-old who stands only five-foot-three and weighs 125 pounds, has been dubbed "Glambo" by British newspapers feasting on the story of a beautiful, petite young Canadian who punched out members of Britain's oldest army regiment while clad in a sexy red dress

Update: Montreal Simon is concerned that the popularity of the Ashley Wolfe story constitutes lionizing homophobia and gay bashing. As I responded at his post I don't think a crowd of drunken rowdy soldiers is the first image that comes to most people's mind when they think of the victims of a hate crime.

To be clear, the appeal of the story to me is based on the interpretation that Ashley Wolfe was the victim of bullying and harassment and not the perpetrator and is an example of someone standing up to overwhelming odds to defend herself.

If in fact Ashley Wolfe, 5'2 125 pound Ashley Wood, is a homophobic abuser attacking the blameless crowd of soldiers for 'acting gay' then she most certainly deserved to be convicted.

If in fact she was struck first as she claimed and defended herself by fighting off the pack of violent thugs who were attacking her and her 56 year old husband (swarmed by fit young men, one of whom bit his nose off), then I really don't feel bad about enjoying the thought of her turning the tables on them.

UPDATE: Wolfe denies homophobia.


The Calgary Herald my city's 'paper of record' featured a self congratulatory full page piece yesterday bragging about how their circulation numbers are higher than ever.

I know this, not because I bought yesterday's edition - I'd never actually pay money for that God-awful rag - but because like every day, a small army of Herald employees spend the morning rush hour handing out free copies to commuters at my train platform, and presumably other patforms all over the city, from stacks of free Heralds the size of small cars.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Right on the issues

Lawrence Martin notices that on issue after issue the NDP have been on the right side over and over.

From the environment to the economy to forign affairs NDP positions and analysis have gone from being scorned and dismissed to becoming the accepted orthodoxy while the NDP itself gets no credit because as Martin correctly points out, unlike the Liberals and Conservatives the NDP has no major media in their corner. Would Stephen Harper have gotten as far as he did if the Sun, CanWest and CTV-Global chains weren't essentially the media arm of the Conservative Party?


The Alberta government slashes hundreds of hospital beds in Calgary and Edmonton (While promising no cuts in the rural hospitals of their electoral base) but we've apparently got over 12 million spare dollars to shell out to an American company for unspecified health consulting services.

Alberta's health ministry shelled out $12.2 million to get health-care advice from a U.S.-headquartered company, even as the province struggles to cut spending in the field, Edmonton-Gold Bar Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald revealed yesterday.

"We seem to have a lot of money for high-priced consultants, but very little for the system itself," said the Grit finance critic who is demanding that any and all reports by consultants McKinsey & Company Canada be made public immediately so Albertans can see the advice given to the ministry and determine if there was value for the money spent.

MacDonald said he discovered the grand total paid to McKinsey after digging into just-released public accounts documents that detail spending in the fiscal year that ended March 31.

The province, through its superboard Alberta Health Services (AHS), is trying to pare back spending in the wake of a $1.3-billion budget deficit.

MacDonald said McKinsey received a big increase in business considering it was paid $620,000 by the province in the previous fiscal year.

"Whatever advice they are providing to the health minister, the minister should make that advice public," said MacDonald.

"The taxpayers are paying for it, so surely they have the right to know what information has been provided to the minister such as which hospitals are going to close or which are going to see their services reduced and what staff are going to be eliminated."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

ACORN worker reported incident to police...

...and was fired anyway.

You know the background: ACORN is an organization that organizes voters and provides and organizes financial aid for poor, overwhelmingly non-white Americans. Naturally the right wing in America hates them with a fiery burning passion. Recently, secretly shot video was released by a right wing website of two right wing activists disguised as a pimp and prostitute getting advice from ACORN workers about disguising a brothel in order to get government aid.

Despite the fact that the pair had tried the same rancid scam in ACORN offices in multiple states, and been shown the door at most, American conservatives leaped on the chance to administer a deathblow to a hated organization helping poor non-whites vote and passed a law to remove their federal funding (Which may lead to unexpected results - possibly including the end of the entire military complex!) and have been crowing about the story for days.

Except the truth is that at least one of the ACORN workers was apparently stringing the pair along and went to the police afterward seeking advice about how to report a case of suspected human trafficking.

And was fired anyway.
Police: ACORN worker in video reported couple

NATIONAL CITY, Calif. (AP) -- Police say a worker with the activist group ACORN who was caught on video giving advice about human smuggling to a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute had reported the incident to authorities.

National City police said Monday that Juan Carlos Vera contacted his cousin, a police detective, to get advice on what to with information on possible human smuggling.

Vera was secretly filmed on Aug. 18 as part of a young couple's high-profile expose.

Police say he contacted law enforcement two days later. The detective consulted another police official who served on a federal human smuggling task force, who said he needed more details.

The ACORN employee responded several days later and explained that the information he received was not true and he had been duped.

Vera was fired on Thursday.

This is on you Glenn Beck

And Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly and Fox News. Your pandering to right wing extremists with hate filled diatribes and extremist conspiracy mongering now has another name on its death toll. A 51 year old single father making ends meet for his family with a second job. His body was found September 12th – the day of the tea-bagger’s march on Washington.
Census Worker Hanged: Bill Sparkman Found With "Fed" On Body

WASHINGTON — The FBI is investigating the hanging death of a U.S. Census worker near a Kentucky cemetery, and a law enforcement official told The Associated Press the word 'fed" was scrawled on the dead man's chest.

The body of Bill Sparkman, a 51-year-old part-time Census field worker and occasional teacher, was found Sept. 12 in a remote patch of the Daniel Boone National Forest in rural southeast Kentucky. The Census has suspended door-to-door interviews in rural Clay County, where the body was found, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Spreading insane conspiracy theories about FEMA concentration camps, arguing that the President and the government are foreign, alien conspiracies with no legitimacy, promoting and enabling extremist movements. Can it be any kind of surprise that this insane rhetoric leads to violence?

These media vultures should be forced to look Bill Sparkman's children in the eye and explain why they pandered to the hateful ideas behind their father's death.

UPDATE: In June, Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann suggested the census would lead to internment camps. She is responsible for this man death, and so is the Republican Party for putting up with her insanity.

Don't take on Nurses

The toughest, hardest working people in healthcare, as anyone with any exposure to the system knows, are the nurses who hold the system together with hard work, hard won skill and a tough minded willingness to get elbow deep in messes the rest of us would faint at the sight of.

Since being recruited from the two-tier Australian system and becoming Grand Poobah of the Alberta Healthcare system Alberta Health Services CEO Stephen Ducket has engaged in a war of nerves with nurses and has been denigrating the job they do with ignorant statements just this side of open contempt, trying to muzzle criticism and attempting to intimidate front line healthworkers into silence. They can't muzzle other public workers though, like the Chief of Edmonton's police service who's worried that AHS cut backs will lead to dangerous results.

Now the government is even blocking access to the United Nurses Website from any health services computer, a move reminiscent of Telus's attempts to block access to their union's website to all their Internet customers. Faced with scrutiny of the censorship, AHS started retreating immediately, unconvincingly blaming 'server trouble'.

The nurses and other health workers have filed formal complaints over blatant attempts to intimidate and muzzle them. Ducket picked the wrong people to try to bully.

Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart

Lyrics Born's new album AS U WERE drops early next year. Long time readers know I'm a big fan. Here's a tease. Give it a taste and you will be too.

Monday, September 21, 2009

There was 'extreme weather' before the Olympics too

The Campbell government encourages observers not to draw any unreasonably logical conclusions from the timing.

Internal government documents show the B.C. government is drafting legislation to force homeless people into emergency shelters during extreme winter weather, according to the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

But legislation would will not likely stand up to a Charter of Rights challenge according to BCCLA executive director David Eby, who obtained the government documents and released them to the media.

The B.C. government has not commented publicly on the notes released by Eby, nor confirmed its planning to introduce such a law.

Eby believes the legislation may be just another tool to get homeless people off the street during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver in February.

"The timing is perfect for the Olympic Games," Eby said Monday. "You want to talk about how extreme weather will be defined? Well, typically its defined as three to five days of rain in a row. Well, that's February in Vancouver.

"It will be a great way to get the homeless — force the homeless — off the streets, and get them out of the view of visitors for the Olympic games."

Boldly going where no men have gone before

Original Star Trek star George Takei and his longtime partner Brad Altman will become the first gay couple to compete on TV's long-running The Newlywed Game.

Organizers announced the news on Wednesday.

The classic program, known for testing newly married couples on how well they really know each other, debuted on prime time television in the mid-1960s. Though Chuck Barris-produced show has had a sporadic run over the years, with several revivals, it is most often associated with original host Bob Eubanks and his teasing questions about "making whoopie."

The Newlywed Game is now on its second season with the GSN cable network, with singer Carnie Wilson serving as host and the show updated somewhat, including showcasing couples who marry later in life.

The decision to feature its first gay couple "made sense for GSN," programming chief Kelly Goode told The Associated Press.

"It seems like the show has always reflected the times in terms of marriages depicted and this felt like the next logical step."

Takei and Altman, who have been together for more than two decades, officially married in Los Angeles a year ago. Months later, the state of California reversed the decision to allow same-sex marriages. However, the estimated 18,000 couples who had tied the knot in the meantime retained their married status.

"What we want is to display the normality and the joy of having a happy union," Takei said. "To be included in something we never felt we'd be included in is very satisfying."

Ok, this post may have been mostly an excuse to use that title.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Somebody update Kelly McParland

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was quoted on Thursday as saying he does not view Iran as a threat to the existence of the Jewish state, a view that would seem to depart from Israeli statements of the recent past.

Israel's mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth daily quoted Barak, the head of Israel's center-left Labour party, as saying "Iran does not constitute an existential threat against Israel."

And Prime Minister Netanyahu reluctantly agrees.

Sunday Linkblast - Sept 20

Carter on Chavez

A nuanced and balanced criticism, blunted somewhat by being expressed in Colombia, a country with a far worse human rights record than Venezuela.

This Europa Press article is translated by Google, so forgive some of the clumsiness of phrasing but oddly enough this piece has more of Carter's mea culpas for past American behavior than any American write-ups about his remarks I can find:

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter expressed his "political disappointment" about the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, because drift "authoritarian" by his government in an interview with the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo '.

But Carter said his country itself was involved or had full knowledge of the failed 2002 coup against Chavez."I think there is no doubt that in 2002, the U.S. had full knowledge or at least could be directly involved in the coup. So he (Chavez) has a legitimate complaint against the United States," he said.

The former president admitted that Chavez has undertaken a transformation needed to Venezuela, "by allowing those previously excluded have equal participation in national wealth," but later the Venezuelan president has "disappointed".

"Personally I was disappointed to see him depart from what I think was a fair chance and honestly, that was the result of legitimate elections, to a growing domination led him to take a more authoritarian government," he added.

In his remarks, Carter said that "both Venezuela and Chavez, as international relations, would be better if he stop attacking and criticizing the United States. "For me, they are increasingly random in nature, and unjustified," he said.

In this regard, the former president said he was certain that the U.S. president, Barack Obama, wants to have friendly relations, social, commercial and diplomatic, with Venezuela. "But he (Chavez) makes it almost impossible," he said. "We made mistakes in the past, and (so have) Venezuelan officials," he said.

Carter here expresses quite well my own growing misgivings about Chavez, brought to sharp relief by his embrace of Ahmadinejad as Iranians were being killed in the streets as they demonstrated for their rights. But the historical context is that as President, Carter was far more sanguine about vicious pro-American dictatorships like Indonesia.

Again his remarks were made in Colombia, where there have been claims that Carter will support free trade with the murderously anti-union state, but the Carter Center denies it.

UPDATE: The American press discovers Carter's admission that the USA probably supported the coup attempt in Venezuela. Cue squeals of outrage.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Sonic Youth covering The Carpenters
And the original far more orchestral version - music only

Happy Rosh Hashanah and ARRRR!

Today is both Jewish New Year and 'Talk Like a Pirate Day'

Friday, September 18, 2009

Premier Stelmach: Screw the City Folk

Hundreds of beds closed in hospitals in Calgary and Edmonton - 300 in Calgary alone - but no cuts in rural Alberta.

The premier said Thursday the rural medical system has already come through significant changes and noted the government is building several major hospital projects in Calgary.

"In the early 1990s in rural Alberta, many of the hospitals were either converted to long-term care or were closed," Stelmach told reporters in Calgary. "We don't want to do that. I think we have an appropriate number of roofs in the province. Let's use them to our advantage."

But the Alberta Liberals said Calgary also faced massive health cuts when it lost three hospitals in the 1990s.

Liberal Leader David Swann said Stelmach is trying to shore up rural support in advance of a party leadership review this fall.

"The premier has a strong message from rural voters (that cuts) won't fly," he said. "This is a government that doesn't base its decisions on evidence, but on politics."

Rush Limbaugh calls for the return of segregation

On his radio show Rush Limbaugh cited a school bus scuffle between a black and white student that even the police say wasn't race related as reason to bring back Jim Crow
In a remark extraordinary even by the standards of conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, the right-wing radio heavyweight declared on his program Wednesday that the United States needed to return to racially segregated buses.
Referring to an incident in which a white student was beaten by black students on a bus, Limbaugh said: “I think the guy’s wrong. I think not only it was racism, it was justifiable racism. I mean, that’s the lesson we’re being taught here today. Kid shouldn’t have been on the bus anyway. We need segregated buses — it was invading space and stuff. This is Obama’s America.”
So far Limbaugh has had no comment about the vicious attack on a black female veteran in front of her horrified 7 year old by a man howling racist slurs as he punched and kicked her. Racist attacks only matter if they're on a white person - even if the police say it wasn't related to race.

Why is this dick still on the air?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Oops, never mind

After sneering at New Democrats for days over our inclination to support Canadian Workers getting improved EI benefits, can we now expect any kind of retraction or apology from Liberals now that Iggy has come around and Liberals will be voting the same way?
OTTAWA – Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff says his party will give the government’s proposal to boost employment insurance benefits for some workers speedy passage through Parliament.

Speaking to reporters a day after the New Democrats, led by Jack Layton, said they will prop up the government until the measure is adopted by Parliament, Ignatieff suggested his party will try to ensure that happens quickly.

“We’re not going to hold it up,” Ignatieff told reporters. “Let’s get it through and get to the motion of non-confidence which we will bring forward in due time.”

Gee that sounds familiar, I wonder why... Oh yeah, because its exactly what we've been saying.

Hat Tip to Dawg

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lack of bias for us constitutes bias against us

Both the government of Israel and the leadership of Hamas angrily rejected the findings of the Goldstone report which found both sides were at fault and both sides committed war crimes during the recent Gaza conflict.

Richard Goldstone, a respected South African judge - who happens to be Jewish - took the job of doing the Gaza investigation to try to do the best thing for peace and for Israel said his daughter.
She added that her father wrestled with the decision to take on the task. "It wasn't easy [for him]," Nicole Goldstone said. "My father did not expect to see and hear what he saw and heard."
The even handed report that condemns both sides has prompted an all hands on deck response from the Israeli government, condemning it as 'propaganda, antisemitism and Israel bashing' but an investigation headed by a respected Jewish jurist who found both sides at fault will be difficult to dismiss.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Apparently Ignatieff's destiny is more imporant than the lives of unemployed Canadians

My girlfriend just found out that she'll be laid off at the end of October along with her entire office of co-workers after years of loyal service. The profitable corporation she works for decided microscopic improvement to their bottom line were more important than the lives of Canadian workers and the best interests of their Canadian customers.

So when juvenile Libs sneeringly dismiss efforts to seek improvements to EI - improvements that won't even come close to reversing the damage the Liberals caused when they gutted and looted the program in the first place, but improvements nonetheless - well it pisses me off.

So once again for the those who can't seem to grasp it - the NDP have not said we will support the government, we have not said that the improvements in EI offered by Harper are sufficient, on the contrary 'a step in the right direction' very explicitly means that they aren't. Yet.

But if Harper offers sufficient improvements to EI to make real and immediate improvements for thousands of Canadian workers struggling with unemployment in these hard economic times then I don't see any reason not to take those gains. A billion dollars in improvements isn't chicken feed. It beats supporting them for no other reason but electoral expediency, while loudly decrying the motions you are voting to support and getting nothing for that support. 79 times in a row.

Voting, potentially, to change the Harper agenda is fundamentally, qualitatively different from repeatedly voting to sustain that agenda unchanged because rhetoric aside your party doesn't really oppose that agenda.

If you really don't see the difference than you really aren't paying attention.

UPDATE: The Globe and Mail sneers at Layton for considering supporting EI changes that will benefit 'only' about 60,000 workers. So helping 60,000 Canadians pay their rent and feed their families during an economic crisis isn't worth doing?

Free Trade with a Murder State

Go read Alison at Creekside's piece on Liberal support for free trade with Colombia - a country that kills more labour activists than any other state and in every other measurement has the worst human rights record in the hemisphere. Do it now.

Talk about mixed feelings...

The Alberta PCs were humiliated in the Calgary-Glenmore byelection, coming in a distant third after the Liberal candidate in second place by only a few hundred votes to the winner Paul Hinman, leader of Alberta's Monster Raving Loony Wildrose Alliance Party.

On the one hand, great, somebody even more right wing in the Alberta Legislature, that's just what we needed.

On the other hand, when Canada's right wing was split federally between the PCs and the Conservative Reform Alliance Party (Most accurate acronym ever.) it led to Canada's right wing wandering in the political wilderness for more than a decade.

Interesting times in Alberta politics, where the trend of massive political change every thirty or forty years may be about to strike again.

Monday, September 14, 2009


American Health Insurance companies will take insurance away from women seeking treatment for being being beaten up by their partner - - because being beaten by your husband is a pre-existing condition.

Under the cold logic of the insurance industry, it makes perfect sense: If you are in a marriage with someone who has beaten you in the past, you're more likely to get beaten again than the average person and are therefore more expensive to insure.

In human terms, it's a second punishment for a victim of domestic violence.

But anything that might restrict the power of insurance companies is soshalizum! Can't have that.

An unsurprising number

The phrase 'Kanye West is an asshole' currently generates 2,310,000 results on Google.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Maureen Dowd goes there

Underneath the tea parties and eliminationist rhetoric from right wing propagandists masquerading as journalists and legitimate commentators is one central truth that Dowd finally calls them on.
The normally nonchalant Barack Obama looked nonplussed, as Nancy Pelosi glowered behind.

Surrounded by middle-aged white guys — a sepia snapshot of the days when such pols ran Washington like their own men’s club — Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” at a president who didn’t.

But, fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!

Sunday Linkblast - September 13

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The BC Supreme Court to rule on the future of Public Healthcare in Canada

A pair of legal cases coming soon to the B.C. Supreme Court may greatly change the way health care is delivered in the province and across Canada.

Disgruntled former patients who say the province's for-profit clinics are regularly breaking the law on extra billing went to court last December demanding the government properly enforce the Medicare Protection Act and end the alleged extra billing by private sector clinics.

Meanwhile, in January, a group of these same clinics launched a court action against some of the government players targeted in the patients' litigation. This second action, brought by, among others, Vancouver's Cambie Surgeries Corporation and the for-profit clinic umbrella group the Canadian Independent Medical Clinics Association, is arguing that the law that underlies the delivery of health services in B.C. is unconstitutional.

They are calling on the Supreme Court of B.C. to rule that provisions of the Medicare Protection Act of 1996, which they claim "directly or indirectly prohibit or impede access to private health care and patient choice in primary health care," are in violation of sections 7 and 15 of the Charter of Rights.

The clinics also call on the courts to stop the B.C. Government from auditing the books of Vancouver's Cambie Surgeries Corporation and the Specialist Referral Clinic. (The Specialist Referral Clinic has been added as a Defendant by Counterclaim to the case as it has evolved this year). The audit is intended to determine whether those companies, both partly owned by privatization advocate Dr. Brian Day, have been involved, as alleged, in illegal extra billing.

And one of the most important points, about why this case of double dipping, wealthy queue jumping and public system poaching is a threat to the health of all Canadians:

Dr. Randall White of the Canadian Doctors for Medicare, a group that has applied to be an intervenor in the case between Mariel Schooff and the other unhappy ex-patients and the MSC and the clinics, doesn't see the privatization option favored by Day and his clinic associates as a useful one or one likely to improve Canadian health care delivery. In an email interview with The Tyee, White wrote:

"If Canada opens the doors to commercial health-care delivery and insurance, we can expect NAFTA challenges that could well dismantle our publicly funded, non-profit system... The cost of commercial health care is high. Many studies have found higher costs attributable to ubiquitous elements of for-profit insurance and hospitals such as administrative activities, marketing, profit generation, and executive pay. When it comes to health care, the assertion that markets are most efficient is absolutely false. The U.S. is the most market-driven industrialized health system and also the least efficient. Canadians could expect greater cost inflation with the advent of market-driven health care."

These will be court decisions to either celebrate as the rescue of Canada's medical system or to mourn as the beginning of its end.

The deadliest job

For sheer, literally lethal awfulness in a working environment, you just can't beat the privatized telecom industry.

I spent five years in it and five months on the picket line at the end of it - losing about 40 pounds in the process - I can't recommend the crippling stress diet though. I stayed as long as I did because I was a shop steward and local delegate fighting stuff like employees being cheated out of health benefits and facing huge medical bills and older workers dealing with daily management harassment to try to get them to quit. I've recently been given reason to remember that utter disregard for their employees.

I've never worked in a more toxic environment with a more amoral and predatory management class before or since. It turns out the contempt I saw daily for employees, customers and basic standards of human decency is a norm for the industry worldwide.

French Labour Minister Xavier Darcos is to meet the head of the country's main telecommunications company to discuss a number of suicides among its staff.

Twenty-three employees of France Telecom have killed themselves since the beginning of 2008.

Unions blame tough management methods at the multinational, which was privatised in 1998.

But France Telecom says the rate of suicides is statistically not unusual for a company with a 100,000 workforce.

According to the World Health Organization, France had an annual suicide rate of 26.4 for 100,000 men in 2008. The rate for women was 9.2 suicides per 100,000.

The latest suicide occurred on Friday, when a 32-year-old woman leapt to her death at a France Telecom office in Paris.

On Wednesday, a 49-year-old man in Troyes, east of Paris, plunged a knife into his own stomach during a meeting in which he had been told he was being transferred.

He is being treated in hospital.

Australian teen faces prison for abortion

I had no idea Australian abortion laws were so medieval.

A teenager faces seven years in prison after being ordered to stand trial for organising her own home abortion in the first such prosecution in Australia in over half a century.

Tegan Leach, 19, from the north Queensland city of Cairns, was committed to trial today in Cairns District Court. Her boyfriend, Sergie Brennan, 21, who has been charged with supplying drugs to procure an abortion, faces three years in jail.

The court heard that police found empty pharmaceutical blister packets alleged to have contained contraband abortion drugs obtained in Ukraine, along with a Russian doctor's instructions, during a search of the couple's Cairns home in relation to another matter in February.

Police allege that Ms Leach took the drugs, a Chinese version of the abortion pill RU486, to induce a miscarriage because she and her partner believed that they were too young to raise a child.

Which sounds like a rational considered decision by a couple mature beyond their years. Because of hysterical media coverage the girl's home has been firebombed and the couple has had to go into hiding while they wait to find out if they will be thrown into prison for making a private medical decision.

But despite attacks like this and a long history of violent terrorism by pro-lifers, some psychotic spree killer who by chance included an abortion protester in his planned series of murders shows that it's pro-choicers who are the irrational violent ones.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Why won't he deny it?

Why won't Glenn Beck deny these allegations? We're not accusing Glenn Beck of raping and murdering a young girl in 1990 - in fact, we think he didn't! But we can't help but wonder, since he has failed to deny these horrible allegations. Why won't he deny that he raped and killed a young girl in 1990?
Still like those 'I'm just asking a question, I'm not saying I belive this' tactics now Glenn?

Quote of the Day

I’ve got to say those people (Republicans), if anybody needs a health plan in America, it’s those people who are in severe need of mental health services.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Labour Songs for Labour Day

The Workers Song
by the Dropkick Murphys
Originally written by the northern England singer and songwriter Ed Pickford


Commentary the Musical - Doctor Horrible's Singalong Blog
This song is particularly painful for me and other members of the TWU who remember our picket line of 2005 - our labour action went much the same way the writer's did.

Shoes of a Man

Maria Dunn
Beautiful song by a singer who should be a big star. I wanted to put up her track 'Troublemaker' but it doesn't seem to be a Youtube option. Shoes of a Man is a lovely piece though.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Larry Flynt calls for a National Strike against Corporate Power

The time is now. America is waking up. Resistance is the order of the day. I could feel it with growing certainty as I read the numerous and gratifying responses to my call for a national strike here on HuffPost. So many smart people offering so many good ideas. Even my detractors acknowledged the underlying issues I put forth.

This notion was reaffirmed on August 28 when Bill Maher interviewed Bill Moyers on a special edition of HBO's "Real Time". "The Democratic Party has become like the Republican Party, deeply influenced by corporate money," Moyers said. A short while later he added: "You really have two corporate parties who in their own way and their own time are serving the interests of basically a narrow set of economic interests in the country." In other words, it's the people versus the corporate state.

You hear it more and more, sometimes spoken in code, sometimes spelled out as clearly as a neon sign. We have reached the tipping point. The enemy has been identified. It's not left versus right it's democracy versus greed. This realization sits there like an unexploded bomb. We stare at it, waiting only for someone to light the match.

That was the essence of the debate here on HuffPost. Who will set a strike date? What date shall it be? Some called for me to set it. I demur. It's not up to me. There are enough millionaires telling you what to do. And I'm not at risk. I say, let the people decide.
Smut-peddlers of the world, unite!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

What he actually said

“The only way there is going to be an election is if Mr. Harper provokes one” by calling it himself or refusing to make any concessions in Parliament whatsoever" Thomas Mulcair
For all those apparent political naifs currently hyperventilating over this ( 'Wither the NDP voter'? Really? ), why not taking what the nice politician is saying and parsing it as, oh I don't know, political rhetoric from someone who is actually familiar with what Stephen Harper is really like?

Translation: "The only way there is going to be an election will be when Mr Harper provokes one when he calls it himself or when he refuses to make any concessions to Parliament whatsoever - so the election happening so soon after the last one will be Harper's fault because he can't cooperate with any other party for the good of the country."

Liberals, is this really a message you object to?

So sure, if Harper agrees to a wide slate of NDP policies, public ownership, pro labour legislation, expanded human rights protection, a strongly beefed up public healthcare system and social safety net in general... and sure you'll see a Conservative/NDP coalition. A lot of that is stuff we probably can't get in a coalition the mutant center right thing the Liberals have become much less the Conservatives.

So any whining with a rational basis in verifiable reality?

A man who really knows Canada

Former Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, who has morphed recently from the cuddly religious fanatic he was last year into a mean-eyed promoter of political deceptions had some important news for Americans about Canadian healthcare the other day:

Just consider how easy it’s been for the right to foment the rage we’ve been seeing at town hall meetings. Mike Huckabee, the once and probably future G.O.P. presidential candidate, offered a pitch-perfect tutorial for how it’s done in the opening monologue of his Fox News show last weekend.

He’d just returned from Canada, Huckabee told his flock, where the health care system “works O.K. if have a minor complaint, but in the event of something really serious, God help you, because the government-run system probably won’t.” This should worry Americans, he said, because the imperious, out-of-touch Congress is “hell-bent” on orchestrating a government takeover of the U.S. health care system.

He then urged viewers to show up at town hall meetings this month and to “gently—or not so gently—remind them who the boss is.”

It was a maddeningly dishonest presentation. None of the plans under consideration in Congress would impose a Canadian-style, single-payer health care system in this country. The comparison was absolutely false and baseless.

I love the 'He's not really dating that skank.' defense rather than 'Hey she isn't a skank!'

But maybe we should take Mister Huckabee seriously. Maybe he really is an authority on all things Canadian.


The Other Argument

This blog has defended comparisons between the treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories and Apartheid. Here's the best argument I've seen against it.

Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery makes arguments pragmatic, historical and moral against the comparison and opposes a full boycott against Israel as likely to achieve opposite results from those that proponents of boycott are hoping for. He does however support targeted boycotts of the products of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, a defensible distinction.

I'm unconvinced, but it's a good argument.

Headline Win

TPM scored with this gem:

Don't Look Now But We're Mired In A Land War In (Central) Asia

The Vietnam comparison always worked better for Afghanistan than even Iraq. And if it wasn't for Vietnam LBJ would be remembered for the Great Society, Medicare, Civil Rights and the War on Poverty.
There is a debate within the Obama administration over whether to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan at a time when public support for the eight-year-old war is eroding.

McChrystal submitted his report to the Pentagon on Monday.

A CBS News poll released on Tuesday said four in 10 Americans surveyed said they want U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan decreased, a percentage which has been rising since the beginning of 2009.

The poll found that less than half, 48 percent, of those questioned said they approved of Obama's handling of the situation in Afghanistan, down from 56 percent in April.

McChrystal has about 103,000 troops under his command, including 63,000 Americans, half of whom arrived this year as part of an escalation strategy started by former President George W. Bush and ramped up under Obama.

The force is set to rise to 110,000, including 68,000 Americans, by year's end.

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