Saturday, March 19, 2011

Libya and Bahrain

A vicious authoritarian regime responding to protestors with murderous repression, deadly snipers and bringing in foreign troops to crush dissent.

An equally apt description of both Libya and Bahrain, except one is a country that has been a thorn in the west's side and the other an important ally, sea port and military outpost.  Hence explaining why one is being hit with UN sanctions, no-fly zones and a probable invasion while the other gets mild criticism and calls for restraint.  Ah realpolitik...
The helpful thing, if you're overwhelmed by so much news going on at once, is that Bahrain is roughly the same story as Libya—only instead of pro-democracy protesters being murdered by a terrorist-sponsoring monster of a dictator who has been on America's enemies list for ages, the pro-democracy protesters are being murdered by a government that is America's very own dear ally. And where Qaddafi brought in foreign mercenaries for support, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain brought in troops from our even more vital ally, Saudi Arabia.

So basically, take all those proud feelings about the United States standing up for freedom and human rights in Libya and turn them inside out, and vomit into them. That's Bahrain.

Nicholas Kristof, in a column deploring the violence, wrote:
Today the United States is in a vise — caught between our allies and our values.
Are we? Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are the same rotten royalist dictatorships they've always been. And they've been on our side. The helicopters over the square were reportedly American-made Cobras, because the Royal Bahraini Air Force flies what we sell them; the rifles on the ground are American M16s. Freedom and democracy are what we talk about. Values are what we do.
UPDATE: And the Yanks come marching in, certainly the rebels can expect them to march right out again once Gaddafi is overthrown right?  Right?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Doctor threatened for speaking out against leaving mentally ill children in basement

And Premier Stelmach's claim that intimidation against doctors for speaking out on patient care has 'not been substantiated' suffers another blow.
The smoking gun proves to be a nasty letter threatening to demote a doctor. It might finally force the Tories to call the public health care inquiry they're so determined to duck.
As recently as Thursday afternoon, Premier Ed Stelmach said this specific case was not substantiated.
Now it is; and another of the premier's fallback positions collapses behind him.

Calgary psychiatrist Dr. Lloyd Maybaum spoke up vigorously in 2008 after he learned that the planned mental health unit at the new South Campus would be postponed.

He wrote an e-mail to other doctors that found its way into the Herald. This became a big story at the time. What we didn't know then, though, was that Maybaum subsequently received a letter from a senior health official.

It said, among many other things: "I am forced to make a clear statement that further communications of this nature without discussion and review with members of the Executive of Mental Health and Addictions will require . . . (asking) the Executive to formally review your role as physician leader for psychiatry to the South Campus project."

There's the threat. And it came because Maybaum wrote an impassioned e-mail about treatment for the mentally ill.

An earlier plan for mental health in the new Alberta Children's Hospital, Maybaum wrote, "was scuttled late in the design process, leaving no spot for mental health services except for the basement.

"Yes, in the basement. The new Children's Hospital, replete with fantastic vistas of the mountains, bright sunshine, striking colours -and children with mental health problems left in the dark -a forgotten afterthought -wedged into leftovers in the bowels of the site."

Maybaum said he wanted to be named to the South Campus project "to ensure mental health is not once again marginalized."

But then it happened all over. Maybaum learned the South Campus mental health pavilion would be cut from the first phase of the new hospital.

"Suddenly, all of the planning, all of the excellent designs, are on hold and very likely scuttled. Mental health (is) served another blow, marginalized -yet again."

Shower of Schmucks

A tiny group of pathetic inadequates who can't find anything about their lives to be proud of but the melanin level in their skin cells plan a march in my town tomorrow.  So far all they've accomplished is some cowardly attacks on the streets and internecine attempts to kill each other and now the probable end of one of their idiot's military career.
WINNIPEG—Military police are investigating a Canadian Forces reservist from Winnipeg who is alleged to have been planning to attend a white-pride demonstration this weekend in Calgary.

Capt. Karina Holder says the military can take action even if the reservist doesn’t attend the event, providing investigators find evidence.

“Having that attitude alone is completely incompatible with the military culture,” Holder said Thursday from Ottawa.

“It runs contrary to effective military service. You have to have that basic respect for your fellow human beings, otherwise you cannot function in this organization.”

She said they received a complaint from a member of the public but can’t confirm it was the same complaint that prompted the investigation.

Although she wouldn’t provide details, it has been reported that the 17-year-old reservist was planning to attend a white-pride demonstration planned for Saturday in Calgary and that he had expressed racist views in online postings.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Climate of Intimidation against Doctors speaking out for the public

One doctor after another steps forward and makes the same allegations that Raj Sherman has, about doctors who complain about the decay of Alberta's healthcare system facing retaliation and whisper campaigns.
The Nunes rulings from the FOI commissioner and the Court of Queen's Bench were tabled in the Alberta legislature Wednesday by Independent MLA Raj Sherman, in support of his allegations that doctors who complain about patient care have forced out and legally barred from publicly criticizing the government.
Nunes said he had heard about the case of Dr. Ciaran McNamee, first reported on CBC last week. McNamee, Capital Health's former head of thoracic surgery, filed a lawsuit in which he alleged he had been forced out of the job and accused of incompetence and mental instability after he complained about lung-surgery waiting lists.
The lawsuit was settled out of court and the allegations were never proven. McNamee now teaches at Harvard and is a surgeon at one of Boston's top hospitals.
Another doctor told CBC this week that, like McNamee, she also had been demoted, fired and was the subject of a whisper campaign that questioned her sanity after she complained about health-care cuts putting patient safety at risk. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she is still bound by a non-disclosure agreement.
Nunes said he decided to go public after seeing the McNamee story and hearing Sherman's allegations.
"The reason I am speaking is out because I don't have a gag order, and secondly, I knew from the beginning what Dr. Raj Sherman was getting at because it happened to me as well and I know of other colleagues that this sort of intimidation has happened to as well. So I thought if I don't speak out, if I don't say something, then I am part of the problem."
Nunes, a physician for 31 years, said he has worked in South Africa, Britain and in several cities across Canada.
"I have never felt the sense of intimidation that I felt here," he said.
" What Dr. Raj Sherman and the opposition are pushing for in terms of having a public inquiry, I think that's the right thing. I think it's the only way of getting to the bottom of whether the government had a hand in this or if it was just poor administration."
On Wednesday, Premier Ed Stelmach again rejected calls for a public inquiry, saying he has seen no evidence to support Sherman's allegations.
Questioning the sanity of government critics is literally an old Stalinist favorite, while some of the loathsome tactics on display are uniquely Albertan.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Abuser with a badge charged with sexual assault

Ottawa police officer Sgt. Steven Desjourdy was arrogantly confident that the terrified sobbing woman he helped hold down and assault had no recourse, no way to resist.

Stacy Bonds was arrested for daring to ask the police officers questioning her why she was stopped as she walked home one night in September of 2006.  For having the temerity to in any way question the police's powers to stop and interrogate any dark skinned person in the street they wanted to she was thrown in the back of a police car, taken to an Ottawa police station and in an extended assault captured in sickening detail by jailhouse video cameras was swarmed by officers, kneed, beaten, slammed to the ground under a shield and her clothing cut off by Sgt Desjourdy.

Today Desjourdy found out that the law he has a history of using as a cover for his assaults on women applies to the police as well when he was charged with sexual assault, appropriately on the International Day Against Police Brutality.
The Ottawa Police Service said in a statement Tuesday that it had been informed by the SIU that its investigation, which began Nov. 19, 2010, had concluded there was reasonable grounds to believe Desjourdy had committed a criminal offence.
Desjourdy will remain assigned to administrative duties, the release said. He has been on desk duty since the investigation began.

Police said they referred this file to the Ontario Provincial Police for investigation and will not be making any further public comments because the matter is before the court. The SIU — an arm's-length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault — said it would make no further comments in consideration of a fair trial.
Desjourdy will appear before the Ontario Court of Justice in Ottawa on April 12.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Counterfit receipts aren't just a 'difference of interpretation of the rules'

Spotted at A Creative Revolution:
In total, 65 Conservative candidates had submitted nearly identical invoices; only the dollar amounts were different.
The invoices were on the letterhead of the Conservative Party's advertising purchasing agency, Retail Media.
But an Elections Canada investigator later reported that Retail Media didn't seem to know anything about the documents, with a company spokesperson saying they didn’t even look remotely like the firm's standard invoices.
One executive of the ad company "speculated that this invoice must have been altered or created by someone."
So were the other 64 invoices, in total showing $1.3 million of local advertising expenses worth a federal rebate of more than $800,000.
Elections Canada discovered most Conservative candidates didn't seem to have a clue what they were claiming.
One is quoted in court documents as saying: "I think we contributed to TV national advertising. There was no way we could spend our limit so we were asked if we can help contribute."
The appeals court was blunt, saying the ads weren't local at all.
The level of criminality and contempt for the law displayed by the Harper Conservatives has long since reached Nixonian proportions.  If they don't approve of a law they ignore it.  If they are constrained by any independent oversight they co-opt it, corrupt it or crush it.  If they see an opportunity to use their governing power to attack partisan enemies or counteract democratic opposition they take it.

At this point, bringing down this government is necessary to save this country from a criminal regime.

Ignatieff and his handlers were behind the last coalition crumbling, it is to be hoped that his poll numbers like the prospect of a hanging in the morning have focused their attention on reality.

Allergy to Science

Nothing demonstrates better, how right wing ideology is based primarily on dogma and cant than the conservative distaste for science.

Oh they'll co-opt it if they can.  If an oil company can get a bought and paid for hired geek in a lab coat to say global warming isn't happening they'll rush to embrace the idea that there is in fact some kind of scientific controversy on the subject so we shouldn't stop killing the Earth just yet.  If a millionaire owner of a private medical clinic chain with a direct financial stake in the subject who also happens to be a doctor solemnly claims that public health care is unsustainable they rush to embrace the one 'doctor' out of hundreds saying just the opposite.

But in general they hate and fear the field for refusing to bend facts to right-wing prejudice.  For being full of wooly headed irresponsible egg-heads who keep putting hippy-dippy concerns like the fate of life on this planet before corporate profits.  And for insulting Jesus by insisting the Earth is much, much older than the bible says it is and the world and the life on it came together by explicable natural laws and processes rather than spurting out of sky daddy's magic wand.
Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) accused Republicans on Tuesday of having an "allergy to science and scientists" during a House hearing on a Republican-led proposal to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
The New York Times reports that the meeting, which focused largely on the effect of the gases on climate change, was contentious and ultimately unproductive, as representatives on both sides of the aisle appeared to stubbornly reject claims that countered their own views.
Despite the impasse, however, the hearing didn't go over without its fair share of sparks.
"If Copernicus, Galileo, Newton and Einstein were testifying today," Inslee, an environmentalist with a knack for confrontation over green initiatives, posited, "the Republicans would not accept their views until all the Arctic ice has melted and hell has frozen over, whichever comes first."

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Regime 'Alteration'

America to Arab protestors: 'Your freedom would be incovenient to us and our allies.  We'll push our client despots to throw you a few more crumbs, you just need to learn to expect less than full democracy.'
WASHINGTON—After weeks of internal debate on how to respond to uprisings in the Arab world, the Obama administration is settling on a Middle East strategy: help keep longtime allies who are willing to reform in power, even if that means the full democratic demands of their newly emboldened citizens might have to wait.

Instead of pushing for immediate regime change—as it did to varying degrees in Egypt and now Libya—the U.S. is urging protesters from Bahrain to Morocco to work with existing rulers toward what some officials and diplomats are now calling "regime alteration."

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Welcome to Wellington

So a big welcome to The Wellington Street Post, the new Canadian politics blog aggregator on the block.  Only in action for a few days and already prominently featured in my statcounter.  Welcome to the scene folks.

Saved from Faux News

Robert F. Kennedy congratulates Canada for avoiding the same mistake the US made when Reagan was allowed to gut the Fairness Doctrine:
As America's middle class battles for its survival on the Wisconsin barricades -- against various Koch Oil surrogates and the corporate toadies at Fox News -- fans of enlightenment, democracy and justice can take comfort from a significant victory north of Wisconsin border. Fox News will not be moving into Canada after all! The reason: Canada regulators today announced they would reject efforts by Canada's right wing Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, to repeal a law that forbids lying on broadcast news.

Canada's Radio Act
requires that "a licenser may not broadcast....any false or misleading news." The provision has kept Fox News and right wing talk radio out of Canada and helped make Canada a model for liberal democracy and freedom. As a result of that law, Canadians enjoy high quality news coverage including the kind of foreign affairs and investigative journalism that flourished in this country before Ronald Reagan abolished the "Fairness Doctrine" in 1988. Political dialogue in Canada is marked by civility, modesty, honesty, collegiality, and idealism that have pretty much disappeared on the U.S. airwaves. When Stephen Harper moved to abolish anti-lying provision of the Radio Act, Canadians rose up to oppose him fearing that their tradition of honest non partisan news would be replaced by the toxic, overtly partisan, biased and dishonest news coverage familiar to American citizens who listen to Fox News and talk radio. Harper's proposal was timed to facilitate the launch of a new right wing network, "Sun TV News" which Canadians call "Fox News North."

Harper, often referred to as "George W. Bush's Mini Me," is known for having mounted a Bush like war on government scientists, data collectors, transparency, and enlightenment in general. He is a wizard of all the familiar tools of demagoguery; false patriotism, bigotry, fear, selfishness and belligerent religiosity.

Harper's attempts to make lying legal on Canadian television is a stark admission that right wing political ideology can only dominate national debate through dishonest propaganda. Since corporate profit-taking is not an attractive vessel for populism, a political party or broadcast network that makes itself the tool of corporate and financial elites must lie to make its agenda popular with the public. In the Unites States, Fox News and talk radio, the sock puppets of billionaires and corporate robber barons have become the masters of propaganda and distortion on the public airwaves. Fox News's notoriously biased and dishonest coverage of the Wisconsin's protests is a prime example of the brand of news coverage Canada has smartly avoided.
Well perhaps a bit of an idealistic take on our home and native land.  "Political dialogue in Canada is marked by civility, modesty, honesty, collegiality, and idealism that have pretty much disappeared on the U.S. airwaves."  is a slightly rosy view.  I'd recommend Kennedy check out the writings and rantings of Ezra Levant or Lorne Gunter's disappointed snarl at the CRTC decision  and he'd find we have our own homegrown ideologues, raving bigots, demagogues and fools with major media soap boxes.

The difference is that they don't have anywhere near the profile someone like Glenn Beck can get, with no restriction at all on blatant partisan dishonesty on the airwaves.  Canada's false news law never stopped Mike Duffy from performing the kind of yeoman service to the Conservative Party that earned him his Senate seat, but it has resulted in the closest thing to a Glenn Beck in Canada being a loud mouthed Hockey announcer with horrible taste in suits almost universally considered to be little more than a rodeo clown.

Of course a law is useless unless it's enforced, so Canadians need to remember to hold our broadcasters to their legal obligations.  Sun TV will be pushing against that boundary every day its on the air, lets make sure their legal department earns their money responding to CRTC complaints every time they do.

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