Wednesday, June 29, 2011

SUN Host complains about being bullied for bullying a guest

In the 'willing to dish it out but not willing to take it' department we have Sun Host Krista Erickson who's revolting 'interview' with dancer Margie Gillis included belligerent and abusive behaviour including shouting Gillis down, refusing to let her answer - the frankly inane - questions Erickson asked and the juvenile mockery of Gillis's artistic career exemplified by her bizarre arm flapping gyrations would be an utter embarrassment for a real journalist.  Erickson is probably proud of her performance.

It has however, sparked the most complaints in the history of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, over 2000 at the time of writing.  The council is plaintively begging people to stop sending them in as they're overwhelmed.

Now I hate to call any woman a vacuous tart, even one who is actively promoted as such, The Sun chain's idea of how to promote her as the journalistic face of  Fox News North SunTV was to make her one of their Sunshine Girls. 

I feel the need to stress that I'm not kidding about that.

She's been whining about being 'bullied' by the many artists and ordinary Canadians who have robustly expressed how utterly she embarrassed herself by her moronic performance. 

She's also very indignant on behalf of the poor harassed conservative politicians 'bullied' into supporting art projects they don't believe in by the aggressive hordes of scary artists

Once again the right wing tendency to paint anyone pushing back against their bullying as the aggressor.  Always an amusing display of cowardice, whining and hypocrisy.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Toronto Police Swear off Kettling

Toronto police will never again use the controversial crowd control technique known as kettling, which was employed for the first and last time in the city’s history during last year’s G20 summit.
The decision was revealed to the Star in a police statement Tuesday, along with the information that two Toronto police superintendents were “responsible” for commanding and controlling G20 policing in the city outside the security fence.
On June 27, the final day of the G20 summit, some 300 protesters and bystanders were boxed in, or kettled, by riot police at Queen St. and Spadina Ave. for about four hours.
Not long after the enclosure, rain began to fall in torrents as some stood shivering in summer dresses and tank tops.
“The crowd control technique implemented at Queen & Spadina on June 27 will not be used again by the Toronto Police Service,” spokeswoman Meaghan Gray said in the statement, a response to a list of G20-related questions sent by the Star.
They won't concede it was a mistake to use it at the G20 - being the subject of numerous legal actions that's hardly surprising - but they claim they never plan to use the tactic again,

On the one hand, good that public pressure has made the police bend on a widely condemned policing tactic, but it also just seems like they're throwing the public a bone to try to evade responsibility for the police riot that victimized so many.

And what about other police forces?  Will the RCMP and the major city forces across Canada also disavow the tactic?

UPDATE: Another thought, as the tactic was literally found illegal by British courts and the British police now face potentially millions in court costs from lawsuits from those it was used against before being outlawed, perhaps the police simply want to avoid the tactics legality being considered by a court.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Guilty of Bribery

Not just bribery, but bribery with the goal of avoiding compensating poverty stricken villagers they had poisoned.
A Calgary energy company pleaded guilty on Friday to bribing a foreign government official six years ago.

Niko Resources Ltd. is an oil and gas producer with operations in Southeast Asia.

The firm was charged under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.

Company officials admitted in a Calgary court that the firm bribed a Bangladeshi government minister in 2005 following a blowout at one of its fields.

The company provided a vehicle and free trips to Canada and the U.S. to the government official who was in charge of how much nearby villagers would be compensated by Niko for the blowout.

Both the Crown and defence lawyers are recommending a fine and victim surcharge amounting to almost $9.5 million.
Their CEO was the highest paid executive in Canada last year.  Someone should do a study on the linkages between executive compensation and corporate cultures of corruption.

Resolved: It's funny when bad things happen to bad people

THE CANADIAN PRESS — Conrad Black's ailing wife collapsed in shock Friday as the disgraced former media baron, his impassioned plea for leniency falling on deaf ears, was ordered by a U.S. judge to serve several more months behind bars.

Barbara Amiel, who suffers from an autoimmune condition and arrived at the courthouse looking fragile and unwell, keeled over moments after Justice Amy St. Eve revised Black's sentence to a total of 42 months.

"I still scratch my head as to why you engaged in this conduct," St. Eve told Black as she delivered the news to stunned onlookers during a moment of high courtroom drama.

"Good luck to you."

Having already spent 29 months in jail, and with additional credit for good behaviour, Black is now expected to spend between eight and 13 more months behind bars.

"How did this happen?"

The always classy Glenn Beck prepares to end his TV run with as much class and sensitivity as he's always shown.
Glenn Beck said Thursday that he will be visiting the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz in a visit to Poland, and he'll broadcast a special from a town outside of the camp because this will help him "figure out," he says, "how did this happen?
How did it happen?  It happened because people listened to a blow hard, right wing demagogue promoting fear, resentment, eliminationism and conspiracy theories.  Does that answer your question Glenn?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Peanut Gallery

The Conservative Heritage Minister Jason Moore and Liberal Party Leader Bob Rae apparently have nothing better to do but hang around the fringes of the NDP convention kvetching.  They both have observer status and are using it to repeat stale old stereotypes.
 VANCOUVER — The NDP’s proposal to drop the word socialism is only a cosmetic change and the party is as radical as ever, Conservative MP James Moore said Saturday.
Moore, who is also the heritage minister, was an observer at the NDP’s national convention in Vancouver where delegates plan to debate scrapping the word “socialism” from the party’s constitution on Sunday.
“It’s cosmetic, it doesn’t mean anything,” Moore said. “What matters are policies. . . . And the policies here clearly take the NDP further to the left on issues like employment insurance. Forty-five day work year? . . . Canadians know that these simplistic solutions to complicated policy items are the hallmark of the hard left and that is what the NDP is proposing here,” he said.
Bob Rae confined himself to pointing out the NDP should just do what Liberals do; talk about how great it would be to propose government make positive changes in Canadian's lives - but we can't be trusted because we actually mean it!
“What is happening here, many of these resolutions we may agree with . . . but it is the sum of these resolutions that is completely, completely, unrealistic if you consider the situation in which the world economy is and where Canada is, where we need a lot of fiscal discipline, which is something that we Liberals are able to provide but the NDP at the federal level, doesn’t have this sense of responsibility,” Dion said.

NDP leader Jack Layton told Postmedia News Friday that the party really needed to tackle the stereotype that it was a bad fiscal manager.
“Our opponents like to try to suggest that, for example, we would run up deficits and that sort of things, actually the biggest deficit ever run up was by Mr. Harper not by the NDP. And Second, the NDP, when we’ve had the opportunity to be the government in different parts of the country, we have the best record of any party in balancing the budgets,” Layton said, noting “there were a couple of exceptions.”
“Bob Rae was clearly an exception — he’s now leading the Liberal party,” Layton said.
Like Ghandi said: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Friday, June 10, 2011

Austerity for thee, but not for me

Senior Conservative officials broke federal rules to shower $50-million on the riding of the minister now overseeing Ottawa’s austerity plan, according to the final audit of a G8 program that fuelled opposition charges of pork-barrel politics.

In her last report, Auditor-General Sheila Fraser said the funding for the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund was approved by Parliament under the guise of a border initiative. The money was then distributed to projects in the riding of Treasury Board President Tony Clement without any input from civil servants, in a clear breach of federal policies dealing with transparency and accountability.

Tories respond to Auditor-General's G8 findings “It is very unusual and troubling. There is no paper trail behind the selection of the 32 projects,” said John Wiersema, the interim Auditor-General who recently took over from a retired Ms. Fraser. “I, personally, in my career in auditing, have not encountered a situation like that.”


The report provides embarrassing ammunition to Mr. Clement’s critics, who noted that his main task at the moment is to find wasteful spending as part of efforts to bring down the annual federal budget by $4-billion.

“That’s rich,” said NDP deputy leader Thomas Mulcair. “When we see that he’s the most wasteful spender in the history of the Canadian government since the sponsorship scandal.”

NDP MP Charlie Angus called the program a “slush fund for pork-barrel projects” in Mr. Clement’s riding.

As the government started seeking approval for the fund in Parliament in 2009, it buried the initiative in a larger $83-million item identified as the “Border Infrastructure Fund.” As such, when Parliament approved the funding, “the request only indicated that money was to be used.
Albertans will be familiar with the brand of politics; billions spent on paving dirt roads in sparsely populated but reliably Conservative rural ridings.  Giant state of the art hospitals for small town Alberta while in Calgary one of the few remaining hospitals left is blown up in a festive ceremonial atmosphere.

Get used to it folks, rewarding their supporters and punishing anyone with the temerity to vote against them is practically the Conservative raison d'ĂȘtre

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Fetus Fetishist Abduction Fantasy

Current Republican Senatorial candidate and former New Jersey judge (!) Kenneth Del Vecchio who runs a sideline as a maker of right wing, religious themed straight to video movies is releasing a pro-life suspense thriller where the 'hero' kidnaps three women planning to have abortions and holds them prisoner for months until their pregnancies are carried to term.
The movie, called "The Life Zone," was produced by Del Vecchio's "Justice For All Productions," and is premiering Saturday at the Hoboken Film Festival in Teaneck, N.J. A press release describes the festival as "one of the nation's largest film festivals, which Del Vecchio founded and chairs."

From the release:

The controversial premise of THE LIFE ZONE: three women have been kidnapped from abortion clinics and are being held for seven months--until they all give birth. The film, which appears to cut right down the middle, examining the topic from both sides, offers a powerful, anti-abortion climactic twist.
The press release also invites pro-lifers specifically to come check out this "historic event."
In the spirit of right-wing genre films, the preview is rather hokey, opening with an old man in the shadows saying in a scary, scratchy voice: "You have all committed a terrible sin." He later tells the three kidnapped women via video conference ('cause what's scarier than that?): "I am your jailer."

It may seem a tad ill-advised to make a pro-life movie where the heroes are creepy kidnappers, but "The Life Zone" preview attempts to counter this with some dialogue gems like: "You were all on the operating table, all ready to commit murder ... Your babies will be given life just as God planned."
So like Saw, if the crazed serial killer was a religious fanatic presented as the 'hero'.

The pathology on display is quite revealing about the anti-choice mindset.

Monday, June 06, 2011

A convicted felon with delusions of grandeur

That it was published in the paper that used to be his own personal Hearstian plaything and vanity project must add insult to the injury of this damning report:
Conrad Black was not the model prisoner depicted by his legal team, rather he “projected the attitude that he was better than others” and treated some of his fellow inmates “like servants,” according to documents filed by the U.S. government in court.

In two affidavits sworn by a unit manager and an education specialist at Coleman Federal Correctional prison in Florida, where Lord Black spent 29 months, the former media baron is depicted as a haughty inmate and an uninspired tutor.

“Black initially demanded special treatment, expecting counsellors to prioritize his requests over those of other inmates,” said Tammy Padgett, the unit manager of Lord Black’s prison ward.

“During the time that Black was at Coleman, I observed that he gathered a following of inmates who performed services for him, acting like servants,” she said in a two-page affidavit filed by U.S. prosecutors in advance of a June 24 re-sentencing hearing.

“These inmates cooked for Black, cleaned for him, mopped his floor, ironed his clothes and other similar tasks. This is not at all frequent at Coleman.”
“Based on my interactions with Black, he projected the attitude that he was better than the others in the class, both faculty and students,” Ms. De LaGarza said in her affidavit. “A lot of the inmates looked up to him, and there were some who saluted him each day in class.”
Lord Black’s lawyers have asked the trial judge to release Lord Black for time served.

According to Ms. Padgett, Lord Black’s case manager while in prison noted that on the day before the Canadian-born businessman was released on bail, he told her in “words to the effect of, ‘I believe I should be addressed as Lord Black from this point forward.’ ” Apparently, the case manager refused.
Like Al Capone in his furnished luxury cell stuffing bills into guards pockets when they delivered his cigars.  Another petty, sleazy, grubby little criminal who thinks he still is owed the respect of the peons.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

War of Words

The Republican Party is trying to censor people who call the Republican plan to end Medicare a Republican plan to end Medicare.
Attention, people, this is important: The battle over whether it’s true that the Republican plan would “end Medicare” is about to play out in a critical way in New Hampshire.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, which oversees House races for the GOP, has written a sharply-worded letter demanding that a New Hampshire TV station yank an ad making that claim. Whether the ad gets taken down could help set a precedent for whether other stations will air Dem TV ads making this argument, which is expected to be a central message for Dems in the 2012 elections.
The TV station has thankfully declined:
The liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee has won a round against the National Republican Congressional Committee -- with the liberal group turning back an effort to get an ad targeting Republican proposals on Medicare pulled from broadcast.
Replacing a program of direct government payments to senior's doctors with a voucher program to get seniors to buy their  own - more expensive - private health insurance unambiguously ends the current Medicare program and replaces it with something that is neither THE Medicare program or even A Medicare program.  That's a government market support program for the private insurance industry. An industry that coincidentally has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the Republican Party and Republican candidates.

If a political party ever gets to dictate what is allowed to be said based on whether it conflicts with their own deceptive rhetoric that means giving them control over defining consensus reality itself.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The World Turned Upside Down

CANADA PRESS -- OTTAWA - A new poll suggests New Democrats appear to have consolidated their support as official Opposition to the Harper Conservatives, particularly among women and urban voters.

As a new Parliament opens following the May 2 election, the Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey suggests the majority Conservative government has the support of 37 per cent of respondents -- down from the Tories' 39.6 per cent of the popular vote on election day.

NDP support stood at 34 per cent in the poll, up from 30.6 per cent of the popular vote, while the third-place Liberals slipped to 15 per cent in the survey, a loss of almost four percentage points from their election day total.
In other words Canadian progressives have internalized the new reality and the traditional polling position between the Liberals and the NDP has been almost completely reversed. 
A lot of progressive voters who voted Liberal because they believed the constant hype that they had no choice are now firm NDP supporters and if we can retain and expand on that support the NDP is now the opposition party with as legitimate a shot at forming government in the future as the Liberals ever had - more so because we haven't utterly burned our bridges in Quebec the way the Liberal Party has.
It's going to be very entertaining to watch all the smoking gears from rhetorical 180's as various Liberal supporters provide tortured or non-existent rationales for why it was always very, very wrong for the NDP to try to supplant the Liberals as official opposition and government in waiting but not for the third party Liberals to be spoilers in the future.
The international example is that once a centrist party loses its aura of inevitability that it will always be either the government or the opposition - it never comes back.  If people want to vote for a right wing party they will vote for a real right wing party, if they want to vote for a progressive party they vote for a real one. 

The fate of a centrist power brokerage party with no firm positions or philosophical underpinning once it drops to third party status the first time is to be squeezed out of existence going forward.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Stoking Fear

Salon has an interesting piece about the strange obsession of Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report with tracking down and hyping stories of violence between whites and blacks:
In an era when urban white flight is reversing and violent crime is at record lows across the nation, this world of race riots and constant violent attacks on innocent Caucasians exists only in the imaginations of Matt Drudge and the paranoid suburban and exurban white people he wants to keep terrified. Stoking those racial fears goes beyond cynical political point-scoring. To devote so much energy to attempting to make whites terrified of blacks is just vile.
Speaking of Christie Blatchford...
Christie Blatchford's columns will soon be back in the pages of the National Post, parent company Postmedia news network announced on Wednesday.

Veteran journalist Christie Blatchford is joining Postmedia News, which will see her columns return to the National Post. Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press

The veteran journalist will begin her new job on June 13, as a national columnist for the newspaper she previously wrote for from 1998 to 2003. She will also file stories for other Postmedia outlets, such as The Vancouver Sun and Ottawa Citizen.

The Quebec-born writer, who has worked for Toronto's four major daily newspapers, is "a game changer in the world of journalism," company president Paul Godfrey said in a statement.

"People who love her, and even those few who don't, always read her."
Good to know her hard hitting and long running series on all the Scary Violent Dark People who scorn the law and menace defenseless peace loving caucasians will have a venue...


Former BC Liberal Party leader Gordon Gibson's column in the Mop and Pail today is an excellent example of the essential policy incoherence and inherent cognitive dissonance that are the core features of neo-liberalism's Canadian strain.

He correctly identifies the essential problems of the Canadian Liberal Party; the impression that they stand for nothing and the generation of squabbling internecine battles and jockeying for power and influence that have hollowed the party out. He suggests they need to stand for something again, for policies that will make them stand out from the other parties.

Where to find unique policies? The obvious places are the “third rails” of politics, the ones others fear to touch. These are things like our drug policy (insane), our prison policy (likewise), our immigration policy (revolutionizing Canada on an ongoing basis without debate), democratic reform, the importance of supporting Canadian culture, a leadership of ideas (not cash) in things that matter to ordinary people like health and education, a focus on the young (who are the future) instead of the old (who are the past, but have the votes), aboriginal policy (an ignored disgrace) and so on.
So these are the supposed policy areas where the Liberals can endeavour to stand out from the NDP who Gibson identifies as the target the Liberals should be focusing on, (Remember all the whining from Liberals over the years that the NDP was being mean to them instead of going after the Conservatives? - We're about to see how purely a projection that was based on how they play the game now that they're the third party.) they are without exception, areas where the NDP has consistently been out in front of the Liberals and seeking progressive change while the Liberals have dragged their feet at best and been openly obstructive at worst.

What distinction do they plan to draw? Making promises and critiques in direct variance from their own governing record is hardly a new and innovative Liberal approach.

"...a leadership of ideas (not cash) in things that matter to ordinary people like health and education"
Classic. The usual neoliberal implication that all it will take is 'new ideas' to fix these services and proposing new spending doesn't qualify. Of course the reality is that ideas about fixing programs like healthcare are all about funding decisions, the false economies of cutting or scrimping on costs now VS the long term fixes and savings that often involve large initial investments.

Healthcare waiting times for instance; we know that the silver bullet fix for wait times and ballooning acute care costs is to massively expand long term care space. We know that spending the money now to get elderly Canadians with long term medical needs out of hospital beds, and too often hospital hallways and into extended care spaces is how you solve waiting times and reduce acute care health costs in the long term because we have an excellent example of such a policy providing these benefits in the UK.

The Tony Blair Labour government did a lot of things wrong, from slavish support of the Bush administration's quagmires in the Middle East to a pandering and reactionary approach to criminal justice that demonized youth and turned the British people into one of the most surveiled populations on Earth to name just two examples. On healthcare however, they instituted long term fixes with long term benefits, and they did so by 'throwing money at the problem' and opening thousands of extended care spaces.

But neoliberals are still trapped in a stale 'Keep starving the state and scrambling for so-called innovative new ideas to compensate for it' paradigm. A failed model that has long since reached its limit for even minimal effectiveness. The real third rail, the real 'dangerous idea' that a political party can use to distinguish themselves from the others is to take the lumps for speaking an unwelcome truth about the unsustainable and irresponsible trickle down revenue collection policies inherent in years of tax giveaways to corporations and the ultrawealthy by both Conservatives and the Liberals.

That's the third rail Gibson and the Liberal Party show no interest in touching, dooming them to the roadkill in the middle of the road fate he warns of.

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