Monday, February 26, 2007
Checking to see if this blog works okay on the "New Blogger," before I switch all my blogs to WordPress.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
2/26/2007 06:41:00 PM [+]
Garth Turner, I'm proud of you.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
You didn't back down, but kept telling the truth, as much and as often as you could.
Because you (unlike your quote/unquote "conservative" associates) actually believe in democracy. You believe in open government. You believe that members of parliament are "we the people's" EMPLOYEES, not our rulers.
Because THAT is what this has been about, from the very beginning. Make no mistake, this is about the undercutting of democracy, which every party would naturally love to do (to stay in power), but which the current Cons, most especially, have been trying to do since they swamped and destroyed (by double-voting among other things) the REAL, Progressive, Conservative party in Canada.
One of the first things Stephen Harper the wannabe-Dictator tried to do when he took power was muzzle the press.
He tried to muzzle Canada's army leaders.
He tried to muzzle his own caucus members.
Even one of Harper's ministers threatened the job of a government employee for speaking in public about a work of fiction about global warming!
The Harper crowd has been, from the very first moment, and LONG before they took powe, ALL. ABOUT. SECRECY. All about making sure that WE THE PEOPLE do not know what they're up to, until they (condescending dictators, all) deign to inform us what THEY think we should know, not what we are entitled to know as their employers.
As Bill Moyers has said in the past, "Real news is what the people in power don't want you to know. Everything else is just a press release." And Garth Turner, as a believer in actual democracy, knows that what the Harper crowd doesn't want us to know, is exactly what we SHOULD know.
As John Philpot Curran wrote in 1790, "The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; and which condition if he break;
servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."
One of the first things a political party will do, when they're trying to do away with democracy, is GO SECRET. Therefore, since that is the hallmark of everything Harper's crowd has done since well before day one, the most important thing we can possibly do is be vigilant. Dig out every tiny little secret they're harbouring, and expose all of them to the light of vigilance, and watch them try to scurry away and hide back under the slimy rocks. And NOT. LET. THEM.
This is why I'm proud of Garth Turner. He's not letting them. I would love to think that the backstabbing which the Cons have done on this man of great integrity would horrify real Progressive Conservatives, and all the citizens of Canada, so badly that we throw these anti-democratic monsters back into the abyss whence they came, in the next election (sooner, if we could do it). And that more real Progressive Conservative members leave that hellish caucus, voluntarily, and tell tales.
Go here to keep up with Garth Turner's news: The Turner Report. And in the name of Chuck Cadman, Mr. Turner – good luck, and more power to you!
10/19/2006 12:50:00 PM [+]
These are my people
Friday, December 30, 2005
When I heard about the shootings of the Amish schoolgirls, I knew they were in Pennsylvania, but it was only yesterday that I realized that the community is located in Lancaster County. I was already shocked by the shootings, but hearing the name "Lancaster County" just stabbed me right to the core.
I know that name very well, even though I've never been there. My own Mennonite ancestors settled there – one of them built a mill there – before they moved to the Kitchener-Waterloo area of Ontario, whence one lone man journeyed to Alberta and became my great-grandfather at the beginning of the 20th century. Until six years ago, I knew almost nothing about my predecessors, except three things: 1) in government birth records, my family is officially designated as "Swiss;" 2) my grandfather's middle name was "Weber," which was his mom's maiden name; and 3) the family originally settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, before my branch moved up to Ontario.
I now know all of my direct ancestral connections back to 1737, when a large number of Mennonites came to Lancaster County from Switzerland, and settled there together. The various branches had dispersed a lot since then, as have their theological beliefs as well as their degrees of involvement in the world. But I cannot imagine that the community at Nickel Mines, PA, was so completely independent and separate that they don't descend from those original groups of Mennonites who settled that area.
Which means – those are my relatives. Very very distantly, and multiple times removed, but they are my cousins, even so. It doesn't mean I wouldn't have cared about them if we weren't related, but there's a sudden element of "family" in my head, now, that I never expected. I think of those dear little girls, and suddenly I see my own nieces when they were little, or my cousins' daughters when they were. These are my cousins' daughters.
What makes things worse is that this community believed – and will still believe – several things that are beautiful and admirable, things we should strive for in our own lives. As this CBC article describes (Funerals for Amish girls shot at school begin), the people of Nickel Mines, PA, believe you should not answer violence with violence, but with love and forgiveness. Gandhi would probably recognize those beliefs, don't you think? They are very powerful. And hard to live up to, but these people try.
Another belief these people hold is that members of a community help each other in times of trouble. For this reason, they don't have health insurance. For most health issues, this community attitude stands them in good stead: they live in health and illness, taking care of each other, every family helping out all the other families, and receiving help in turn when they need it. This is what community is supposed to be, and it's something the rest of us seem to have lost, for the most part.
But because of this belief – and because of the intrusion of our sick and violent world into theirs – they now have several little girls in the hospital, critically wounded. And they HAVE NO HEALTH INSURANCE.
There is no way this community is going to be able to afford the costs of care for these children as they recover – if they recover. No matter how much the families pull together to help each other.
Except. Mennonites of other branches of belief are also pulling together to help them. They may be separated by bits of theology and custom and involvement in the world, but they know these people are still their family. Just like they are mine. The Mennonite Central Committee are gathering funds to send to their brothers and sisters in distress, on this website: MDS and MCC offer support to Amish community in wake of shooting.
This is not only restricted to Mennonite contributors, however. Anyone can donate. I'd like to see non-Mennonites from all over the place help out these people, to show them that in the end, we think they're right – it's best not to reward hatred with hatred, or violence with violence. And maybe to show them that we in the outside world are not all bad, and even if they feel they can't live in the society with us, we are still, after all, part of their human family. It would be a great thing to share with them, don't you think?
10/05/2006 11:24:00 AM [+]
As partial fulfillment of my promise to publish the British "al-Jazeera Memo" and other documents that the anti-democracy Blair government is trying to quash so their people won't know what illegal, unethical, and immoral skulduggery they've been up to (and have been supporting when the Americans do it), I publish the following materials. They are taken from the Blairwatch blog, and from the blog of Craig Murray.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
As the Talent Show blog describes him: "Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray is defying a gag-order and publishing torture memos on his blog relating to the coordination between the Uzbek, British, and American governments." So the man's got credentials out the wazoo. And apparently, the Brits have tried to suppress his site already in the last few days. So it's important that the information get onto as many places as possible. Here it is, as I received it from Blairwatch:
*Calling All Bloggers: These Documents need publishing *
The UK government has been quick to deny that we practice, or tolerate
the practice of Torture. So it is perhaps not suprising that they are
determined that you should not see the following documents:
Craig Murray was the UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, until his complaints and protest at the use of inteligence gained by torture got too much for Jack Straw and the Foreign Office, who set about attempting to unsuccessfully smear him, and to successfully remove him from office.
The Foreign Office has had the draft of Craig's book for clearance for over 3 months now, and they are doing everything they can to try and prevent him from publishing his side of the story. Their latest attempt to cover their own backs was to inform him, the night before Christmas Eve, that these two documents cannot be published, and that he was to return or destroy all copies immediately.
What are these documents?
The first document is a series of Telegrams that Craig sent to the Foreign Office, outlining his growing concern and disgust at our use of intelligence passed to the UK by the Uzbek security services.
The second document is a copy of legal advice the Foreign Office sought, to see if they were operating within the Law in accepting torture intelligence, and according to Michael Wood the FCO legal adviser; it is fine, as long as it is not used as evidence.
Faced with this heavy handed censorship by the FCO, in an attempt to cover up our use of and complicity in torture, Craig has decided to fight back, and has asked us all to publish this information, so it cannot be suppressed.
I am in discussion with the FCO over what I am and am not allowed to publish in my book. The FCO is seeking to gut the book of all evidence of complicity with the Uzbek regime.
With Bliar cornered on extraordinary rendition, they are particularly anxious to suppress all evidence of our complicity in obtaining intelligence from Uzbek torture.
In particular, they have demanded I do not publish the attached documents, and that I hand over all copies of them.
The obvious answer to this is to post these documents as widely on the web as possible. This is also potentially very valuable in establishing that I am not attempting to make money from these documents - you don't have to buy my book to see them, they are freely available. If you buy the book, you are only paying for the added value of my thoughts.
This will only work if we can get the [documents] very widely posted, including on sites in the US and elsewhere outside the UK ... there is a chance that those who ... post this stuff will get threatened under the Official Secrets Act.
In March 2003 I was summoned back to London from Tashkent specifically for a meeting at which I was told to stop protesting. I was told specifically that it was perfectly legal for us to obtain and to use intelligence from the Uzbek torture chambers.
After this meeting Sir Michael Wood, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's legal adviser, wrote to confirm this position. This minute from Michael Wood is perhaps the most important document that has become public about extraordinary rendition. It is irrefutable evidence of the government's use of torture material, and that I was attempting to stop it. It is no wonder that the government is trying to suppress this.
Compare and Contrast the government's public position on Torture, with the information they were recieving at the time from their own Ambassador, and the legal advice they were seeking.
We have archived a selection of government spin and lies on the use of torture in these 4 pages:
and you can listen to Jack Straw and Tony Blair deny what you read in these hitherto 'secret' documents here.
What you can do:
We have published the documents in full here, and ask that anyone who can will do the same.
If you could publish, host and link to these documents on your own webspace, then it will be harder for anybody to be prosecuted here in the UK, and ensure that they get maximum coverage.
Craig Murray stood up for what many of us believe, and it cost him his Job, his health, and his professional reputation. The least we can do his stand by him as he defies the UK government's attempts at censorship, and possible prosecution.
Craig's own post on the subject can be found here:
Designated Driver's note: I'll try to actually put those documents up here or somewhere I can link to, this weekend. But I felt that at least a copy of Blairwatch's post needed to be mirrored, even if I can't get to the rest till later.
This is not just for the future of democracy. This is for my friend Richard, This Old Brit, who could risk prosecution if he published these vital documents in his country.
12/30/2005 09:35:00 AM [+]
Damn. And I thought Paul Cellucci was an un-diplomatic, un-ambassadorial busybody trying to interfere in Canadian affairs and trying to make us bend the knee and meekly obey his tantrum-throwing masters in Washington.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
But his replacement, David Wilkins, looks to be unbelievably worse. And boy, that's saying something.
In the Globe and Mail today, the article U.S. ambassador takes aim at Martin comments
The Bush administration issued a sharp, public rebuke Tuesday to Prime Minister Paul Martin for dragging the Canadian-U.S. relationship into the federal election campaign.
Ambassador David Wilkins said Canada risks damaging one of the world's best relationships by focusing on short-term political gain.
"It may be smart election-year politics to thump your chest and criticize your friend and your No. 1 trading partner constantly," Mr. Wilkins said in a speech to the Canadian Club at the historic Chateau Laurier Hotel, next door to Parliament Hill.
Mr. Martin, who touted a more mature relationship with the United States as one his priorities when he became prime minister in 2003, has been talking a hard line against Washington throughout this autumn's heated election run-up.
The prime minister has been particularly critical of the U.S. position on softwood lumber duties and failure to ratify the Kyoto accord on greenhouse gas emissions.
Mr. Wilkins, a long-time supporter and confidant of President George W. Bush, did not mention Mr. Martin by name in the speech, but left absolutely no doubt who he was targeting.
Less than a week after Mr. Martin raised hackles in Washington by specifically naming the United States for lacking a global conscience on climate change, Mr. Wilkins threw the words back at the prime minister.
There's more, ad nauseaum. Whine whine whine. And of course, lest we spit back at him that we are a sovereign nation that is perfectly entitled to criticize anything the damn Bushies do that directly affects us, Wilkins offers what the Bush crowd assumes is the Perpetual Excuse for them to demand instant and slavish obedience from, well, anybody in the world:
"Bottom line: Canada should understand that 9-11 forever changed my country," Mr. Wilkins said of the September 2001 terrorist attacks.
Oh, for gods' sake, Wilkins. Time to grow up and get over your damn selves. That handy dandy excuse ran out of currency pretty much the moment your country initiated its utterly unjustified and immoral aggression against Iraq. The 9/11 ice is so thin that you don't have many missteps left. And it certainly does not justify your targetting Canada. Period. EVER. Period.
But hold on a minute. The American regime criticizing *US* for criticizing them? Like we, whose entire country they are affecting by their actions, have no RIGHT to protest when their actions affect us adversely?
Let's do a little bit of reading, shall we, for fun? Look at this list:
Bush critical of Iran elections
Rumsfeld critical of nations delaying war
Rumsfeld's Acid Tongue Burns Europe, Making Compromise Tougher
Bush criticizes Putin on democracy's slide
Bush Criticizes EU Plans to Lift China Arms Embargo
Bush Criticizes Planned Taiwan Referendum
Bush criticizes Malaysian leader on his remarks
U.S. Criticizes China on Currency
Bush Criticizes Burma, Haiti on Drug Trafficking
U.S. criticizes Chavez for nuke ambitions
Bush criticizes Spanish pullout
Bush criticizes deal dividing Europe after WWII [Wow, they leave NO stone unturned, do they??]
President Bush criticizes Iran
Bush criticizes the Egyptian government attacks of peaceful demonstrators
Bush Criticizes Syria, Iran As Instable
Bush criticizes Zimbabwe regime
Bush criticizes Israeli settlement building
Rumsfeld criticizes Saudis, Jordan for wait-and-see stance on Iraq
Rumsfeld Criticizes Iran's President-elect as 'No Friend of Democracy'
Rumsfeld Criticizes Spain for Venezuela Weapons Sale
Rumsfeld Criticizes N.A.T.O. Members For Delaying Preparations To Defend Turkey [And yet, see below...]
Rumsfeld Criticizes Turks [Make up your damn mind, Don!]
Rumsfeld criticizes China's priorities
Rumsfeld criticizes nations trying to delay war
Rice criticizes Russian plan for crackdown
Rice Criticizes Iran on First Trip Abroad
Rice Criticizes Allies In Call for Democracy
Rice Criticizes Venezuelan President Chavez at Confirmation Hearing
Rice criticizes Israeli plans
CNN.com - Rice criticizes Syria at Mideast summit
Rice Criticizes Europe Over Secret Prisons Complaints
Rice Criticizes Saudi Regime over Jailed Activists
Rice criticizes Cairo on violence, justice
Okay, okay, I'll stop now. You can put away the vomit bucket.
One wonders if there is any country on the planet the American government WON'T criticize or HAVEN'T criticized.
And yet we Canadians are not ALLOWED to criticize American policies that DIRECTLY AFFECT US?
My first response to Wilkins, as well as to the Bush crowd's tantrum thrown last week on the same subject, was: If You Can't Take It, You Can Damn Well Stop Dishing It Out, Morons!
But I've come to prefer a different response instead: FUCK OFF.
And now let's toss Wilkins out of our country.
12/13/2005 04:04:00 PM [+]
On the campaign trail, Prime Minister Paul Martin announced in Toronto today that his government would ban handguns in Canada, and institute some other measures as well, in response to the rise in gun crime. (I know there's been a terrible rise in Toronto in the past year; according to some of the news reports about Martin's announcement, the increase has occurred in other Canadian cities as well.)
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
In this Globe and Mail article, some of the Liberal proposals are outlined, such as putting $325-million into law enforcement, creation of a gun amnesty program and money for communities, as well as hiring more officers to stem gun smuggling and gang activity, and reintroducing legislation raising sentences for gun crimes.
The article goes on to mention hiring 75 officers specifically to work on gun smuggling, but doesn't add any details.
However, there is a slightly more specific mention in this Liberal party press release:
Investments to stem illegal smuggling of firearms into Canada, including $40 million over 5 years to hire 75 additional specialized officers in the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to increase intelligence and surveillance.
This doesn't explicitly mention the American border, but what else could it plausibly mean? Are guns being smuggled into Canada through the Arctic, from Russia? Coming in on container ships to Vancouver, from China?
No, this means the United States, which is so big on guns to begin with, and whose gung-ho entrepreneurs never miss a chance to make a million bucks, no matter how illegal or harmful. Martin is clearly talking about preventing gun smuggling from the United States of America, which has very suddenly facilitated a big gun violence problem in Canada.
This is undoubtedly a signal for U.S. Ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins (who possesses all the political neutrality and tact of his predecessor, which is really saying something), to launch yet another "Oh sure, we bring the guns in, but we don't make you actually shoot them so it's all your fault for picking the things up and using them after we've sold them to you, nyah!" screed.
12/08/2005 01:33:00 PM [+]
I love this so much. Look at this entry on the Conservative Voice website. That site is urging its readers to boycott stores like Target and Federated Department Stores (and there've been boycotts against, of all stores, Wal-Mart as well).
And why is it doing this? Why are right wing Christians [sic] so eager to boycott stores this holiday season? Because these stores are being inclusive in their holiday greetings, not insisting that everyone is celebrating Christmas at this time of year. In other words, the stores are recognizing that as well as Christmas, people are celebrating Hannukah and Kwanzaa.
Jerry Falwell and his ilk, as well, are threatening law suits (ah, that favorite American pastime and strong-arming tactic!) against anyone who denies Christians [sic] their right [sic] to ram Christmas down everyone's throats. Bill O'Reilly, the American Family Association, oh, the whole fascist gang is participating.
I actually couldn't care less if the word "Christmas" was plastered all over everything. Put it everywhere, I don't care, as long as you plaster "Diwali" around during that festival, wish people a "Happy Eid" at the end of Ramadan, and so on. Let's recognize ALL festivals, and agree that they are valuable to those believers who celebrate them.
But do you get the real meaning behind the fundies' shrieking about Christmas? Are you catching what they're actually up to, when they threaten to boycott all these stores for not saying "Merry Christmas"?
They are threatening not to participate in the annual orgy of materialism UNLESS IT IS EXPLICITLY TIED TO THE NAME OF JESUS.
They don't want Christmas associated with giving to the poor and promoting peace in the world. They don't want their sacred festival recognized by the rest of us who don't actually celebrate it. They want to force it on us, force us to actually believe it (whether we really believe it or not!), ram it into schools, trumpet it from public platforms, and most importantly of all, they want it trumpeted IN THE DEPARTMENT STORES.
Defending their religious festival? Not for a second. Defending their materialist orgy in the name of Jesus? Oh yeah.
Wonder what Jesus would think of that, huh?
12/07/2005 04:46:00 PM [+]
A couple of stories have come out in the last weeks that indicate, yet again, how tyrannical and outright oppressive the right wing (and especially the Religious Right) have no become, in the United States.
Remember those principles of democracy, when it comes to matters of opinion and belief? Those principles which state that everyone is entitled to their opinion, everyone is entitled to dissent from a majority-held opinion, and everyone is entitled to ask questions, most especially of The Authorities?
Those principles don't apply in Kansas, apparently.
First, this article:
University Cancels Class on Creationism
TOPEKA, Kan. - A University of Kansas course devoted to debunking creationism and intelligent design has been canceled after the professor caused a furor by sending an e-mail mocking Christian fundamentalists.
Twenty-five students had enrolled in the course, "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and Other Religious Mythologies," which had been scheduled for the spring.
Mirecki recently posted an e-mail on a student organization forum in which he referred to religious conservatives as "fundies" and said a course depicting intelligent design as mythology would be a "nice slap in their big fat face."
He later apologized, and did so again Thursday in a statement issued by the university.
Granted, the guy was an idiot to make his private opinions so public, given the vicious nature of the FUNDIES (I call them that too, because I was one and I know exactly what they're like). He had to know they'd set their guns blazing at him. But he's as entitled to his opinions, privately and publically, as the FUNDIES are entitled to broadcast, equally in public, that they think people like him are "liberal traitors."
No double standard there, huh? They can broadcast their enraged opinions about him and people like him, from any private, public, government, corporate or other official bully pulpit they please, but the very instant he makes his own opinions about them known, they create a "furor" that actually forces the cancellation of his course. A course which was going to supply "the other side" of the creationist/intelligent [sic] design [sic] arguments. (Hey. They scream all the time about "balance," don't they?? I guess it's only "balanced" when no voice is heard but theirs, eh?)
But they didn't stop there, nosirreebob. See this follow-up:
Kan. Professor Attacked Along Rural Road
LAWRENCE, Kan. - A college professor whose planned course on creationism and intelligent design was canceled after he derided Christian conservatives said he was beaten by two men along a rural road early Monday.
University of Kansas religious studies professor Paul Mirecki said the men referred to the class when they beat him on the head, shoulders and back with their fists, and possibly a metal object [emphasis mine], the Lawrence Journal-World reported.
An online friend of mine sums it all up very accurately and concisely, I think: God Is Love, Motherfucker!
Nothing says "Christian charity" like smackin' a perfessor upside the head, I reckon.
12/07/2005 12:26:00 PM [+]
Peter MacKay's word is as reliable as ever
Last night, on the CBC news satire program, "This Hour Has 22 Minutes," there was a funny little clip where the interview character played by Gavin Crawford talked to Conservative [sic] MP Peter MacKay about the ongoing Canadian federal election. MacKay remarked that this was the first time in history that a Canadian government had been judged and defeated on the basis of corruption.
Um, Peter? This shows that you are not, in fact, an inheritor of the Progressive Conservative tradition. It also shows that you need to learn some Canadian history!
Note this entry from Bartleby.com's Columbia Encyclopedia:
1873, a major event in Canadian political history. Charges were made in Parliament that the Conservative administration of Sir John A. Macdonald had accepted campaign funds from Sir Hugh Allan in return for a promise to award Allan's syndicate the contract to build the Canadian Pacific Railway. Macdonald's statement that the contract and the contributions were unconnected was received with skepticism. Donald A. Smith (later Lord Strathcona) broke with Macdonald over the crisis and through his publicly expressed lack of confidence in Macdonald was partly responsible for the Conservative administration’s downfall. The government was forced to resign because of the scandal, and the Conservative party was badly defeated in the ensuing elections.
That's a nice little summary. Already we can see parallels between the Conservatives' rewarding of Hugh Allan's company with a big contract in exchange for campaign funds, and the modern Liberals' awarding of contracts to publicity firms in exchange for kickbacks.
But look at the first paragraph from the Wikipedia entry on the same subject (emphasis mine):
The Pacific scandal involves the allegations of bribes being taken by Canada's Conservative government of Sir John A. Macdonald. As part of British Columbia's agreement to join the Confederation of Canada, the government had agreed to build the Canadian Pacific Railway, a transcontinental railway linking the Pacific province to the eastern provinces.
Hmmmm! Not merely awarding contracts in exchange for funding and kickbacks. But all for the purpose of keeping a specific big province appeased, indeed, keeping that province a part of Confederation!
Sound familiar, Peter??
The man, as always, has a very loose association with truth. Or else he has absolutely no knowledge of Canadian history, especially when he tries to make historical claims that prove what a bunch of nasties the Liberals are in contrast to his Conservatives [sic] who are (of course!) pure as the driven snow.
Not so, Peter! Federal governmental corruption rests, alas, on a long-standing tradition in Canada. And it started with Canada's very first federal government -- the CONSERVATIVES.
12/07/2005 10:15:00 AM [+]