"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Saturday, June 06, 2009

sunday papers

  • At last a lazy morning to peruse the news and what to my wondering eyes does appear but Stephen Harper's scofflaw government getting its arse handed to it yet again for it unmitigated bullshittery in the case of  Abousfian Abdelrazik.  The spooks at CSIS are looking worse and worse in this and other cases too, with the judge ruling that CSIS had Abdelrazik picked up by the Sudanese, knowing he would be tortured. Thomas Walkom has a good column on the pattern of the Harper government flouting the law when it comes to sucking up to the U.S. over their war on the human rights of people they don't like, and the Mop & Pail has an editorial to the same effect.
  • A nicely done, but depressing piece in the Toronto Star on how Ontario schools are shafting problem kids. It's the start of a series, so stay tuned.
  • Canadians may not want an election this summer, but the pollsters say two-thirds of us want someone other than the Conservatives in charge
  • The conservatives are proposing mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes and idiot Liberals having swallowed the "we must not look soft on crime" bait, are going to back them. This didn't work when Ronald Reagan introduced it in the '80s - it led to the current situation in which the United States jails five times as many people as that paragon of anarchic freedom, The People Republic of China.  Being wrong is apparently no reason to change your approach so the Conservatives will keep blowing holes in the bottom of the boat, hoping this one will finally let the the water out.
  • Because being in Stephen Harper's Cabinet means never being able to say you made a mistake. Maybe there's a 26-year-old aide somewhere that Harper can pin the economy on.
  • The last time this happened, I ended up moving to Japan to find a job. Guess what? They aren't hiring over here either this time.
  • Virgina now hip-deep in crazy, with levels not yet at peak: Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee address a crowd of the faithful at Rock Church in Virgina Beach, causing even the Iranian Ayatollahs and Israeli ultra-orthodox Zionists to agree on something at last - Many Americans are clearly as mentally impaired as rodents found in lavatories. Some highlights of the speeches:
    "The notion that we are just one of many among equals is nonsense," Huckabee said. The United States is a "blessed" nation, he said, calling American revolutionaries' defeat of the British empire "a miracle from God's hand."
    "I am not a citizen of the world," said Gingrich, who was first elected to the U.S. House from Georgia in 1978 and served as speaker from 1995 to 1999. "I am a citizen of the United States because only in the United States does citizenship start with our creator."

Thursday, June 04, 2009

uke fight!

A little dark early summer humor - but those damn birds are like feathered rats.

The cover by the lovely and talented Ms. Lewis:

The unbeatable original by the world's funniest math professor:

and a little bonus for anyone studying for that nasty chemistry final

I may move back just to vote against these jerks

As a Canadian who has lived outside of Canada for a dozen years (and yes Mom, we are coming back eventually, honest) this kind of headline turns my blood to frozen concrete.

Ottawa says it has no duty to protect Canadians outside country

A lot has been done to help Khadr in Guantanamo: Justice Department

ServiceJune 3, 2009

Canada's legal duty to protect its citizens, even children, ends at the border and there is nothing in domestic or international law that obliges the government to seek Omar Khadr's repatriation, say federal arguments filed in court.
The government contends it has done plenty to ensure the "well-being" of the Guantanamo Bay detainee - from supplying him with magazines to ensuring he receives medical treatment and facilitating contact with his family - and any further protection is at the discretion of the state, not the courts

This is not happy-making news for all us expats, especially those of us who live in countries where "the usual suspects" means anybody foreign.
This could mean I am one misunderstanding away from life imprisonment since the government of Canada doesn't feel that they have any duty to assist me in any way should the police pick me up and imprison me for any reason at all.
And that does happen in a lot of countries. Police in Tokyo routinely stop foreigners riding bicycles to confirm the bike isn't stolen. Bikes here are supposed to be registered and usually carry a sticker with the owner's name - and if your bike happens to be registered in your Japanese wife's name, well, welcome to jail in Japan, where you don't have a right to a lawyer during police interrogation and are not even officially presumed innocent. This hasn't happened to me, but it does happen.
And that's in Japan, a nice civilized G8 country. Anyone care to try their luck in Central America or Africa or Saudi Arabia without any assistance from "Canada's New Government"?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Religion of peace, my ass

"A man with 'political and religious motives' killed a soldier just out of basic training and wounded another Monday in a targeted attack on a military recruiting center, police said."...

When is the United States going to realize that they really do have a gun problem? And when is the world going to realize it has a religion problem?

Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad -- a 24-year-old Little Rock resident formerly known as Carlos Bledsoe -- faces a first-degree murder charge and 15 counts of engaging in a terrorist act, Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas said. The terrorist counts stem from the shots fired at an occupied building.
While authorities continued to investigate a motive, Thomas said Muhammad is a Muslim convert and, based on preliminary interviews with him, investigators believe there were "political and religious motives" in the shooting.
Military officials initially believed the shooting was a random act, but Thomas said police believe the shooter acted alone "with the specific purpose of targeting military personnel."

None are so zealous as the converted I suppose. From the looks of things at this point it woould appear that the shooter is an African-American man who has been born and bred in the United States and spent his formative years in the shadow of the 9/11 attacks. The last eight years have not exactly been a time that has made Islam look attractive to Americans, so I'm curious to know how he came to convert. This is complete speculation, but given the number of African-American men recruited by the Nation of Islam in the prison system, I'm wondering if this guy had previously done time and that was where he came in contact with Islam. I'm guessing he probably didn't grow up with a poster of Osama Bin Laden on his wall or anything, but who knows?

While a very devout fundementalist Muslim may well have reason to dislike the US Army, I don't think the Koran says anything praising the ambush murder of unarmed foes. So much for this "Religion of Peace" -- the real problem is that fundementalist religion of any stripe seems to bring out the worst in human beings. Having military-style weaponry easily available doesn't make the crazy stew any less poisonous either.

One headline I don't think we are ever going to see is "Atheist bludgeons six to death at local library"

Interesting that this was instantly treated as terrorism - which it is - but the shooting of George Tiller was not.


Dr. Roy is very, very concerned about whether "Teh Left" will denounce this cowardly attack on the brave soldiers of our ally (h/t Canadian Cynic) because normally, you know, we lefty-types are busy high-fivin' each other when religious fundementalist whackjobs murder people.

funny pictures of cats with captions
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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Culture of life, my ass

"We are shocked at this morning's disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down," anti-abortion group Operation Rescue said in a statement on its Web site. "Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller's family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ."

Protesters blockaded Tiller's clinic during Operation Rescue's "Summer of Mercy" protests during the summer of 1991, and Tiller was shot by Rachelle Shannon at his clinic in 1993. Tiller was wounded in both arms, and Shannon remains in prison for the shooting.

The clinic was bombed in June 1986, and was severely vandalized earlier this month. According to the Associated Press, his lawyer said wires to security cameras and outdoor lights were cut and that the vandals also cut through the roof and plugged the buildings' downspouts. Rain poured through the roof and caused thousands of dollars of damage in the clinic. Tiller reportedly asked the FBI to investigate the incident.

No arrests were made in the 1986 bombing."

Added the spokes douche bag for Operation Rescue: "All those times we called Tiller a murderer and baby-killer- well, we didn't really think anyone would do something like this again. After all its not like we've constantly called for abortion providers to be prosecuted or said that they deserved to be punished or argued that our interpretation of what the Bible says overrules the law of the land...oh wait, yes we did...uhm nevermind"

In other coverage: "Abortion foes fear backlash"  -- Really? Are they afraid that pro-choicers are going to start stalking and shooting their leaders? Bombing their offices?  Endlessly harrassing the people who work in their movement with death threats and screaming demonstrations outside their places of business?

Also - Randall Terry - a "Klass" act.

While many anti-abortion leaders swiftly issued statements condemning the shooting, their expressions of dismay were not echoed by Randall Terry, a veteran anti-abortion activist whose protests have often targeted Tiller.

"George Tiller was a mass murderer and we cannot stop saying that," Terry said. "He was an evil man - his hands were covered with blood."

Terry said he was now concerned that the Obama administration "will use Tiller's killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions."

A month ago, Terry was arrested protesting President Barack Obama's appearance at the University of Notre Dame commencement. The president's graduation speech was dominated by abortion issue - and an appeal for the nation to seek common ground instead of vitriol.

the high cost of being poor

An excellent article on the realities of poverty and why it is so hard for people to get back up once they fall down.

The poorer you are, the more things cost. More in money, time, hassle, exhaustion, menace. This is a fact of life that reality television and magazines don't often explain. So we'll explain it here. Consider this a primer on the economics of poverty.
"The poor pay more for a gallon of milk; they pay more on a capital basis for inferior housing," says Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). "The poor and 100 million who are struggling for the middle class actually end up paying more for transportation, for housing, for health care, for mortgages.
They get steered to subprime lending. . . . The poor pay more for things middle-class America takes for granted."

I don't want to scare you, but ask yourself how many paycheques you could miss before you couldn't pay your rent or your mortgage. For a large majority of the middle class, it might be three or four - tops- before you had to start selling things like one of your family's cars or raiding the retirement lockbox. Most working people in the bottom third of the income ladder are one missed paycheque away from eviction - and if they have a car, it isn't worth selling.