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

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bloody Unions

There are certain individuals who used to be with the union who have since chosen to go it alone. This despite the fact that without the union some of them would very likely have been let go after six months and replaced  with another temp. There are others who quit who felt that certain work habits of their fellow union members reflected poorly on them, while forgetting why they joined the union in the first place. All of them ask the same question: "What have the unions ever done for us?"

(a hearty tip of the hardhat to fellow Prog Blogger Matthais in Marburg )

More right-wing murder

I can't wait to hear Bill O'Reilly and Lou Dobbs explain how these three murderous Minutemen were actually secret left-wing  socialist Islamohomofacists.

According to the news report, the police say the three broke into the home of the Flores family in the hopes of robbing Mr. Flores, who was rumored to be a drug dealer. Bush is said to have been the triggerman, shooting the father, mother and daughter at the instructions of Forde.

"If you look at her history closely, and you know what we know, she is at best a pyschopath," says Sheriff Dupnik referring to Forde during a press conference Friday.

Forde's organization is not directly connected to the more commonly known minutemen organization, Minutemen Civil Defense Corps or the Minutemen project run by Chris Simcox and James Gilchrist.

Seriously, whatever happened to those camps the wingnuts were so worried about? If only Barack Obama was doing as they feared and taking their guns away, because this shit is getting way out of hand.

You can't come home again

I don't think Thomas Wolfe meant that phrase to be taken as literally as it seems to be interpreted by Stephen Harper's minions in the foreign affairs ministry. Check out Canada's scofflaw government in action. Apparently obeying court orders is just for the little people, not for the proto-facists of the Stephen Harper regime. Keep digging that legal hole boys, because the more bullshit like this that you pull, the bigger the award is going to be in the lawsuit you will inevitably lose. Sadly, it will be the Canadian taxpayer that will be picking up the tab when you do get sued.

OTTAWA – A Montreal man stranded at the Canadian embassy in Sudan for more than a year did not board a flight home today that had been paid for by his supporters.

The Canadian government did not issue the emergency passport Abousfian Abdelrazik would have needed to catch his flight to Abu Dhabi for the first leg of a journey home to Montreal.

"It was booked. It was confirmed. It was paid. Everything was a go, but he needs that travel document," said his Ottawa-based lawyer, Yavar Hameed.

Hameed said he has not yet been able to speak with his client but assumes he remains at the embassy in Khartoum.

Federal Court Justice Russel Zinn ordered the Conservative government on June 4 to ensure Abdelrazik returns home within 30 days.

He ruled the Sudanese-born man has a Charter right to re-enter his "country of citizenship by choice".

Zinn ordered authorities to immediately issue an emergency passport and arrange transportation from Khartoum to Montreal if Abdelrazik could not afford to do so himself.

My disgust for the government in this case knows no bounds. I'd like to see them all trade places with Abdelrazik. I wonder if they will even let me back in when I decide to return home.

Way to defuse the situation

Sure the OPP could have waited a few hours, but then no one would have gotten arrested or injured, and how much fun would that have been?

The prostesters are being portrayed as a minority among Tyendinaga Mohawk Reserve residents and that may well be the case as the Tyendinaga has never been as politically active as the Mohawks at Cornwall, whom the protesters were  acting in support of as they protest the arming of border services personnel on their land.  Gee, I wonder why they wouldn't want the border services people armed?

Nice to see that sensible and cool heads are prevailing, NOT! .

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Greatest music video evah!

I'm not sure what music these young ladies are dancing too, and frankly, I don't really care. At least they don't look like some plastic surgeon's frankenstien monster. And Brook Benton is a God.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

people helping people are the luckiest people

How did I not know about this? This is the very idea that won the Nobel Peace Prize a couple of years ago and now its gone viral on the intertubes. Apparently the payback rate on these loans is over 95% - maybe Citibank and Bank of America need to take some lessons.

Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.
Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe.

The people you see on Kiva's site are real individuals in need of funding - not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs' profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.

The website lets you loan as little as $25, bundling it into a larger loan. Kiva lets you form or join groups and tracks which groups contribute the most. It should surprise no one that the second largest contributing group are the "Kiva Christians" -- the largest being "Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious."

I'll be looking for a suitable borrower on the site and posting info here for anyone else who wants to help out.

Just Friends, really

Wow! The girl I was so in love with all through high school and university and even a large chunk of my 20s -- you know, all those years when I was considerably thinner, kinder and less bitter than I turned out -- the girl who I helped through all the bad boyfriends and insecurities, the one with the killer bod who thought of me like her brother --it turns out she's writing for the Onion now!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

"The Best Democracy Money Can Buy"

Apologies to Greg Palast for borrowing the title of his excellent book, but how else to describe the New York State Senate shenanigans of billionaire Tom Golisano. Just because he can't get people to vote for him as governor doesn't mean he can't run the state government and make them do what he wants.

Golisano, who moved from Rochester to Florida this year after Democrats temporarily raised the state income tax on high earners, has promised campaign money for those who carry out his reform agenda. That includes the two Democratic senators who broke ranks to join the Republicans, Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx - elected temporary president of the Senate Monday - and Hiram Monserrate of Queens.

Given the primary challenge the two Democrats can expect, that counts for a lot. But Golisano stressed that his political action committee, Responsible New York, "will be watching very carefully" to see if the new coalition keeps its promises.

It wasn't acceptable when he bought the Senate for the Democrats and it isn't acceptable that he is now essentially bribing state sentators to cross the floor to hand control to the Republicans. As Bob Dylan said "Money doesn't talk, it swears"

30 years before the masthead

This is from a few weeks back, but listen to Stuart McLean talks about why newspapers are important.  I couldn't agree more.

I've been writing paying copy or editing the words of others since I was 14 years old and sold my first piece to the Sault Star for 25 cents a column inch. I even had a neighborhood newspaper I published with a couple of friends when I was about six years old - as I recall my first bylined piece read something like "Jamie Smith just got a minibike this week for his birthday. What a lucky kid!" - I was editorializing even then.

I wrote for the Sault Star for a few months in high school and then covered Rotary Club meetings for the Ancaster Journal for a year or two while still in high school ( I didn't get paid, but all my friend's fathers bought me gin and tonics to keep me coming back - "follow the free booze" being a lesson I learned early in my career").

From there I went to the University of Waterloo's Imprint, Sheridan College's student paper and the Guelph Daily Mercury for a short co-op spell, where they gave me a front page byline above the fold my first day (may as well have been China white).

Then it was into the professional ranks in Ingersol, Ontario where in a regular week I covered events and wrote stories, took photos, rewrote press releases for publication, developed film and printed photos, laid out pages with a razor knife, hot wax and graphics tape with copy off a linotype machine  and one week even sold and laid out an ad and delivered the paper -- all for $230 a week before taxes and all the newsprint I could eat (and no, I am not speaking of the 1950s here -- this was in the late 80's).  

From there it was onward and upward to the Caledonia's Grand River Sachem, the good old Port Dover Maple Leaf, the Listowel Independent, The Napanee Beaver and finally the editorship of the oldest community newspaper in Canada, The Picton Gazatte. I don't think in the entire seven or so years I worked in the community news trade I ever put in fewer than 55 hours a week and most of the time with meeting to cover and the like, it was more like 70 hours. And I never made more than about $500 a week until I came to Japan a dozen years ago, where I work for a very, very different kind of newspaper for considerably better wages and, sadly in recent years, considerably less job satisfaction. 

The printed newspaper may be a on its way out, but opinion-riddled blogs will never replace good honest local journalism, and woe betide the community that doesn't have some poor, starving, scoop-hungry kid or two with ink in their veins and visions of Woodward and Bernstein  and Hersh and I. F. Stone in their heads, keeping an eye on the town council and the police service and the school board on your behalf. He may not know everyone's grandmother, he may not be from around here and he may have spelled your niece Kathie's name "Cathy" last week, but he's the only one going to all those meetings and putting two and two together to let you know that someone is about to build a quarry on the old swimming hole or tear down the old Johnson house to put in a landfill or that the planning committee is being run by the local real estate bund. 

The New York Times and the Toronto Star can evolve to on-line versions that are half TV and half  news and lifestyle magazine, but you lose that local rag at your peril, especially in a small town. Newspapers may be a dying industry, but the world still needs trained, professional journalists to balance out the pretty show-biz people on television and the national celebrity media villagers in the major magazines. Where will you be without those uncredited, underpaid, underappreciated rock-solid beat reporters who are there to bear witness at every council meeting, who are there at the police station every day, who are covering the endless, dull school board meetings, sifting through the committee minutes for a little gold or checking into the claims of the PR people, the spin-doctors, the press agents and marketing flacks? Up to your neck in bullshit and hype, that's where.

 You think Can-West or the Toronto Star or Edmonton Sun or CFRB give a rat's ass about following up on rumors that the water in some little town might not be up to the proper health standards? Oh, sure they'll pick up the story if somebody dies, but it going to be a little late for the locals then. You think the Vancouver Province or the New York Times or the Montreal Gazette care if half the municipal budget of your little township is being handed to the brother of the Reeve? Not unless he get runs for federal office and get photographed without his pants at kids' summer camp. The local paper is your first line of defense against rumor, official skulduggery and the only place you can find out how the local Jr. B hockey team is doing or who the new high school principal is going to be, or whether a teacher at the local school is going to jail for molesting kids or some 14-year-old just had it in for him and made the whole thing up. 

Read your paper while you still can.

Go read it now Part II - Die Harder

"Hey, what's that little grease stain at the bottom of that smoking crater?"

"Oh that? That used to be some douche bag that wrote for the Wall Street Journal - he called Hank Paulson a national hero the other day, turns out he used to work for Paulson on Wall Street."

"So what happened? Tactical nuke? Self-Immolation? Did God smite him or something?

"Nah, he pissed off Matt Taibbi"

If one looks around for a worthy successor to Hunter S. Thompson in the journalistic world today, one must seriously consider Matt Taibbi. While he probably doesn't party like Hunter - who does anymore? - he certainly has studied in the same temple of literary kung-fu as the master. Witness if you will how one slaughters the metaphorical troops, burns the conceptual villages and salts the rhetorical earth of the enemy by lacing up the steel-toed, hob-nailed +eleventy Boots of Ass-Kicking.

Go read it now

PSA shows us how blogging is done.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Palm, meet forehead

In a week when one of the main stories in the news was about a man walking into a church in Kansas, pulling out a handgun and shooting another man dead at the behest of his coreligionists, to say nothing of other similar incidents of murder in houses of worship over the past while, we find that satire has been wholly overwhelmed by the assault of reality.

Pastor Organizes Gun Celebration at Church
Gun Control
Advocates Oppose Pastor Ken Pagano's 'Open Carry Celebration'

June 5, 2009
A pastor in Kentucky is redefining the tradition of wearing your Sunday best to services by encouraging his congregation to strap on holsters and bring their weapons to church.
Pastor Ken Pagano has organized an "Open Carry Celebration" in late June where he encourages members of his Christian church to bring their handguns to services. Pastor Ken Pagano of New Bethel Church in Louisville, Ky., says that he organized an "Open Carry Celebration" to promote responsible gun ownership.
"As a Christian pastor I believe that without a deep-seeded belief in God and firearms that this country would not be here," Pagano told ABCNews.com. "I'm not ashamed of that fact. I'm proud of it."
The celebration scheduled for Sunday, June 27, will feature YouTube videos promoting gun safety and will ask congregants to join in singing patriotic songs, according to Pagano.
A $1 raffle to win a free handgun will also be part of the festivities.

If anyone is looking for me, I'll be in the bar drinking heavily with Satire and Parody - Irony has promised to buy the first few rounds..

Three hots and a cot --Not!

Apparently feeding prisoners is become too expensive for some prison systems in the U.S., so they've decided to cut back a bit, by dropping lunch from the program.

Georgia now only feeds inmates lunch on the four days a week that they work. The state prison system switched to ten hour work days four days a week as a money saving move. Here is the menu for no-lunch Fridays Since this is the menu released by the prison system I think its safe to assume that this is as good as the menu gets for inmates. (parenthetical comments are mine)

  • Scrambled eggs (probably safe to assume these would be powdered eggs)
  • Grits
  • Corn Muffins
  • Bran cereal
  • Pineapple beverage ( the linked article notes that many states are cutting back on fresh fruit to save money. In Alabama inmates get an apple or an orange once a week.)
  • Margarine (this is a menu item? Is ketchup a vegetable again?)
  • Coffee
  • Milk (as noted in the linked article, may states are cutting back on milk to save money. In Alabama inmates get three servings a week, in Tennessee they have gone from twice a day to once a day)

  • Chicken and biscuits (I'm betting on a drumstick and a thigh and no more than two bicuits - and I notice there is no margarine for the biscuits on the menu. Update - via email I learn that chicken and biscuits is more likely a chicken stew with dumplings and chunks of processed "chicken-like" meat product - a h/t to the best book page editor I know)
  • Turnip greens
  • Tossed salad (I'd have thought this came later in the privacy of one's cell, not right there in the dining hall)
  • Vinegar and oil dressing
  • Mashed potatoes (again, I have no doubt these are the powdered type)
  • Spice cake
  • Iced tea
Portions are supposedly larger on days when only two meals are served.

Now, I'm not saying that inmates should eat like kings or anything, but there should be some sort of minimum standard. In the Georgia State Prison system male inmates get 2,800 calories a day and female inmates get 2,300, but I suspect most of those calories come from powdered mashed potatoes and the like.

Still, it sounds better than some of the country lock-ups:

Federal Judge Arrests Ala. Sheriff Over Jail Food
DECATUR, Ala. (AP) ― A federal judge ordered an Alabama sheriff locked up in his own jail Wednesday after holding him in contempt for failing to adequately feed inmates while profiting from the skimpy meals. U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon had court security arrest Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett at the end of a hearing that produced dramatic testimony from skinny prisoners about paper-thin bologna and cold grits.

Bartlett had no comment as he was led from the courtroom. His attorney, Donald Rhead, said he believes the sheriff will be kept away from other inmates and hopes he will be quickly eleased.The sheriff, who showed no emotion when his arrest was ordered, had testified that he legally pocketed about $212,000 over three years with surplus meal money but denied that inmates were improperly fed.

Sheriffs in 55 of Alabama's 67 counties operate under the system allowing them to make money operating their jail kitchens. The law pays sheriffs $1.75 a day for each prisoner they house and lets the elected officers pocket any profit they can generate.

(snip, snip, snip)

The law doesn't require the money to be spent at the jail or within the department; sheriffs can keep it as personal income. They historically have provided little information about profits, so the hearing offered a rare look into a practice that dates back to the Depression.
At the hearing, 10 prisoners told Clemon meals are so small that they're forced to buy snacks from a for-profit store the jailers operate. Most of the inmates appeared thin, with baggy jail coveralls hanging off their frames.Some testified they spent hundreds of dollars a month at the store, which Bartlett said generates profits used for training and equipment.
Inmates told of getting half an egg, a spoonful of oatmeal and one piece of toast most days at their 3 a.m. daily breakfast. Lunch is usually a handful of chips and two sandwiches with barely enough peanut butter to taste..

From the CNN version of the story:

However, Clemon wrote in court documents that a typical breakfast for county inmates was a serving of grits or unsweetened oatmeal; half an egg or less, sometimes cold; a slice of white bread; and unsweetened tea or a beverage such as Kool-Aid.
Lunch was either two peanut butter or bologna sandwiches, "with a small amount of peanut butter or an exceedingly thin" slice of bologna between two slices of white bread; a small bag of corn chips; and flavored water or unsweetened tea.
A typical dinner was two hot dogs or meat patties; a slice of bread; and mixed vegetables or baked beans, the judge wrote. At times, when chicken was served, it was undercooked and pink, Clemon said. Salt, pepper, sugar or other condiments were not provided; they must be purchased by inmates at the jail store.
Inmates never receive milk, Clemon said, and receive fruit only three or four times a year

Both stories make mention of the Sheriff bragging about how he tried to offer the inmates some variety in their diet. He split the $1,000 cost of a truck load of corn dogs with another country sheriff and the inmates were apparently fed corn dogs morning, noon and night until they had eaten their way through the tractor-trailer load. If a parent fed a child like this to save money to spend on themselves, it would be considered neglect.
And lets not even get started on privately run prisons.
I bet Conrad Black is eating a lot better than this.