Showing posts from 2007

Pakistan to delay elections...

The government is no doubt surprised by the fact that Bhutto's party is going to contest the elections. This forced Sharif's party to reverse its decision to boycott the elections. Musharraf no doubt will delay the elections for some time to try and cool the anger against him and also to make arrangements to rig the results if he can make appropriate deals or even if he can't!
The move to make the son the symbolic head of the party was clever in that Bhutto's husband's reputation for corruption is legendary. The son cannot run for office until 25!
I am a bit mystified by all the fuss over exactly how Bhutto died. What possible value the government could gain from saying she died from hitting her head as against a bullet wound is not clear to me. Certainly the government has not denied that she was shot at and that there was a suicide blast. What on earth difference does it make if these events in themselves were not the immediate cause of her death. If they ha…

Canadian L. General Awarded Medal for Service in Iraq Occupation

Lieutenant General Walter Natynczyk is now our vice Chief of Defence Staff. Trained by the US worked for the US in a war we opposed and he went there while a Canadian govt. opposed to the Iraq war was in power. Subsequently he was rewarded with a medal for his valiant service for US imperialism. The first quote is from espritdecorps Notice that in Iraq Natynczyk was a deputy commanding general of the multi-national forces not exactly a minor role. Perhaps the US suggested to our govt. that he should be recognised for his service.

Gen Natynczyk attended the U.S. Army War College and was subsequently appointed

Deputy Commanding General, III Corps and Fort Hood. In January 2004, he deployed with III Corps to Baghdad, Iraq, serving first as the Deputy Director of Strategy, Policy and Plans and subsequently as the Deputy Commanding General of the Multi-National Corps (Iraq). Upon his return to Canada he assumed command of the Land Force Doctrine and Training System. He was subsequently ap…

Bhutto lobbied with US

This is just a bit of a much longer and fascinating article about Bhutto's career in the New York Times. Although Bhutto grew up in wealth and splendor her party stood for the needs of the poor and oppressed. However, once she got in power she seemed unable for the most part to do that much for her constituency while together with her husband she managed to do a lot for her own financial well-being. She had good ties with quite a few important Americans that helped her cause in Washington.

"Like other foreign leaders, Ms. Bhutto engaged a public relations firm to arrange meetings for her with administration officials, members of Congress and journalists. For the first six months of 2007, the firm Burson-Marsteller took in fees of close to $250,000 for work on behalf of Ms. Bhutto."

Diplomats in Afghanistan expelled 'at behest of US'

This article gives rare insight into what is going on behind the scenes in Afghanistan and who calls the shots to a considerable extent. Don't expect to see this as a CBC headline, even though I see that some in the blogosphere have inhaled so much nitrous oxide that they call it the Communist Broadcasting Corporation!
The article notes that there is a close connection between the CIA and the Afghan NDS (National Directorate of Security) and that it was the US that asked the Karzai govt. to expel the diplomats. With actions like this the US may very well be endangering continued support for their misadventures. Bomber McNeil of the US is still the NATO commander in Afghanistan. Does someone still think that we have an independent mission in Afghanistan? There will be no independent mission as long as Harper and MacKay are around. We might as well have David Dinkins as our spokesperson.

Diplomats expelled 'at behest of the US'
By Eleanor Mayne
Last Updated: 2:05am GMT 30/12/…

Wilkins encourages Canada to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2009

This is from the Charlotte Observer. Notice that Wilkins was invited to go to Afghanistan by MacKay! MacKay is sucking up to his American advisors. Of course there is no need to convince MacKay that we ought to stay on and on to be junior partners in US imperialism. It is the Canadian public that needs to be primed and pumped to continue sending our troops to the slaughter.

Wilkins encourages Canada to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2009
Associated Press Writer

COLUMBIA, S.C. --The U.S. Ambassador to Canada said Friday he's unsure how the death of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto will affect the Canadian parliament's upcoming vote on troops in Afghanistan.

"It remains to be seen," Ambassador David Wilkins said from his native Greenville after returning from his first trip to Afghanistan. "I think we're all not only expressing regret of a tragic death but concerned about the stability of Pakistan and how that instability, if it turns to insta…

Saint John is Canada's happy place

This is from the Globe and Mail. The results in this survey contrast with the type of survey that rates cities as best in terms of economic factors. Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal all fail to make the top ten. None of the powerhouse cities of the prairies such as Calgary or Edmonton make it either. In the west only Saskatoon, and Winnipeg make the top ten. Perhaps with its newfound growth and the Saskatchewan Party government Saskatoonites or whomever they are will become less happy!

Saint John is Canada's happy place
The Canadian Press

December 27, 2007 at 8:18 PM EST

Saint John, N.B. — Saint John is the happiest city in Canada.

The New Brunswick city was one of several Atlantic Canadian centres to score well in a satisfaction study conducted by the University of British Columbia.

Sponsored by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the findings were based on survey data provided by Statistics Canada.

John Helliwell, an economics professor at UBC, examined close to 100,000 respon…

Tariq Ali: Bhutto, Daughter of the West

Tariq Ali has a long article on Bhutto called "Daughter of the West". See this site. The article is quite long but very interesting. A quite different picture emerges of Bhutto from that usually given in the western press although Ali is sympathetic to Bhutto's party's aims. Corruption within the party was rampant during Bhutto's terms as leader of Pakistan. Here is a short quote:
"By the time she was re-elected in 1993, she had abandoned all idea of reform, but that she was in a hurry to do something became clear when she appointed her husband minister for investment, making him responsible for all investment offers from home and abroad. It is widely alleged that the couple accumulated $1.5 billion. The high command of the Pakistan People’s Party now became a machine for making money, but without any trickle-down mechanism. This period marked the complete degeneration of the party. All that shame-faced party members could say, when I asked, was that ‘ev…

Bhutto's death could echo on Afghan mission: former diplomat

Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff seem to speak much of the time for Dion. Dion is notably quiet. Rae is hopeless in my opinion. The Liberals are actually fortunate they did not get Rae or Ignatieff as leader even though Dion is weak and not very effective. The best hope for the Liberals is that Harper is so bad that the public chooses the Liberals just to keep Harper out of power. Of course what we could get is another minority government.
Rae left the NDP for the Liberals. With this speech on Afghanistan he shows he could just as easily migrate to the Conservatives. Of course with people such as Manley already working for the Conservatives in effect I guess this should not be surprising. Even Bush is not as stupid as Rae. Bush will continue to support Musharraf. He understands that Musharraf cannot just crush the territories just like that. To even try this might be to plunge into civil war and/or be overthrown. Musharraf was bang on when he was irritated by Canadian claims he was no…

Bird Count Helps Track Populations

I don't go on a bird count. I sit in my living room and watch my bird feeder. When I drive I watch for birds. In the summer I sometimes go for a stroll with my binoculars.
Actually, there are some birds that I see more commonly in the winter than the summer, for example red polls and grosbeaks. Ravens are only seen in the winter as they travel north for the summer.
Apparently numbers of many species are dwindling. In the summer I do not see the variety of songbirds that I can recall from years ago. I have a bird feeder blog:

I think that the bird called a "sterling" in the article is more likely a starling!
There is no mention of the common house sparrow in the list. The rock dove by the way is the common pigeon found haunting old grain elevators etc.

Bird counts help track populations

Anne Kyle

Thursday, December 27, 2007

CREDIT: Roy Antal, Leader-Post
Dale Hjertaas and Dan Beveridge of Nature Saskatchewan check a wooded area no…

Resigning AECL chair was Canadian Alliance Bag Man

The total hypocrisy of the Harper govt. is revealed in this and even more by the fact that a defeated Conservative was just recently appointed to the Safety panel.
Meanwhile Harper had complained that Ms. Keen the chair of the panel was a Liberal appointee even though she claims she belongs to no party.

AECL chair resigns over isotope debacle
Harper appoints new chair and CEO to embattled company

CanWest News Service
Published: Friday, December 14, 2007

OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper cleaned house at Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. on Friday, appointing a new chair and CEO to lead the company as it scrambles to relaunch production of critical medical isotopes.

Mr. Harper announced Friday evening that he had accepted the resignation of AECL's chairman, Michael Burns, effective Dec. 31. Glenna Carr will take over as chair, while Hugh MacDiarmid will become CEO.

The previous CEO, Robert Van Adel, retired earlier this fall.

The shakeup at AECL comes in the wake of the controversial sh…

Afghan Diplomat: No proof Iranian gov't behind IEDs

Where do Mackay's great ideas come from?
U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins accompanied MacKay to Afghanistan -- at Canada's request -- for the Christmas Day visit with troops
The US does not need proof and neither does its representative in Canada Peter MacKay. Perhaps MacKay's attack on Iran was his Xmas present to the US and Wilkins.
No doubt Karzai finds such attacks embarassing and counter-productive since Afghanistan has relatively good relationships with Iran but that does not matter to the US or Canada either it seems. Who are the Afghanis to say what their relationship to Iran is?

No proof Iranian gov't behind IEDs: Afghan diplomat
Updated Wed. Dec. 26 2007 6:52 PM ET News Staff

Afghanistan's Ambassador to Canada appears to be cautious about blaming Iran for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) being used in attacks against Afghan and NATO soldiers in his country.

On Tuesday, Defence Minister Peter MacKay alleged that many IEDs in Afghanistan have com…

PM sees no crisis in immigrants keeping old ways..

Canada has typically been a mosaic--a vertical mosaic as on sociologist put it. Unlike the US we have not adopted a melting pot view of immigration. The backlash among some people against immigration has been there for generations. One problem with immigration is the tendency for immigrants to concentrate in large cities. I suppose this is natural since sections of cities come to have immigrant communities with their own networks and support systems.
Attention seems to concentrate upon Muslim immigrants even though they are I expect a small minority of the total numbers of immigrants and radicals an infintesimal number of Muslim immigrants. The largest group of immigrants are from China and probably very few of them are Muslim. This extract is from Wikipedia.
In 2004, Canada received 235,824 immigrants. The top ten sending countries, by state of origin, were People's Republic of China (37,280), India (28,183), Philippines (13,900), Pakistan (13,011), Iran (6,491), United State…

Study: Canadians getting better health care value than thought.

Perhaps the powers that be are quite satisfied with Statistics Canada's way of doing things. It provides ammunition for more privatisation in the name of efficiency and when this does nothing to increase efficiency the government will suggest more privatisation is the cure. The statistics also can be used to justify cuts in salaries (not to doctors of course) but to lower level health care support staff in order to increase productivity. Again this can be achieved through contracting out to non-unionised suppliers who pay near minimum wages.

Wednesday » December 26 » 2007

Canadians getting better health-care value than thought: study

Eric Beauchesne
CanWest News Service

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

CREDIT: Chris Schwarz/Edmonton Journal/CanWest News Service
Canadian Doctor

OTTAWA - Canadians are getting more bang for their health-care bucks than official federal government estimates suggest, says a third-party report to be released on Thursday.

The report by the Centre for the Study …

Mackay repeats Bush line on Iran..

Interesting that Karzai does not repeat this refrain. It is no doubt meant to curry favor with the US and to no doubt soften Canadians should Israel or the US attack Iran..This is just one more bit of evidence that Canada is quickly becoming a prime conduit of US propaganda and one of the most reliable junior partner in helping out US foreign policy and hegemonic aims.
McKay is perhaps famous for his double-cross of David Orchard after promising not to sell-out the Progressive Conservative Party:
" In 2003, Peter MacKay memorably signed a scrawled deal with maverick rival candidate David Orchard, gaining Orchard's support while promising to preserve the Progressive Conservative party in the face of pressure to merge with the Canadian Alliance.

MacKay promptly double-crossed Orchard, ending the PC era and creating the new Conservative party currently in power."

The new Regressive Conservative Party has rewarded MacKay now minister of defence in charge of pandering to th…

Commissioner Frank Iacobucci on 07 Worst List: Civil Liberties Assoc.

I am not surprised that Iacobucci made it to the worst list but a lot of the blame should go to the government that set the terms of reference rather than Iacobucci himself although he certainly has not been overly open either!

Vancouver Sun - Civil Liberties Assoc. names best and worst of '07; Taser tops list
VANCOUVER - Taser-related stories top the B.C. Civil Liberties Association list of the best and worst of 2007.

The organization says B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal and Solicitor General John Les deserve to go on the best list for ordering a public inquiry into the Taser-related death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver airport in October.

RCMP Public Complaints Commissioner Paul Kennedy won a best ranking for an interim report on Tasers that calls for more accountability and research on the use of the stun guns.

Also on the best list is the federal immigration ministry for legislation to bring home the "Lost Canadians", a group of people who lost their…

Abbas: New Israeli settlements will cloud peace talks.

These peace talks seemed doomed from the beginning. Hamas was elected as the majority government but has never been accepted by the west. Saudi Arabia managed to broker a coalition government but that collapsed when Hamas took over Gaza and Abbas formed his own government with no Hamas participation with the blessing of the US and other western powers.
Israel must not really want a deal since it has put Abbas in an impossible situation. He is already seen by many Palestinians as a puppet and sellout. Abbas has no control over rockets being fired from Gaza! Israel is flouting not only the agreement with Abbas but also snubbing its nose at its biggest patron the US. Of course the US will do little most likely but tut tut, now now, be good please.

New Israeli settlements will cloud peace talks: Abbas
Last Updated: Sunday, December 23, 2007 | 5:26 PM ET
CBC News
The confirmation of an Israeli plan to build 740 apartment units in areas the Palestinians view as their own will complicate pla…

Cold Cash Warm Gift Cards?

It always seems very impersonal to give cash. However, my kids prefer cash for the most part. It actually makes sense. I am always the recipient of one more shirt that I do not need or some other present that ends up in storage! Gift cards seem a sort of halfway compromise between cash and a specific gift but the article is right on. It makes more sense to give cash. But whoever said the gift giving part of Xmas makes sense. Anyway Merry Xmas and to those who are politically correct Merry XXXXXX, fill in your favorite phrase.

Cash, not gift cards, the best present: consumers' association
Read the fine print, group urges
Last Updated: Sunday, December 23, 2007 | 10:22 PM ET
CBC News
The Consumers' Association of Canada is recommending that shoppers give cash instead of buying gift cards, which often go unused or come with many restrictions for their recipients.

Canadians spent $1.8 billion on gift cards in 2006.
"We recommend you forget about it completely and use cash,&q…

David Orchard, Dion's Dilemma

David Orchard gets around. First he is a thorn in the side of the Conservatives and now of the Liberals. Orchard had bad judgment in supporting MacKay who of course double crossed him. Now we will have to see if Dion does the same. Dion is supposed to be a person of principle. But we already know what the principle is: if the polls are against you don't vote your principles but save your skin. It isn't clear what this means in terms of supporting Goodale and his favorite for the nomination.
It is interesting the way people jump from Conservative to Liberal, and then a sitting NDP provincial MLA to federal Liberal candidate perhaps. It might make people think that the three parties are not all that different!

David Orchard, Dion's dilemma

Randy Burton
The StarPhoenix

Thursday, December 20, 2007

After three federal leadership races, you would think the federal political structure would begin to get the idea.

When you sign on with David Orchard, you're not forming a partne…

France, Australia to remain in Afghanistan as long as needed

There seems to be a big push propoganda-wise and otherwise to prop up the NATO mission in Afghanistan in the face of public opposition to the missions in many countries. Sarkozy is already a Bush buddy on many issues but Rudd has differences on Iraq and Kyoto. However, there are signs he wants to mollify Bush. Harper of course is gung ho for Afghanistan. His appointed or annointed panel will no doubt recommend something to his liking. It is in fact a sham and waste of time as the article I posted recently shows.

France, Australia vow to remain in Afghanistan as long as needed
Last Updated: Saturday, December 22, 2007 | 6:17 PM ET
CBC News
The new leaders of France and Australia toured Afghanistan separately on Saturday, with both men vowing to keep their troops in the war-torn country for as long as needed.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who was elected in May, met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul and told the Afghan leader that France has no plans to withdraw its 1,300 tro…

Mulroney inquiry is worth the price

This is from the Star. We don't have even the terms of reference yet or the costs so it is hard to see how we can know whether it is worth the price. I do think we should have an inquiry nevertheless and it is heartening to see at least one editorialist giving us reasons why we should still have an inquiry. I fear though that Johnson's terms of reference will be to dump the inquiry idea altogether.

Mulroney inquiry is worth the price

Dec 22, 2007 04:30 AM
Most Canadians feel they have heard enough about former prime minister Brian Mulroney's relationship with German Canadian lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber, and don't favour a costly public inquiry into the cash-stuffed envelopes affair. Although a recent poll found that only 21 per cent of Canadians believe what Mulroney told the Commons ethics committee, 52 per cent said they see little reason to conduct a thorough probe of events that happened nearly 15 years ago.

Many of those opposed to an official inquiry suggest taxpay…

Harper: Economic Slowdown Likely

The entire article is at Globe and Mail.

On Afghanistan it seems that Harper is not well briefed. Karzai is clearly and unequivocally interested in negotiating with the Taliban even to the point of offering them positions in the government. Here are two passages from this site.
If a group of Taliban or a number of Taliban come to me and say, 'President, we want a department in this or in that ministry or we want a position as deputy minister ... and we don't want to fight anymore,' ... If there will be a demand and a request like that to me, I will accept it because I want conflicts and fighting to end in Afghanistan," Karzai said.
and then also:
KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday offered to meet with the Taliban leader and give militants a government position only hours after a suicide bomber in army disguise attacked a military bus, killing 30 people - nearly all of them Afghan soldiers.

Strengthening a call for negotiations he has mad…

Build new, bigger prisons, scrap early release: Review panel

This is from the following site. This is a typical "select" panel. Note the chairman is from the Harris government. It is clear that Harper is just an undercover common sense guy at heart! Even so some of the recommendations do actually make sense! It is the overall policy of increasing the number in jail and the incredible cost that should make people pause and consider what is being done but the costs seem to generate almost no general backlash among the public.
What if we had a program for the homeless on which we spent 114,000 or even 88,000 per year per homeless person? There would surely be an outcry. And where are Harper's old comrades from the Canadian Taxpayers Association. Why are they not screaming blue murder at this increasing government expenditure?
The Conservatives, so concerned about accountability, have failed to cost out their crime-fighting programs. It seems that the Canadian public may be becoming more like those in the US who do not seem to ser…

Collective bargaining at the RCMP

This is the first article I have seen on this matter. Obviously the Brown report should have had more to say on this matter and could have easily made recommendations to solve the problem of unionisation. To allow unionisation with compulsory arbitration rather than the right to strike would seem to be a fair enough balance of security versus rights to organise.

Collective bargaining at the RCMP

Management declines to negotiate.

Dateline: Tuesday, December 18, 2007

by Roy J Adams

Subsequent to the Supreme Court's BC Health Services decision in June constitutionalizing collective bargaining, several regional associations of Mounted Police sent in requests to bargain to RCMP Management.

Shortly before these developments independent investigator David Brown's report into problems surrounding the RCMP pension system had revealed a cornucopia of internal problems including an erratic and autocratic management style that was creating huge morale and safety problems. In July a new commi…

Salutin: All I want for Xmas is my Inquiry.

Well as Salutin shows Harper's elves in the media are spreading the word to Santa Johnston that Harper does not want an inquiry. So unless Johnston thinks that Harper has been naughty and Salutin's been nice, Salutin will get no inquiry for Xmas. Every right winger knows Salutin is not nice!

All I want for Christmas is my inquiry
>by Rick Salutin
December 21, 2007
I have heard the drumbeat of calls to halt the Mulroney-Schreiber inquiry before it starts. Think of Mike Duffy as CTV's little drummer boy, who receives inspiration from a higher source: Don't, they told me,

(barupabumbum) Don't hold that inquiry,

(barupabumbum) There's nothing new, you see.


Aided on air by Elf Ian Macdonald, Mulroney acolyte Bob Fife and Lloyd, who often begins a report with something like, Well, Craig, why are they still beating that dead horse?

“The case for a public inquiry has melted away,” wrote Margaret Wente. There's nothing new, said Chantal H├ębert.

But here&#…

Another day another McGuinty promise broken.

This should not be surprising. Next time McGuinty should campaign on this slogan.
If I am elected I promise to break at least one or more of my promises.
He could surely keep a promise like that.

McGuinty muses about cancelling health tax review
Last Updated: Thursday, December 20, 2007 | 8:44 AM ET
CBC News
Premier Dalton McGuinty has suggested he may change his mind about holding a legislative review of the Ontario government's controversial health tax — even though he promised a review when he brought in the tax in 2004.

McGuinty said the government needs the $2.7 billion the tax brings in this year, so a review would be pointless and redundant.

Last week, the government filed a motion to set up the review committee when legislators return to Queen's Park in the spring.

But on Wednesday, McGuinty questioned the need for a review, given that the health tax is going to stay.

McGuinty said the need is "a technical one."

When asked if he considered the need for a revi…

Harper: Public has tuned out Schreiber affair

Well now David Johnston can write his report given that he knows what he is supposed to recommend. We also know that if the economy slows down Harper will just blame it on his overly aggressive emission controls. Of course he hopes this will force him ,due to overwhelming public pressure, to be easier on polluters or so he hopes.
On the issue of a public inquiry Harper is acting like a Liberal. He sniffs the public mood and then acts on the basis of that.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Public has tuned out Schreiber affair: Harper
Harper will still defer to independent investigator on need for inquiry

Don Martin, National Post
Published: Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ashley Fraser/CanWest News Service
OTTAWA -- Stephen Harper has personal reservations about the need for a public inquiry into allegations against former prime minister Brian Mulroney, a controversy he says has been tuned out by the public yet risks becoming a distraction to Parliament.

But the Prime Minister reluctantly pledge…