Showing posts from November, 2007

Our 15 year olds rank well globally in science skills.

This is quite an impressive jump from 11th to 3rd. The US does not seem to doing very well at all at 29th. I did not think that there would be such a difference. Years ago we always thought the UK had a better educational system than ours but perhaps it has fallen down over the years since its rating is just 14th. However, this is just one test of one group so who knows how things are overall. It is unfortunate that not more students go on to graduate in the sciences from universities. Of course I should talk I went through liberal arts and on to graduate philosophy!

Canadian students move up in rankings
Janice Tibbetts , CanWest News Service
Published: Friday, November 30, 2007
OTTAWA - Canadian students are on a roll in their academic performance on the world stage, this time ranking third in an international test of science ability that compared 15-year-olds in 57 countries.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reported Thursday that Canadian pupils were outscored …

Study ranks hospital mortality rates.

This report is from the Globe and Mail.Study ranks hospital mortality rates. While such a study is of some use in that some possible problem areas can be identified the factors that cause higher or lower death rates may have little to do with the quality of care at a particular institution.Before getting excited about poor quality care these would need to be examined. If you happen to get more seriously ill and dying patients than the average hospital of course your waits should be higher. The way to improve performance would be to send the worst patients to the hospital next door! Nevertheless the article does point out that many patients die in hospitals who would have lived if procedures were better.

Study ranks hospital mortality rates.
Facilities in New Brunswick, Alberta and Saskatchewan come out on top, boasting some of the lowest numbers

With reports from Avis Favaro, CTV News and The Canadian Press

November 30, 2007

For the first time, a national study has tackled the…

REV JO is no mo.

I am glad I do not serve on that review board. I suffer from committee rage rather than road rage. When I feel that a committee is getting goofy I sometimes lash out and then walk out in a huff! The reasons given are really absurd, political correctness carried to absurdity, as the article points out reality often imitates satire so that satire becomes impossible.

Licence to stifle plate expression

Nov 29, 2007 04:30 AM
Jim Coyle

If there's any cosmic justice, the devil himself will be firing up a special ring in hell for the Ministry of Transportation.

Only a body called the Personalized Licence Plate Review Committee, after all, could have so lost touch with goodness and decency as to object to a United Church minister from Whitby – Rev. Joanne Sorrill by name – having the vanity plates REV JO on her car.

That the objection has been made almost 20 years after Sorrill got the plates as a 50th birthday present, shortly after her ordination, takes matters from the merely absurd to the …

Kyoto framework is still best hope for the world.

Anderson is probably correct but he should have added a caveat: only if signers actually keep their promises. The Liberal government signed the Kyoto accords but let emissions rise during their tenure. The Liberals take the moral high ground and then go on to make the environment worse. The Conservatives on the other hand have been blowing hot air from the beginning and the Bush, Harper, tag team will spend the time at Bali beating developing countries into submission. When the developing nations refuse to submit or participate in a rigged fight Canada and the US can go home champions. Hot air will continue to pollute the political and real world atmosphere.

Kyoto framework is still best hope for the world

Nov 30, 2007 04:30 AM
David Anderson

The major objective of President George Bush and Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the Bali Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol that begins Monday is to replace the emission reduction Kyoto targets for the developed countries with an agreement …

Nicholson: Has he or hasn't he?

Until late Wednesday Nicholson claimed he did not have the power to delay the extradition of Schreiber on Saturday. Most legal beagles claim that he has but Nicholson stuck to his opinion although not providing any reasons why he didn't have discretionary power as his critics claim. But late Wednesday lo and behold:
The government announced late Wednesday that it would not extradite him while a last-ditch appeal remains before the courts, a surprising turn of events, given that Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has said repeatedly that he had no authority to take such action. (from the Globe and Mail)
Wow! Nicholson has newfound powers but also displays his ignorance in not knowing he had them apparently. Or maybe he is just plain incompetent.
The National Post has an article on the background of Schreiber's testimony. In his testimony although Schreiber refused to say very much until he has an opportunity to review his notes he did say that originally he was to pay Mulro…

Bickerton analyses first collective agreement with Magna and CAW

As this article shows the agreement restricts rights of workers. However, the workers ratified the agreement "overwhelmingly" according to Bickerton so they must think there is some value in the agreement. One thing that the agreement certaindly does and that is weaken the power of the union drastically. The whole new model seems to me to be a big snowjob that gives the company more power with the illusion of participation by workers. Certainly the company is given power to fire anyone who might "poison the atmosphere" by creating a negative work environment. For example, someone campaigning for a real union.

First FFA Collective
Restricts Workers Democratic rights
By Geoff Bickerton

On November 5, 2007 the CAW and Magna International signed their first Collective Agreement under the terms of the Framework of Fairness Agreement (FFA). Most of the anti-democratic features of the FFA have been incorporated into the collective agreement which was ratified overwhelmingly…

Harper meets with Barrick as Tanzanian strike continues

Foreign aid in Tanzania is obviously well spent, it has bought the president of Tanzania who is quite unwilling to criticize Barrick for fear aid and investment might be turned off. While Harper's foreign aid announcement is welcome it is in total not the .7 of GDP pledged some time ago. As the Tanzania case shows it is often used to keep countries quiet and pliant.

PM meets with Barrick as Tanzanian strike continues

Nov 27, 2007 04:30 AM
Richard Brennan

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania–Prime Minister Stephen Harper fanned the flames of controversy yesterday when he used another international trip to meet with officials of Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold.

"We will be discussing obviously general business (and) what the government of Canada can do to assist in building our investments here," he said before the meeting.

The 45-minute private meeting was not on Harper's official agenda for his trip to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala and the o…

Special advocates system in UK does not protect liberties.

This comes from the Lawyer's Weekly. Harper seems not to be much interested in human rights when they are those of suspected terrorists, the one exception being the Arar case when he and Day both stood up to the barbarian administration on our southern border. I doubt though that Harper will reform his bill so that a government case could be exposed as has been done by the SIRC as the article notes.
There will be no more Arar inquiries either as the secrecy bound Iacobucci Inquiry shows.

British-style ‘special advocate’ scheme fails to protect liberties, experts urge

By Cristin Schmitz
November 23 2007

The federal government’s proposed new “special advocate” regime falls far short of what legal experts and law societies say is required to protect the rights of non-citizens who are subject to security certificates.

Ian Macdonald, a prominent British QC who resigned as a special advocate in 2004, calling his country’s law “an odious blot on our legal landscape,” said he hopes C…

Child poverty rate unchanged in nearly 2 decades.

In spite of the commitment to end poverty passed by the government in 1989 the rate remains unchanged. Instead we have tax cuts and a much larger military expenditure. Surpluses are not used to reduce poverty but to reduce debt or taxes.
Liberals and Conservatives share a bipartisan silent agreement not to make this commitment a priority except for occasional rhetorical flourishes that do nothing to reduce child poverty but simply add to global warming.

Child poverty rates unchanged in nearly 2 decades: report
Last Updated: Monday, November 26, 2007 | 2:40 PM ET
CBC News
The rate of child poverty in Canada is the same as it was in 1989, an advocacy group reported Monday while calling on the federal government to skip a planned GST cut to help tackle the issue.

As Campaign 2000 released the results of its annual report card on child poverty at a news conference in Ottawa, it called for the federal government to cancel the next one percentage point GST cut and use the money instead for eff…

Wait Time Alliance calls for new medical benchmarks

As noted the wait times might become "ideal" wait times rather than maximum wait times or medically reasonable wait times. The article gives no information as to how well the earlier designated benchmarks have been met.

Wait Time Alliance calls for new medical benchmarks
Last Updated: Monday, November 26, 2007 | 11:57 AM ET
CBC News
The government needs to commit to reducing lengthy wait times for medical services outside the five priority areas established three years ago, says a report released Monday by the Wait Time Alliance.

The group calls for the establishment of wait-time benchmarks for five additional medical specialities: emergency care, psychiatric care, plastic surgery, gastroenterology and anesthesiology. These have been developed by the Canadian Psychiatric Association, the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons, and the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology.

The emergency ward of Hull hospital. The report calls fo…

Lawyers earn big bucks from residential schools settlement

There is no mention of Frank Iacobucci, chair of the Iacobucci Inquiry, who received 2.5 million as fees for his role in the cases. See this site. The lawyers certainly have done well but probably without them the settlement would have been much lower. The payout to the claimants seems to be slower than that to the lawyers!

Ottawa pays $45.6M to lawyers involved in residential school cases
Last Updated: Monday, November 26, 2007 | 9:35 AM CT
CBC News
More than $45 million has recently been paid to residential school lawyers — one of the largest legal bills in Canadian history.

According to federal officials, a government cheque for $45.6 million has been sent to a consortium of lawyers — most of them in Alberta and Ontario — who had been involved in the Indian residential schools class action.

Former students like Roy Sanderson aren't impressed that, in some cases, lawyers are getting paid first.

"That hurts me. Why did they get paid first, get the money first and we never got not…

Stephen Harper's Environmental Bridge to Nowhere

I reproduce below a recent entry from James Laxer's blog. His position is much like my own. I guess that is a good reason to reproduce it LOL. Certainly Laxer is correct that aspirational targets are usually just hot air, hot air that just increases global warming by doing nothing. In Kampala Canada used its talent for bringing people together to create a watered down reactionary statement at the end of the meeting. This is Canada's new leadership role on the world stage, to have everyone join in moving backwards on the environment.

Stephen Harper’s Environmental Bridge to Nowhere

It is not often that an emperor’s clothes are torn from him in full public view, but that is precisely what happened to Stephen Harper at the Commonwealth summit in Kampala.

On the crucial issue of climate change, Harper had one ally when he arrived in Uganda, the right-wing government of Australian Prime Minister John Howard. Alone among the fifty-three countries at the conclave, Canada and Australi…

Opposition barred from Canadian delegation to Bali climate change talks.

The Harper government just can't stand opposition and will do anything possible prevent it. The government apparently will take some other people with them to advise them. I assume this will be at taxpayer expense. They are unmentionable apparently but I would venture to guess that they are supporters of Harper's positions.
The opposition will have to go to Bali at their own expense a trip that will not come that cheap. Even when there they will only get to go to some of the meetings. Perhaps they can lobby with local and international media to criticise Harper's position and show that Harper does not represent all Canadians, in fact probably not even a majority. At least Harper will not be able to hobknob with John Howard at Bali. He will be history. Let us hope that soon Harper will be history as well.

Opposition barred from Canadian delegation to Bali climate change talks
Last Updated: Thursday, November 22, 2007 | 3:58 PM ET
CBC News
The Conservative government has bro…

Excited Delirium

We are about to catch up and surpass the US in cases of excited delirium. What is excited delirium? Well the main psychiatric reference book doesn't recognise its existence. However the symptoms are extreme aggressiveness, almost superhuman strength, and most important resistance to arrest should police intervene. If police have really big problems restraining someone during arrest this may be because the person is suffering excited delirium and thus according to recent RCMP manuals they can taser the person not just once but multiple times. If the person dies as a result the death will likely not be because of the tasering but because of excited delirium. This is a win win conclusion. The cops get to control people without hurting themselves and Taser Inc. and the cops get to win any lawsuits because death is not due to tasering. With animals we have a tranquilizer dart. Instead of developing one for humans apparently we prefer a weapon that is used by numerous countries as an i…

Commonwealth Steers Clear of Binding Emissions Targets

Anyone who thinks that Harper has the slightest intention of providing leadership in reducing global emissions must by now know
that he is a leader only in going backwards and following the same reactionary policies as the US.

Harper pointed out that Canada's position at the Commonwealth is the same to one it took at the G-8 and APEC summits earlier this year

This is true. Harper is consistently reactionary. Harper wants to do nothing until developing nations also commit themselves even though developed nations produce many times the pollution per capita than developing nations. The developed nations should lead not follow but Canada only wants to follow our pack leader the USA. Now that Australia has a new government committed to Kyoto Harper will have to take over as the chief errand boy in the Commonwealth for US interests.

Commonwealth steers clear of binding emissions targets
Harper calls for climate change protocol for all major polluters
Last Updated: Saturday, Nove…

Labor wins Australian Election

THis is from Times on Line. It seems that the right wing labor policy of Howard helped do him in. He even lost his own seat. At the last moment it seemed as is Howard was catching up but the seat total shows that Labor was still in good shape.

Labor Party wins Australian election
(Rob Griffith)

By Bernard Lagan in Sydney
Australia's long-serving conservative government not only lost yesterday's Australian election but its leader, John Howard, became only the second Prime Minister in Australia's history to lose his seat in Parliament.

The Australian Labor Party, out of power nationally since 1996, stormed back into government, winning at least 20 more seats in Australia's 150-seat House of Representatives. The Labor leader, Kevin Rudd, 50, needed only 16 extra seats to form Government.

Mr Rudd, a former diplomat and China specialist, will have Australia's first female deputy Prime Minister at his side - Julia Gillard, a former lawyer.

There were wild scenes at the nati…

Mulroney offers no explanation

Seems to me since McQuaig wrote this Mulroney explained that he was stupid, and that is why he took the 300 thousand from Schreiber! McQuaig is right that Mulroney does not look very clean especially since he denied having any dealings with Schreiber just a few friendly cups of coffee or more likely caviar or smoked salmon.
McQuaig goes in for a bit of histrionics when she says what is at stake is whether Canadians can have confidence in our political system. That is not at issue at all. We can be confident that a few politicians on the take now and then should not reduce our confidence that our political system works just fine to promote the financial and power interests of those in our ruling class. This is from straight goods.
Mulroney offers no explanation

Harper rode a wave of outrage over the Liberal scandals all the way to 24 Sussex.

Dateline: Monday, November 19, 2007

by Linda McQuaig

There's already an energetic campaign by the Conservatives and their supporters to keep us di…

Canada Stalls Commonwealth Climate Deal

This is the sort of Global Leadership Harper touts. Canada is now on the world stage as Harper would claim but as a spoiler. The United States is not present in the Commonwealth to sabotage meaningful environmental progress so it falls upon Harper to play the role. In spite of the fact that developed countries pollute many multiples what developing countries do in terms of per capita emissions Harper wants not to set any hard targets until other developing countries and the US agree. In other words Canada is leading the Commonwealth backwards or at least trying to.

Canada stalls Commonwealth climate deal - World - Canada stalls Commonwealth climate deal

November 23, 2007
KAMPALA, Uganda — The Commonwealth summit in Uganda is close to a resolution calling for international climate-change targets — but Canada is being accused of blocking a deal.
Sources say Canada will not support an agreement unless it specifically demands the participation of major emitters…

NDP calls on Harper not to trade away human rights

No Canadian government is likely to let human rights issues interfere much with trade. Harper is very selective in his human rights concerns. He is quite happy to chime in on human rights in Burma since no one is going to contest that and Burma is not in any situation to retaliate. He is also on the side of the angels or prayer wheels when it comes to Tibet. However in Colombia he just ignores human rights when he thinks he can get a trade deal and perhaps even help buddy Bush also push through a US agreement. Saudi Arabia is an ally of the US and a big oil supplier so Harper is not about to ruffle any Sheik's turbans. In the case of Khadr Harper could care less. Defending Khadr would be a political liablity.

Published on NDP (
Created 2007-11-22 14:59
NDP calls on Harper not to trade away human rights
OTTAWA – Today, NDP International Trade Critic Peter Julian (Burnaby-New Westminster) was joined by NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre) and NDP …

Schreiber to be called before ethics committee

I guess the ethics committee is the obvious place to hear the great ethicist and arms dealer Karl-Heinz Schreiber. I hope the chair has set strict rules about shouting in the committee. Recently the noise level has been a danger to ear drums.
Maybe the Conservatives will find some way to block the hearings as it has done previously.

Opposition wins vote to call Schreiber before Commons ethics committee

Juliet O'Neill
CanWest News Service; Ottawa Citizen

Friday, November 23, 2007

OTTAWA -- The Commons ethics committee voted Thursday to summon Karlheinz Schreiber from a Toronto jail to testify on the eve of his scheduled extradition to Germany about his dealings with former prime minister Brian Mulroney.

Conservative MP Russ Hiebert immediately denounced the decision to summon the German-Canadian businessman and to launch an inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber affair as "a politically motivated witch hunt." Mulroney will be summoned next month.

The vote was six to five, with M…

Calvert: New premier already making excuses.

This is standard right-wing rhetoric. Social program cuts will be justified by citing financial constraints. To save programs in the future they need to be cut now. Of course there will be no truck nor trade with raising taxes to pay for programs. Actually, Saskatchewan should be well off with the price of gas and oil even with its low royalties. Wall is coy in that he won't say what program involves dicey financing.

New premier already making excuses, Calvert says
Last Updated: Thursday, November 22, 2007 | 5:56 PM CT
CBC News
Suggestions from the Saskatchewan Party that the NDP left government finances in a mess have been vigorously denied by former premier Lorne Calvert.

Calvert said Thursday he couldn't believe the words coming out of Brad Wall's mouth Wedneday night, shortly after he was sworn in as Saskatchewan's 14th premier.

Calvert said he left a $2-billion surplus for Wall's government and if that's not enough, then the Saskatchewan Party can't manage…

Taliban leaders open to talks

I just wonder whether these are splinter groups or the main leaders of the insurgency. I doubt that the main group will negotiate unless there is some agreement that the foreign troops withdraw but who knows what sort of deal Karzai and they might be cooking up. What is so laughable about all this is that the Canadian and other western governments always cry out against negotiating with terrorists while Karzai is willing to take them into his government. Anyway it is probably a step up from some of the warlords that are already part of his government.
The Karzai government is already influenced considerably by Islamists even to the point of resurrecting a ministry of vice and virtue.

Taliban leaders open to talks


This is from the canoe site.

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that his government has had increasing contact with Taliban insurgents this year, including several talks this week with militant leaders living in exile.


Typhoon Mitag headed for the Philippines

This is from this site. This sounds as if it could be a disastrous storm. My wife has a house in Legaspi. Last year it was flooded during the typhoon Durian and I imagine it will flood again. My sister in law and her family will probably have to move upstairs or to another house as their house is in a low lying area. There have been heavy rains for some while so around the base of the Mayon volcano there are sure to be serious mudslides. I hope everyone gets to shelter but there seem always some people who stay where they shouldn't. Power is often knocked out for weeks. I remember when I was there I found it quite hot with no fans and no air conditioning in the bedroom for over a week! But then we were well off with a concrete house that could easily withstand the winds and rains.

Typhoon Mitag gaining strength, thousands evacuated in Philippines

Manila (AP): A tropical storm developed into a typhoon on Thursday as it powered toward an eastern Philippine region ravaged last year by…

Two articles on Tasers

As one would expect the US is a great user of Tasers. Indeed, in 47 states it is legal to purchase them. If you want one go to this website!! In Canada they are illegal you will just have to use a cattle prod as a second best! Apparently a number of tasers have been seized at the borders as they were being imported to Canada.
Below are two articles on tasers that describe some of the horrendous cases of their use which certainly sound even worse than the Vancouver incident. The first is from Amnesty International USA.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

USA: TASER-Related Deaths Increasingly Frequent;
Total Exceeds 150, Reports Amnesty International
TASER Use Amounts to Torture in Some Cases

"[It was] the most horrendous experience [of my life]. At one point I just
pretended like I was dead because I thought ... then they would stop."
-- Patricia Skelly, who has a mental illness, and was shocked with a TASER
between nine and 15 times while in jail and…