Showing posts from April, 2008

The Abdelarazik (Sudan) case and the Iacobucci Inquiry

There have been a number of articles about the case of a Canadian citizen in Sudan who was imprisoned in the Sudan at the request of Canadian authorities it seems and whose return to Canada is being sabotaged by his own government. Here is a snippet from a recent Globe and Mail article:

" Officially, Mr. Abdelrazik has been told by Canadian diplomats he's welcome to go home. But his efforts to return have been stymied at every step by Canada's refusal to issue him a passport, the claim that they can do nothing about his "no-fly" status, and perhaps most startlingly, by thwarting offers by Sudan to fly him back to Canada.

The document trail obtained by The Globe ends in early 2006, but Mr. Abdelrazik's limbo continues. He remains under police surveillance in Khartoum. He makes frequent visits to the Canadian embassy, which has been doling him out $100 a month from a special fund for distressed citizens. He's being allowed to telephone his family in Montr…

Khadr (Omar) 'not a risk' Commons committee told.

What if he is a risk? What difference should it make? Canada can arrest him and try him if there is enough evidence to bring forward a case against him and surely there is. The point is that there is no chance of a fair trial in Guantanamo and Canada is disgracing itself in not trying to rescue Khadr from the clutches of U.S. injustice.
While the fact that Khadr was a "child soldier" is relevant I think that Khadr was certainly a willing participant in jihad. I can't go along with the idea that he is somehow just a passive product of brainwashing. Why is this so at fifteen but not at eighteen or even thirty five? The fact that his family --even the CIA snoop who loves U.S. video games?--is hated by Canadians is neither here nor there. All that it shows is that many Canadians have no clue about justice.

Khadr 'not a risk,' Commons committee told - Canada - Khadr 'not a risk,' Commons committee told

Omar Khadr being persecuted because of his fat…

Ottawa reviews case of Canadian stuck in Sudan

This is from the Star. This is another case Iacobucci should be looking at. Of course no one will. The Iacobucci inquiry is virtually invisible these days and the mandate is so narrow that there is no way Iacobucci would look at the case even though the situation is in some ways identical to what happened to Almalki et al.
This article does not even mention the no fly issue for some reason. The Canadian government obviously tipped off the Sudanese government and Abdelrazak was subsequently imprisoned and interrogated. As with the U.S. intelligence services our intelligence services think nothing of turning suspects over to be imprisoned in places we know practice torture. I just wonder what Iacobucci will conclude not that it will matter much. His inquiry has no concern at all with clearing Almalki, et al of any wrongdoing as the Arar inquiry did. Of course no one has paid for the "mistakes" made by intelligence services in the Arar case. Some involved have since been prom…

Family of Canadian stranded by no-fly list to make public appeal.

This is from the CBC. I wonder if there are no sail lists and no bus lists as well. You would think that Abdelrazik could travel by land and then sea if he can't fly.
It looks very much as if Canada again is involved in rendition lite. Rendition lite is opportunistic in that Canada waits until someone whom they want to interrogate goes to another country and then they inform the country that the person is a terror suspect. The person is then imprisoned and interrogated and often tortured as well. In the war on terror you are guilty until the authorities decide otherwise. Maybe one of those U.S. rendition planes is flying empty back to North America and Abdelrazik could hitch a ride.

Family of Canadian stranded by no-fly list to make public appeal
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 | 8:14 AM ET Comments37Recommend18CBC News
Abousfian Abdelrazik The family of a Montreal man stranded in Sudan for five years because he's on a no-fly list will make a public plea to the Canadian g…

Ford reaches early labour pact.

This is from the Star. The by the numbers introduction fails to mention the wage freeze! This in effect means that with inflation pay is going backward but apparently not nearly as much as in the U.S. or to the degree that GM and Chrysler want. If the workers gave up to thirty dollars an hour than given that production technicians earn only 33.90 an hour they would receive under the minimum wage and even skilled tradespeople receive just 40.30 so they would get just $10.30!
I wonder if there is much contact between North American unions and unions or auto worker organisations in Japan and South Korea. Capital is globalised but labor is fragmented, a good recipe for disastrous competition between workers to the bottom. The best one can say about Hargrove's agreement is that it is not as bad as the UAW cave in and two tier agreement. Ford is obviously in good shape compared to the other two ageing auto giants. Kerkorian's investment may be a good move for him.
Given that TTC …

The Neoconning of the U.S. : Eric Margolis

This is from the Toronto Sun. This article repeats the claim that one aim of revealing "intelligence" about the Syrian reactor at this stage is to sabotage nuclear talks with North Korea that the neocons oppose. But the article also reveals another motive and that is to prevent accomodation between Israel and Syria. Perhaps Margolis is correct that the neo-cons want a confrontation with Iran before the next election because they think that this will get McCain elected. Perhaps the neocons are right but given the public opinion polls on the Iraq war and the state of the U.S. economy a new war may not be that popular.

April 27, 2008

The neoconning of a nation
Vice-President, shilling troupe of retired generals, deliver fantastic tales for their cause


PARIS -- U.S. intelligence released a dramatic video last Thursday, supposedly taken by an Israeli spy, that purportedly showed North Korean technicians helping build a nuclear reactor in Syria.

The reactor was destr…

Conservatives "tightening the screws on the federal government"

This is from straightgoods. Flanagan is one of Harper's key advisors on strategy and part of the "Calgary School". Part of the strategy is to make Harper look to be a moderate while skilfully introducing right wing policies by degrees. As this article shows Harper has made it difficult if not impossible to introduce new federal programs. Of course NAFTA also makes many new programs impossible if the involve nationalisation since investors would have to be compensated for lost profits. This makes new public auto insurance programs virtually impossible.

Harper's "nation of shopping centres"

Conservatives have re-engineered the budget to prevent any future government from introducing new national programs.

Dateline: Monday, April 21, 2008

by Frances Russell for the Winnipeg Free Press

Tom Flanagan, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's longtime confidant and former chief of staff, is delighted at the Conservatives' success in "tightening the screws on the …

Air Canada charges for extra luggage.

This is from the Star.
West Jet can probably take more passengers from Air Canada by not going along with the increase. It might be better just to increase fares a bit. Air Canada must want its budget service competitors with West Jet to fail. Maybe West Jet loaned an advisor to Air Canada! Notice that the headline says extra luggage making one bag the norm!

Air Canada charges for extra luggage - Business - Air Canada charges for extra luggage

Second bag will cost $25 on certain flights to help offset rising fuel costs in move following U.S. lead

April 26, 2008
Chris Sorensen
Business Reporter

Citing soaring fuel prices, Air Canada has decided to follow a move by several U.S. carriers and begin charging some passengers $25 to check a second piece of luggage on certain flights.

The country's largest airline, which already charges fees for a number of formerly complimentary services, said that passengers flying within Canada or to the United States on its cheaper "Tango&qu…

Carney: Economy Stalling

In Canada there will obviously be a big difference between provinces such as Ontario on the one hand and Alberta and Saskatchewan on the other. Canada will always have lots of demand for our natural resources recession or not so the oil industry and potash for fertilizer will still thrive even if some sectors slow down a bit. Ontario is probably already in recession.

Economy stalling: Carney - Business - Economy stalling: Carney

Full recovery not seen until 2010 as anemic exports stifle growth

April 25, 2008
Les Whittington
Robert Benzie
Staff Reporters

OTTAWA–Acknowledging that the economic storm sweeping North America is worse than expected, the Bank of Canada said yesterday that the Canadian economy is sagging and won't recover fully until 2010.

With weak export sales as the main culprit, Canadian economic growth will drop to a very weak 0.3 per cent in the April-through-June period, significantly lower than the 2 per cent forecast by the central bank only three months ago…

Metro (Vancouver) Filipinos ship rice to families back home..

Maybe this makes sense but I just wonder if it might not be better just to send funds to buy rice. I guess the problem there might be that it would be used not to buy rice but beer, gin, or brandy, which are all very cheap in the Philippines.
We send a box or so a year to my wife's relatives usually with a lot of clothes from Thrift shops and stuff from garage sales but also instant coffee!

Friday » April 25 » 2008

Metro Filipinos ship rice to families back home
Gift packages from Canadian residents ease shortages in homeland

Joanne Lee-Young
Vancouver Sun

Monday, April 21, 2008

Filipino expatriates and, in particular, workers who go abroad seeking employment, are famed for remitting significant cash earnings to support their families back home.

But aside from wiring money, many also regularly send by sea so-called balikbayan boxes filled with gifts from abroad: toys, used clothing, shoes, toiletries and specialty treats that are hard to find in the Philippines -- everything from ca…

Manitoba introduces lemon law..

This may be a good idea but I am not sure how useful it will be. The extra work for dealers will be passed on through increased prices for used vehicles I expect. In many cases it may be impossible to get much history of a vehicle especially one that has changed hands and locations several times. The burden is not imposed on private sellers as the dealers point out so many sales will still be without any history.
I have found that I have purchased just as many lemons privately if not more than from dealers. I always buy old clunkers of three thousand and under so I don't expect much and I don't expect much but sweet talk about junk from dealers. Actually I have found them not that bad and I frequent the lowest level who are the only ones willing to flog old beaters. Used car dealers are more reliable than politicians!
I think that on the whole I have been lucky and enjoyed years of cheap transportation. The fact that cars have to be safetied now to be licenced at least mean…

Canadian forces paid for friendly fire deaths

This is from the Globe and Ma The payments are made without accepting any liability. I am not sure that Afghans would be able to sue NATO soldiers in any event. These events are fleetingly noted usually by the press.

Forces paid for friendly-fire deaths, files show
Afghan families got up to $9,000 each for losing a family member – but without any admission of liability from Canada

From Thursday's Globe and Mail

April 23, 2008 at 11:20 PM EDT

OTTAWA — On a single day in the summer of 2006, the Canadian Forces were involved in at least half a dozen instances of "friendly fire" that left two Afghans dead and four injured. The Forces ended up paying about $35,000 in compensation, even though it admitted no liability for the deaths.

Documents obtained by The Globe and Mail through access-to-information legislation show more than 30 instances since January of 2006 where the Canadian Forces compensated Afghan citizens for everything from lost cellphones to the acciden…

Background on the SPP and the New Orleans meeting of the Three Amigos

This is from straight goods. This is the sort of article that should appear in the mainstream press. The New Orleans meeting has not produced much in the way of significant articles. Most mainstream journalists cannot be bothered digging below the surface to find out what is really important. They are content to publish a photo of the three Amigos or snippets of information about the general import of discussions. The relationship of the whole meeting to corporate agendas and the fact that the three meet only with corporate executives for the most part is glossed over.

Round four of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) talks

The SPP is the umbrella under which hundreds of trilateral initiatives have been assembled.

Dateline: Monday, April 21, 2008

by Bruce Campbell

As the NAFTA leaders and their big business counterparts gather in New Orleans a few days from now for the fourth North American Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) summit, it is worth reflecting on its role in …

Charles McVety, evangelical heavyweight roams in Harper's halls of power.

This is from the Harper Index. Bill C-10 is no doubt a sop thrown to Harper's right wing evangelical social conservative base. On the whole though Harper's whole strategy is to portray himself as a moderate conservative. This tactic is meant to expand his base and in time to achieve a majority. McVety just serves to remind us the direction in which Harper is likely to go if he ever gets a majority.

McVety, Charles – Evangelical heavyweight roams in Harper's halls of power

Lobbyist who helps run Christian pressure groups will testify on Bill C-10.

by Dennis Gruending

OTTAWA, April 15, 2008: Reverend Charles McVety says that he has many friends among the Harper Conservatives who govern in Ottawa. This week he will testify before the Senate banking committee in support of legislation that he says occurred partly as a result of his lobbying. It would [retroactively] deny tax credits to films that the government deems offensive. It's a move that critics say is an affront to …

Province Discovers Life Beyond the Oilpatch.

This is from the Edmonton Journal. As the article describes the situation Alberta Enterprise Corp. will actually allocate the funds to Venture Capital Funds. I assume that the funds attempt to make a return on invested capital. Anyway it will be a good injection of money into those funds. Alberta might even make some money. Of course it could lose as well as critics will no doubt note!
In spite of the mantra about government not intervening in the marketplace as a matter of fact few capitalists will turn down government money to retain their purity uncontaminated by government support! The relationship between government and capital is usually more symbiotic than antagonistic. However, since governments are voted into power something must be given to ordinary citizens to gain their acceptance of the domination of capital.

Province discovers life beyond the oilpatch
Tech funding meagre, but better than neglect

Gary Lamphier
The Edmonton Journal

Thursday, April 24, 2008

EDMONTON - As budge…

Much is at stake for Elections Canada

This is from the Star. Interesting that Hebert speaks of political party brands which reminds of e e cumming's line 'as freedom is a breakfast food'. Parties are in effect brands marketed to the public. A type of democratic junk food composed mostly of the same high moral rhetoric and illusions to keep the masses content.
Well climbing down from my own high rhetoric, Hebert is probably right that Elections Canada has a lot at stake but if Elections Canada is right the effect may be negative enough that the Liberal party polls will rise high enough for them to declare that Canadians want an election right now!

Much is at stake for Elections Canada - Canada - Much is at stake for Elections Canada

April 23, 2008
Chantal Hébert

OTTAWA - Given the headlines of the past week, this will come across as counterintuitive but when all is said and done, Elections Canada has more at stake in its escalating feud with the Conservatives than Stephen Harper.

If it turns out tha…

On that Freedom Tower ad....

The nauseating ad that uses the tragedy to turn a tidy profit is actually a rewrite of an even more nauseating ad that made it look as if the coin were U.S. government backed and legal tender. The commemorative coin actually was originally issued in such a way that it was supposed to be legal tender in a tiny group of islands administered by the U.S. but as this court order notes the islands have no right to issue money. The original ad did not give the amount of silver in the coin. The silver could be from vaults beneath the tower since silver stored there was sold off. The company that produced the coins is based in the U.S.
Spitzer of course has since been debased and is out of circulation but the Freedom Tower ad continues to be sold!
Here is the original court order that caused the company to change its ads.

Attorney General Criticizes Collectible Item as Attempt to Profit from Tragedy

Attorney General Spitzer toda…

Alberta budget comes down Tuesday

Given the deficit in expenditure upon infrastructure this might not be the best time to salt away savings. Expenditure on infrastructure has not kept pace with

development. Stelmach's plans seem to address this gap to some extent.

Alberta budget comes down Tuesday
Last Updated: Monday, April 21, 2008 4:47 PM MT
CBC News
Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach will unveil his government's second budget in the legislature Tuesday amid speculation that spending is likely to increase above last year's record $33 billion.
During the campaign for the March 3 election, Stelmach promised billions for new schools, health-care facilities and roads.
"Its a big job actually, but I'm looking forward to it," said Finance Minister Iris Evans, as she prepared to present the province's spending plans. It will be her first budget since being appointed to the finance position in March.
Many observers will be watching to see whether the government has a plan for saving more of its energy wealt…

Three Amigos have full plate on last day of Summit

This is from CBC. As the article shows this summit enables 30 key corporate bigwigs to meet with and advise the three leaders. This is just another sign of who counts most when it comes to policy. There is no citizen input on the issues. Where are all the protesters?

Three Amigos have full plate on last day of summit
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 9:41 AM ET
Issues of border security and trade are expected to dominate the second day of the Three Amigos summit Tuesday in New Orleans as talks resume between the North American leaders.
Details of the two-day summit will be made public during a joint news conference in the afternoon attended by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
After breakfast, the three leaders will meet privately with the North American Competitiveness Council — 30 private-sector representatives, or 10 from each country, who make recommendations on issues ranging from border security to trade.

Minister Verner takes issue with Oscar winner's view on Bill C 10

Perhaps the Conservatives should be copying Afghanistan's new ban on five soap operas. Surely they have no redeeming artistic value! Or maybe the Conservatives will create also a Ministry of Virtue and Vice as the Afghans have done.

Minister Verner takes issue with Oscar winner's view
April 22, 2008
Toronto -- Acclaimed director Ang Lee has ruffled the feathers of Canada's Minister of Canadian Heritage, Josée Verner, by criticizing pending legislation affecting the film industry. If passed, Bill C-10 will deny tax credits to Canadian-made films and videos deemed offensive to the public.
During a talk with young Vancouver filmmakers on Saturday, Lee urged them to "make a noise, whatever" to stop Bill C-10. "It's almost like censorship."
Upon hearing of his comments, Verner issued a statement yesterday: "I'm surprised about the comments of Mr. Ang Lee, director of the world acclaimed movie Brokebac…

The Integration of the US and Canadian military

Given the recent news about Canadian military personnel serving in the Iraq war, this old article from August 2007 is relevant. The present meeting re the SPP in New Orleans also makes it relevant since military harmonisation will no doubt be a topic there although this never seems to be mentioned in the press. This is from the Harper Index.

SPP is built around secrecy and US military command according to law expert.
Michael Byers says SPP is part of a larger process that threatens Canadian sovereignty and autonomy.";

OTTAWA, August 20, 2007
I was asked to speak about one aspect of the Security and Prosperity Partnership, namely security, or more specifically, the military. In the immediate aftermath of September 2001, plans were devised within the American and Canadian governments to put the entire Canadian Forces under the umbrella of the US Northern Command. To put all our soldiers, sailors and pilots and all their equipment …