Showing posts from May, 2008

Release of footage showing Khadr interrogation sought

This is from the Globe and Mail.
The Harper government is adamant in its support for the Guantanamo injustice system even though Canadian lawyers and many others have suggested that Khadr should be repatriated and tried in Canada. Now the Supreme Court has ruled that Khadr''s rights were violated when he was interrogated by Canadian intelligence officials. However the CSIS complains that these judicial moves threaten to remove the veil of secrecy from CSIS activities. Translated this means that the joint criminal activities of the CSIS and their US counterparts are in danger of being exposed. What next? Maybe a demand for some accountability but not likely from the Harper government.

Release of footage showing Khadr interrogation sought
Video documentation of Canadian agents' questioning has been kept secret for five years
May 31, 2008
Canadian intelligence agents were videotaped as they questioned a 16-year-old prisoner held in Guantanamo Bay, and…

Cluster bomb ban does not include US, China, Russia or Israel.

Nothing is said in the artcile about Canada.
This is from CBC (via AP)
Apparently the US and NATO got their way in that joint exercises between signatories and non-signatories can use the bombs. We can still participate with the US in Afghanistan or elsewhere even though the US might use cluster bombs. There is a new axis of evil: U.S., China, Russia, Israel et al.

111 countries adopt landmark treaty banning cluster bombs
Last Updated: Friday, May 30, 2008 1:13 PM ET
The Associated Press
A member of the mines advisory group inspects a cluster bomb unit in the southern village of Ouazaiyeh, Lebanon, in November 2006. (Mohammed Zaatari/Associated Press)
Diplomats from 111 countries have formally adopted a landmark treaty banning cluster bombs, but some of the biggest makers and users of them including the United States, Russia and China didn't participate.
The 12 days of negotiations in Dublin that culminated in the treaty ended after diplomats from scores of countries delivered speech…

Khadr trial judge relieved of duties.

This is from the Globe and Mail.
I hear that Peter Brownback is to be replaced by Faithful Brownnoser. It seems that even the least move towards any fairness on the part of a judge is not to be tolerated. Harper still is completely mum as far as any criticism of this transparently unjust process is concerned.

Khadr trial judge relieved of duties
May 30, 2008
OTTAWA -- The military judge in the Omar Khadr trial in Guantanamo Bay has been relieved of his duties, a move that Mr. Khadr's defence counsel implied is a result of the judge siding with the defence on a number of evidence-disclosure issues in the controversial military tribunal case.
In a brief e-mail message circulated yesterday afternoon, Military Commissions chief judge, Colonel Ralph Kohlmann, announced that Colonel Peter Brownback, who has served until now as the judge in the Khadr case, is to be replaced by another colonel, Patrick Parrish.
Defence officials in Washington told The Globe and Mail that Col. Brown…

Canada on cluster bombs

There seems to be little publicity about Canada's role at the Dublin conference. A large number of nations are going to sign on to banning the bombs but instead of playing a leading role as we did in banning landmines Canada is dragging its feet and trying to weaken the declaration. Presumably this reflects Harper's friendly feelings towards US imperialism rather than his love for China or Russia who also oppose the ban. This is from newswire.
The final declaration is due out tomorrow. We will see what Canada does and if the Harper govt. says anything.

Campaigners call on Harper to support a ban on cluster bombs - Survivors and Canadian campaigners protest at embassy in Dublin DUBLIN, Ireland, May 27 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadian campaigners at the
diplomatic negotiations today called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to
support a strong treaty to ban cluster bombs. In the first week of
negotiations the Canadian position has been dominated by its insistence to
weaken the treaty especia…

Saskatchewan nurses union readies counter offer.

Both sides seem to be negotiating in a civil and professional manner! The SAHO is even defending the nurses against public attacks on them by some people. By the way negotiations are going it would seem as if a work stoppage will not be necessary. This is from

Wednesday » May 28 » 2008

SUN readies counter-off
SAHO head defends nurses

Saskatchewan News Network; Regina Leader-Post
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
REGINA (SNN) -- Union representatives for Saskatchewan's 7,200 nurses hope the updated package they presented Tuesday night will bring a successful conclusion to negotiations.
"We're feeling pretty confident that this is the basis of a collective agreement and we're really hopeful the employer will see it as that and accept it," said Rosalee Longmoore, president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN).
Around 8 p.m., SUN delivered a package to conciliator Doug Forseth to take to the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO), the group representin…

No Global warming on Mars

Maybe we can export some of our pollution and warming gases to Mars.
This is from CBC.

Long-range weather: it's a balmy -30 C on Mars
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 6:42 AM ET Comments14Recommend37
CBC News
The first weather reports are in from Canada's $37-million weather station on Mars, showing temperatures hitting a high of –30 Celsius and a low of –80.
These temperatures are likely "milder" than temperatures could be on other parts of the planet, said Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, the principal researcher for NASA's Mars mission.
Meanwhile, pressure was 8.5 millibars, less than 1/100 of the pressure at sea-level on Earth, while wind speed was estimated at 20 kilometres per hour, from the northeast.
The Canadian pressure and temperature instruments were turned on shortly after NASA's Phoenix-Mars lander touched down on Sunday, said Jim Whiteway, York University professor and lead investigator for the Canadian mission.
The weather station is the…

Five Arctic powers to meet in Greenland

This is from smh. Note that Canada not only has a dispute with Denmark over a tiny uninhabited island but a much larger issue with the U.S. over whether the northwest passage is international waters.

Five Arctic powers to meet in Greenland

May 25, 2008 - 11:47AM
Representatives of the five countries bordering the Arctic will meet in Greenland on Wednesday to discuss the impact of climate change on the icy region - and how to divide up its as-yet untapped rich resources.
"We must solve our problems peacefully and through accords in line with international law," said Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, who with the head of the local Greenland government Hans Enoksen, will host the meeting.
Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States are at odds over 1.2 million square kilometres of Arctic seabed.
According to the US Geological Survey, it could hold 25 per cent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas.
The United States will be represented at the meetin…

Internet protesters to descend on Ottawa

This is from the CBC.

This is a classic case of the big boys trying to squeeze out the smaller players who must depend upon the big providers. Do not some clients of the big boys also abuse the system?

Anyway if that is the problem surely the solution is to go after the abusers.

Internet protesters to descend on Ottawa
Hundreds expected to call for end to traffic interference by major ISPs
Last Updated: Monday, May 26, 2008 5:03 PM ET Comments29Recommend84
By Peter Nowak CBC News
Liberal MP Mauril BĂ©langer will be one of the speakers at the net neutrality rally at Parliament Hill on Tuesday.
Hundreds of protesters are expected to descend on Parliament Hill on Tuesday to urge government action on keeping the internet free from interference by service providers.
The net neutrality rally will draw together politicians, labour unions, consumer groups and internet activitists, with protesters being bused in from Toronto, Montreal and Chatham, Ont., the home base of its organizer, TekSavvy Solution…

Taliban vow to fight on, offer talks with Afghans

This is form wiredispatch.
Interesting that recent Taliban statements about talks do not explicitly state that the Karzai government must go. Many opposition parties seem to be quite favorable to negotiations. Karzai too has even offered positions in the government but as long as Karzai insists on keeping foreign troops in Afghanistan there is no chance of an agreement. If at some point Karzai should decide that he can survive without his western backers then he could actually ask troops to leave. That is unlikely to happen in the near future though. It seems the only way that Canadian troops could return home! However if more opposition parties decide that the Taliban jihad against the occupiers is justified NATO could be in for more troubles.

Taliban vow to fight on, offer talks with Afghans
Mon May 26, 2008 8:46am EDT
By Sayed Salahuddin
KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban will fight on till the last foreign soldier is driven out of Afghanistan, but their door is always open to talks with …

Pakistan peace talks lead to more Afghan attacks: NATO

This is from wiredispatch.
Karzai and his western backers must face the fact that Pakistan is more concerned with achieving some kind of peace with the tribal areas and Al Qaeda rather than losing more and more troops and civilians from terror attacks and facing more civil strife. If this means that the Taliban mount more attacks in Afghanistan Pakistan will probably not be that concerned! Now that Musharraf is out of the picture U.S. policy of a gung-ho attacks in the tribal areas is being frustrated.

Pakistan talks lead to more Afghan attacks-NATO
Jon HemmingReuters North American News Service
May 25, 2008 08:22 EST
KABUL, May 25 (Reuters) - Peace talks between the Pakistani government and Taliban militants have already led to an increase in insurgent attacks in Afghanistan, NATO said on Sunday.

Faced with a wave of suicide attacks, Pakistan has begun negotiations with Taliban militants who control much of the mountainous region on its side of the border with Afghanistan and thinned out t…

Green Leader blasts NDP on carbon tax stance.

This is from CTV.
I am not all that knowledgable about the details of this issue. However it seems reasonable that Layton should be concerned about the effects on the less well off of a carbon tax. Although the Liberals say the policy will be revenue neutral that does not settle the issue of what effects the tax may have on different income strata. I don't see why Layton does not demand that any carbon tax should also be coupled with a policy that offsets any negative effects the tax may have on lower income groups. Layton talks as if the cap and trade policy is an alternative to a carbon tax rather than a complementary policy that is also justified.
It sounds as if Elizabeth May is very supportive of the Liberals. Maybe if she gets elected she can sit on her hands and support the Conservatives too while screaming about how bad their environmental policies are.
Suzuki is a good propagandist and showperson for environmental issues but he is also a prima donna who does not…

Layton: Carbon tax would hurt poor.

Layton is probably correct but then the solution could be to have policies that neutralise any effects on the less well, off not dumping the carbon tax. Many environmentally friendly policies will hurt the poor. Environmentalists are not always very sensitive to this so it is good that Layton should point out the effects on the poor. However, the cap and trade policy could also increase prices for products manufactured by companies involved and also hurt the poor who must use them. This is from the Star.

Carbon tax would hurt poor, NDP says - Canada - Carbon tax would hurt poor, NDP says
Layton criticizes Liberal plan for levy on fossil fuel, saying heating a house in Canada is a necessity
May 23, 2008 Joanna SmithOttawa Bureau
Ottawa–A carbon tax would place an unfair burden on low-income Canadians, Jack Layton said yesterday.
"Those advocating a carbon tax suggest that by making the costs for certain things more expensive, people will make different choices," Layton…

Guy Giorno: 'Wicked smart'' man going to Toronto

This is from the Globe and Mail.
It seems that the Common Sense revolution is now being revitalized as the Harper revolution. Harper is surrounding himself with a gang of conservative ideologues with lots of experience in managing and massaging the people. They are much more than a 'gang of four'.

'Wicked smart' man going to Ottawa
From Friday's Globe and Mail
May 23, 2008 at 5:12 AM EDT
An introverted, hard-core Conservative with a strategic mind and a deep religious faith is set to take over as Stephen Harper's top adviser.
Guy Giorno, 43, a Toronto lawyer and former chief of staff to Mike Harris, then the Progressive Conservative premier of Ontario - he once wrote that Mr. Harris "changed Canadians politics, permanently, and for the better" - begins his new job as Mr. Harper's chief of staff on July 1, according to Conservative sources.
Mr. Giorno was handpicked for the position by Ian Brodie, the man he is succeeding, a senior Conse…

Harper's chief of staff to resign within weeks.

This is from CTV.
There is no explanation as to why Brodie is resigning but the context makes it look as if it might have something to do with the leak re NAFTA-gate. Brodie's replacement seems to be made of the same type of material manufactured by the former Harris government. We can look forward to more common sense garbage.

Harper's chief of staff to resign within weeks
Updated Thu. May. 22 2008 Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff is expected to step down from his post within weeks, CTV News has learned.
Sources told CTV News Wednesday night that Ian Brodie is set to leave his position -- most likely in July.
Earlier this year, the Tories were hounded by the opposition over reports of Brodie's alleged involvement in the so-called NAFTA-gate affair.
The affair dates back to the March leak of a Canadian consular document involving U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama.
The memo claimed that a senior adviser to Obama told Canadian diplomats that the presi…

The race to be more Quebecois than vous.

I guess a report by a sociologist (historian) and philosopher cannot trump political posturing and appeal to Quebec nationalism based on a type of French culture that for many is often conservative in social terms and not welcoming of immigrants--not that the situation is that different outside of Quebec. Taylor and Bouchard wanted to remove religious symbols from the main institutions to indicate neutrality and not offend minorities of differing faiths. At the same time unlike France they would be willing to have people as individuals wear symbols such as the burqa, crucifixes, turbans etc. The direction of the report seemed to be reasonable accomodation to me but obviously it does not fit with the political atmosphere in Quebec. The whole process seems to have been mainly designed to eliminate the issue from the last provincial election. No doubt it did that!

Diversity report receives cool reception - Canada - Diversity report receives cool reception


Pork Industry's loss, food banks' gain

This is from the CBC. It seems odd that there should only be ground pork processed. There are surely plenty of roasts, pork chops, bacon, etc. that could be processed as well or shipped frozen as food aid.
While grain farmers are doing very well cattle and hog producers certainly are not. Increasing costs are reflected in grain prices but not beef or pork prices.

Food Bytes
Pork industry's loss, food banks' gain
Wednesday, May 21, 2008 05:41 AM ET
by Andree Lau,
It's been a dismal last few years for Canada's pork producers, culminating last month in the beginning of an unprecedented cull. But the industry's collapse is giving Prairie food banks a helping hand.
With feed and fuel costs rising, Canada's 10,000 pork producers were hit by prices that plummeted to pennies per pound. The federal cull is designed to balance out supply.

More than 150,000 pigs, or 10 per cent of the country's breeding herd, will be killed off by this fall under a $…

Heart surgeon: Taser could trigger a heart attack.

At least some counter testimony to Taser experts is finally emerging. Taser has been overly confident in maintaining that Taser's could never cause a heart attack. It is highly unlikely if used properly but then a recent case involved an 82 year old heart patient and the Taser was used because the police were in a hurry it would seem.

Wednesday » May 21 » 2008

Taser could trigger a heart attack
Heart surgeon tells inquiry the stun gun's consequences are not trivial

Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
The electrical shock from a police Taser stun gun could cause cardiac arrest, a Vancouver heart surgeon told a Taser inquiry Tuesday.
"One can conclude the risk of death from a Taser is small but not insignificant," said Dr. Michael Janusz, a heart surgeon at Vancouver General Hospital.
"Tasers must be regarded as being capable of causing cardiac arrest," he said. "The device appears to be safer for all concerned, including bystanders, than guns and cl…

Saskatchewan prepares to elect senators.

This is from the CBC. While personally I do not see the need of a Senate at all and think it should be abolished at least an elected Senate is preferable to the status quo in which it is an old folks home for party hacks. The Liberal senator's comment is risible. Apparently these provisions are meant to mesh with any Federal inititiatives.

Saskatchewan prepares to elect senators
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 20, 2008 11:56 AM CT Comments35Recommend16CBC News
Saskatchewan is poised to become the second province, after Alberta, to start holding elections for federal senators.

The Saskatchewan Party government has drafted legislation to make elections for Saskatchewan's senators possible and will likely introduce it in the fall, Justice Minister Don Morgan said earlier this week.

"If we can assist in the transition to an elected Senate, I think we're going a long way in the name of democracy," he said.

The Saskatchewan Party plans to have an election to replace Senator L…

NATO rejects UN report on Afghan civilian killings

So they reject the report but none of the countries involved in the mission provides numbers of civilians killed, results of investigations, or whether anyone was punished. This is certainly not a great record of accountability from which to criticise the UN report. Maybe NATO learned about accountability from the Canadian Conservative government.

NATO rejects UN report on Afghan civilian killings
REUTERSReuters North American News Service
May 18, 2008 09:12 EST
KABUL, May 18 (Reuters) - NATO rejected on Sunday a report by a UN rapporteur about the number of civilian killings at the hands of the alliance-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

The U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Philip Alston said on Thursday some 200 Afghan civilians had been killed by foreign and Afghan troops and around 300 by Taliban insurgents since the beginning of 2008.
"In summary, we find much of the substance and the overall tone of his stat…

Pope calls for ban on cluster bombs ahead of conference

This is from AFP So what does our fearless leader and great presence on the World Stage have to say about this? So far I have not seen any reports on Canada's position. Of course our great beacon of human rights and spreader of democratic light the US won't even appear along with China, Russia and that beacon of mid-east democracy Israel. As Stalin once pointed out the Vatican doesn't have a large military to bring to the bargaining table but at least the Pope provides some welcome moral guidance to his flock.

Pope calls for ban on cluster bombs ahead of conference

Sun May 18, 6:50 AM

GENOA, Italy (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday called on governments to adopt an international convention banning the use of cluster munitions, on the eve of a conference on the issue in Dublin.
The pope spoke during a visit to the northern Italian city of Genoa, ahead of Monday's opening of a 12-day conference aimed at sealing an international treaty banning their use.
"I hope …

Alberta: Health Care Ads Criticized.

This is from the Edmonton Sun.
There is not much information about the content of the ads. The remark by the representative of the Canadian Taxpayer's Federation is interesting. He is a bit coy about criticising the ads, no doubt because he is probably sympathetic to the government on the issue. It is good right-wing policy. There should be a grassroots campaign fighting back at this ridiculous centralisation of power in one board with advisory groups as window dressing rather than having any real power. Actually I imagine even a lot of right-wingers would oppose the policy since even many on the right are in favor or local control and democratic input.

May 19, 2008

Health care ads criticized


CALGARY -- Taking full-page ads out in several newspapers to better explain recent changes to the way health care will be administered raises concerns with one medical advocacy group.

The provincial government should be using taxpayers dollars to better deliver health care…

Magdoff: The World Food Crisis: Sources and Solutions

This is a long analytical article about crisis in world food production particularly the recent situation in 2008. The article shows how many of the neo-liberal policies often demanded by the IMF and the World Bank contribute to the problem. The increasing use of biofuels such as ethanol also contributes.
The World Food CrisisSources and Solutionsby Fred Magdoff
An acute food crisis has struck the world in 2008. This is on top of a longer-term crisis of agriculture and food that has already left billions hungry and malnourished. In order to understand the full, dire implications of what is happening today it is necessary to look at the interaction between these short-term and long-term crises. Both crises arise primarily from the for-profit production of food, fiber, and now biofuels, and the rift between food and people that this inevitably generates.
‘Routine’ Hunger before the Current Crisis
Of the more than 6 billion people living in the w…