Showing posts from June, 2008

Conference Board says Canada losing ground

This is from the CBC.

I wonder how we rank now in spending on the military. No doubt we have moved up even though we are probably moving down in other areas. We are trying hard to reach the bottom of the environmental list in order to surpass the worst Australia and the U.S. It seems that being tops in innovation means little in terms of other important categories such as health or the environment. The U.S. was first in innovation but did badly in other cateories. There is not much description of who did best except for Switzerland.

Canada losing ground, Conference Board says
Last Updated: Monday, June 30, 2008 9:08 AM ET Comments83Recommend88
CBC News
Canada is in the middle of the pack of the 17 wealthiest countries in terms of social and economic rankings, the Conference Board of Canada reported Monday.
It gave Canada four Bs — for economy, education, health and the social environment — but only a C on environment and a D on innovation. The board gives a B to countries in the second qua…

The U.S. as Rogue State

The U.S. has made the concept of a rogue state a significant aspect of its foreign policy. Intervention in the affairs of and attempts sanction and isolate states such as Iran, Syria, or North Korea on the basis of "rogue" behavior are central to the U.S. global foreign policy orientation. Yet on the basis of its own behavior the U.S. is a rogue state par excellence. There have been many articles on this subject and there is a website where many of these articles are collected. There are even several books on the subject. Of course this never but never gets discussed in the mainstream media. See the Third World Traveller.
Not only has the U.S. been found guilty of what is in effect terrorism in mining Nicaraguan harbors but it also opposes an international court of justice and even the rights of children:
"Every country on earth has ratified the United Nations' Convention on theRights of the Child, which prohibits the death penalty for juvenileoffenders, with …

Northern premiers reject carbon tax plan

This is not too surprising given the extensive and necessary use of fossil fuels in the North and the already excessive costs of living in the north. The premiers do not seem to buy the proposition that the increased costs would be offset by tax decreases. Dion may have a very much uphill battle to try and sell the carbon tax plan in the present economic climate. Harper and his negative ad comrades are probably chortling with glee.

Northern premiers reject carbon tax plan
Last Updated: Sunday, June 29, 2008 12:12 AM ET
CBC News
The three northern premiers have rejected Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion's plan for a national carbon tax, saying it will just add to the already high costs of energy in the region.
Wrapping up a conference in Yellowknife on Saturday afternoon, all three leaders said Dion's plan would be unfair to those who live in Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.
"We think there are better ways to deal with this issue than another tax being applied, especial…

Rights commission dismisses complaint against MacLean's

Distasteful speech is much less distasteful than the puffery and prudish political correctness rhetoric spouted by many of my supposed leftist colleagues who seem to often abandon what is worth preserving in western liberalism. The human rights commission was certainly right to dismiss the complaint. Prejudice and hatred of Islam is not going to be cured by repression. Personally I oppose any type of hate crime legislation. It is more dangerous than the speech it is trying to prevent. People whose speech is banned believe that their views are being repressed--which they are--and this must be because those whom they oppose know they are true and as powerful people they repress them. This may be untrue but it certainly is not obviously untrue!

Rights commission dismisses complaint against Maclean's
Last Updated: Saturday, June 28, 2008 7:09 PM ET
CBC News
The Canadian Human Rights Commission has dismissed a complaint by a Muslim organization against Maclean’s, ruling that the views exp…

B.C. Carbon tax could be reversed.

Everyone is an environmentalist until it costs them! This is from the Globe and Mail.
It is rather surprising that the NDP should oppose the tax. Perhaps there was consultation. The government consulted environmentalists such as Jaccard and maybe the great guru Suzuki. Of course they did not consult the ordinary citizen. Now they are worried that the great beast of the general public may get restless and hard to control come election time.
Environmentalists are often themselves reasonably well off so the extra costs of some environmental policies may not impact on them to the degree it does on those less well off.

Carbon tax could be reversed, special adviser to Campbell fears
Political pressure might doom it, he says
June 28, 2008
VANCOUVE -- Premier Gordon Campbell's special adviser on climate change says he fears critical and political pressure could prompt the Liberal government to back off the province's carbon tax.
Mark Jaccard, a noted res…

U.S. environmental ads target Alberta oil sands development.

This is from CP.
I just wonder how effective these environmentalists will be given that the cost of gasoline is soaring in the U.S. Moves that threaten to make the supply even less will hardly be greeted with great applause by the masses who will pay more at the pumps. Stelmach needn't worry anyway. Any oil that does not go to the U.S. will be snapped up by other nations. China is not about to complain about dirty oil nor many other countries I expect. A boycott of dirty oil by the U.S. is a plus for Alberta since it can sell at higher prices to other countries no doubt.
Stelmach's defence is interesting. The U.S. should buy dirty Alberta oil because Canada has been a faithful junior partner in the wars of U.S. imperialism.
""Stelmach said he would try and convince the U.S. governors to stay onside with Alberta by reminding them how Canada has "protected the backs" of Americans in several wars. "

Ad mockingly invites U.S. governors to watch Alta.…

B.C. court ditches libel case against B.C. 'shock jock''

This is from the Star.
At least we still have some degree of free speech in Canada although I would feel much better if we had no laws against hate speech. I fail to see how any one's reputation could be harmed by many of the shock radio jocks. Our radio commentators seem rather tame compared to some in the U.S. It would be an honour to be berated by most of them! It would show that one made some sense.

Top court ditches libel case against B.C. `shock jock' - Canada - Top court ditches libel case against B.C. `shock jock'
Decision on boundaries of fair comment will make it easier to engage in freewheeling debate
June 28, 2008 Tracey TylerLEGAL AFFAIRS REPORTER
While making it perfectly clear that nobody's reputation should be brushed aside like "roadkill," the Supreme Court of Canada made it easier yesterday for radio "shock jocks" and devil's advocates to engage in freewheeling public debate.
In an important case about the boundaries o…

Trudeau defines Canada?

This is excerpted from the CBC.
As I recall Alberta was not particularly in love with Trudeau! When Trudeau was in power PetroCan was owned by the Canadian government. Now of course with almost everything else it is owned by the people who own the Canadian government. Its not us!

The Ipsos-Reid survey, on behalf of the Dominion Institute and the federal Department of Citizenship and Immigration, asked Canadians what best defines their country.
After tallying the results, Trudeau was revealed as the person who most defines Canada. Niagara Falls was the defining place, Canada Day the defining event, Canadarm the defining accomplishment and the maple leaf was the defining symbol.

Global Finance, the Current Crisis and Challenges to the Dollar.

This is an interesting analysis of the U.S. financial crisis by David McNally. McNally is a prof. at York University in Toronto Canada. McNally claims that the crisis is not a liquidity crisis but a bank solvency crisis. McNally certainly has a point but the fact that banks are facing financial problems does cause a liquidity crisis of sorts in that money stops flowing as loans to a considerable extent. The crisis is exacerbated by the increasing costs of energy and foodstuffs as speculative funds seek as safe haven. This drives up prices even further. At the same time these problems cause a slowing economy and distress for ordinary citizens. It is rather ironic that Bush a worshipper of the free market applies a band-aid of giving Americans a government check (aka handout) as means to stimulate the economy. If a leftist had suggested this it would have been panned as a unconscionable interference in the operations of the market as concocted by some idealistic free spending liberal w…

Judge: Treatment of Khadr described by US official violated human rights

So Canada is complicit in U.S. violation of human rights. This is hardly surprising news. Canada does this routinely as part of the joint "war on terror". Canada surely was involved in a type of rendition lite in the three cases the Iacobucci inquiry is investigating. By the way there is not a peep out of that inquiry. Their website is virtually a deadsite. The final report is now due in September I understand. Most of the inquiry is in secret and behind closed doors. Even so there will probably be some criticism by Iacobucci I imagine but little to help the three in whose name the inquiry was called.

Treatment of Khadr described by U.S. official violated human rights: judge
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 11:35 PM ET
CBC News
The treatment a U.S. official said Omar Khadr received at Guantanamo Bay to prepare him for an interview by a member of foreign affairs was a violation of international human rights, a Canadian federal court judge ruled on Wednesday.
Judge Richard…

High Court Reprimands CSIS over policy of destroying evidence

Of course nothing will be done to punish the CSIS any more than anything was done to the RCMP or CSIS for their misdeeds re the Arar case. Intelligence operatives are the untouchables along with some special forces units operating in Afghanistan. There is zero accountability and an almost nil chance of anyone being held responsible for any wrongdoing. Harper is hard on crime except when the offences are committed in the war against terror. Some involved in the Arar affair have actually been promoted.
Destroying evidence was a policy. Given that evidence is destroyed it cannot be used against the CSIS or by suspects such as Charkaoui. Very convenient.

High court reprimands CSIS over policy of destroying evidence
Last Updated: Thursday, June 26, 2008 2:25 PM ET
CBC News
Adil Charkaoui flashes a victory sign in Montreal after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on his case Thursday. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)
The Supreme Court of Canada has scolded Canada's spy agency, the Canadian Se…

Emerson made head of foreign affairs

This is an ideal choice for this government. Emerson is a turncoat Liberal widely praised by analysts apparently. No doubt this is because he has shown himself to be unprincipled and also a sellout to the United States in the softwood lumber deal. This positions himself well to occupy a post where we will be a junior partner and provide manpower and cannon fodder for U.S. projects such as the war in Afghanistan. We already have a head of our forces who received a medal for service in Iraq! News Staff Updated: Wed. Jun. 25 2008 3:35 PM ET
Prime Minister Stephen Harper handed the highest profile job in Wednesday's cabinet shuffle -- the head of foreign affairs -- to B.C. MP David Emerson. It was a move praised by analysts, but one that also stirred controversy.
Before being officially assigned the post, Emerson had been serving as the interim head of foreign affairs for the past few weeks. He took over the job for Maxime Bernier, who resigned last month following a series …

Talisman invests in Kurdish Iraq

This is from the Calgary Herald.

These agreements with the Kurdish regional governments are ongoing even though the central government does not recognise them and there is yet no "oil law" Apparently there are other contracts being signed even in the absence of the oil law but almost no publicity is given to this since everyone is supposed to agree that the Iraq war was never about oil. Of course most people realise that it was about oil at least to a considerable degree. The passing of the oil law was one of the great Bush benchmarks but this fact has been quietly shelved. The important things in the US are the upcoming election and the economy.

Tuesday » June 24 » 2008

Talisman heads into Iraq with $300-million stake
Risks of work in Kurdistan 'manageable'

Shaun Polczer
Calgary Herald
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Despite uncertainty over the future of oil deals in wartorn Iraq, Talisman Energy on Monday said it intends to spend more than $300 million to explore in Kurdistan…

Ontario man dies after being hit by Taser

This is from the National Post.
The guidelines suggested by the RCMP report do not seem very restrictive and would justify the use in this situation where the victim died. The taser can be used if a person becomes combative. Of course the article may not have the details of the restrictions correct but as it is described here the taser would still be allowed in many situations where it would still be dangerous to use. For example, if the person has a serious medical condition or is on drugs the effect of the taser could be lethal in combination with the condition. As Taser Corp. points out ad nauseam it is not usually (if ever according to them) that the Taser itself causes death.

Monday, June 23, 2008
Ontario man dies after being hit by Taser
Tiffany Crawford, Canwest News Service Published: Monday, June 23, 2008
Julie Oliver/Canwest News Service
An Ontario man is dead after Ontario Provincial Police used a Taser after they said the man became combative and disturbed others.
The OPP sa…

Liberals facing ''green shift' branding fracas.

Green politics seems often to be about branding and not much about substance or what is behind the brand name. The Liberal party is being re-branded. The new website should actually be to portray the reality of the Liberal party as an opposition party rather than the inappropriate rhetoric about a green shift. When in power the Liberals failed miserably to do much of anything towards meeting Kyoto targets.
The new Liberal rhetoric about going green will distract attention from other issues such as our mission in Afghanistan, the new immigration regulations that the Liberals helped pass and on and on.
Maybe the Liberals will try to file a countersuit to collect money for the extra hits that the firm''s website will receive!

Liberals facing 'green shift' branding fracas
Toronto firm challenges Dion on name
With a report from The Canadian Press
June 24, 2008
OTTAWA -- St├ęphane Dion's cross-country tour promoting his "green shi…

Carbon Tax: Who wins, who loses?

This is from the Star.
The results of the tax are difficult to predict and also who exactly will win and lose. I find it strange that Dion should trot this tax out as a center piece of his policy. It is certainly not at all clear that it is the sort of policy that can be easily sold to the public or that it will in any way increase his popularity at this juncture when people are already angry at high costs of fuel. There may be little appetite and much aversion to a policy that is perceived to increase costs even though it is claimed to be revenue neutral. Sometimes I wonder if some are plotting to have Dion fail! Of course many environmentalists will applaud the tax but this may not translate into a more widespread increase in voter support.
The Liberals have already lost any credibility in my view because of their craven support of Conservative policies that they claim to oppose. Harper may just as well have had a majority since the Liberals are unwilling to challenge him excep…

GM to build hybrid trucks at Ont. plant.

It is hard to fathom what is behind this announcement. At first glance it seems to be simply a move to defuse some of the anger at closing the truck plant. However, since the truck plant is still to be closed next year it is hard to see why it is good news for the industry or why it will do much to defuse anger over the decision to close the truck plant. This is from the National Post.

Saturday, June 21, 2008
GM to build hybrid trucks at Ont. plant
Canwest News Service, National Post Published: Saturday, June 21, 2008
Canada's struggling auto industry received some good news Saturday, with General Motors announcing it will start building hybrid pickup trucks at its plant in Oshawa, Ont.
"GM has decided to launch the new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Hybrid production operations at the Oshawa truck plant," company spokesman Stew Low said in an e-mail to Canwest News Service.
The company had earlier said the hybrid pickup trucks would be assembled in Mexico.
Despite the ne…

Jewish community negates rumours of Hezbollah attacks.

Probably the Jewish community is more likely to be a victim of homegrown anti-Semitic hoodlums rather than a Hezbollah cell attaack. U.S. intelligence agencies often base their views on inadequate, misleading, or false information. The U.S. still considers Arar an Al Qaeda agent mostly on the basis of unsifted intelligence provided by the RCMP.

Jewish community negates rumours of Hezbollah attacks
Friday, June 20, 2008 - 07:21 AM By: Colin D'Mello
Toronto - The Jewish community is re-buffing a report that Hezbollah is ready to attack Canada.
Canadian Security Intelligence Service has been hearing the rumours for months, especially after a Hezbollah leader was killed in February.
But intel officials here say it's only chatter, and there's no credible information on a specific target.
However, ABC News reports synagogues in Toronto and the Israeli embassy in Ottawa was at risk.
Bernie Farber with the Canadian Jewish Congress told 680News he's been reassured by CSIS and numerous…

Routed Taliban flee territory north of Kandahar

Did anyone really think that the Taliban could hold territory against a NATO onslaught--oh sorry I meant the Afghan forces! No mention here of US air support. If there is any trouble troops just call in the US to bomb.
Just to hedge their bets the official pronouncements warn that there could be more attacks. That is sure a good bet. The attacks may even be inside Kandahar. The casualty count cannot be verified by reporters. Who knows what casualties there were and who they were. If they remained in the villages they are just taken to be Taliban.

Routed Taliban flee territory north of Kandahar
Despite Arghandab defeat, insurgents still capable of spectacular attacks in coming months, Canadian commander warns
June 20, 2008
KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN -- The Taliban's swift retreat from their newly conquered territory north of Kandahar city left Afghan officials triumphant yesterday, but a Canadian commander warned that the insurgents are capable of more specta…

Obama softens on NAFTA

This is from the Star.
Too bad. It would be a great idea to open NAFTA. Canada should never have sold out all its natural resources to the U.S. as it did and continues to do under NAFTA. McCain will be spouting platitudes about the beauty of free trade and how he loves NAFTA while Obama is a danger to NAFTA.

Obama softens on NAFTA - USElection - Obama softens on NAFTA

Illinois Senator Barack Obama denies in a forthcoming Fortune magazine interview that his administration would move to unilaterally reopen NAFTA (June 18, 2008).
Presidential hopeful backs off threat to reopen trade pact; says he would talk with Canada, Mexico
June 20, 2008 Tim HarperWASHINGTON BUREAU
WASHINGTON–Barack Obama, who once vowed to use the "hammer'' of opting out of NAFTA to force the renegotiation of the trade pact, now says he will seek change through dialogue if he is elected U.S. president.
The presumptive Democratic nominee says in the upcomin…

Inflation rises as gas prices soar.

This is from the National Post.
No doubt as the increased cost of transportation and of manufacture of goods produced from petroleum products works its way into the prices of other commodities the inflation rate will increase even more. This will include prices for food items. We could very well be facing what I call recflation, a combination of recession and inflation.

Thursday, June 19, 2008
Presented by

Inflation rises as gas prices soar
Canwest News Service Published: Thursday, June 19, 2008
Peter Redman/National Post
OTTAWA -- Canada's inflation rate jumped to 2.2% in May from 1.7% the previous month as gasoline prices continued to soars, Statistics Canada said Thursday.
May marked the second consecutive monthly rise in the consumer price index and was the sharpest increase since January 2007. On a monthly basis, the CPI rose one% from April.
"The acceleration in consumer prices in May was mainly a reflection of the 12-month increase in gasoline prices,"the federal agency…

Taliban routed by Afghan, NATO forces near Kandahar: Officials.

This is from AFP.

Here we have official pronouncements of successes and positive spin on what has been a disaster. Note that there were air strikes. These were not Afghan but U.S. and no doubt they destroyed buildings and orchards creating a miserable situation for those returning and not likely to endear the villagers to their liberators.
We may not have witnessed the end of this operation yet as attackers may already be infiltrated into Kandahar to wreak havoc in the coming days or weeks. I wonder how NATO spokespeople distinguish Taliban casualties from those of villagers who did not flee. I guess the rule is that anyone left is Taliban!
The first casualty of war is truth and the first benefit goes to those with PR skills.

Taliban routed by Afghan, NATO forces near Kandahar: officials
7 hours ago
ARGHANDAB, Afghanistan (AFP) — Afghan and NATO forces using air power cleared Taliban militants from villages near the strategic city of Kandahar on Thursday, killing at least 56 Islami…

Kennedy: Crack down on Tasers!

This is from the Star.
Even though the report does not ban tasers it certainly does have a lot of good recommendations concerning restricting of its use. The report also makes it clear the degree to which the RCMP have misused tasers. I expect it is misused because it is simply easier and quicker to use tasers to subdue people than other measures. Even existing guidelines seem to have been regularly broken. There is no indication that officers were ever punished for violations. It remains to be seen whether these recommendations will lead to much in the way of reform or if the reporting process will be even more truncated and the RCMP and their supporters will mount a public relations campaign informing us how necessary tasers are, how safe, and how their use is far preferable to other techniques. Taser International will help with guidance and content for the campaign if asked!

Crack down on Tasers, watchdog tells Mounties - Canada - Crack down on Tasers, watchdog tell…

Khadr report tabled in Ottawa

This is from the Globe and Mail.
To be seen as tough on terror trumps human rights for the Conservatives even when the Khadr case really is just a matter of making the optics right for

Khadr report tabled in Ottawa
Globe and Mail Update
June 17, 2008 at 1:48 PM EDT
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — A widely leaked house subcommittee on the Omar Khadr case was officially tabled in Ottawa on Tuesday, one day before the detained Canadian is set to appear in a Guantanamo Bay courtroom for the ninth time to resume pretrial hearings before a U.S. military commission.
The report's first recommendation is that the government of Canada demand the immediate termination of the U.S. military commission's proceedings against the 21-year-old Canadian.
However, conscious of the security concerns raised throughout the Omar Khadr debate in Canada, the subcommittee also called for the Director of Public Prosecutions “to investigate, and, if warranted, prosecute Omar Khadr for offences under Canadian…