Friday, May 31, 2013

Has Mick Jagger had lip surgery?

Ya, I know it's right next to blasphemy to raise the subject.

But take a couple of looks at this 1978 video of the Stones in Texas.

It's from the high-water mark of the pre-historic Stones.

Having given it a couple of looks, answer me this; do Mick Jagger's lips flop around like that on the current tour?

I think not.


You tell me.

Counterpunch and the great "tits" scandal

I have a hunch that the folks at Counterpunch are more than pleased to have a scandal of any sort.

Mostly they publish left-friendly diatribes for the benefit of a choir that's already converted. There's never a scandal because nobody who would be scandalized reads Counterpunch in the first place.

But apparently they stepped in one with a recent essay by Ruth Fowler. She used the word "tits."


One of the first references to the "scandal" was this effort.





Derrida... Holy fuck! I thought I'd time travelled back to a fourth year critical thinking seminar!

But the Sophist makes an important point, one that I have in my own small way been trying to make on this blog.

Here is the evil truth about political correctitude; the more we hew to what is "politically correct," the easier it is for those with real power to pretend that everything is OK, progress is progressing, and history is unfolding as it should.

Just as an example, we all dutifully avoid the use of the n-word today. This comforts many people. Oddly enough, those it comforts least are the black-skinned people who continue to suffer a systemic racism readily evident in incarceration stats, poverty stats, education stats, you name it.

Same with the Towellers. The Towel-heads are deemed to harbor some irrational hatred of our freedoms, an irrational hatred that has given rise to al-Qaeda and a thousand other manifestations of anti-Western psychosis, when in reality this hatred is driven by the last hundred years of having the virtuous West steal their resources and murder their children.

Not so irrational when you look at it in that light.

I was sorry that the Sophist didn't include Paul de Man on his reading list. Reading de Man's writings on reading gave me a boner, and still does, which is remarkable in itself.

In fact, I momentarily considered writing a blog-post titled "niggers and tits" just to capitalize on this wave of anti-PCness.

But de Man besmirched himself with the aura of antisemitism, and that remains a bridge too far, even for the Sophist.

Stinkers to avoid

Postmedia Networks. This dog has had a bit of a rally lately. Don't know why. Perhaps the news of a pay wall stoked the share price a bit, but there's never anything in a Postmedia title that you can't get free somewhere else, so I don't see this going anywhere.

Facebook. Been holding its own in the mid twenties. That's a temporary aberration. There's still millions of teens using Facebook as their platform of choice for cyber-bullying purposes, but beyond that, Facebook has had its moment in the sun.

Bombardier Rec Products, or "DOO" as they so cleverly designated their stock symbol. As in Ski-Doo, Sea-Doo, etc. This was an IPO designed to get the Bain Capital guys their money back for the third time over, and I have no clue what would motivate a sensible investor to park money there. Sea-Doos and Ski-Doos are the province of working class types with disposable income. Guys who used to be $30/hr welders at Caterpillar.

Now they're not.

Any Canada-based gold miner. Barrick is busy remaking itself from the world's biggest gold miner to the world's biggest bankruptcy. Centerra is busy motivating the plebes of Kyrgyzstan to overthrow their government. Hold your nose and take a little loss now instead of a bigger one later.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Goodluck Jonathan; handmaid to big oil

Does any serious person imagine that the bosses at Shell Oil are sweating things out since Jonathan took the big chair?

Didn't think so.

The wholesale rape of Nigeria's petroleum resources continues apace.

Number one beneficiary; Shell and their share-holders.

Second beneficiary; home-grown Nigerian kleptocracy.

But Nigeria is a valuable ally in the war on terror.

So it's all good!

Bullshit story of the day

In case you missed it here is a link to a BBC story about a Hezbollah arms cache found by Nigerian authorities.

Yup, Hezbollah is keeping weapons stores in the Land 'o Good'nuff Jonathan.

I guess the wily Shiites are keeping a few RPGs out of harms way, and four thousand miles away from the Lebanon-Israel border would seem safe enough.

At least they're out of range of the IAF F-16's that haunt Lebanon's skies on a daily basis.

You have to especially like the last sentence in the BBC report; the local Boko Haram terror outfit has been getting support from al-Qaeda-linked militants in other countries.

Like Hezbollah!

The only story here is that the Goodluck government is obviously so out of luck and utterly desperate for Western support that they are making up stories beyond ridiculous.

A red-letter day for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute

This is indeed a special day for the non-partisan Macdonald-Laurier Institue, which is often accused of being just another oh-so-predictable right-wing think tank.

But they're not, because they're not partisan. So even though top tanker Brian Lee Crowley is very much a Harper gang insider, they're not partisan. If you don't believe me look it up. If there's one thing that the Macdonald-Laurier Institute is clear about, it's that they're non-partisan.

What makes today so special for the non-partisan thinkers at the non-partisan Institute is that they have managed to place not one but TWO non-partisan anti-tax screeds in a single issue of Canada's national newspaper!

On page A-13 the Institute's non-partisan research co-ordinator debunks the profoundly flawed but popular notion that rich people should pay taxes.

Then on page B-2 Crowley himself steps up to the podium and demolishes the equally flawed notion that rich corporations should pay taxes!

Truly a double dose of non-partisan goodness!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Washington Post confirms Boston-bomber linked suspect was unarmed when executed

When Ibragim Todeshev was dispatched during interrogation by the FBI a week ago, there were eyebrows raised all over the place.

The official story was that the suspect attacked his interrogators with a knife, thereby provoking the lethal response.

The Washington Post just came out with this story.

Quoting two sources on the scene, the WP is reporting that Todeshev was unarmed.

This is significant because everybody understands that given a choice, the Post would far rather spin a story in favor of the FBI than in favor of a young Muslim implicated in a domestic terror attack.

There is obviously far more to this story than has met our eyes as of yet.

Canada's top spy unmasked as fraud artist

Here's a story that is getting virtually no traction in the Canadian media.

Rob Ford, mayor of Toronto, seen maybe smoking crack with black youths on a video that may or may not exist?

Tons of traction!

Some fat fuck in the Senate playing fast and loose with the spending guidelines?

Tons of traction!

But the top civilian overseer of Canada's spy agency, personally appointed to the position by Big Steve, fingered for major fraud... right next to nothing!

Arthur Porter was Harper's hand-picked top dog at CSIS. Privy to every national secret, and every NATO secret.

If the allegations are true, Mr. Porter connived with the good folks at Canada's premier engineering firm SNC Lavalin to defraud the Canadian taxpayer of tens of millions of dollars.

Said connivance took place under the watchful eye of SNC Lavalin Chair, anti-corruption crusader and occasional Globe and Mail columnist Gwyn Morgan.

That would seem to be a far bigger story than "Toronto Mayor smokes crack" or "Mike Duffy fudges expense account."

So where is the story?

The Syria end game; one possible scenario

The Syrian "uprising" was well into its second year when Prince Bandar bin Sultan, aka Bandar Bush, was promoted to the top post in the Saudi intelligence apparatus.

Days later unconfirmed reports briefly circulated claiming that Bandar bin Sultan had been assassinated. Though that story was roundly denied by various Saudi spokesmen, the fact remains that we haven't seen him since.

Not that there haven't been plenty of claims that he is alive and well. The Saudi house organ Al Arabiya speaks as though he is very much alive and masterminding the "game-changing" strategy that will have us rid of Assad "in months." (Al Arabiya, 13 April 2013)  Israeli website Debkafile routinely asserts that Bandar is still in charge. 

Perhaps what the case of Bandar Bush underlines is the fact that spokespersons on all sides have been busy as can be shovelling disinformation into the public realm to bolster their particular points of view. The Saudis have considerable prestige invested in the success of the anti-Assad struggle. Likewise, Turkey and Qatar.

The Americans have maintained the position that they are a hands-off bystander, although no serious person imagines that the Turkey-Saud-Qatar triumvirate embarked on their Syrian adventure without the blessing of the White House. In terms of the public perception of Obama's domestic audience, the Americans maintain deniability.

Nowhere is tension between public pronouncements and the national interest as extreme as in Israel. At the time of the recent Israeli attacks on Syria, we were told that the actions were intended to prevent the shipment of "advanced Syrian weapons" to Hezbollah in Lebanon. That's a good story, but one suspects that for the moment Assad has greater need for those missiles himself.

It is more than plausible that the intent of the Israeli action was to keep those weapons out of the hands of some faction or another of the Free Syrian Army. There have emerged two distinct "Syrian Free Armies" since the Syrian uprising began. On the one hand, you have the US-friendly officially-endorsed "good guys."

These are the FSA  types who are seen regularly on TV screens in the West. They talk a good revolution but command little or nothing on the ground in Syria.

On the other hand are the Al Nusra Front and their assorted fellow travellers, a collection of Wahabi radicals who do virtually all of the fighting. When Washington politicians voice their fears of having weapons fall into the "wrong hands," these are the people whose hands they are talking about. While they are more than happy to fight Assad today, they will be even happier to take their battle to the Israelis or the Americans tomorrow.

This is obviously of great concern in Tel Aviv. Since Israel's last foray into Lebanon in 2006 there's been no enthusiasm for the next round. Plenty of talk, yes, but a keen interest in ensuring that talk is all it is.

When IDF intel boss Aviv Kochavi claimed in February last year that 200,000 missiles were pointed at Israel, he was inadvertently making an acknowledgement that perhaps needn't have been made. While his statement was at least in part intended to pressure the Americans to fund more Iron Dome units, those additional Iron Domes are going to expand the envelope of immunity by mere minutes in the event of an all out war. Telling the Israeli people that they now have protection from the first two hundred incoming instead of the first one hundred isn't all that reassuring after you've told them 200,000 are on the way.

Which is why in spite of all the warlike rhetoric, Israel has no interest in a war with Hezbollah or anyone else, including Syria or any elements of the so-called Syrian opposition. 

That leaves both Israel and Hezbollah with a common interest in ensuring that Assad remains. And while it would be impossible for any American politician to say so, this is also were America's best interests lie, at least for the foreseeable future. Owing to their usual toxic combination of hubris and over-reach, the Americans had convinced themselves that their Syrian proxy opposition would make short work of the Assad regime. 

The past two-plus years have disabused them of that delusion.

That leaves the Americans in the position of having to make a climb-down without it appearing as such. While there are plenty of voices on the American political scene encouraging a more robust US involvement in Syria (see for example John McCain's visit to Syria today) there are many more cautioning against it.

Look for Assad to run Syria for years to come.

Ottawa gets tough on wily Towellers in Eritrea, not so tough on Washington

We recently told you about the Harper gang giving the Government of Eritrea an ultimatum; back off on collecting your two percent income tax on Eritreans living in Canada, or else!

Or else what?

Or else we'll kick your black-skinned Islamic consul the hell out of Canada, that's what!

Well, they must have thought the Canadians were joking. They must have forgotten that we punch above our weight, and even when we're not punching above our weight we never stop talking about it, and just to prove how tough we are, today John Baird made it official; that Eritrean consul IS OUTTA HERE!!!

That's right; no foreigners residing in Canada will be coherced into paying tax anywhere but Canada!

Oh... with one exception.

The Harper gang doesn't mind playing hardball with an impoverished nation of dark people in Africa, but will continue to allow Uncle Sam to run roughshod over the rights of Americans who happen to live here.

It's called "hypocrisy," and it's something the Harper gang does even better than "punching above our weight."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

You know you're screwed when even the right-wing news outlets are mocking you

Toronto media are edging closer and closer to the "sinister" that was fore-shadowed here yesterday.

Are people dying over the Mayor-Ford-smokes-crack story?

Certainly a number of careers are dying.

And the Ford media base at The Toronto Sun can no longer be counted on to have the Ford brothers' back.

There's a time to fold the tent.

Senator McCain on the warpath

John McCain made a secret visit to Syria yesterday, there to meet with Free Syria Army officials who also had to be surreptitiously spirited into Syria in order to stage their photo-ops with McCain "in-country" as they say.

That's because the FSA "commanders" McCain met with don't normally spend much time "in-country," and they certainly have no command over the FSA units doing damage to the Assad regime on the ground.

They do however have neatly tailored and crisply laundered uniforms, at least in the photo-ops.

Perhaps because he was profoundly impressed with those uniforms, or perhaps because he has inadvertently begun to believe his own bullshit, McCain came away from the encounter convinced that the best thing America could do for the future of peace and democracy is to deliver heavy weapons, and lots of them, to the "Syrian opposition."

Just to prove that McCain's foray into the SFA PR sweepstakes didn't happen in a vacuum, headlines across the Western world have provided a timely resurrection of the claims that yes, Assad has once again crossed those red lines and used chemical weapons on his own people.

Which proves that even though the FSA has no clout on the ground in Syria, they still have plenty of schlep in the world of Western news media.

And it once again brings the aging Senator front and center in the "lets make war" sweeps. Nobody is hungrier for war than Senator McCain. He will go to his grave as America's number one war-monger.

Just what is it in his past that drives him to be America's number one uber-patriot today?

Volkswagen workers win 5.6% raise

That would be the Volkswagen workers in Germany, not the ones in Chattanooga.

The German workers get this raise on top  of their current $60/hour rate. Workers in Chattanooga start at $14/hr. and can work their way up to $20.

They all build Volkswagens, so why does the company pay its US workers a third of what they pay their German workers?

In Germany the workers belong to unions. Their unions have seats on corporate boards.

In America they don't.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ford brothers' secret conspiracy to take over Toronto unravels

Sometime in 2011 at a secret conclave deep in the Muskoka woods, Globe and Mail Ed in Chief John Crackhouse assigned a crack team of investigative journalists to investigate a series of alarming rumours they had picked up.

Doug Ford was "The Godfather."

Rob was his dimwitted front man.

Unbeknownst to the Globe's team of investigative journos, its cross-town rivals at The Star had heard the same rumours and were unleashing their own team of crack investigators!

Fast forward a year and a half... The Star team gets their expose to the people first! The dimwitted front man has been caught on tape SMOKING CRACK!!!

There is one minor flaw in their scoop; they don't have the tape.

Bummer, man....

The shifty dark-skinned drug-dealers who control the streets of Toronto for Doug's crack empire want $200,000 for it. The Star board of directors balk. They have ethical quibbles with chequebook journalism. Besides, it's way too expensive.

For an entire week the dimwitted front man goes to ground. The great city of Toronto is agog. 3 million souls wait for the next rock to drop.

Suddenly the dimwitted front man  re-appears. He's his lively animated self on his weekly radio show. His confidence has rebounded, his joie de vivre is back!... He is confident that no tape exists!

Life is back to good!

Meanwhile, the Star's star reporters on the crack investigative team have lost all contact with their contacts in the Ford Empire of Crack...

Could it be that The Godfather coughed up the 200 grand?

Or does a far more sinister insinuation await us when we open our newspapers tomorrow morning?

The rehabilitation of Uruhu Kenyatta

Kenyatta has gone from international pariah to president of Kenya to esteemed chappie having secret meetings with John Kerry in remarkably short order.

This is bound to frost the do-gooders at Amnesty and HRW, who have been braying for the crucifiction of Kenyatta since 2007.

And it serves to underline what's really important to the Big Dogs of the West; we are quite prepared to overlook a man's crimes against humanity if he can be of use to us.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

American workers lead developed world in race to bottom!

Who says America has lost her leadership role in the world?

Where else do workers put in a full day for the equivalent of about four euros an hour?

Of course there are lots of places where working folks make less... Zimbabwe, Haiti, Slovenia... but when we look at wages in the so-called developed world, American workers are clearly heading for third world status.

Fast food workers held another protest in New York City today, where the Captains of Commerce apparently think seven bucks an hour is a living wage.

The folks making that seven bucks an hour know better.

These would be the same Captains of Commerce who are reverentially fawned over by the business press for figuring out how to avoid paying taxes in America. The same Captains of Commerce who would be outraged if their seven and eight number pay packets were seriously taxed.

The same Captains of Commerce who truly believe that they are entitled to more every year than what their lowest paid workers will earn over their lifetime.

Right now Amazon workers in Germany are on strike. They already make three or four dollars an hour more than their American counterparts. Not only that, but the German workers get 34 paid days off every year.

So why are workers in other developed nations doing so much better than American workers?

Do you think the fact that they are far more likely to be unionized has something to do with it?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Queers for Christ

Both I and the Farm Manager are blessed with the curse of heterosexuality.

Which is probably one reason our lives are playing out together here at Falling Downs.

But there is a reason this site is as queer-friendly as it is.

Between the two of us, the Jew side and the other side, between hard-core capitalists and the commie-symps, between the immediate family and the extended family, we've got at least half a dozen dearly beloved family members who don't fit the conventional stereotypes.

When you've got a trans-gendered kid or a gay kid in the family tree, what are you going to do?

Cut them loose?


No way!

You're going to hold them tight and let them know you love them.

After all, what would Jesus do?

Peter Munk's Midas touch is but a fading memory

You remember Mr. Munk. The guy who built Clairtone into an international brand and then bailed, leaving the shareholders holding the bag as the company went tits-up.

Munk had a number of resurrections and finally hit a homer with Barrick Gold, now the worlds biggest gold producer.

Also the world's most indebted gold producer. It has invested sums in its Pascua Lama mine in South America that are the equivalent of half the market cap of the company.

Speaking of market cap, it's about half of where it was a year ago.

And twice what it will be a year from now.

The pesky natives down there in South America just keep throwing up one roadblock after another. The latest setback was a $16 million fine levied on the company by the government of Chile, normally considered miner friendly.

You know you're in trouble when the friendlies are screwing you over.

Here on the home front Munk hasn't helped himself by underwriting foolishness like the "Munk Debates." These are the folks, loosely affiliated with the Munk Centre for Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, who bring in "public intellectuals" for public debates.

Oddly enough, Toronto is so desperate to be seen as a "world-class city" that they can actually sell out Roy Thompson Hall for these debates.

When they had a debate about God, they hired in Tony Blair to speak for God.

Next week they've got Newt Gingrich coming in.

That's right; the Newtster. Public intellectual.

Stop laughing; tickets are sold out!

The joke is obviously on Toronto... and on Peter Munk.

Globe and Mail digs deep and discovers Toronto mayor's brother once might have sold hashish!

Thirty years ago!

And you thought investigative journalism was dead!

According to the Globe they spent a year and a half digging up the dirt on the Ford family.

The mayor's brother used to deal hash, according to some anonymous informants.

The mayor's sister has had some unfortunate relationships with losers.

It's all front page news today!

You'd think that a year and a half of the paper's ever-dwindling resources might have been directed towards more significant issues, but apparently the brain trust that runs Canada's "newspaper of record" couldn't think of any.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Connecting the dots between Apple and the collapse of the Skagit River bridge

Apple CEO Tim Cook informed the Senate the other day that he had no intention of moving Apple's 100 billion off-shored cash hoard back to America until such time as US authorities dropped their tax rates to the 2% his company pays in Ireland.

Not long after Tim was done delivering his ultimatum to the Senate Finance Committee, a bridge in Washington State fell into the Skagit river.

While the short-term explanation of the Skagit River disaster will focus on that unfortunate Canadian trucker, in the long term saner minds are sure to afix blame to America's non-existent infrastructure renewal program.

Tens of thousands of bridges in America need rebuilding. That will require many billions of dollars.

But American companies are given a kiss and a hug for figuring out how to offshore their revenues and avoid American taxes.

How will that mind-set fix the Skagit River bridge?

Just like a young girl should...

Isn't it great how we can finally focus on Jimmy Saville's many "indiscretions" now that he's dead?

Isn't it odd that we can't yet focus on Mick Jagger's many "indiscretions" because he's very much alive?

Why is an indiscretion so much less discreet after the transgressor has passed to the great beyond?

Is "consensual sex" with a fourteen year old ever truly "consensual?"

Just wondering...

Secret to success at big pharma; slash R&D spending

Today's news that "Canadian" drug peddler Valeant will take over Bausch and Lomb filled me with ill will.


Because the opportunists at Warburg Pincus are going to be gloating about their 300% windfall on this deal for the next 100 years.

Have to admit it's one of the rare deals where the market actually gives its seal of approval; Valeant shares took a good jump when word of the B&L deal came out.

Pearson seems to be just the guy to take Valeant to new places. Because he knows nothing about the business, he is not blinded by self-evident truths such as "without a big R&D budget you're dead," or even better, "if you don't have a whack of new product in the pipeline you're dead..."

No, Pearson came aboard with a bold vision; slash research! Shut down the pipeline!

Instead, focus on buying up those struggling companies who have been foolish enough to keep pouring the money into research!

Seems to be working so far.

What Toronto Mayor Rob Ford forgot to mention in his "denial"

If you parse the actual words the Fat Man spoke, you'll notice he cut himself quite a wide swath of slack.

"I do not use crack cocaine... I am not addicted to crack cocaine."

As has been widely pointed out by now, that's quite a bit different than saying you never used crack cocaine.

But what about this focus on crack cocaine?

Sounds to me like he has pretty much admitted to using the old-school powdered stuff all day long! Hell, he might even be addicted to it!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Yemen leads all Arab nations in dialoging

Yes, they are insatiable dialogers, those Yemenis are.

No less an expert on all things Arab Spring than Thomas Friedman informed us of this recently.

Today World Bank flunky Amina Semlani chimes in, verifying in an opinion piece at al-Jazeera what Friedman already told us; those Yemenis are dialoging like nobody's business. Not only that, but women are taking an increasingly activist role in the dialog.

Hell, those folks are going to dialog their way to freedom and democracy in no time!

No wonder Obama has had a change of heart and now wants to repatriate those dozens of Yemenis still languishing in Gitmo.

And why not? Bet they can hardly wait to join the dialog!

Alas, every party needs a pooper, and leave it to the American Enterprise Institute to drop this turd into the hookah at the Yemeni National Dialog.

Seems that while the entire nation is consumed with dialog, nobody noticed that the Yemeni Armed Forces have suffered at least twenty brigade level mutinies in recent months.

Maybe they're tired of all the talk.

But back to Semlani. She's a "human development specialist," don't you know. Not sure what that means, but I think it's related to "democracy activist" and "civil society specialist."

In the midst of what is essentially a fluff-piece for the World Bank, she does make one declarative statement that cannot go unchallenged;

...the revolution created a unique opportunity to address Yemen's gender gap - one of the main drivers of the country's underdevelopment.

I fear she has it exactly backwards. There is not a society on the face of the earth where the gender gap drives underdevelopment. It is underdevelopment that maintains the gender gap. Historically it has been prosperity, modernity, and education that close that gap and create an environment conducive to equal rights.

Surely an unintended oversight on the part of the World Bank.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mark Wallace and the business of screwing business

In case you haven't noticed there's been a story floating around accusing Glencore of violating Iran sanctions.

While I've often hinted that in days gone by Glencore played fast and loose with sanctions, at the end of the day Glencore was in the business of business, not the business of politics.

Mark Wallace, on the other hand, is a leading proponent of the politics is business point of view. A lot of the current brou-ha-ha over Glencore stems from this story.

Wallace is a consummate Bush insider who played a key role in ensuring that the hanging chads swung Bush's way in Florida back in the day. He's now the driving force behind United Against Nuclear Iran, an organization that seeks to blackmail western corporations who are inclined to do business with the Islamic Republic.

His UANI group has had considerable success scaring Fortune 500 outfits away from their business dealings with Iran, whether or not their trade is in any way related to sanctioned technology or Iran's nuclear program.

The think tank here at Falling Downs views this as a counterproductive strategy. Ultimately, the people with whom it is most important to talk to are one's enemies. Doing business with "enemies", even enemies arbitrarily designated as such on the basis of revenge fantasies still nurtured by a certain clique in Washington bitter about the demise of the Shah, keeps channels of communication open.

Far better we keep those channels open than we communicate only via our long-range missiles.

FBI snuffs 3rd Boston Marathon suspect during interogation

Well, I guess that guy isn't going to be standing in a courtroom telling stories!

How convenient!

At least one FBI agent and two cops are in the room, when their high-value guest suddenly turns on them, leaving them no option but to dispatch him to his reward. Right there. Right then.

Not even the dignity of a burial at sea!

This is sure to fan the flames of the Boston Conspiracy, and rightfully so.

CBC "exclusive" reveals that Ottawa is not capital of Eritrea

Last year the Harper gang issued an ultimatum to the Eritrean diplomats in Canada; stop collecting that 2% income tax from Eritreans resident in Canada or we'll send you packing.

Apparently the Eritrean diplomats don't take orders from Ottawa, and now the CBC has a scoop!

Those wily black Islamists are still hard at it! Still accepting those voluntary 2% tithes from their countrymen and forwarding them home, where they permit the government to provide the barest of social services and a rudimentary, very rudimentary degree of health care and education.

Canada's ultimatum followed similar demands in the US, UK, and Sweden, all countries that have a critical mass of Eritrean immigrants.

The irony is that Eritrea should be a good candidate for the recent Canadian initiative to piggyback "foreign aid" on mining projects. Canadian gold miner Nevsun owns the only gold mine in the country, its Bisha property, from whence it has dug well over a billion dollars worth of the metal since opening the mine in 2011.

Hmm... a billion dollars coming out; a 2% tax on the incomes of a few thousand cab drivers and apartment supers going in...

Who do you suppose is getting the better of that trade-off?

But the Harper gang is going to make things right by putting a stop to those 2% remittances?

Taliban wreak vengence on families of NATO collaborators

Last summer we commented  on the ethical void Canada was creating in refusing to act promptly to facilitate the immigration of Afghans who had been recruited to work for the NATO/ISAF forces there. That particular story had a temporary happy ending when Sayed Sarif was finally permitted to come to Canada.

Sharifi is in the news again.

Although nearly a year has gone by since we admitted him, bringing his extended family to join him has been an exercise fraught with bureaucratic foot-dragging of the highest order. Now the Taliban has caught up with Sharifi's family, something entirely predictable.

And also entirely avoidable.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Nathan Blanc vs. the IDF; Round 10

Young Nathan is back in the brig. For the 10th time!

All because he wants to serve his country in some way that doesn't involve picking up a gun.

For their part, the Israeli Defence Forces want to send a message to all (non-Haredim) Israelis that resistance is futile...

You will conform to the dictates of the authoritarian state.

In a democracy there should be breathing room for conscientious objectors.

Sign this petition to let Defence Minister Ya'alon know that the world is watching. A country with a conscience needs to have room for conscientious objectors.

Another CP train goes off the tracks, but it's just a "little" oil spill

So don't worry about it.

Hatchet-man Hunter Harrison tells us CP Rail is "investing in technology to limit derailments."

Whew! In the nick of time, I might add!

Since he's axed 4 or 5 thousand of the guys who used to maintain those tracks I guess it's a good thing derailment-limiting technology is available to take their place.

Mr. Harrison has reaped a $50 million windfall since he climbed aboard Bill Ackman's plan to goose the share value of the venerable CPR.

Bill is doing that by firing all the workers and making the trains longer. Why did no one think of that before?

I'd guess because they were interested in running a trans-national railway in a socially and environmentally responsible way, which everybody knows doesn't cut it in this day and age.

Anyway, this makes it three spills in three months for Bill and Hunter and the little railway that used to could.

But watching the Bill and Hunter show has become a lot like watching NASCAR; we know "the big one" is coming.

Rise up and die

After you, Mr. Hedges...

Chris Hedges has written an excellent article about where we're at and how we got here.

Not much there to disagree with, and the article makes a perfect exclamation point for today's testimony at the Senate by Apple CEO Tim Cook. Cook stated flat-out that anyone who thought Apple would repatriate it's off-shored billions without a massive reduction in the US corporate tax rate was dreaming in Technicolor.

That blunt "go fuck yourself" is what Cook refers to as honoring the spirit of  America's tax laws.

But back to Chris Hedges. I have one question;

Rise up and do what?

Of course we need to support the Bradley Mannings and the Julian Assanges in their struggles. Those are our struggles too, after all.

But beyond that, what?

Does Hedges intend his screed to be a call to arms? If so, he is seriously deluded. With all due respect to those who have fetishised the second amendment, armed resistance is a dead-end. There's a reason America's military-industrial complex wants drones in the sky over your house; that arsenal in your spare room doesn't mean a damned thing to the Hellfire missile coming at you from 30,000 feet.

There is no future in armed resistance. Americans need to reclaim their democracy. This is not an exclusively American problem of course, but the world looks to America's 99%  for leadership.

After all, they've made up the most ground in the race to the bottom over the past forty years or so.

Rotten Apple; the decay of an iconic American company

Today's Senate hearings add momentum to Apple's shift from being celebrated for inspired design and technology innovations to being celebrated for inspired tax-avoidance schemes.

The hundred billion plus Apple has parked in Ireland aren't causing CEO Tim Cook to lose any sleep. "We pay all the taxes we owe, every single dollar," claims Cook. "We not only comply with the laws, we comply with the spirit of the laws."

He's absolutely right of course. He is acknowledging that the "spirit" of America's tax code is to facilitate tax avoidance by wealthy individuals and corporations. That's the same spirit Mitt Romney was saluting when he admitted to keeping most of his fortune in offshore tax-shelters.

Tax law isn't intended to tax the rich; it's intended to let them off the hook.

And apparently it has proven remarkably successful in achieving that goal.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mike Duffy, King-maker

As Machiavelli said, he who breaks the King is the new King-maker.

Puffy Duffy has finally got the clout he always aspired to. He has undone the most powerful man in Ottawa, Nigel Wright.

It's interesting how this story is being spun. Mike pleaded with Nigel,...  pleaded! What would become of his family if he suddenly died, etc.  Finally, to stop the whining and save the Canadian taxpayers a few bucks, Nigel pulled out his chequebook and solved Mike's problems with the Senate audit committee.

Mike Duffy was among the upper echelon of Canadian journalists for twenty or thirty years. Those guys don't make hedge-fund salaries but during that era they did OK. He's been in the Senate since '08, where they do OK too.

He's on the speaker's circuit where he makes up to $5,000 per appearance.

And we are to believe that this guy can't scare up 90 thou?


This $90,000 personal cheque wasn't philanthropy on the part of Nigel Wright.

It was a shake-down!

And let's keep it in perspective. Mike got to know the Senate and its inhabitants back in the day, when enforcement of arcane accounting rules was unheard of. His Senate dreams come true and whoa, all of a sudden the trough has a meter on it?


Frankly, I think there are other scandals that could benefit from some of this bright light and hot heat that Duffy's been getting.

Just as a for instance, it would seem that Arthur Porter, the charlatan who wormed his way into the confidence of Stephen Harper and was subsequently made the top civilian at CSIS, is a lot more newsworthy than Pam Wallin or Mike Duffy.

Syria and the not-so-obvious

It is more than obvious that both Hezbollah and Israel have been knee-deep into the Syrian morass.

The official proclamations coming from Netanyahu et al have been pretty predicable. They're preventing advanced weaponry from falling into the hands of Hezbollah.

Of course they are.

But is it possible that both Israel and Hezbollah are in Syria propping up the same guy?

Both have plausible reasons for preserving the Assad regime. In fact, they both have much to lose if Syria devolves into a failed state on the lines of Iraq.

The Likud brain trust doesn't mind failed states per se; they've certainly done their best to ensure that Lebanon goes down that road. But it's important to them that the anarchy be manageable.

And Syria is out of control.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Syria and the celebration of the obvious

Not that this fact is widely celebrated in Western media, but it should be more obvious by the day that Assad enjoys massive popular support.

Tony Badran is one of the more frequent commentators we see on American television when it comes to Syria. We are generally not informed that Tony gets his bread buttered at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy by the American taxpayer.

Tony is what we euphemistically refer to as a "democracy activist."

Nevertheless, Tony was spot-on in some of his early analyses of what we now refer to as the "Syria crisis."

Unfortunately, Tony and virtually every other pundit grossly underestimated the popular support for Assad.

Popular support... isn't that the essence of democracy?

Thomas L. Friedman burnishes his credentials as a complete PR hack

"The Yemeni Way" his latest bit of Pentagon PR is called.

And I have to apologize. Apparently those who live closer to the center of the universe were privy to Friedman's insights eight days ago.

Up here in the outer provinces we have to wait eight days for enlightenment.

But apparently Yemen is a textbook case in how to do democracy among the People of the Towel. Unlike some of those other Toweller states, in Yemen they are having extensive DIALOGUE.

Not only are the much-to-be-admired Yemenis much to be admired, they seem to have the benefit of American "democracy advisers" thick on the ground.

Hmm... dialogue, American advisers... what's missing from this story?

Well for one thing, Friedman has written an entire column about Yemen without once mentioning the word "drone."

A curious oversight indeed!

Storm clouds gather over America's forty-year folly

Storm clouds of common sense, and they are threatening to undermine the forty years of imbecilic futility we call "the war on drugs."

The Organization of American States is releasing a report that represents the most significant push-back yet by American allies in Latin America over the US-imposed drug war.

Recognizing that the human and fiscal costs of the drug war far outweigh the harm done by the actual drugs, America's allies are saying enough is enough.

But will their voices be heard in the US? A lot of law enforcement budgets rely on the status quo. The status quo also serves to mask aspects of racism and class war that society as a whole may prefer not to face.

So don't hold your breath.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hells Angels

Ya, they're the most evil biker gang of all time, and they are determined to bring their evil to a town near you, yada yada yada...

The Angels make a convenient foil for any law-and-order politician looking for easy votes.

And the sycophantic media is right there to push things along.

Here's a typical media hatchet job. I especially like the part about the bikers "intimidating" the general populace.

Generally speaking, folks are about as intimidated by a convoy of "outlaw" bikers riding through town as they are about the circus coming to town.

This story is about a group of motorcycle-riding taxpayers taking umbrage because they were being singled out for harassment by the RCMP.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Trouble-shooting the Allis-Chalmers 480

Or maybe it's an 840. I have trouble keeping numbers in order. I think it's part of the Alzheimer journey.

Either way, there is an issue with the Allis. Namely, she won't start.

This wouldn't be an issue except that the Farm Manager has a couple of chores lined up that are gonna take me ten hours with a shovel or ten minutes with Allis.

So I'm highly motivated to get her fired up.

Spent the entire day on it today. Except for that little break in the afternoon when I headed out back to do a little fishing in the creek. Found out that the beavers moved their dam about a hundred yards downstream. That means the water is a bit deeper upstream of the dam. Had one of the hounds with me, and the first thing she did everywhere I wanted to cast a line was jump in the water.

Took away the element of surprise.

Still, it was a good afternoon.

More proof that the Olympics are bullshit

The other day when I was at the Tractor Supply Company store picking up one of those flame-throwers for the tent caterpillars, I noticed they had their air pistols on for half price.

Twenty-seven dollars for something that will kill a squirrel, scare a raccoon, and provide many hours of target practice plinking away at empty beer cans.

So today I'm sitting on the front stoop, and I've got various empty beer cans in the trees on the other side of the drive, and I'm engaging in random target shooting, when Junior comes out and gives me a look that says "aren't you a little too old to be playing with a toy gun?"

Well, maybe, but I know for sure what I'm too old for is taking attitude from Junior.

"Hey wise guy, did you know this is an Olympic sport?"

And it is. Air pistol is an Olympic sport. Wrestling is out but air pistol remains an Olympic sport!

And that's just bullshit!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Is Rob Ford Canada's Marion Barry?

One would like to think not.

Barry was the DC Mayor caught out in a crack-cocaine scandal, only to come back and be re-elected as mayor.

While we'd like to think this is not the fate of Ford, you must admit he has spent an inordinate amount of time around black youths.

An inexplicably large amount of time, if you know what I mean...

There are two at-risk groups get burned by the crack-cocaine flame.

Black youths.


Rob Ford may not be a black youth, but he is most definitely a politician.

Stars align to proclaim the ANTICHRIST

Yup, they have indeed.

The North Star is right there in Uranus... and the Antichrist is...

Puffy Duffy!

The Canadian media are doing their best to spin the Nigel Wright personal cheque for $90,000 as a "loan" to a hard-done-by senator.

That's how the Illuminati would like us to spin it.

Truth is, Puffy Duffy makes $5,000 per speaking engagement. That isn't exactly Al Gore territory, but it ain't small potatoes either.

That's on top of his Senate stipend and the accumulated savings from his stint as a top-drawer journalist.

Obviously Duffy could cough up 90 large if you turned him upside down and gave him a good shake.

In truth, that $90k from Nigel Wright was not a "loan."

It was a tribute.

The reason Nigel has multiple bundles of $90k in his socks drawer is that he was a made member of the hedge-fund mafia.

Which reveals the truth about Duffy. Godfather of the hedgies...

The Antichrist!

Do caterpillars feel pain?

I want to know, because I've been burning their tents all over Falling Downs.

I figure the research crew that was knitting the caps for the dung beetles should be able to answer this question.

Burning off the caterpillar tents was a spring ritual as far back as I can remember. The folks used to do it with something called a "Lotlampe." That, I assume, was a primitive precursor to the propane torch.

So for several years now I've been fetching a new propane torch at the Tractor Supply Company every spring. The flame is so modest that you pretty much have to roast the caterpillars one at a time. That makes it almost personal. Not to mention incredibly time consuming. You're out on the range for an afternoon and you killed 27 caterpillars.

Hell, my walking stick was more effective.

So I was looking for a more efficient technology, and by god I think I found it! The TSC has a "garden torch" on offer now. I was a little reluctant about the price; you're looking at fifty bucks for a garden torch, minus the propane cylinder.

That's more than double what I pay for a propane soldering rig, including the cylinder.

But I have to say it's been worth it. That four foot wand lets you get a lot of stuff that would otherwise require a ladder. The auto-ignition is pretty sweet too, although I suspect it will fade away after a month or so just like those BBQ lighters.

The good news is that I'm now dispatching the caterpillar population like there's no tomorrow, which I guess there isn't for them. Nevermind 27 caterpillars in an afternoon; I'm now toasting 27 caterpillar tents in an hour!

Thousands upon thousands of caterpillars!

But I've got this nagging doubt at the back of my mind...

Do caterpillars feel pain?

Building world peace... one piece of greasy fried chicken at a time

It was well over a year ago that our international spy network here at Falling Downs uncovered the Iranian KFC.

We thought at the time, what a great way to build bridges to our "enemies." If there's one thing everybody can agree on it's that there's nothing like a piece of fried chicken!

Well, seems the evil-doers in Iran aren't the only bad people who like good chicken. The Gaza tunnel moguls are doing a great trade smuggling KFC into the coastal enclave right along side the Mercedes cars and the anti-tank rockets!

Enough already with the all-options-on-the-table nonsense. That doesn't impress anyone anymore... off to the dustbin of history with that foolish talk.

And let's instead set that table with a barrel 'o deep-fried chicken.

That will be a first tentative step to world peace.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Does Canada's terror list have an anti-Islamic bias?

There are forty-six organizations listed on Canada's official terror list. The entire universe of liberation movements, religious nutters and anti-capitalist resistance groups outside the Middle East comprise twelve of those groups.

All the rest, thirty-four organizations, are "Islamic extremists" of one sort or another.

What's the matter with those people?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Canada leads NATO nations in declaring Taliban an official terrorist entity

All informed observers acknowledge that for peace to come to Afghanistan the West must negotiate with the Taliban. In fact, there are negotiations about negotiations going on right now in Dubai.

So what's up with this exercise in grandstanding by the Government of Canada?

Also of interest is that the announcement apparently comes from the office of old Vic Toews, the Minister of Public Safety, rather than from the Department of Foreign Affairs where it more properly belongs.

Could it be that this is just another manifestation of sour grapes due to the fact that the Taliban ran the Canadians out of Afghanistan?

Who can ever forget the big talk from General Rick Hillier at the time Canada's Afghan mission was announced; the Taliban were "scumbags and murderers" and Hillier and company were going set things right pronto.

There followed several years of bold pronouncements about punching above our weight, and, reiterated many times; we're not the type to cut and run.

Then the Canadians cut and ran.

But they're still talking above their weight.

Can Turkey remain in NATO if it introduces Sharia law?

That's a question that the NATO gang may have to answer sooner rather than later. More than a few observers have commented on their misgivings as Erdogan incrementally moves his country towards stricter adherence to Koranic edicts.

Erdogan's latest initiative in that direction is to drastically restrict the availability of alcohol. This is of course framed as a public health issue to avoid frightening the secularists. Nothing new in that; it's the time-honoured strategy of governments everywhere when they are busy trimming the liberties of their citizens.

It's always for your own good.

This is a question steeped in multiple levels of intrigue and irony.

Two of the arguably most secular states in the Arab world, Iraq and Libya, have been destroyed and their populations radicalized by NATO intervention. A third is in the process of being destroyed by NATO member Turkey with the full connivance of NATO and the Sunni kingdoms of the Gulf.

Our war on terror is widely seen in much of the Islamic world as a war against Islam. How long can Turkey be both a point man in the war on Islam while becoming increasingly fundamentalist in its implementation of Sharia?

It's a contradiction that can't last forever.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

America's wimpy "free press" not wimpy enough

Apparently that's the view of Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder is in the hot-seat over the government's seizure of Associated Press phone records.

When your "free press" is as docile, malleable, toothless, and spine-free as America's, you would think that the power elite would thank their lucky stars and leave well enough alone.

This kind of brazen intimidation of the media was in the past deemed the purview of totalitarian states. Not any more.

And what secrets were revealed by the AP story that sparked this crack-down? Apparently the CIA nabbed a would-be undie-bomber in Yemen last year.

Luckily for the fate of America, he was nabbed before he could board a plane. He had access to a new and improved version of the exploding underpants that failed to ignite in the previous undie-bomber case.

This is what they mean when they talk about asymmetrical warfare. Our side has the biggest defence budgets, the biggest drone fleets, the biggest nuclear arsenal.

Those guys have new and (maybe) improved exploding underpants.

Uncle Sam better get his boot on the neck of that free press before their reckless reportage tips the balance in favour of our enemies.

A red-letter day in the annals of drone warfare

The first carrier launch of the X-47B has got America's war fans rubbing their hands in glee.

The launch of the latest drone variant marks "an important step in the expanded use of drones by the American military."

Isn't that great news?

Here's a weapon that makes American war-planners reckless and lazy, galvanizes America's enemies, vastly increases the ranks of those enemies, and the fact that a successful carrier launch presages an expanded use of drones is passed off as a good-news story?

America is NOT heading for a happy place...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Leafs blow 4-1 lead in game seven, lose in OT

Miracle May ended per script for the Leafs.

It was never supposed to happen.

You squeak into the playoffs and find yourself in Boston.

Nobody thought this would go more than four or five.

And then that downward spiral for Leaf Nation. Up 4-1 and you can taste the next round...

Only to lose it to an inspirational comeback from a Boston squad that has the advantage of having a home crowd besotted with fevered patriotism.

This was more than a hockey game for Boston.

How about those Leafs!

Nobody, but nobody, thought the Leafs were going to go past four games, or maybe five, when they squeaked into the playoffs for the first time in nine years.

When they took game six away from the Bruins a lot of Leaf agnostics had to take another look at themselves.

Especially since it was the two Burkie acolytes who made game six happen.

Phaneuf and Kessel.

Sorry for all the shit we threw your way Burkie.

Research shows half of all teens DON'T text while driving

That's obvious hogwash. Virtually all teens who text, text while driving. If a teen has both a cellphone and a driver's licence, odds are they text while they're behind the wheel.

This research merely reveals that half of all teens are astute enough to lie about it when filling out a questionnaire. How do we know almost all teens text while driving? Because when do teens not text? For years they have been indulged while they text non-stop from morning to night. They text while in the bathroom for their morning ablutions. They text at the breakfast table.

They text as they walk to school. Those who ride their bikes or their skateboards to school text while doing so. Once at school they text before class, during class, after class, at lunch and on the way home. They text at the dinner table, after dinner, while doing their homework, while playing video games, and while watching TV.

They fall asleep with cellphones in hand, awaiting the next text message.

Teens text impulsively because it is an addiction. It provides a "hit" of social connectedness and acceptance. It triggers the brain chemicals that give them a buzz.

It makes them feel that their lives have meaning.

Do we seriously expect them to put the phone away when they get behind the wheel?

Syrian rebel commander claims Israel is intervening on behalf of Assad regime

The Jerusalem Post reports that the IAF raids on Syrian weapons last week were intended to keep those weapons away from FSA fighters.

Abdulkader Sahleh of the al -Tawhid Brigades claims that a major weapons cache was about to fall into the hands of the opposition when the Israelis struck.

If this claim is verified it would establish an unprecedented level of coordination between the IDF and the Syrian military.

Global warming saving Canada billions

Back in '05 when he was campaigning for the PM job, Stephen Harper promised that he would get serious about Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic. To that end he promised that no less than three ice-breaking ships would be built to fly the flag in Arctic waters even when those waters are frozen over.

Harper has been PM for eight years now, and those icebreakers are still a design study on a napkin somewhere...

But here's the good news; the Arctic has been warming up so fast that we don't need those ships anyway!

Just goes to show that sometimes good things can happen when you do nothing long enough!

Israel and Iran in cahoots to prop up Assad regime

Well here's a story that will bend needles on bullshit meters around the world.

On the other hand, you must admit it has a certain geo-political plausibility about it.

Wonder what Henry Kissinger would have to say?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

More proof that democracy isn't for everyone

Congratulations to Nawaz Sharif on his resounding election victory.

Pakistan is a country where 60% of the population, over 100 million people, live on less than $2 per day.

And they elect a billionaire as their leader? Well of course; perhaps his money-spinning prowess will rub off on his countrymen, although it didn't do so on his last two kicks at the Prime Ministerial can.

According to Time Magazine, the country's woebegone electricity infrastructure is the number one issue on the minds of the voters. Sharif will fix the electricity troubles by privatizing the electrical grid.

Were I a betting man I would bet that Sharif, his party, party insiders and assorted cronies will do well out of the privatization. I would also bet that after they do well the $2 a day folks will have pretty much the same luck with their electrical supply as they have today.

The Time article leaves out a couple of salient facts about Mr. Sharif's track record. He was a prime mover in the nuclear weaponization of Pakistan; and he spent his exile in Saudi Arabia, spiritual home of the Taliban.

Overall, it's quite an eclectic CV he's got there.

Billionaire Taliban sympathizer with access to nuclear weapons.

But maybe that's just what Pakistan needs!

The power of bare boobs

I see where the Ukranian FEMEN group has once again garnered world-wide attention with their topless protest of a National Front rally in Paris.

The rally was in honour of French icon Joan of Arc, who has been adopted quite against her will as a mascot of the far right in France.

FEMEN founder Anna Hutsol describes the group as the new wave of radical feminism. That's good news I suppose; who isn't beyond sick and tired of the old wave of radical feminism?

While there does not appear to be a unifying theme to who and what they protest, if you connect the dots between their targets you can see a pattern of sorts:

  • human trafficking
  • sex trade
  • Islam
  • Christianity
  • Strauss-Kahn
  • Berlusconi
  • Putin.
  • Pope Benedict.
As you can see, they seem to hold a grudge against anyone who ever told them to sit down and shut-up.

I like that about them.

They are also consistently against the many faces of sexual exploitation, and that too is worthy of support. They've also protested the lack of public toilets in Kiev, although I'm not sure how that ties in with the broad strokes of what appears to be an anti-exploitation agenda.

They have protested the Davos summit too, although there is no explicit anti-capitalist plank in their somewhat chaotic platform.

What's noteworthy is their methodology. Plenty of middle-aged men and women have been protesting the National Front for years, but you don't see them making international headlines, do you?

But get a few attractive young women to remove their shirts, and suddenly we have front page news.

Which raises the question; is the international news-consumer interested in their message or merely in their breasts?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Fracking; a 60 year track record of safety

Don't take my word for it; here's the truth straight from the website of a major fracking contractor!

In fact, Devon Energy bill themselves as a pioneer in the evolution of hydraulic fracturing technologies, and have won awards by the bushel-full for their environmentally sensitive and employee-friendly initiatives.

So what's with all these folks and their myriad claims of mysterious ill effects that they attribute to fracking practices?

Obviously the regulatory environment in which the gas and oil companies operate is geared to serve the interests of the industry, not the interests of the public whom they are supposedly charged with protecting.

Shouldn't the burden of proof lie with those who claim that injecting poisonous chemicals deep into the earth is safe, rather than with the small people whose lives are being destroyed by the practice?

British Peer sees sunny side of depressed economy

You have to admit the octogenarian multi-millionaire is a glass-half-full kind of guy.

Lord Young of Graffham was one of the intellectual giants behind the rise of Thatcherism in the UK, and he's been busy as an adviser to the Conservative Party ever since. He's attracted a bit of bad press over his recent ruminations about how great the current depression is for entrepreneurs like himself.

He's absolutely right of course; when rents are down and unemployment is through the roof, at least some businesses have an opportunity to enhance their bottom line. Nothing like letting "market forces" push British wages to Bangladeshi levels to plump up the profits.

His seems a remarkably short-sighted view, though, for a man sought out for the calibre of his "advice." The predatory pursuit of lowest costs at all cost will only further corrode an already tattered social contract.

The Global Dialogue on the Future of Iran

This grandiose-sounding bit of unctuous flim-flammery is brought to you courtesy of the Canadian tax-payer.

Not that the Canadian tax-payers have been consulted.

In fact, the Canadian brand of democracy could use a little tweaking itself, were the Canadians as eager to remedy their own political ills as they are to remedy those of the Islamic Republic. After all, the Harper gang won their "majority" with the support of a mere five million out of twenty-four million eligible voters.

Canada faces many issues far more pressing than political reform in Iran.

How about a Global Dialogue on the Future of First Nations?

Lots of pretend shock and outrage as Syria war leaks into Turkey

Erdogan and his Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu are making all kinds of foreboding pronouncements after twin car-bombings in the Turkish town of Reyhanli, widely regarded as a major conduit in cross-border trafficking of weapons and fighters by the Turk-sponsored rebels.

The Turkish government long had amicable relations with the Assad regime, but were prevailed upon by their NATO masters to facilitate the ill-fated "uprising" next door. Originally marketed as the next manifestation of Arab Spring, most Western pundits spent the first year and a half predicting that the Assad regime was weeks away from collapse.

Now that the "Syrian uprising" is well into its third year, Erdogan and Davutoglu have good reason to be furious with the NATO geniuses who pushed them into this adventure. As for what they can do about it at this point, the answer is "not much."

It's a little late to start observing international norms against conniving to burn down one's neighbour's house. Now that they've got a roaring blaze going across the fence, the Turks can expect many more episodes of blow-back erupting on their side of the line.

Friday, May 10, 2013

From the Doobie Brothers to the Pentagon; why hasn't Hollywood made a movie about this guy?

Oops...  maybe they have and I didn't notice?

But Junior clued me in to this dude.

Not that I needed cluing in to the Doobie Brothers.

I used to go roller-skating at Bingeman Park, and the Doobie Brothers were one of the staples over the sound system.

Apparently that Bingeman fellow who owns the place is a Mennonite.

If so, I would expect that he would have to be in a space mightily conflicted by an inner struggle between his Doobie Brothers self and his Pentagon self.

Sort of an echo of the struggle Jeff Baxter must have gone through himself.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I come from a long line of chicken-killing ARTISTS

Until I read this article ten minutes ago I'd gone my entire life assuming I just came from a long line of chicken-killers.

But no; apparently killing chickens is "art."

Hey, that's nothing... I've got a good friend who has had pictures of his pecker adorning the walls of more than one hitherto reputable art gallery...

A hell of a lot depends on context in the world of art.

Where my folks came from, essentially being born into serfdom on the estate of Graf Kiss-Mein-Arsch in the Germanic provinces of Poland, if you didn't want to be a vegetarian you had to kill something.

That didn't necessarily make you an artist.

But you got to eat meat.

Those where simpler times...

The folks brought their old-world ways to the new land. Seeing my dear mother axe the heads off chickens was a regular part of my childhood. You can understand why we immigrants were viewed with a certain trepidation by the other folks.

I suppose it's not much different than how we now view the folks who slaughter a baby sheep in their bathtub on the 17th floor of their apartment building in Brampton at their high holidays.

Anyway, we gradually assimilated; my dear mother has been buying chickens at the grocery store for decades now.

So fast forward to today, and killing chickens is art!

At least at the Alberta College of Art and Design.

I'm in. Hell, this is at least as meaningful as Serrano's gambit with that plastic crucifix. And it vastly out-ranks anything Damien Hirst has done in the past twenty years.

The dullards who run ACAD obviously didn't get it. Artist Miguel and his teacher, veteran instructor and established artist Gord Ferguson, have been given the heave-ho by the Alberta art college.

It's not the first time that chicken beheading has become newsworthy... google "Miracle Mike."

Russian weapon sales "destabilize" Middle East, but US weapons provide security?

John Kerry's disingenuous remarks about Russian military sales to Syria are all over the news today.

Kerry's concerns seem to be an echo of Israeli concerns that the sale of Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile batteries may complicate Israel's ability to overfly Syria with impunity.

Israel's right to violate the sovereign air space of her neighbors is considered the normal state of affairs in the region. Anything that might impede Israel's ability to do so would be "destabilizing."

The question of how Israel's habitual violation of international law might be destabilizing to the region is of course never raised.

Nor is anyone asking how America's far more substantial arms sales to the region can fail to be destabilizing. The $10 billion deal announced last month, the $3.5 billion deal with UAE in 2011, the $30 billion deal with the Saudis in 2010... none of these are destabilizing.

But let's not be too hard on Kerry. He's just doing his job.

Shilling for Israel, and serving as Secretary of Sales for the US armaments industry.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mysterious death of Katherine Chancellor puts spotlight on Victor Newman

Uncle Vic was one of the weak ones who felt obliged to Americanize his name.

So you know him as "Newman" instead of Neumann.

Fuck that... I never watched his stupid show anyway.

The never-ending tragedy of Canada's First Nations

If you listen to the likes of Baird, Toews, Kenney, et al, Canada is a light unto the nations, a shining exemplar of human rights and human decency and justice for all, etc. ad nauseam.

The most virtuous by far of the Nations of Virtue.

But here's another manifestation of Canada's dirty secret.

First Nation children make up half of all Canadian children in foster care, even though native Canadians make up scarcely four percent of the overall population.

That's one of the revelations revealed by the latest "census" that wasn't actually a census, but merely a "voluntary questionnaire."

Obviously there's something wrong with those people...

Indeed there is. They are on the dirty end of four hundred years of systemic racism, institutionalized racism, casual racism, legalized racism, formal and informal racism, and just plain redneck in-your-face I-hate-you-because-you're-a-lazy-Indian racism.

Did I mention the racism?

The do-gooders and the hand-wringers will seize on this report as proof that we need more studies and reports and royal commissions and perhaps another "truth and reconciliation" dog-and-pony show.

We don't.

We need to give "those people" back enough of the resources that we swindled them out of so that they can rebuild their society on their terms, and the fewer white "experts" involved in the process, the better.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Coming soon to Canada; privatized police forces

There are a number of forces at play that will make private policing a reality in Canada sooner rather than later.

First of all, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews likes the idea.

Secondly, it's disconcerting for the Harper gang to see how many cops are showing up on various sunshine lists. Almost half the members of the Toronto Police are making six numbers a year. That's got to be awkward for the Harperites who view all public spending as anathema.

While the proposals on the table will only hive off "minor" police duties to the private sector, you can bet it won't take long for the private sector to clamour for more of the policing pie.

Thirdly, there is an overabundance of viable candidates for these jobs. For about twenty years now there has been a steady growth in college courses aimed at preparing candidates for a career in policing. These "police foundations" and similar courses graduate exponentially more wannabe cops than can be hired by police forces.

These folks may have their eye on a gun and a badge, but the vast majority inevitably end up as mall cops or Brinks guards.

This leaves a perfect niche for privatized policing. Here are Paul Guindon's thoughts on the matter almost eight years ago.

Obviously Guindon has not been idle in the intervening years, and now that he has the ear of the media and the Minister for Public Safety, good things will be happening soon.

Middle East dystopias

Murtaza Hussain has a bleak vision of the Middle East on view at Al Jazeera today.

Hussain sees a series of fractured states, weak and vulnerable to foreign manipulation.

Iraq and Syria and Lebanon will disintegrate and in their wake will emerge sectarian statelets easily bullied and contained by the Nations of Virtue; ie NATO plus one.

Much of his thesis has been put forward on this site in the past.

But it will not end there. The state of Israel herself has at least as many internal contradictions as any of the Arab states in the neighborhood. Long the "only democracy in the Middle East," that claim to virtue fades by the day, and even the myth of it is largely sustained by the bottomless well of American subsidy.

That well cannot and will not remain bottomless forever, at which time there will be a reckoning.

The Washington-Tel Aviv-Riyadh "axis of control" of which Hussain writes is doomed to failure, and it will fail independently in each of those capitals.

Riyadh is the weakest link. The House of Saud enjoys more popular support in Israel than it does in Saudi Arabia. That fact may make for feel-good headlines in certain corners of the media, but it is not a situation that is sustainable.

The House of Saud is bearing down on it's best-before date faster than those thousands of Princes can possibly imagine, and its collapse will also mean the end of the blank check for fundamentalist mischief-makers throughout the Islamic world.

Israel may survive the next round with Hezbollah, but survival is the best to be hoped for. Her status as the neighborhood bully will be radically eclipsed. The Likud agenda in Israel has managed to maintain an element of popular support because so far every victory has been relatively easy. Once that reality changes, so will popular support for the belligerent "Greater Israel" crowd and the settlement project.

America is the wild card.

America boasts a failing education system, a failing health care system, crumbling infrastructure, runaway unemployment, an unprecedented level of debt, and by far the largest military budget in the history of military budgets.

Does any serious person imagine that such a state of affairs can continue indefinitely?

Monday, May 6, 2013

The fruits of freedom; a million people died so Psy could make "Gangnam Style?"

While they may not be held in quite the esteem as a bona fide European intellectual like BHL, you have to admit that some of those Harper cabinet types punch well above their weight, intellectually speaking.

Just last week we were treated to the insight that "the root cause of terrorism is terrorists."

Who knew?

The Harper gang is bent on remaking Canada as a "warrior nation," as opposed to the worrier nation we widely see ourselves as. To this end, many press releases have been issued and many millions of tax dollars spent glorifying Canada's contribution to any war that Canada, or any pre-confederation colonies, have ever contributed to.

Veteran's Affairs Minister Steve Blaney recently visited South Korea to celebrate the fact that Canadians punched above their weight in that conflict. Indeed, over 500 Canadians died in that war, or .05% of all deaths.

Yes, that would seem a modest contribution, but the Harper gang sets the bar quite low when invoking the "punching above our weight" metaphor.

Regardless of the scope of our contribution, it's good to know that it wasn't for naught; Blaney has informed us that without the struggle and sacrifice of the Korean war, the world would not have been blessed with the Psy pop-hit, "Gangnam Style" sixty years on.

Proving once again that while Canada's contribution to global conflicts has been mercifully modest, when it comes to bombastic rhetoric about that contribution, the Harper gang unequivocally punches above their weight.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

That old Irving magic; charging the government $287 million to design a ship that has already been designed

Hey, don't blame Irving... the Harper gang signed off on this!

Irving Shipbuilding is just doing what they are supposed to do; look out for Irving.

But this story does raise some interesting questions.

Who in the Harper gang is responsible for such grotesque waste?

Heads should roll.

Canadian military building chopper fleet from parts vehicles

Hey, I know where they're coming from!

Good to see that Defence Minister MacKay has decided to exercise some fiscal prudence.

I mean that's why folks keep a parts car(s) or truck(s) or helicopter(s).

At this very moment I've got a couple Montana vans and a F-150 behind the barn, for when we need parts for the family fleet.

Every now and then you'll land a parts car that's in better shape than the car you're getting the parts for. That seems to be MacKay's good fortune.

Those used White House choppers are in better shape than the Canadian military stuff that they were supposed to supply parts for, so why not?

Mind you, it does raise some questions about just what kind of a mickey-mouse shit-show our Minister of Defence is running.

Selling out Canada's dairy farmers for cheaper pizza

Not that the pizza is going to be any cheaper; the bottom lines at the big pizza chains will be a little bit plumper.

The fact that Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz can call this a "good news story" for Canadian dairy farmers tells you everything you need to know about where the Harper gang stands on supporting Canada's dairy farmers.

The price of pizza has done something amazing over the years. Pizza could be our barometer showing how well we're doing in the race to the bottom.

I remember back in the early seventies, hanging at my buddy Johnny's place on Ferndale Ave in Guelph. Just around the corner was a Marco's Pizza, one of the first wave of pizza joints in town. From time to time the drunken louts and teenage pot-heads who congregated in Johnny's basement (Johnny's mom's basement, to be precise) would pool their resources and order a couple of large from Marco's.

We'd stumble over to pick them up, and I remember two large was over twenty bucks.

So how is it that in some of the big chains today you can still get two large and be in the twenties forty years later?

The big chains came in and so did cardboard crusts and industrial bacon and mushrooms.

Nevertheless, folks kept buying pizza and the price kept going down even though Canada has dairy price supports in place that keep cheese prices high and small-scale dairy farmers in business.

Say good-bye to all that.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

What the Temporary Foreign Worker scam says about Canada's education system

In the first place, it says Canada's education system isn't graduating students that Canadian employers want to hire.

While viewed in isolation that statement may be true, my common cause with Fraser Institute and C.D. Howe types pretty much ends there.

While Canadian high school students consistently score well on international tests, few outside the education establishment are aware that huge swaths of students, those streamed into "basic" or "essential" or "locally developed" programs, never participate in the tests.

Those students are the victims of the self-esteem obsession that has guided Canadian education for the past thirty years or so.

The kids who come from backgrounds that are more affluent, more educated, more motivated, have the resources available to overcome this self-esteem obsession.

They have books in the house and parents who encourage them to read.

The kids who don't have that, have a system that tells them reading is redundant, that "viewing is reading," and that their feelings are paramount.

As long as those kids feel good about themselves, everything is hunky-dory.

So after ten or fifteen years being told how great they are, these students graduate into a world where they quickly discover that feeling good about themselves doesn't translate into employable skills.

Canada graduates huge numbers of youths who are functionally illiterate and struggle to do math at a grade two level.

But they feel really good about themselves, at least until they realize how unemployable they are.

Then they are stymied, because that other pillar of the Canadian system, having critical thinking skills, turns out to be as ephemeral as their self-esteem.

There are tens of thousands of unemployed youths in Alberta, the province that needs to import tens of thousands of Temporary Foreign Workers to man the counter at the local Tim Hortons.

If Alberta youth had the slightest grasp of what "critical thinking" means they would be organizing, demonstrating, and raising hell...

At least if all that "critical thinking" bullshit in the mission statements and curriculum overviews of their high schools was anything other than jargon designed to hide the fact that the system is failing them.

If "critical thinking" were a bona fide part of their education, they'd be picketing and boycotting those fast food joints until the wages offered could provide an acceptable Canadian standard of living.

Bangladesh's "Industrial Police"

That's a police force specifically mandated to keep the peace; labour peace.

As in you can't be having the workers running wild with demands for a living wage and, God help us all, "benefits."

To understand how Bangladesh became a powerhouse in the international garment trade, you have to have a look at their Bangladesh Labour Act of 2006. Said Act was intended to "increase productivity and enhance a favourable climate for investment."

Sound familiar?

It should. That's pretty much the standard mantra for any right-leaning State government trying to bring in right-to-work-for-less legislation.

Yes, we all want to increase productivity and create a favourable climate for investment, don't we?

How else are we going to compete with Bangladesh?

But seriously, how can we possibly increase productivity and enhance the investment climate without following Bangladesh's lead and instituting Labour Police?

Then, instead of multinationals like Caterpillar being forced to uproot their manufacturing facilities in high-wage jurisdictions, they could just send in the Labour Police to knock some sense into the malcontents who insist on a living wage.

And sick time, and holiday pay, and dental plans, and blah blah blah....

Syrian Air Force bombs Israel-bound munitions at New Jersey warehouse

The Syrian bombing raid came after repeated warnings from the Syrians that the US was crossing a "red line" by continuing to supply the IDF with weapons that could be used against Syria.

A spokesman for the Assad government confirmed that the air-strike had taken place. "We will continue to do what is necessary to defend Syria. We have done it in the past and we will continue to do it in the future."

Caterpillar closes Toronto plant

Nowhere in any of the stories about Cat closing the former Lovat plant is it acknowledged that Cat is simply planning to do its manufacturing elsewhere.

In fact, Caterpillar executives are implying that the company is getting out of the tunnel-boring equipment business, claiming the business is "no longer a good fit" for the company.

That's not what they said a mere five years ago on purchasing Lovat Inc.

According to Caterpillar, the acquisition was "an excellent strategic fit."

If Lovat is no longer a good fit for Caterpillar, why don't they sell it instead of shutting it down?

Could it be because they are trying to hide the fact that this is simply another case of moving jobs to lower-wage jurisdictions?

Another case of GPS addiction

The Burgess sideroad is about a mile and a half long before it dead-ends at a turnaround the township has thoughtfully provided just past Hodkinson's place. There are a total of six dwellings along that stretch of road.

This afternoon a giant tractor-trailer from Bio-Ag of Michigan pulled up onto the Burgess sideroad and headed up the hill. I know for a fact that none of those six households have any need for a tractor-trailer load of fertilizer from Michigan.

It's another classic case of GPS addiction. Perfectly reasonable people realize that the turn they just made makes no sense, but their GPS told them to make it, so it must be the right thing to do.

It's not the first time I've run into folks who are lost on the Burgess sideroad. Early one morning about a year ago, while out walking, an elderly couple pulled over and asked me where the sheep farm was.

What sheep farm?

They even had a fire number for the non-existent sheep farm. And I'm sure it exists; just not here on this particular stretch of the Burgess sideroad.

But they didn't believe me. Had to drive to the end and see for themselves. Drove up and down the road a few times looking for the imaginary sheep farm.

The Bio-Ag rig must have been a good eighty feet long end-to-end. It's a testament to Buddy's driving skill that he got her turned around in that sixty-foot diameter turnaround.

But not every case of GPS dependency has such a happy ending.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Why Tamils are golden but Palestinians are shit in Harper's Canada

Long story short, Harper's next election is going to depend way more on Tamils than on Palestinians to get the Harper gang re-elected.

The new Canadian position vis-a-vis the Tamils isn't much of a secret.

The Tamils were not that long ago "terrorists."

The Palestinians have always been and will always be "terrorists."

Both peoples are struggling with an occupying power that refuses to recognize their sovereignty.

But the difference is that Canada's Tamil community can mobilize tens of thousands of voters in the next Canadian election.

When you hear John Baird lauding Canada's "principles," this is what he is talking about.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Is winter over?

I took a chance yesterday, 1 May, and took the snow-blower off the tractor.

Five hundred miles to the west, in a band that stretches from Arkansas up through the Dakotas and Minnesota and into Canada, there's a snow-storm heading in this general direction.

Nevertheless, it was a beautiful summer day here. We took the opportunity to spend a couple of hours on a restaurant patio in town. Beer and wings on a patio in the bright afternoon sunshine, a patio that was under snow and windswept by blizzard conditions barely two weeks ago.

And we were far from being the only folks in the mood to celebrate the end of winter. The patio was packed.

But here's the thing that struck me. Most of the people on the patio were more engrossed by their smart-phones than by the company at their table. Couples are celebrating the first rays of spring sun by sitting on a patio, each with phone in hand, constantly checking whatever important stuff it is that totally unimportant people have to check on their phones. Constantly.

I know they are unimportant people because they are sitting on the same patio as me. I don't hang with important people.

Entire families were on that patio, every family member deeply into their 2X2 inch screen, with an occasional acknowledgement of their table-mates, but for the most part far more interested in what those screens were showing them.

There was even a guy with one of those magical phones strapped to his ear. You have to have a lot of faith in the purveyors of technology to walk around all day with a cell-phone strapped to the side of your brain. Yes, I know that most of the phone-company research conclusively concludes that there is no conclusive link between radio waves and brain cancer, but still....

If they can't be counted on to get your monthly bill straight, how can you count on their scientific research?

But no matter.

Spring has sprung.

At least for today.

John Baird; the mouth that can't stop roaring

Michael Den Tandt has a quaint opinion piece in the Montreal Gazette today, which is at once a slam of the UN and a tribute to Canada's ever-bloviating Foreign Minister, John Baird.

First of all, congratulations Michael on keeping your post on the sinking ship you write for, but remember, tomorrow is a brand new day.

Secondly, there is no question that the UN is an easy target. What the hell do they accomplish? It's all too easy to argue that the answer is nothing or right next to it.

But for better or worse, it is the one forum that includes everybody. Sure, it's dominated by a few rich donor countries, but how would we be better off without it?

The rich donor countries, at least some of them, are distraught over the fact that a majority of UN members consistently vote against their initiatives on certain pet issues like the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Yes, the democratic process can be frustrating, especially when your positions are clearly anathema to the vast majority of your peers, but democracy doesn't mean that everybody has to agree with you.

As for Canada being the seventh largest financial contributor to the UN, that is not far out of line for the eleventh largest economy in the world, and suggests nothing more than that there may be four countries that should be paying a little more.

Where Den Tandt shows his stripes is with the claim that it is "NATO, led by the Americans," that intervenes to stop international barbarities when the UN fails to do so.

That is precisely the line of argument that ensures that a majority of UN member states will continue to vote against the Nations of Virtue at the General Assembly. The majority of the global population see America and her me-too NATO sidekicks as fomenting international barbarities rather than preventing them.

Baird's track record of high-profile idiocy since becoming Foreign Minister in 2011 has indeed served to isolate Canada. The flagrant and obsessive championing of Likud policies in the Middle East, the closing of the Canadian embassy in Iran, the scrapping of CIDA, the bone-headed refusal to observe international conventions initiated by Canada with respect to the child soldier Khadr; all of these have contributed to Canada becoming part of a rump bloc at the UN comprised of the US, Israel, and a handful of US vassals.

After years of contemptuous treatment of the UN, is it any wonder that some of that UN majority is moving to strip Canada of its status as home of the International Civil Aviation Authority?

Den Tandt finds it reasonable that Baird demands of the UN to account for what it accomplishes for our $76 million annual contribution. He thinks that's what makes John Baird an "effective" foreign minister.

$76 million could be better put to use buying half an F-35 fighter jet. Standing in front of the General Assembly and speechifying about Canada's presumed moral superiority doesn't make him "effective."

It makes him a buffoon.