Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ecuador's economy at risk in Snowden affair

The private sector in Ecuador is bracing for a big hit in the event that NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden shows up to claim that asylum that's been promised him.

One of the more vulnerable industries is the fresh flower business, which is on the threshold of successfully negotiating a US tariff reduction that would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to growers.

Frankly, if America needs to import fresh-cut flowers via air-freight from thousands of miles away, that in itself is a searing indictment of how the demands of contemporary capitalism have trumped common sense, logic, and environmental concerns.

But it seems futile and vindictive to punish Ecuador for the actions of Snowden. With millions of people having access to "secret" files, and technology making it ever-easier to abscond with those files, there will be a steady parade of Snowdens crossing our screens for years to come.

Obama does Africa

Obama is over on the Dark Continent spreading the good news about democracy and freedom and investment.

His hosts in Senegal proved that all that democracy talk didn't fall on deaf ears. Within 24 hours they had arrested the former dictator of neighbouring Chad, who has been enjoying a tranquil retirement in the country for well over two decades.

Hissene Habre has long been fingered by the Euro-American human rights industry as a really bad dude. This is in keeping with the Euro-American human rights industry's tradition of being able to find war criminals in every African capital, but none in the capitals of the West.

As happenstance would have it, the entirety of Habre's reign of terror in Chad would not have been possible without the generous support of Paris and Washington.

Lest we forget, that was an era wherein the Nations of Virtue were extra-busy trying to trip up our arch-nemesis Gaddafi. Habre was considered a valuable ally in that venture.

Times change...

The uses of social science; hemming the emperor's new robes

Today's "analysis" in the New York Times about the demise of "car culture" makes great use of several sociologists and their research.

Perhaps Stephen Harper was premature in his denigration of the dismal non-science. While it didn't take long for one of his back-bench flunkys to clarify what every patriotic Canadian already suspected; the root cause of terrorism is terrorists, perhaps the NYT's deference to sociology will lead him to reconsider.

After all, he could benefit mightily from the work of sociologists who would be thrilled to defend the status quo that so benefits the constituency he represents.

The work of Mimi Sheller and Michael Sivak is the case in point. While it is readily evident to even the most stunned observer that the decline in car ownership in working class America is the result of the steady erosion of working class incomes over the past forty years, Sivak and Sheller are rightfully, as social scientists, not prepared to settle for the obvious.

Sivak observes correctly that the decline in car ownership preceded the 2008 recession. Indeed! That's because the decline in working class incomes preceded the 2008 recession by a good quarter century.

But instead of embracing the obvious, he ventures into all manner of speculation that will require, as all social science worth it's funding must, more research.

Sheller too has some great theories that will require more research and more funding. Young folks today are so internet savvy that they don't need cars. All their friends are on Facebook and they can telecommute to their jobs via their smartphones!

Who the hell needs a car?

Frankly, to dress up the impoverishment of workers over recent decades as a manifestation of environmental consciousness or technological change is nothing less than intellectual fraud.

Why don't these social scientists look into the distribution of carlessness by household income?

Has the reduction in automobile ownership affected all income groups equally, or has the upper quartile been more or less exempt from this "long-term cultural shift?"

Since that upper quartile tends to be better educated, more engaged in environmental issues, and more likely to be early adapters of technology, they should be leading the trend away from the automobile.

I have a hunch that's not the case.

I'm waiting for the social scientists to do some social science and find the answer.

(your) poverty is good for the planet

Here we go again with more fatuous "analysis" of the decline in so-called car culture.

Could it be the younger generation is more environmentally conscious? There are sociologists researching that possibility right now.

Could it be that folks feel so connected by Facebook and Twitter they no longer feel the need to drive across town and see their friends? More teams of sociologists are looking into that.

Could it be that lots of folks don't need cars because they're telecommuting instead?...

Or could the real reason for the death of car culture be that most working Americans can no longer afford a car or a driveway to park it in?

Ironically, the NYT home page also features this story about sky-rocketing CEO compensation. Maybe someone could do a little research to test this hypothesis; the percentage of children of CEOs who own vehicles and drive has not tracked the decline in vehicle ownership in the general population.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Do that got a hemi?

The Chrysler corporation started putting their new iteration of the hemi motor into their Dodge trucks about ten years ago.

Not too long after they started running commercials that would do Boston Pizza proud.

White trash hillbilly dumbfucks were all over themselves wondering if "that got a hemi?"

Nobody ever told them that the new hemi was not at all like the old hemi.

Nevertheless, lots of folks paid upwards of $40 thousand for a truck with the new hemi.

You can buy the same truck today for about 26 thousand dollars brand new.

We've seen massive deflation in the price of the hemi truck.

That should be a benchmark in terms of what's what in the US economy.

Call it the hemi-truck index.

It's good news for all those welders at Cat who used to make $30 an hour and now make $12.

Downsize yer double-wide, bro!... you can still afford a new Dodge hemi...

RIP Marc Rich

Marc Rich went to his reward the other day.

Not sure what that would look like. Seems he pretty much had the "reward" while he was here.

Not a whole lot ever went too far wrong for Marc. His intellectual spawn continue his work at Glencore. The unofficial voices that talk off the record to the think tank here at Falling Downs claim he was knee-deep or better into the goings on at Glencore till the day he died.

The biggest tax fraud case in US history was resolved (sort of) by Clinton's pardon. Nevertheless Marc steered clear of US airspace, let alone US soil, for the rest of his life.

The obits claim he "invented" commodity trading. That's not quite true. He may have helped it evolve.

There were many who followed who built it into something Rich wouldn't even understand. It's one thing for sharpies in Zug to trade a barrel of oil 27 times between the well-head and the consumer.

Today's Rumpelstiltskins have their computers trade blue chips 2700 times a second.

We've come a long way...

Be that as it may, I think overall Marc Rich did more good than he did harm.

And that's probably the best legacy any man can leave behind.

Tear gas, democracy, and bullshit

The think tank here at Falling Downs has followed with keen interest the misadventures of the wily Erdogan over the past few years.

It was with great anticipation then that I settled in to read "Tear gas is a symptom of weak democracy," on page F2 of my morning Globe and Mail.

The writer, Claire Berlinski, is identified only as a freelance writer living in Istanbul, who has written a book about Margaret Thatcher. Her affiliations with right-wing US think tanks and "democracy promotion" outfits are conveniently overlooked, perhaps to spare the reader from pre-judging Berlinski's opinions.

Ms. Berlinski claims that due to structural flaws in Turkey's political infrastructure, her "path to tear gas is a straight line."

Presumably the path to tear gas takes a more meandering route in more advanced democracies like Canada, the US, or Sweden; one can only speculate on the route it takes in our non-democratic tear-gas-loving allies like Bahrain.

Those structural flaws have also created an "immature electorate unaccustomed to thinking rigorously..."

Astute readers will recognize immediately that this leaves the Turkish electorate in exactly the opposite conundrum faced by the American voter, who, while ready and eager for some rigorous thinking, must content herself with having nothing but the cretinous spewings of... Paul Ryan? Mitt? Herman Cain? Newt? Bachmann?... to work with.

Our freelancer leaves us on a bleak note indeed; waves of arrests, a prison-building boom, and freedom loving idealists giving their lives for their democratic principles; that is the future of freedom in Erdogan's Islamic Republic.

What is most extraordinary about Ms. Berlinski's article is that over the course of half a page of newsprint, there is not a single mention of Syria. Turkey has been neck-deep in the Syrian conflict since before it started. The arming and training of Syrian "rebels" on Turkish soil is enormously unpopular among the immature Turkish electorate and is one of the major sources of disaffection with Erdogan's rule.

Just an oversight? Or does this oversight mirror the agenda of this "free-lancers" paymasters at the American Foreign Policy Council and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Studies?




US buys 30 Russian choppers for non-existent Afghan Air Force

That works out to five 'copters each for the half dozen Afghans qualified to fly them!

No word on what the US taxpayers think about this half a billion dollar farewell gift.

Inside sources claim that the real purpose of the helicopters is to safely ferret Karzai's extended family and their tons of looted reconstruction cash out of the country before the Taliban overrun his palaces.

Tragic misunderstanding leads to police shooting of Jewish man at Wailing Wall

When security officers at the Western Wall thought they heard the words "Allah Akbar" today, they cut the suspected militant down in a hail of gunfire.

Alas, the victim was a middle-aged Jewish gentleman from out of town who had merely been inquiring after the whereabouts of the "snack bar."

Minister for Religious Tourism Lev Cohen publicly regretted the incident and announced measures to make the snack bar more accessible to out-of-towners.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Crucifying Corzine

Can't say I've ever been much of a Corzine fan.

From where I'm sitting it looks like he pretty much hit the first elevator to the top. Corzine spent his entire private sector career in the world of the Rumpelstiltskin economy.

But he didn't invent that economy. I'm sure the MF Global melt-down was a complete shock to him. Here was a guy who had made his way through the ranks in an environment wherein nothing was real and profits were made on obtuse derivatives ten removes from the real world.

That disappearing billion and a half of client money that vanished at MF Global was just another miracle in the Rumpelstiltskin economy.

Easy come, easy go...

Why Vladimir Putin is constantly vilified in the West

Everybody in Russia, especially the so-called oligarchs, knows who is in charge of the country.

Putin.

Everybody in America knows who is in charge of America. It's definitely not Obama.

It's the corporate oligarchy.

Scan down the list of who is in the G-8 and you'll see that for the most part it's big business that calls the shots. The exceptions are Russia and to a lesser extent Germany.

While it is not generally acknowledged and you don't run into his name very often, Karl Kautsky set the stage for the direction that Germany's society would take in the modern era.

Kautsky's take on social democracy has been a largely invisible guiding hand in the shaping of modern Germany. There is a general acceptance among the people that handing the reins to the corporate sector would not necessarily be a good thing for the rest of the country.

Contrast that to the American way, wherein bankers set banking regulations, oil industry executives establish oil industry regulations, and foreign policy is steered by a cabal of insiders who float effortlessly between government and the military-industrial complex that profits mightily from America's endless wars.

Putin governs in the tradition of Kautsky, even though Kautsky never governed anything. Russia certainly has a corporate sector, but every player therein knows who is in charge.

That is why Putin must constantly be vilified by the corporate media in the West.

US Army General James Cartwright seeks asylum in Ecuadorian Embassy

It's getting downright crowded at the Ecuadorian Embassy.

For those who don't know, that's a bar/hotel on the upper east side, not too far from the UN.

That's where Julian Assange has been hanging out for a year and where Ed Snowden is headed, and they've been holding a room for Bradley Manning for years.

Those bold patriots are being joined by General James Cartwright, the former #2 at the Pentagon.

Cartwright's transgression was to blab the beans on the Stuxnet computer virus. That's the little piece of computer virus wizardry designed by the USA that was to sabotage Iran's nuclear program, but instead found its way into the world-wide web and ended up in Japan.

You know the rest.

BlackBerry at ten bucks a share is a tremendous buy opportunity

The market made a wildly pessimistic over-reaction to the numbers that BlackBerry released earlier today, driving the share price down nearly 30%.

That's good. BBRY cred in the so-called developing world is excellent, much better than in the saturated "mature" markets, and the Q-5 roll-out in that world has scarcely begun.

The quarterly loss announced today is one tenth of the loss experienced in the same quarter a year ago, when the stock was still over $8.

At ten bucks BlackBerry will make you 50% before the next quarterlies are announced.

RCMP seize "large quantities" of firearms in High River looting spree

Here's a new one.

Over a week ago the RCMP ordered the evacuation of the town of High River, Alberta.

Fair enough. The threat of imminent flooding was all too real.

Then, with the residents out of the way, the cops gave themselves the task of searching every house for "pets and victims of the flood."

They haven't given out numbers on how many pets they saved, but by golly, seems that quite a number of folks in High River left behind firearms that were unsafely stored!

What is an officer of the law to do when faced with all this unsafely stored weaponry? Why, help themselves, of course!

No word yet on how many other discoveries they made while doing their illegal search of an entire community.




Thursday, June 27, 2013

Jann Arden ripped for defending Paula Deen

You can see why Jann might support Paula; they are both outsider fat chicks.

It's bad enough that fat chicks might steal some spotlight glory that rightfully belongs to skinny chicks, but Jann's defense of Paula is a bridge too far.

These tubby wubbys are running round acting like they have a right to speak out!

Let's not lose sight of the fact that the fat chick that Jann is so busily defending has USED THE N WORD!!

Yup, while I am loathe to repeat it here, it seems beyond deniable that Paula Deen said "nigger" at some point in her life.

The tsunami of shame that has swept Paula's career into the deeps now threatens to carry Jann away too...


Markham Canadian Tire store rips off female motorists

Just got a call from my dear daughter. She's sitting in the waiting room at the Markham Canadian Tire. Her car overheated. They've already stung her for a $60 "diagnosis."

Now they want $275 to replace an $18 rad hose.

I'm not very mechanistically inclined, and I therefore like to leave my serious car repairs to professionals. It's disconcerting to have a handful of nuts and bolts left over after a brake job.

But replacing a rad hose?

That's something I've done before and will do again. You loosen up a clamp at this end, loosen up a clamp at the other end, slip the old rad hose off, wriggle the new one into place, and tighten those clamps.

Even a klutz like me can do that in under a half hour.

So how does Canadian Tire justify $275 for this half hour job?

Because this particular Canadian Tire store is obviously managed by folks who believe that all women are stupid when it comes to car repair.

The sad thing is they're probably right. They get away with this day after day and year after year, because women trust the guys who are fixing their cars.

They especially trust them when those guys are hiding behind a national brand name like Canadian Tire.

GAY BAPTISTS ON HEROIN announce Bible Belt tour

Regular readers will know that GBOH is a side project for Junior and me, when he's not too busy creating electronic "music" that nobody listens to anyway.

The tour is in the final stages of negotiation with Live Nation and will be hitting college campuses from Kentucky to Louisiana this August, God willing.

We're touring to back up our latest CD, "Sheila is a Bible Humper." While the riffs are largely ripped off from the Ramones catalog, you'll find that the lyrics are completely original.

Final word on tour dates will be available shortly.

Calgary mayor blasts CP Rail over latest disaster

As well he should.

Naheed Nenshi is apparently bold enough to draw a line from CP Rail's layoffs of thousands of workers and the fact that their trains seem to be falling off bridges and tipping into wetlands and rivers with alarming frequency.

Hedge fund boss Bill Ackman recently announced that he plans to sell off about a billion dollars of his CP Rail holding. His miraculous "turnaround" at the railway consists of making the trains longer and firing thousands of workers.

Mayor Nenshi asks a serious question and deserves an answer; how many bridge inspectors have been fired?


More booze news

The "privatize everything" crowd must think they've got the lame duck Ontario government on the ropes over the beer in the corner stores issue. Just a few days ago we read the "news" about how a partial privatization of liquor sales would increase government revenues.

Today we are blessed with another riff on the same theme. Seems the folks who run the Mac's Milk chain are just chomping at the bit to create 1,600 jobs in the province, if only the province would lighten up and let them sell booze from their stores.

If you want to know what kind of great full-time jobs they're talking about, walk into any Mac's and ask the guy or gal behind the counter. We're talking minimum wage with no benefits! That's right, 1,600 lucky Ontarions will have an opportunity to join the working poor!

The convenience store lobby seems to be on a roll with this, so look for plenty more news about "research" that proves selling beer in corner stores will enhance government revenues and create jobs.

By the way, that annual revenue number that Canadian Press has in the story is missing some zeroes. Couche-Tard revenue for 2012 was well over $20 billion with a "b", not $15.9 million, but who in the harried world of news reporting has time to check facts anymore?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Liquor and drugs

Take the way-back machine to 1977.

That must have been around the time Perry put his Elsinore in the pool.

Once I get on memory lane it's hard to stop.

Here's Iggy, singing about liquor and drugs.

Iggy is still among us; among the living.

Whoda thunk it?

And listen to how tight that band is.

Liquor and drugs.

Liquor and drugs and the grace of God...

We're still here!

Perry's pool party

The above post got me started down memory lane...

My pal Perry lived out by the airport. His folks had a really swank place out there. Splendid grounds, and a lovely pool.

Perry's folks travelled a fair bit, leaving young Perry in charge of the place. Perry was a dope peddler of some renown, and often hosted lavish parties when his parents were out of town.

On one such occasion Perry was showing off his new Honda Elsinore, and for some reason the talk went round to "bet ya couldn't clear the pool."

Well, Perry was a fellow who loved a challenge. We quickly improvised a ramp and Perry flew that Elsinore the width of the pool like nothing.

"Dude, I could do that on my bicycle... that's nothing! But can you do the length?"

We rig the ramp so it connects to the diving board. Perry's gonna run off the end of the board and sail the 48 feet clear to the other end!

Perry had a great source of what was called "LSD 25" at the time. Looked like Aspirins. The cleanest most potent acid I've ever encountered before or since. That shit can mess up your perceptions.

I don't know what Perry was seeing when he launched his leap, but here's what I saw; Elsinore approaches ramp at high speed on back wheel.

Elsinore stops at foot of ramp.

Elsinore rears up on back wheel, heads up ramp, goes airborne, and makes big splash just off the end of the board.

Applause all round!

More applause as Perry, in motocross leather jacket, motocross boots, and swim shorts, surfaces and flails his way to the edge of the pool.

Which left us with a 250 Elsinore at the bottom of the pool and a gasoline slick forming on the surface.

And Perry's folks due home in the morning.

After a bout of brainstorming it was decided that we would use the lawn tractor to pull the bike out of the pool.

I located a tow strap and fired up the Massey Ferguson lawn tractor. Wheeled 'er round, arse end towards the waters edge, and backed up to the edge of the pool.

You had to be careful doing this on acid. Things aren't always what they seem... inch it back... inch it back... inch it back...

WHOA!!!!... Too late! There was a moment of lucidity as the tractor tipped into the pool. I was able to bail before we hit the bottom.

I still remember the round of applause I heard as I surfaced.

So now Perry had a 250 Elsinore AND a lawn tractor at the bottom of the pool...

With his parents due home the next morning.

I didn't stick around to see how that turned out.



Youths who drink and smoke pot are more likely to suffer brain injuries

Well no shit!

It took a study to figure that out, according to the Vancouver Sun.

Hell, practically any youth could have told them that.

I was a youth once myself, and while that alone may make one prone to risk-taking and general assholery, you cannot deny that the potential for mayhem increases exponentially when you stir booze and drugs into the mix.

Surprise your friends on the fifteenth floor by climbing the balconies instead of taking the elevator! See them marvel as you slam your 500 Kawi triple through the gears with the front wheel never touching the pavement! Tell those bodybuilders who just walked into the bar you've been in for six hours that they look gay! Do a 7000 rpm burnout in front of a cop car just to see if they'll take the bait!

That's what youths do on booze and dope, because they're youths and they know nothing could ever happen to them.

So now we have this damned study to spoil the fun...

Bandar lives!

Maybe.

According to this itinerary posted by the State Department, John Kerry had a meeting with Bandar bin Sultan yesterday. That's the first official acknowledgement in almost a year that Bandar is alive.

But does that make it true? Wouldn't a simple photo-op put a lot of rumors and speculation to rest?
Bandar used to be a media-friendly guy who loved the cameras. Why all the hush-hush?

Document retention training

What the hell is that?

Turns out it's a close cousin of "cover your ass" training.

Former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty was testifying yesterday about those two power plants that cost over half a billion dollars not to build. McGuinty's government had awarded contracts to build the plants in Mississauga and Oakville. As election time neared it became politically expedient to cancel the plants, which is what McGuinty did.

After the fact it has become clear that much of the inter-governmental communication about the cancellation process has disappeared. Any number of politicians and bureaucrats from the Premier on down were keen to cover their butts.

McGuinty now claims the disappearance of said communication had nothing to do with unethical deletion of communication records. Where the government failed was in providing its employees with adequate "document retention training."

Document retention training.

How not to push the "delete" button on the keyboard in front of you. That'll take a heap 'o training.

McGuinty got chutzpah!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

N-word nds Paula Deen's career

Hard to believe! As a white gal growing up in small-town Georgia in the 50's the n-word might have passed Paula's lips on occasion? Who can even imagine such a thing?

Alas, the neo-Puritans who live for these controversies are making sure that Paula pays the price. The n-word is the property of avante-guard (black) rappers and (black) film-makers, and all unauthorized use of said word hurts the feelings of black people generally and enrages the self-appointed white do-gooders who are determined to enforce politically correct speech.

Enforcing politically correct speech is a profoundly critical mission. It allows vast swaths of white America to feel virtuous in their imagined liberalism. Both the n-word and those who would use it are banished to the dustbin of history.

As long as we do not have our ears offended with the grating vulgarity of the n-word, we can comfortably put out of mind the fact that 150 years after emancipation there remain some striking differences between black America and white America.

Black America lags white America by 15 percentage points in high school graduation rates. That goes up to 20 points at the college level.

Black America is twice as likely to be unemployed, and black pay lags white pay by 25 to 30%.

Black America is six times as likely to go to prison.

And surely it comes as no surprise that, after living a lifetime in a society in denial about its systemic racism, those living in a black skin die sooner.

But as long as nobody uses the n-word, everything is hunky dory!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Toronto Star recycles lobbyist's press release and fobs it off as "journalism"

This isn't news and it isn't journalism.

If this article were a first year assignment at a reputable school the writer would be told to consider another career option.

Here is the Star's article  about the purported benefits of privatizing Ontario's government owned liquor stores.

Here is the press release from Strategycorp, which bills itself as "Canada's leading government relations consulting firm."

The Star added a quote from the author of the study, a quote from Tim Hudak, and a quote from the head of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association which paid for the study, and voila, we have a news story!

A few years ago, when the Star was at least a good if not great newspaper, they might have addressed a few obvious questions;

  • does Professor Sen's research, here and elsewhere, have a political slant?
  • is there research available that contradicts Professor Sen's conclusions?
  • will privatization turn the thousands of relatively decent jobs at the liquor monopoly into minimum wage convenience store jobs?
And so on.

The Star is locked into a vicious downward spiral. "Revenue challenges" lead to outsourcing leads to weaker reporting and editing which leads to overtly political propaganda like this being presented as news.

Where does this end?

Text of IMF boss Christine Lagarde's love letter to Sarkozy

Dear Nicolas, very briefly and respectfully,

1) I am by your side to serve you and serve your plans for France.
2) I tried my best and might have failed occasionally. I implore your forgiveness.
3) I have no personal political ambitions and I have no desire to become a servile status
seeker, like many of the people around you whose loyalty is recent and short-lived.
4) Use me for as long as it suits you and suits your plans and casting call.
5) If you decide to use me, I need you as a guide and a supporter: without a guide, I may be
ineffective and without your support I may lack credibility.

With my great admiration,
Christine L.
Source URL: http://www.france24.com/en/20130618-france-leaked-letter-lagarde-sarkozy-alliagence-tapie-affair

Now that's what we call messed up around here. Use me, baby!

This is from supposedly one of the most powerful women in the world, a role model for young and not-so-young women everywhere who leads by example and demonstrates that they too can break through the glass ceiling.

Even more disappointing is who it is addressed to; an utterly vain, self-important dwarf with a Napoleon complex.

How does one attain the highest reaches of the IMF with such manifestly poor judgement? Lagarde turns back the clock on the status of women by fifty years.

Why do multi-billion $ corporations hire unpaid interns?

Because they can!

Because it would cost money to pay them!

Because why would you pay somebody who is desperate enough to work for free!

Bell Canada is in the news today for its methodical abuse of unpaid interns. These are young folks just out of school, desperate to have something on their resumes. Bell is one of the country's biggest and most profitable companies with net earnings of $2.6 billion dollars last year.

This is an even better scam than the Temporary Foreign Worker boondoggle. At least in that one the workers still got something.

Mind you, not everyone at Bell works for free; CEO George Cope took home over 11 million last year. That's almost a million a month!

C'mon folks, if you can find a million a month for the big cheese, you can find something for these unpaid interns too.

This is the kind of egregious exploitation that gives capitalism a bad name.

PM Bunga Bunga sent to jail in underage sex scandal

Of course just because he's been sent to prison doesn't mean he's going anytime soon.

In fact, with the resources at Berlusconi's disposal he should be able to pursue various avenues of appeal for a good twenty years.

Berlusconi has spent the better part of his career proving that he is indeed above the law. No one should assume that things have changed.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Canada commits to flushing another $300 million down Afghan toilet while homeless pregnant Canadian women sleep outdoors

In case you haven't noticed, Canada is by far the most virtuous of the Nations of Virtue.

We've got our fingerprints all over the odious "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine that greenlights imperialistic interventions around the globe.

We're big on banning landmines too, except when Israel or the USA plant them.

And we're especially proud of how we brought good stuff to Afghanistan, at least before we did that cut and run thing.

But even though we're outta there, we're not outta there yet.

Here's John Baird giving away $300 million to the Afghan army.

We know how that plays out. Abdul signs up and gets his official Afghan Army kit. Stays for two or three pays and then decamps for the Talib side.

Comes back a couple weeks later and signs up again.

Et cetera.

It's been going on for years.

Canada has $300 million for that.

Meanwhile, back in Canada, Lisa Roberts is sleeping in playgrounds with her toddler and the baby in her belly because Canada cannot afford to care for unwed pregnant mothers.

Does the Harper gang have their priorities askew?

Essayistic talent

I have been puzzling over the following quote;

"Knausgaard has a tremendous essayistic talent..."

What does that mean?

It means Knausgaard writes a mean essay.

If Knausgaard wrote shit, would we say he has a tremendous shittyistic talent?

If Knausgaard had a tremendous drivelistic talent, would we still read him?

If Knausgaard wrote demagoguery, would he be written up as a demagogueristic talent?

Knausgaard is the guy who wrote a million page book about writing a million page book.

That just makes him a diarrheaistic talent around here.

Let Mandela go

The politics of Nelson Mandela's imminent passing are offensive in the extreme.

Mandela's legacy is already the focus of a tug-of-war among opportunists of all stripes. The extended family is warring among themselves on how to best capitalize on their connections to him. His one-time political heirs are upping the ante and hope to gain both financially and at the ballot box.

What a shameful spectacle!


Saturday, June 22, 2013

God smites Canada

Hey, you don't think those Calgary floods just came out of nowhere, do you?

This is the hand of God saying ix-nay on those chuck-wagon races.

After all, it stands to reason that God would be an animal rights advocate.

Did He not create all creatures great and small?

And do not all creatures great and small fare out rather poorly at the Calgary Stampede?

But perhaps there are issues other than the Stampede that have called down God's wrath....

Baird. Maybe God is pissed at Baird's rampant tomfoolery and wants us to stop him before it's too late.

That's a tall order. How do you stop a man who is fully convinced of his ecclesiastic righteousness?

After all, has not Baird taken the Holy Land under his ministerial wing, and promised a fealty to the chosen people unlike any other?

Well, yes he has, but what's that worth?

To paraphrase Stalin; how many divisions does John Baird command?

And yet the waters rise...

Whistling down the Alzheimer highway

As much as you'd like to defer it for a year or two, it was time today for the annual family picnic.

Ran into lots of folks who I haven't set eyes on since the last family picnic...

Saw my niece Anna.

"Haven't seen you in ages kid! Bet you're in High School  by now!..."

Well, according to her, and this was seconded by her mother, Anna is just wrapping up her last year of High School.

Then I ran into a cousin. "Hey, howzitgoin with that MBA degree you started a couple years ago?"

Turns out he finished that MBA degree four years ago, got a promotion, and is now a VP in a major agri-business. The kind I generally like to portray as one of Satan's emissaries.

But good for him!

Then there was Wolfgang who spent a career figuring out just how to juggle the addictive properties in cigarettes to make them palatable to the addicted. Worked his entire career for a major tobacco conglomerate.

"So when can you retire?" I innocently inquired

Turns out he retired three years ago.

Then I met up with my dearest uncle. Used to be a world class historian. You cannot do research on the history of the protestant reformation without running into his work. A brilliant man.

We have had many hundreds of hours of conversation ebb and flow between us over the years.

Today was the first time he couldn't figure out my name.

I mentioned this to a couple of the other guests.

"He doesn't remember his own name; how do you expect him to remember yours?"

Fair comment I suppose.

But I remain utterly dumbfounded at the loss...


Alzheimers has robbed him of knowing my name and his name and the names of his children and grandchildren.

But he can whistle. In fact, he whistles more than he ever has.

He can whistle on request selections from many great symphonies.

Which leaves me awe-struck...

All I'll be whistling is Iggy's anthem.

"Lust for life" loses something when you strip out the bass and guitar and the drums...

Boston Pizza airs most offensive commercial since Herb sunk Burger King

Boston Pizza has got an advert on the spin cycle for the Canadian edition of the NHL playoffs.

It's a clan o' white trash trailer trash and yow-eeeee does they ever like them there new Boston Pizza ribs!

They all love them there Boston Pizza ribs so much they get all worked up about their shorty pants and their climbing poles.

I'm sure the MBA types behind this commercial did their focus groups and their market research, yet I have no clue who they could possibly think they'd be waving into the store with this kind of crap.

I've been a client of Boston Pizza since I stumbled into what must have been one of their first stores in Calgary back in the '70's.

Their roll-out nationwide has not been without its challenges. Locally the Boston Pizza store is about the third or fourth choice for anybody who wants pizza.

This commercial is going to put them right off the list for anybody looking for ribs.

Epic fail, marketing dudes.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Obama lowers boom on whistle-blower Snowden

Let this be a warning to you.

If you have pious urges to spill the beans about how much your government is lying to you, be warned.

Government lying is for the greater good.

You talking about it is an act of treason.

Edward Snowden is now officially on the bend-them-till-they-break list with Assange and the hapless dweeb Bradley Manning.

Remember this; when your government lies to you, it's for your own good.

And if you know what's good for you, you'll leave it at that.

Stalin used to call it "governing."

We call it "democracy."

Pot-addled hillbilly blogger nails TFW story ONE YEAR before the media big boys

I should have been crowing about this months ago, but when you're a pot-addled hillbilly sometimes shit gets lost in the shuffle.

A year ago in April I had this to say about the Temporary Foreign Worker program.

Drives down wages. Great for employers; screws over workers.

Then a year later, April 2013, the RBC scandal comes to light.

Suddenly every mainstream journo wants to tell you that the TFW program drives down wages, is great for employers, and screws over Canadian workers!

Who knew?


Turkey's EU dreams fading fast

The not-so-wily Erdogan's heavy-handed crackdown on protesters has given the master race at the EU the latest justification for stalling Turkey's admittance.

The bottom line for Frau Merkel is that she doesn't want to share Europe with non-Europeans, but one simply cannot put forward such a baldly racist position in the modern era. Hence the doublespeak about Turkish "economic structures" being the impediment to progress.

And of course the non-stop coverage of police brutality underlines the fact that those people are not truly ripe for entry into the club of civilized nations.

The other factor working against Erdogan is that he has been left holding the sack for the ill-fated Syrian revolution. An eager partner two years ago when his NATO betters convinced him of the inevitable and speedy triumph of some imaginary Arab "spring" in Damascus, Erdogan feels increasingly isolated as his allies lose interest and the conflict increasingly bleeds into Turkey.

Erdogan needs to wake up to the fact that his country will not join the EU club anytime soon and proceed from there.

Rejected by the West, perhaps Turkey needs to look in the other direction.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"Activist investors" pee on rug at Tim Hortons

Those "activist investors" are at it again, this time hoping to shake down the venerable Canadian donut chain for a few easy millions.

I wish the media big-boys would drop the "activist investor" bullshit and call it like it is. These aren't activist investors, they're opportunistic shit-bag hedge fund managers looking for an easy score.

The reason they keep doing it is because it keeps working. Bill Ackman made his hedge crew a couple of billions with a relatively small stake in CP Rail.

Einhorn and company took a run at the Apple cash hoard with a similarly insignificant share position.

Why do the management types cave to this kind of blackmail?

I think it all has to do with where the MBA grads get hired. All your top guns from schools like Wharton go to the hedge funds. The guys from the fringe schools go into public service.

There's a vast pool of graduates from the middle tier who end up in the corporate sector. Secretly they all wish they worked at the hedge funds. That's because at Tim Hortons or Apple a middle management MBA can make a really good dollar...

But at a hedge fund they can get stinking filthy rich really fast!

That's why when the hedgies come a calling, the management guys at these target companies just smile and bend over.


Karzai's puppet strings are showing

Just yesterday the world's media were celebrating the handover of power from ISAF to Afghan forces.

And what a great story it was! After twelve years of occupation the Afghans are finally stepping out on their own!

Asserting themselves!

Taking over the leadership in their fight with the Talibs!

Then the story comes out that on the very day that NATO/ISAF hand the reins to the Afghans, the US is entering into negotiations in Doha with the Taliban.

Without inviting their bumboy Karzai to the party!

That automatically debunks an entire news-cycle's worth of bullshit about the Afghans taking charge of their own destiny, don't you think?

Karzai certainly thought so.

Which leaves both the pretend handover and the negotiations with the Taliban up in the air for the foreseeable future.

But this impasse won't last long. Karzai is all too well aware of who butters his bread.


First Nations poverty? Bob Rae to the rescue!

I remember Bolshevik Bob when he was the first "socialist" premier of Ontario.

Bob will forever be famous for signing agreements with huge swaths of public sector workers in the province, and then turning around and unilaterally "amending" them.

Amending them down, that is. Gave the nurses a nice pay raise and then closed tens of thousands of hospital beds.

Gave the teachers a nice pay raise and then told them they were going to take enough days off without pay to bring them back to where they were before that nice pay raise.

"Rae days" were born.

When he wasn't busy screwing the workers he was busy jetting around the world trying to entice multi-national corporations to set up shop in Ontario.

His sales pitch was "look how tough I am on organized labour, build a branch plant in Ontario!"

Didn't meet with a whole lot of success as I recall. The multi-nationals didn't trust him because he was a "socialist," and the workers didn't trust him because he'd just stabbed them in the back.

Which made him a perfect candidate to join the Liberal Party!

Which is where he's been till today.

Today he announced he was leaving party politics to be the point man for the First Nations trying to negotiate agreements with mining companies wanting to open up the "Ring of Fire" area in north Ontario.

I think Bob is a fundamentally decent human being. His heart has always been in the right place. He's not a guy who you'll find sinecured into some seven number bullshit "advisory" job with Glencore in a couple of years.

In spite of everything he has clung to his integrity.

Not too many career politicians can make that claim.

Canada's shame

"Half of First Nations children live in poverty" the headline informs us.

You only have to follow Canadian political news ever so casually to realize that such shameful statistics do not unduly concern anyone in Ottawa. Getting tough on an imaginary crime wave or promoting democracy in Iran are the sorts of issues that animate the smug dolts in power.

Poverty is the least of it. Even more scandalous are the rates of incarceration and the incidence of suicide among native young people.

In what other country would the citizenry put up with such a disgrace?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

AIPAC stooges in Senate urge Obama to offer "robust lethal assistance" to Syrian rebels

That would be Senators McCain, Menendez, and Levin, who have urged Obama to take some decisive actions in Syria.

Google "AIPAC political contributions US Senate" and you'll see that these three US Senators are among the leading recipients of AIPAC cash.

This story tells you a few things about the Senate and also about AIPAC.

It's not news that a goodly part of the Senate is bought and paid for by AIPAC.

But it tells you how much AIPAC is a front for the Likud faction rather than being the "pro-Israel" lobby it purports to be.

Likud is most definitely not Israel.

Does anyone who is truly "pro-Israel" imagine that arming a bunch of Islamist fanatics across the border will enhance the security of Israel?

Giving anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to the Jabhat al-Nusra will enhance Israel's security?

Of course not, and the Likudniks are fully aware of that.

This is not about security; this is about the war that the war party in Israel clamors for non-stop. The big war that will allow Likud to clear the West Bank and Gaza with the blades of the IDF's Caterpillars.

The agenda is simple. Arm the fanatics in Syria. They will attack Israel sooner or later with their advanced armaments. Then the world will be sympathetic as the IDF clears the occupied territories once and for all.

That is the Likud agenda, and that is the agenda AIPAC and their US Senators are promoting.

What could possibly go wrong?


Who killed Jimmy Hoffa?

It's always been assumed that Jimmy Hoffa was dispatched to his reward by Mafia elements concerned that he might regain the presidency of the Union and cut off their access to the pension funds, which by that time was seen as a mobster piggy-bank by some.

I've got another theory. No proof, but a damn compelling theory.

What if the the government itself was behind Hoffa's murder?

Everybody knows that Hoffa was one of a handful of union leaders who brought America's working class out of the dark ages and remade it as the American Middle Class.

The establishment positively hated him for it. Robert Kennedy made a life-long vendetta out of persecuting Jimmy Hoffa. And even though Hoffa managed to outlast Kennedy, the demise of Bobby didn't spell the end of the get-Hoffa campaign by any stretch of the imagination.

With Hoffa out of the way, look what's happened to American workers. Look what's happened to the Teamsters.

The Teamsters today are still negotiating eleven dollar an hour wages for their membership, just like they did forty years ago. Problem is, forty years have gone by.

You can't buy a decent roof for 20 thou anymore, or a decent ride for three thousand bucks. A gallon of gas is four bucks instead of twenty cents.

But Teamsters still drive down the highway for eleven bucks an hour!

Jimmy must be spinning in his grave.

Still looking for Mr. Hoffa

I see where the Hoffa conspiracy theorists are still digging random test holes around Detroit.

Hoffa's been buried damn near everywhere, ain't he? Giants Stadium, in the foundation of the GM building, in the everglades, under an I-95 off-ramp...

My favourite theory is that Jimmy took his last drive about three hours up the highway to one the many  ma and pa salami shops in the local community.

Yup, put Jimmy through the sausage grinder and parcelled him out in a gross of Genoa salami at ten parts pork for one part Jimmy.

Damn brilliant when you stop to think about it.

Nothing to dig up, ever.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Is the era of mega-spectacles drawing to a close?

They are rioting in Brazil.

On the face of it this is about a hike in transit fares. Read a little deeper and it's about mass disaffection with the price Brazilians are paying to host two of the grandest spectacles of the modern era, the World Cup and the Olympic Games.

If you want to bring one of these extravaganzas to your city, here's how to go about it.

Step one, form an organizing committee. Gather a group of local worthies from the business community and the media. Having a few high-profile names from the world of sports is a must.

Next, saturate the media with the exciting news of your proposal. Make sure that the public understands that hosting an Olympics or a World Cup will make your town a WORLD CLASS CITY and put it on the map forever. Anytime a question comes up about the cost, assure the questioner that there will be absolutely no cost to the taxpayer.

Then, start lobbying the politicians at every level of government. When I say "lobbying" I mean big-time old-school lobbying; trips to Vegas, dancing girls, etc. Remember, the windfall/bonanza that is the Games won't happen without a bit of seed money from the taxpayers, just to prime the pump as it were.

You can make a decent pitch to the Olympic Committee with as little as 20 or 30 million dollars, but remember, winning bidders usually spend more. Make sure your politicians understand this.

If at first you don't succeed, try again! Rome wasn't built in a day, after all... Toronto has been lobbying for the Olympics since the days of ancient Greece and still haven't lucked out, but they know they can't give up.

When you eventually land the games, get ready to turn on the taps. There's a gusher of money about to sweep your organizing committee to fame and fortune - taxpayer money.

Yes, the taxpayers may have primed the pump with half a dozen bids for the games, but now that you've got them, you need INFRASTRUCTURE.

Oh baby, is there ever money in infrastructure! This is where the gravy hits the cheese curds... round up every engineering consultant, architect, cement contractor and steel fabricator in the land who ever made a political donation... there's going to be plenty of gravy to go around!

This is where the media connections of your organizing committee will earn their keep. As the cost of your infrastructure balloons to two, three... ten times your estimates you'll need plenty of "experts" in front of the public explaining about spin-off effects etc.

Finally the big day arrives. The beautiful people of the world will congregate in your town for two weeks. The eyes of the world will be upon you.

Bask in the glory! Drink it in!

Then, as the last notes of the closing ceremony waft into the night air, get the hell out of town. The locals may get a little hostile when they realize they'll be paying for that infrastructure for the next hundred years.

It's a tried and proven methodology. Let's hope a few malcontents in Brazil don't ruin it for everybody.

G20 spy scandal gets traction in Turkey, Russia, disappears in US

One of the revelations Edward Snowden made public is that the UK government had their spooks monitor the communications of visiting delegations at the London G20 summit in 2009.

Bags of umbrage are being taken in Russia and Turkey, but the media gods in North American have deemed this a non-story.

American media can fill you in on the 1001 reasons why Edward Snowden is a traitor, but at least for now the actual substance of his revelations seems to be off limits.

Iran election; Iranian expats voted in 90 countries, but not in Canada

Foreign Minister Baird has an explanation for this; it proves Iran has no commitment to democracy and the elections are a propaganda ploy.

Which doesn't explain why they were permitted to vote in 90 other countries.

It's all the fault of the Ayatollahs, according to Baird. "Iran has taken no steps to arrange for Iranians in Canada to participate in this election," he claimed last week.

Maybe Baird forgot that it was he who ordered the Iranian embassy closed and its diplomats expelled last September. Exactly who was supposed take those steps and make those arrangements?

Baird's non-stop buffoonery and farcical pronouncements do a grave disservice to his country. 

Santa Stephen festoons Middle East with loot bags

Today Canadian PM Stephen Harper announced $90 million in humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees at the G8 summit.

Yesterday Harper sidekick Foreign Minister John Baird announced $100 million in aid for Jordan.

That's an awful lot of free money being passed out by a government that is desperately trying to balance its budget by taking away sick leave from low level civil servants!

Add that to the sundry other promises made in the Middle East over the past few months and Harper has easily made a quarter billion dollars worth of commitments in that neighbourhood.

The think tank here at Falling Downs has a somewhat contrarian view of this largess.

While it is a noble goal to ease the suffering of the Syrians who have been displaced by the conflict in their country, why not leave that job to our friends in the Gulf states who have been financing the conflict in Syria? Qatar and Saudi Arabia have billions to keep the Syrian fires burning; perhaps they should step up and commit a few hundred million to looking after the victims of the mess they have created.

That would free up Canadian cash to look after a few pressing needs in Big Steve's neighbourhood.

Things like clean water for the hundreds of First  Nations communities that don't have that luxury.

Affordable housing for the tens of thousands of Canadians on waiting lists that stretch a decade or more into the future.

Job training for the million and a half unemployed Canadians who need it.

Tuition forgiveness for the tens of thousands of Canadian young people graduating with crippling student loans and no job prospects.

That's just a start, Mr. Harper. Plenty of needs right here at home. I know it's nice to strut about on the big stage blowing smoke about freedom and democracy and punching above our weight, but there's a job to be done.

And you're the leader.

Get busy!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Another gratuitous anti-Putin slander

Isn't it curious that this story would come out eight years after the fact?

Isn't it curious that it comes out as Putin establishes himself as the main obstacle to American designs on Syria?

Putin; a thug who would steal the ring right off your hand! Obviously not a man to be trusted!

A dictator and a kleptomaniac...

British spying on G20 allies exposed!

The Guardian newspaper has revealed that the British government spied on the visiting delegates at the 2009 G20 summit in London.

That should make for a frosty ambiance as the Brits prepare to host the G8 this week!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

White House says yes, Harper says no

What's wrong with those folks in the White House?

They actually want to talk to the new president of Towelistan?

For God's sakes... just nuke the fucker.

That's what Stephen Harper would do, at least if he had any nukes.

As it stands, Harper relies on bumboy Baird to deliver scathing attacks via press releases from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Old-school nuances like talking to folks on the other side are totally lost on the imbeciles in the Harper gang.

After all, why talk to your enemies when you can just call them names?


Honduras good, Paraguay good, Iran bad; the black and white of Canada's foreign policy

It's not that hard to discern the broad outlines of Canada's commitment to democracy.

If the subject country is host to Canadian mining conglomerates, it is obviously a democracy, regardless what anti-democratic shenanigans may obtain.

On the other hand, some rogue regime like Iran that refuses to spread her legs for "foreign investment" is deemed anti-democratic.

Which means that Iran will soon bear the full brunt of Canada's sanctimonious sanction regime.

No more maple syrup for your pancakes, towelheads...

Canada condemns Iranian election

Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird wasted no time in condemning yesterday's presidential election in Iran, issuing this churlish press release within hours of the announcement that moderate candidate Hassan Rowhani had won;

Canada Commends Bravery of Iranians

June 15, 2013 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement with regard to the Iranian presidential election of June 14, 2013:
“In the lead-up to the presidential election, the Iranian regime silenced all open, meaningful discussion of key issues that affect ordinary citizens and denied Iranians the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of association.
“The Iranian regime also carefully managed the selection of presidential candidates by allowing only regime-friendly candidates to seek the presidency. Of the 686 candidates who tried to register as presidential candidates, only eight were permitted to run.
“With Iran’s opposition leaders in jail and their supporters having been denied the ability to coordinate since June 2009, none of the eight regime-approved candidates represents a real alternative for Iranian voters. The person tagged to replace Ahmadinejad will simply be another of Ayatollah Khamenei’s puppets in the tragic and dangerous pantomime that is life for all Iranians.
“Canada commends the courage of the Iranian people who expressed their aspiration to freedom in the face of the ruthless suppressions. Given the regime’s manipulation of the collective will and democratic process, the results of the June 14 vote are effectively meaningless.
“Canada continues to stand with Iranians who are working on the ground, pushing for meaningful reforms and respect for basic rights. Canada is proud to support projects that expand opportunities for Iranians to freely express their views, including the University of Toronto’s Global Dialogue on the Future of Iran and the Pulse of Iran (Nabz-e Iran) project.
"While we long ago lost faith in the regressive and hollow Iranian regime, we have not lost faith in the Iranian people.”


Moderate triumphs in Iran presidential elections

After months of reassuring the Western public that Iran was a dictatorship and that the election was meaningless, the New York Times et al have overnight discovered a de facto moderate among the candidates.

Not only that, but the moderate has won!

Maybe Iran is at some level a functioning democracy after all?

Alas, the election of Hassan Rowhani will be little more than a temporary setback for the bomb-Iran crowd. In the weeks to come he will surely make statements betraying his allegiance to Iran's interests rather than to those of Washington and Tel Aviv.

The enemies of the Islamic Republic will quickly grow nostalgic for the bombastic Ahmadinejad. He was easy to portray as a dangerous and unbalanced buffoon.

President Rowhani will be a much more sinister adversary.

Launch the propaganda machine into overdrive!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Quebec Soccer Federation's tempest in a turban

Let me assure you that the average Quebecois is not nearly as racist a redneck as the no-turbans-on-the-pitch brouhaha would lead one to believe.

This isn't about turbans; it's about Quebec sovereignty.  Quebec sovereignty is a very delicate flower. Forever fearful of being assimilated by the English speaking majority around them, and long relegated a distant third-place behind Mexican speaking North Americans, the Quebecois see everything outside their boundaries as an existential threat to their language and their culture.

Hence, the only way that a FIFA edict would be seen as non-threatening would be if FIFA moved their world headquarters to the province.

In the meantime, a great big thumbs up to the Montreal coach who had his entire non Sikh squad wear turbans in solidarity.

PM Stephen "Me-Too" Harper gets US memo on Syria


The day after the White House decides to play the "Evil Dictator uses poison gas on own people" card, Big Steve has arrived at the same conclusion.

No question about it; the Evil Assad has most definitely crossed them there Red Lines.

Apparently you can kill 90,000 of your own people and the world will stand by, wringing its hands and averting its eyes.

But gas a couple dozen and the Nations of Virtue will spring into action.

Watch for projectiles of democracy raining on Damascus soon...

Toronto police terrorize poorest neighbourhoods with attack at dawn

The scenes described in the Toronto Star sound like an action thriller set in a fictional police state.

"While residents slept, police armed with percussion grenades and battering rams made their move," the Star gloats. And gloat they should; after all, they were tipped well in advance of the police assault on the Dixon Road neighbourhood.

Alas, this is not a fictional police state; it's Canada's biggest city. And the journalists doing the gloating write for what used to be considered Canada's most liberal newspaper.

Even five years ago a raid like this would have seen the Star raise questions about police overkill and abuse.

Today their five page coverage of this unprecedented overstepping of police powers elicits nothing but cheer-leading.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Evil Dictator crosses red line just in time to bury NSA domestic spying scandal

The "Assad used chemical weapons on his own people" story has been around for at least a year, kept bubbling on the back-burner, held in reserve till the day we're ready to play it.

Looks like Team Obama thinks now's the time.

The timing is rather too perfect.

Every media outlet in the "free world" is bracing us for the sheer, stark, regrettable, inevitability of the US military establishing a no-fly zone deep in Syrian territory.

The US can count on cheer-leading but little else from the NATO pack. Their militaries face budget woes and their people are sick of the entire empire act that keeps the world in turmoil.

Once Assad is gone, what next?

Surely the civil war that is now ongoing between the Syrian state and a largely foreign jihadist force will not end with the removal of Assad from the picture.

For their part, the Iranians have every reason to see the Americans bogged down for a long time. As in Iraq, the war-heads who dream up this deadly foolishness will end up weakening America and increasing the prestige of Iran.

By playing this hand now the Obama White House is letting the world know they are about to come out from behind the curtain. It starts like this and eventually there will be 101 great reasons why US boots need to be on the ground.

By a fortuitous coincidence thousands of American troops happen to be on the Syria-Jordan border already.

All that talk about domestic spying and privacy laws can be conveniently forgotten...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Technology and "treason"

Not that many years ago, if you wanted to spirit a million pages of top secret stuff out of a government facility you would have needed a forklift and a truck.

And helpers.

And a window of opportunity.

Thanks to the advances in information technology, now you can do it with a memory stick that you can hide anywhere anytime.

With over 1.4 million Americans enjoying "top secret" security clearance, it's open season on state secrets. Snowden and Manning will soon enough be followed by many others.

No state secret is safe.

Ironically, the biggest "secret" spilled by Snowden has been the complicity of big telecom and big IT in betraying their customers to the government via the "PRISM" snooping initiative. Those are the very corporations who have unceasingly trumpeted the democratizing influence of their technology!

Even though the revelations about Prism expose the bankruptcy of the tech giants' commitment to democracy, their technology may inadvertently make their fraudulent claims come true. A state that can't keep secrets is a state that can't lie to its people.

That can only be a good thing, at least for anyone who believes in democracy.

Welcome to British Columbia; wage freezes and hiring freezes for public sector but an 18% raise for Liberal Party insiders

BC Preem Christy Clark is to liberalism what Tony Blair was to labour.

Fake.

But I guess after her recent miracle win over the NDP she feels she owes the bagmen and the ward-heelers something.

Something like an 18% pay raise.

That leaves a provincial deputy Chief of Staff earning more than Obama's Chief of Staff.

Either Obama's best boy is grossly underpaid, or Christy Clark's acolytes are living extra-large at the pubic trough.

Strategy Lab

I don't know about you, but I believe the "Strategy Lab" folks are on the verge of expanding the franchise.

Poverty Lab would be a good next step.

Maybe Suicide Lab could be marketed to the faithful shortly after that.

Chris Umiastowski had a Strategy Lab column in the Globe and Mail the other day in which he sorta fessed up about putting a buy recommend on Apple when it was at $700.

That's what he paid to add it to his portfolio. For Chris to be as unperturbed about that move as he claims to be I strongly suspect his portfolio is like mine.

Imaginary.

But Chris is over the moon about the prospects for Apple. If Apple was a "buy" at $700 then it is obviously a "buy lots and lots more at $430."

Had you heeded Chris' advice, you would be looking at a loss brushing up against 40% in less than a year.

Chris may not be perturbed but I'm guessing you might be.

By the way, Chris, if I were you I'd dump those Tesla shares while there's still somebody left on the buy side.

And I'd time that to happen before next winter...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Islamists get tough on youthful miscreants

If there's one thing you have to respect about the People of the Towel it's that they don't take a lot of crap from their teenage hooligans.

Take this story from Syria for example. Young Qatta offers a smarty-pants remark to a couple of grown-ups waiting in line at his coffee stand and gets a bullet in the head for his troubles.

That'll teach him!

Or take this story from Afghanistan. Two kids were pilfering food scraps from a Afghan police station.

Sure they were! We all know teenagers are compulsive liars...

Off with their heads!

That's the last fib those two will be telling!

Kudos to the bold Islamist revolutionaries... leading the world-wide war on youth crime!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Harper surrounded by sleaze, will crack down hard on $20/hr peons in the public service

Sanctimonious Steve sure isn't smelling all that great these days.

From the illegal electronic snooping to the serial fiscal abuse and outright fraud of his hand-picked Senate appointees, Big Steve is up against the ropes...

To say nothing of that fellow Steve made responsible for overseeing all that illegal spying, put in the job by Harper himself and then absconding with untold millions in Schmiergeld.

But let's not underestimate the man. He is after all a firm believer of the "punching above my weight" doctrine.

That's the one wherein you evoke the " Canada always punches above it's weight" mantra whenever you are trying to justify some morally dubious stunt on the world stage.

So just as the Tory ship is filling up with dirty water, Steve's brain trust finds the perfect scapegoat.

The Harper gang will rebuild their brand as guardians of the public purse on the backs of public servants across the land!

Did you know those people get BANKABLE SICK DAYS!!!!

I know!

It's like the last thirty years of Reaganomics and NAFTA and the entire neo-liberal manure wagon just passed them by!

By God, Big Steve has a point. Why should those molly-coddled civil servants get sick days when I don't?


Terrorists of convenience

Who is this handsome rogue depicted in the wanted poster
from the days of the British Mandate? Why none other than

future Israeli President Yitzhak Shamir.


And here's a familiar face. Let's not forget  Mandela  was universally labeled a "terrorist" throughout the so-called first world until well into the 1980s.


Had you picked up virtually any newspaper in the "free" world in the 1960s to read about Nelson Mandela, you would have seen the label "terrorist" applied to him. The late Margaret Thatcher clung to that descriptor throughout her career.

Today he is universally venerated as a great freedom fighter and statesman.

Virtually the entire first generation of Israeli leadership figures were likewise condemned as terrorists by the British overlords in what was then one of their protectorates. A generation later they were considered statesmen with whom the British were pleased to do business.

Many other prominent figures of the past and present have enjoyed a similar trajectory.

Which of today's "terrorists" will emerge as the statesmen of tomorrow?


Harper gang lowers boom on public servants

Treasury Board President Tony Clement today announced that his government intends to get tough on public servants.

For starters, he wants to end the lavish 15 sick days per year that most public servants are contractually entitled to. According to Tony, work rules in the public service haven't changed since the 1970's.

That's a telling statement. Mr. Clement is acknowledging that they haven't improved since the 1970's.

Private sector workers have in the interim had the rug pulled out from under them, a process that began in the 1970's but was greatly hastened by the introduction of NAFTA. Workers of a certain age will remember the sales job.

In fact, "jobs jobs jobs" was Mulroney's mantra as he campaigned for "free trade." American money, Canadian resources, and Mexican labour would make a world-beating combo that would raise all boats in a veritable tsunami of prosperity!

Even the dullest shop-hand had misgivings about that. Not hard to see where it would be a bonanza for the American money and the Mexican labour, but what about the rest of us? That's where Mulroney expertly appealed to the worst instincts of the public; our inherent racism.

You see, the Mexicans were just getting the crap jobs. US and Canadian workers would flock to the coming wave of clean and lucrative high-tech jobs that the stupid brown people couldn't do if they wanted to.

The bosses got their free trade agreement and it didn't take long to see that the joke was on the workers. That's why private sector wages in North America have been going backwards for thirty years, and will continue to do so until we have wage parity with our Mexican free trade partners.

And the beauty of this reality is that it permits politicians like Tony Clement to argue that public sector wages and benefits have to be determined by prevailing private sector standards, which are in turn determined by what an impoverished Mexican is willing to work for!

It's a great system for the bosses and the owners and their politicians.

Not that great for the rest of us.




Sunday, June 9, 2013

Assange, Manley, Snowden...

Assange, Manley, Snowden... great patriots one and all.

The very idea that a "democracy" needs to hide secrets from its people is profoundly offensive at the most fundamental level.

Hopefully these guys will all be future Nobel winners.

That would atone for some recent Nobel winners.

Homeland Security keeping America safe from... dead Nazi war criminals?

Here's an interesting story from Reuters about the search for the diaries of Nazi war criminal Alfred Rosenberg.

Rosenberg was one of the most odious Nazi ideologues, who got considerably less than he deserved when he was sentenced to death by hanging at the Nuremberg trials.

What caught my eye was the first sentence in the penultimate paragraph; "...an agent from Homeland Security Investigations tried to find the missing diary pages..."

I thought it was the mandate of Homeland Security to keep America safe from terror?

Talk about mission creep!

Hollande declares Euro-crisis over!

Which came as startling news to 350 million Europeans!

Hollande made his declaration during a visit to Japan.  Assured by his top advisers that the Japanese did not have access to the internet, and that no one in Japan could read the English/French/German newspapers, he went out on a limb thinking he might be able to slip this whopper past his hosts.

This is but the latest example of the French President's inner circle giving him a bum steer. It was the court philosopher BHL who convinced the naive waif Hollande that invading Mali would be a good move.

Hollande fully believed he would "earn his spurs," as the persuasive Levy so seductively put it.

Not only did he fail to win any spurs, now he cannot figure out how to get out of Mali!

Nor does he have any clue how to turn around an economy that continues to shed jobs and accumulate debt. He remains totally befuddled about how to escape Merkel's austerity enema when in reality it would take merely two words; nein danke.

But it might do him good to visit a sovereign nation that doesn't do austerity and doesn't take orders from Merkel. If such independence is possible for Japan, perhaps it is possible for France too.

How are freedom and democracy working out for Libya?

Since NATO did them the favor of dispatching the Monster of the Maghreb to his reward, our Libyan friends don't exactly get a lot of coverage in the mainstream media.

I'm guessing that our media, who were rabidly anti-Gaddafi, are reluctant to continue crowing about a "success" that has obviously left the country shattered and ungovernable. However dysfunctional Libya may have been under Gaddafi, it's impossible to argue things are better now.

Yesterday's firefight in Benghazi between rebels and protesters was a not atypical Saturday in Libya. 31 dead and 70 injured in a country of six million would be the equivalent of 1500 dead in Boston or Tulsa.

It would be a national emergency. We'd have 24/7 saturation coverage on every media outlet.

When it happens in Libya it's barely an afterthought.

Yesterday's confrontation brought about the resignation of Libyan army top boss Yousef Mangoush, the latest in a long string of resignations that are a de facto admission that the country is ungovernable. Mangoush, by the way, spent his entire working career in the ranks of Gaddafi's military.

If Mangoush and some of the other top dogs familiar with both pre and post revolution Libya put their heads together, they'd soon realize that they have the makings of a massive class action lawsuit against NATO on behalf of all Libyans.

It's only a matter of time.

Now for a few words from the world's leading cyber guru

Don Tapscott isn't kidding around when he claims to be the world's leading cyber guru.

He has absolutely convinced himself of it.

Have a look at some of his recent insights.

We've been in the early stages of a massive transformation the entirety of Don's career. My grandmother saw more massive transformation in her lifetime than I will see in mine, and she went to her reward well before Don and Al Gore invented the internet.

The most effective work systems are now social and collaborative, just as they were when the pyramids were built. Just as they have been since Grok and three buddies realized that they could take down that mastodon if they worked collaboratively.

A billion people use social media every day. Several hundred thousand working at the NSA have jobs spying on those billion.

We are all collaborating like never before? Any evidence for that? Does Don just make shit up that he thinks will sound good to the corporations that hire him as a motivational speaker?

As knowledge becomes more distributed, so does power. Really?

People are becoming smarter....

Of course they are! And it's all because they are accessing the internet with their smartphones and making a handful of internet and smartphone providers obscenely rich with their monthly tribute. Oddly enough, those internet and smartphone providers are the folks who butter Don's bread!

Coincidence?

We need to bake integrity into corporate DNA. Just like Mom bakes her motherly goodness into her apple pie.

And how is this for a mind-fuck; we need to rethink executive pay packages so corporate leaders are motivated to do the right thing.

No we don't Don; we need to send them to jail for a long time when they don't.

But that's not a message they're going to pay to hear from guys like yourself out there on the speakers circuit.

The industrial age created an inert citizenry. The digital age creates an active citizenry. That must be why voter participation rates are broadly declining in every advanced democracy.

As you can readily see, "cyber guru" threatens to knock "economist" out of the top spot for the bullshitter's dream job.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Why Montreal should just say "no" to Bernie Eccelstone and his F1 circus

The Canadian edition of Bernie's F1 circus goes this weekend, and Canadian media are full of angst about whether Bernie's circus will come back next year.

A goodly chunk of the F1 circus now hails from what were not too long ago referred to as "developing countries."

There is a reason for that.

If a few of the locals were to declare an independent state up here in the Bruce in the next six months, Bernie would be more than happy to slot in a Formula One race next year provided we paid an adequate fee for the privilege.

We could be hosting Wiarton Willie's Grand Prix, just like that!

As long as we paid enough money up front.

Apparently Bernie and the F1 juggernaut are not happy with the money they are wringing out of Montreal, said to be in the range of 15 millions for the privilege of hosting a Grand Prix.

It is rumored that virtually every other host nation pays more.

That's a pretty sweet arrangement for Bernie's F1 circus.

Here's a thought; why don't the mayors of all the F1 host cities get together and tell Big Bernie that he can run his races in whatever cities HE pays the most to race in. After all, without a track, F1 would cease to exist.

It would seem much more advantageous to the city of Montreal if F1 was paying them instead of the other way round.

Nations of Virtue leave Syrian opposition twisting in the wind

It's pretty much over for the dupes who dared rise up against Assad.

They are now sitting ducks, waiting to be mopped up by Assad loyalists. And you know what that means.

All the big talk about how Assad will crumble is pretty much forgotten now, especially in those countries most vocal in their condemnation of Assad.

Today SNC acting President George Sabra made a pathetic and desperate plea for more military assistance.

That won't be happening, my friend.

And it's partially the fault of Sabra and his minions, who allowed their "revolution" to be hi-jacked by parties that everyone always knew could never be countenanced by the Nations of Virtue.

Jabhat al Nusra might find sympathy in Saudi Arabia, but so did Bin Laden. They won't find much in the NATO nations.

True, you've still got Hague and Fabius clamoring for more arms to the Syrian rebels, but those are marginal men running from their domestic issues. Fabius in particular has no credibility whatsoever. France more than has her hands full in Mali. If they can't see that through, they shouldn't even dream about Syria.

And Hague is just running a diversionary campaign to take the British electorate's eye off Cameron's foibles at home.

The future of  Syria has been decided in Washington.

And in Washington they seem resigned to Assad staying on awhile.

Drones are us

No country in the world is by any stretch of the imagination as slap-happy to violate the sovereignty of friend and foe alike as the USA.

One might think that after the crocodile tears Obama shed in a drone mea-culpa the other day, things might change.

Obviously not.

Coming two days after the inauguration of President Sharif, who in his inauguration speech made a point of demanding an end to drone attacks on Pakistan's territory, the attack sends one message loud and clear;

Fuck you!

And we wonder why they hate us?

One prank call scuttles Halifax charity run

It doesn't take much.

Some wanker with two quarters to drop into a pay phone was able to rub out the Halifax Relay for Life charity walk today.

Hey, I thought we Canadians were not the sort to cut and run?

But we'll cut the run because of one phone call?

Whatever happened to punching above our weight?

Nevermind terrorism; the Canadians will fold the tent when they get a threatening phone call.

Canadian icon Benjamin Franklin to be celebrated on new Canadian stamp

What, you didn't know that founding father Ben Franklin was a Canadian icon?

Read it and be proud.

Seems that well over a hundred years before Canada became Canada, Mr. Franklin was in charge of organizing mail service in the British colonies of North America.

Apparently that makes him a Canadian icon.

On a related note, Canada has had the prime ministerial jet repainted in the red white and blue.

I get the red and white. Those are the colours of the Canadian flag.

What's the blue signify?

Perhaps a latent case of wannabe-ism on the part of those Harperites who have always pined to be the 51st state?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Frank's little brother

Everybody knows who Frank Stronach is.

Until now, nobody ever heard of his little brother Hans Adelmann.

Back in the 1950's when Frank was working 25 hours a day getting his Magna empire off the ground, he invited brother Hans along for the ride.

As it turned out, Hans wasn't into working 25 hours a day. In fact, Hans wanted to take a day off now and again to go fishing.

They parted ways in short order. Frank went on to become a billionaire. Hans ended up living a modest life in Switzerland.

Frank would be my kind of billionaire. He actually invited the CAW into his Magna plants to represent the workers, which I believe is unique in the history of North American industrial relations.

After hurricane Katrina he put up his own money to kickstart a model community in Louisiana, Magnaville. Shades of Fordlandia.

Over the years Frank was a big deal in both Conservative and Liberal party politics in Canada. Now in his dotage, he is angling for the premiership of Austria.

Brother Hans meanwhile lived a quiet life. Says he left the employ of his go-getter brother because he never wanted to be gigantic.

And he wasn't. But now he's got a book out that threatens to change that. Einfacher Leben. Simple life.

Why work 25 hours a day when you can work six, have enough to eat and a roof, and spend a life living life instead of accumulating wealth?

That's a question more people should ask themselves.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Marx, Engels... Forbes?

I know!

There's a disconnect in that title. But take a read of this slam of uber-corp General Electric.

Turns out "Generous Electric" is one of the most polished practitioners in the art of looting employee pensions.

Here in Canada none other than Conrad Black was one of the pioneers of the practice when he went after the pension "surplus" of the Dominion Store cashiers and shelf-stockers back in the day.

Unfortunately, practices that were once seen as egregious violations of the social contract, if left unchallenged, eventually give rise to a revised social contract.

Which is how Canada's most liberal newspaper today came to publish an article called "Bankable sick days a perk past its prime."

They were not, regrettably, being ironic.

Canada's most liberal newspaper references both the Fraser Institute and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business in a "news" article that argues vehemently that "perks" like defined benefit pensions and bankable sick days are relics of an era when unions had too much clout.

Thanks to the last thirty years of Reaganomics, bankable sick days and defined benefit pension plans are now almost exclusively the purview of unionized public sector workers.

That's because the private sector workers have been squeezed out of their unions and their benefits by the ever-present and all-too-real threat of having their jobs offshored.

As you may have noticed, most public sector workers are immune to that threat. You can't really hire out the township snow-plowing to China or Mexico. Or your teaching or policing.

But you can demand that they reduce their expectations to the emaciated level of the utterly gutted private sector.

And what a shameful spectacle it is to see Canada's most liberal newspaper leading this charge.

IDF mulls code of ethics for Israeli troops

IDF boss Benny Gantz is issuing a "directive" in the hopes of avoiding a repeat of the recent incident wherein a few female conscripts posted their bare butts on Facebook.

Here's a couple more ideas for your code of ethics, Benny:


  • stop hassling innocent civilians at the checkpoints if they're just folks who need to go to work or to school
  • stop using live ammo on kids throwing stones at your patrols in the West Bank.

I know you don't want to be seen as weak, Benny, but showing a bit of goodwill is going to get you a lot further in the long run than playing the bully every minute.

Think about it.


Junior rocking in Zambia

Junior has informed me that his latest music creation, When I'm dead and gone, is getting traction in Zambia of all places!

Shit, I've always told him that if he breaks big he can hire me on as his driver or lawn-care person, but I'm not sure I'm ready to relocate to Zambia...

John Baird's pig-headed buffoonery threatens to cost Canada money

That's good, because "money" is a language that the Harper government's core supporters understand.

Back in April, when Foreign Minister Baird was busy racking up the frequent flier points on an otherwise pointless Middle East tour, he made a point of meeting with Tzipi Livni in East Jerusalem.

There is no one in the Arab world or in Israel who does not understand the significance of that gesture. Baird was in effect giving Canada's stamp of approval to the illegal Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem.

Baird of course has downplayed the incident, claiming that nobody cares where he meets folks for coffee.

That may have been a miscalculation on Baird's part.

Seems the government of Saudi Arabia cares.

Incidentally, that's a government that makes the Ayatollahs in Iran look like a bunch of flaming liberals, so it's doubly ironic that our buffoonish Foreign Minister should be finding the repercussions of his carelessness in the headlines the day after his juvenile diatribe against the Ayatollahs.

Canada used to have robust trading relationships with both Iran and Saudi Arabia.

If Baird remains FM long enough, we will have no trade with either.