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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Disaffected Lib: Rolling the Dice - Geo-Engineering the Planet

Full post by Disaffected Lib: The Disaffected Lib: Rolling the Dice - Geo-Engineering the Planet

Good points by the Disaffected Lib - however, we will have to discuss this, as more and more people are saying that it's too late for anything but geo-engineering. The UN has declared a go-slow on this, but the risk is that, if they go too slow, some nation or other organization will decide to take unilateral action.

James Travers: "Principled Afghanistan policy costs Liberals dearly" (Toronto Star article)

I totally agree that Rae and Ignatieff's move was lousy politics... but "principled"? More like "stupid". The Afghans want an end to occupying armies, collateral damage, and puppet leaders propped up by the West. Who was it who called Afghanistan "the graveyard of empires"?

As Travers says, the Libs made a generous present to the other two parties.

Full article: Principled Afghanistan policy costs Liberals dearly

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Toronto Star's Catherine Porter in Haiti: Cholera’s knockout punch to Haiti

"Most [Haitians]... are water-dispossessed. Their huts have no taps. They beg or buy their water from private tankers or kiosks that aren’t regulated by the government, or they take their chances and drink from pipes emerging from the ancient underground water system. ...

"The tragedy of death from cholera is that it is so easy to treat. No chemotherapy or blood transfusions, just some sugar and salt and clean water. Even severe cases require only IV fluid with potassium mixed in and one round of antibiotics.

"'We have 50,000 cases a year in Bangladesh and nobody dies,' says Dr. David Sack, an international health professor at Johns Hopkins University who ran the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Research in Dhaka until 2007. 'Seventy-five per cent of the people arrive at the doors with no pulse or blood pressure. We have them going home within one to two days.'"

Full article: Cholera’s knockout punch to Haiti

Why isn't the world doing more to help???

Haroon Siddiqui: "Harper guts yet another independent agency" (Toronto Star article)

Another totally bizarre action on the part of the Harper minority government...

As Siddiqui explains, "The Harperites’ decision cannot be explained away by fiscal prudence. The sum involved is small, especially for a bunch that spent $1 billion on the G8/20 summit, and is to spend $9 billion on prisons for inmates that don’t exist, and $785 million on guns for customs/immigration officials at border crossings and airports when the passengers arriving at the latter have already been through security checks prior to boarding their flights.

"Nor can the decision be explained by ideology, as in the case of the turmoil caused by this government’s appointees at Rights and Democracy, that other Canadian organization that promotes democracy and human rights abroad. That agency has been turned upside down because it gave $30,000 to one Israeli and two Palestinian NGOs probing possible human rights violations by Israel in its Occupied Territories. The witch-hunt there has already cost taxpayers $1.2 million for a 'forensic audit,' consultants’ fees and other activities initiated by pro-Israeli Conservative appointees.

"The only plausible explanation for turning off the financial pipeline to the Forum is just plain pettiness, speculates one of my sources.

"'It’s hard to see why they wouldn’t extend the funding to the Forum, beyond that it was established by the Liberals. Maybe they are just being vindictive. We know that they are nothing if not vindictive.'"

Full article: Siddiqui: Harper guts yet another independent agency

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Disaffected Lib: Brilliant. Gerald Caplan Explores How Canada Has Jumped Aboard America's Permanent War

This post by the Disaffected Lib speaks for itself: Brilliant. Gerald Caplan Explores How Canada Has Jumped Aboard America's Permanent War

Thomas Walkom: "Why the Irish debt crisis matters to us" (Toronto Star article)

"As in the ‘30s, its cutbacks — by squeezing even more spending power from the economy — will only make matters worse.

"And, as in the ‘30s, governments in Ireland and elsewhere will eventually find that their voters can put up with only so much.

"The Great Depression boosted the fortunes of European fascism. We don’t know yet where the politics of this slump will take us."

Full article: Walkom: Why the Irish debt crisis matters to us

Friday, November 26, 2010

U.S. flight safety bill threatens Canadians’ civil rights, MPs told (reported in the Toronto Star)

"'Fundamental justice is not an enemy of security. In fact there is no security without fundamental justice,' Micheal Vonn, policy director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association told the Commons transport committee Thursday."

Full article: U.S. flight safety bill threatens Canadians’ civil rights, MPs told

Buckdog: Father Of Confederation - LOUIS RIEL - Was Killed By The Government Of Canada 125 Years Ago Today

Buckdog reminds us about Louis Riel, one of the founding fathers of Confederation: Father Of Confederation - LOUIS RIEL - Was Killed By The Government Of Canada 125 Years Ago Today.

There is continuing talk of an official pardon - here is a recent article by his great grand-niece, a lawyer, arguing that a pardon is meaningless, and we should let him rest in peace... What do you think?

Thomas Walkom: "North Korea's unending war rages on" (Toronto Star article)

Thomas Walkom on making sense of what is currently going on in North and South Korea: Walkom: North Korea's unending war rages on.

Sarah Palin: perhaps this would be a good article for you to read (see Buckdog: "Sarah Palin: Korea ... North or South ... Who Cares?" )

Toronto firm revives Saudi oasis (reported in the Toronto Star)

"A Toronto architectural firm has completed an unprecedented urban renewal project in the Middle East, with far-reaching implications for the world’s cities."

Full article: Toronto firm revives Saudi oasis

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thomas Walkom in the Toronto Star: Are we training soldiers for the Taliban?

"According to NATO documents, the alliance figures it has to train 23 recruits for every ten soldiers that stay with the Afghan National Army.

"Some are killed. But an alarming number quit or desert. About 20 per cent of the army bail out every year. Among members of the Afghan National Civil Order Police, which is supposed to perform the crucial task of patrolling the countryside, the annual attrition rate is about one in four...

[Lt.-Gen. William Caldwell, the American in charge of NATO training efforts,] called desertion and other forms of attrition the “greatest threat” to NATO’s aim of creating a professional Afghan army capable of taking over the war against the Taliban."

Full article: Walkom: Are we training soldiers for the Taliban?:

The Disaffected Lib: India Sounds Climate Change Alarm

Good, even if selfish, reasons why we should care if climate change affects the Indian subcontinent: The Disaffected Lib: India Sounds Climate Change Alarm

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rick Mercer on the absurd case of Colonel Pat Stogran

In case you haven't heard of him, he was the Canadian veterans' ombudsman who was fired for speaking up for veterans - and that's not the whole story...

Full rant: Rick Mercer on Colonel Pat Stogran

Ricks' Rants are always worth reading or listening to - it was hard to choose just one!

CIGNA Whistleblower Wendell Potter being interviewed, with Michael Moore, by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!

"In the interview, Potter apologizes for his role in the industry’s attack on Moore and the film.

"Moore accepted his apology, but acknowledged to Potter that, 'I think we both know this is much larger then what was done to me or in the movie.' Moore said that the industry was willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to 'stop a movie' because they were afraid it 'could trigger a populist uprising against,' what he called, a 'sick system that will allow companies to profit off of us when we fall ill.'

Rush transcript of interview: The Fear of Sicko: CIGNA Whistleblower Wendell Potter Apologizes to Michael Moore for PR Smear Campaign; Moore Says Industry Was Afraid Film Would Cause A 'Tipping Point' for Healthcare Reform

Susan Delacourt: "Is Canadian democracy in real danger?" (Toronto Star article)

Bad news for people who still look up to Canada for the way we run things - we are becoming less and less a model for the other nations of the world. Maybe one day we will be again...?

Full article: Is Canadian democracy in real danger?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Great piece by Rachel Maddow on Internet disinformation

Many thanks to the Disaffected Lib for pointing out this great Youtube piece by Rachel Maddow. Here is the link, plus the Disaffected Lib's comments: The Disaffected Lib: In This Sort of World, Sarah Palin Could Be President

Don't dismiss the right-wing conspiracy stuff Rachel Maddow describes in this clip as not worth discussing - more and more people in the Western world are getting their (dis)information from the Internet - and they only read what they want to read... As she says, their view of the world is no longer debunkable.

Eugene Robinson in Truthdig: "Look Who’s the Decider Now" - advice to Obama

"... a think tank headed by John Podesta, former chief of staff to Bill Clinton—seeks to remind Obama that shepherding legislation through Congress is only one of the ways a president can get things done."

Some advice to Obama on how he can continue to set the agenda, even when his party is losing its majority in the House and will have weaker control of the Senate: Eugene Robinson: Look Who’s the Decider Now.

Christopher Hume:" A Brave New World" (article in Toronto Star series)

Christopher Hume offers a tongue-in-cheek view of what Canada will be like in 2050: A Brave New World.

This is in anticipation of the upcoming conference on "Canada in 2050" to be held shortly in Toronto. Other related articles are:

- Can the environment save the economy?

- Industrial revolution will be close to home

- Crystal ball will be fueled by clean energy

Well, it's nice to know they think we have 40 more years...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Catherine Porter: Linda Chamberlain’s job was making her broke (Toronto Star article)

"... for every dollar Linda earned over $440 a month, one set of government workers increased her rent, while another set took half of her paycheque. The right hand does not talk to the left. ...

"Chamberlain is still very busy. She volunteers with the Dream Team, advocating for affordable housing for psychiatric survivors. She runs a soup kitchen in the basement of her building and fosters the cats of people with mental illness while they go into hospital. Three scratch against the posts in her apartment right now.

"This Sunday afternoon, she will run for the board of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association and by evening, she’ll cook dinner for seven of her neighbours in their building’s basement kitchen. They, like her, have diabetes. Come January, she plans to organize aqua-fit classes for them at the nearby recreation centre.

"Chamberlain might be jobless, but she does a lot of work. Why can’t she get paid for it?"

Full article: Porter: Linda Chamberlain’s job was making her broke

Jennifer Wells: Peligre dam project brought floods and darkness (Toronto Star article)

Jennifer Wells on assignment in Haiti: Peligre dam project brought floods and darkness.

The Star's series on Haiti: Lovely's Haiti. (Lovely Avelus was the little girl found under the rubble after 6 days without food or water).

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Breakthrough in cancer vaccine research (reported in University of Cambridge Online News)

Douglas Fearon, Sheila Joan Smith Professor of Immunology of the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge: "Finding the specific cells within the complex mixture of the cancer stroma that prevents immune killing is an important step. Further studying how these cells exert their effects may contribute to improved immunological therapies by allowing us to remove a barrier that the cancer has constructed."

Full article: Breakthrough in cancer vaccine research

James Travers: "MacKay's U.A.E. prank puts PM in a funny spot" (Toronto Star article)

Any dissension in the Conservative ranks is fine by me. Remember MacKay is the guy who broke a written promise to David Orchard not to try to merge the Canadian Alliance and the PCs... so we should not expect too much in the way of consistency from this man.

Full article: MacKay's U.A.E. prank puts PM in a funny spot

Heather Mallick: "Airport security pat-downs are grotesque" (Toronto Star article)

Wasn't it Benjamin Franklin who said, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."? How come the Americans aren't listening any more to the words of one of their most famous statesmen?

Full article: Mallick: Airport security pat-downs are grotesque

Thomas Walkom: "Sure the GM bailout worked. For GM" (Toronto Star)

"State capitalism works. ... What’s not yet clear is exactly for whom it works.
"Now we have the same company [GM] (freed of its creditors) making the same kinds of autos, paying its workers less and planning, over time, to refocus its production on China — all aided and abetted by governments here.

"It has all been a great success. I’m so glad we could help."

Full article: Thomas Walkom: Sure the GM bailout worked. For GM

Tyler Hamilton: ‘Biomimicry’ involves copying nature’s playbook (Toronto Star)

Janine Benyus, president of a non-profit group called the Biomimicry Institute, which she founded in 2005, says, "Biomimicry ... is about replicating nature’s blueprint, not necessarily enslaving nature to do the work for us.".

Full article: Tyler Hamilton: ‘Biomimicry’ involves copying nature’s playbook

Friday, November 19, 2010

Richard Gwyn: "End of American dream a nightmare for Obama" (Toronto Star article)

"America tried to do everything — to police the world, to run the world’s financial system, to maintain its people’s standard of living far beyond its economic and financial ability to pay for their bills.

"And now it’s broke and exhausted. In Afghanistan, its military options have narrowed down to finding an exit strategy that avoids humiliation."

Full article: Richard Gwyn: End of American dream a nightmare for Obama

Toronto Star: Toronto shut out of G8, G20 spending spree

"'This legacy fund . . . has nothing to do with a legacy for the G8. It seems like a legacy to the minister. You did everything but build a statue to Tony Clement in the riding.'"

Full article: Toronto shut out of G8, G20 spending spree

Shawn A-In-Chut Atleo: "Breaking free of tattered Indian Act" (Toronto Star)

Shawn A-In-Chut Atleo is the current national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Quotes: "The Indian Act was created in 1876 to control our lives, our lands and our governments. It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now. ... Empowerment has to start on the ground but requires all of us to support it and clear the path forward.

"Our destination is a stronger Canada, one where First Nations are once again in control of their own lives."

Full article: Breaking free of tattered Indian Act

Thursday, November 18, 2010

HARMONY: Antidote for Climate Dissonance? (

Article about the new film version of Prince Charles' book HARMONY: A New Way of Looking at Our World , which premiered at the Kennedy Center on Monday (with a personal appearance by Hillary Clinton) and hits the national airwaves Friday night on NBC.

"Climate bill, Commons crushed in one blow" (reported in the Toronto Star)

Clare Demerse of the Pembina Institute: "C-311 was defeated without any debate, without the chance to call a single witness to explain what it offered, and at a moment when key supporters of the bill happened to be away from the Senate."

Full article in the Toronto Star: Climate bill, Commons crushed in one blow

As the Disaffected Lib says, "This is Canada, not Zimbabwe . . . or maybe it is." New anti-cholesterol drug appears safe, effective

"After six months in the study:

• LDL scores fell from 81 to 45 in those on anacetrapib, and from 82 to 77 in those given dummy pills.

• HDL rose from 41 to a whopping 101 in the drug group, and from 40 to 46 in those on dummy pills.

"Such large changes have never been seen before, doctors say, and these improvements persisted for at least another year that the study went on."

Full article: New anti-cholesterol drug appears safe, effective -

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Charles Pascal in the Toronto Star: Harper tough on crime but soft on facts

"... on the face of it, it appears to be a good idea to scrap the two-for-one credit, the kind of superficial bumper-sticker policy that was opposition-proof. Then, after the bill’s passage, Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page did an analysis of costs, concluding that the bill to taxpayers will amount to a minimum of $5 billion over five years for this single piece of legislation — about what would be required for a national early-learning and care program that would, among so many other things, reduce the illiteracy that is so highly correlated with crime."

Full article: Harper tough on crime but soft on facts

Documentary praises Canadian sustainable logging efforts (reported in the Toronto Star)

"'The Canadian story was inspirational because it starts with pretty much open warfare involving people who didn’t even want to be in the same room together and ends with unprecedented collaboration between environmentalists, industry, native groups and governments,' said filmmaker Julie Bergman Sender."

Full article: Documentary praises Canadian sustainable logging efforts

This does sound like a promising start - and it's neat that king-in-waiting Prince Charles is keeping busy trying to save the planet, besides making very good beer (Duchy Originals)!

Chantal Hébert, Thomas Walkom: Two views on the new 2014 pull-out date (Toronto Star)

Chantal Hébert on how Rae and Iggy outmanoeuvred themselves: Hébert: Ignatieff, Rae help Harper with the Conservative base

Thomas Walkom on how we got the 2014 date from Hamid Karzai, via the US: Exit date jibes with Obama's. Coincidence?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Waterloo, Feridun Hamdullahpur in the Toronto Star: "Ontario wins by attracting the best international students"

Full article: Ontario wins by attracting the best international students

Tom Philpott on Why Monsanto is paying farmers to spray its rivals’ herbicides

"In a better world, farmers would be looking to non-chemical methods for controlling weeds: crop rotations, mulching, cover crops, etc. Instead, they're being paid by Monsanto to ramp up application of poisons. Perhaps the USDA's main research arm, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, will rise to the occasion by funding research in non-chemical weed-control methods? Not likely, since the Obama administration tapped a staunch Monsanto man to lead that crucial agency.

"But instead of true innovation, we have the spectacle of Monsanto paying farmers to dump vast chemical cocktails onto land that not only feeds us, but also drains into our streams and rivers."

Full article: Why Monsanto is paying farmers to spray its rivals’ herbicides

Scott Tribe: Conservatives and the Environment don’t mix

Scott Tribe in Scott's DiaTribes: Conservatives and the Environment don’t mix

And I liked the quote from Chip Giller, founder of, quoted by JimBobby in the Comments section:

"So-called global warming is just a secret ploy by wacko tree-huggers to make America energy-independent, clean our air and water, improve fuel-efficiency of our vehicles, kickstart 21st century industries, and make our cities safer and more livable. Don’t let them get away with it!"

Linda McQuaig in the Toronto Star: Where are the champions of equality?

"Imagine if there was some inspired political leadership that didn’t just fold its tent when confronted by the army of privilege, but instead waged a fierce campaign championing the popular yearning for greater equality."

Full article: McQuaig: Where are the champions of equality?

It appears that this accumulation of wealth at the top is an almost automatic effect of capitalism - there has got to be a better system!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Interview with Author and Activist Derrick Jensen on Democracy Now!

Derrick Jensen being interviewed by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!

Quote: "... any way of life that’s based on the hyper-exploitation of renewable resources won’t last."

Rush transcript of interview: Author and Activist Derrick Jensen: "The Dominant Culture is Killing the Planet...It's Very Important for Us to Start to Build a Culture of Resistance"

Democracy Now!: Haiti Cholera Outbreak Reaches Port-au-Prince, Congress Continues to Block Release of Aid Funds

Democracy Now! meets with Jonathan Katz, Haiti correspondent for the Associated Press, and Haitian American writer Edwidge Danticat in Port-au-Prince.

Full article: Haiti Cholera Outbreak Reaches Port-au-Prince, Congress Continues to Block Release of Aid Funds

News item in Democracy Now! for Nov. 15, 2010:
"The United Nations has appealed for some $160 million in new aid amidst warnings some 270,000 Haitians could fall ill in the coming years."

In case you haven't figured it out, that's over 1/4 million people who could possibly be affected, in a population of around 10 million...

The Ghost of Travis Bickle. Posted to, November 4, 2009, by the late George Condon

Here's another post by my late friend George J. Condon, from a year ago - but it's just as true now as it was then.

"American writer Stephen Crane was born after the Civil War ended, so he never saw combat in that conflict. Still, his 1895 novel about the American Civil War (titled The Red Badge Of Courage) was one of the first books to portray war with grim realism rather than glamorizing it. The main character in Crane's novel was a naive young man who thought the war was going to be glorious, but who was forever scarred by the horrors he experienced during it.

"Since Crane's time, the spectre of the tormented war veteran has haunted American literature and movies. In films like The Best Years Of Our Lives, The Deer Hunter, Coming Home and Taxi Driver, we see him returning maimed in body or in spirit. He comes home tortured by memories of the unspeakable things that he has seen or has done. Locked into his own world of pain and guilt, this survivor from Hell steps back into a civilian society that is now as alien to him as life on another planet.

"Of course, compassion for war victims can be a very one sided affair. We will probably never see any American films that show the suffering of German or Japanese civilians during the Allied bombings of World War 2. No Hollywood movies will be made about the agony of millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians during the Vietnam War nor will there be any requiem for the hundreds of thousands of dead civilians in the current Iraqi conflict. After we demonize another people as 'the enemy', then we don't care about how much they bleed.

"The mentally or physically disfigured war veteran continues to stalk the American imagination because the United States has been almost perpetually at war since the nation was founded. For people who claim to love peace, Americans seem to get into an amazing number of firefights.

"One of the darkest movies ever made about war veterans is Martin Scorcese's Taxi Driver. Travis Bickle comes home from Vietnam physically whole but psychologically crippled. He is restless, haunted by nightmares and incapable of establishing the most basic relationships with other human beings. Bickle begins driving a taxi at night to escape his personal demons, but nothing can stop his slow slide into violent madness. The happy ending tacked onto this grim film is so out of step with the rest of the movie that it is like putting a Bugs Bunny cartoon at the end of Schindler's List.

"Now that the United States has waded into yet another quagmire in Afghanistan, Taxi Driver looks less like a dated film from the 1970s and more like a prophesy of things to come. As the Iraq and Afghan veterans come home, there will be thousands of Travis Bickles in America and in Canada. The only thing different this time is that some of these tormented veterans will be women.

"The Public doesn't like to think about the cost of a war while it's still raging, so films about Iraq or Afghanistan have tanked at the box office lately. There has been no military draft, so these wars have been fought by the children of the poor and they are not top of mind issues for most North Americans. The definitive movie about Iraq or Afghanistan may not be made for another ten years, after passions have cooled and people have the perspective of history.

"The one thing certain is that our society will continue to generate corporate profits by cranking out weapons and then we will need to find enemies everywhere to use them on. Meanwhile, the ghost of Travis Bickle wanders the landscape, brooding and alone.

"What do you think?"

George J. Condon - November 4, 2009

The link is (or was) The Ghost of Travis Bickle

Smug Canadians? Posted to, Jan. 7, 2010, by the late George Condon

I thought I had better reprint this post by my late friend George J. Condon to his blog on, as I don't know how long his blog will survive him. George passed away June 16, 2010. George, we miss you!

Here is his post - he certainly doesn't pull any punches!

"During the dark years of the Bush Administration in the United States, Canadians basked in a warm glow of self-righteousness. Maybe we weren't perfect, but we were certainly better than those crazy rednecks south of the border. Now that Barack Obama has become the American President, Canucks find that the ground has shifted uncomfortably beneath their noble feet.

"The Obama Administration has been a major disappointment to progressive people everywhere. For example, the vow to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay has morphed into a plan simply to move it onto American soil. When in opposition, the Democrats denounced the civil rights abuses of the Patriot Act. Now that they're in Government, the Dems have suddenly discovered that these same measures have merit. Despite such lapses, the wind is blowing from a slightly more progressive direction in America. We Canadians are left with our halos slightly askew.

"But, surely we must still be morally superior to the Americans in many ways. For example, we don't condone torture. Actually, we do. Canadian troops in Afghanistan turned prisoners over to local authorities, knowing they'd be tortured. When warned about this, the Canadian Government seems to have turned a blind eye to the abuses and it has been denying everything for three years.

"All right, but Canadians don't go around starting illegal wars the way Americans have done. Maybe not, but our forces are in Afghanistan without United Nations approval. Canadian troops are there to please the Americans and to show that we can be as macho as the Yanks. Claims that we are fighting to protect the Afghan people against the Taliban are so much horse droppings. If we care about the defenceless, then why don't we have troops in Darfur? Where were our soldiers during the genocide in Rwanda? It's great that our presence in Afghanistan allows girls to go to school, but that's just a side effect.

"Well, at least we don't pollute as much as those darned Americans do. Actually, we pollute more per individual. Ditto for energy consumption. The Americans try hard to be the world's energy pigs, but we have them beaten by a slim margin. We use the excuse that it's cold up here in the Great White North, but other cold countries (such as Finland and Norway) live comfortably on about 50% less energy use per person compared to Canadians.

"Okay, but don't we care passionately about the environment despite all that? We have a strange way of showing it. The Canadian Government did its best to wreck the recent talks on Climate Change in Copenhagen. The largest emitter of carbon dioxide on Earth is the Alberta Tar Sands Project, right here in Canada. Asbestos is banned in North America because it causes cancer and lung disease, but Canadian companies sell tons of the stuff to India where the people are less aware of the risks. In Latin America, Canadian mining companies have a dismal record for dumping toxic waste.

"Does all of this mean that Canadians are monsters? Of course not. Historically, Canadians have made great contributions to science and to medicine out of proportion to our population. Canadian troops fought heroically in two world wars and in Korea, while being seen as models of discipline and professionalism. Canadians give generously of their time and money to help the less fortunate around the world. We used to be the world's peace keepers. We were so nice that some people in other countries sneered at us for being naive boy scouts who failed to understand the harsh realities of international politics. Unfortunately, that was then and this is now.

"What happened to us was the same thing that happened to Americans. While we snoozed in our self-satisfaction, some very reactionary people seized the levers of power. They've changed the Canadian image from peace keeping and social justice to military butt kicking and corporate profits. Now, we have a Prime Minister who just shuts down Parliament whenever it suits him. None of that silly democratic stuff about answering questions and putting things to a vote.

"Down south, Americans are trying to get their country back. Time will tell whether they succeed. Up here in Canada, we're still asleep. Until we wake up and make some changes, we'd better face the fact that the Ugly American now speaks with a Canadian accent and rides a snowmobile.

"Am I being too harsh? I'd like to know what you think. Please don't tell me to go somewhere else if I don't like it here in Canada. If I didn't love my country, I would never have bothered to write this."

George Condon, Jan. 7, 2010

The link is (or was) Smug Canadians?

A Timely Remembrance Day Reminder

Thanks to the Disaffected Lib for reminding us on Remembrance Day of this famous article describing chillingly what we fought against, and that the fight is never really over:

The Disaffected Lib: The 14 Steps to Fascism, or, America This Way

Buckdog: Oklahoma Proposition To Ban Sharia Law May Have Inadvertantly Banned 10 Commandments As Well

Thank, Buckdog, for pointing out this piece of weirdness, described in the Dallas Voice of Nov. 5, 2010:

Buckdog: Oklahoma Proposition To Ban Sharia Law May Have Inadvertently Banned 10 Commandments As Well

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Interview with Economist Ha-Joon Chang on Democracy Now!

Ha-Joon Chang, who teaches economics at the University of Cambridge, being interviewed by Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now!

Rush transcript of interview: Economist Ha-Joon Chang on the G20 Summit, Currency Wars and Why the Free Market is a "Myth"

Mona Eltahawy in the Toronto Star: Saudi Arabia's spot on the board of UN Women a sad joke

Mona Eltahawy: "Saudi Arabia essentially bought its way onto the board of UN Women, which is dedicated to gender equality around the world. ... If UN Women is to have any bite, it should focus on justice for Saudi women and not on their country's 'generous contributions.'"

Full article: Saudi Arabia's spot on the board of UN Women a sad joke

Mother Goose and Grimm (Cartoon): "We had to tent Earth... it's infested with humans"

From Mother Goose and Grimm Comics by Mike Peters

"We had to tent Earth... it's infested with humans"

At least, it should take care of global warming!

Helen Henderson in the Toronto Star: Inclusive design program sees a future where everyone is equal

Interesting article about new inclusive design initiative at OCAD University (the former Ontario College of Art and Design):

Henderson: Inclusive design program sees a future where everyone is equal

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"... Some issues are too important for gameplaying"

Powerful article by Canadian ex-Senator Eugene Forsey on the politics behind Canada staying in Afghanistan: Bob Rae/Riggy, Price Leader for the Oligopoly. By the way, the LPC he refers to is the Liberal Party of Canada (rather badly broken at present, IMO).

And for another (not necessarily incompatible) view on the political manoeuverings, Jim Travers in the Toronto Star: Travers: Politics permeates Afghan mission reversal. It has to be admitted that Harper can outsmart Iggy and Rae with one hand tied behind his back...

YouTube - David Harvey Crisis of Capitalism

This is worth watching - even if you disagree with it!

YouTube - David Harvey Crisis of Capitalism

Thanks to the Disaffected Lib for this link. It also contains a link to the wonderful discussion of subprime mortgages by the British comedians, the Long Johns.

Thomas Walkom in the Toronto Star: The G20 failure at Seoul and what it means for you (smaller countries)

Thomas Walkom: "In effect, both the U.S. and China have refused to bear the cost of righting the imbalances bedevilling the world economy. That means other nations — including this one — will have to do so."

Full article: Walkom: The G20 failure at Seoul and what it means for you

Catherine Porter in the Toronto Star: Tales of horror from a police state — ours

If you believe(d) Canada stands for peace, order and good government, read this and weep!

Full article: Porter: Tales of horror from a police state — ours

By the way, Paul (or Catherine), the word is "tenets", not "tenants".

Thursday, November 11, 2010

James Travers in the Toronto Star: Remember today a beloved country

Jim Travers' poignant lament for Canada. As he describes so well, Canada is no longer the country that I chose to come to, 42 years ago. "Instead of taking its assumed place in the vanguard of countries finding solutions, Canada is now dismissed as a backslider and obstacle to progress."

I believe that a lot of the blame for this change should be laid at the doorsteps of Harper, and Harper-lite, Ignatieff.

Full article: Travers: Remember today a beloved country -

Haroon Siddiqui in the Toronto Star: Canadian-Arab relations sink to an all-time low

Amr Moussa (secretary-general of the Arab League, which represents 22 nations with 280 million people), quoted by Haroon Siddiqui: "You cannot just take a biased position and then ask the Arabs and Muslims to forget it and ignore it and support you."

Haroon Siddiqui: "After Canada refused more landing rights for Emirates and Etihad airlines, the UAE [United Arab Emirates] cancelled Canada’s free use of an airbase and a port for transiting our troops and equipment to and from Afghanistan.


"The UAE is Canada’s largest Arab trading partner — at $1.5 billion a year, most of it in our favour. About 125 Canadian companies are active in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and 27,000 Canadians work and live there.

"The UAE is one of the oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Council states that are projected to spend $10 trillion in the next 10 years on infrastructure — projects that Canada is very suited to have a crack at, and invest $3.5 trillion abroad in the years ahead, with Canada as an attractive destination.

"Harper’s mishandling [of relations with the UAE] can only be explained by his anti-consumer, anti-free trade protectionism of Air Canada, or ideological anti-Arabism, or just plain incompetence."

Full article: Siddiqui: Canadian-Arab relations sink to an all-time low

Catherine Porter in the Toronto Star: Guns to trowels

This is a beautiful article for Remembrance Day, by the Star's Catherine Porter, describing one man's idea about turning guns into useful tools: "They shall beat their swords into plowshares..." (Isaiah 2:4)

Full article: Porter: Guns to trowels

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jim Travers in the Toronto Star: "Truth first casualty of Afghan training plan"

Jim Travers: "From beginning to the beginning of end-game, the Afghanistan mission has been warped by misunderstanding and wrapped in misinformation. This Prime Minister owes it to this country to end both before asking Canadians to risk another drop of blood."

Full article: Travers: Truth first casualty of Afghan training plan

Anti-Semitism on the rise here and abroad, PM says (reported in the Toronto Star)

The only way I can explain this is that, yet again, Harper's ideology trumps common sense. How many times do we have to say that reasoned criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism? Contrary to Israel's propaganda, it is the most heavily armed country in the area, and has to learn moderation if there is ever going to be peace in that region. If France and Germany can learn to work together, why can't Israel work out some kind of accommodation with its neighbours?

Full article: Anti-Semitism on the rise here and abroad, PM says

Tanzanian rats trained to sniff out landmines (Jenni Dunning in the Toronto Star)

"According to AFP, it takes two human 'deminers' a full day to clear a 200-square-metre minefield. With the help of a couple of pouch rats, they can finish the job in 90 minutes. So far, says APOPO founder Bart Weetjens, the rats 'have helped re-open almost two million square metres of land' in Mozambique."

Full article: Tanzanian rats trained to sniff out landmines

Climate change prosperity or disparity? (Stephen Bede Scharper in the Toronto Star)

Important message about the impact of climate change.

Climate change prosperity or disparity?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Artist under house arrest, but party goes on in China (Bill Schiller in the Toronto Star)

China "lurches" again - it wasn't so long ago that Ai Wei Wei was being lauded as a foremost Chinese artist, in spite of his comments about the government (CBC interview, just before the Olympics). The pun is interesting too!

Full article: Artist under house arrest, but party goes on in China

Scientists convert skin into blood cells, potential new transfusion source (reported in the Toronto Star)

This is really exciting news - on several fronts... And a great example of Canadian medical research expertise.

Full article: Scientists convert skin into blood cells, potential new transfusion source

Sunday, November 7, 2010

California vote illuminates Ontario’s energy future (reported in the Toronto Star)

Finally, a rare optimistic view!

"In California, they were joined by blue-collar workers, investors, environmentalists and clergy, creating a force the best campaign polluters could buy could not defeat."

Full article: California vote illuminates Ontario’s energy future

Friday, November 5, 2010

Richard Gwyn in the Toronto Star: U.S. best and worst on display

Richard Gwyn: "Add together the negatives and the positives and the impression is left of a nation that has regressed to political adolescence..."

Full article: Gwyn: U.S. best and worst on display -

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Harry Potter invisibility cloak a step closer?

Interesting, but let's hope they don't figure out to use it for large objects... The world is confusing enough!

Full article: Harry Potter invisibility cloak a step closer?

CBC News - Health - Parkinson's tied to brain's energy crisis

CBC News - Health - Parkinson's tied to brain's energy crisis

In Yemen Bomb Plot, 2 Darkly Historical Inside Jokes (reported in the New York Times)

"Those who forget history..."

To me, one of the messages they are sending is that they know the history of the West better than we do. It took several days before our newspapers twigged to the addressees' names, and I can just imagine our security organizations running around trying to figure out who the heck Diego Deza and Reynald Krak were...

Full article: In Yemen Bomb Plot, 2 Darkly Historical Inside Jokes -

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ralph Nader on corporatization

Ralph Nader being interviewed on Democracy Now!:
"The corporations now dominate every department and agency in the federal government, from the Department of Defense, Department of Treasury, Department of Agriculture, Interior and other departments. By that I mean, the outside influence on these departments is overwhelmingly corporate, even the Labor Department. Number two, they have something like 9,000 political action committees—auto dealers, insurance companies, banks, drug companies—funneling money into members of Congress and the White House. Number three, they’ve put their executives in high government positions. Now, nobody comes close to that kind of triple control of our government. And when Franklin Delano Roosevelt sent a message to Congress in 1938 to set up the national—temporary national commission on corporate concentration—and they did pass that—he said in his message, when government is controlled by private economic power, that’s fascism. That was in 1938. And now, more than ever, we have a corporate government in Washington, DC, corporate-occupied territory, that is destructive of any semblance of democratic process. Voice for the people, voice for labor, a voice for small taxpayers, consumers, they’re shut out. They’re excluded."

Full interview: Ralph Nader: Dems Face Losses to "Most Craven Republican Party in History":

The Disaffected Lib: What Teddy Roosevelt Would Say to American Voters Today

Why have people like Teddy Roosevelt disappeared from US public discourse?

Full article: The Disaffected Lib: What Teddy Roosevelt Would Say to American Voters Today

Baby signs of the times

Thanks to the Toronto Star for reprinting this article from It supports research indicating that language skills can develop even before the mechanism for producing speech has developed.

Full article: Baby signs of the times

Harper has burned bridges abroad, Ignatieff says (reported in the Toronto Star)

A new, more combative Ignatieff - finally?

Full article: Harper has burned bridges abroad, Ignatieff says

Heather Mallick in the Toronto Star: War crimes trials — from tragedy to farce

Heather Mallick describes the ironies of history. And Albert Speer only got 20 years. Also, I'm curious whether the jury was told that there was considerable doubt about whether Omar Khadr even threw the grenade in question...

Full article: Mallick: War crimes trials — from tragedy to farce

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

UN base under scrutiny over cholera outbreak in Haiti (AP, reported in the Toronto Star)

The cholera outbreak in Haiti may have come from recently arrived peacekeepers from Nepal.

Full article: UN base under scrutiny over cholera outbreak in Haiti

Jim Travers in the Toronto Star: Khadr case hands terrorists unearned victory

Jim Travers: "Demanding justice and defending rights are not outpourings of bleeding-heart sympathy for Khadr or an implied endorsement of anything he may have done, or now says he did, in Afghanistan. They are instead an urgent reminder that nothing is more corrosive to freedom than fear."

Rights that our culture has been working on since the Magna Carta are in danger, due to what Travers calls our "weak-kneed willingness to sacrifice universal rights".

Full article: Travers: Khadr case hands terrorists unearned victory -

Monday, November 1, 2010

Poll: 1 In 5 Americans Believe Obama Is A Cactus | The Onion

Couldn't resist posting this one from The Onion... :-) Hope this stuff isn't addictive...

Poll: 1 In 5 Americans Believe Obama Is A Cactus | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

The Disaffected Lib: Those Airplane Bombs - Something Doesn't Add Up

I have to admit this did seem strange! Surely any parcel from Yemen addressed to a synagogue is a huge red flag - and, if by chance it did arrive at its destination, they wouldn't want to touch it with a barge-pole.

Full post: The Disaffected Lib: Those Airplane Bombs - Something Doesn't Add Up

Death and dirty water: Cholera’s grim march through Haiti

This is part of a series in the Toronto Star about Haiti, focussing on Lovely Avelus, the miracle child who was found in the ruins after 4 days. In addition to all their problems, they now have cholera to contend with. And, as if that weren't enough, they are now menaced by Hurricane Tomas.

Full article: Death and dirty water: Cholera’s grim march through Haiti