Tuesday, October 31, 2006

My take: if the shoe fits... She may be a "bitch". She may not. Certainly, it's not the first time she's been called one. Belinda Stronach is no babe in the woods. Again, at most, an apology might -- might -- be in order, but a damn good case could be made for fair comment. Belinda has screwed over an entire political party, has twice thought of herself as Prime Ministerial material, while having accomplished precisely nothing outside of the family firm, and has had a personal life that has been the cause of considerable heartache and anguish. Spector haters like Chinchilla (who's been nicely filleted by Spector vis-a-vis his role in the Federal pre-sponsorship-days ad procurement system) and Chinchilla's under-employed lapdog Jason Cherniak want the full "burn the witch" treatment for Spector. It won't happen.

Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- Opposition MPs are calling on media organizations to fire a former Brian Mulroney aide for referring to Belinda Stronach as a bitch.

A British Columbia MP, New Democrat Dawn Black, says it's shocking that anyone would use Norman Spector as a political commentator after his remarks.

Spector told a Vancouver radio talk show that Stronach's breakup with Conservative MP Peter MacKay, as well as a role she is alleged to have had in the marital problems of former Toronto Maple Leaf Tie Domi, means she is a bitch.

Spector, who was also Canada's ambassador to Israel, did not back down from the remarks.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, he pointed to the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of a bitch as someone who is malicious or treacherous.

But Judy Wasylycia-Leis, another New Democrat MP, says Spector's comments were unforgivable and hurt women everywhere.

Rattler

A British Columbia Superior Court judge has frozen the assets of former Hollinger exec, now stoolie, David Radler. Using one of those ex parte injunctions (um, just when will these finally be struck down???) that allows a party in a lawsuit to get a court hearing without the formalities of informing the other party, the court limited Radler to $25,000 a month to live on. Radler, apparently, will use some of that money to appeal.
I'm of two minds on all this. First, there are a lot of sleazy bastards in business, especially in media, and a few more should be in the dock. But I think Black is right when he says he's the victim of prosecutors and shareholders' rights activists. Maybe Black played fast and loose with Hollinger, but anyone with any sense knew when they bought Hollinger, they were buying shares of Black. Hollinger was Black, warts and all. I doubt very much that shareholder equity in Black's former properties have improved much under new managment, or that, in the end, removing Black made good business sense.
Black is not an enigma. He's a very straight-up character. Black has the balls to go after, and to do, things that most other people would only fantasize. He appeared to be scheming, but, in fact, he was simply reckless, but his was a recklessness with some brains behid it, and, for a while, it made fortunes and careers for many, many people.
I'm going out on a limb here, but I believe Black will walk on his charges. The idea that Hollinger deserved the non-compete money is plain silly. It was Conrad Black that Canwest didn't want to compete against. Right now, if both Hollinger and Black reneged on the non-compete clause, who would David Asper sue? Who would you want competing against you, the remnants of Hollinger, or Conrad Black? I'd go up against Hollinger any day. Black, who can get up in court and point to the improved Daily Telegraph and to the National Post... well, he's a great newspaperman.
What if Conrad Black does go down the crapper? Is taking Black away from the newspaper business and putting him in jail a plus or a minus for society? Is locking up the guy who wrote the definitive biographies of Duplessis and FDR good public policy? And are we better off for losing one of Canada's great characters, a guy who, if nothing else, has given great entertainment value for the money.
He's already been cheated out of his citizenship by Jean Chretien, who presided over the most crooked regime in Canadian history. His wife is mocked in once-great newspapers. Many of the people who got their break in journalism from Black are feasting on Black's fall from social grace. Some of his friends, who waxed fat at his table and took his money to be directors and consultants, have turned their backs, knowing that Black is too much of a gentleman to have done the same thing to them.
I think I'll go to Chicago this winter and watch this play out.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Bad Circulation

The rag trade continues to slip. None of that Adbank smoke and mirrors. Here's some real numbers out of the States, and they bode poorly for hefty broadsheets and big Metro papers:


1. USA Today: 2,269509, (-1.3%)
2. The Wall Street Journal: 2,043235, (-1.9%)
3. The New York Times: 1,086,798, (-3.5%)
4. Los Angeles Times: 775,766, (-8.0%)
5. The New York Post: 704,011, 5.3%
6. Daily News: 693,382, 1.0%
7. The Washington Post: 656,297, (-3.3%)
8. Chicago Tribune: 576,132, (-1.7%)
9. Houston Chronicle: 508,097, (-3.6%)
10. Newsday: 413,579, (-4.9%)
11. The Arizona Republic, Phoenix: 397,294, (-2.5%)
12. The Boston Globe: 386,415, (-6.7%)
13. The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.: 378,100, (-5.5%)
14. San Francisco Chronicle: 373,805, (-5.3%)
15. The Star Tribune, Minneapolis: 358,887, (-4.1%)
16. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 350,157, (-3.4%)
17. The Plain Dealer, Cleveland: 336,939, (-0.6%)
18. The Philadelphia Inquirer: 330,622, (-7.5%)
19. Detroit Free Press: 328,628, (-3.6%)
20. The Oregonian, Portland: 310,803, (-6.8%)
21. The San Diego Union-Tribune: 304,334, (-3.1%)
22. St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times: 288,676, (-3.2%)
23. The Orange County (Calif.) Register: 287,204, (-3.7%)
24. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch: 276,588, 0.6%
25. The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee: 273,609, (-5.4%)

In Ottawa, "Peter" is now slang for "chicken"

Peter MacKay should have done the right thing when he made his "dog" comment. He should have aplogized, said it was a heat of the moment thing, a momentary lapse, unhealed wound, etc. He could have called her worse things. Many people have. Then he could have moved on. Instead, he lied. Too many people heard the comment and got it on tape to leave any doubt. Even more distressing, in my view, is Peter Milliken's cowardice in this. I've seen him bend a few times for the government in power. This is an abdication of his duty, another nail in the coffin of Parliament, and evidence that Milliken, a fine Speaker in so many ways, should not be re-elected:



CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA — House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken has bowed out of the dispute between some Liberal MPs and Tory cabinet minister Peter MacKay, saying it's not his job to decide who's telling the truth in the tangled affair.

Milliken refused today to refer the matter to a committee for further investigation, or to demand an apology from MacKay.

Some Liberal MPs say MacKay suggested during a raucous exchange two weeks ago that his ex-girlfriend, Liberal MP Belinda Stronach, is a dog.

The remark wasn't caught by official stenographers, and audio clips of the exchange were garbled and barely audible.

MacKay, the Tory foreign affairs minister, has flatly denied making the remark, even though several Liberal colleagues of Stronach have sworn affidavits insisting they heard him.

Milliken says that under the circumstances, he's powerless to do anything.

"The remarks may or may not have been said, but it is not for the Speaker to decide where the truth lies," he declared in rejecting a question of privilege raised by the Liberals.

"I regret that the chair can offer no remedy to the House . . . I must now consider the matter closed."

Milliken did, however, appeal to MPs to work harder at maintaining decorum in the Commons, asking them to "avoid personal attacks on other members, so they do not bring themselves and this House into disrepute."

"You lent them what?!?"

Bank of Canada governor David Dodge doesn't want the Government of Canada paying for the damage when the real estate gravy train derails:

OTTAWA (CP) —A just released letter from the governor of the Bank of Canada to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. exposes a rift between the two over lending policies.

"I read with interest and dismay your press release of June 28 which indicated that CMHC would offer mortgage insurance for interest-only loans and for amortizations of up to 35 years," says the two-page letter from David Dodge to Karen Kinsley, president and CEO of the housing corporation.

"Particularly disturbing to me is the rationale you gave that `these innovative solutions will allow more Canadians to buy homes and to do so sooner'."

The corporation's actions are likely to drive up house prices and make homes less, not more, affordable, Dodge says in the blunt missive, uncharacteristic of the usually tempered language of the central bank.

"I would have thought that as a Crown corporation, you would feel a responsibility to consult with the Bank of Canada and the Department of Finance before taking actions which could make the macro management of the economy more difficult and which have implications for overall financial stability."

The June 30 letter was obtained by Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

He's qualified!

Maybe prostitute-journalist-Ryerson Journalism school prof Gerald Hannon could write a nice feature about him.

NELSON WYATT
Canadian Press

MONTREAL -- First, Rev. Raymond Gravel had to get permission from the Vatican to run in a federal by-election. Now, the former prostitute who used to work in gay leather bars has to convince the voters of Repentigny riding that he is the right man to represent them.

He's their kind of guy

Unscrupulous scumbag James Carville talks to the sunscrupulous scumbags of the Ontario Liberal party:

Carville tells Liberals to put interests of people over interests of power

TORONTO (CP) - The man who ran Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign and gave political advice to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former South African president Nelson Mandela is lending his expertise to Ontario's Liberals.

James Carville, the man known as the Ragin' Cajun, spoke to 1,200 Ontario Liberals at their annual general meeting in Toronto Saturday, the last such gathering before the party tries for re-election next October.

Carville opened by joking that based on U.S. talk radio, he expected to find the Canadian audience freezing to death while waiting in line for health care.

He then launched into a defence of Liberals, who are now going by the moniker "progressives" in the United States.

"The Conservatives are always willing to take on people in the interests of power," he told the audience.

"We should never fear to take on power in the interests of people."

Friday, October 27, 2006

Again, I would be, too.

Uxbridge man critical after shooting
-TorStar web page today

The Lucky Sperm Club

For all those Liberals who lust at the idea of Justin Trudeau going into politics, remember one thing: his mom.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tough beans, birdie

This is an obvious miscarriage of justice:

BERLIN (AP) — A German court on Wednesday ordered a 70-year-old pensioner to pay the equivalent of almost $9,400 (Canadian) in damages for fatally beating a protected golden eagle that tried to snatch his dachsund.

The pensioner, who was not identified by officials at the court in Heilbronn, was walking with his wife and leashed dog in the town of Siegelsbach in southwest Germany in October 2005 when a passer-by told him the eagle — recently escaped from a private wildlife centre — was nearby.

The man went to investigate, and the eagle seized the dog. The man hit it with his stick, fatally injuring it.

The court found that the man had been warned not to approach the bird, and thus bore the bulk of the responsibility for the incident.

Wildlife officials were found partly responsible for letting the bird get away, and were ordered to pay the man $1,300 toward his veterinary expenses for treatment of the dog, which survived.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Next time, try stealing candy from a baby

What in the world were they going to do with this stuff? And if you're going to steal candy in Toronto, on Hallowe'en or otherwise, expect a fight:


LINDA NGUYEN
TORONTO STAFF REPORTER

Three men have been arrested after a transport truck full of gumballs was hijacked in the city’s east end early Monday morning - almost a week before Halloween.
Police were called to Oak Leaf Confectionary on Sinnot Rd. in the Eglinton Ave. E. and Warden Ave. area around 5:30 a.m. after thieves attacked a truck driver from behind and stole his truck full of candy valued at more than $40,000.

The driver was punched in the face and in the body and then was almost forced into the trunk of a car, police said. He made his escape by fighting off his attackers.

The suspects fled in three separate vehicles, with one of them behind the wheel of the transport truck, police added.

The truck driver was taken to hospital with a broken nose and was treated for cuts to his arms and legs, they said.

Police were able to locate the transport truck on Brenda Cres. at Corvette Rd. in Scarborough around 2:30 p.m. after they witnessed two men and pursued two others who tried to flee in another vehicle but were arrested a short distance later, they said.

Bavanan Uthaanathan, 23; Jude Emmanuel, 25; and Ragivan Thirugnanasambanthar, 24, all of Toronto, face 25 charges relating to robbery, assault, kidnapping and theft charges.

How much did this cost?

Golly, this is a real "dog bites man" piece of news:


NEW YORK, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Researchers at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University say most men are always thinking of sex.

A study released Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists found 54 percent of men and 19 percent of women admit they think about sex every day -- or several times a day -- in a society where they are bombarded with subconscious erotic images.

Scientists at the University of Minnesota found sexy subliminal images competed for attention in the brain even when the images were not right before a subject's eyes and most people are not consciously aware of them, ABC News reported.

Researchers also found sexual orientation often determines how the brain reacts to erotic images. Heterosexual women, for example, were more tuned in to pictures of naked men, the same reaction exhibited by homosexual men. But homosexual woman were equally attuned to naked images of both sexes, the report said.

Beeevare! Beeeeevare!!!!!

CanWest is notoriously badly run and leveraged to the ears. Alliance-Atlantis' biggest asset, CSI, has jumped the shark and home renovation is becoming passe. Yet the suckers are lighting a fire under both companies in hopes of a CanWest takeover of Alliance Atlantis.

(Globe and Mail)
Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. is expected to be the next company sold in a consolidating Canadian media sector, with analysts predicting the owner of specialty television channels could soon end up in the arms of CanWest Global Communications Inc.

Shares in both companies have soared recently, and two events last week crystallized speculation that CanWest may be on the hunt for a deal in Canada, amid talk that Alliance may be looking to sell.

The solution may lie within the problem

Iraq is a construct, a country sketched out by the British during the carve-up of the Ottoman Empire. Britain looked to Mesopotamia's classical borders for guidance, but that civilization was long dead. The Iraq of 1919 was an Arab state, one that had no cultural connection, and very little ethnic ties, to the Mesopotamia of Hammurabi or even of the Babylon of Alexander the Great's time. So why fret about it coming apart now, as long as the ethnic and religious groups that live there now stop killin each other? Now, the hard slogging would be in matching the borders to the rival groups, and to the oil fields. Perhaps countries created for Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds could share the oil revenues of old Iraq on a per-capita basis, but the idea of "one person, one -----" is pretty alien to the mideast.

Iraq could break up unless steps are taken towards unifying it, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said, amid rising fears over the future of the war-shattered country.

"If there is no breakthrough and real unity does not begin, this situation (break-up) will become reality," Lavrov was quoted as saying by the ITAR-TASS news agency on Tuesday.

The comment came amid soul-searching by the main countries involved in Iraq -- notably the United States and Britain -- and by the Iraqi government itself over prospects for keeping the country united.

Since the US-led invasion in 2003, Iraq has become involved in a series of internal conflicts which threaten to tear it apart. In addition to the insurgency against military occupation there is vicious civil unrest, much of it pitting different ethnic and religious groups against one another.

Calls for a de facto partition have come from within Iraq, including one on Tuesday from the largest Shiite Muslim political grouping.

The stupidity of elected judges

Stop this guy at the border and send him back to do his time in Buffalo -- a short sentence, all things considered.


Report sought on U.S. judge's ruling
Offender could be barred at border

MICHELE HENRY
TORONTO STAR STAFF REPORTER


Canada's public safety minister asked yesterday for a full report about a U.S. court decision to exile a convicted sex offender and American citizen to Canada to serve three years' probation.

"And we asked for it in short order," Melisa Leclerc, spokeswoman for Stockwell Day, said. "Canada won't be a safe haven for sexual predators and criminals who committed crimes in other countries."

The request for information to the Canada Border Services Agency comes amid bafflement on both sides of the border over the recent decision ordering Malcolm Watson to return to the temporary home he shares in St. Catharines with his Canadian wife and three children.

Watson — who was fired in April from his job as a teacher at Buffalo Seminary, an all-girls' school that has 174 students between Grades 9 and 12 — was found with a 15-year-old girl in a parked car at the Galleria Mall by a security guard, court heard.

How about letting them sort this out in jail

From our "break out the search warrants" file, the scum of the earth are cut off from their vile past-times. Thanks, Mr. von Erck, and keep up the good work:

KIM BRADLEY, SUN MEDIA

TORONTO -- Members of more than 40 self-proclaimed "child loving," "pedo-sexual" websites will be looking for new homes in cyberspace after their hosting company was evicted from the Internet.

MCI WorldCom/Verizon issued a 30-day service termination notice to hosting company, Montreal-based Epifora.com, citing them for "breach of Verizon's Acceptable Use Policy" after receiving pressure from the U.S. group, Perverted Justice.

"We're loud and aggressive and we get results," says Xavier Von Erck, head of the volunteer, "citizen action" group that helps police trap predators online.

Von Erck said this will throw thousands of child lovers into web limbo Nov. 3, forcing them to look elsewhere for web space.

Epifora president John White refused comment, but in a statement on his website, he said "the material on the Epifora network does contain discussions about the ethical questions related to sexual contact with minors, but any specific counselling to commit illegal acts is in violation of the Criminal Code of Canada. Epifora, Inc. requires all of its clients to be in full compliance with all applicable laws."

The affected websites host chats, fictional stories about sex with kids and links to help single people adopt children.

Veiled threats

In today's Globe and Mail, Margaret Wente (snippet below) takes on the very sensitive issue of the Muslim veil. In my mind, pushing anyone to conform with a societal dress code -- whether Western or Muslim -- is out of line. But it is more complicated. There are issues of seperateness involved. And intolerance flows both ways. Would a Muslim-dominated Western society use the tools of democracy to enforce its rules on non-Muslims? Not in traditional Muslim culture, but likely in an Islamicist state. Mark Steyn and others claim Europe, with its declining native birth rate, could head that way. People going about their business covered in ways that hide identity and emotion are challenging the social rules of Europeans and most other cultures, but, at the same time, are causing no real harm. Whether women really want to wear the niqab, and why they might want to, in the West, is a question I'd like to se more discussion on. But there's legitimate reasons to talk about the impact of immigration without pressuring people already here to conform to some kind of dress code:

The reason to get fussed is that the veil -- specifically the niqab, which leaves only the eyes uncovered -- has crystallized the issue of Islamic separateness. For many people, it stands for the deliberate rejection of Western norms. They argue that it is a political symbol as much as a religious one. And so it has become a lightning rod for the many stresses and woes of newly multicultural Europe.

Meanwhile, in Detroit (Hamtramck is actually an enclave in the north-central part of the city), a judge threw out the testimony of a woman who would't show her face while testifying in his court. And that was big enough news to make London's Daily Telegraph (although the reporter was in Los Angeles, strange as that may seem):

Defeat for woman who refused to take off her veil
By Catherine Elsworth in Los Angeles

A judge threw out a Muslim woman's court case against a hire car company because she refused to remove her veil when she testified.

Ginnah Muhammad, 42, wore a niqab – a scarf and veil covering the head and face that leaves only the eyes visible – for a court hearing in Hamtramck, near Detroit. She was contesting a $2,750 (£1,470) charge from a car hire company for damage to a vehicle she said was caused by thieves.

Paul Paruk, the district judge, told her that he needed to be able to see her face to gauge whether she was telling the truth.

He advised her that if she did not remove the veil while testifying the case would be dismissed. She refused to take it off.

"I just feel so sad," Ms Muhammad told the Detroit Free Press. "I feel that the court is there for justice for us. I didn't feel like the court recognised me as a person that needed justice. I just feel I can't trust the court."

Mr Paruk said he told Ms Muhammad to remove the veil because it was his job to determine "the veracity of somebody's claim". He added: "Part of that, you need to identify the witness and you need to look at the witness and watch how they testify."

Michigan law does not stipulate how religious attire worn to court should be handled so judges have discretion to rule on such matters individually.

Metropolitan Detroit has one of the country's largest Muslim populations but Mr Paruk said it was the first time someone had come before him wearing a niqab.

Dawud Walid, the executive director of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the judge violated Ms Muhammad's civil rights. He called for greater sensitivity towards the Muslim population.

The wearing of a niqab is the subject of intense debate in Britain after Jack Straw, the former home secretary, said Muslim women should remove their veils as he felt they were "a visible statement of separation and difference".

It has also triggered controversy in the US. In 2003 a Muslim woman from Florida unsuccessfully tried to sue the state for ordering that her face be visible in her driver's licence photograph.

War: the gift that keeps on giving

Every year, several farmers in France and Belgium are injured as they till the old battlefields of World War I. Unexploded ordinance -- shells with high explosive and poison gas -- are pushed up by the frost. Shell fuses were not too efficient in World War I, and there were many, many duds. And a bomb wasn't neutralized just because the fuse failed. The rest of the explosives still worked. A special unit of the French army collects old shells, grenades, land mines and other explosives, takes the stuff away and detonates it. This is one of the most dangerous jobs of the army in peacetime.
World War II ordinance seems to have been better. Most of it seems to have explosed when it was supposed to. However, in German cities, where huge air raids dropped millions of tons of bombs, the problem is expected to last another century:



FRANKFURT, Oct. 23 — More than six decades after the end of World War II, Germans still routinely come across unexploded bombs beneath farmers’ fields or city streets. Lately, there has been a skein of such dangerous discoveries, one with deadly consequences.

A highway worker was killed Monday when his cutting machine struck a World War II bomb beneath an autobahn southeast of Frankfurt.
On Monday morning, a highway worker was killed when his cutting machine struck a World War II bomb beneath a busy autobahn southeast of Frankfurt. The explosion ripped apart the vehicle and damaged several passing cars, wounding four other workers and a motorist.

Also on Monday, a weapons-removal squad defused a 500-pound bomb found next to a highway near Hanover, in the north. The police said it was a British aerial bomb, one of tens of thousands dropped on German roads, factories and cities during Allied bombing raids.

On Saturday, 1,000 people were evacuated from a town east of Berlin after a bomb was discovered. And last week, 22,000 people were evacuated from a district in Hanover after three bombs were discovered near a house. It was the second largest evacuation for a disposal operation since the end of the war.

Sponsorship: the bulge under the carpet

Notice no political operatives are being charged, just the expendable and now friendless ad guys. Seems giving kickbacks is bad. Taking them? Not so bad.:

Canadian Press

MONTREAL — New criminal charges resulting from a police investigation into the federal sponsorship scandal could soon be laid against admen Jean Brault and Jean Lafleur, Radio-Canada reported Monday.

Mr. Brault, former president of the Groupaction Marketing, was sentenced to 30 months in prison in May for fraud. He was granted parole after serving only five months of his sentence.

The 54-year-old pleaded guilty in March to defrauding the government of $1.23 million on five contracts that his company obtained between 1996 and 2000.

Who's a rat?

I thought he was still in the slammer:

DON MACDONALD, The Gazette
Published: Tuesday, October 24, 2006

David Radler has gone back to his roots with a deal that gives him and his partners an ownership stake in the Sherbrooke Record, the newspaper where he and Conrad Black got their start together in 1969.

Radler is a shareholder in a private company called Alberta Newspaper Group that acquired an interest in the Record as part of a transaction last month with Vancouver's Glacier Ventures International Corp.

Radler, 64, conceded in an interview yesterday that nostalgia for the Record played a part in the decision to include the newspaper in the deal with Glacier.

"You always want to come back to the paper where you started, but, ultimately, the value of the investment will be judged by how we do, not on sentiment," Radler said from his Vancouver office.

"The funny part is that I went back there last week, and there aren't that many people who even remember us."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Downright angry, even

"Woman critical after Kingston Rd. stabbing"
-Toronto Star web page today.

I would be, too.

The G.G.s

Over family dinner tonight, I learned that my mother-in-law (actually, wife's stepmom, who's like a second mom to me, and a very active grandparent to our kids) got nominated last week for a Governor General's literary award for French non-fiction. She lives just outside Ottawa. She's kept her mouth shut about it. The university where she teaches is too slow to figure it out. No call from the local French media. No call from the Ottawa Citizen. She's waiting to see if anyone ever notices. She thinks it's funny as hell.
One of the students whose PhD thesis she supervised is nominated for a GG in English non-fiction.
Anyway, she's bought herself a nice new dress.
We are all very proud here.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Pervert of the Week

FERNDALE, Mich. (AP) - A Detroit man with a history of smashing store windows to grab female mannequins has been accused of indulging his fetish again.

Ronald Dotson, 39, was arrested and jailed Oct. 9 after breaking a window at a cleaning-supply company to get at a mannequin in a black and white French maid's uniform, police said.

A judge Thursday ordered him to undergo a psychiatric examination to determine whether he is competent to stand trial on charges of attempted breaking and entering.

"Mr. Dotson went to prison and they haven't helped him," said his lawyer, Edward Cohn. "He got out of prison and he was right back out there. It's pretty bizarre."

Dotson had been out of prison for less than a week when he was caught. His erotic pursuit of mannequins over the past 13 years has led to at least six convictions for breaking and entering and a stint in prison, police said.

"He told his parole officer he was going to buy a mannequin so he didn't have to do these break-ins anymore," said Detective Brendan Moore said. "Apparently that didn't work out."

Deep Throated

Daniel LeBlanc lets slip that the gist of the Sponsorship story was handed to him on a platter. I, and many other people, thought he got it through hard work and digging, but it turns out he was given a road map and lots of direction:

http://www.members.shaw.ca/nspector4/MIND.htm

Meanwhile, the Globe reports that LeBlanc's new book brings the scandal into the offices of Chretien cabinet heavies Don Boudria and Martin Cauchon. The whif of scandal -- whether warranted or not -- may explain Boudria's abandonment of what was then a safe seat in the Francophone belt of eastern Ontario, and Cauchon's decision not to run for the Liberal leadership. In the third Chretien term, Parliamentary janitors had to follow Cauchon around, wiping up thew anticipatory drool. In this year's race, Cauchon would have been able to build a wider coalition in Quebec, he speaks better English than Dion, and he held the very senior Cabinet rank, and PM stepping stone, of Justice minister. The fact that he looks like a passenger in Chretien's getaway car seemed to be his only drawback. Until now:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20061021.GOMERY21/TPStory/National



(ht to Norman Spector)

The Star... again

Three of the best business writers in Canada analyse the latest shake-up at the Toronto Star:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20061021.RTORSTAR21/TPStory/Business

It's the first good analysis of the internal workings of the organization. The Globe missed just one point: the new editor, Fred Kuntz, is, for a job of that calibre, of below-average education and creativity, average intelligence, and endowed with outstanding levels of ruthlessness.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Who's nuking whom?

Foreign Affairs sent me the link to this:
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3616

It's a short list of the possible up-and-coming nuclear powers.
Foreign Affairs is being very optimistic. Any industrialized country has the ability to, if it wants, build an atomic bomb. Given a couple of years to scrape the material together, a country with some cash and a decent machine-tool industry can easily put together a gun-type U22 atomic bomb. A plutonium implosion bomb requires a higher level of engineering, but nothing out of reach of the developed and much of the non-developed world. Brazil, Argentina, maybe Mexico, certainly Canada, all of the countries of western Europe, and South Africa (which may already have the bomb, from the Israelis in the 1980s), could make the cut.
The only barriers are political. Is there a reason? Is there a will?
And then there's the issue of delivery. The North Koreans recognised that's the biggest problem for a rat-hole country like theirs. They started by building knock-offs of German V2s, peddling them to other scum-suckers like Saddam. The SCUD has a fairly short range. It's far too crude to be a strategic weapon with conventional warheads, but atomic bombs aimed at civilians don't need to be all that accurate. Now, the Koreans have mid-range ICBMs that can hit most of Asia and can reach Hawai. At this stage of the game, Kim would be insane to use one or two against a nuclear power like the US or China. The retaliation would be horrific. But they're a threat to South Korea and Japan. And, worse, they can be mass-produced and exportable. And, if that happens, any country with a few hundred million Euros or dollars can be a nuclear power. Anyone.

Daddy's boy

OK, how many breaches of the Ten Commandments did Frankie Basso commit? I count four really blatant ones (stealing, coveting goods, bearing false witness [i.e. fraud], and failing to honour Mama) Maybe there's a fifth, but I'm not clear on the botched hit reference. Still, Frankie better not expect Mama to visit him in stir.

HAROLD LEVY
STAFF REPORTER, TORONTO STAR


A Newmarket man pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing his cancer-ridden 70-year-old mother's home and gaining $450,000 by mortgaging the property.

He then took the money, giving some of it to a man targeted in a botched gangland murder attempt, and put his mother on the street because he didn't make the mortgage payments.

The mother, Rosa Basso, was not in court yesterday when Frank Basso, 47, entered his plea but she let her feelings be known in a victim's impact statement filed in court.

Talk about unelected judges making bad law

And the hook, for the Toronto Star, is that he's from Metro!


From T.O. to Mogadishu
Oct. 20, 2006. 06:56 AM

MICHELLE SHEPHARD
STAFF REPORTER


MOGADISHU—In this dusty, broken city, past the pockmarked walls bearing the scars of countless battles, through the guarded gates of the Al Furqan University and inside a sunny office, sits a former Toronto grocery store owner who is now a leader in an Islamic regime that has been likened to the Taliban.
Canadian Abdullahi Afrah, or Asparo as he’s known to most, left Toronto nine years ago to return to his birthplace to see an end to the years of civil war that has consumed the country since the government collapsed in 1991.

That journey has brought him to the Union of Islamic Courts, which swept into Mogadishu in June, defeating the reigning warlords with cunning military prowess.

Like the Taliban, they immediately invoked strict adherence to sharia law and have presided over public executions of criminals, floggings of women who fail to wear the hijab and censorship of the media...

Fool me once...

Oct 20, 6:20 AM (ET)


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Il expressed regret about his country's nuclear test to a Chinese delegation and said Pyongyang would return to international nuclear talks if Washington backs off a campaign to financially isolate the country, a South Korean newspaper reported Friday.

"If the U.S. makes a concession to some degree, we will also make a concession to some degree, whether it be bilateral talks or six-party talks," Kim was quoted as telling a Chinese envoy, the mass-circulation Chosun Ilbo reported, citing a diplomatic source in China.

Kim told the Chinese delegation that "he is sorry about the nuclear test," the newspaper reported.

The delegation led by State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan met Kim on Thursday and returned to Beijing later that day - ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's arrival in the Chinese capital Friday. China is viewed as a key nation in efforts to persuade the North to disarm, as it is the isolated communist nation's main trading partner.


(This is how it's going to play out: If you think the Yanks and the Japanese are dismayed at the thought of the North Koreans having the bomb, imagine how China, with a land border with NK, and Beijing a short SCUD ride away, feels? At best, the Chinese are going to drag Kim to the bargaining table, and the little nutbar is going to cut a deal that he sticks to. At second-best, the Chinese will backa coup. At worst -- but certainly not a poor bet -- the Chinese will go in, the way they did -- or tried to -- in Vietnam in 1979.
End result: no nuclear-armed North Korea. China finally emerges as unchallenged power broker in the region, with a fistfull of markers to call with the U.S. and the undying gratitude of everyone in Long Dong range.

Like in the doofy Bond movie with Haille Berry and the hot British ice queen

Q-Branch holds the patent.

11:29:50 EDT Oct 19, 2006
Canadian Press: RANDOLPH E. SCHMID
WASHINGTON (AP) - Harry Potter and Captain Kirk would be proud. A team of American and British researchers has made a Cloak of Invisibility.

Well, OK, it's not perfect. Yet.

But it's a start, and it did a pretty good job of hiding a copper cylinder from microwave detection.

Like light and radar waves, microwaves bounce off objects making them visible and creating a shadow, though it has to be detected with instruments.

And if you can hide something from microwaves, you can hide it from radar - a possibility that will fascinate the military - and likely from eyesight as well.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

How to get $2.5 million by being stoopid

They tell you very clearly to close your windows. This couple didn't. They got bit. And now they're rich.
Go figger.



In a 2-1 ruling today, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a finding that the African Lion Safari is liable for injuries to a couple mauled by a tiger.

But a dissenting judge says the trial court's decision to deny the game park the right to have the case heard by a jury was a mistake that requires a new trial.

Jennifer-Anne Cowles and David Balac were awarded damages of $800,000 and $1.7 million respectively after the Cambridge tourist attraction was found liable in 2004 for their injuries.

A Bengal tiger named Paca jumped through the passenger window of the couple's car when they were driving through the park in April, 1996

Well, after a bunch of bad news...

Ottawa superior court Justice Lynn Ratushny told the feds their police state search powers in the anti-terrorism law were an affront to the Charter. In Canada, the cops can't go on fishing expeditions in reporters' sock drawers.
The Ottawa Citizen, and everyone who believes in a free press, has good reason to celebrate tonight.

A decade ago, I would never have believed this

Transcontinental Media has given up the struggle and, after 30 years of publishing TV Guide in Canada, the print edition is ending effective with its November 25 issue.

TV Guide will "transition to a web publication", according to a memorandum to staff from Francine Tremblay, Senior Vice President of Consumer Publishing. The new site will be tvguide.ca.

Hat tip to canadianmags.blogspot.com

The new gloom for newspapers

The rag trade is bad all over:

By E&P Staff and The Associated Press

Published: October 19, 2006 10:15 AM ET

CHICAGO The New York Times Co. reported Thursday that its third-quarter 2006 profit from continuing operations plunged 39.2% on costs related to its job cuts and a loss on its sale of its 50% stake in the Discovery Times Channel.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Today's Question

Could the Tories have done anything more stupid than kicking Garth Turner out of caucus? Talk about driving home the point that MPs are expected to act like nobodies. Yes, Turner is a shit disturber. He's also one of the smartest people on the Hill. Yes he can be annoying. He annoyed the hell out of me when I worked for him 25 years ago. But he's a damned good MP, and the kind you want in your tent, not out.

When Warren Chinchilla talks, people listen:

Today, Kinsella says, in his National Post column, that the Star is dying. He begins the sermon by talking about how he was mentored on media by Sen. Keith Davey in the good old days -- you know, back when SFH-boy wasn't considered toxic waste by the federal Liberals. One gets the idea Warnout's mouth was full during those lunch sessions.
Here's what he said about the Post to the Canadian Association of Journalists convention in 2001:



The big question, at the end of the day, is whether the National Post did what it most wanted to do - which is in some way alter or affect Canada's political scene.

Political hacks like me believe the Post had, and still has, some outstanding writers and editors. Political hacks like me loved the fact that the Post gave over so many column inches to politics - even if, for Liberals, the coverage was usually slanted. Political hacks, like me, will probably miss the Post if it goes.

But it did not do what it set out to do - which was render Canada a more politically conservative place. It did not persuade voters that only conservatives belonged in government, before they set about dismantling it. It failed at those things, utterly.

The conservative guy who created it, who was its soul, has fled to Europe and is named after a train station or something. Many of its top conservative writers and editors have been let go, or have quit. And - this is the most significant thing of all - conservative parties like the Canadian Alliance and Tories remain far less popular than they once were.

Conservatism, as a political choice, ain't dead. But its most enthusiastic champion, the National Post, probably is. It just doesn't know it yet.


(People still call this guy for quotes?)

Er, Mr. President, the mike is still on.

Lucien Bouchard questions work ethic in Quebec
Updated Tue. Oct. 17 2006 2:28 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

Former premier Lucien Bouchard has ignited a heated debate after charging in an incendiary television interview that Quebecers are threatening their future because they don't work hard enough.

The former Parti Quebecois leader argued in an interview with TVA that the province is lagging behind Ontario and the United States with its fiscal record, partly because its residents don't share the same work ethic.

He added that 75 per cent of the province's debt, the highest per capita in North America, was racked up during his generation.

Bouchard said Quebec is now holding back the new generation in its failure to make economic progress.

When asked about a possible return to the political stage, Bouchard told TVA that his life in the public eye is over.

Labour leaders expressed outrage over Bouchard's comments, saying Quebecers are willing workers but they need fair wages and a balance between their jobs and personal lives.

Pierre Cere of Le Conseil national des chomeurs, a group that advocates for the province's unemployed, said the comments are offensive.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"Unelected Supreme Court judges"

I agree with the campaign at Small Dead Animals and other conservative bloggers to keep the Court Challenges Program dead.
I just have one question: Why do conservatives always trash the "unelected Supreme Court"? No country has an elected Supreme Court. The U.S. and Canada have virtually the same appointment system, except the people picked by the President face tough questions -- sometimes -- at the Senate Judiciary Committee.
There's only one way to get on the U.S. Supreme Court: be appointed by the President.
Same holds for the major US courts.
There's only one way onto the Supreme Court of Canada: appointment by the Prime Minister. Same holds for the major courts in Canada.
Yes, Americans elect some lower and middle-ranked judges. But that's as far as it goes, anywhere.
"Unelected Supreme Court judges" is a garbage accusation. The Supreme Court of Canada can do some dumb things, but it's Parliament, not the judges, that decides how a lawyer ends up on the court.

Love the sinner (his music, anyway), hate the sin...

Bono, Preacher on Poverty, Tarnishes Halo With Irish Tax Move

By Fergal O'Brien

Oct. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Bono, the rock star and campaigner against Third World debt, is asking the Irish government to contribute more to Africa. At the same time, he's reducing tax payments that could help fund that aid.

After Ireland said it would scrap a break that lets musicians and artists avoid paying taxes on royalties, Bono and his U2 bandmates earlier this year moved their music publishing company to the Netherlands. The Dublin group, which Forbes estimates earned $110 million in 2005, will pay about 5 percent tax on their royalties, less than half the Irish rate.

Who killed Canadian newspapers?

A friend asked me today why the newspaper business has gone down the crapper. Off the top of my head, here's my answer:

1. TV took the car and beer ads
2. Grocery ads -- huge, huge earners, were lost to fliers 20 years ago.
3. Department stores -- Eatons, K-Mart, Zellers, Simpsons, Northern, Federation, etc -- whacked by WalMart, dollar stores, etc, which do not buy full-page ads.
4. Help Wanteds lost to 'net.
5. Classifieds lost to Buy and Sell newspapers in the 1980s, eBay and web since then.
6. Real estate ads lost to freebie real estate papers, flyers, now web.
7. Papers became soft, boring, "lifestyle" in reaction. Bad idea. Staffs became old, gentrified, lost touch with young, small town and suburban readers.

It's like a whole bunch of killer competitors sat down and carved up the business.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Deathstar

The Toronto Star's owners have replaced its publisher and its editor with two very, very interesting specimens. Jadoga Pike is a "human resources" expert. She's now the publisher. Fred Kuntz, who I've known since the mid-70s, is the new editor. Fred has a well-deserved reputation as a hard-ass company man, an executive rather than an artiste.
Things are going to get very unpleasant at 1 Yonge.
Maybe that's what the Star needs. These are two people who are very concerned with business and have little time for out-of-office politics. Kuntz replaces Gilles Geirson, a policy wonk who let the paper drift. Ghierson replaced John Honderich, a very odd duck who inspired loyalty in his friends and contempt from everyone else. Honderich, for a time, let Jim Travers hold the reins. Travers worried more about finding jobs for his Ottawa Citizen and Southam pals than putting out a great newspaper.
I don't think Kuntz will be a great editor, in a journalistic sense. His hiring signals a retrenchment, a consolidation, one that will come after the cuts that have been signalled by today's executions.

"Fool me twice, you won't get fooled again"

I see Air Canada's about to try to unload $200 million worth of stock and is going to screw the holders of Aeroplan miles. First advice: don't buy the stock. And don't buy a fund that buys the stock. Second advice: use any Aeroplan miles you have as soon as you can, if you catch my drift.
The last time I flew Air Canada, on a flight from Chicago to Toronto, my seatbelt came off in my hand and there was a full barf bag in the seat pocket in front of me. The time before that, they lost my luggage when I flew home from a trip to Florida. Air Canada is not my favorite airline, but they've never given me the screwing that they gave their last set of shareholders.

The life of a frustrated kingmaker

One of my employers got a subscription offer back with the following words inscribed in BIG RED LETTERS:

"Not while Mark Bourrie writes for you. Warren Kinsella".

Now, that's just downright mean. I pick up the Hill Times every week, (mostly for the pictures) and, even though I get it free, I don't slag it because they run Warren Kinsella's drivel. And I read the National Post sometimes, too. I want to know what I'll be missing in a month or two. And I don't believe the rumor that Kinsella doesn't get paid for his column.
And I put my garbage out so Waste Management Inc. can pick it up and pile it on Carp Mountain. And I, unfortunately, deal with TicketMaster sometimes. And I expect my old carcass to be washed and dressed by a member of the Ontario Funeral Directors Association, in due time. So that means I actually have not boycotted any of Daisy Consulting's major clients. And that's OK, because I know they are proud that their guy sows so much goodwill in the community. He may lie about winning lawsuits, and he may be political toxic waste in Ottawa, but he can still wow the yokels in Toronto, and that keeps a whole family off the welfare rolls and living on Winner's Circle. And that's a good thing.

Meanwhile, in those lo-o-o-ng stretched between Shit From Hell gigs, Warnout finds time to threaten my comments posters and slag my friends. It must be really something to be hung up on pee-pee talk and the decade-old scandals of your landlord's ex-girlfriend, and still be able to get up on stage and play the lefty punk. There's a word for that kind of ethical tapdancer. Starts with an "s", I think.

Oh, well. I suppose playing in Shit From Hell isn't an effective way to blow off all of Chinchilla's anger. Maybe he should try his hands at litigating on behalf of people with real troubles. Pro bono, I suggest. Or writing something that really helps the troubled and marginalized, instead of always arsecreaping the powerful. But that would be walking the Liberal walk, not talking the Liberal talk.

Fool me once...

"Ticket to heaven" sounds like the title of a bad country song. But that's what Taliban suicide bombers get. And they're real, too. They're on TV.
Meanwhile, outside the cave, the heads just keep on rollin'. I just wonder what they would have done to these poor buggers if they hadn't confessed:


Taliban chief beheads 8 'spies' working for British
Dean Nelson, Delhi, and Ghulam Hasnain, Karachi
Times of London

THE Taliban's military commander, Mullah Dadullah, has been filmed executing eight men who were accused of spying for British and American forces in Afghanistan, it was claimed last week.

In a series of clips released by Dadullah to Geo, the Pakistani television station, the Afghan men are seen confessing their crimes and then being laid out in the dust with their arms and legs bound.

According to a Taliban statement that accompanied the video, Dadullah himself is then shown hacking off their heads and placing them on the victims' torsos. The executioner's face is not shown in the footage.

The video describes the men as spies working for the "Christians and crusaders". The footage, which was released in the midst of an intensive Taliban campaign against British, American and Canadian forces, appears to be an attempt to terrify Afghans out of co-operating with the coalition.

It also highlights the Taliban's increasing use of suicide bombers, paying tribute to a number of militants who have died in such attacks and showing new suicide bomb volunteers receiving a "ticket to heaven" from Dadullah at his campaign headquarters. The footage shows a black-bearded Dadullah wearing a white salwar kameez, black robe and turban, signing each "ticket" while a clerk registers the new volunteer in a ledger.

Shots of the new bombers are followed by clips of eight men who were killed in suicide attacks between February and June this year. One of them, who is seen laughing in the film, was killed on February 24; another on May 18. Analysts said the video was at least six weeks old.

In my day, kids just stole the taps in the girls' residence

Actually, we did have our share of semi-retarded Brit expat Poli Sci teachers who wore Mao outfits, historians who thought the Soviet system gave everyone the same opportunities in life, journalism profs who thought Cuba was a model of freedom, student union types who thought every man jack and retard had the right to free tuition, and Young Liberals. Now, well, at least these guys don't have keggers:

http://education.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,329601709-108229,00.html

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Today's Iggy questions

If dropping a stray bomb on the Lebanese town of Qana is a "war crime", what were the Blitz, Coventry, Rotterdam, Dresden, Berlin, Hamburg, Darmstadt, Essen, Manila, Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki? Were the Canadians in Bomber Command "war criminals"?
Is dropping a bomb on an apartment building more of a crime than hitting one with a rocket?
Hmmmm, just asking.
I just hope Iggy's "war crime" line was just an error in language, and not one in thought.

Former Congressman Dead at 69

BOSTON (AP) - Former Rep. Gerry Studds, who became the first openly gay member of Congress when his homosexuality was exposed during a teenage page sex scandal, died early Saturday. He was 69.

Studds died at Boston Medical Center several days after he collapsed while walking his dog, his husband said. Doctors determined his loss of consciousness was due to a blood clot in his lung, Dean Hara said.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

DE-TROIT

BEN WALKER
ASSOCIATED PRESS


DETROIT — Magglio Ordonez lofted a high fly ball to left field and when it landed, a most amazing thing: the Detroit Tigers in the World Series!
Written off by the entire baseball world only three years ago, the Tigers made it official Saturday. They’re back, and on the prowl.

The Shadowy War

This is a tricky situation. The basic histories of World War II talk of the Nazi invasion of Russia, and how many Ukrainians, starved and miserable under Communism, were ready to accept the Nazis as liberators. Invariably, the next sentence in these books says Nazi brutality caused the Ukrainians to re-think collaboration and to fight alongside the Russians.
For the most part, that was true, but tens of thousands of Ukrainians volunteered for Russian-speaking Wehrmacht units. By the end of the war, at least 500,000 were in the German forces. By the end of 1946, nearly all of these men were dead. Some survived a few years longer, working 18-hour days, seven days a week, in Soviet coal mines. One recent writer said the last of these men were not even allowed to sing as they were worked to death.
Now, many of these people deserved punishment. Ukrainians filled the ranks of some of the most notorious Waffen SS units and staffed the death camps in Poland.
There were, however, thousands of Ukrainians who simply fought for the Ukraine. They fought the Germans when they invaded, attacked German occupation forces, and, when the Germans withdrew, fought the Soviets. Ukrainian nationalism was one motivation. The other was the well-founded belief that Stalin's secret police, the NKVD, would kill them. Author Anthony Beevor has written recently about this bizarre aspect of the war. Stalin distrusted partisans of any sort. The maps of occupied Europe are misleading: much of the "occupied" Soviet Union remained contested territory through the war, with many divisions of German soldiers tied down fighting the resistance, and large parts of the occupied territories "no go" areas for the Germans. But Stalin thought partisans showed too much free will and he had them hunted down. Men and women in isolated regular units of the Soviet Army that fought on in the Pripet Marshes were also sent to the Gulag after the war. Stalin was fearful of anyone who worked independently from the central mind.
In the Ukraine, post-war retributions and resistance lasted an incredibly long time. The NKVD killed off the last of the Ukrainian partisans in 1954. So, in the Ukraine, there are people who fought the entire war as Red Army soldiers, people who fought in the anti-German resistance and were allowed to go home unmollested at the end of the war, people who collaborated for a short time with the Germans but made their peace with the Ukrainian resistance and commited no great crime and perhaps fought with some effect for the Ukraine, outright collaborators who burnt their uniforms and escaped Soviet "justice", and there are the Ukrainian die-hards.
Pensions and family reputations ride on the Ukrainian authorities being able to sort the sheep from the goats. And that's hard in a place where most records were destroyed and the truly guilty have worked for sixty years to fudge their past:


Last Updated: Saturday, October 14, 2006 | 4:15 PM ET
The Associated Press

Minor clashes erupted on Saturday in downtown Kiev between police forces, Ukrainian nationalists and communists during a gathering to mark the 64th anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

The nationalists briefly scuffled with opposing Red Army supporters who were holding a counter-rally, but police were largely successful in blocking protesters from clashing. They detained about 20 activists from both sides who tried to break through police cordons in the Ukrainian capital.

Veteran Ukrainian nationalist fighters who fought both Soviet and Nazi forces in the Second World War have been demanding the same recognition as the Red Army veterans.

Some 2,000 veteran nationalist fighters and their supporters gathered in front of St. Sophia Cathedral to honour victims of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which fought in a bid to create an independent Ukraine.

During Soviet times, schoolchildren were taught that members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army were enemies of the people who committed atrocities alongside Nazi troops. After the 1991 Soviet collapse, the former guerrillas have sought to win financial and moral recognition similar to what Red Army veterans have long enjoyed.

Harper v. The Press Gallery

CanWest's Don Martin has a column in today's papers that is pretty much bang-on:

http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=c298e5b1-afc1-466f-a00d-1ef1dc89b8cb


Now, if Press Gallery members are reeeeally pissed about losing photo-ops and cabinet outs, here's what to do (tips that are especially useful for TV reporters): Go out of the office and off the Hill, learn about one or two aspects of government very well, and cover the creation of policy and the administration of the Government of Canada. Go to Supreme Court hearings and talk to the litigants, rather than rely on spoon-feeds on judgment Thursdays. Cover the House every minute it's sitting. Report the speeches of MPs, even the ones who are not famous. Make the great debaters and the solid thinkers of all parties famous by reporting what they say about the laws that are being passed. Bird-dog the lobbyists when they do come to the Hill. Cover committees. Go to things even when a story is not a sure thing. Use the Library of Parliament. Take "little people" out for lunch. Come down from the clouds.
It will make Canada a stronger democracy. And, if you're right about Harper, you can prove it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Error America

I really liked Air America in the lead-up to the 2004 presidential election. Marc Maron and Jim Earl were funny as hell. Even Janeane Garofalo was worth listening to, especially when she had her dad, Carmine, on the show. Carmine was an old Republican and Janeane was always trying to save him. Carmine made a hell of a lot of sense. And then there was Bobby Kennedy Jr., sounding like he'd had voice box surgery performed with a piece of barbed wire by Jack the Ripper.
After the election, Air America got rid of all the humor and the more eclectic personalities. Its best hosts, people like Maron, were deep-sixed and replaced with preachy lefties and shrill harpies yammering a very tedious anti-everything cant. The most abnoxious is that Australian woman in the afternoon who sounds like some bullhorn-carrying Socialist Worker-type. And hiring Jerry Springer to be all weepie and gooey... two hours of him doing that silly monologue that he does at the end of his TV show, the little soul-salve to take away our guilt for watching the hillbilly fights. Yuk.
Maybe, post-911, New York wasn't really ready for a Big Hug solution to the world's problems.
Well, Air America in receivership now. Looks like Al Franken, who's actually as good, or better, a radio host than anyone we have in Canada, will be stiffed for over $300,000. And it's too bad. Franken says a lot of things about the right that need to be said. The more voices out there, the better.


-----------------------
NEW YORK — Air America Radio, a liberal talk and news radio network that features the comedian Al Franken, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a network official told The AP.

The network had denied rumours just a month ago that it would file for bankruptcy protection. On Friday, Air America spokeswoman Jaime Horn told The Associated Press that the filing became necessary only recently after negotiations with a creditor from the privately held company's early days broke down.

The network will stay on the air while it resolves issues with its creditors, Horn said. In addition to Franken, the network also features shows from liberal talk show host Randi Rhodes and syndicates shows from Jerry Springer and Portland, Ore.-based talk show host Thom Hartmann.

Jack Layton: Vote-grubbing sleaze

Jack Granatstein takes pen in hand and bats .1000 on Jack layton in today's National Post:

The NDP always harks back to Canada's proud tradition of United Nations peacekeeping. Canadians love peacekeeping, which they associate with doing good, a military on the cheap, no casualties and a role that differentiates them from their superpower neighbour. For a half-century, we like to imagine, Canadians kept the peace in Cyprus, the Middle East, the Congo, and dozens of other troubled countries with their blue berets and white-painted vehicles, while the United States makes war everywhere.

Yet this popular belief bears scant connection with either history or the reality of modern UN operations. Unfortunately, neither the NDP nor the public seems to care.

In fact, the NDP would far prefer Canada's troops be deployed to Darfur in Sudan than to Kandahar. There, the UN would be in charge, or so Layton appears to believe.

There are, of course, a few practical problems with a Darfur operation. The Khartoum government refuses entry to UN troops and threatens a jihad against them if they dare to come. Moreover, Canada has no way to get troops to Darfur (even if it had the troops to send), no way to support them logistically in a barren area of the world, and no way to get them out in an emergency. Finally, the casualties in Darfur might be far higher than in Afghanistan. Nonetheless, because the U.S. is (relatively) uninvolved and because women and children are being brutalized, Darfur is the NDP's preferred operation.

The Afghanistan operation by contrast is portrayed as the work of a coalition of the willing -- the U.S., NATO, and a few other American satraps such as Australia. To Layton, Kandahar is just another part of George W. Bush's Great War on Terror. "It's time," he said on Sept. 26, "for a new approach. One that puts reconstruction, development and aid ahead of counter-insurgency."

What Layton refuses to acknowledge is that the Afghan operation has been sanctioned by repeated UN resolutions, and is yet another military operation sub-contracted by the UN to those who are willing to pick up the burden. The UN's undersecretary-general for peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guehenno, says bluntly that traditional UN peacekeepers can't do the job in Afghanistan where robust forces are needed to take on the Taliban insurgents. The world organization wants its political and humanitarian efforts -- and, not least, its efforts to assist women and children -- in Afghanistan to succeed, and Guehenno understands that without military action, the development and stabilization efforts could be stymied. The undersecretary-general last week even congratulated Canada for sending tanks to Kandahar.

Today's Kinsella Question

I read Kinsellout's masturbatory blog today. Why did Chinchilla punish his 6-year-old for saying some guys have a big penis, some guys don't, when the kid was asked in school about the differences between people? Seems like a normal answer for a kid who's not sexually screwed-up. And the parental reaction seems to be a step forward toward making him have a few problems. In my six-year-old's school, the teachers might have held back a snicker, but they certainly wouldn't have have called me about an snswer like that. I guess that's the difference these days between a Catholic education and a public one.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Robertson v. Thomson et al, part II

Heather Robertson won. How that translates into dollars has, I think, not been decided.
I was a freelancer with the Globe from 1981 until 1989, and I freelanced for the Star from 1989 until past the cut-off date of 1996.
I've got mixed feelings on this. I was paid well for my articles. I would like them to stay in the databases, since I'm not so hot at keeping clippings and they represent a significant body of my life's work. They're pretty much the story of my life from my mid-20s until my late 30s. On the other hand, if the material had been gathered into a book without my permission, I'd be very pissed. InfoGlobe, InfoMart and the CDRoms are tidy little earners. In fact, InfoGlobe makes as much, I'm told, as the print edition.
I suppose I'll hear something soon.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ian Scott

Ian Scott, one of the country's best legal minds, would have been appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada if he hadn't been incapacitated by a stroke in 1993. Scott and Roy McMurtry were the great AG's of the late twentieth century. Today, Ian Scott died.Oct. 10, 2006. 05:23 PM

CANADIAN PRESS

Ian Scott, the political veteran who helped orchestrate the end of the Conservative party’s 40-year-rule in Ontario and introduced North America’s first equal-pay law for women in the private sector, died today at his home in Toronto. He was 72.
First elected in 1985, the year the Liberals elbowed their way to power, Scott served as attorney general and constitutional adviser to David Peterson’s government.

He also served as solicitor general and as the minister responsible for native affairs and women’s issues in Peterson’s cabinet.

A high-profile politician with statesman-like allure, Scott was a member of the Liberal team that negotiated a formal agreement with the New Democrats, leading to the defeat of Frank Miller’s minority Conservative government.

Peterson called him “clever” and a “brilliant” advocate.

“Even his enemies liked him,” said Peterson, who described Scott as a very close adviser. “He was a utility man. There were very few issues he didn’t have his nose in.”

In addition to his hallmark pay equity legislation, Scott brought in a Freedom of Information law, and reformed Ontario’s system of family law courts.

He was also behind amendments to the Ontario Human Rights Code, which outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Bloggery pokery

People ask why I write a blog that no one reads.

I think my mom still reads it. There are a lot of better blogs than mine, and quite a few worse ones. I really do wish I had the time to read more blogs, separate more sheep from goats, and link to good stuff. Right now, I'm working on my thesis/World War II censorship book, some historical consulting and research work, doing much more around the house, and writing a few magazine pieces. Until last week, I was home with my littlest kid every afternoon. I really enjoyed that, but my three-year-old won't tolerate computer use. I did, however, develop some expertise on Dora the Explorer.
Anyway, maybe this isn't a real blog, in the sense that it is part of a "blogosphere" of inter-connected Internet pundits. On the other side of the coin, I'm not a Tory blogger, or a Liberal one, or an NDPer. I'm a libertarian who supports the war in Afghanistan but thinks Iraq is a mistake, a conservative with a belief that poor people can work together and get out of poverty through co-operative business and housing enterprises, and a centralist who believes in self-determination for Quebec.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The answer

Well, guesses and informed choices have been flooding in all weekend. Here, to save bandwidth, is the solution:


(a) Alexander the Great

No. Probably would have killed them if there were any around. Alexander would have killed Japanese teenage school girls and Swedish supermodels who got in the way. In fact, Alexander managed to kill more Greeks than anyone else did, until that time. He was also hell on Persians, Indians, proto-Afghans, Mesopotamians, Jews, Egyptians, and well, you get the point. Did manage to make the Afghans part of the Hellinized world for a short time.


(b) Pope Innocent III

Not guilty.



(c) George H.W. Bush

Nope. Kept casualties pretty low in Gulf War I.


(d) George W. Bush

Okay. Here's where it gets tricky. Likely casualties in Iraq have been in the 50,000 range. Calculating losses in Afghanistan gets tricky because there was already a civil war in the north of the country and deadly repression elsewhere, in September, 2001. Pick the high side of estimates, and deaths total about 75,000. Discarding the fantasies of the far left, and figure of 150,000 is the absolute high end. So far.


(e) Joseph "Uncle Joe" Stalin

Ah, the big leagues. Hard to know, really. Stalin deported many Muslim groups to Siberia (setting the stage for recent ethnic troubles). Being a Georgian, he had a strong cultural bias against Caucasian Muslims. His regime may have killed, directly and through neglect, one million Muslims, but that may be an over-estimate. One thing working in the favor of Soviet Muslims: most fighting in World War II took place to the north and west of their homelands.


(f) Heinrich Himmler

No way. Himmler loved Muslims and set up an SS Muslim brigade, manned by volunteers recruited by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. They were the only SS unit to wear fezes.


(g) Saddam Hussein

Back to the big leagues. Diplomats in Baghdad say at least one million died in the Iran-Iraq war. Then there were the Marsh Arabs and various Kurd and Sunni Iraqis that suffered genocide, plus the Iraqi losses in the Kuwait campaign, pushing Saddam's numbers far above Stalin's.


(h) Moshe Dayan

Nope. Israeli general. Great tactician, but no murderer.


(i) John II Monologue of Byzantium

I made him up.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Today's dishonesty

Since Norman Spector's off today. I thought I'd find Today's Dishonesty myself. Turns out it fair jumped from the pages of the Toronto Star. Here, Haroon Siddiqui reduces the war against al Qaeda and its Taliban allies as to a simple matter of polls and politics. It's all marketing, acccording to Siddiqui. It doesn't matter that Afghanistan is a just and proper war, sanctioned by the UN. If the polls say the Canadian public is worried, the Liberals, unprincipled creatures that they are, should act accordingly. It's one of the more amoral pieces I've seen lately:

HAROON SIDDIQUI
Toronto Star


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
One of the main tasks for the next Liberal party leader seems clear enough: To help end the alienation that a majority of Canadians feel from their own government on the most central issue of the age — George W. Bush's failed war on terror.

After begging off the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Canadians have also turned sour on the mission in Afghanistan.

Fifty-nine per cent believe "we cannot win" there, a new poll by Decima Research shows. More telling, three-quarters believe Bush has made the world more dangerous by spawning more terrorism.

This finding is consistent with other polls. Quebecers and those living in our major urban centres are the most skeptical.

Yet Stephen Harper is enthusiastic in backing Bush and, in fact, takes pride in violating the will of Canadians. The Prime Minister says that's leadership.

For providing just such "leadership," Tony Blair is being hounded out of office, and Silvio Berlusconi and Jose Maria Aznar have already been voted out.

It follows, then, that to win the next election — by doing well in Quebec and the urban centres — Liberals need a leader who won't easily be tarred as a Harper Lite or, worse, Bush Lite, as was John Kerry.

Busch league

Anyone up for a pool on whether, or if, 49-year-old "diversity" driver Pierre Bourque will ever break single-digits and come in 9th or above in a race in his vanity tour of the sub-basement of NASCAR. Bourque, under-employed collector of headlines at Dourque Snoozwatch, is "racing" in the NASCAR Busch East series, which is to stock car racing what Jr. B is to ice hockey. Does NASCAR have an Old-Timers League?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Ask Yer Historian

Today's take-home test:

Who killed more Muslims?

(a) Alexander the Great
(b) Pope Innocent III
(c) George H.W. Bush
(d) George W. Bush
(e) Joseph "Uncle Joe" Stalin
(f) Heinrich Himmler
(g) Saddam Hussein
(h) Moshe Dayan
(i) John II Monologue of Byzantium

Answer in a day or two. Note in my multiple choice questions, the odds of guessing right are not so hot.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Robertson v Thomson

The Supreme Court sent out a notice today that it will hand down its decision in the freelance writer rights case Robertson v Thomson. Heather Robertson claims those of us whose work was posted on InfGlobe (and, I guess, InfoMart) before the days of freelancer contracts are entitled to some money. By my estimate, I have about 700 articles that would qualify. Back in 1981, when I began freelancing for the Globe, I was flattered that the stuff was online. In 1986, while I was still with the Globe, I got free InfoGlobe access, which was a wonderful thing when I lived in rural Ontario. A few years later, when I wrote for the Star (and InfoMart was too new to be useful), I ran up an InfoGlobe bill of about $800. It was a stiff lesson in the value of electronic IP. I doubt many more people have as much contested online material as I do, and I'm watching this case with great interest.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Let's make a deal

The claim that Iggy can't win because he's stalled is bogus. That only works if there's an anyone-but-Iggy movement out there. I don't see it. In fact, there would much more likely be an anyone-but-Rae or anyone-but-Brison movement, if either of them were in a position to win. Iggy's got 30% of the delegates, plus a whack of MPs, senators, party executives, riding association presidents, and other automatic delegates.
People may not know Iggy, but they don't hate him, either. The Liberals know, in their heart of hearts, that Brison and Rae come with too much baggage, that Canada does not want a Liberal Quebecois prime minister for a while, and that this isn't Gerald Kennedy's time.
Here's how I see this playing out: Rae, Brison, Dion or Kennedy realizes the first guy into the Iggy tent wins the cupie doll, the John Turner/Paul Martin heir-apparent consolation prize. The rest go home as footnotes.
So, who will make the deal? And when? Before the convention, or wait until thousands of grits shell out nearly a grand each to show up in Montreal?

The last bastion falls...

Association Press Francaises
French smokers were making a painful mental adjustment as a parliamentary committee recommended a ban on smoking in public areas from next year and the government indicated it will act quickly on the advice.
It means that from September smoking in French bars, restaurants and nightclubs could be completely prohibited -- unless they provide hermetically-sealed "fumoirs" into which serving staff are not allowed to penetrate.

The inner circle of Hell is reserved for parking cops:

Martin Wainwright
Tuesday October 3, 2006
The Guardian

A council has withdrawn a parking ticket issued after double yellow lines were painted under a parked car. Marketing consultant Nasser Khan was tipped off by office workers in Salford, Greater Manchester, who filmed the incident. Design engineer Geoff Blackburn said: "We saw a group of workmen and two traffic wardens surround the car - one man crouched under the car to paint the yellow line, then the warden issued the ticket."

Monday, October 02, 2006

I just don't get it

The county coroner says at least six people were killed in a shooting at a one-room Amish schoolhouse, where state police said earlier a gunman killed "a number" of people Monday in Pennsylvania's bucolic Lancaster County.
"So far six confirmed dead and the helicopters are pulling into (Lancaster General Hospital) like crazy," Lancaster County Coroner G. Gary Kirchner said.

What's the red stuff between elephants' toes?

Slow tourists

ANTHONY MITCHELL
ASSOCIATED PRESS

NAIROBI, Kenya — An elephant trampled and killed a British man on his honeymoon in Kenya, officials said Monday.

Patrick Smith, 34, was killed in front of his wife, Julie, in the Masai Mara National Reserve on Sunday, officials said. His wife managed to leap out of the way.

"He was trampled by an elephant while on a nature trail with his wife," said Connie Maina, spokeswoman for the Kenya Wildlife Service. "This is a terrible accident.''

Harper goes white elephant hunting

We have a National Archives and National Library just down the street -- and they leak. The Liberals spent hundreds of millions on an archive storage building far, far away in Quebec when they could have built a new archives, library and disply area for historic pictures a few hundred yards away on the 500 vacant acres of Lebreton Flats. There's a photo gallery a block away at the Chateau Laurier that no one visits. But when Sheila Copps went hunting for a legacy, she decided to turn the old U.S. Embassy into a National Portait Gallery. The small building, just three stories, would have made a very small portrait gallery, but, well, no one would have really cared anyway. Plans were for a gallery showing pictures of ordinary folks and lefty heros like Greatest Canadian Tommy Douglas. The late NDP leader, a fine enough fellow but one passed over by the Canadian voters whenever they got the chance, was the only politician who featured prominantly on the wooden hoardings around the building. And there were supposed to be pics of immigrants, Natives, fugitive slaves, lottsa poor folk, bums riding the rods in the Depression, Japanese in internment camps, and the rest of the crowd of the formerly non-included. Anyway, the hoardings were pretty well-made, which means we had something to show for the $9 million pissed away so far:

Tories pull plug on portrait gallery
Government looking at other uses for former U.S. embassy

Tim Naumetz (Canwest)
The Conservative government, without confirming a decision publicly, is scrubbing plans for a national portrait gallery at the site of the former U.S. embassy on Wellington Street in front of Parliament Hill and is considering other uses for the heritage building.

A senior Conservative confirmed the plan is dead following the publication last week of spending estimates in two departments that showed no further money designated for the gallery after this year.

But contract documents obtained through the Access to Information Act show the ill-fated project has already taken a sharp bite out of taxpayers' pockets because of unexpected delays, contract amendments and design changes under the former Liberal government.

The cost of three major contracts for the gallery mushroomed by more than 50 per cent to $5.7 million because of nearly three dozen amendments for additional work -- including a $30,000 study to project snowfall accumulation on nearby sidewalks and buildings -- after the project began in early 2003.

When former Canadian Heritage minister Sheila Copps announced the gallery project in January 2001, the estimated price tag was $22 million. By the time then-heritage minister Liza Frulla unveiled the design in March 2005, following an earlier suspension of work under the Liberal government of Paul Martin, the expected cost had grown to $44.6 million.

By last April, with the only visible work completed outside the building being a decorative wooden hoarding along the sidewalk that cost $30,000, the government had spent a total of $9 million on architectural plans, mockups, mortar inspection, interior demolition and portrait gallery staff in a new Library and Archives Canada bureau.

Election 2007

If I was Stephen Harper, who would I want to run against?
(a) An aloof Chretienite Quebecois academic with a modest grasp of English
(b) An aloof former NDP premier who blew one of the biggest majorities in the province's history in a single term
(c) An aloof but stellar academic who is vulnerable to a charge that he's a carpetbagger?

Much of the Liberal problem can be traced back to Jean Chretien's lame cabinets. In 1996, when Chretien went out to find a new set of Three Wise Men from Quebec, he returned with Pierre Pettigrew, Lucienne Robillard and Stephan Dion. They were no Gerard Pelletier, Jean Marchand and Pierre Trudeau. Liberal talent in Ontario and B.C. wasn't cultivated. And Paul Martin didn't make anything better. Seducing Belinda Stronach now seems more like a cheap publicity stunt than a real coup. And, it turns out, everyone's seduced Belinda at some time or another.
Bright people aren't coming up through riding associations and getting elected to Parliament. Those who survive the often-shabby nomination system usually don't make cabinet, since regional politics and diverse national representation now trump talent.
It isn't any better in the Tory ranks. In fact, if Stephen Harper was hit by a falling overpass in Quebec the Tories would be finished for another twenty years.