Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Conrad Black, Sockpuppet?

There's an allegation that Conrad Black posted nasties on a Yahoo group about Hollinger under the name NSPECTOR, which, if true, is more than a little bizarre to anyone who's poiltically plugged in.
Here's a National Post piece about sock puppetry, Wikipedia and lawsuits for libel. The idea that people can trash people on the Internet and not be subject to the laws of libel (see p. 2) is ridiculous.
I was a party in a brief but nasty libel suit about an Internet posting, and I never took the position that the Internet is immune from libel litigation. In fact, Internet libels are world-wide and they are semi-permanent, since they're all cached.
As for Wikipedia being immune, forget it. In the States, Wikipedia argues that it can't be sued because it's a non-profit. That argument would make publications like the Salvation Army's Watchtower, Scientology's published material and the Walrus magazine immune. I suspect Wikipedia will eventually collapse in a wave of libel suits and threats of litigation. There are too many goofballs, people with grudges, folks with political points to make, and mischief-makers posting on Wikipedia.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Update on the Pasta Man

A dear friend reminds me that the US has a bothersome $10,000 limit (upped a few years back from a measly $5,000 -- perhaps you saw the signs at the airport on your last trip to Florida or the Caribbean) on cash taken in or out of the country without a Customs declaration. When Brian Mulroney collected $100,000 at the Pierre Hotel in New York from Karl Heinz Scrhreiber, the Forrest Gump of political payola, did he declare the money with the US Treasury Dept.?
And did he tell RevCan?
Inquiring minds are really, really curious about this...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

That's a lotta pasta

The story that won't die rises, zombie-like, for another go-round.
Brian Mulroney has been ordered to pay Karl-Heinz Schreiber the $300,000 Schreiber paid Mulroney for supposedly consulting about a non-existent pasta business. And Mulroney must pay over $100,000 in interest.
Strange enough. But the reason this judgment was made is even more bizarre. Mulroney did not respond to Schreiber's statement of claim. Schreiber won by default.
Now, I have two theories (which are shared, to lesser or greater extent, by my legal counsel, who's about to put the kids to bed.
(1.) Mulroney, a lawyer, and Mulroney's lawyer, are incredibly inept; or
(2.) Brian Mulroney would rather lose by default, then try to run the clock for a few years by appealing, than have to stand up in a court of law and explain just what exactly he did, or did not do, for that $300,000.
Take your pick.

Where do I sign up?

Zhenli Ye Gon ran a Mexican pharmaceutical company and siphoned off the makings of crystal meth. Mr. Gon made a lot of money from that racket:

Two observations:

1. He must have made a lot of hillbillies very, very high.
2. I've never seen a better recruiting poster for the drug trade. Can someone send me an application form. Those are US $100 bills -- $206 million worth. I figure I'll have to work an entire year for about 10" off one pile. And at the end of that year, the government will get about four inches, my accomidation costs and ordinary bills will get abot 1 1/2', things like food, clothes, cars, travel and stuff will take almost all the rest. I'll be left, if I'm really lucky, with an inch or so. That means, to match Mr. Gon's stash, I'm going to have to teach and write for a very, very long time.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hot new blog

Kady O'Malley's got the Ottawa blog gig for Maclean's magazine. I think she's going to do very well at it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Things never change

I spent much of the day reading 65-year-old files from the World War II press censors who struggled to keep the anti-semitism of Quebec's quasi-fascist nationalist elite off the air waves and out of the papers.
Today, Quebec's elite is much better coiffed and much more trendy, but the song remains the same. Quebec's socialist, nationalist and Liberal thinking class can blame Israel and pull out all kinds of worn-out excuses, but the more things change, the more they saty the same.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Something you won't see in Canada

The public editor of the Washinton Post explains her paper's policy on conflict of interest and political-journalistic incest. You won't see its columnists shilling for funeral directors, Waste Management Inc. or Ticketmaster. The heavyweights of the US newspaper world have made it clear their journalists will serve but one master. The Washington Post, at least, keeps close watch on potential secret conflicts from personal relationships. This is a touchy issue in Canadian journalism, especially in Ottawa, although most top-tier journalists have enough class to try to do some self-policing.

Great moments in multi-culturalism

A bright young man who happens to be balck applies for a job at Queen's Park as a "media analyst", basically clipping stories from the papers. A government employee with a name quite disimilar to Smith or Jones trashes the guy in an e-mail sent to someone else in the Cabinet Office, which is the Premier's ministry. The former editor-n-chief of the Toronto Star, who's now the Ontario Liberal government's chief PR man (quel suprise!!!!) leaves a voice mail apology on the kid's phone. Very, very classy.
And these are the guys trashing the Conservative Party members of Lanark for nominating a farmers' rights activist, trying to reach reallllly far to tag the Tories as racist.
Go figure.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

How others see us

Robert Fisk, writing in the Independent, about the spinelessness of North American newspapers:

But now let's go north of the border, to the Toronto Globe and Mail, which assigned columnist Jan Wong to investigate a college murder in Montreal last September. Wong is not a greatly loved reporter. A third-generation Canadian, she moved to China during Mao's "cultural revolution" and, in her own words, "snitched on class enemies and did my best to be a good little Maoist."

She later wrote a "Lunch With" series for the Globe in which she acted all sympathetic to interviewee guests to catch them out. "When they relax, that's when their guard is down," she told a college newspaper. "It's a trick, but it's legit." Yuk!

Wong's take on the Montreal Dawson College shooting, however, was more serious. She compared the killer to a half-Algerian Muslim who murdered 14 women in another Montreal college shooting in 1989 and to a Russian immigrant who killed four university colleagues in Montreal in 1992. "In all three cases," she wrote, "the perpetrator was not 'pure laine', the argot for a 'pure' francophone. Elsewhere, to talk of racial purity is repugnant. Not in Quebec."

Painfully true, I'm afraid. Parisians, who speak real French, would never use such an expression - pure laine translates literally as "pure wool" but means "authentic" - but some Montrealers do. Wong, however, had touched a red hot electric wire in "multicultural" Canada. Prime Minister Stephen Harper complained. "Grossly irresponsible," said the man who enthusiastically continued the policy of sending Canadian troops on their suicidal mission to Afghanistan.

The French-Canadian newspaper Le Devoir - can you imagine a British paper selling a single copy if it called itself "Duty"? - published a cartoon of Wong with exaggerated Chinese slanted eyes. Definitely not pure laine for Le Devoir. The hate mail was even more to the point. Some contained excrement.

But then the Globe and Mail ran for cover. Its editor-in-chief, Edward Greenspon, wrote a cowardly column in which he claimed that the offending paragraphs "should have been removed" from her story. "We regret that we allowed these words to get into a reported (sic) article," he sniffled. There had been a breakdown in what he hilariously called "the editorial quality control process".

Now I happen to know a bit about the Globe's "quality control process". Some time ago, I discovered that the paper had reprinted an article of mine from The Independent about the Armenian genocide. But they had tampered with it, altering my word "genocide" to read "tragedy".

The Independent's subscribers promise to make no changes to our reports. But when our syndication folk contacted the Globe, they discovered that the Canadian paper had simply stolen the article. They were made to pay a penalty fee. But as for the censorship of the word "genocide", a female executive explained to The Independent that nothing could be done because the editor responsible had "since left the Globe and Mail".

It's the same old story, isn't it? Censor then whinge, then cut and run. No wonder the bloggers are winning.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Make the Rich Pay

Here's a group that really should be shaken down by the entertainment industry. I mean, really. Hairdressers have to be the most affluent, pampered people around. In what other profession do you get to work on your feet all day, are required to be pleasant, precise and in tune with the latest styles, and make all of $30K a year? The Canadian music copyright collective, SOCAN, wants a piece of that income because hairdressers play music in their salons. Musicians should be ashamed of their royalty agents. Don't they see this is a kind of advertising for their music?

"No cause for alarm"

A few times a year, we drive to my father-in-law's place in the Eastern Townships, and I often go through Montreal to collect fossils in Quebec. I got the creeps on Quebec highways after the Laval bridge collapse that killed five people, including a pregnant woman. The jitters usually went away once I got through the de Carie. Now, seems like I was an optimist.

Sore losers

The beautiful game comes to Toronto.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

McGuinty compassion

I used to write for an editor who had an autistic son. She was a single mother, and, like so many other parents of autistic children, she had to bear the cost when Mike Harris' government refused to fund special ed programs for autistic kids. A neighbour of ours has two autistic sons. She's a single mom on student aid. Her sons are in classes with other neighbourhood kids. He gets no special help. The McGuinty government's response to childhood autism is to literally pretend there's nothing wrong.
It was expected that a Liberal government would fund thos programs, but, instead, the McGuinty government fought a dragged-out court action. Recently, an Ontario court ruled that the government had to disclose the amount of public money its spent fighting the parents of autistic kids. Today, attorney general Michael Bryant, a decent enough guy, announced he will release those figures. Finally, a good decision.

Spector on Afghanistan

The-still-very-much-employed Norman Spector had an interesting column in yesterday's Globe. I believe a negotiated settlement is possible. The Taliban should be included in government, but must renounce bin Laden and terrorism. That might seem like a high price to Mullah Omar now. As more of his men die, he may see it as a reasonable price of peace and political inclusion.

Monday, July 16, 2007

National Post: Voice of the Overdog?

I am not usually a fan of Linda McQuaig, but this piece got me thinking. Was there ever any group or class of people the Post has supported who were not rich, powerful and culturally dominant? The National Post, in its good days, was a fun read, very unpredictable, sometimes infuriating, but with some challenging articles. Its causes, however, were those of its owner, not of its readers. Now, both the owner and the readers are gone, and, if the paper is to survive, it needs to be managed professionally, develop some courage, and become much hungrier for news.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sad news

Benjamin Books, one of the best used book stores in Ottawa, was set on fire last night. Benjamin Books is owned by a former philosophy prof and staffed by people who actually know about books. It also, because of support from faculty at the nearby University of Ottawa, sells new textbooks.
Hopefully, the store will re-open.
Benjamin Books is one of about four top-end used book dealers in the city. Fortunately (judging by the CBC story), Benjamin's top-end collector inventory appears to have been spared from the fire.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Backing a loser

Next time, the Tories might put their money on someone who's actually skilled.

Statistics as of July 4, 2007

Pos Driver Points Starts Wins Top-5 Top-10 Winnings
1. ANDREW RANGER 500 3 1 3 3 $10,605
2. MARK DILLEY 500 3 0 2 3 $11,960
3. PETER GIBBONS 456 3 0 2 2 $5,720
4. RON BEAUCHAMP 455 3 0 1 2 $8,800
5. DON THOMSON 451 3 1 2 2 $8,970
6. D J KENNINGTON 444 3 1 2 2 $12,665
7. JOHN GAUNT 428 3 0 0 2 $5,050
8. DEREK LYNCH 427 3 0 1 3 $5,005
9. J R FITZPATRICK 413 3 0 1 1 $5,370
10. KERRY MICKS 399 3 0 1 2 $4,985
11. JASON HATHAWAY 394 3 0 0 1 $3,720
12. BRAD GRAHAM 378 3 0 0 1 $3,735
13. JOEY MCCOLM 372 3 0 0 2 $4,365
14. DAVE WHITLOCK 360 3 0 0 1 $4,100
15. DOUG BROWN 359 3 0 0 0 $3,245
16. JIM LAPCEVICH 353 3 0 0 1 $3,655
17. RON VAN ES 353 3 0 0 0 $3,375
18. KENT NUHN 350 3 0 0 1 $3,590
19. SCOTT STECKLY 336 3 0 0 0 $3,075
20. JEFF LAPCEVICH 255 2 0 0 1 $2,595
21. BOB MERRIFIELD 209 2 0 0 0 $1,905
22. Bryan Cathcart 179 2 0 0 0 $1,690
23. Miguel Duhamel 130 1 0 0 0 $1,220
24. PIERRE BOURQUE 124 1 0 0 0 $1,135

Black convicted

I should have realized he would be convicted for removing the documents. Looking back on it, that one was a slam dunk. I didn't think Black would be convicted on fraud charges.
As for Boultbee, Atkinson and Kipnis, those are big suprises, especially the last guy. While he filled out the paperwork, he did so as an employee and made nothing from the deals.
Now will come sentencing, bail and years of appeals.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Takin' Out the Trash

This month's Kinsella material, including the ever-popular "The Month in Sleaze" summary of Kinsella's slanders and libels, will be moved to the Kinsella archives page. Visit the site often. It will have about 50 new articles re: Kinsella and Guite, Kinsella's lobbying and the environment, and Kinsella's ever-shifting political loyalties. So check there often! Learn all about the self-styled Prince o' Darkness.

Now here's a fossil...

A spectacular baby mammoth, probably the best ever.

Like a bad hand...

For reasons I've written elsewhere (my Ottawa City Journal column), I believe the Kilrea scandal at Ottawa's city hall is a non-starter. It's not that I believe Larry O'Brien is completely clean and above-board. Far from it. Instead, I think this thing will die a slow death because (a) nothing came of the supposed negotiations. In fact, Kilrea made a real deal with Bob Chiarelli; and (b) it's Kilrea's word against O'Brien's, affidavits and lie detector tests carrying no weight in Canadian courts.
As an impartial member of the jury pool, my take on it is that two pols shooting the shit in an outdoor cafe, and who cook up a plan in which no overt action takes place, are unconvictable.
The Citizen has the only "evidence" in this scandal, and yesterday it stopped all its "freedom of the press" yodeling and handed the stuff over to the OPP. Now, let's see what the cops do with it. My bet: nothing.
Probably the libel suit launched by O'Brien against the Citizen will be the only court action that will come from all this. And handing the "evidence" to the OPP is probably a way for the Citizen to try to derail that lawsuit.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

When "Freedom of Speech" means "freedom to harm"

Last year, I raised the ire of some of my academic colleagues when I wrote an op-ed piece in the Ottawa Citizen arguing Austria was correct to jail holocaust denier David Irving.
Irving's translations of Wehrmacht documents has added to the primary source material available to historians, and he had credibility as a Second World War amateur historian until he adopted the cause of the neo-Nazi movement. It was his credibility that was a threat to the social order. Germany, Austria, and the countries of Eastern Europe are very new democracies. They might not be able to withstand the type of subversion of democracy and the stifling of real political debate that the Nazis accomplished in the lead-up to their seizure of power in Germany. Hitler's henchmen used lies, distortions, dirty tricks and media exposure to subvert democracy. The Nazis pushed their rights to the limit, and past the limit, during the Wiemar Republic. They should not be allowed to do so again.
Canada's neo-Nazi movement is really just a joke, a few damaged individuals, some small groups of losers, and a few jailbirds. The real threat to Canada's Jewish community comes from the Islamicists and from lefties trendoids who have adopted the French socialist view that Israel and Zionism, and Jews themselves, are tools of American capitalism. I have seen far, far more anti-semitism among Francophone intellectuals in Canada and in the Quebec media than I have on the streets. (In this regard, the silence among Canada's politicians and pundits, who were so loud about Jan Wong's musings, has been deafening). There is also a strong current of hate in the media and on the Internet directed at the many decent, law-abiding and community-active Muslims in Canada. Unfortunately, they do not seem to have a David Warman on their side.
Still, the Human Rights Commission has come down with a decision that seems right and fair. A Canadian neo-Nazi is being punished for promoting hate and violence, which are real crimes. And the fine of $4,000, while not crippling, is enough to give others real cause to think about their actions before posting hate on the Internet.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Thought it was a goner

but the cat came back.

One-Man Revolution

My old pal Steve Kaasgaard, a co-founder of the Green Party of Canada, got this piece of mail from Elizabeth May:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Elizabeth May"
To: <23skidoo@ica.net>
Sent: Tuesday, July 03, 2007 11:05 PM
Subject: A Message from Elizabeth May

Dear Friend,

A couple of weeks ago I forwarded you a letter from Farley Mowat. If you did not receive it please *click here* >
to view the letter in full. If you did receive it but have not yet had the opportunity to respond, please consider doing so now.
When Farley approached me he said, "After 83 years with the socialist horde (I didn't join until I was two) I have seen the light. So muster me up, if I pass muster!"
Many of you may believe that the Green Party is well-funded thanks to new Elections Canada financing rules. While the party receives some financial support through these reforms, it is far from financially secure. In fact, with elections every 18 months or so, the Green Party paying off debts from the last election while gearing up for the next one. The party needs a *huge infusion of cash* to take on the old line parties effectively in the next election and to keep your environmental and economic concerns in the public eye.
It is maddening to watch the other parties' willingness to play political games as time runs out to confront the gathering storm of the climate crisis. We face other real crises, from loss of species to threats to the fabric of Canadian life as Mr. Harper moves Canada ever more into the Bush Administration orbit.
The legal maximum political donation is $1,100 per person for the federal party, and an additional $1,100 per person to his or her local EDA. The tax treatment is very favorable. A $400 donation, for example, only costs you $100 after the tax rebate.
I am writing to ask you to *give as much as you can*
and to make your friends aware that the Green Party of Canada must have resources to change Canadian politics forever. So please *tell your friends* , talk to people you meet on the street  the only way that we are going to do this is together.
I am looking forward to participating in the televised Leaders' Debates, but my place at the podium is not assured. We need funding now to keep the party's issues front and centre.
Remember that while the Conservatives boast of $15 million in their war Chest, our Green Hope Chest remains close to empty. The Harper Conservatives will have a War Room and attack ads. The Green Party, on the other hand, is promising a respectful campaign focusing on issues.
I would like to lead that campaign. To bring it to Canadians, those of us who care need to *make our donations today* .

Elizabeth May, O.C.
Leader, Green Party of Canada

P.S. You can also send a cheque to:
Green Party of Canada
PO Box 997, Station B
Ottawa, ON K1P 5R1

And this is The Rebel's reply:


Having founded this party in the eighties as a volunteer and noticing that "we" have NOW come along way despite your efforts to water down our UN PARTY PARTY! -The Green Party ( now mostly brown) has achieved many great things and garnished enough of the popular vote to be in a situation where the system of governance actually bestows money on us to do MORE OF THAT good work with.
Meanwhile SOME of you wannabeees are taking paycheques! for work we normally did because it was the right thing to do... NOT because we required pay to do the right thing for our communities and the next generation.
You really have no clue and obviously NO class at all turning a once definite threat to status-quo into a wet blanket melba toast fundraising - flowers n' tea shop crew.
The party which we founded in the 80's has been reduced to just another stinkingly normal traditional top down controlled hobby club of wannabee do gooders who if given the chance could accomplish great things if NOT for your lack of imagination and daring.
If you want to MAKE CHANGE ON THE STREETS DON'T GIVE YER MONEY TO THE UNITED WAY OR OTHER 'NICE GUYS GROUP' BUSY stuffing the pockets of their friends...give it to the homeless folks on the streets or to those waiting at the food banks.
And if ya want to save the environment...keep it in your pocket and spend it accordingly so that it does not further the destruction we have going on in front of us.
The greens sadly are now just browns and just another stinkingly normal party that only wants our money and nothing else. That's all we get in the mail and its what you've reduced our efforts to. It's being noticed by the press and by our colleagues who inquire as to what kinda shit the greens have become with this kind of hierarchy now in violation of our original intents and purposes.A most unworthy lot that takes AND TAKES AND TAKES money from good working people who trusted GREENS as that original party we once founded as a doorway to a new age of hope for a logical and inclusive democratic system.
Fuck U clowns!
Your circus is parked on top of our hard work!


Steven Kaasgaard
Green Party of Canada Co-founder 1981

The Rebel's e-mail points up the interesting historic fact of the early Green Party brawl (in Europe and Canada) between decentralists, who wanted a party that was quite anarchistic, without any hierarchy, and engaged in civil disobedience, and the centralists who quickly realized the Greens could be a player in the established political system.
Federal funding under Jean Chretien's campaign financing reform gave the Greens the money to hire professional organizers, buy ads, have an office, and even pay its leader. (All political parties pay their leaders. Few leaders' salaries are disclosed).
So the centralists, the people who are tagged as opportunists by traditionalists such as Steve, have won control of the Green Party. So my question to today's Green Party: How do you re-engage people like the Rebel, who bring enthusiasm to your cause, but don't always talk nice?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Getting closer

The RCMP just searched the house of Sponsorship kickback racket central character Jacques Corriveau. This scandal, and the criminal fall-out from it, is far from over. Eventually, those who designed and profitted from the crooked ad system will be held to account.

Sad day

Bad news from Afghanistan.

Loose Lips

I see Frank Mag's eFrank pay-per-view news page is outing its sources/ discussion forum posters again.
Another reason why you should never, ever trust Michael Bate and Steve Collins.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Doesn't Tim watch Little Mosque on the Prairie?

My friend Tim Naumetz wrote recently about the CBC's overload of non-Canadian content. It was picked up by the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.
I agree with more Canadian content.
But I despise Rick Mercer, Corner Gas, Little Mosque on the Prairie, and so much of the rest of the network crap.
But then, I despise US network TV, too. I barely watch any of it. I prefer Showcase, movie channels, and US shows on the Comedy Network (Stewart and Colbert).
Why do North American TV networks believe viewers are socially disfunctional or just plain stupid? Why are all the shows that are pitched to half-bright adults on cable? Don't the networks see that their programming decisions are the cause of their decline?
And what's with The History Channel? It hasn't shown anything historical since the Aspers bought it. If they hate history, why don't they must sell the damn station to people who actually enjoy it?

Liberals in the Dumpster

Ipsos says the Ontario Liberals are now just three points ahead of the Tories and sinking. Dalton McGuinty was unavailable for comment because he was too busy co-ordinating a dynamic provincial response to Native blockades of railways and highways in Deseronto and northern Ontario.

Leap of Logic Award

If people are going to race on Ontario's expressways, why in the world does the Toronto Star, the city of Hamilton's police chief and some safety group think photo radar will stop it?
I travelled more than 300 miles on Highways 401 and 416 this weekend. There were plenty of police vehicles and speed traps. Photo radar was just another type of speed trap. And if people are going to do something as stupid as street racing on Highway 400, do you think the chance they might get a speeding ticket will be any deterrent?

Update: The idea's already dead. Even Ontario's tax-hungry premier admits it's a non-starter.

Monday, July 02, 2007

On the take

In his 1992 book Sound and Fury, American writer Eric Alterman took aim at the double standard of the punditocracy. While decrying conflict of interest in business and politics, many of the top journalists in the country were accepting very high fees for speaking to annual meetings of corporations, conventions and gatherings of lobbyists. The same thing goes on in Canada, where some senior journalists pull down thousands of dollars for an evening's appearance and sell their services to the government as guest speakers at public administration conferences. And that doesn't even begin to cover the monkey business that some freelance columnists are into. The New York times recently issued this statement saying its people are clean. Very few large Canadian publications could do the same without some serious rebellion at the top of the journalism hierarchy.