Saturday, February 28, 2009 

Is The 'Force' With Us Or Against Us? - Today's RCMP

Mounties looking like Keystone Cops
By Don Martin
Calgary Herald
February 28, 2009

"Police officers have three primary serve-and-protect obligations--investigate threats to civilian safety immediately, use their weapons responsibly and tell the truth faithfully under oath.

While the vast majority do their dangerous duty professionally, elements of the RCMP struck out on all three fronts this week to create the unfortunate optics of Dudley Do-Right joining the Keystone Cops.

In a strange series of random events, RCMP failed to perform due diligence in investigating reports of two SOS-signalling skiers lost for 10 days in the Rockies, police representatives staged a bizarre defence of Taser safety while refusing to produce the studies to bolster their case and several RCMP officers were clearly nose-stretching, if not engaging in a conspiracy of fabrication, while testifying at the Robert Dziekanski fatality inquiry.

The force's public relations hell dawned Tuesday when a parade of police association representatives arrived in Ottawa to "demystify" the Taser for national media, arguing it's a weapon that deserves a spot on every police belt.

The timing was awful. Three hours away, the Dziekanski inquiry was watching slow-motion footage of the Polish immigrant's multiple Taser-zapping and sudden death.

Yet the officers in Ottawa were adamant. Pay no attention to the video of that man twitching behind the glass, they basically argued. The Taser is an essential enforcement tool and totally safe--and they've got 150 studies to support that. Ontario Provincial Police commissioner Julian Fantino spun the purpose of their publicity campaign this way: "We decided it was time to set the record straight to give you and the public accurate information as best as we can and to demystify and bring some honesty and integrity into reporting."

But with respect, one reporter wondered, what studies have the RCMP used to prove the Taser poses all the takedown risk of a knuckle-wrapping? "Do your own homework," Chief Fantino fumed. "We've looked at them, consulted and validated them."

(This denied request for information is apparently part of RCMP culture. The federal information commissioner this week gave the force failing grades in meeting its information access obligations, listing it as one of the worst federal offenders for denying requests.) The only greater mystification than those alleged studies was the date they picked for their campaign kickoff.

To be hailing the Taser miracle at the precise moment an RCMP officer was squirming under Dziekanski inquiry fire in Vancouver was a publicity juxtaposition only a fiendish enemy of the technology could've arranged. Police testimony started changing on the fly as amateur video put the fib to facts which clearly seemed to have been negotiated in secret by responding officers seeking cover from their actions.

Add this discomfort to the RCMP's admitted failure to order a search for a missing couple in the B. C. backcountry last week, which resulted in a woman's tragic death, and you have a humiliating one-week triple whammy of lousy news for an RCMP that supposedly cleaned up its act after changing commissioners in 2006.

The lousy optics didn't have to gush forth this way.

There are a number of studies clearing the Taser of killer capabilities, which police representatives should've produced on demand, and police do support national rules governing Taser use to reduce risks to police or public safety.

And while the infamous Taser video suggests the inquiry will eventually find Dziekanski was the victim of aggressive police deploying Tasers excessively, contrite admissions of this ugly reality would've salvaged police reputations better than their apparent falsehoods of desperation.

RCMP might also want to update mountain rescue manuals to insist multiple SOS signals in snow-covered backcountry are reasonable signs of somebody in distress and thus search-worthy. After all, the force should be with us, not putting Canadians at risk of injury or neglect."


dmartin@canwest.com
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald


... twitter? ....

Friday, February 27, 2009 

Harper's Anti-gang Measures Will Fail - Ending Marijuana Prohibition May Be The Only Solution

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
George Santayana
(1863 - 1952)
U.S. philosopher

Historically, the enforcement of alcohol prohibition in both Canada and the United States was an utter failure. Laws that attempted to stamp out the use of alcohol were completely rejected by a large section of the public. Police enforcement, arrests, convictions and sentences did nothing to curb the demand for alcohol as a product in out society. Repeal was inevitable.

History taught us that when you try to criminalize and enforce serious legal penalties for an activity that a sizable percentage of the people practice, you will fail. No better example of this exists than the story of alcohol prohibition.

Flash forward to the 21st century. By all accounts, it is estimated that at least 16% of Canadians use cannabis. Decades of prohibition and fairly serious legal consequences has not extinguished the behavior. Our justice system and police resources are tied up in enforcement of marijuana prohibition; resources that could be dedicated to a number of other crimes.

And who is it that supplies the 16% of Canadians who chose to use cannabis in spite of the potential consequences? Well, it crosses the spectrum of small personal cultivation to massive grow ops controlled by organized gangs and criminals.

The ongoing prohibition of cannabis combined with the ongoing demand for it as a product, causes massive amounts of money to get into the hands of criminal elements. These same criminal elements are in competition with each other to control the trade, hence gang wars, violence and murder.

From a purely economic point of view, the reason that the gangs are as powerful as they are is because they have access to huge amounts of money; money acquired as a result of 'supply and demand' for the marijuana trade! Stephen Harper is apparently an economist. You'd think that he would understand what is happening in this nation as a result of his ongoing prohibition. His ideology dictates that 'marijuana is bad ... people should simply stop using it.' The reality is, that they are apparently NOT going to follow Harper's ideology. The demonization of cannabis has failed with a large proportion of the population. Convincing people that marijuana is 'immoral' compared to the 'moral' alcohol is ludicrous.

So what is the solution? Well, can we not learn from history? In the wake of gangland slayings and wars for the control of the booze trade, the government decriminalized alcohol and instituted strict enforcement and control measure that allowed the public to have what they wanted, but which eliminated the criminal element. The unspoken benefit for the government was that the potential avalanche of money that went into the hands of organized crime, now went into government coffers.

Stephen Harper was in Vancouver yesterday to announce measures that he believes will curb gang violence. He was met by a number of protesters who challenged him to end the prohibition that is placing hundreds of millions of dollars into the hands of criminal gangs. Harper ignored them, because he is so completely bound to his inadequate ideology. It appears that he is not capable of any logical or realistic solutions for the organized crime problem in this country.

Prohibition failed in the 1920's. It allowed criminal elements to get their hands on unlimited wealth. Murder and violence accompanied the rise in their power. History has repeated itself with marijuana prohibition. It is a dismal failure. Harper's ongoing continuation of this failed prohibition will result in more violence, more murders and further millions getting into the hands of organized crime.

End prohibition in a controlled manner. You simply cannot put 16.8% of the Canadian population before the courts or in jail! Find ways to place marijuana under the same strict government control that alcohol is. It is the only thing that will work. History proves it.


-Tory assault against gangs may have missed the target
-Ottawa gang law playing politics: expert

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 

Polish Authorities May Charge Mounties Who Killed Robert Dziekanski

Since Justice officials in British Columbia decided not to charge the four RCMP officers who killed Robert Dziekanski in the Vancouver airport before the official inquiry even began, it appears that authorities in Poland are considering their own charges.

"VANCOUVER–The lawyer for one of the RCMP officers scheduled to appear before the Taser inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski revealed this morning that the Polish government is considering questioning police for legal proceedings.

David Butcher, representing Const. Bill Bentley, filed a motion asking for restrictions on the official transcripts from the inquiry.

Butcher did not go into details on whether the officers have received notice but hinted that there are proceedings under way. [...] It's unclear whether the Polish government is seeking to charge the officers involved in the incident."

The Star

Testimony given by one of the RCMP officers at the Dziekanski hearing was challenged yesterday by the lawyer representing Mr. Dziekanski's mother. The officer stated under oath that Mr. Dziekanski was tasered because he had a stapler in his hand and the officer felt that his safety was threatened. Replay of the tape showed that Mr. Dziekanski did not have the stapler in his hand when the first electric jolt hit him, but picked it up as he reacted to the surge that hit him. Most media outlets have adopted the RCMP 'line' that the victim had a stapler in his hand at the time of the first jolt being administered. The film of the incident does not verify the RCMP version.

The RCMP officer also stated that he thought Mr. Dziekanski received 2 jolts from the taser while the tape shows that 5 were administered.


... twitter? ...

 

Sask NDP Leadership Race - PROFILE - Yens Pedersen


Yens Pedersen was elected President of the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party in 2008. Currently practicing law in Regina, Yens was raised on a small family farm near Cut Knife, Saskatchewan. His involvement in the community is a shining example of putting your beliefs into practice. Yens sits on the Salvation Army Advisory Board for Regina, the council for St. Mark's Lutheran Church, and the playground committee at his daughter's school. He is a member of the Canadian Bar Association, presently serving as the chair of the Taxation section in Regina and previously served as co-chair of the Young Lawyers section. Yens is the president of the Regina Business Association, and is also an active member of the Canadian Association of Farm Advisors and the Regina Estate Planning Council. He has coached his daughter's soccer team and has served on the board of directors for Saskatchewan Express, a provincial musical theatre group, and for The Royal Lifesaving Society (Saskatchewan Branch). Yens has been a fundraiser for the Hospitals of Regina Foundation, the MS Society, the Canadian Cancer Society, and the Canadian Diabetes Association.

On government policy, Pedersen is articulate on a number of issues:
"I think our goal for the future should be making Saskatchewan a sustainable energy leader in the world - both in terms of production, consumption and research. This would include research and regulation to make fossil fuel production and consumption more sustainable, research and investment into renewables, research and investment into conservation and efficiency. It would also require investment into training in these fields.

We need an energy policy and plan for two big and relatively urgent reasons: supply and GHG emissions. We're going to continue to have wild price swings on fossil fuels, and we only have another 8 years globally to start to make some serious headway on GHF if we want to avoid the worst of the predictions. This will affect (or should affect) every level of government decision making.

Cheap and reliable energy is fundamental to economic success, so we'd better get a strategy in place."

Yens Pedersen

Pedersen's campaign slogan is 'New Voice. New Vision.' He certainly brings both to the leadership campaign.

During the 2007 Provincial Election, he ran in Regina South constituency. Pedersen was nominated a mere 2 weeks before election day and lost by only about 200 votes - an amazing performance so late in the campaign .

-Yens Pedersen - 'New Voice. New Vision. New Democrat.'
-Yen's Facebook Page
Yen's Response To John Conway

Buckdog is doing a series of 4 New Democratic leadership candidate profiles over the next week. New Democrats will be electing a new leader to replace Lorne Calvert in June. Profiles will be done in the order that the candidates entered the race.

And while you're at it ... vist the Saskatchewan New Democrat Leadership Campaign Blog!

... twitter? ...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 

Sask NDP Leadership Race - PROFILE - Dwain Lingenfelter



DWAIN LINGENFELTER
The first candidate into the race for leadership of the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party is Dwain Lingenfelter. A former Deputy Premier of Saskatchewan during the Roy Romanow administration, Lingenfelter also served as a cabinet Minister in the government of Premier Allan Blakeney.

Dwain was first elected to the Saskatchewan Legislature in 1978 as MLA for the rural constituency of Shaunavon. During his first term, Premier Allan Blakeney appointed him to serve as Minister of Social Services.

While in opposition during the Grant Devine era, Dwain served as Opposition House Leader. Upon taking government in 1991, he served in Roy Romanow's Cabinet responsible for economic development. In 1995, he was appointed by Premier Roy Romanow as the Deputy Premier of the Province of Saskatchewan and the Minister Responsible for Crown Corporations. Romanow later appointed him as Minister of Agriculture and Food and as Government House Leader.

In July 2000 he announced that he was leaving provincial politics to explore opportunities in the private sector. He became Vice President of Government Relations for Calgary-based energy company Nexen Inc. on September 1, 2000. He contines to operates his family farm near Shaunavon.

Dwain is the clear front runner in the leadership campaign as a result of his experience and knowledge of both the province of Saskatchewan and the operation of government.

-'Lingenfelter For Leader' Homepage
-Dwain's Facebook Page


Buckdog is doing a series of 4 New Democratic leadership candidate profiles over the next week. New Democrats will be electing a new leader to replace Lorne Calvert in June. Profiles will be done in the order that the candidates entered the race.

And while you're at it ... vist the Saskatchewan New Democrat Leadership Campaign Blog!

... twitter? ...

Monday, February 23, 2009 

Saskatchewan Liberals Take Sharp Ideological Turn To The RIGHT!

The political 'death wish' of the long suffering Saskatchewan Liberal Party ramped itself up over the weekend, when they broke away from the Federal wing of the party and took a hard, sharp turn to the Right!

"With talk of private liquor sales outlets and "liberalizing" Crown corporations, the new Saskatchewan Liberal Party is preparing to stir up some old debates.

At a convention in Regina on the weekend which saw the former Saskatchewan Liberal Association split into separate provincial and federal organizations, delegates passed a policy resolution to press the province to reduce its role in the liquor business to wholesaler, not retailer.

"We're going to be calling for the liberalization of liquor retailing, so it's no longer a government function but that is handed over to the free market and the private sector," the party's provincial leader Ryan Bater told reporters.

Bater, whose leadership was ratified at the convention, sees the move as part of the revamped party's new direction.

"I know people like to use the word left, right and call it right if you like, but it is definitely a strong free enterprise direction."

Regina Leader-Post

The Sask Liberals last held government in this province from 1964 to 1971. At that time, there was no viable 'conservative' or 'progressive conservative' party functioning and the Liberals attracted the full spectrum of center Right and far Right support in the province. Ideological remnants of that period banded together over the weekend and took control of the provincial wing.

Right off the mark, Saskatchewan Liberals began calling for privatization of Saskatchewan's liquor control outlets and demanded further action on sweeping privatizations. In other words, they are trying to out 'Tory' the tories or should I say, out 'Sask Party the Sask Party'!

The Libs did not elect a single MLA to the provincial legislature in either the 2003 nor 2007 elections. The death wish by Saskatchewan Liberals continues. Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 22, 2009 

Harper Is NO Obama!


"This week we saw Harper up against Obama and the difference was obvious from the first moment on. Harper wanted to avoid the crowds and head to his private office. Obama insisted on going back out to wave to the crowds that had gathered.

When they walked together, Obama took big easy strides and appeared confident looking up and down at the marble work in the corridor. Harper appeared fidgety, and waddled along beside him like a duck out of water.

The difference is reflected in the popularity polls. The latest poll shows 82% of Canadians approve of Obama’s handling of the economy, while only 26% of Canadians agree with how Harper is handling things.

The image we still have of Harper on the economy goes back to the leaders’ debate in the last election when Harper sat motionless and silent, a smile plastered on his face, while Gilles Duceppe, Jack Layton and Stéphane Dion hammered Harper on the economy.

Image is everything for Harper. Who else has his own hairdresser, Michelle Muntean, paid out of public funds, who follows him around everywhere making sure every hair on his head is in place for that special ‘helmet-head’ look he wants. Obama wears his hair cut short, so short he doesn’t need a comb, never mind a hairdresser.

Harper is cold and predictable. Everything he does is planned ahead of time, right down to the last detail."

Richard Cléroux
Westmount Examiner



Cartoon by kind permission of
Graeme MacKay
at mackaycartoons.net

Saturday, February 21, 2009 

Can Someone Tell The Pinheads At The National Post That We Were BUSH BASHING - And NOT Bashing 'America'!!

George Bush was the worst president in the history of the United States. Worse than Nixon!

As free-thinking Canadians, many of us (myself included) make no apologies for slamming George Bush over the years. He was a dolt. He had no finesse. He was a threat to democracy. He allowed torture. He started a war that did not need to occur. He brought the world to global economic collapse. He deserves every bash that he receives.

So I look today on the internet and read a headline in the National Post that reads, 'So, can we stop bashing America now?' How bloody typical of the right wing National Post. In their typical reactive and unintelligent style, they tried to tell us that 'Bush bashing' was 'America bashing'! It wasn't. Were my good American friends at the Daily KOS 'America bashing' when they went after their own evil president?

I also slam Bush's good pal, Stephen Harper, here weekly. I suppose the National Post will try to tell you that I am 'Canadian Bashing'!

Twits!

 

Canada WILL NOT Require A King In The Future!


"TORONTO — He's constitutionally Canada's next head of state. A top aide says he's keen to deepen his relationship with the country. He wants to visit, get to know people. He's arranged meetings with key Canadian philanthropic and community leaders with the aim of cementing connections with his own charitable interests."
Globe & Mail

No British 'King' Please ... we're Canadians!


Authors note:
Picture THIS on all of our Canadian money!

 

Free Market Capitalism FAILS in Mighty Alberta

Over the years, we have had to endure an ongoing cacophony of vitriolic right wing nonsense from advocates of the 'unfettered free-market' - Reform 'type' individuals from Alberta. I am talking about the likes of Preston Manning, Stephen Harper, Stockwell Day, Jason Kenney, Rob Anders, Ezra Levant, David McLean .. etc etc etc.

Alberta is screwed like the rest of the world because of the ideology espoused by these irresponsible right wing advocates. While they and their ilk continue to go on and on about the evils of 'socialism', the economic model that they aggressively tout has been exposed for what it is .... and in Alberta of all places ... home of Canada's extreme right wing. And what comes to the rescue of these monolithic capitalist dinosaurs when they falter and fail(?) ..... the hard earned tax dollars of average wage earning citizens ... quess what (?) .... it's called 'socialism'!


-If The Free Market System Works So Bloody Well - Why Does The Private Sector Always Seem To Need Billions Of Tax Dollars To Bail The Bastards Out?


-Endless Deregulation Is The Cause Of Wall Street Disaster

-The Myth of 'Fiscal Conservatism'

Friday, February 20, 2009 

Saskatchewan's Premier Brad Wall Would Be Well Advised to IGNORE The Fraser Institute

Canada's Right wing think tank, The Fraser Institute, has been exposed as a phony front for climate change denial and radical free-market advocacy, funded by BIG corporate interests.

Yesterday, the Fraser Institute handed Wall's Saskatchewan Party government a report that encourages:
-the sale of all Crown Corporations
-freezing of the minimum wage
-harmonizing the PST with the GST
-joining the flawed 'Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement' already signed by British Columbia and Alberta.

How typical of these rightwing ideologues! Sell public corporations that deliver some of the lowest utility rates in the nation AND which return a profit to the Treasury! How typical to demand freezing the wages of those who earn the LEAST in our economy!

As George Bush leaves the world stage and Stephen Harper's fortunes sour in Ottawa, it is evident that the radical free market ideology of the Fraser Institute is yesterdays news. Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party are well aware of what citizens in this province think about privatization. They would be wise to take the Fraser Institute Report, and drop all copies into the nearest blue recycling bins.

-Regina Leader-Post


-Fraser Institute DENYS Climate Change - Global Warming

-Harperstein - The Unholy Alliance Of Stephen Harper and the Fraser Institute

-Fraser Institute Charges $11,000 Per Head To Meet Stephen Harper

-The Fraser Institute - Canada's Disgrace

Thursday, February 19, 2009 

President Obama Meets The Mounties!




President Obama arrived in Canada today on his first trip outside the United States as president. The White House is liveblogging the trip!

-NY Times
-CNN


-Obama MORE popular with Canadians than their Conservative Prime Minister ....

-'Happy Obama Day'!


Photos courtesy Reuters ......

 

Obama More Popular With Canadians Than Harper


"If Canadians had to choose between U.S President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Stephen Harper or any other federal party leader, Obama would have won in a landslide, according to an exclusive Leger Marketing poll conducted for Sun Media.

When Canadians were asked who they feel is the superior leader, none of the Canadian politicians even came close. In fact "don't know" polled higher than any Canadian leader.

In a poll of 1,501 Canadians, 57% said Obama had the qualities they most valued in a leader. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was far behind with 14% of respondents judging him the superior leader."

Toronto Sun

-New Poll ... Obama in front ....

Photo courtesy McLeans Magazine ...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 

Right Wingers Are Getting Dumber By The Minute

Don't believe me?

 

Our Petty Petty Prime Minister!

pet⋅ty
 [pet-ee] –adjective.
1. having or showing narrow ideas, interests, etc.: 'petty minds'.
2. mean or ungenerous in small or trifling things: 'a petty person'.
3. showing or caused by meanness of spirit: 'a petty revenge'.

-No TV cameras, audio equipment, or reporters will be permitted in the airport lounge where the President will meet with our Governor General for 15 minutes.

-Footage of Obama's meeting with Leader of the Official Opposition, Michael Ignatieff will not be attainable, only still photos.

-The names of any Canadian Cabinet Ministers or other officials present for Harper's meeting with Obama will be confidential.

-When asked why the event would be restricted to still cameras alone, Teneycke (Harper's humourless chief media flunkey) replied: "That's a decision that has been made. . . . We can waste time by asking questions, but it won't change the answer."

How a petty and highly insecure Prime Minister operates ...


Cartoon by kind permission of
Graeme MacKay
at mackaycartoons.net

Monday, February 16, 2009 

Interesting Electoral Projection Site


I've found an interesting Canadian electoral projection and opinion poll tracking site.

Political blogger, Eric, has been operating the site since last year, and was the closest projector for the Quebec provincial election. Worth bookmarking
ThreeHundredEight

 

Are You Having A Holiday Today?


Today is Family Day in Saskatchewan and Alberta, and I understand that Ontario also has a holiday today. What about you? Does your province have a mid-winter 'blues' day off for working people where you live?

If it IS a holiday for you, what are you doing with it?

Sunday, February 15, 2009 

Blagojevich Wanted $10,000 For Senate Seat


Rod Blagojevich's brother asked now-senator Roland Burris for up to $10,000 in campaign donations before he was appointed to the U.S. Senate by then-Gov. Blagojevich of Illinois.

-Associated Press

Saturday, February 14, 2009 

The Morphing of Valentine's Day


When I was young, in elementary school, Valentines Day was a cute little event where boys and girls exchanged some simple, basic little coloured notes that we cut out of pre-bought 'Valentine' sheets. By noon it was over. There may have been a few valentine cookies from your Mom and that was about it.

NOW ... this simple children's exercise has morphed into a major consumer and commercial enterprise. Valentines' Day ... I HATE IT!

 

"Canadian Wheat Board Deserves Praise" - OP-ED

The February 14th edition of the Regina Leader-Post has an editorial that praises the recent marketing work of the Canadian Wheat Board, and points out the dishonesty of Gerry Ritz and the Harper government for sticking to their tired, worn out ideological hatred of the Board:

"You'd think when a business generates record returns and beats the pants off its competitors, the spokesman for the company's owners might have a kind word or a pat on the back for the management.

Not when it comes to the Canadian Wheat Board and its Tory government masters.

On Wednesday, the CWB reported record returns of $7.2 billion for Western farmers for their wheat, durum and barley, with wheat revenues up nearly 50 per cent and durum and barley revenues up nearly 100 per cent over the previous year.

Moreover, the CWB outperformed its international competitors and surpassed its own price targets for both wheat and durum.

"The combination of single-desk marketing and pooled pricing worked very well for farmers in last year's highly volatile international marketplace," said Larry Hill, chair of the CWB.

"Not only was the CWB able to capture high international prices, its marketing structure allowed Prairie farmers to participate in price rallies when supplies were depleted in most other exporting nations."

Hill conceded that the CWB had its challenges in 2007-08, especially with volatile, roller-coaster commodities markets and the board's producer payment options (PPO) program, in particular.

The program was introduced in 2000-01 to give producers more flexibility in pricing and to lock in prices at certain levels. With prices skyrocketing in the early part of the year, then plummeting near the end, the CWB was left with a deficit in its contingency fund amounting to $29 million.

Hill admitted that "in these extraordinary market conditions, many grain companies chose to withdraw some of their pricing options, but we believed it was important to honour our commitment to Prairie farmers by continuing to provide these programs."

In other words, despite the fact that some private grain companies pulled in their horns and withdrew from the marketplace, the CWB stuck out its neck for its producers.

Of course, the same groups that have called upon the CWB to become more market-driven and less risk adverse were the first ones to pounce on the board when it suffered hefty losses in the PPO program.

The Western Canadian Wheat Growers, a persistent foe of the CWB, said it was confounded by the "huge financial losses'' in the PPO program. "It appears as if the CWB was asleep at the switch and got caught on the wrong side of the market,'' said WCWG vice-president Rolf Penner.

Similarly, WCWG president Kevin Bender criticized the CWB for transferring funds from the producers' pooled accounts to cover the deficiency in the contingency fund. "The role of the CWB is not to arbitrarily redistribute wealth among farmers,'' Bender said.

Never one to miss an opportunity to kick the CWB in the teeth, Gerry Ritz, minister responsible for the wheat board, called the losses in the PPO program "unacceptable.''

"Western farmers have no choice but to market their grain through the board. At the very least, they need some assurance that the board is competent," Ritz said in a statement.

Not a word about the record returns for farmers, not a word about managing to produce a profit in one of the most turbulent years in recent memory in the grain markets.

So there you have it. No matter what the CWB does, it can't win with Ritz and company.

By making itself more like a "real'' (i.e., private) grain company, and offering different price options for producers, the CWB opens itself up to greater risk, as last year clearly demonstrated.

By responding to constant pressure from its foes, the CWB makes itself more vulnerable to criticism from the same quarter.

Mind you, any criticism from a representative of a government that has squandered a huge surplus and turned it into a huge deficit in less than three years should be taken with a large dose of salt."


Bruce Johnstone
Financial Editor
Regina Leader-Post
© Copyright (c)

Friday, February 13, 2009 

Harper's 4 Per Cent Solution

News that the Harper Conservative's have only released 4% of the total funds promised for infrastructure projects over the last two years has everyone wondering what the hell is going on?

Allow me to lay out three possible reasons for the Tories complete inaction:

1) They are incompetent as an administration and don't have a clue what they are doing.

2) They are so geared towards approving funds ONLY for projects in constituencies that they hold or hope to hold, that they have bogged down with micro-political management.

3) They had NO intention of ever delivering on the money they promised in the first place, hoping to win a headline or positive news story going into last fall's election.

Your pick .... which one of these reasons is it?

-Ottawa Citizen

 

Details Emerging On Deaths Of Detainees By American Military Torture Techniques

"In December 2002 – as the Bush administration was ratcheting up its harsh questioning of detainees – several captives died from “abusive” treatment at the hands of U.S. military interrogators in Afghanistan, according to newly declassified Defense Department documents.

The deaths appear to fit within the administration’s broader pattern of detainee mistreatment, but the two newly released pages from the Church Report – named after the chief investigator Vice Admiral Albert T. Church – claimed that the interrogators in these cases went beyond the tactics then approved for use in Afghanistan.

The pages focused on the deaths of two prisoners at the U.S. military base in Bagram, Afghanistan. One prisoner died on Dec. 4, 2002, and another six days later.

"In both cases, [the prisoners] were handcuffed to fixed objects above their heads in order to keep them awake," the documents said. "Additionally, interrogations in both incidents involved the use of physical violence, including kicking, beating, and the use of ‘compliance blows’ which involved striking the [prisoners’] legs with the [interrogators’] knees.

“In both cases, blunt force trauma to the legs was implicated in the deaths. In one case, a pulmonary embolism developed as a consequence of the blunt force trauma, and in the other case pre-existing coronary artery disease was complicated by the blunt force trauma."

The Church report said the interrogators allegedly went beyond authorized techniques by employing “sleep deprivation, the use of scenarios designed to convince the detainee that death or severely painful consequences are imminent for him and/or his family, and beating.” The report added that a private contractor, David Passaro, conducted an interrogation that allegedly led to another detainee death.

However, when juxtaposed with a report issued last December by the Senate Armed Services Committee, the evidence suggests a different story – one in which the Bush administration was sending mixed signals to interrogators about how they should calibrate the pain inflicted on detainees."

Consortium News


Twitter me ....

Thursday, February 12, 2009 

Regina City Police Missing Out On All The Fun With Taser Ban!

" ... we’re supportive of having our members equipped with as many options that are deemed to be safe and appropriate in the use of force continuum to safely secure suspects when we’re confronted with situations.”
Regina Police Service Chief Troy Hagen

"OTTAWA — RCMP policy has acknowledged that taser stun guns can kill — especially “acutely agitated” suspects — and will now restrict their use to cases involving threats to officers or public safety.
Globe & Mail

Police in Saskatchewan do not have access to tasers since the Provincial Police Commission banned them after a flurry of deaths that the weapon has been connected to across the nation.

In a case of bad timing, Regina's Police Chief called for the weapon to be re-introduced to his force (calling it 'safe and appropriate') on the same day that the RCMP acknowledged that tasers kill!

 

Canadian Wheat Board Delivers HUGE Returns For Producers - Gerry Ritz Still Sour!

The Canadian Wheat Board delivered $7.2 billion to farmers in payment for their wheat, barley and durum. This represents a year over year increase of 47% for wheat producers and 94% per cent for durum and malting barley producers. These highly successful numbers were included in the most recent CWB annual report which was tabled in parliament by Ag Minister Gerry Ritz.

But hold on ... was Minister Ritz pleased with this success? Not on your life! Despite record returns for producers, Ritz took out his magnifying glass and focused on one small Wheat Board contingency fund that underwrites risks associated with cash trading and the board's producer payment options programs. This fund had a deficit of $89 million after the years returns were tallied. Without the deficit, the total returns of $7.2 Billion would have been $7.289 Billion.

So, instead of acknowledging that the single desk marketing structure of the CWB had a 'poster year', the ideologically driven Ritz had not a good word to say. (Well, at least he didn't wish anyone had died from listeriosis).

-Winnipeg Free Press

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 

Saskatchewan Produces Most Of Canada's Natural Gas YET Sask Residents Pay The Highest Natural Gas Rates! Why?

Questions are being asked of the Brad Wall government concerning the amount that Saskatchewan residents pay for natural gas. Natural gas prices have fallen below $5 per gigajoule, yet Saskatchewan consumers have been paying $8.51 per gigajoule since last October. Why? Well it seems that the Wall government 'locked in' at the higher price right at the time that natural gas prices peaked on the market.

So ... is this simply bad managament, or are there larger issues here? Stay tuned!


-Regina Leader-Post ... Wall NEEDS to answer some questions ..
-Regina Leader-Post ... 20% Natural Gas Rate Increase is Hurting!
-Saskatoon Star Phoenix has more ....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 

Russian 'Hare Krishna' TV Ad!



One of the results of the collapse of the old Soviet Union was the sizable religious revival that has occurred in Russia. The Russian Orthodox Church has seen a huge increase in interest but so have other religious groups.

The Hare Krishna movement is experiencing huge growth in the former Soviet bloc, similar to what occurred in the 1960's and '70's in North America and Europe. Here is a Russian TV commercial by the Hare Krishna movement. It is wonderfull!! HARIBOL!!

The Hare Krishna movmement, pioneered by A.C. Bhaktevedanta Swami Prabhupada does wonderful work around the world, especially their 'Food For Life' Program!

Enjoy the video!

 

Holding George W. Bush Accountable

“I’m running for President because I want to help usher in the 'responsibility era', where people understand they are responsible for the choices they make and are held accountable for their actions.”
George W. Bush
Candidate for President - 2000 Election


"Washington insiders are divided into two basic groups over what to do about the sordid history of the Bush administration: one side wants a “truth” commission but no jail time, and the other side says do nothing beyond thanking George W. Bush and his aides for a job well done. But there is a grassroots movement out there that battled the Bush administration’s crimes as they were happening – often in the face of disdain from the insiders – and that group believes serious accountability must be achieved if the health of the American Republic is to be restored, a position shared by journalist Peter Dyer:"
Consortium News


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Monday, February 09, 2009 

'Greed' Continues To Be The Root Of ALL Evil


Picture yourself as a 90 year old retired person. Your life has nearly run it's course. After a lifetime of work, penny pinching and saving, you have built a retirement fund that allows you to do what a 90 year old person should do. One day - out of the blue, you are told that your entire retirement fund is gone! HUH? Gone because of the greed of an unregulated, unfettered 'free-market' financial investor! What do you do? .... Well, you go back to work ... in a grocery store! This is the story of 90 year old Ian Thiermann - a victim of George Bush's unregulated free market economy ... the very same type of economy that Harper would love to fully implement in Canada!

Greed is NOT good ... no matter what these deluded free market propagandists say!

"BOSTON -- After losing his entire life's savings to disgraced fund manager Bernard Madoff, 90-year-old Ian Thiermann abandoned retirement and now works the aisles of a grocery store to make ends meet."
Regina Leader Post


Cartoon courtesy Jim Morin - appeared in the Miami Herald, Feb 1, 2009

Saturday, February 07, 2009 

It's Time For The United States To Slash Military Spending

"Though many of the Bush-Cheney neoconservatives are now out of government, neocons remain a dominant force in Washington media, especially in the Washington Post’s editorial section – and one of their new themes is that military spending must not be cut. For instance, on Feb. 3, neocon columnist Robert Kagan lambasted the idea of a 10 percent reduction in military spending. However, in this guest essay, David Swanson writes that the Pentagon’s bloated spending should not be exempt from the budget knife."
Consortium News

Friday, February 06, 2009 

Primitive Japanese Practice Of Whale Killing Continues!!

(I am going to attempt AGAIN to be both provocative and insulting with this post).

Japan must be an extremely primitive nation. Their whaling fleet continues to kill some of the most intelligent creatures on the planet in order that some Japanese citizens can have a 'sentimental* taste treat'.


I have nothing but contempt for a nation that disregards both scientific evidence and world opinion in their cavalier desire to convert an intelligent and endangered mammal into sushi. Whales should not be treated the same way that the Japanese commercial fishery treats a sardine.

Let me be perfectly clear if I have not yet done so .... the Japanese whaling industry is criminally insane and deserves to be challenged and condemned! What is wrong with Japanese world view that it so blatantly disregards scientific facts - what a primitive nation indeed! Shame on the Japanese! How can they be considered a 'civilized' people IF they cannot see that whales are one of the higher intelligent life forms on the planet. A humpback whale should neither be considered 'food' nor a commercial resource! They are one of the planets higher life forms and deserve to be treated as such.

"The Japanese whaling fleet, undaunted by international protests, plans this year to catch about 1,000 whales for "scientific purposes" in the Antarctic ocean. Critics regard Japan's scientific whaling a cover for commercial whaling, while Japan argues that it was necessary to catch a number of whales to gain information."
TV NZ

-The Globe & Mail has more ....

* "Japan has hunted whales for hundreds of years, and the meat is a sentimental favorite of people who lived through the lean postwar years, when whale was the chief source of protein because Japan couldn't afford pork or beef. Whale was a common family dish, and many schoolchildren ate it every day."
-Proof of exactly how primitive the Japanese mindset is when it comes to killing whales ...

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Senior American Generals Seeking To Undermine Obama's Withdrawl Plans For Iraq

Mere weeks into Barak Obama's presidency, there are some disturbing signs that US General Petraeus and others are attempting to subvert a planned military withdrawl from Iraq. These war mongering, war loving, military heavy weights are committed to perpetual war. Why? Well it keeps them powerful and well funded by the American people. Ideologically, they are warriors, not peacemakers and have no concept of diplomacy as a solution to world problems.

The sonner that President Obama can clip their wings, or better yet, replace them, the better!

"Petraeus was visibly unhappy when he left the Oval Office, according to one of the sources. A White House staffer present at the meeting was quoted by the source as saying, "Petraeus made the mistake of thinking he was still dealing with George Bush instead of with Barack Obama."

Petraeus, Gates and Odierno had hoped to sell Obama on a plan that they formulated in the final months of the Bush administration that aimed at getting around a key provision of the U.S.-Iraqi withdrawal agreement signed envisioned re-categorising large numbers of combat troops as 'support troops'."

IPS News



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Thursday, February 05, 2009 

Two More Candidates In Saskatchewan New Democrat's Leadership Race

NDP MLA Deb Higgins from Moose Jaw and Dr. Ryan Meili from Saskatoon have both thrown their hats into the ring, seeking the leadership of the New Democratic Party of Saskatchewan.

They join previously announced candidates Yens Pedersen and Dwain Lingenfelter to replace outgoing current leader, Lorne Calvert.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009 

Attempting To Fetter Free Loading Corporate Welfare Bums!!

Here is a fun little story about Wells Fargo company ... who recently received a $25 Billion dollar corporate welfare cheque from the American taxpayers and then decided to throw the money around on an extravagant retreat for hundreds of sales employees:

"Wells Fargo abruptly scrapped an upcoming sales retreat to Las Vegas. The company received $25 billion in taxpayer bailout money and recently announced a $2.3-billion loss for the last quarter of 2008. It had booked 12 nights at two of the most expensive hotels in Las Vegas, but after lawmakers and investigators admonished the company, Wells Fargo cancelled the event."
CBC

-Associated Press

Tuesday, February 03, 2009 

Ottawa's Radioactive Water! Hmmmm .... refreshing!


Radioactive material found at Ottawa's water treatment plant!!

City of Ottawa officials insist the quality of the city's drinking water is safe despite the discovery of radioactive material at the municipal sewage treatment plant. City officials confirm a batch of sludge from the city's east-end treatment plant contains a low level of radioactivity.
CTV

...CBC has more .....


Photo courtesy freakingnews.com

 

Feb 3- 1959 Rock And Rollers DIE In Plane Crash - Buddy Holly - The Big Bopper - Richie Valens ... News at 6:00!



"To those with their feet planted firmly in the 21st century, the three dead rockers who perished in a plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959, may seem like musty relics of another age, their legacy muted, their impact unclear.

But when the tiny chartered plane carrying Buddy Holly, J.P. (the Big Bopper) Richardson and Richie Valens crashed over Clear Lake, Iowa, in a blinding snowstorm 50 years ago today, it seemed, for a moment, that rock 'n' roll would never be the same."

The Star

 

Arrogant Conservative Cabinet Minister Gets Her Due Criticism

I recently wrote about the arrogant and completely idiotic statement made by Tory Human Resources Minister Diane Finley. She mouthed the usual right wing ideological crap about working people who she accused of wanting to lounge at home on 'lucrative Unemployment Insurance benefits.'

"Opposition MPs tore a strip off Human Resources Minister Diane Finley yesterday over her comments to Canwest News Service that the Conservative government has no interest in increasing employment-insurance payments and making it "lucrative" for jobless workers to sit around the house.

NDP leader Jack Layton led the verbal assault in the Commons, accusing Ms. Finley and the Conservatives of being out of touch with the problems of real people.

"If they spent some time with the hundreds of thousands of people that are losing their jobs now, they might understand that," Mr. Layton said during a raucous exchange in the Commons. "They are not trying to sit at home and get paid. They're trying to protect their homes."

Mr. Layton was among opposition MPs who took umbrage at Ms. Finley's statements that she is opposed to raising EI benefits and to making it easier to qualify for the insurance payments."

Ottawa Citizen

Monday, February 02, 2009 

Ignatieff - The New 'Trudeau'?


"... his ascendancy puts his country on the cusp of an unusual moment, in some ways a throwback to the era of the dashing Pierre Trudeau, another smart-set intellectual who served as prime minister. “He was brought in to reinvigorate the liberal brand, to go for the big game right away,” said Nelson Wiseman, a political scientist at the University of Toronto. “I think a lot of the party thought, ‘We need someone who has the intellectual gravitas of Pierre Trudeau.’ Like Trudeau, he came in as a fresh figure, but he also had a reputation abroad that Trudeau didn’t.”
New York Times

H/T to 1337hax0r


Cartoon by kind permission of
Graeme MacKay
at mackaycartoons.net

Sunday, February 01, 2009 

How The Unions Tried To Save The Auto Makers Years Ago



"The crisis in the U.S. auto industry is often blamed on the excessive demands of organized labor, but unions actually tried to push Detroit into reforms that might have spared the Big Three from their current crisis."
Consortium News



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