Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I reckon the cap'n'traders'll get to where they're headed... eventually.
Whooee! Well friends an' foes, there's a bigass discussion raging over at StageLeft. It's all about Afghanistan and there are over 75 comments there. It makes for good readin' and good boogin'. There are thoughtful and considered comments coming in from all sides. There's also a bit of namecallin' and juvenile quips that have been effectively thwarted by the master debaters SL and Balbulican. It's well worth the read.
Like usual, I'm a lazyass and I'm recycling a comment I left over there concerning what we should do. Commenter Brent used the typically American phrase, "cut and run" and he threw out a challenge.
If you can suggest a way to resolve this conflict short of giving up, I’d love to hear it (so would the government).
Since there's no problem too large for know-it-all JimBobby's massive intellect, I decided to reply and I'm copyin' that reply here. BTW, I'm not so sure the government would love to hear my solution. They've wrapped themselves in a cloak of false patriotism and don't want any solution that doesn't involve increasing military spending under the guise of rebuilding the Canadian Forces.
We cannot win the war without winning hearts and minds. Afghans have slipped deeper into poverty, desperation and hunger during the course of the occupation. We are spending billions on war materiel and scant millions on aid. Thanks to our benign acceptance of Karzai’s corruption, much of the aid money we have sent has been siphoned off for governors’ mansions and out-and-out graft.
Every friendly fire death, every poorly targeted NATO airstrike has helped the Taliban recruit new fighters. Pure financial desperation and hunger have driven fighters to the Taliban where they are paid $14 a day compared to the $4 a day paid by the ANA and ANP.
Take a look at who we’re fighting for. Karzai has personally appointed the provincial governors. His talent pool has been the Northern Alliance warlords. Under our occupation, the country became officially established as The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The new constitution enshrines Sharia Law. Oipium harvests fuel both sides of the civil war that was raging prior to 9/11. Karzai admits to holding secret talks with the Taliban for several years and has publicly said that he would welcome Taliban inclusion in his government.
Cut and run (such an American phrase) or continue to support a corrupt regime that cannot even be trusted with its own police payroll? Cut and run or continue to prop up a regime that issues the death penalty for conversion from Islam to Christianity? Cut and run or continue supporting an Afghan senate that upholds the death penalty for “humiliating Islam” by questioning the treatment of women?
Alexander the Great cut and ran. The British cut and ran. The Russians cut and ran.
Afghans are suffering due to the worldwide food crisis. If we want to make lemonade, we can capitalize on that situation. By mounting a massive food distribution campaign, we can win hearts and minds. Desperate Afghans are selling their daughters for food money. They’re taking up arms in order to feed their families. If we divert a fraction of the money we’re spending on offensive seek and destroy missions to food aid, we will win hearts and minds. If we continue to support the corrupt Karzai regime and spend all of our time and money on shooting and killing and trying to achieve a military victory, we ensure failure.
I expect to hear the old refrain, “Without security, there can be no aid.” Hogwash. We can safely drop bags of grain and flour just as easily as we can drop bombs and shells. We can set up secure food distribution centres that would be welcomed and protected by the hungry locals. We can insist on oversight of the Afghan government that we helped install. We can keep track of the prisoners we hand over to ensure they don’t bribe their way back to the Taliban ranks. We can establish a market for legal, medicinal opium production. We can provide seed and fertilizer to help farmers move from opium to food crops.
The Manley Report calculates that Canada spent $6.1 billion on its military effort in the central Asian country between fiscal 2000-01 and 2006-07. The total financial aid between 2001-02 and 2006-07 was $741 million. Up to 90% of that $741 million is known to have been diverted to corrupt government officials.
There are about 2,500 military personnel deployed in Afghanistan. In comparison, there are 47 civilian government employees assigned to the country: at the embassy in Kabul, at Kandahar Airfield and in the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) office in Kandahar City. Of the 335 PRT team members, 315 are military personnel.
We’ve put nearly all of our eggs in the military basket and we cannot hope to win hearts and minds with that sort of lopsided approach. Again, if we don’t win hearts and minds, we will not win.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Neo-Nazis offer recruits help with rentPublished: July 23, 2008 at 9:02 AMCALGARY, Alberta, July 23 (UPI) -- A Canadian neo-Nazi group in Calgary, Alberta, has an online offer to help pay the rent for any recruits who will move to the city.
The Aryan Guard's site said it was "always seeking new brothers and sisters" and said rental assistance would be provided, CTV News reported.
Speaking to reporters, Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier said the ad hinted at desperation.
"It's quite surprising that people would have to resort to using financial support in order to encourage people to join their group," Bronconnier said. "I think that speaks to the support level that's here, which is non-existent."
However, in the most recent Statistics Canada report on crime in the country released last month, Calgary has the highest rate of hate crimes in the country, with 9.2 cases reported per 100,000 people. The national average is 3.1 cases per 100,000 people, CTV said.
Calgary police have said they can't shut down the Aryan Guard if the group isn't breaking any laws, the report said.
Calgary is King Steve's stompin' grounds, ain't it? It'd be good to hear the Pryminister weigh in on what's happenin' in his home town.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
'Lunatics' ban in Parliament may be liftedPublished: July 20, 2008 at 12:38 PMLONDON, July 20 (UPI) -- British government officials say they are considering doing away with laws banning people labeled "idiots" and "lunatics" from running for Parliament.
Justice Minister Bridget Prentice plans to hold a meeting to discuss throwing out the laws after they prompted negative feedback from members of Parliament and mental health organizations, The Times of London reported Sunday.
The rules consider idiots as people "incapable of gaining reason" and lunatics as those "capable of periods of lucidity."
The laws prevent lunatics from standing for Parliament in "their non-lucid intervals." People listed under the Mental Health Act are not allowed to seek election, regardless of whether they recover.
Some mental health charity groups say the laws are unfair and should be scrapped.
"People who have suffered mental health problems can function at a very high level," said a spokesman for Mind, a mental health charity.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Read about it in the National Post. A tip of the tuque to Impolitical (Oh, how I wish he allowed comments. He'd have about the best blog in Canada.)
From the indispensible Impolitical:
I reckon this tells everybody just how desperate the Con's are in Nova Scotia. Peter MacKay is lookin' worser and worser while the gal I adore, Earth Mother Lizzie May, keeps lookin' better an' better. Ol' Pete's on the hot seat about a bigass submarine contract that he awarded to a BC outfit. Then there was the Bill Casey fiasco.
There's likely to be outrage over this one: "Tories set to hand N.S. $850M windfall.""The Conservative government is set to buy political peace in Nova Scotia with $850-million in taxpayers' dollars."These funds are recommended settlement moneys from a panel of experts opining on how much Nova Scotia should get for having lost a potential ownership stake in offshore oil and gas projects.The Crown share issue dates from the 1980s' National Energy Program and has been dormant for 20 years. Under the NEP, Nova Scotia gained a potential ownership stake in energy projects on Canadian lands off its shores. Successive governments have argued that when the NEP was dismantled in the mid-1980s, the Crown share went with it. But Nova Scotia has argued consistently that it should be compensated for loss of potential profits. (emphasis added)In the wake of Harper messing with the Atlantic Accord last year, in order to save face with Nova Scotia, they agreed to throw in resolving this outstanding issue from the 1980's. This panel has now recommended that Nova Scotia get $850 million in compensation - for something that really was pie in the sky - and based on the Nova Scotia government's inflated numbers.
Junior MacMoneybags is buying NS votes. Harper is reviving the NEP to make it happen. I wonder what the Alien Alberts think of their boy bringing the zombie NEP back to life in order to give away $850,000,000 to the 'the region that breeds a culture of defeatism.' Poor little Allbertans had to work hard squeezing those millions out of tar sands and now, YoBoy is handing it over to those layabouts for NOT drilling.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Whooee! Well friends an' foes, the more I read about this here G8 Summit, the more disgusted I get. One of the biggest troublems facin' the world is the worldwide food crisis. It was supposed to be high on the agenda at Toyako. For a wee glimpse into how far out of touch with reality the G8 leaders are, just consider how they dine.
Gordon Brown and his fellow world leaders have sparked outrage after it was disclosed they enjoyed a six-course lunch followed by an eight-course dinner at the G8 summit where the global food crisis tops the agenda.
The Prime Minister was served 24 different dishes during his first day at the summit – just hours after urging the world to reduce the "unnecessary demand" for food and calling on British families to cut back on their wasteful use of food.
Mr Brown and his wife Sarah were among 15 guests at the "blessings of the earth and the sea social dinner".
The dinner consisted of 18 dishes in eight courses including caviar, smoked salmon, Kyoto beef and a "G8 fantasy dessert".
The banquet was accompanied by five different wines from around the world including champagne, a French Bourgogne and sake.
African leaders including the heads of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Senegal who had taken part in talks during the day were not invited to the function.
The dinner came just hours after a "working lunch" consisting of six courses including white asparagus and truffle soup, crab and a supreme of chicken.
The lavish dining arrangements – disclosed by the Japanese Government which is hosting the summit in Hokkaido – come amid growing concern over rising food prices triggered by a shortage of many basic necessities.
On the flight to the summit, Mr Brown urged Britons to cut food waste as part of a global drive to help avert the food crisis.
Opposition politicians and charities condemned the extravagant meals.
Dominic Nutt, of Save the Children, said: "It is deeply hypocritical that they should be lavishing course after course on world leaders when there is a food crisis and millions cannot afford a decent meal to eat.
"If the G8 wants to betray the hopes of a generation of children, it is going the right way about it. The food crisis is an emergency and the G8 must treat it as that."
Andrew Mitchell, the shadow International Development Secretary, said: "The G8 have made a bad start to their summit, with excessive cost and lavish consumption.
"Surely it is not unreasonable for each leader to give a guarantee that they will stand by their solemn pledges of three years ago at Gleneagles to help the world's poor. All of us are watching, waiting and listening."
Mr Brown arrived at the G8 summit held on the holiday island of Hokkaido in northern Japan on Monday morning.
He arrived on a plane chartered from Texas, America, which had to fly empty for thousands of miles to pick up the Prime Minister and his entourage.
Unlike other countries, Britain does not have an official plane to transport the Prime Minister.
The lavish dining will embarrass Mr Brown, who has made tackling the global food crisis a key priority.
On the flight to the summit, the Prime Minister urged British people to cut food waste and "reduce unnecessary demand".
He said: "We need a global plan to deal with rising food prices that are affecting millions of families in Britain. That's why I am proposing that we take action to both increase the global supply of food and reduce unnecessary demand.
"If we are to get food prices down, we must also do more to deal with unnecessary demand, such as by all of us doing more to cut our food waste which is costing the average household in Britain around £8 per week."
Talks between world leaders at the summit will focus on dealing with soaring food and oil prices.
There is also hope for a breakthrough on protracted talks to secure a new global trade deal.
However, the leaders are facing criticism amid allegations that pledges for development aid promised for the third world at a previous G8 summit in Scotland have been watered down.
The Prime Minister's spokesman declined to comment on the menus.
I don't know for sure if Steve Harper was at that dinner. Or Baird. Or Mrs. Harper. Or the boy Harper. I do know that 1000 people died from starvation in the past hour and 1000 more are going to die in the next hour. I know that the money wasted on flying these so-called leaders to a lavish hob-nobbin' shoulder-rubbin' schmoozefest ain't solvin' the world's problems. The money spent on travel alone could have actually done something to alleviate suffering. Instead, our leaders gorge their puffy faces on expensive delicacies. What great examples of humanity!
Friday, July 04, 2008
Each of these sectors is getting a black eye over its contribution to high food prices that are killing 1000 human beings each and every hour of each and everyday. And each sector is eager to point the finger at one or more of the other sectors. With that record of finger pointing and claims of innocence in mind, the recent leak of a secret World Bank document must be regarded with some skepticism.
Yeow! Liberal Dalton Ginty sez biofuels ain't a problem. So do the federal Conservatives. So does George W. Bush. Ditto McCain. Ditto Obama. Obama has strong ties to the US ethanol industry.
Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% - far more than previously estimated - according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by the Guardian.
The damning unpublished assessment is based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried out by an internationally-respected economist at global financial body.
The figure emphatically contradicts the US government's claims that plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3% to food-price rises. It will add to pressure on governments in Washington and across Europe, which have turned to plant-derived fuels to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and reduce their dependence on imported oil.
Senior development sources believe the report, completed in April, has not been published to avoid embarrassing President George Bush.
"It would put the World Bank in a political hot-spot with the White House," said one yesterday.
(There's plenty more...)
The biggest proponents of ethanol have been saying it's only responsible for 3% of the food price increase. If that were true, then biofuels would only be responsible for the starvation deaths of 3 million people of the 100 million facing starvation this year. That's 1000 times more than were killed on 9/11. Every year. For biofuel. For fueling gas-guzzling North American living rooms on wheels.
The World Bank's report may be an outright attempt at disinformation. To say that biofuels are responsible for 75% of the increase ( and, thus, culpable for 75,000,000 deaths this year) shifts blame away from the World Bank itself. Previous high estimates regarding the effect of biofuel development on world food prices had placed the estimate at 30%.
While it may be more difficult to quantify, World Bank policies have also had an effect. Third world countries were strongly pushed to develop agriculture for export in an attempt to pay down debt. Countries like Kenya phased out subsistence and sustenance agriculture in favour of growing things like roses for the European export market. In times of low transportation costs, the trade balance allowed Kenya to sell flowers and buy food. Now, Europeans are not eager to pay the exorbitant shipping charges brought on by $140/bbl oil. Kenyans still need to eat but their food production capacity has been converted to flowers.
This latest report is important and while some skepticism is called for, we cannot dismiss the effect of biofuel development on the food crisis that is killing so many of our fellow human beings. At the very least, Canada must stop all crop-based biofuel subsidies and incentives. Even if biofuel development is only responsible for a paltry 3,000,000 deaths per year, we should not be supporting it in any way.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Here in my little town, the county comes and picks up our trash and recyclables on Fridays. Today bein' Thursday, I'll be out in the shed sortin' recyclables and makin' sure there ain't any recyclables mixed in with the non-recyclables. Later on tonight, I'll hike the trash barrel and the blue box out to the street. Usually, the blue box is crammed full and there's a tiny little trash bag. Composting helps, too.
Now, my recyclin' effort hardly amounts to squat in the big picture. Hell, it don't even amount to 2% of my street. If I didn't recycle, hardly anyone would notice and it probably wouldn't amount to a millionth of a percent of what gets recycled here in Norfolk County. Why should I take a few minutes from my busy Thursday to sort out recyclable stuff? Why should I carry both a blue box and a garbage barrel out to the street on Thursday nights?
Then, there's my do-nuthin' neighbours. They're born and bred Canadians but I'll call 'em the Indias and the Chinas. A couple doors down, we got the India family. They got four boys and they generate a heap of garbage. I see it when I walk by with ol' Spot on Friday mornings. The Indias usually got three bigass garbage bags and a half-full blue box. Sometimes, it's all garbage and no blue box, at all.
Down the street a little further, we got the Chinas. They ain't Chinese. Their fictitious surname is China. They got a bigass RV, 2 SUV's, a 24' power boat on a trailer, a riding lawnmower, some ATV's and some snowmobiles. They never, ever put out a blue box.
Now, I wouldn't mind if the county were to enforce some bylaws and restrictions that would give these anti-Earthers a not-so-gentle nudge in the right direction. That might do some good for ol' Mother Earth.
What sure as hell won't do any good for ol' Mother Earth is if I say I'm gonna quit recycling until my neighbours start doin' their share. That'd only make things worse. And who's gonna worry about me, anyways. Like I been sayin' to anyone who'll listen, I ain't even responsible for 2% of the total problem. Why should I act like a responsible citizen?
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
I reckon I better join in the well wishin'.
I wish all my feller Canajuns a Happy Canada Day. I ain't gonna growse or grumble or call for regime change or kvetch or bitch or piss'n'moan... leastwise, not today. The sun's shinin'. Ma's takin' the day off. Well, mostly. She's doin' a little sewin' work right now as a favour to the next door neighbour. When she's done, we're gonna go over to the ball park an' toss the ball an' frisbee fer Spot an' Ellie. Maybe we'll see some of our dog park buddies.
Yeow! It's almost 10 o'clock. I better get dressed. Can't go to the dog park in my bathrobe.
Be careful out there, Canajuns. If yer drivin', don't be drinkin'. If yer swimmin', don't be drownin'. If yer ridin' yer dumbass ATV, don't roll over in some poor farmer's soybeans. If yer out in the boat, wear sunscreen. If yer tossin' back a few brown pops, have one fer ol' JB.
Happy Canada Day.