Monday, December 31, 2007

Year End Task . . . .


The last day of the year is usually no big deal for us - No huge celebrations, parties, etc.

This year, however, my plan was to get a good start on our CBSA Form B4 and B4A. To those of you unfamiliar with the Canadian permanent resident landing process, these forms are to be completed for all of your personal belongings you are going to be bringing into the country. The reason to fill them out is easy: You avoid paying duties and taxes on those items you had previously owned and used prior to landing.


The good news is, we've got nearly everything neatly typed into Open Office template forms I had previously made up. We lack only a few outside/gardening equipment items, most of which will not move with us anyway, as there is no place to store them. Our friends Mary and Diane of Our Journey Toward Canadian Immigration advised we total each page of Goods to Follow, as the border agents in BC really appreciated that.

We are planning on landing in February, but not moving anything until late spring or early summer. Therefore, all of our items are listed as "Goods to Follow". Who knows how the CBSA accounts for items as they are brought into the country? No doubt we will make a few trips until all the real estate is disposed of in the US.

Here's some of the basics from the CBSA's website:

Settling in Canada

Information on importing goods for people intending to settle in Canada

RC4151 (E) Rev. 06

Ownership, possession, and use requirements

For your goods to qualify for duty- and tax-free importation as settler’s effects, you must have owned, possessed, and used them before your arrival in Canada. If you have the sales receipts and registration documents for these items, you can use them to help prove they meet these three requirements.

It is important that you meet the three requirements of ownership, possession, and use. For example, if you owned and possessed the goods without using them, the goods are subject to duties. Please note that leased goods are subject to regular duties, as we do not consider that you own them.


Items you can import duty- and tax-free

Personal and household effects

Personal and household effects include goods such as:

  • clothing and linen

  • furniture

  • furnishings

  • appliances

  • silverware

  • jewellry

  • antiques

  • family heirlooms

  • private collections of coins, stamps, or art

  • personal computers

  • books

  • musical instruments

  • hobby tools and other hobby items

  • personal vehicles

  • pleasure boats and the trailers to carry them (trailers are subject to Transport Canada requirements)

  • mobile trailers, not exceeding 2.6 metres (9 feet) in width, which the owner is capable of moving on a personal basis

  • utility trailers

  • motor homes

  • private aircraft

  • tool sheds or garages which do not attach to, or form part of a dwelling.

However, houses, large trailers you use as residences(*), and any goods you use or will use commercially are not eligible as personal or household effects. These goods are subject to regular customs duties.


(*) Damn! Guess we won't be moving the designer double-wide after all!!

Happy New Year to all of you.

We are anticipating a GREAT 2008 as we hope you are . . . .



Thursday, December 27, 2007

$$$'s vs. Political "Alliances" . . . .


Via Reuters today:

Saudi arms sale may spark Bush-Congress battle
Thu Dec 27, 2007 - By Jim Wolf

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A plan to sell Saudi Arabia highly accurate Boeing Co bomb-guidance kits is roiling Israel's backers in the Congress, setting up a potential clash with President George W. Bush.

The administration could formally notify lawmakers as soon as January 15 of the possible sale to Riyadh of Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAM, technology.

As many as 253 members of the 435-seat House of Representatives have signed bipartisan warnings to Bush about such a sale to Saudi Arabia, still in a formal state of war with Israel.

_______________


The JDAM sale would be part of a combined $20 billion or so in fresh U.S. arms sales to Gulf Arab states described by Washington as a strategic drive to counter Iran's growing might.

Rep. Anthony Weiner, a New York Democrat, said he and 35 other House members plan to introduce a measure aimed at blocking a JDAM sale "the minute Congress is officially notified."

In the Senate, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden of Delaware, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, also has voiced qualms.

"My committee's looking very closely into this," he told reporters in a December 4 conference call. "Thus far, the justification for the sale has not been made to me."

_______________

Oh, and guess what? Our old buddy Israel is not happy, either. Apparently, what's good for the goose is not good for another religion's gander:

_______________


Israel became the first foreign buyer of JDAMs in 2000. Since then, 18 countries have followed, according to Boeing's Web site. The weapon has been used widely in the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Saudi Arabia remains the top regional buyer of U.S. weapons, including Boeing F-15 fighter aircraft, United Technologies Corp Black Hawk helicopters, and General Dynamics Corp light armored vehicles, night-vision goggles, thermal weapons sights, and long-range radios.

Riyadh also has bought advanced weapons from Britain's BAE Systems, France's Dassault Aviation and Europe's EADS among other European suppliers.



How much 'ya wanna bet that military equipment sales $$$ trumps political alliances?


Nobody wants a piece of that action?

I thought not . . . .


Monday, December 24, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Now We're Really Screwed . . . .


From the Washington Post:

FBI Prepares Vast Database Of Biometrics
$1 Billion Project to Include Images of Irises and Faces

By Ellen Nakashima - Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 22, 2007

CLARKSBURG, W. Va. -- The FBI is embarking on a $1 billion effort to build the world's largest computer database of peoples' physical characteristics, a project that would give the government unprecedented abilities to identify individuals in the United States and abroad.

Digital images of faces, fingerprints and palm patterns are already flowing into FBI systems in a climate-controlled, secure basement here. Next month, the FBI intends to award a 10-year contract that would significantly expand the amount and kinds of biometric information it receives. And in the coming years, law enforcement authorities around the world will be able to rely on iris patterns, face-shape data, scars and perhaps even the unique ways people walk and talk, to solve crimes and identify criminals and terrorists. The FBI will also retain, upon request by employers, the fingerprints of employees who have undergone criminal background checks so the employers can be notified if employees have brushes with the law.

_______________


The increasing use of biometrics for identification is raising questions about the ability of Americans to avoid unwanted scrutiny. It is drawing criticism from those who worry that people's bodies will become de facto national identification cards. Critics say that such government initiatives should not proceed without proof that the technology really can pick a criminal out of a crowd.

_______________


The Department of Homeland Security has been using iris scans at some airports to verify the identity of travelers who have passed background checks and who want to move through lines quickly. The department is also looking to apply iris- and face-recognition techniques to other programs. The DHS already has a database of millions of sets of fingerprints, which includes records collected from U.S. and foreign travelers stopped at borders for criminal violations, from U.S. citizens adopting children overseas, and from visa applicants abroad. There could be multiple records of one person's prints.

_______________


In an underground facility the size of two football fields, a request reaches an FBI server every second from somewhere in the United States or Canada, comparing a set of digital fingerprints against the FBI's database of 55 million sets of electronic fingerprints. A possible match is made -- or ruled out--as many as 100,000 times a day.


Looks like it's time to lose the beauty mark and stop swishin' through the airport, girls . . . .


Thursday, December 20, 2007

D-Heads of the Year . . . .

Rolling Stone has published Bill Maher's "Dickheads of the Year" - 13 of the most "memorable" jerks for 2007.

Check it out here.

Don't want to spoil too much of it for you, but gwb is
not #1, believe it or not.


Maybe there's a limit to the number of times you can win ? ? ? ?


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Canadian Growth . . . .


From today's Globe and Mail:

Canada hits 33 million

The Canadian Press - December 19, 2007

OTTAWA — Canada's population has exceeded the 33-million mark, Statistics Canada says.

And Saskatchewan, with more than a million people for the first time in six years, has supplanted Alberta as the country's fastest growing province.

The federal agency estimated Canada's population at 33,091,200 on Oct. 1, up 115,200 from July 1.

_______________


The population growth rates in four provinces – Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta – exceeded the national rate during the third quarter.

_______________


Net international migration accounted for two-thirds of the country's population increase. (Emphasis mine, Ed.)

Next year "drf" and I will be glad to add our +2 to the growing population of our future home . . . .


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Not Yet . . . .

Shortly after "drf" and I moved to our home on the bay in Florida an elderly neighbour called one evening. She asked what we were doing and I replied "We're sitting on the dock enjoying this beautiful sunset."

She promptly retorted "Oh, you'll get over that."


Rather taken aback, my response was "I hope not!"

These two pics reflect last night's sunset and this morning's sunrise.


Six-plus years later I'm still not "over that" . . . .


Monday, December 17, 2007

george's Economic Legacy . . . .



Warning!!


Do not read this alone at night.

It's quite frightening.



From Vanity Fair:


The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush

The next president will have to deal with yet another crippling legacy of George W. Bush: the economy.

by Joseph E. Stiglitz

When we look back someday at the catastrophe that was the Bush administration, we will think of many things: the tragedy of the Iraq war, the shame of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, the erosion of civil liberties. The damage done to the American economy does not make front-page headlines every day, but the repercussions will be felt beyond the lifetime of anyone reading this page.

I can hear an irritated counterthrust already. The president has not driven the United States into a recession during his almost seven years in office. Unemployment stands at a respectable 4.6 percent. Well, fine. But the other side of the ledger groans with distress: a tax code that has become hideously biased in favor of the rich; a national debt that will probably have grown 70 percent by the time this president leaves Washington; a swelling cascade of mortgage defaults; a record near-$850 billion trade deficit; oil prices that are higher than they have ever been; and a dollar so weak that for an American to buy a cup of coffee in London or Paris—or even the Yukon—becomes a venture in high finance.

And it gets worse. After almost seven years of this president, the United States is less prepared than ever to face the future. We have not been educating enough engineers and scientists, people with the skills we will need to compete with China and India. We have not been investing in the kinds of basic research that made us the technological powerhouse of the late 20th century. And although the president now understands—or so he says—that we must begin to wean ourselves from oil and coal, we have on his watch become more deeply dependent on both.

Up to now, the conventional wisdom has been that Herbert Hoover, whose policies aggravated the Great Depression, is the odds-on claimant for the mantle “worst president” when it comes to stewardship of the American economy. Once Franklin Roosevelt assumed office and reversed Hoover’s policies, the country began to recover. The economic effects of Bush’s presidency are more insidious than those of Hoover, harder to reverse, and likely to be longer-lasting. There is no threat of America’s being displaced from its position as the world’s richest economy. But our grandchildren will still be living with, and struggling with, the economic consequences of Mr. Bush.

_______________

The administration crows that the economy grew—by some 16 percent—during its first six years, but the growth helped mainly people who had no need of any help, and failed to help those who need plenty. A rising tide lifted all yachts. Inequality is now widening in America, and at a rate not seen in three-quarters of a century. A young male in his 30s today has an income, adjusted for inflation, that is 12 percent less than what his father was making 30 years ago. Some 5.3 million more Americans are living in poverty now than were living in poverty when Bush became president. America’s class structure may not have arrived there yet, but it’s heading in the direction of Brazil’s and Mexico’s.

_______________


The continuing reliance on oil, regardless of price, points to one more administration legacy: the failure to diversify America’s energy resources. Leave aside the environmental reasons for weaning the world from hydrocarbons—the president has never convincingly embraced them, anyway. The economic and national-security arguments ought to have been powerful enough. Instead, the administration has pursued a policy of “drain America first”—that is, take as much oil out of America as possible, and as quickly as possible, with as little regard for the environment as one can get away with, leaving the country even more dependent on foreign oil in the future, and hope against hope that nuclear fusion or some other miracle will come to the rescue. So many gifts to the oil industry were included in the president’s 2003 energy bill that John McCain referred to it as the “No Lobbyist Left Behind” bill.


_______________


What’s the impact of all this down the road? The growth rate in America’s standard of living will almost certainly slow, and there could even be a decline. The American economy can take a lot of abuse, but no economy is invincible, and our vulnerabilities are plain for all to see. As confidence in the American economy has plummeted, so has the value of the dollar—by 40 percent against the euro since 2001.

_______________


Meanwhile, we have become dependent on other nations for the financing of our own debt. Today, China alone holds more than $1 trillion in public and private American I.O.U.’s. Cumulative borrowing from abroad during the six years of the Bush administration amounts to some $5 trillion. Most likely these creditors will not call in their loans—if they ever did, there would be a global financial crisis. But there is something bizarre and troubling about the richest country in the world not being able to live even remotely within its means. Just as Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib have eroded America’s moral authority, so the Bush administration’s fiscal housekeeping has eroded our economic authority.

_______________


Some portion of the damage done by the Bush administration could be rectified quickly. A large portion will take decades to fix—and that’s assuming the political will to do so exists both in the White House and in Congress. Think of the interest we are paying, year after year, on the almost $4 trillion of increased debt burden—even at 5 percent, that’s an annual payment of $200 billion, two Iraq wars a year forever. Think of the taxes that future governments will have to levy to repay even a fraction of the debt we have accumulated. And think of the widening divide between rich and poor in America, a phenomenon that goes beyond economics and speaks to the very future of the American Dream.

In short, there’s a momentum here that will require a generation to reverse. Decades hence we should take stock, and revisit the conventional wisdom. Will Herbert Hoover still deserve his dubious mantle? I’m guessing that George W. Bush will have earned one more grim superlative. (Emphasis mine, Ed.)


Now then.

Fix a glass of warm milk and off to bed with ya' . . . .


Sunday, December 16, 2007

bennie and the Jetset ? ? ? ?

From ABC News today:


Pope to get image makeover from director
Posted December 16

Italian film and opera legend Franco Zeffirelli says he has agreed to become an image consultant to Pope Benedict XVI.

The pope does not have a "happy image", Zeffirelli tells Italian daily La Stampa in an interview published today.

"Coming after a Pope as telegenic as John Paul II is a difficult task," he said.

Zeffirelli says Pope Benedict, elected in 2005, "comes across coldly, which isn't suited to his surroundings" and added that his wardrobe "should be reviewed". * (Emphasis added, ed.)

* No shit, Sherlock . . . .


Saturday, December 15, 2007

They Made It ! ! ! !


Our blog-family friends Tom and Emilio of Canadian Hope have completed the move from Jersey to Toronto.

Good Job, Guys!

Enjoy the holidays with your new friends.

I'm betting New Year's Eve this year will be very special for you both . . . .

Thursday, December 13, 2007

harperco has made it: Now a "Minion" . . . .


From CBC today:

EU lays down ultimatum to U.S. at Bali climate talks

U.S. 'principally responsible' for deadlock, Gore says
Last Updated: Thursday, December 13, 2007


A deadlock between the United States and the European Union jeopardized the climate change talks in Bali Thursday as EU nations threatened to boycott a U.S.-sponsored meeting next month unless Washington accepts their figures for negotiating deep reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

_______________


Meanwhile, former U.S. vice-president and climate change activist Al Gore told an audience at the conference that the U.S. is "principally responsible" for the deadlock at the Bali conference, which is aimed at launching negotiations toward a new climate change pact.

"My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali," said Gore, who shared this year's Nobel Peace Prize with the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for helping alert the world to the danger of global warming.

_______________


U.S., Canada a 'wrecking crew': environmental group

A number of environmental groups have been critical of Canada, which has adopted a similar bottom line as the U.S. in Bali.


Environment Minister John Baird has said Canada won't accept a climate deal unless it includes major polluters like the U.S., China and India.

Jennifer Morgan of the Climate Action Network accused the U.S., Canada and other countries of holding up the document's final ratification.

"There is a wrecking crew here in Bali led by the Bush administration and its minions," Morgan told CBC News. "Those minions continue to be the governments of Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia and others." (Emphasis mine, ed.)


Well isn't that just special?

'Ole stevie, john baird and their ilk have successfully progressed to "minions" from the #1 Poodles they were previously.


Well Done ! ! ! !

Photo Credit: Alison


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bummer . . . .


From the Dallas Morning News:

Talking Jesus Doll Sold Out

There's been much written about the scarcity of Nintendo's Wii
this holiday season, but last week Wal-Mart sold out of another popular toy: the Talking Jesus Messenger of Faith doll. The 12-inch doll is made by one2believe of Valencia, Calif., which also sells Nativity scenes and other Bible action figures such as Samson and Goliath Spirit Warriors.

The toys were sold at about 600 Wal-Mart stores and online at Target.com, and almost 20 percent of the Wal-Mart stores that sell Talking Jesus are in Texas.

"We sold out at Wal-Mart, and the toys are still available in a very limited supply at Target.com," said spokesman Joshua Livingston. The company won't restock again before Christmas.

Damn!

Now I've got to totally re-work my gift list . . . .


Monday, December 10, 2007

harperco: Learning From the Best . . . .


From McClatchy Newspapers today:

'Ya gotta give stevie, john baird and company credit.

Their stance in Bali comes naturally as they follow in bushco's dirty footsteps:


Democrats accuse White House of cooking climate-change testimony

By Erika Bolstad and Lesley Clark | McClatchy Newspapers



WASHINGTON — The White House censored climate scientists and edited their testimony on global warming before Congress, Democrats charged Monday after a 16-month investigation into allegations of political interference with scientific inquiries.

The Bush administration was "particularly active in stifling discussions" of a potential link between climate change and the intensity of hurricanes, according to the findings in a draft report issued Monday by Democrats on the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

_______________


The report also charges that the administration has engaged in a "systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public about the dangers of global warning."

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino called the report "rehashed rhetoric" and said that the Bush administration understands the "urgent challenge that is posed by climate change," a term the White House prefers to "global warming" because it doesn't suggest that human activity is responsible.

Perino said she was unaware of any attempts to downplay any scientific information that conflicted with the White House's politics.

_______________


The report also singles out an e-mail sent by a Commerce committee staffer for Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, who oversaw NOAA's climate research when he chaired the committee.

The e-mail came from Tom Jones, who worked on the Disaster Prediction and Prevention subcommittee, then chaired by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.

In an e-mail to Noel Turner, a NOAA staffer who was writing a statement for former National Hurricane Center director Max Mayfield's upcoming committee testimony, Jones suggested that the hearing be used to discredit any link between hurricanes and global warming.

"We're going to work on smacking the s(ASTERISK)(ASTERISK)(ASTERISK) out of this issue," he wrote.

In his e-mail, Jones urged NOAA staffers to write phrases for Mayfield such as, "The individuals who are implying that Katrina has something to do with global warming are just plain wrong. They don't understand the science, and they're shamelessly trying to make political hay out of a national tragedy."

_______________


Well, who would have thought it?

bushco does have a legacy after all . . . .


Saturday, December 08, 2007

'Nuther repuglican Pervert . . . .

What's up with this crew ? ! ? !


Compliments of the LA Times:


Orange County attorney pleads guilty to molesting teens

The former aide to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher says he met one boy on the Internet and lived with the family of the other.
By David Haldane, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer - December 6, 2007

A Ladera Ranch attorney and former congressional aide pleaded guilty Wednesday to molesting two teenage boys. In exchange for the plea, authorities said, Jeffrey Ray Nielsen, 37, is expected to be sentenced April 18 to three years in state prison.

_______________

Nielsen, a former aide to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) who has also worked for Orange County GOP Chairman Scott Baugh, was arrested in 2003.

Westminster police had found thousands of images of child pornography on his home computer, laptop and a computer at his Costa Mesa law office.
Prosecutors contended that Nielsen had met the 14-year-old victim on a gay Internet site and driven the boy to his Ladera Ranch condominium, where the two engaged in oral sex.

Can they not keep it in their pants? And how about finding someone your own age?

Unbelievable . . . .


Friday, December 07, 2007

Canadian Bloggers @ Heifer, International . . . .

Some of you may know that I do some guest-blogging over at The Galloping Beaver.

One of the regulars, Dana, suggested and opened an account with Heifer, International to assist struggling people in under-privileged areas.

Check it out here, and please consider giving a gift of sustenance this year rather than the usual materialistic trinkets that no one really needs anyway. And yes, it is tax deductible for those of you for which that makes a difference.

Personally, I contributed in the Goat category.


Probably because I'm getting to be an old one. :)

There. Off my soapbox.

Temporarily, at least . . . .


I Could Be Wrong . . . .

My favourite part is at 2:16 into it.



Bet you're not surprised . . . .


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Vancouver's Immigrants . . . .

In today's Vancouver Sun there was a full-page article on the most recent immigrants to Metro Vancouver during the 2001 - 2006 period according to Statistics Canada.*

I found it interesting that the 6th and 7th place countries of origin had an exact tie of 6,385 immigrants from each. The countries: The United States and Iran.

There's a story there somewhere . . . .


*(And the next time this is done, "drf" and yours truly will be included!)


Santa's a "Dirty Ba _ tard" . . . .



From the AP:

Microsoft Spikes Dirty Santa
Dec 5, 6:03 PM (ET) - By JESSICA MINTZ

SEATTLE (AP) - Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) quickly shut down Santa Claus' Web privileges after it found out the automated elf it created for kids to instant message with was talking naughty, not nice.

_______________


The holiday cheer soured this week when a reader of a United Kingdom-based technology news site, The Register, reported that a chat between Santa and his underage nieces about eating pizza prompted Santa to bring up oral sex.

One of the publication's writers replicated the chat Monday. After declining the writer's repeated invitations to eat pizza, a frustrated Santa burst out with, "You want me to eat what?!? It's fun to talk about oral sex, but I want to chat about something else."

The exchange ended with the writer and Santa calling each other "dirty bastard."

_______________


Sohn said Microsoft was not aware that the Santa code included the foul language, but insisted the company did not suspect an employee prank.

Microsoft disabled Santa Tuesday. On Wednesday, northpole@live.com appeared to be online in one reporter's Messenger contact list, but Santa did not respond to her messages.



Oh, No!!

Now how do I order my "Send bush Back to Crawford" gift certificate ? ? ? ?


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Wolfie's Baacckkkk . . . .


This oughta make your day: (Compliments of Newsweek)

An Old Face Resurfaces

The Bush administration has offered the former World Bank president a new public service position.

By Michael Isikoff | NEWSWEEK - Dec 10, 2007 Issue

Don't ever say the Bush administration doesn't take care of its own. Nearly three years after Paul Wolfowitz resigned as deputy Defense secretary and six months after his stormy departure as president of the World Bank—amid allegations that he improperly awarded a raise to his girlfriend—he's in line to return to public service. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has offered Wolfowitz, a prime architect of the Iraq War, a position as chairman of the International Security Advisory Board, a prestigious State Department panel, according to two department sources who declined to be identified discussing personnel matters. The 18-member panel, which has access to highly classified intelligence, advises Rice on disarmament, nuclear proliferation, WMD issues and other matters. "We think he is well suited and will do an excellent job," said one senior official.

And in case you're wondering:

The sources said Wolfowitz has already accepted Rice's offer to fill the part-time position, though it won't be announced until the completion of a standard check for conflicts of interest. But he won't have to worry about any complaints from pesky Democrats. The position doesn't require Senate confirmation. (Emphasis mine.)

Of course, we all knew he wouldn't just fade away into the night, didn't we. As a matter of fact after his debacle at the World Bank, he found a cushy position at The American Enterprise Institute: the bastion of US conservative policy. The more things change . . . .


Monday, December 03, 2007

Another New Blog Family to Carry On . . . .


Welcome to another same-sex couple making the right decision to begin the immigration process to Canada.

You Go, Girls!!


Let us know if there is anything we can do to assist you in the journey . . . .

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Protection . . . .

On a lighter note, this was sent to me from a Vancouver friend:

The government today announced that it is changing its emblem from an Eagle to a CONDOM because it more accurately reflects the government's political stance.
A condom allows for inflation
, halts production, destroys the next generation, protects a bunch of pricks, and gives you a sense of security while you're actually being screwed.

Damn, it just doesn't get more accurate than that.


Enjoy your weekend . . . .