Thursday, January 31, 2008
I want one ! ! ! !
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
From today's Globe and Mail:
Fly naked on Germany's first nudist holiday flight
Reuters - January 29, 2008 at 5:49 AM EST
FRANKFURT — German nudists will be able to start their holidays early by stripping off on the plane if they take up a new offer from an eastern German travel firm.
The 55 passengers will have to remain clothed until they board, and dress before disembarking, said Mr. Hess. The crew will remain clothed throughout the flight for safety reasons.
Besides making it easier to go through the security checkpoints, there must be other benefits to this mode of travel. Probably the middle seat wouldn't be quite so bad, depending on your seat-mates.
Turbulence while the flight attendant is pouring coffee over your lap might be a bit disconcerting, however . . . .
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Wolfowitz to head State Department arms control panelThere is not even the appearance of doing what is right with this crowd.
January 24 - 6:25 PM ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Ousted World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz has been appointed to head a State Department advisory panel on arms control, the department said Thursday.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has named Wolfowitz chairman of her International Security Advisory Board, an 18-member panel that makes recommendations to the State Department on arms control, disarmament, non-proliferation and other issues related to international security.
The board meets quarterly to provide independent advice to Rice and her deputy, John Negroponte, on some of the most urgent foreign policy issues of the day, based on classified intelligence. The board has access to “the resources of all the department’s bureaus and offices at its direction,” the State Department charter says.
They obviously delight in rubbing our face in their sh_t . . . .
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Let's see how tough the democrats are in standing up to bushco.
My money's on "Not Very."
The one hope for privacy advocates is Senator Chris Dodd's promise to filibuster any bill that included the telecom immunity provision. Note how the major presidential candidates have been silent on an issue that is of such importance. They're too busy sniping at each other in a "he said, she said" spat.
From Reuters today:
Committee head sees approval of phone immunity
Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:51pm EST - By Thomas Ferraro
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Democratic-led U.S. Senate will approve President George W. Bush's demand that telephone companies that participated in his warrantless domestic spying program receive retroactive immunity from lawsuits, a top lawmaker predicted on Wednesday.
Yet it remained uncertain if the Senate could reach an agreement with the Democratic-led House of Representatives on such legislation before a surveillance law it would replace expires next week on February 1.
Vice President Dick Cheney joined the fray, saying, "We're reminding Congress that they must act now to modernize FISA," the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Speaking at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank, Cheney added, "Those who assist the government in tracking terrorists should not be punished with lawsuits."
Yeah, let's not punish the corporations and executives that were spying on US citizens.
That would be just wrong . . . .
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Note the "The Official George W. Bush "Days Left In Office" Countdown in our sidebar.
In honour of this auspicious date, check "The Ten Dumbest Things George W. Bush Has Ever Said." Now, you may want to coat your stomach with something to avoid nausea, of course.
One more year.*
The Promised Land is near. (That would be Canada in our case.)
"Free at last, free at last" . . . .
Cartoon caption reads: "I keep thinking we should include something in the Constitution in case the people elect a fucking moron."
* Of course, we're assuming he won't declare martial law and make himself decider for life.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Rice loses top aide at State Department
Warren P. Strobel | McClatchy Newspapers - January 18, 2008
WASHINGTON — R. Nicholas Burns, the State Department's No. 3 official, who oversees daily policy on high-priority issues from Iran to India and the Balkans, announced Friday that he's retiring for personal reasons.
Burns, a longtime confidant of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, was the lead U.S. official in rounding up international support for economic sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. That effort is in trouble because of Chinese and Russian objections to tougher sanctions.
A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to talk about the subject, said Burns' decision to end a 26-year Foreign Service career was based only on personal factors and wasn't a result of policy disputes.
Nicholas Burns' departure — he leaves in March — nonetheless could leave a temporary hole at the top levels of the State Department as the administration struggles with a host of foreign-policy setbacks.
He and Rice will meet their counterparts from five nations in Berlin next week to discuss further UN sanctions against Iran, but the outcome is in doubt.
Bush also is facing a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, a political crisis in Pakistan, a recalcitrant Russia and a declaration of independence from Serbia by Kosovo that could roil the Balkans again.
As the undersecretary of state for policy, Burns was an advocate of diplomatic solutions to confrontations over nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea. He was the target of occasional attacks by hawks within and outside the administration, often taking flak whose real target was Rice.
Poor "condescending" won't have anyone to protect her from flak anymore. Sniff, sniff.
Kinda makes one wonder who's gonna be the last one left on the USS buschco sinking ship, doesn't it ? ? ? ?
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
My "queerie" was: "How are the votes tabulated, electoral-college-wise, for those votes cast by people such as ourselves when we vacate the USA for a better 'hood?" Performing a Google search this morning I came across a great site with answers to questions such as this, and just about anything one could need in relation to the topic. Overseas Vote Foundation is a clearing house for all your out of the country voting needs.
Oh, and the answer to my "queerie" above is that your votes are tabulated based upon your last actual residence in the US.
Looks like we'll be stuck in redneck-land for quite some time, voting-wise, anyway . . . .
Monday, January 14, 2008
Looks like the decider-in-chief is going through with his increased militarization of the Mideast.
Compliments of Reuters:
Bush administration tells Congress of arms sale to Saudis
Mon Jan 14, 2008 2:07pm EST
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration said on Monday it had notified Congress of plans to sell Saudi Arabia bomb-guidance kits as part of a multi-billion-dollar package of advanced arms to Gulf Arab states that officials see as countering growing Iranian military clout.
The value of the JDAMs is about $120 million, he said. This is part of an overall package of arms proposed to be sold to Gulf states. The deals announced so far amount to about $11.5 billion, said McCormack.
The official announcement kicks off a 30-day review period during which U.S. lawmakers could move to block the sale. A number of lawmakers have vowed to try and stop it.
The bomb-guidance kits proposed to be sold to Saudi Arabia are built by Boeing Co and turn unguided bombs into precision munitions with built-in satellite and motion-sensing navigation systems.
As discussed earlier, our Israeli buddies are not too happy with this decision.
Why do I have the feeling that our wonderful Congress will not do a damn thing to put this on ice? Way too much $$$ involved which translates into political contributions, don't you think?
The more things change . . . .
UPDATE #1: PBS' Newshour reported tonight that State Department spokesman Sean McCormack stated the Saudis deserved the equipment as they had been a great ally in the "war on terror" and were making excellent strides against terrorism.
Just how in hell are bomb-dropping aircraft supposed to be used against the average terrorist?
Update #2: Here's a perk georgie got out of the deal. Must be great to be him, eh?
Unf'ingbelievable . . . .
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
From Reuters today:
Tony Blair to join JPMorgan
Wed Jan 9, 2008 8:48pm EST
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former British prime minister Tony Blair is expected on Thursday to join U.S. bank JPMorgan Chase & Co Inc as a senior adviser, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Details of Blair's duties with JPMorgan, the third largest U.S. bank, were not immediately available.
Blair's predecessor, John Major, joined a U.S. finance company after leaving 10 Downing Street.
After leaving office, Major joined U.S. private equity firm The Carlyle Group in 1998 amid that company's big push into the European market.
I thought thi$ was a uniquely American tradition.
Yeah, right . . . .
From inevitability to pitiful failure to front-runner again in just a few days. There’s no hint that the market saw either Iowa or New Hampshire coming, or knew anything beyond the bloviations of the talking heads. (emphasis mine)
After all the "expert" talking heads and pollsters announced what the results would be, the voters had their say.
It appears there is still some semblance of democracy alive in the US.
bushco hasn't totally destroyed the political process . . . .
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
One more reason we're Moving to Vancouver!
This compliments of The Vancouver Sun:
Canadian health care better and cheaper than U.S., says research
Joanne Laucius - CanWest News Service - Monday, January 07, 2008
OTTAWA - Canada's health care system offers "excellent value for the money" says a British researcher who has studied preventable deaths in 19 industrialized nations.
The study, which looked at figures from 2002-03, updated a similar report based on 1997-98 figures. Its goal was to compare amenable deaths in the United States with 14 western European nations, plus Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
In the first study, the researchers found that amenable deaths in the U.S. stood at 114.74 per 100,000 population, exceeded only by Ireland, Portugal, Finland and the United Kingdom.
In that time period, Canada's amenable mortality rate was 88.77 -- the seventh-lowest rate after France, Japan, Spain, Australia, Sweden and Italy. In the most recent study, Canada's amenable death rate had dropped to 76.83, putting Canada sixth after France, Japan, Australia, Spain and Italy.
Meanwhile, amenable mortality rates in the U.S. have barely budged from 114.74 to 109.65 in 2002-03, taking the U.S. from 15th place to last place among the 19 countries.
More importantly, outcomes in Canada are improving more quickly than those in the U.S., he said.
"Given that the U.S health care system is far more expensive, this suggests that Canadians are getting excellent value for money."
It's findings like these that make me cringe when the repuglican candidates for president of the US denigrate Canadian health care in relation to that in the US. (H/T to David Drucker of Loud Murmurs.)
But then, what else could we expect from that crowd ? ? ? ?
UPDATE: (10/1/08) Now Paul Krugman agrees.
Monday, January 07, 2008
Compliments of Adbusters : The Magazine:
Fighting For Air
From Adbusters #75, JAN-FEB 2008
Long-time readers of Adbusters may have noticed that we’ve been a little quiet about our ongoing legal battle to break the corporate monopoly on Canada’s broadcast media. It hasn’t been for lack of activity – in fact, some recent and welcome developments suggest that the case is about to pop back up onto the radar.
For those of you not quite up to speed, here’s the gist: After over a decade of having our consumer-awareness TV spots rejected by just about every major commercial broadcaster in North America (often with little or no explanation from the network reps who issued the refusals), we resolved to take our fight to the courts. In 2004, we filed a lawsuit against the government of Canada and some of the country’s biggest media barons, arguing that the public has a constitutionally protected right to expression over the public airwaves.
Following a series of false starts and the inevitable legal complications, the suit was whittled down to two main defendants: the government and CanWest Global Communications, Canada’s largest international media corporation. The case is currently awaiting the resolution of two preliminary motions: one by Adbusters to add the CBC, Canada’s publicly funded national broadcaster, as an additional defendant; the other by CanWest to strike the case before it even proceeds to trial.
“We all watch television,” offers Dalziel, “and we (as the public) own the television airwaves. The question is, are the public airwaves the modern equivalent of the town square, in which all Canadians are free to express their views? Or can the government parcel the airwaves out to private companies who are free to exclude the rest of us from access, and keep us quiet?”
Having seen what the concentration of media outlets has done in the US, this looks like a case we all should be concerned about . . . .
Sunday, January 06, 2008
By Republican strategist Mike Murphy:
"If she (Hillary Clinton) doesn't grab hold of this quickly, she's going to turn into Ed Muskie in a pantsuit."
Gotta love it . . . .
Thursday, January 03, 2008
From Privacy International: Read the whole article here.
Each year since 1997, the US-based Electronic Privacy Information Center and the UK-based Privacy International have undertaken what has now become the most comprehensive survey of global privacy ever published. The Privacy & Human Rights Report surveys developments in 70 countries, assessing the state of surveillance and privacy protection.
Countries have been graded according to a mean score across fourteen criteria. These are divided into
Score range Description
Consistently upholds human right standards
Significant protections and safeguards
Adequate safeguards against abuse
Some safeguards but weakened protections (Canada)
Systemic failure to uphold safeguards
Extensive surveillance societies
Endemic surveillance societies (United States)
CANADA (Score: 2.9)
- Privacy not mentioned in Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but courts have recognised the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy
- Statutory rules at the federal level (public and private sectors) and provincial laws apply to sectors and governments
- Federal commission is widely recognised as lacking in powers such as order-marking powers, and ability to regulate trans-border data flows
- Variety of provincial privacy commissioners have made privacy-enhancing decisions and taken cases through the courts over the past year (particularly Ontario)
- Court orders required for interception and there is no reasonable alternative method of investigation
- Video surveillance is spreading despite guidelines from privacy commissioners
- Highly controversial no-fly list, lacking legal mandate
- Continues to threaten new policy on online surveillance
- Increased calls for biometric documents to cater for U.S. pressure, while plans are still unclear for biometric passports
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (Score: 1.5)
- No right to privacy in constitution, though search and seizure protections exist in 4th Amendment; case law on government searches has considered new technology
- No comprehensive privacy law, many sectoral laws; though tort of privacy
- FTC continues to give inadequate attention to privacy issues, though issued self-regulating privacy guidelines on advertising in 2007
- State-level data breach legislation has proven to be useful in identifying faults in security
- REAL-ID and biometric identification programs continue to spread without adequate oversight, research, and funding structures
- Extensive data-sharing programs across federal government and with private sector
- Spreading use of CCTV
- Congress approved presidential program of spying on foreign communications over U.S. networks, e.g. Gmail, Hotmail, etc.; and now considering immunity for telephone companies, while government claims secrecy, thus barring any legal action
- No data retention law as yet, but equally no data protection law
- World leading in border surveillance, mandating trans-border data flows
- Weak protections of financial and medical privacy; plans spread for 'rings of steel' around cities to monitor movements of individuals
- Democratic safeguards tend to be strong but new Congress and political dynamics show that immigration and terrorism continue to leave politicians scared and without principle
- Lack of action on data breach legislation on the federal level while REAL-ID is still compelled upon states has shown that states can make informed decisions
- Recent news regarding FBI biometric database raises particular concerns as this could lead to the largest database of biometrics around the world that is not protected by strong privacy law
Perhaps upcoming elections in both countries will reverse the trend.
I'm not holding my breath . . . .
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Michael Moore expresses his choice in the Democratic field today. Like myself, he preferred Dennis Kucinich on the issues, but chances of him getting the nomination are . . . .
From AlterNet:Tomorrow night's Iowa caucuses will be media-hyped to death, but perhaps an indication of where the US is heading will be revealed.
Michael Moore: Who Is the Best Dem Candidate on the Issues?
By Michael Moore, MichaelMoore.com
Do you feel the same as me? That the Democratic front-runners are a less-than-stellar group of candidates, and that none of them are the "slam dunk" we wish they were? Of course, there are wonderful things about each of them. Any one of them would be infinitely better than what we have now. Personally, Congressman Kucinich, more than any other candidate, shares the same positions that I have on the issues (although the UFO that picked me up would only take me as far as Kalamazoo). But let's not waste time talking about Dennis. Even he is resigned to losing, with statements like the one he made yesterday to his supporters in Iowa to throw their support to Senator Obama as their "second choice."
So, it's Hillary, Obama, Edwards -- now what do we do?
And yet, I am sad to say, nothing has disappointed me more than the disastrous, premeditated vote by Senator Hillary Clinton to send us to war in Iraq. I'm not only talking about her first vote that gave Mr. Bush his "authorization" to invade -- I'm talking about every single OTHER vote she then cast for the next four years, backing and funding Bush's illegal war, and doing so with verve. She never met a request from the White House for war authorization that she didn't like. Unlike the Kerrys and the Bidens who initially voted for authorization but later came to realize the folly of their decision, Mrs. Clinton continued to cast numerous votes for the war until last March -- four long years of pro-war votes, even after 70% of the American public had turned against the war. She has steadfastly refused to say that she was wrong about any of this, and she will not apologize for her culpability in America's worst-ever foreign policy disaster. All she can bring herself to say is that she was "misled" by "faulty intelligence."
Barack Obama is a good and inspiring man. What a breath of fresh air! There's no doubting his sincerity or his commitment to trying to straighten things out in this country. But who is he? I mean, other than a guy who gives a great speech? How much do any of us really know about him? I know he was against the war. How do I know that? He gave a speech before the war started. But since he joined the Senate, he has voted for the funds for the war, while at the same time saying we should get out. He says he's for the little guy, but then he votes for a corporate-backed bill to make it harder for the little guy to file a class action suit when his kid swallows lead paint from a Chinese-made toy. In fact, Obama doesn't think Wall Street is a bad place. He wants the insurance companies to help us develop a new health care plan -- the same companies who have created the mess in the first place. He's such a feel-good kinda guy, I get the sense that, if elected, the Republicans will eat him for breakfast. He won't even have time to make a good speech about it.
(John) Edwards is the only one of the three front-runners who has a universal health care plan that will lead to the single-payer kind all other civilized countries have. His plan doesn't go as fast as I would like, but he is the only one who has correctly pointed out that the health insurance companies are the enemy and should not have a seat at the table.
I am not endorsing anyone at this point. This is simply how I feel in the first week of the process to replace George W. Bush. For months I've been wanting to ask the question, "Where are you, Al Gore?" You can only polish that Oscar for so long. And the Nobel was decided by Scandinavians! I don't blame you for not wanting to enter the viper pit again after you already won. But getting us to change out our incandescent light bulbs for some irritating fluorescent ones isn't going to save the world. All it's going to do is make us more agitated and jumpy and feeling like once we get home we haven't really left the office.
On second thought, would you even be willing to utter the words, "I absolutely believe to my soul that this corporate greed and corporate power has an ironclad hold on our democracy?" Because the candidate who understands that, and who sees it as the root of all evil -- including the root of global warming -- is the President who may lead us to a place of sanity, justice and peace.
One can only hope it is back towards personal liberties and the rule of law after the last seven years of neither . . . .