Wednesday, April 30, 2008
"Pentagon officials are quietly considering a significant change in the war command in Afghanistan to extend U.S. control of forces into the country's volatile south."
Dear Leader would be able to surrender Canadian forces to US control and duck responsibility for what happens to them.
Perhaps Angela Merkel already had wind of this and decided that sending money to be wasted was better than sending blood and sinew to be wasted.
Please let this democratic primary season be over soon.
"Royalty in Waiting" Billary's rhetoric is getting to be a bit much.
The problem is the masses she appeals to believe her BS.
Compliments of McClatchy today:
Clinton blasts Bush for not stopping a project Bill OK'd
Steven Thomma | McClatchy Newspapers - April 30, 2008
INDIANAPOLIS — Hillary Clinton loves to tell the story about how the Chinese government bought a good American company in Indiana, laid off all its workers and moved its critical defense technology work to China.
It’s a story with a dramatic, political ending. Republican President George W. Bush could have stopped it, but he didn’t.
If she were president, Clinton says, she’d fight to protect those jobs. It’s just the kind of talk that’s helping her win support from working-class Democrats worried about their jobs and paychecks, not to mention their country’s security.
What Clinton never includes in the oft-repeated tale is the role that prominent Democrats played in selling the company and its technology to the Chinese. She never mentions that big-time Democratic contributor George Soros helped put together the deal to sell the company or that the sale was approved by her husband's administration.
Here’s how she told it a few weeks ago at a union meeting in Washington:
“A Chinese company bought the company, called Magnequench, and they wanted to move the jobs to China. The people in Indiana protested, did everything they could to convince the Bush administration that this was a terrible mistake. Couldn't even get a hearing,” she said.
“The jobs went to China, but so did the technology. And now the United States military has to buy the magnets we need for the smart bombs we invented from China,” she said as the union members booed.
Here's the complete story:
In 1995, General Motors decided to sell the Indiana-based Magnequench to a Chinese-American consortium.
The consortium included:
* San Huan New Materials and Hi-Tech Co, a company owned by the Chinese Academy of Sciences;
* Onfem Holdings, a company controlled by the State Nonferrous Metals Industry Administration in the Peoples Republic of China;
* Soros Fund Management, headed by George Soros;
* The Sextant Group, founded by Archibald Cox Jr.;
Soros, of course, is the wealthy investor who has contributed vast sums to Democratic candidates and liberal causes.
He’s given more than $250,000 to Democratic campaign committees, tens of thousands to individual Democratic candidates and about $2.5 million to the liberal group Moveon.org, according to Federal Election Commission records.
He’s also contributed to Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign and to Obama’s Senate and presidential campaigns. He contributed to Republican Sen. John McCain’s first presidential campaign, in 1999, when McCain was running against Bush for the Republican nomination.
Politics as usual.
Also as usual, the big losers are the USian public who get the opportunity (?) to choose from "Bad" or "Worse" . . . .
(Cross-posted from Moving to Vancouver)
If it does lets get a few crates shipped up to Parliament Hill and sprinkled into the House over the railing.
On a more serious note it does appear to be a fairly major medical breakthrough.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
"Public terrorism trials are changing the way government spies operate, says Canada's spymaster, Jim Judd."The rigours of defence counsel scrutiny and the rules of evidence."
As a consequence of the fight against global Islamic terrorism, an increasing number of open-court criminal prosecutions in Canada, the U.S. and Europe have, at their genesis, information collected by shadowy secret agents rather than police officers.
Prior to 9/11 and in several cases since, most of those detained for suspected terrorist links in Canada were immigrants or refugees and the government conveniently relied on immigration laws and security certificates to quietly deport them to their countries of origin or hold them in custody.
But the alleged terrorist activities of Ottawa's Momin Khawaja and the "Toronto 11" -- all Canadian citizens awaiting trial in the first of Canada's post-9/11 terror prosecutions -- must be heard in open courts, where the prosecution's evidence is subject to the rigours of defence counsel scrutiny and the rules of evidence."
Judd refers to this as the "judicialization" of what has "traditionally been considered covert government information".
OK, hold that thought a moment - I'm coming back to it.
Yesterday, in The Lesson of the Arar inquiry : Keep it under wraps, Pogge wrote about Mr. Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen fingered by CSIS and arrested "at our request" in Sudan five years ago, where he alleges he was beaten while in custody, and frequently visited by CSIS.
In 2004, Sudan cleared him of all allegations that he was a terrorist or a member of al-Qaeda and released him. They further offered to fly him home but Canada obstructed the deal. !!!
A few months later, Mr. Abdelrazik was then bundled off back to prison for another five months after suggesting he wanted to make his case to the prime minister.
Now released a second time, he remains trapped in Khartoum, his health failing, his family back here in Montreal.
And here's the perfect Catch 22 : He can't fly home because he's on a no-fly list and he can't go by land or sea because Canada continues to refuse him a passport.
From the G&M, who, to their eternal credit, put this on their front page yesterday :
"[Abdelrazik's lawyer] says the similarities with Mr. Arar's case are compelling. In both instances, a Canadian citizen is fingered by CSIS as a terrorist suspect. In both cases, no charges are laid in Canada. In both, the person is arrested and imprisoned abroad. In both, Canadian officials say there is little that they can do because the person is in the country of their other citizenship."
In both, he might have added, there were allegations of torture and examples of extraordinary callousness on the part of government officials. His lawyer calls it "another form of extraordinary rendition".
The G&M article does a fine job detailing the blatant ass-covering, Lib and Con, that appears to have formed the bulk of Foreign Affairs' concerns regarding Mr. Abdelrazik over the past five years. Just like with Arar, CSIS didn't want him to come back to Canada to embarrass them.
As CSIS chief, Jim Judd oversaw both cases.
POGGE asks for the second time now : How many more of them are there out there?
May 16, 2007, Day seeks security powers
"Anti-terror measures would restore `preventive arrests’ and help CSIS spies overseas
The federal government plans to try to revive the extraordinary anti-terror police powers of "investigative hearings" and "preventive arrest" as part of a series of major security initiatives."
"Preventative arrest" allows police to arrest without charge and judges to penalize without trial, people who the authorities fear might commit future terrorist offences.
"The government also says it will expand the ability of Canada's spy agency – the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) – to do covert foreign intelligence gathering abroad.
The two police powers slated for revival were killed by the opposition parties in a parliamentary vote in February.
In an appearance yesterday before the House of Commons public safety committee, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day indicated he has drafted a bill to reinstate those powers."
The bill is still pending, and as noted here, now also enjoys the support of the Liberals.
So when CSIS chief Jim Judd laments for the CIA the late great days of publicly unacknowleged extaordinary renditions, those pre-'judicialized' days unsullied by the "rigours of defence council scrutiny and rules of evidence", just remember it's because they're planning on bringing those days back.
Cross-posted at Creekside
December 2, 2005
Good morning, how are you and your family? I hope fine. Please, I am sorry to bother you with my problem.
Please know that it's not by mistake I am contacting you but by the special grace of God. My name is Stephen Harper and I am the leader of the Conservative Party.
The Conservative Party has $ 9.1 million in its bank account which is destined to be used for advertising in the election campaign. However, the evil Commissions of Elections Canada is watching us closely and is not permitting us to spend more than our $ 18.3 million limit.
In order to free this money for spending on the election advertising, I need your assistance. I wish to transfer $ 40,000 to your election account. But first you must give me a wire transfer form so that I can take the money out of your account as soon as it send you the money....
Go. It's brilliant : the Con's In and Out scheme in a nutshell.
Monday, April 28, 2008
From today's Globe and Mail:
Report: Clemens had relationship with country star
Associated Press - April 28, 2008
NEW YORK — Roger Clemens had a decade-long relationship with country star Mindy McCready that began when she was a 15-year-old aspiring singer and the pitcher was a Boston Red Sox ace, the Daily News reported.
Clemens's lawyer, Rusty Hardin, confirmed a long-term relationship but told the newspaper it was not sexual.
"He flatly denies having had any kind of an inappropriate relationship with her," Hardin said. "He's considered her a close family friend. ... He has never had a sexual relationship with her."
The newspaper said Clemens sent cash to McCready to help her with legal issues and reached out to her when she was in jail last year in Tennessee.
The 32-year-old McCready was sentenced last September for violating probation from a 2004 drug arrest and was released from jail last Dec. 30. The violation occurred in July when McCready was accused of scuffling with her mother and resisting arrest at her mother's home in Fort Myers, Fla. She still must serve two years' probation.
McCready had a No. 1 single in 1996 with "Guys Do It All the Time." (No reference to the above photo of Clemens and unknown playmate, we're assuming. - Ed.)
Sounds like there's lyrics to a hit country song in there somewhere . . . .
(Cross-posted from Moving to Vancouver)
Suffice to say, I am consumed with other things for the next while. I'll be back in May. In the meantime, this.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I'm considering discussing divorce aids and my plans for a "Derrenger's (sic) for Dildos" policy to put guns in American women's hands instead of divorce aids. Presently, when a criminal is arrested for a weapons crime, the prosecutors seek orders to destroy those weapons. What a waste! Put our criminal prisoners to work modifying those guns to be smart-guns that can only be fired when the female owner is holding it so that children don't hurt themselves and so that criminals can't use them (unless they use the woman's hand). When a women turns in her stash of divorce aids, then give her a free gun to defend America when the jihadists follow us home....
(brief amount of crazy snipped)
...I may also call attention to the fact that one of the biggest commercial frauds is that divorce aids market themselves as being for "novelty purposes only" so that they can avoid all consumer safety inspections; yet ,they then go to court and claim they have a 1st Amendment so called right to privacy to abuse their bodies. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19333870/page/2/ Who knows what toxic chemicals these women are inserting into the most intimate areas of their bodies and how many men chase children because they can not find comfort from an adult women.
No, really, he actually calls it "Derringers for Dildos." I mean...uh...he's...wow...just, wow.Truly, this is not the kind of crazy we should run from. This is the kind of crazy we should avoid direct eye contact with as we back slowly and carefully through the nearest exit and bolt it shut behind us before calling in an immediate airstrike on the place.
The Indiana Republican party are doing their best to shove this guy out on an ice floe and deny he is even a party member. Zirkle, on the other hand, claims to have won 30% of the vote in the 2006 Republican congressional primary. A quick look around with the google shows him as a primary candidate in 2004, and Wikipedia lists him as having lost to Republican Congressman Chris "Count" Chocola 70% to 30% in the 2006 primary, so he must have been a party member at some point. And while huge numbers of registered party supporters don't always vote in primaries, 30% is still significant number. I'd guess having a nutbar like Zirkle around made whatever extreme right-wing positions Bushista Chocola and the rest of his party enspouse seem reasonable by comparison. Small wonder the district went democrat in the last election.
The scary part is that Tony Zirkle looks good on paper - he has a fairly impressive resume: Naval Academy and Georgetown grad, former prosecuter and seminarian. He was even a political science professor for a short stretch. Clearly he has either only slipped off the rails in the last few years or he has a history of fooling people into believing he's sane.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
From McClatchy today:
Episcopal church split headed to court in California
Brad Branan - Fresno Bee - April 26, 2008
The U.S. Episcopal Church has filed a lawsuit to reclaim property from the Diocese of San Joaquin, which voted last year to leave the national church largely over differences with the national body's approval of same-sex blessings, ordination of a gay bishop, the role of women in the church, and how to interpret the Bible over such issues.
In a 30-page lawsuit filed this week in Fresno County Superior Court, the church argues that the vote by 42 of the diocese's 48 parishes doesn't entitle them to keep any property. The national church wants all the diocesan property, including titles to its church buildings, including the diocesan headquarters, St. James Cathedral of Fresno.
The lawsuit asks John-David Schofield, whom the national church deposed March 12 as bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, to vacate his Fresno office and turn over the property occupied by parishes that voted to leave. A Schofield spokesman, the Rev. Van McCalister, speaking on his behalf, said the diocese will likely fight the legal action.
The lawsuit raises the question of who makes up the diocese and who's the bishop. Six of 48 parishes voted to stay with the national church and later elected Jerry Lamb as bishop. The smaller diocese has set up temporary offices in Stockton. The breakaway diocese has aligned with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of South America, based in Argentina.
'Ya gotta love it when the go-godders get in a pissing match with each other that includes lawyers.
A happy ending is doubtful.
Snicker, snicker . . . .
(Cross-posted from Moving to Vancouver)
Buckdog posted this very good link from The Guardian yesterday.
Here's the bit he quoted, in case you missed it :
"The historian Garry Wills once observed that Richard Nixon wanted to be president not to govern the nation but to undermine the government. The Nixon presidency was one long counterinsurgency campaign against key American institutions like the courts, the FBI, the state department and the CIA. Harper has the same basic approach to politics: attack not just political foes but the very institutions that make governing possible. The state for Nixon and Harper exists not as an instrument of policy making but as an alien force to be subdued.
Canadians have never had a prime minister who has literally made his career attacking and undermining the legitimacy of Canadian institutions. Until now."
Friday, April 25, 2008
ReformaTory Alliance MP Monte Solberg, the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, returned from a fact-finding trip to Portland Oregon to study their ten year plan to end homelessness and pronounced it "a terrific idea" but explained it wouldn't work here because "Portland regularly assesses the number of people on the street" and adjusts its programs accordingly.
"We don't have those kinds of measurements in place. We don't have an actual number we can point to in Canada to say we know there are this many people on the street in Canada at any one time.Yes, Monte, I absolutely agree you would definitely need to have some kind of fucking clue first.
If you're going to set any targets at all, you have to know where you're starting from and have some kind of measurement in place, and we don't have that today."
Daphne Bramham at the Vancouver Sun, via Mostly Water :
"Canada has become the only developed country in the world that has neither a national housing plan or a national mental health strategy."Very good article. Everything you wish you didn't already know about homelessness all on one page.
Cross-posted at Creekside
1. The Criminal Code is amended by adding the following after section 425.1:
Then if, like these women in Pennsylvania, you get raped but manage to get yourself straight to the nearest hospital to be examined and still have the wit to also ask for a morning after pill but are denied one by the attending ER physician on the grounds it's against his religion to give you one, you'll at least be able to thank your lucky stars that his "conscience rights" have been "protected" by Vellacott's peculiar version of the Criminal Code.
What's with "or creation"?
Well I guess they've got the Second Coming covered.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
"Authorities on Tuesday arrested former senator Mario Uribe, a cousin and close ally of President Alvaro Uribe, for alleged ties to death squads in a widening inquiry that has implicated nearly a quarter of Colombia's Congress.
The arrest of the former senator, who built a formidable political movement that helped his cousin win the presidency in 2002, comes during an institutional crisis that has tarnished a country closely allied with the United States."
"Colombian President Alvaro Uribe denied Wednesday charges he helped plan a 1997 massacre by right-wing paramilitaries, while confirming that his role was being examined in an official investigation."
"we got no better friend in South America than President Uribe."
"Again the summit is being used to advance the failing Bush administration domestic agenda. Considering again that the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement is not an issue in Mexico, the geopolitical strategy of building alliances among rightwing governments in the hemisphere to confront the growing number of leftwing governments becomes clear. This ideological taking sides has no place in a trilateral summit dedicated to North American integration issues and panders to the Bush agenda."
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
To the "sour grapes" crowd within the Hillary camp: Are you still sure you want to vote for McCain if your favorite doesn't get the nomination?
One wonders whether McCain would have voted against striking down the Jim Crow laws on the basis that getting rid of the laws that allowed segregation would have just lead to more lawsuits against bus companies and lunch counter owners.
(cross posted from the Woodshed)
From Reuters today:
Carter says Secretary Rice "not telling truth"
Wed Apr 23, 2008 - By Matthew Bigg
ATLANTA (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Wednesday accused Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of not telling the truth about warnings she said her department gave Carter not to speak to Hamas before a Middle East trip.
The State Department has said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, issued the warning before Carter, a veteran of Middle East diplomacy, went on his trip last week.
Rice said in Kuwait on Tuesday: "We counseled President Carter against going to the region and particularly against having contact with Hamas."
"President Carter has the greatest respect for ... Rice and believes her to be a truthful person. However, perhaps inadvertently, she is continuing to make a statement that is not true," a statement issued by the Carter center in Atlanta said on Wednesday.
"No one in the State Department or any other department of the U.S. government ever asked him (Carter) to refrain from his recent visit to the Middle East or even suggested that he not meet with Syrian President (Bashar) Assad or leaders of Hamas," it said.
Carter had already on Monday, in an interview with national Public Radio, described as "absolutely false" any suggestion he had been warned not to meet Hamas.
Jimmy's office is being polite when they state that rice "is continuing to make a statement that is not true."
More blunt and to the point might have been a statement like:
"The life-form masquerading as the United States Secretary of State is a liar."
Now, doesn't that sound much more accurate ? ? ? ?
(Cross-posted from Moving to Vancouver)
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I will apologize now to those who may have written something on this, but I promise to make it up with links when I get back to home-plate.
All the Conservative whining and complaining means nothing. It's what right-wingers do when they get caught. Look at him! Look at him!
It's as though they never expanded their view beyond grade four.
It no longer matters what other political parties did in the past. What matters is that you, Stephen Harper, promised "No more".
You failed to tell us that Tom Flanagan, a Canadian-American who is still allowed to vote in a fucked-up American electoral system, and Frank Lunz, a Republican party operative, were running your-oh-so-clean show.
You promised "clean" and delivered "dirty". For that Canadians delivered you a very cautious minority government.
And now we think you're a liar who will do anything to win. Lie, cheat, steal... no big deal. Right?
You promised something else and failed to deliver.
One-trick pony with the same tricks as the previous performers. Are you going to do it again?
We're looking at you. You have power. Nobody else matters.
"It looks like Big Daddy just doesn't know how to quit Dubya.
From today's Vancouver Sun:
Harper, Bush full of praise at New Orleans meeting
Leaders express mutual admiration on first day of the ‘amigos summit’
BY NORMA GREENAWAYCanwest News Service
NEW ORLEANS - Prime Minister Stephen Harper embraced outgoing U.S. President George Bush on Monday as someone who never over-promised as the two leaders engaged in a round of mutual admiration on the opening day of the “amigos summit.”
Harper was almost effusive about his relationship with Bush, who leaves office in January and is attending his last summit of North American leaders.
“What I appreciate most, what I appreciated in our relationship over the last couple of years, is the fact that whether we agree or disagree, we’re always able to talk very frankly,” Harper said.
“The president has never promised me anything he couldn’t deliver.”
Well, that's an understatement, eh? A promise from bush is so underwhelming.
Though opponents of NAFTA and the Security and Prosperity Partnership were holding workshops in downtown New Orleans, they were out of sight of the three leaders who remained in a small security zone around the old city hall.
Still, NDP MP Peter Julian managed to have anti-SPP brochures and a personal letter left in the hotel rooms of individual reporters. They outlined opponents’ complaints about the process which, they warn, puts Canada’s sovereignty at risk by pursuing unacceptably deep integration with the United States and Mexico on everything from environmental and food safety standards to border security and energy sharing.
At least there are some competent elected officials still in office.
Peter Julian continues to impress . . . .
(Cross-posted from Moving to Vancouver)
Monday, April 21, 2008
What is it with these freaks? I used to think that writing out a contract on a paper napkin was pretty sleazy, but the Harperites have proved that the Conservatives have real penchant for secret meetings in hotel rooms.
Really. It's an obsession.
I mean, look at the pattern!
And it's not like they're not aware of the status they give to the people they meet in hotel rooms. And, we're all aware of it too.
That's right. With the exception of one, who took the story and ran with it, the rest of you are a bunch of whores.
~ Honestly I've never done anything like this before.
~But you look like a million bucks to me
~And this just feels so right, there can't possibly be anything wrong with it.
~Besides, everybody else does it too.
~Sneaking around. ... Lying about it.
~Guilt, guilt, guilt - you just gotta ignore it!
~Whoa! That was a close one! I sure hope we never get...
~But I'm innocent - I swear!
~You're just imagining things. Besides, Baby, it really didn't mean a thing to me
~Yikes!: Damage control is 90% damage + 10% control.
And finally of course no 'in and out' scandal is complete without the obligaTory :
~Beating a hasty retreat down the back fire escape stairs.
Cross-posted at Creekside
Sunday, April 20, 2008
The average density of surface seawater is 1.025 grams per millilitre at 4 degrees Celsius. When compared to fresh water, with a density of 1.0 grams per millilitre at 4C, seawater is denser and heavier. That's an average of course, since the density of seawater varies around the planet.
Using SI units the mass density of surface seawater ranges from about 1020 to about 1029 kilograms per cubic meter. That depends on several fundamentals but the two most important factors are the surface temperature and the percentage of salinity. Generally speaking, surface seawater has a saline level of anywhere from 3.1 to 3.8 percent, (although in around areas which discharge fresh water it can be considerably lower.) The average salinity of surface seawater is about 3.5 percent or 35 practical salinity units (PSU).
I know, I'm probably boring you with all this, but stay with me a little longer and this might just get interesting. (If you find alarm bells interesting.)
Here's another factor. Deep seawater, because of the increased pressure, can achieve a density of 1050 kilograms per cubic meter.
We all know that cold air falls and warm air rises. The same occurs with water. And we all know that something dense will fall faster than something less dense occupying the same space. Fresh water is more buoyant than salt water so it would make sense that it floats nearer the surface. However, it's water. It mixes with the salt-water and changes the salinity thus the density. Add too much fresh water and reduce the density of the sinking salt water and the velocity at which it sinks is significantly reduced.
Now the nitty-gritty. The surface seawater around Antarctica hovers between 33.8 to 34.5 PSU. Because it's cold and relatively dense, it sinks. As it sinks it becomes even more dense and the rate of sink is accelerated. That movement displaces the water below it and causes the deeper waters to move, creating a current. A big current.
The same thing happens off Greenland in the North Atlantic. Simply put, between the Antarctic and Greenland movements of deep, dense, bottom salt water, they constitute the major natural engines which cause the ocean conveyor belt which drives the ocean currents.
Without those ocean currents the distribution of global heat would be completely altered and the world would experience total chaos. Not just a little bit either. It would be a complete global disaster.
That's why this should be setting off alarm bells.
Steve Rintoul said his team found that salty, dense water that sinks near the edge of Antarctica to the bottom of the ocean about 5 km (3 miles) down was becoming fresher and more buoyant.And if that global current engine stops it means all ocean currents will change. If the same thing happens off Greenland the flow of ocean currents which keeps the climate, as we know it, relatively stable, will come to a near or, possibly, complete halt.
So-called Antarctic bottom water helps power the great ocean conveyor belt, a system of currents spanning the Southern, Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans that shifts heat around the globe.
"The main reason we're paying attention to this is because it is one of the switches in the climate system and we need to know if we are about to flip that switch or not," said Rintoul of Australia's government-backed research arm the CSIRO.
"If that freshening trend continues for long enough, eventually the water near Antarctica would be too light, too buoyant to sink and that limb of the global-scale circulation would shut down," he said on Friday.
Rintoul and his team aren't blaming global warming - yet.
Rintoul said his team are studying if faster melting of icesheets or sea ice is the source of the fresher water but he said it was too early to tell if global warming was to blame.It really doesn't matter whether you believe in global warming or not. This is happening. The cause at this point is almost irrelevant. The effect is going to change how you live.
Over the coming months, his team will study oxygen isotopes collected from water samples."Oxygen isotopes act as a tracer of ice melt and that information should help pin down exactly what the cause of the freshening is in the deep ocean," said Rintoul, of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
Per McClatchy today:
Bush names former pest-control exec as housing secretary
Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers - April 18, 2008
WASHINGTON — President Bush's nomination Friday of Steve Preston to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development came under fire for the nominee's lack of housing experience amid the worst national housing downturn in memory.
Critics and some key lawmakers said that Preston, who heads the Small Business Administration, was a lawn-care and pest-control business executive before Bush put him at the SBA in 2006.
"In seeking to fill this important Cabinet post I looked for a leader with an impressive background in finance; someone who understands the important role the housing market plays in the broader economy," the president said. "I sought a reformer who would act aggressively to help Americans obtain affordable mortgages ... and be able to keep their homes."
One key Democrat wasn't impressed. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, which holds jurisdiction on many housing issues, said the agency needed a strong leader who could keep troubled homeowners in their homes and restore confidence in the sagging mortgage market.
"These priorities call for a leader with expertise in housing issues, yet the president's choice has no apparent housing background, which raises questions," Dodd said in a statement.
Before the SBA, Preston served as executive vice president of the ServiceMaster Company. Among its businesses are TruGreen ChemLawn, the nation's largest lawn-care company, and the pest-control company Terminix.
Preston steered clear of controversy when he appeared Friday before the cameras.
"As we help people pursue the American dream, we need to have a market to operate fairly and effectively for all Americans," he said. "And our solutions must restore confidence in our markets while not erecting barriers to future entrepreneurs, investors and home buyers."
Well, I guess a bug killer is just the person to fix the US' housing mess.
After all, an expert at dispensing chemicals would be perfect to fix a toxic situation.
Sheesshh, this crew is really scraping the bottom of the barrel to finish out their eight years of destruction . . . .
(Cross-posted from Moving to Vancouver)
Canada's naval capabilities will diminish in the next several years and be severely reduced after the turn of the decade, limiting the military's ability to conduct maritime operations at home and abroad, the head of the navy says.There's more to that than what is being said. Within the navy itself the attempt to get those four Upholder/Victoria-class submarines into a functioning state has sucked up money at a phenomenal rate and the surface fleet has paid the price.
The capacity of the fleet will likely be reduced by half as the service modernizes its aging frigates, docking some while upgrades are underway, and mothballing its 40-year-old Iroquois-class destroyers, according to a 2008 strategic assessment prepared by Vice-Admiral Drew Robertson.
That, in turn, will create a period starting around 2013 and ending 2018 where there will be an overlap between taking old ships out of the water and not having new vessels to replace them. During that period, the navy will be limited in what it will be able to do, says the assessment, leaked to Canwest News Service.
Also consider that the 280 Tribal-class destroyers (built during the Trudeau era) are approaching 40 years old, have been modernized once and have reached the end of their serviceable life. Of the four originals, there are three left, one of them having been permanently retired without a replacement.
The documents point out that an $8.5-billion plan to build new destroyers has to be approved by the fall, and even then new ships won't be in the water and available for operations for another 10 years.There hasn't even been a decision yet as to whether to even replace the destroyers. If a decision is made tomorrow the lead ship of class building project would enter service until at least 2020. (Unless things suddenly change and we buy an existing design from outside the country, and the chances of that ever happening are about the same as a cat giving birth to puppies.)
The assessment points out that the navy's capabilities to conceive, design and build a future maritime force have dwindled over the years.As in, C-17 strategic airlift which was a Harper government initiative against the advice of the Canadian Forces. Main battle tanks, which was a shift in focus from a lighter armoured capability, and which were supposedly an urgent purchase to support the Afghanistan mission - except that they won't be available until around 2012. That's just two items. There are more which were never a part of any comprehensive defence planning document.
Defence analysts note most of the recent investments in new equipment have been for the army and air force.
There is a shiney bit.
But work is underway on purchasing new supply ships, and the groundwork is being set for modernization of the frigates. The Harper government has said it will purchase a new fleet of Arctic patrol ships, but construction of those vessels is years away.OK, maybe not so shiney. The new combat support ships are to replace the two aged supply ships, HMC ships Protecteur and Preserver.
The Arctic patrol ships are jokingly referred to, in the naval bazaars, as Slush-Breakers. Most are viewing them as a useless item which is little more than a poorly thought-out political pipe-dream. Not to mention that in any conversation with anybody in the navy about how useless, but expensive, these ships will be, no one has yet come up with a plan on how to man them.
Oh yeah. That. People.
The navy also faces issues with recruiting. It blames the problem on a competitive job market for skilled workers, the requirement to send personnel to the new commands that chief of defence staff Gen. Rick Hillier recently created and the need to support military operations in Afghanistan.What that translates to, in rough numbers, is that the navy is presently short two complete crews for the ships it already has. By 2011, it will be short five crews. That means the ones that are there end up spending even more time away. That creates a vicious cycle leading to dissatisfaction and a higher attrition-rate of trained personnel.
The assessment notes that the navy has been falling short of its recruiting targets since 2004. At this point, the navy is down 400 personnel, but the document predicts that by 2011-2012 the service will be short by 1,000 sailors.
Of course, if the current government had ever produced the Defence Review they promised, there might be something around which the navy could plan. As it stands now, they're guessing at what happens next.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
There are times when Vancouver's Skytrain stations can be pretty mean places. Depending on the actual station and time of day, some stations are occupied by drug dealers, gang members and other unpleasant individuals.
When it was decided to arm the Vancouver Transit Police, it was that particular type of problem that prompted the decision. Going after fare-jumpers with weapons was never mentioned.
In one incident, a non-paying passenger was tasered after he held onto a railing on the SkyTrain platform and refused to let go.I am just guessing but the first thought that came to mind is that this episode probably occurred towards the end of the transit cop's shift. That's not the good one though.
"After several warnings to the subject to stop resisting arrest and the subject failing to comply with the officers' commands, the taser was deployed and the subject was taken into control," said the report provided by TransLink, the region's transit authority.
On another occasion, a passenger was tasered when he fled from police who found him without a payment receipt during a "fare blitz." This time, however, the passenger got away because, as recounted in the report, "the Taser was ineffective due to the subject's clothing and [he] escaped the custody of the officers."Hmmm.
Politicians and civil-liberties activists alike decried the use of tasers on individuals who were attempting merely to avoid paying a fine for not buying a ticket to ride.
"I think it's absolutely uncalled for, absolutely reprehensible, and the police should not be doing that," federal Liberal public safety critic Ujjal Dosanjh said in Ottawa yesterday.
On the face of it, the use of tasers by transit police here is far outside guidelines that say they should be used only if someone is suicidal, violent or about to injure himself or someone else, Mr. Dosanjh said.
"Their current use is absolutely inappropriate," he said, adding that the latest revelations, coming after a storm of recent controversy over taser use by regular police forces across the country, have brought him close to calling for a moratorium on the powerful stun guns.
"This is the kind of example that would lead people like me, who have so far resisted asking for a moratorium, to actually call for that," he said.
A "Fare Blitz". Appropriate name given that the transit cops seem more than willing to employ a potentially lethal weapon to apprehend those nefarious "free riders".
You know, I have this small, rechargeable camera-flash unit. The kind powered by 4 AA batteries. Pretty harmless aside from being able to momentarily blind someone looking directly into it... right?
Electro-shock disabling devices are weapons. And on the face of it, the Vancouver Transit Police have no idea when it is appropriate to use them. I'm rarely in Vancouver and therefore rarely on Skytrain, and I always buy a ticket. But, on those occasions when I am there, since it looks like the bus cops are so poorly trained, I'll be carrying my camera-flash unit.
Hat tip Todd.
As we tramped along in Inverness, up above the town and the river, just rubbernecking in our raincoats and tweed caps, a very tiny woman of about 70 walked toward us. As she came abreast she quietly muttered, with a sharp little twinkle in her eye, "Sorry about the weather".
In Nairn we stayed with a cousin of one our travelling companions. She, the cousin, drove us out to Cawdor Castle, (yes that Cawdor) one of the very few castles that's still lived in most of the year. The dowager duchess is in residence for the winter and moves out for the prime tourist season. It's like touring someone's house except it's not. There are books open beside the beds and tea things on the table in the living room. Unfortunately I was not allowed to take pictures inside. But the outside looks like this.
This is the Cawdor family crest, or at any rate one of them. I rather like the sentiment.
Here's the view across the tracks at the train station at Nairn. I can only assume there's a way to get there without clambering over the tracks but I didn't see it.
These guys were obviously getting ready for a big to-do somewhere in town.
This next one's especially for Mike who really should visit his aunt and be surprised by Scotland.
This picture has no business being this nice. I shot it out the train window at about 160 kms/hr en route from Nairn back to Edinburgh. I never knew the name of the beach or the ruin and I didn't make a note of where we were near. But isn't it pretty?
The lane is just what it sounds like, a lane behind Thistle Street. The Thistle Street Bar became our local for the 2 weeks. Bellhaven Best became my quaff of choice, bar none the best draught ale I've ever tasted. Not exported mores the pity.
Princes Gardens is smack in the centre of the city. That's the memorial to Sir Walter Scott, all coal blackened and uncleanable.
Looking up toward and just below the castle one sees these blocks of apartments which were originally built to house the various minions of royalty. Today they are among the most treasured of residences, rental only of course, and are closely held by the families who have the leases.
The castle of course dominates the downtown skyline. I opted to try and get closer more detailed shots than to try for a single long distance post card shot. Here are some.
The next one is the shot that caught my fancy as the cliff face where 30 half drunk Scots climbed at night to attack the English garrison. This was taken from behind the castle in the Grassmarket, near the theatre district.
There are some nice views over the New Town from the battlements too.
I couldn't resist the shot of the old cannon taking aim at the modern construction cranes.
One of the stained glass windows inside the castle. I'm still playing with this shot to see if I want to do an enlargement to have framed.
Walking from the castle down the Royal Mile we came across White Horse Close.
My favourite street sign.
I think "A Company of Eccentric Beggars" would make a fine name for something. Maybe a theatre company, maybe a group blog, maybe a lobbying company. That's it a conservative lobbying company.
Watch and set your recording devices as you may want to watch it more than once. This is a very good film about war, bully bully patriotism and loss.
Daniel Radcliffe proves he's learned much from the Potter experiences.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
I was taken with how cars are towed away once the meters have run out.
We saw Othello at The Globe while we were there. Performances begin in the late afternoon so that as much as possible they take place in natural light. While we waited to go into the theatre I got some pix across the river. Here's the Millennium Bridge with the dome of St. Paul's behind it.
Here's a panorama I stitched together from the boardwalk in front of The Globe.
We had some light dinner at The Swan prior to the show.
Which as you can see fills right up. Delicious food and ale I must say.
After the show we walked back across the Thames over Southwark Bridge and I got this lovely night shot of the dome all lit up. 5 second exposure for those interested. It's my desktop now.