Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Briefing notes (2006-08-30)

Caledonia Standoff

As the showdown goes into its seventh month, there are a couple of points that indicate this isn't going to be ending any time soon. First, we learn that the province's special advisor, Jane Stewart, is earning $1300 a day for her "consulting work," on an eleven month contract -- which works out to $300,000. Second, the natives who are there are now asking for donations of food and building materials, saying they're planning to stay there the winter and to finish the eleven unfinished homes on the housing development -- with no indication as to when they plan to leave or even if they intend to build the houses to Ontario Building Code standards. Third, Haldimand County Mayor Marie Trainer dropped a bomb on the radio this morning when she said the municipality that includes Caledonia is not even at the negotiating table.

The consultantcy fees described are not entirely out of line for someone in the private sector -- even for a former politician -- but an eleven month contract does seem to be out of line; and the McGuinty government should have told us in advance they thought this was going to take much longer than was conventional wisdom. As for the natives' request -- it's only bound to engender even more ill will. I think most people will say: You want to finish the houses, but do it on your own dime or get a loan from the bank. We may bring you some food, but that's it.

But the last part is the most perplexing. Until the issue is settled as to who has title, one should presume the status quo and say that Douglas Creek is in Caledonia and not Six Nations land; even though both the elected council and the Haudenasonee say it's Iroquois territory. Why on earth, then, would the County of Haldimand be cut off from the process? The province's interests are not necessarily the same as those of the residents of Haldimand County and especially those in Caledonia. When there was a dispute over some lands in Dunnville, well to the east (once its own town but now subsumed into Haldimand as well), the town council there and Six Nations sat down together to sort it out. Why not this time?

Barbara Streisand tickets forged

Set aside the fact that the Hostess with the Mostest is making another comeback after publicly proclaiming she was "retiring" from public performances, then appearing on Oprah just a couple of years later to sing. The idea she would "unretire" after promising no more is disconcerting to say the least.

What's even more bothersome is the news Ticketmaster has cancelled over a thousand tickets on her current tour -- tickets which were bought using stolen credit cards then flowed through reselling agencies. One can understand the need to stop fraud and get at those who stole the cards in the first place. But where does that leave those who bought tickets in good faith only to find out they're worthless?

Gas prices: How low will they go?

One would have thought that as a general rule, spikes in oil prices are immediately reflected at the pump, whilst drops in crude don't flow through to the consumer for anywhere from 60 to 90 days. But oil has taken a tumble the last couple of weeks, this morning going to under $69 a barrel -- and incredibly, consumers are getting the benefits. Some gas stations this morning were selling petrol for under eighty cents a litre. When one considers the price just two weeks ago was around a dollar ten, this is pretty good news. On the other hand, Labour Day weekend is coming up, and I wouldn't be surprised if it goes back over a dollar in due course.

Jeffs given away by carotid artery

Finally, we're learning more about the arrest of FBI 10 Most Wanted, Warren Steed Jeffs, the leader of the polygamist FLDS cult, who was picked up the other night in Las Vegas. For a man wanted on multiple charges of both statutory rape as well as facilitating child molestation, this was a very dumb criminal. A paper license tag on a $55,000 Cadillac? He was eating a salad in his car while being questioned? He contradicted his own brother as to where they were going: He said Colorado, the brother said Utah. Oh, and most criminals give a poker face and never give themselves away -- but this guy's carotid artery was pumping like crazy; as if he knew the gig was up.

Oh, and the contraband that was in the car. Multiple cells phones, walkie talkies, police scanners -- and a lot of cash.

Thank heaven this ended peacefully and not with violence. My hope is that Jeff's arrest is the beginning of the end of the FLDS. My worry is that it's only the beginning of a long process of purging, shakeouts -- and deprogramming thousands of people brainwashed to believe polygamy is the will of God.

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