Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dennington: Starve the TV preachers!

I've watched Monica Dennington's videos the last few months; and while I'm Roman Catholic and she's an evangelical Christian, I think she sticks to the Bible in a way few personalities I know of can. But rarely -- actually, never -- have I seen her this angry about the Word of Faith crowd.

Incidentally, I'm not sure of her politics but she does take the corporal acts of mercy serious; unlike the TV crowd -- most of whom are members of the GOP.

Think about it.

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Words of hope for Burma

As the Burmese butchers try everything they can to put down the Saffron Revolution, including concocting reports of a so-called "pro government" rally, I offer these words of hope to the people in Burma -- in the hopes that somehow, their filters will miss this and other blogs. The words come from a couple of lines in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:

"Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realise that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one who rises up against them and strikes back!" (UK edition, p. 477)

So, once again, along with all other decent people in the outside world, we ask nothing more than for the leadership in Burma to lay down their arms, peacefully; and allow Daw Aung Sung Suu Kyi to take her rightful place as Prime Minister. If not -- I pray God strikes the junta down before someone else does.

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Power Workers wade into election

Like it or not, coal plants are a fact of life here in Ontario. And I live a short drive away from the biggest one in the free world -- Nanticoke. It's a massive polluter. And no party's plans to get rid of it and the other thermal plants are truly credible.

And with less than two weeks to go, guess who gets desperate? The Power Workers' Union (officially, CUPE 1000). They took out 3/4 page ads today in a number of major newspapers extolling the virtues of clean coal -- saying that with scrubbers and other technology, greenhouse gas emissions can be cut by about 20% at source (with the worst gases cut by up to 96%). This is the line the US coal industry has been trying to spin in America for years as part of its spin to do anything to get America not to sign on to international treaties.

I wasn't quite expecting it from the unions, who in their material also turn thumbs down on solar, wind, biomass and other alternate sources (saying it's both too expensive and the rated power is far greater than what's actually produced); point out natural gas is too volatile price wise (and there is a ring of truth in that); and suggest conservation won't even begin to address growing demand due to population growth, especially as people find ways to "leapfrog" the greenbelt zones. As for water power, they say that's way off into the future while negotiations are ongoing with First Nations. (That didn't stop Québec, which produces way more electricity than Ontario does -- 60% more.)

And guess what their other choice is? The old standby, or in ther power business the other half of base alongside water -- nuclear. That's a story in itself; given our experience with the cost overruns at Darlington and the way overdue (and overbudget) refurbishments of Bruce and Pickering.

It's their focus on coal, though, that I find perplexing.

Clean coal is out there, as is the technology to burn it. I won't dispute that. And until Ontario takes a more responsible approach in generation choices, it's probably going to be a stopgap measure and a costly one.

But if nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide and mercury emissions are cut, then what pollutants will take their place? Just last week, the Montréal Protocol had to be updated. Seems that that was an easy treaty to negotiate way back in 1987 because the petrochemical industry had a ready standby for CFC's (the new kid on the block was HCFC's) but recently it was learned that while the ozone hole was starting to repair itself, it would go back to how it was (the big hole again) by 2050 because HCFC's only slowed the damage, not eliminated it. Who knows what the new replacement for the third generation will do?

The same goes with clean coal. Has anyone done an assessment about what damage clean coal will do that dirty coal doesn't? Nanticoke has long been an irritant for Buffalo -- just 50 km or so to the east. We substitute one bad thing for another, and it sure won't make them any happier. Let alone we have to inhale that stuff too.

Certainly the union has the right to speak out just like any other group during the election. But their proposed solutions could only create more problems. And before we jump into anything, we need to consider what's best for us in the short and long terms. At best, clean coal is a bandage -- a temporary measure. We need to be thinking about more responsible solutions than that.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Harper's surplus change of heart

During his time in opposition, and before that as head of the National Citizen's Coalition, Stephen Harper had us believe that surpluses were an evil thing and that if a government spent less money than budgeted -- or if the revenues turned out to be higher than forecast, that meant there was mismanagement going on. Yet the Trudeau and Mulroney Administrations made the fatal error of making deficit predictions that turned out to be even worse. It was mere prudence than anything else that Paul Martin Jr., finance chief under Jean Chrétien, wrote budgets based on the worst case scenario -- zero based budgeting.

And it was the proper thing to do.

So what to make of Harper's way off the target budget for his first full fiscal year? He predicted $3 billion. It turned out to be a whopping $14.1 billion.

Now he's saying surpluses aren't such a bad thing after all.

Of course they aren't. We've now eliminated the financial legacies of the first two mentioned PMs, adjusted for inflation and population. Our debt-to-GDP ratio is now down to 36.2% -- in dollars, $467.3 billion. The bad news -- it's in Canadian dollars. A $500 billion debt didn't look too bad when the dollar was only 62 cents. Now it's above parity. And we still have to pay it down, ideally all of it off; but at least to a level where the debt can finance itself, around 25%.

So to the tax back guarantee -- interest savings will go into tax cuts. Good idea -- we've earned the windfall. But remember, this is the same guy who once believed we should just balance the budget, period. One could do that if he or she were to invest in megaprojects, or claw back social programs like Old Age Security. And at one point, the former Reform Party actually flip-flopped on the issue; first proposing a flat tax, then opposing any income tax cuts.

My feeling is the only reason for his change of tune is because of a possible fall election. Canadians are sick and tired of tax and spend.

But they're also fed up with non-authentics. They want someone who'll be consistent, through thick and thin.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

The wedding I blew off

I have a confession to make. No, I didn't stand up anyone at the altar -- I'm not that kind of guy.

But this is a part of my past that I haven't felt comfortable talking about until now.

My parents were good friends with another couple. So good that when their firstborn son was born they named Mom and Dad as godparents -- and my parents returned the favour when I came along nine months later. Our families got along quite well, and we visited each other quite often. More often it was us visiting their place -- they always had a nicer home than we did.

Of course, us guys grew up. Then my parents broke up and for a while we kind of lost contact -- until my mother's funeral. Then, a few months after, I received a wedding invitation from that now grown up man to his wedding; as well as my extended family. My father accepted. So did my cousins. I declined, respectfully.

I knew why he invited me. It was out of respect to his late godmother. At the time, I told him the reason I declined was because it was too soon after my mother's death and thought it would be disrespectful to her -- after all she was very fond of him. But that wasn't the truth.

The real reason was I didn't want to jinx him. Weddings are supposed to be a celebration, not a place to grind axes. And, for what it was worth, I had a lot -- with both my parents. But more importantly, because my parents were divorced, I honestly thought my presence would doom the happy couple. I also knew that, my father being there, he'd gladly boast that God was on his side because my mother was dead and he was still alive -- right in front of the couple's face. He still believes that, as a matter of fact. I didn't want to dignify that -- then or now.

Far as I know, the couple are still together. And my cousins told me later I missed a great wedding and reception. But I just felt that being there would not have been appropriate.

So if you are that groom, and if you're reading this, I want to say I'm sorry I didn't level with you. And I hope that you won't hold it against me.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Couric WOULD have told the truth if ...

Katie Couric said last night that she knew Dubya and Rove were lying to the American people about the cast for the Iraq war (while she was still co-host of Today) but didn't want to say anything because she was afraid of being called "unpatriotic." She also said she'd call out Dubya on his lies if she were "required" to.

If you were required to, Ms Couric? Of course you are. You're the anchor of the Tiffany Network, not Mary Hart of Entertainmnent Tonight.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Michael Vick Meets the Repo Man

Michael Vick, on top of the animal cruelty charges he plead guilty to and his indefinite suspension from the NFL now has a really big problem. Money. A US investment arm of the Royal Bank of Canada has declared Vick in default of a loan of over $2.3 million; with about $500 of interest accuring every day. Reason? Since he lost his job, he's violated one of the conditions of the credit.

Will celebrities ever learn?

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No, No Nietchzche

John Tory can't seem to catch a break. First, his candidate in Bruce Grey Owen Sound said he'd vote against extending funding to non-Catholic faith-based schools if the Conservatives are elected, going against his own boss. Tory dismissed him as a maverick.

Then last night, the candidate in Sarnia-Lambton said he'd vote against a plan to eliminate the coal fire plant in Lakeview. That plant, the candidate said, provides 400 jobs and pumps $300 million into the local economy every year. (This was just mentioned on Radio One.)

I'm all for free votes and local members' being freed from the undue influence of their leaders. But when your local candidates vow to vote against measures that could risk the loss of confidence in a would-be government (measures that involve appropriation of public funds) then it's clear that Tory doesn't know how to crack the whip and when to do so. If he can't do that during an election, how can he be expected to govern?

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Just to clarify ...

... something from my last post.

Given the choice of several systems, I'd prefer STV. Long term, that might be the best way to reform the Senate. In the here and now, however, the choice is between FPTP and MMP -- and it's a no-brainer. It's MMP, all the way.

Besides, if we don't start reforming the system now, we may never get another chance to do it. Stupid op-eds, like this one in today's Hamilton Spectator, underscore the point. This guy says since FPTP worked well for 800 years, there's no need to change it now.

This one, you have to read. To compare the Meech Lake Accord (the white men with suits) to the Citizen's Assembly which represented THE PEOPLE and recommended this for a vote by THE PEOPLE is insane.

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MMP good, STV better

I voted in the advance polls this weekend. Yes, I voted MMP; and after some hesitation, I voted for the Liberal candidate even know I've never heard of her or any of the other candidates. Tells you something: With Dr. Marie Bountrogianni retiring to return to family practice one would think the major parties and even the Greens would have put forward high profile people like they did in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek and even in Hamilton Centre where the very popular NDP incumbent Andrea Horwath is defending her title against two, maybe three, very strong and well known people.

Which brings me back to MMP. I do support it and I hope it wins. Proportional representation is better than the dictatorship disguised as democracy we have right now. Still, my preference would have been for STV -- the single transferable vote. It would have meant among other things a city-wide race for several seats and allowed people to vote for people they would actually want to represent them. I wouldn't have minded a system where strong people from all three major parties could represent me at the same time. MMP will allow for this as well to an extent, but an STV system would have meant regional issues would have become more important.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Religion notes (2007-09-23)

Couple of religion notes this morning:

First, this article in NYT about a rapidly shrinking and almost exclusively white Southern Baptist Church congregation outside Atlanta who -- when they realized just renting out the church to ethnic congregations still wasn't enough to pay the bills -- decided to invite everyone to join in. Some members of the white group weren't all that happy, of course.

Concerned about its survival, the church commissioned a study that found blacks and immigrants would soon outnumber whites in the area. William S. Perrin, 75 and a member of the church since 1948, said that at one meeting on the issue, a deacon stood up to express his anger.“If you think black folks are going to come in here and take our church away from us,” Mr. Perrin remembers the man saying, “you got another thing coming.”
William Perrin was no stranger to such attitudes. A retired Army lieutenant colonel who survived a midair collision over Vietnam, he grew up in Clarkston before the civil rights era. Some old ideas about race were embedded in his own psyche.
He recalled that while in the Army he once used a racial epithet in front of a black pilot he admired. When he realized what he had done, Mr. Perrin said, he broke down, hugged the pilot and begged for forgiveness.
“I’m ashamed of myself,” he said he told the man. “That’s just my white upbringing in Georgia.”
The pilot forgave Mr. Perrin, who then vowed never to disrespect another person because of race or ethnicity.
With his church failing, Mr. Perrin and other longtime members looked to the Scriptures for guidance and found what they believed was a mandate from Jesus to diversify their church.

The new service is somewhat of a compromise -- some traditional "white" songs have been given up for upbeat "praise music," and of course it's still in English. But it seems to be working; attendance is way up and the weekly pot luck is the social event with people enjoying each other's food, and company. This could be an example of what America ought to be like.

The second and somewhat more depressing item is something I heard last night on the BBC World Service, about how many Muslims in the Indian-controlled Kashmir region refuse to take any precautions to protect their homes and businesses from earthquakes. Somehow, they've been conditioned to believe that tremors, tsunamis and other natural disasters are "Acts of God" meant to punish the human race for their sins.

However, a campaign is now being led by Muslim clerics to try to persuade their people to think smartly. Their selling point -- unbelievably -- is that the homes of Christians, Hindus and Jews often survive such disasters because their occupants have had the aforethought to protect themselves; therefore, if Kashmirs truly believe God's wrath is being unleashed, why does He favour non-Muslims over Muslims?

Old habits die hard (pardon the expression) but imams carry enormous influence over their congregants, especially in developing areas over the world. This one just might work. (Sorry, no link, this one's only on audio and they update the program every week.)

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Prez threatens veto against kids' health bill


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Saturday, September 22, 2007

NYT editorial: Health care

Sunday's NYT editorial is up tonight at their website, and the topic is where the 2008 Presidential candidates stand on health care. This could be the domestic issue next year and the people driving it won't be Michael Moore or the uninsured, but corporations who have reached the breaking point insuring their workers.

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Suu Kyi back

Daw Aung Sang Suu Kyi, the legitimate Prime Minister of Burma, defiantly came out of house arrest today and joined in the latest uprising against the military junta that has plundered the country for decades. This time the rabble rousers are 10,000 Buddhist monks.

I offer my prayer that she is released without restriction ... and the thugs lay down their arms before their arms (metal and flesh) are ripped away from them. Then again, if they were bloodied down, I wouldn't shed a tear either. That's one country where I support regime change.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

100 days without a government

Yesterday marked 100 days since the last election in Belgium -- and incredibly a government still hasn't been formed there. The hang up is that the guy with the largest block of seats -- about 20% -- is from Dutch speaking Flanders and not one single party from French speaking Wallonia wants to talk deal. Even the normally neutral King of Belgium has had a heck of a time trying to sort out the crisis.

Is Belgium about to break up? I doubt it, not for quite some time yet. But what would happen if French speaking pockets in the north wanted to secede and join Wallonia; whilst Dutch speaking areas in the south wanted to join up with Flanders?

Possibly a checkerboard country with checkerboard towns. I referred previously (here) to one such town -- Baarle -- which Netherlands and Belgium shares in a rather bizarre arrangement. Admittedly people in both sectors speak Dutch but the map is truly scary. (A map of the town as well as how it got that way can be found here.)

Many might say, so what, it's not like the split between Slovakia and the Czech Republic was bloody. True, it wasn't; but it wasn't exactly completely a clean break-up either. If Belgium does break up it could be a dry run for Canada. And if Québec could seceded from Canada, then parts of Québec just might rejoin Canada -- producing not just one but several Baarles.

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With yesterday's news that the loonie reached parity with the greenback, one has to take a look at the flip-side. Perhaps Americans would have been stunned by this news -- it was mentioned on the network newscasts stateside last night. But they would perhaps be even more shocked to learn that their beloved George has actually devalued 60% against its Canadian counterpart since 9/11, about 50% against the Euro and about 30% against the pound sterling.

Partly it's the irresponsible upper class tax cut in 2001 before the terrorist atrocities. Partly it's the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and in part it's the credit crunch, particularly in sub-prime -- a crisis which is now starting to hit many Canadians as well.

But I think it has a lot to do with American complacency for letting things get out of hand. Blame it on long-term downsizing, near-shoring and off-shoring. Blame it on the media who think of higher ratings with celebrity gossip than about news people can really use. Blame it too on a culture where laws which technically favour small and medium businesses for the awarding of contracts, are routinely ignored in favour of the Halliburtons and Enrons of the world. And where when small businesses do get in on the game, find they're hounded by the paperwork the big guys just aren't.

Some guys like Lou Dobbs drive this home night after night and while I certainly don't agree with everything he stands for (his stance on immigration comes close to xenophobic despite his denials) he has a point about the middle class getting crunched by those who don't care about the middle class.

Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans can claim moral high ground on this.

And maybe that's why the reaction I found both at work and across Canada was consternation, more than joy, at the news we hit par. Not because Canada has gotten most of its fundamentals right (balanced budgets, a steady track towards paying off the debt entirely, and tax cuts aimed at working families; as well as strong energy and hi-tech industries) but because of what America got wrong. Canadians actually admire America for what it's been able to do -- and are appalled all that has been squandered in just a few short years. The opportunities have become crises, rather than the other way around.

Now of course, I think we Canadians have earned a windfall. Such as dropping our retail prices to match theirs.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Maybe it's because the bishops don't have kids ...

This is a bit late in coming, but I applaud the Halton Catholic School Board's decision Tuesday to permit the public health authorities to innoculate female students in the board's system against the HPV virus. York decided the same night not to even vote on the issue (an implied thumbs-up). Last night, the Toronto Board voted 9-3 to go with the program also.

I wrote about my opinions about the HPV vaccine back in March of this year (here) and nothing has changed my opinions since then. Contrary to what the Ontario Bishops claim, HPV is not only transmitted through sexual contact. It is quite possible to get it from blood transfusions as well as from genetic inheritance. There's a one in four chance I have it, but I'm not going to ever exhibit symptoms because as a male I am asymptomatic. But if I was in a relationship I would not want unwittingly to pass on the virus to my companion.

The overriding concern would be as a parent. I'm not one yet, but let me throw this out:

Some parents are concerned about illicit sex conducted by their kids as well as they should be. But the vaccine does not encourage it. Let's face it, if kids are going to have sex they're going to -- and Catholic teenagers actually have sex more often than their non-Catholic counterparts. Perhaps the bishops wish to ignore this fact. Or perhaps they wish to ignore the fact that men who in fact know they have the virus rape women to make sure they get cervical cancer on purpose.

Are the Catholic bishops suggesting that if a female student doesn't get the vaccine she will never be raped? Like an attacker would know if she had gotten it or not? If I was a parent and I knew of something that would reduce the risk of getting a disease by 70% were my daughter attacked, I'd go for it -- bishops be damned. Even if the parents object, it is a teenage female's right to still get the vaccination from her physician for she has the right to privacy.

Perhaps the bishops are also suggesting that it is better to be a man than it is to be a woman. After all, it's not like they're ever going to have kids. Yet in a number of respects Jesus of Nazareth had a better friend in St. Mary Magdalene (although they were not married) than he ever had in St. Peter -- and even Peter was married and had kids. I hope and pray, as a Catholic, that other Catholic school boards in this province follows the law and not the naïveté of the bishops; for I believe in this case the law actually respects the will of God that women be healthy.

Health authorities should of course monitor side-effects such as the occasional incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome (a form of muscular dystrophy) and inform students of this possibility, but for now I believe the benefits far outweigh the risks.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cons Slash Environment Budget

PMS says the priority of the federal Department of the Environment is climate change and global warming -- not species and habitat protection. Yet aren't those two things caused both by industry as well as urban sprawl (among the main culprits)?

Pro-environment groups such as the Canadian Wildlife Federation and Ducks Unlimited are furious that the budget for protecting ecologically sensitive areas somehow has been spent for the year with Ottawa saying there will be no new money until next year. Some of the most crucial programs, in the meantime, have been slashed or dropped to nothing. And it's in the winter months when temperature monitoring and land surveying is most critical since in many parts of the country that's when the most damage is done.

Of course the Auditor-General should investigate what happened if misspending in other units of the department happened. But when you have a government dominated by a wing whose religious beliefs dictate that there is no such thing as climate change -- that is, it's a lie of Satan to test the human race -- one can see where we're going. Even many (though sadly not all) social conservatives in the States have begun to recognize we must live with God's creation rather than use recklessly for our benefit.

That's one area where the far-right in Canada is actually lagging behind their American cousins -- and it's happening just at the very time when Alberta is debating what the royalty levels should be for the tar sands -- right in the area where some of the worst damage to Canada's rural areas is being done.

Sure, some will say -- good, we're sick and tired of the Hinterland Who's Who PSAs. Enjoy them while you can ... in a couple of decades, that may be the only place we see them because what was captured on film may be extinct or as endangered as the condor.

As for spending on a strong military -- I say, of course we should. We haven't spent enough on our men and women in uniform and it's time we caught up. But there, too, we should ensure that those who are trained for the fights the rest of us won't are able to practice in areas as similar to real world conditions as possible and that when they wind down or take a respite break they can actually enjoy our nature; not that of Guam (a US colony) or the Black Forest of Germany which are the usual layover stops these days for our troops.

(Full disclosure: My grandmother contributes to the Canadian Wildlife Federation; and I'm a dues-paying member of Ducks Unlimited.)

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What's the weather like in Kansas?

I honestly don't know; but when the Witchita Eagle comes out against the death penalty, one has to wonder if the tides of change for decency and respect are at last coming from the heartland and not the inner cities.

UPDATE (7:39 PM EDT, 2339 GMT): The link apparently isn't working so I've fixed it and referred to another site which pulled the story off. As for support for capital punishment being at an all time high -- it's actually slipped about 20 points over the last 10 years to about 62% and when people are given the choice between death and life without parole, a slim majority would actually prefer the latter. For what it's worth, the article makes the point well -- if people knew that someone would be on death row for 23 years before being executed would they support that?

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Select THIS!

HT to Rusty Idols: After two years, the New York Times has decided that while its "Times Select" business model for its website did have short term benefits and made the revenue it anticipated, it conceded that long term it simply is an untenable model and that the firewall that blocked columnists like Paul Krugman, Bob Herbert and Tom Friedman to non-subscribers was circumvented both by search engines and some bloggers who helped their readers get around it.

It has decided that instead, it will make more ad revenue by offering up targeted ads based on someone's IP address -- with regionally focused advertisements as well as those based on previous surfing patterns at its website. Just as it does at the open parts of its site, and other media companies do at theirs.

While it has its faults, the NYT remains one of the papers of record in the United States (others include the LA Times and WaPo) and its opinions do wield a great deal of influence in some quarters of Washington. And I for one applaud its decision to lift the veil. It couldn't come at a more important time, as the GOP and its TV media allies do everything they can to ensure Rudy Guiliani or Fred Thompson is elected President next year. The more mainstream and alternate media voices that speak out against four more years of Republican hegemony in the executive, the better.

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Can the Internet kill you?

First there was "Rubik's Thumb." Then people started getting carpal tunnel syndrome by trading Pokémon cards. (Remember those?)

Now, a man in Mainland China has died after a marathon three day on-line gambling binge. (I though gambling was illegal on the Mainland? After all, about a hundred people ran for the exits when the cops showed up.)

I appreciate all the friends and acquaintances I've made over the last few years on the Net ... but even I have limits. I have a job that has me surfing part of the day, for one thing (albeit strictly for research); and for another, I'm already in an office pool so why would I want to play the ponies in a part of the universe I have trouble understanding?

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Guess who wants to go to war against Iran?

Would you believe ... France?

Amazingly, France actually agrees on something with the US for a change. They're warning Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program or it'll ask the EU to impose even tougher sanctions than those authorized by the UN Security Council. And it hasn't ruled out asking the UN to permit member states to use "all necessary means" to make Iran stop -- which in diplomatese means "War."

I think Iran already has the bomb ... and frankly while I don't think it should have it I also think it's hypocrisy for the Big Five to claim they have exclusive rights to Da Bomb. Let's not forget, North Korea has the bomb (although it's promised to get rid of it, yeah right); as does Israel, India and Pakistan. And South Africa once had the bomb but not anymore. If PMS ever felt itchy like Dubya does just about every other day, Canada could procure one in a matter of days -- after all, we have the uranium as well as nuclear plants capable of reprocessing spent fuel rods into the material needed for, well you know.

(The security at nuclear plants, in fact any power plant, hasn't been great either; even after 9/11. Who can forget the Radio-Canada journalist who broke into Hydro-Québec's water power facilities and drove two miles underground without once being questioned. Imagine the security then at the nukes -- for the longest time one could just walk into a research facility without any questions and even now one can finagle his or her way in with smooth talk.)

I doubt any of the Big Five will ever get rid of their WMD although that's the ideal. But if all five promised by treaty that none would ever be the first to use The Bomb, then that would put more pressure on the rogue states to scale back or get rid of their weapons.

That ... plus the non-negotiable principles that Iran must recognize Israel's right to exist and that the Holocaust really did happen.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Religious schools: The Newfoundland experience

An article in today's Toronto Star raises some good points about what happened in Newfoundland and Labrador when it abolished its religious schools in favour of an entirely secular system. Standards did improve and tensions between religious factions diminished to a degree but there are some still very hard feelings.

If John Tory was simply putting non-Catholic religious schools on an equal footing with Catholic ones it might not be an issue. But the money has to come from somewhere and the cost could be as much as a half a billion dollars. So from where? Public schools? Hospitals?

Plus, what if a future government decided to go all secular as NL did? Then there'd be a big problem. I think what's needed is to improve standards and decrease class sizes in the publicly funded systems -- then challenge the private schools to see if they can do better. If they can, then maybe there'd be a basis for negotiations.

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Give or receive?

Here's a video from Monica Dennington. This pretty much explains how I feel about the whole "Word of Faith" heresy.

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"Keep sweet."

I've written before about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints -- a cult which has nothing to do with the main Mormon (or LDS) Church. But now that he's finally on trial, the portrait emerging of his viewpoints is truly sickening and that of the young women he forced to marry him is beyond pathetic.

Warren Jeffs is a monster.

Message to Warren: I hope you find a boyfriend when you go to prison. Twenty of them, in fact. And don't forget to "keep sweet" when they shove theirs up your rear end.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Man gets 3 days over 50 cent toll

Toll roads are a fact of life. But sometimes one has to wonder about how officials from the state enforce toll evaders -- or those who think they are paying but aren't.

One man from Massachusetts just spend three days in jail in New Hampshire because he paid with tokens even though the state phased them out earlier this year -- the state now only accepts cash or EZ-Pass. The man was offered a $150 fine instead of jail, but he took jail saying the state broke a contract by refusing to honour the tokens he bought "in good faith."

I admit the guy has some principle, but the redemption period for the tokens had been announced well in advance and he had plenty of time to cash them in, or switch to a transponder. Besides, he would have been better off with a transponder since EZ Pass is used throughout the Northeast.

On the other hand, those tokens may be worth something. Not to the state but to coin collectors. Ontario got rid of tolls on a few bridges back in the 1970s but the tokens can still be redeemed -- I think for three cents each or something like that. I think I have one or two left in my coin collection, a holdover my father has from stuff before I was born.

Maybe the next time I take the 407, I should just whack a roll or two of them at the double gantry while I pass under them. They're worth something after all, aren't they?

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When will it end in Caledonia?

The battle of Douglas Creek in Caledonia is quickly becoming a province-wide issue. Towns across Ontario who contract their police services to the OPP are complaining a big chunk of the dues they're charged have been diverted for extra security in Haldimand County. For a city like Owen Sound, for instance (a community with a relatively low crime rate), their bill last year was somewhere in the range of $850,000. Only $600,000 or so of that was actually spent in the area and the mayor there is demanding -- with justification -- the difference back.

It certainly doesn't help that there was nearly bloodshed in Caledonia the other day, at another housing development in the area. The leader of the traditional natives at Six Nations rightly called the attack on Sam Gualtieri an "atrocity," and my understanding is even the elected chief is well beyond the point of having had enough.

It seems to me that the land was transferred to the whites at some point; yet it is also clear the natives were ripped off, just like in Manhattan. The feds have offered to take the claims to arbitration. It's time that was accelerated.

And for cooler heads to prevail.

As for the province saying it's a federal issue, actually it's a provincial one as well. When the OPP is involved, it's a provincial issue.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Funny, you don't LOOK like a terrorist

Bush's speech last night about staying the course while drawing down the surge could have been given any time over the last nine months -- or for that matter, the last four and a half years. It doesn't change one very basic fact.

Not all terrorists are Muslims. And they're not all in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There are very scary radical groups, both left and right, that operate entirely within the borders of the United States. It's still legally possible to purchase several tons of ammonium nitrate from Home Depot or Lowe's and to have it delivered to your home without any questions asked. The same goes for blasting caps, black powder and any of a number of materials needed to explode a big bomb.

And do a Google. The instructions for making a nuclear bomb are readily available to anyone who wants to know how. The same applies whether you want to make a dirty bomb or the kind you launch on a missile.

The whole line about fighting terrorists abroad so we don't have to fight them here is bunk.

I'm more worried about marijuana grow ops in my own neighbourhood than I am about terrorists from overseas. A house fire caused by a bypassed power setup and several thousand watt bulbs is a greater danger to kids in my neighbourhood than someone planning to commit suicide by blowing up a toilet in the coffee shop around the corner.

I'm more worried about civil liberties being suspended by fear of something that might not even be a threat, than the actual threat itself.

And I'm worried about ballot boxes being stuffed, voters' lists manipulated and courts stacked to ensure a predetermined result -- than I am by someone saying we can put a stop to the nonsense if we would only "convert to Islam."

Depends what one means by terrorist, but we have to put up with terrorism every day in the homeland. The Mafia is far worse than Al Qaeda yet we don't see anyone going after them.

Sorry, Bush -- but you made the mess. You clean it up.

With your own private fortune -- not borrowed from thugs in China and Singapore and downloaded onto the present generation's grandkids.

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Kneel and show proper respect to the King -- Tom Monaghan

Another HT to AveWatch: A group of Catholic legal scholars -- liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat -- have issued a rare joint statement saying how dismayed they are at the state of affairs at Ave Maria University's School of Law.

They're not the only ones watching. The American Bar Association is considering whether to end the school's accreditation based on the recent relatively high turnover of tenured professors there; contradicting the claims of ultra-rightist Brent Bozell who claims the ABA gave the school a clean bill of health. (Accrediting means, among other things, a law degree issued by the school will be honoured in all 50 states -- not just the state where the degree was issued.)

And as for Tom Monaghan himself ... he apparently has some rather odd ideas about what a woman should wear during the winter, and how they should behave before men with tons of money like him. Like the woman who was forced to kneel before him -- a married, Catholic woman -- because he wanted to make sure her skirt touched the floor.

This last one should be enough to make any atheist's blood boil -- let alone a Catholic like me, even if I lean moderate-to-liberal.

Especially since that's how I lean, in fact. Even if I was conservative, I'd be calling for his suspension from the Church. There comes a point when one goes too far, and Monaghan crossed that line a long time ago. Kathy Griffin's uncalled for remarks at the technical Emmys the other day were outrageous but they pale in comparison to this man's schenanigans since he sold Domino's -- a man who actually said: "If you can franchise pizza restaurants, why can't you franchise Catholic schools?"

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Whitey spotted -- maybe

James "Whitey" Bulger, the alleged head of the Irish Mob in Boston -- and one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted -- may have been spotted in Tamorina, Italy earlier this year. The key word is may since facial recognition analysis has failed to prove it definitely was him.

If he is on the Continent, he could be anywhere in Western Europe at this time. With the open borders, he may have slipped in cognito to another EU state with no questions asked as no questions would have been asked.

He may also be in a number of countries where he's known to have stashed safe deposit boxes full of cash, including Canada.

So if you've seen him ... call the cops and let's get this dark shadow from Boston's past off the streets.

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McJobs? How about competitiveness?

The manufacturing sector was a hot topic among the three party leaders in Ontario yesterday. Tory and Hampton criticized McGuinty for replacing permanent positions in manufacturing and forestry with "McJobs." McGuinty countered by saying most of the new jobs created still pay about twenty bucks an hour -- and they're outpacing the lost ones three to one.

There are two problems as I see it.

One is the high dollar, of course. It wasn't going to stay low forever and I think too many companies thought it would. They decided to ride out the ebb for as long as it took rather than invest in newer and better technologies that would allow them to stay competitive when the dollar, as it did, eventually did go back up. Provincial governments can't control the markets and even the Bank of Canada is independent of the federal minister of finance.

However, our high corporate tax structure is definitely an issue. On top of corporate income taxes, companies are required to pay their share of CPP (with no refunds for overpayments, unlike we civilians), EI (at a rate 40% higher than we employees pay), as well as the full cost of workers' compensation and the corporate health tax. Not to mention property taxes -- and benefits.

McGuinty cited the decision of Toyota to locate in Woodstock as an example Ontario is competitive. Toyota, however, counters by saying Ontario had a leg up anyway -- Woodstock is just down the road from another facility in Cambridge, as well as near auto parts plants in the whole Golden Triangle, Woodstock and the GTA -- and the steel plants in Hamilton. What won it for Ontario, though, was public health care. In the States, the Japanese auto plants are already $25 per hour per capita below the Big Three in terms of worker costs ($48 vs $73) but they still have to provide a gold plated medical plan to its workers.

Do the math. When in the States a company's biggest supplier is a health insurance company; and in Canada it's electricity, it doesn't take a genius to figure out where we should be trumpeting our strengths. Despite tax and power holiday breaks promised by the southern states, Toyota still came out ahead here -- even with currency swings.

Besides -- who wants to turn in a power wrench at a car plant (one that's closing) for a call centre providing technical and concièrge services to people who purchase those vehicles. That's the case with GM, for instance. The plants in Oshawa are downsizing or even closing all together, but the call centre for OnStar (in Oshawa) is as busy as ever. Of course, OnStar has been nearshored to a third-party contractor.

There's no doubt we need more manufacturing jobs. They help pay for the service sector which Ontario is becoming reliant on. We also need to make sure the lumber and minerals continue to be mined also. Ontario has many resources, human and natural; and so far I don't see anything from any of the parties on how to strengthen both.

Just the blame game.

So far, I'm not impressed.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

It's official: Harper thinks natives shouldn't have title to their land

So the United Nations has passed a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Guess which four countries -- the only four -- voted against? Why, the four countries with the worst records against native people, naturally -- Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Why is that? Let's speculate. All four countries run by small c-conservative regimes (except New Zealand, although Helen Clark does have a coalition with some right-wing parties). Many of the land claims happen to cover government areas where there just happens to be oil or natural gas, or precious commodities like gold or diamonds.

Hmmmm ....

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Just desserts for Mark Bell

The NHL Players Association, like other sports league unions, were founded on a couple of fair principles -- that the players were human beings and not cattle, and they deserved to have a share of the gate, TV revenues and merchandising. But over the years, they've taken on a life of their own. And while they may come off as vociferously opposed to what the teams stand for come the time to negotiate the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), they have actually demonstrated a propensity to collude with the teams on many issues.

Not only do they ferociously defend their now obscene salaries -- which rank with the A-list music and movie stars (a 40:1 ratio compared to the average salary of the working person, compared to, say, 7:1 even 30 years ago), they also oppose two principles: Breaking up the cartels that the North American leagues are in favour of a system of promotion and relegation (instead, weak individual players are "sent down" and strong players from the minors "called up"); and making sure players are subject to the same rules and regulation the rest of us must abide by.

In the real world, for example, Todd Bertuzzi would have been charged with attempted murder for his unwarranted attack against Steve Moore back in February 2004. Instead, he was allowed to plead down to the ridiculously minor charge of assault causing bodily harm -- and got probation plus no rap sheet.

In most of the sporting world, getting caught doping results in a mandatory two-year suspension, in all sports, on a first offence. And that does mean all sports, including contract bridge and Texas-Hold-'Em Poker. Not in North America. Baseball, for instance, only calls for a 20-game suspension -- three weeks. Big hairy deal.

Maybe things are finally starting to turn around. League head offices are starting to smarten up, and for a change are enforcing the morals clause in the CBAs. Sadly, not the players' unions not the teams; who continue to believe players should be in a league of their own. Yesterday, for example, Mark Bell of the Toronto Maple Leafs was suspended for 15 games following word he pleaded nolo contendre to drunk driving. The NHL Players claim the suspension is excessive. So do the Leafs, who pointed out that Dany Heatley killed a fellow teammate while driving and didn't do a single day in jail. Oh yeah. Heatley wasn't drunk.

Is it excessive? Frankly, I think it's not enough. He should be benched concurrent with his jail sentence of six months -- the judge ruled Bell doesn't have to serve it until the end of the season; but I think he should serve it now even if it runs over the winter season of ice hockey. None of the rest of us get deferrals when we cited with a moving violation -- let alone one that merits the purview of the Penal Code.

I hope this is the sign of things to come. It's time players started acting like human beings like the rest of us, and were held to the same standards as the rest of us. It's time teams and unions also took the stand that if their players will not conform to the norms of humanity, they will be kicked out of the fraternity (or sorority, as the case may be) and lose their pensions.

Yeah, yeah, I know, OJ ... but at least he was put on trial for the murders. Many of us would have plead guilty even if we knew Mark Fuhrman had been leading the investigation. Players choosing to commit crimes consciously, like the rest of us who do decide to break the law, should be held accountable -- even if a jury finds them not guilty, the public dressing down is often enough because even presuming innocence, we often hear about other skeletons which make them even more unsavoury characters.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Come to Fiji! We're up to our eyeballs in debt!

The next time you see one of those infomercials asking to "sponsor" a Third World child, ask whether it's money being well spent or whether the NGOs are getting shaken down by the countries in which they operate.

Radio Australia reports that Fiji, already one of the most indebted countries on the planet, is going even further into debt by $500 million US, thanks to a loan from the Asia Bank -- an agency of the US Government -- with help from Merrill Lynch. This comes just a week after martial law was reimposed in the country and the European Union is considering whether to suspend its aid. One analyst says the loan will increase Fiji's debt-to-GDP ratio to about 70% -- from 50% -- overnight. (By comparison, Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio was 39.2% at the end of FY 2006 -- the 2007 numbers aren't finalized yet but it's probably even lower than that rate now. The US is at 64.7% and climbing.)

Like many others, I think it's unfair to burden a country and its people with unnecessary debt. This is true whether it's in the developed or developing worlds. But I am also against the idea of loaning out money to a country with no reasonable prospect of repayment or if the money is just going to go down the drain into cronyism and other forms of corruption rather than reaching the people it's intended to go to.

With the state of emergency, one must not even speak of such questions in Fiji. We need to ask those questions here. If APEC is actually serious about having a Pacific wide free trade zone, we need to be asking questions about the propriety of dealing with thugs -- especially thugs who have no intention of paying any loans back.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Ontario 2007: Day One

The election campaign officially got underway in Ontario today; and while I will be keeping an eye on the national and world scenes, a fair chunk of my entries the next few weeks will be focused on both the hustings as well as the referendum on MMP.

Here's what to watch for from where I stand:

Dalton McGuinty (Liberal): The incumbent has run a fairly competent government over the last four years, but a lot of people haven't forgiven him for breaking his promise not to raise taxes -- there is that health tax we pay on our income tax returns at the end of the year. There are two big issues I see from his campaign in order for him to win. First is where he's going to go on the issue of long-term care; a very big issue because the first stream of the baby boom will start collecting Old Age Security in 2011, the fourth year of the next mandate. The enhanced kids' benefit will go a long way to give kids a head start, but the older generation is the real time-bomb. The second is the issue of who does what and pays for it. There are some pretty ambitious transit projects coming on stream, but a lot of cities are struggling just to keep up the buses and trains right now. Not to mention welfare costs -- pooling has ended in the GTA which means Toronto could get really hammered unless the province takes it back.

John Tory (PC): The guy who became infamous for authoring the "Funny Face" ads that ridiculed Jean Chrétien and later ran the CFL is in a fight for his reputation. His stumbles so far on the education issue haven't helped. But another big problem is that he's tried to move the party back to the centre, somewhere near where Bill Davis was during the 70s and early 80s. That's sure to alienate the right-wingers who still think Mike Harris is the greatest invention since sliced bread. Tory should have no trouble in rural Ontario, but the key is the suburbs. Unless he can take at least a dozen from Dalton and early, he's going to have a long night on October 10.

Howard Hampton (NDP): Four years ago, he ran a brilliant campaign around the theme of "Public Power" but he got stonewalled by the battle between McGuinty and Ernie Eves. This is Hampton's third go as his party's nominee for Premier. Realistically, this could be his last election, too. He has some good ideas, like public dental care ... but unless he's able to hold the balance of power, the NDP will be looking for a new leader. He needs a hook and he needs to put it out front and early.

My early prediction, based on the signs right now:
Liberals 55
Conservatives 38
NDP 14

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

E! Or should it be Ewwwwwwwwwwww!

It's been announced for months, but over the weekend, quietly, the "CH" channels in Hamilton, Victoria, Montréal, Red Deer, Kelowna and Kamloops quietly turned into E! As in E!-Entertainment, the US cable outlet that set the standard for celebrity -- no, what's the right word here -- b.s. info.

It's not information. It's tripe.

It may be true that Global (which got away with creating a second network without trying) has licenced the E! name; and the US operation will have no say in its running, although it has agreed to run some Canadian shows worldwide. But the station that started independent television in Hamilton was the risk taker -- being the first to air The Godfather I in the 70s, the Tyson-Tucker fight in the 80s, and originated such classic shows as Hillarious House of Frightenstein, Party Game and The Red Green Show (in its early seasons). And yes, it also aired the treachly Tiny Talent Time as well as WWF wrestling and the endearing country music and comedy show Hee Haw.

And if Ken Soble, who helped co-found that channel -- CHCH -- could rise from his grave, he'd gladly wring the neck out of the Asper brothers. This is a complete and utter disgrace.

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Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Man in the Mirror

Not that I like Michael Jackson, but he was absolutely right: We have to look at the man in the mirror, and Brian Mulroney just doesn't want to do that.

He says Lucien Bouchard stabbed him in the back. I think it's fairer to say that it was Mulroney who was playing games. He had no business getting into an alliance with the independence movement in Québec, yet that's exactly what he did in an attempt to address the province's aspirations in the Constitution. Many of the amendments proposed by the Meech Lake Accord were unnecessary, or could have been proposed line-item rather than as a package deal (e.g. the amendments dealing with immigration were quite fair, after all immigration is a shared responsibility between Canada and the provinces).

When it was clear the deal was in trouble, Mulroney waited until the last possible moment to get a First Ministers' meeting together -- knowing that it would be torpedoed in Manitoba and in Newfoundland. Mulroney can't deny the simple fact he said he "rolled the dice" with the Constitution. The Constitution is the country's basic law. One doesn't just "roll the dice" with it.

As for his bad-mouthing Trudeau -- frankly I think Pierre was a self-indulgent and egotistical tripe. But he honestly did what he thought was right by Canada; and Mulroney must have thought as much as well. In most other democracies, Presidents and Prime Ministers may well criticize each other and openly but they never make it personal. Not Canada, for some reason.
And seriously -- if Trudeau was still alive, you think they'd sit at the same table that judges the "Next Great Canadian Prime Minister" contest? NO.

The only reason Mulroney showed up at Trudeau's funeral, I believe, was not out of respect for a man who shared the same office he once did or as a fellow attorney. I think it's because it would have been outright disrespectful not to show up at all.

It's easy to criticize the faults of others, but not easy to admit one's own shortcomings. The latter is something both men had in common. The former ... well, even Trudeau knew when to draw the line.

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Friday, September 7, 2007

Osama the cry-baby

Why do we even give this guy a platform? He's just a schoolyard bully when it all comes down to it. A dangerous one, but that's all he is. Someone crying out for attention. Like other bullies, he should be ignored.

By the way, message to AQ -- you can forget about converting us. At least you won't me, Osama. You'll have to kill me and even in the afterlife I'll denounce you to the end of time and beyond.

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Let's not make the MMP vote personal

With 34 days to go before the election and referendum in Ontario, I have a suggestion.

I think it's to be expected the politicans are going to sling it out, rake the muck, do anything to demean each other. But on the referendum, where mixed member proportional and first past the post are on the ballot (not in that order!), I think we should try to put forward our points and where need be agree to disagree; but there's no reason for things to get personal. That's for the politicians to do.

This is about the form of democracy we should take -- and I think when it comes to something that amounts to an amendment to the province's constitution we need to think clearly and logically. Sure we're going to be passionate about it; but let's not let passion overtake reason.

Some of my fellow ProgBlogs (including some fellow federal Liberals), as well as some other bloggers, have taken a position contrary to what I and most of my colleagues have and that's fine. I pledge not to hold that against them, no matter the outcome.

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

In memoriam: Luciano Pavarotti

It's a truly sad morning as the sun rises here this morning as I write these words, with the news that Luciano Pavarotti has died. Even those in rap and hip-hop have surely heard of the greatest tenor since Enrico Caruso.

Pavarotti had what Caruso didn't, radio and television -- and it was those media, as well as his numerous performances at the Metropolitan Opera and La Scala, among others, that brought the man to superstardom.

Those of us in the younger generations will, of course, remember him as part of the Three Tenors supergroup -- the others being José Carerras and Plácido Domingo. Domingo said last night that the three often forgot they were performing before a paying audience because they had so much fun.

That pretty much hits the point. Those guys, all of them, made opera fun again and certainly more accessible -- no less than Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and the late Beverly Sills did on the female side.

So, I bow my head in respect this morning. Arrivederci.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A promise Tory can't keep

Earlier in the year, I wrote a post expressing my support for the idea of funding religious schools -- all of them, not just Catholic -- though not necessarily in the format that John Tory is proposing.

But if Tory was hoping to win over the religious right like Reagan and Dubya did in the States, he gave them a really big brush-off today when he said that any school that attempts to teach "creation science" or "intelligent design" as fact will lose their funding. Teaching about a religious point of view is only permitted in religion classes, according to the Department of Education.

Which is fine as far as it goes -- I went to a Catholic school where I had no choice but to take at least one religion class each year (for credit) and it wasn't a bird course either. Besides, I learned that the Catholic Church doesn't oppose the idea of evolution; its position is that God is needed to explain the human soul but that people should be allowed to reason, and evolution (or the theory of it) isn't necessarily in conflict with the Biblical story of creation. God is, after all, the creator of both the physical and the spiritual worlds. But people shouldn't be condemned because they honestly believe the world was created in just six days, either -- provided they have come to that through reason and not coercion.

The problem is that this promise that Tory made today is the kind of promise Tory simply can't keep. If the religious right wants its way, it will have its way and it will do it with votes -- and funding. Many would rather stay home than vote for the "infidel" parties. So if a vocal minority wants to impose their will on the majority, they will. And to hell with the common curriculum.

So, not that they were probably going to get my vote anyway, but Tory lost it for the Tories today -- at least from me.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Steve Fossett missing

Whatever you may think of Steve Fossett, he's the kind of guy anyone would admire for just having the guts to do what he's done so far. Let's hope this is not the end for him.

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Monday, September 3, 2007

Classic Clip: Picnic Panic

It's Labour Day in Canada and the United States. In honour of the occasion I'm taking a break from blogging (unless something really big happens); so for your entertainment: This one from the Garfield cartoon series.

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Sunday, September 2, 2007

When a church isn't one? When it's run by Tom Monaghan

HT to AveWatch: Things just seem to go from bad to worse for Ave Maria University. Its law school in open revolt, with a majority of its graduates demanding the reinstatement of some recently dismissed law professors apparently let go for no other reason than Tom Monaghan hates them because they don't fit into his view of "Catholicism" (and most conservative Catholics would, I think, readily disavow this conservative's brand). Monaghan actually called these profs "academic terrorists."

But it gets better -- much better. The Diocese of Venice, Florida -- which includes the dictatorial town of Ave Maria, outside of Naples (one of only two in the state, the other being the district that includes Disneyworld) has ruled the "oratory" at the University is not a church. In fact, the university isn't even Catholic. You read that right. It's not allowed to perform any sacraments other than reconciliation or communion on its campus. It's not even allowed to call itself a Catholic university without approval, but does anyway.

Monaghan has waited three years for this sanction but it's still being withheld in part because even priests -- who tend to be more conservative than the laity -- are scared by just how far to the right the man is. (For example, Monaghan is anti-union; interesting to note, however, that in that other "dictatorship" town the employees of you-know-where are represented by the Teamsters.)

And now, controversy over something much more serious: What started as an altercation in a parking lot and probably just a misunderstanding has now led to charges of sexual harassment (i.e. a pat on the arm was, it is alleged, escalated into sexual touching). And the guy doing the firing is the same guy who couldn't explain how child pornography wound up on the university's mainframe (the best he could come up with was a non-employee hacked into the system, who just happened to be a Catholic priest). This last one really irks me because, although I don't know what happened, sexual harassment is a very serious charge and it needs to be investigated rather than just accepted at face value.

If I ever have kids, I'm going to tell them to stay away -- as far away as they can -- from AMU. Georgetown, Notre Dame, Gonzaga -- those are the real Catholic Universities. Maybe I'm hoping they might want to get married on campus; at least I'd like to know the wedding was sanctioned by the Church, which ain't gonna happen in "Ave Maria Town."

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Elections Ontario trying to rig the MMP vote

HT to Scott Tribe:

The supposedly non-partisan agency that runs provincial elections in Ontario is trying to do everything they can to make sure the referendum on MMP is defeated. That's because the ballot on October 10th isn't a straight yes or no question. It's whether people support first past the post or mixed member proportional. (The website they've set up is even more ambiguous in trying to explain things.)

So let's put it in layperson's terms: If you support the current system that ensures a one man (or woman) dictatorship for four years, vote FPTP. If you think it's time we joined the civilized world and have legislatures that actually represent the popular vote, vote MMP.

I hope you vote for the latter -- and tell EO to f*** off, too.

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Saturday, September 1, 2007

Craig out!

When it comes to gays and lesbians, my attitude has mostly been that of Seinfeld -- "not that there's anything wrong with it." As I've noted on this blog previously, I do oppose gay marriage (though not civil unions) but also think the issue has been settled in Canada and we should just get on with it. I also support the right of social conservatives to raise their points as to why they think homosexuality is wrong.

What I do oppose, strenuously, is hypocrisy. I stand against public officials who oppose abortion but help themselves or other female relatives to access one. The same goes for vices such as gambling, smoking, gambling, and adult entertainment -- they say no for everyone else except themselves.

Hence, Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-ID). Earlier this year, the gentleman (and I use that term a bit skeptically) was arrested for soliciting sex in a Minneapolis restroom from another man who turned out to be a cop. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour earlier this week but quickly said it was a mistake just to make things go away and insisted he was not gay. That might work, except NBC News pointed out earlier this week he was asked the same question about his sexual orientation when he was a Representative -- 25 years ago. His response was something to the effect of, "I'm not going to dignify that question."

Well, needless to say, the pressure for Craig to resign came this week not from Democrats (who stand to gain from this, they have a tenuous one seat majority in the Senate right now) but Republicans; and the GOP's facing tough races next year in quite a few of the 22 they have to defend. Ronald Reagan's adage "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican" went out the window as Mitch McConnell (KY), John Ensign (NV) and John McCain (AZ) all said it was time for Craig to get the hell out of DC.

Craig was also dumped as Mitt Romney's campaign manager. Today, Craig is expected to resign.

I find it so interesting that Republicans continue to speak of traditional values, yet they're the ones who are the most under investigation. By my count, only one Democrat at the federal level is facing indictment; Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA), the guy who just happened to have $75,000 in his home freezer.

Bill Clinton wasn't impeached for doing Monica Lewinsky, it was being not truthful about it. Anyone who can't admit to having tendencies like those Craig has while rooting for the other side doesn't deserve to be in public office. Being openly gay and supporting gay rights -- I can be persuaded to vote for such a candidate. Opposing the gay lifestyle while hiding in the closest -- sorry. I don't like public outings, but Craig deserved it bigtime.

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