Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Power and the Passion in Power

Oh the power and the passion, oh the temper of the time
Oh the power and the passion
Sometimes you've got to take the hardest line
--Midnight Oil

Congratulations to the Aussies, who have smartly elected themselves a new government with new ideas:
(Incoming Prime Minister Kevin) Rudd’s pledges on global warming and Iraq move Australia sharply away from policies that made (former PM John) Howard one of Bush’s staunchest allies.

Rudd has promised to pull Australia’s 550 combat troops from Iraq in a phased withdrawal, and to quickly sign the Kyoto Protocol on limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Howard had rejected withdrawal plans for Australia’s troops in Iraq, and said no to ratifying Kyoto.

This on a day when Peevie Stevie and the suddenly toothless outgoing Australian team shamefully ganged up on the rest of the Commonwealth to thwart any promise of real action, and undermine the Kyoto treaty to which Canada is a signatory.
"It simply calls for 'aspirational' targets. In other words, these are things the Commonwealth countries just hope will happen," (Opposition leader Stephane Dion) told Newsnet.

Canada had opposed language that would set firm, Kyoto-style targets. Harper said the original wording excluded developing countries that are also becoming major greenhouse gas emitters.

Environmentalists and Commonwealth sources claimed Canada stood only with Australia in opposing firm targets.
Well as of today, Australia is clearly mandated by its citizenry to sign Kyoto. That isolates Harper with another lame duck - that Bush guy. Either Harper will fold completely on this or he will be pushed out of the Prime Minister's chair within months. And it will be over this same issue that has walloped Howard, despite his furious back-peddling.

So if you're a Canadian opposition party that wants Canada firmly back on the Kyoto track (and that would include the Liberals, NDP, Greens and BQ) you can take solace from another Midnight Oil song whose 20-year-old promise has finally been realised. Last word back to the Oils' former frontman Peter Garrett (most recently Rudd's Environment critic and the logical choice to head that ministry) from the song "Sometimes":

Sometimes you're shaken to the core
Sometimes you're face is gonna' fall
But you don't give in

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

U.S. Senate matches Oilers' $50M offer for Bin Laden

The United States Senate voted to match the Edmonton Oilers' $50 million offer on Restricted Free Agent Osama bin Laden last week, thus thwarting Oilers GM Kevin Lowe from acquiring the highly sought-after veteran.

"Bin Laden is simply too important for us to let him go, no matter the cost," said the Senator who co-authored the measure.

In a hasitly-called press conference in Edmonton, Lowe was visibly distraught.

"We are sorry to miss out on him," Lowe said. "Scouting reports noted his toughness, and the inability of other teams to knock him off the puck. As a player, he has shown great tenacity and a truly explosive offensive capability."

Several commentators expressed unease over the implications this may have on the bounties put on other terrorists' heads.

"If the NHL allows its General Managers to continue down this reckless path in pursuing free agents, there's no telling what ceiling to expect in this post 9-11, post lock-out market," blasted the Hockey Snooze in an online editorial.

Others were openly questioning Lowe's sanity.

"We knew Lowe was desperate to add offense, but I don't even know if this guy can skate, and his health is certainly questionable," mused one hockey blogger. "Playing high-stakes chicken with the Buffalo Sabres is one thing, but first he threw away $27 Million at one defenseman with questionable health and skating ability, and now he offers $50 million for another? Going up against the U.S. Senate? It's time someone told Kevin there is good psychiatric help available."

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A bit of Sanity in Ontario

Just when I thought things were all going kaflooey. It seems that a judge in Ontario has ruled that the marijuana possession laws are unconstitutional.
"The government told the public not to worry about access to marijuana," said Judge Howard Borenstein. "They have a policy but not law.… In my view that is unconstitutional."

Defence lawyer Brian McAllister, who represented the man, said the ramifications of the ruling have potential to be "pretty big."

"Obviously, there's thousands of people that get charged with this offence every year," he said.

McAllister said Ontario residents charged with possessing marijuana now have a new defence.

"That's probably why the government will likely appeal the decision," he said.

Borenstein has given prosecutors two weeks before he makes his ruling official. Prosecutors told CBC News they want a speedy appeal to overturn the decision.
Here's hoping that appeal gets shot down. Now I am not a user of the stuff myself (too old and responsible, don't you know, and unabashedly influenced by the Replacements). But far be it from me to get in the way of others' enjoyment of this substance that is likely less harmful than alcohol (my own one remaining crutch - when not driving). In fact I believe there is a good pragmatic argument for making all recreational drugs legal. If that day ever comes, then this ruling will be seen as a big step along the way.

Whatever you can say about Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the gift he gave us with the 1982 constitution is one that just keeps on giving. That's the man's true legacy IMHO.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

On Boisclair's resignation and the gay double-standard

Today saw the sad spectacle of Andre Boisclair's past-due resignation as leader of the Parti Quebecois. It's a sad day for federalists as well, since he didn't have the good sense (unlike Paul Martin Jr.) to resign promptly on election night; which only served to drive fresh nails into the the separatist movement's coffin with every day of pointless hesitation.

But perhaps saddest of all is this little piece of ugly journalism buried within the Gazette's political obituary of the man:
Boisclair faced tough questions over his admitted use of cocaine while a cabinet minister and, as Quebec's first openly gay political leader, also faced questions about his homosexuality during the election campaign.

(Emphasis mine) What a bizarre thing to say. While I agree about the cocaine part (heck, I called that one back in 2005), I am completely confounded about the rest of that sentence. What sort of questions did he face about his homosexulity, so craftily juxtaposed in the sentence structure here as to subtly equate it with cocaine use? Think about it. No one would write that he "faced questions about his orientalness" or: "his lack of legs", or: "his asthma", or what have you...

And all day that's been there. I would have thought some editor would have retracted that line by now but it's been there for at least 15 hours!
Let's see if it makes it into the print version. I'm ashamed for them.

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Update:(May 9, 09h23 EDT) The offending bit was not included in either Philip Authier's front page story, nor Hubert Bauch's analysis of the print version.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Live Free to Die: U.S. Gun Lobby

We're all looking for
The right kind
Of live free or die
--Jay Farrar (Son Volt)

The phrase, "Live Free or Die" first entered my vocabulary as a child. Whether I was first exposed to it watching U.S. of Archie or from a car trip to Santa's Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire (it appears on their licence plates), I had it seared into my consciousness by the time Rene Levesque put "Je Me Souviens" on our Quebec plates - or at least before I was ten.

The 1995 Son Volt song above asks what I think is the great question of America. What is the right balance? While the phrase was apparently derived from the writings of a U.S. Revolutionary War general, I think it has now morphed into a question that we ask ourselves whenever mass murderers carry out their hideous University of Texas Tower Massacres, their Columbines, their Dawsons and now their Virginia Techs. How free do you need to be?

If anyone is clamoring to answer that, it's the U.S. Gun Lobby, and their answer is: "Free enough to die." For only a gun lobby group could look upon the massacre of a week ago today and see a golden opportunity to - get ready for this - relax the restrictions on carrying concealed firearms in the state of Virginia.
"This is a huge nail in the coffin of gun control," said Philip Van Cleave, president of the gun rights group Virginia Citizens Defense League.

"They had gun control on campus and it got all those people killed, because nobody could defend themselves," he told AFP.

"You want people to be able to defend themselves -- always," he said.

Van Cleave said the tragedy could give a boost to a years-long effort in Virginia to pass legislation allowing students to carry weapons on campus -- especially since existing laws failed to prevent Cho's murderous rampage.

"Gun control failed. That student under university rules was not to have a gun," Van Cleave said.
I'm not even going to weigh in on the twisted logic of gun-control being the culprit in the Virgina Tech massacre, except to say that in the context of a heavily-armed U.S. population, it may not sound as stupid to them as it does to me. My male Texas co-workers (quote: "I'm white, so I vote Republican") all own guns and consider them as normal an accessory as a wristwatch or cellphone. When you believe everyone else around you is packing, and that they may very well try to get the better of you, you need to know where your gun is so you can defend yourself. And for many Americans it's a measure of their freedom that they can do so unfettered.

At least that's how one middle-aged (white) church-going Texan described it to me.

To which my response was that in my neck of the woods, the assumption is no one else you bump into is likely to have one, and therefore why should you go to the trouble? And who would want to pull a gun on you anyway? Unless you're connected to the criminal underworld, it's really a non-issue.

But that's not the only response, because my American friends, when pressed, don't have a good answer about what happens on the day they do find themselves in the gunfight they've so diligently readied themselves for (not unlike their dusty Y2K bunkers)? Cause once the guns are out and being fired, I don't think it's going to end like a James Bond or Die Hard movie.

Anyone who thinks otherwise may be prone to other illogical fantasies - like that invading and occupying a country halfway around the world will provide them with freedom. Or that Jesus will save the believers on the Day of Reckoning. Or that deregulation can solve our problems because the companies care about people more than governments. Or that your society can carry on polluting and consuming with reckless abandon as an exercise of your God-given freedom to enjoy "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness". The prospects of our planet sustaining human life in two generations be damned!

That's living. The American Way.

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You know you've ignored your blog way too long when... go to log-in and everything has changed, where suddenly the log-in name you chose for yourself is now deemed out-of-date by the all-powerful Oz (read: Google) and you have to re-validate yourself just to get into the editing room.

...yours is the only browser that's visited your site in something like three months.

...Scott Tribe sends you a gently-worded email wondering if you still exist.

...half your site's links are not good anymore (and you hadn't even noticed).

Oh I could go on, but what's the point? Basically, there is no good reason for my absence of posts - what net time I have put in has been devoted to my beloved Habs on the excellent new Habs Inside/Out site hosted by the Gazette. There, I have been ruminating upon the daily drama that is the life of a hopeless, hapless (again this year, Cup-less) Canadiens fan.

I've also been hesitant to add a mere ho-hum entry, especially given how accidentally prescient my last post turned out to be. Topping a correct prediction is next to impossible.

Anyway, stay tuned (both of you). There will be more to come soon, including a little spring cleaning of the links, which is way overdue.

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