Monday 28 February 2011

Fundamentalist preacher charged.

Two mothers taking their children to a park in New Orleans noticed a man masturbating in his vehicle.

The police apprehended and charged the man. It turns out that he's a fundamentalist preacher and a habitual crusader against gay pride celebrations.

From here.
Storms [...] was taken into custody at Lafreniere Park after two women reported seeing him masturbating in the driver's seat of his van, which was parked near the carousel and playground, a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office report said.
The first woman told deputies she was taking her children to the playground and parked next to the van at about noon. As she was walking around her own vehicle, she noticed the van windows were down and the occupant was "looking at the playground area that contained children playing, with his zipper down...," the report said. The woman noted that he was masturbating [...]
Storms told deputies he was having lunch at the park when he decided to urinate using a bottle instead of the restroom, the report said.
Sadly, this does not surprise me. Grant Storms appears to fit the profile of christian and catholic church officials who loudly denounce adult homosexuality and are eventually charged and found guilty of pedophile activities or of sexual assaulting children. One wonders, now that he has been charged, if victims will step forward to report other incidents to the NA police.

Corporate Feudalism Is on Its Way

As if we need any more proof how fucking useless the MSM is, have a look at Wisconsin.
Millions of Americans were out in the streets this past Saturday, participating in the largest flare-up of labor protests the nation has seen in decades -- yet images like these were conspicuously missing from the major television news networks.

At the rallies' epicenter was Madison, Wisconsin, where over 100,000 gathered in below-freezing temperatures to show solidarity with American workers' right to organize.

The state's newly elected Republican governor, Scott Walker, has proposed legislation that would effectively destroy the public sector unions.

The photos below come from places like Green Bay, Wisconsin; New York, New York; Washington, DC; Springfield, Illinois; Boston, Massachusetts; Tallahassee, Florida; Sacramento, California; Salt Lake City, Utah and many more.

Or, as a tweep put it: 83,000 fat asses on lawn chairs in August v. 100,000 peaceful protesters in February in a snow storm.

Oh, yeah, the media is all over anything to do with TeaDoucheBaggery, but totally ignores hundreds of thousands of people who have a righteous reason to be very angry and scared.

And, as Politicus USA points out, it is NOT just Fux News. It's all the networks and cable channels covering their ears and going lalalalalalala. (If you need to have it explained why, Politicus does a good job on that.)

And it's not much better up here in Canada. Our 'State TV' ran a shortish AP story on Saturday's protests. CTV ran a longer piece, but still from AP.

Global? Don't make me laugh. Two stories -- at least not AP -- from Feb. 18 and Feb. 22. Zip on the nationwide protests on Feb. 26.

Print media is doing a bit better, but with the exception of Mother Jones and Paul Krugman, they're getting the story wrong or at least wildly distorted.

Here's Krugman yesterday.
That Iraq Feeling

I don’t watch cable news, or actually any kind of TV news. But I gather that there’s a virtual blackout on the huge demonstrations in Wisconsin, except on Fox, which portrays them as thuggish and violent.

What that makes me think of is January-February 2003, when anyone watching cable news would have believed that only a few kooks were opposed to the imminent invasion of Iraq. It was quite spooky, realizing that hundreds of thousands of people could march through New York, and by tacit agreement be ignored by news networks whose headquarters were just a few blocks away.

And it’s even more spooky to see it happening all over again.

Spooky? You betcha.

It is NOT just about union-busting. Though that is definitely included as a key ploy to defund Democrats and strip the rest of us from the only organized force standing between us and corporate feudalism.

Also included are corporate goodies like executive powers to sell state assets on a no-bid basis with no legislative input.

It is a naked corporate power grab by TeaBagging pols, bought and paid for by corrupt billionaires like the Koch brothers, who are also major forces in Americans for Properity, the astroturf org behind the TeaBaggers.

How conveeeeeenient.

Lies from the Right are flying fast and furious and from the comments sections at most 'centrist' news sites, they're sticking.

Daily Kos debunks the top ten lying lies.

Michael Moore, who is not in Wisconsin, but in Thompson, Manitoba, calls it a 'global war on the middle class'.
That's why people everywhere need to support Thompson. As Niki Ashton - the MP who represents Thompson and the second-youngest woman ever elected to the Canadian Parliament - says: "It Was Flint Yesterday, It's Us and Wisconsin Today, and Tomorrow It's Going to Be Everyone."

I just went to CBC's contact page and left this message:
Why Isn't CBC Covering Wisconsin?
What's going on there is a war on democracy and the middle class. The US media is virtually ignoring the largest protests since the Viet Nam war. I expected Canadian media to have more balls. Especially our 'state' media.

AND there is a Canadian connection. See Michael Moore (link included). CUPE sent a delegation too.

Go to Twitter and see for yourself.

Tons of video! Great signs! Singing! People power! Energy! Firefighters! Bagpipes! Pizza donated from bloody Egypt!! Great television, in short. And Madison is not far away.

Get some reporters down there. Don't rely on US news wires.

Do I sound pissed off? I am.

By the way, the Wisconsin state legislature building is still occupied, albeit by far fewer protesters and the cops aren't letting any more in. They've bolted the bathroom windows shut and removed the tops of the bolts, so food can't get in as it did on Saturday. There are people outside trying to get in but they need appointments and have to show ID. Earlier today, 150 off-duty firefighters tried to get in and were not allowed, but seven lobbyists waltzed through.

See where this is going?

There's a call for a rally outside today at 6 p.m.

Here's a (pretty shitty) live traffic cam feed* of the people outside the building.

Sure, Merkin rightwingnutz are nuttier than ours and there are more of them. But isn't what Stevie Peevie's been doing for five fucking years merely a slow-motion version of exactly the same thing?

Previous DJ! posts on the matter here and here.

ADDED: I forgot this bit. In a fit of spectacular pettiness, the GOP House Leader is denying access to photocopiers by the absent Dems' staff.

*Sorry about link. It seems not to be on Capitol anymore.

Sunday 27 February 2011

Walk for Choice

Yesterday, in addition to the rallies -- universally ignored by the MSM -- held all over the US in solidarity with the Pizza Revolution, there were also lots of 'Walk for Choice' events. And such actions are increasingly necessary as the ReThugs ramp up their War on Women.

I just found a site loaded with pix of great pro-choice signs.

This is my fave.

Dynamic, not static.

Cambridge artist Sara Hendren is sticking her modified handicapped symbol over the standard sign image.

This is Sara Hedren, an artist, an activist and another spiritual offspring of Gorilla Grrls.

Sara has set her talents, her craft and her heart upon changing the static icon that represents (and circumscribes) individuals with physical disabilities.

From here:
“It’s so familiar, it has the invisibility of the obvious,’’ said Hendren, who is trying to change that with a street art project that is popping up — illegally — throughout the area.

In an era when even the most mundane objects are given obsessive attention from designers, Hendren said she believes the International Symbol of Access, as it is formally known, is long overdue for a makeover. The design, which is more than 40 years old, represents dated views of persons with disabilities, she said, and lacks the life of even the most basic stick-figure pictograms, such as the pedestrian walk signal.

“The figure is static, wooden, with the squared-off geometry of machinery. The body is synonymous with the chair,’’ and creates the impression of someone who needs a push to get through the world, said the 37-year-old artist and mother of three small children who lives in Cambridge. “It is almost completely unexamined, yet it is a design with human values at stake.’’

Hendren has created stickers that feature her own design — the symbol looks more like a person in a wheelchair race — and she is placing that sticker over the current symbol. Her goal is not to replace the symbol but to evolve it, she said. Her stickers are intentionally transparent so that they call attention not just to themselves, but also the old image underneath.[...]
Hendren said she is not a designer or a policy maker, but an artist, and the real goal of her guerrilla campaign is to raise questions about the symbol, not propose answers.

“There’s a much bigger question to ask about who is abled and who is disabled and what we think about dependence and need,’’ she said. “I’m just trying to start a discussion where we reevaluate our assumptions and our attitudes.’’
Yeah! You go, grrrl!

Need we add that here's a Sara who's actually engaged, involved and active in changing the world, unlike someone who bears the same name & who only serves to whine?

Saturday 26 February 2011

More about the Cons' Affirmative Action

Just when you thought a significant systemic shift occured in Canada in the last century, along comes Stevie Spiteful and his grim cabal of HarperCon bullies.

By way of @kady O'Malley, we hear that a Harper Government official is scheduled to make an announcement related to crime prevention in the lobby of the YMCA tomorrow. That's in Montreal, so it's not likely to be related to the crime promotion tirade for which Justice Dewar became recently notorious.

Though when you consider how the HarperCon notion of *justice* is situation -specific, it follows that Minister Nicholson would replace a progressive female judge with a male lawyer whose expertise lies in corporate/commercial litigation - one who donated to the CPC in 2008.

When you read the numerous accounts of Dewar's pontification, in which he morally exonerated convicted rapist Kenneth Rhodes by dubbing him "a clumsy Don Juan", one gets a sense of how the criminal prosecution system is being retro-fitted by the Cons into their own image.

That scheme will be policed by G20-type goons, staffed by ReformaTory appointments, and it will enable convicted cast in the good ol' boys mold to get away with, well ... probably murder too if it comes to that. And who do you think sex offender Rhodes will vote for, in the next federal election?

Plus ça change, plus les Cons se ressemblent.

h∕t k'in.

Friday 25 February 2011

Wisconsin Pizza Revolution Update

Since I'm not getting much else done, I figured I'd blog on the Pizza Revolution in Wisconsin again.

We progressives have always snorted beer out our noses when we hear the phrase 'left-wing media bias', but it seems maybe the message is getting through to Americans.

Titled 'TheWisconsin Protests Shatter the Myth of Liberal Media Bias', the blogger writes:
Something has happened in the last two weeks that should dispel the widely held misconceptions that the “mainstream” media is liberal and generally supports Democrats. For the second weekend in a row, no labor leaders, such as the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka, have been invited (as of now) on the Sunday morning shows.

He lists who is booked, rightwingnutbar governors from Wisconsin, Indiana, and New Jersey, union-busters all.
Notice what was missing? The opposing view point. Why might that be? Richard Trumka, the head of the AFL-CIO and probably one of the most charismatic leaders Big Labor has had in ages, has never been on any of the Sunday morning bobblehead shows. Wouldn’t a “liberal” “mainstream” media have had Trumka on at least once by now? He’s been AFL-CIO President since September 16, 2009, and was President of the United Mine Workers from 1982 to 1995.

Then an update: Trumka will appear.
Update: After a coordinated campaign of Tweeting and phone calls to Fischer and show host David Gregory, there was a late change Thursday evening for Sunday’s Meet the Press. The President of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, will be one of the guests for the show, along with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker(R). The change was sent out by Meet the Press’ Executive Producer Betsy Fischer. It’s telling that it took a herculean effort from bloggers and unions supporters to even have Mr. Trumka given the union side of the argument this weekend.

To update the situation there: the ReThuglicans in the Assembly pulled a fast one at about 1 a.m. last night and passed the bill. But, it needs Senate approval and the 'Wisconsin 14' are still hiding out. (The Senate needs a quorum of 20. ReThugs are one short.)

Rumours are flying on Twitter about whether the protesters who are still occupying the legislature will or will not be moved out tonight.

Mother Jones who has been all over this story launched a million sniggers and retweets with this:
Police say they're planning to sleep with #wiunion protesters tonight, demand capitol stays open #wiunion

And, in case you missed it, Gov. Walker got punked yesterday by a blogger from Buffalo, NY, pretending to be one of the evil billionaire Koch brothers on the phone. The whole idiotic dealie was recorded. Among other things, Walker responds to fake-Koch's suggestion that they send 'troublemakers' into the protests with: 'we thought about that'.

Oh, really? asks the mayor and police chief.
“I spent a good deal of time overnight thinking about Governor Walker’s response, during his news conference yesterday, to the suggestion that his administration ‘thought about’ planting troublemakers among those who are peacefully protesting his bill,” Police chief Noble Wray said in a statement.

“I would like to hear more of an explanation from Governor Walker as to what exactly was being considered, and to what degree it was discussed by his cabinet members.” Wray added.

“I find it very unsettling and troubling that anyone would consider creating safety risks for our citizens and law enforcement officers. Our department works hard dialoging with those who are exercising their First Amendment right, those from both sides of the issue, to make sure we are doing everything we can to ensure they can demonstrate safely,” he said.

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz also noted that he found Walker’s comments disturbing. He said Walker’s statement was “deeply troubling” especially because of the way the governor followed up by “brushing it off”, referring to Walker’s refusal to address the issue in press conferences and appearances on Wednesday and Thursday.

“The governor of Wisconsin actually thought about planting people in the crowds who might turn these peaceful protests into something ugly?” Cieslewicz asked in a statement.

Hmmm. And there may be further legal trouble for Walker.
"If Wisconsin law forbids coordination with political donors similar to federal law, Gov. Scott Walker is not just in political trouble, but in legal hot water,” said David Donnelly, national campaigns director for the Public Campaign Action Fund, in a statement.

More demos are planned for tomorrow right across the US. And 'The West Wing' is coming to Wisconsin. Actor Bradley Whitford, who played Josh Lyman and who is also a native of Madison, is going to emm-cee the rally.

The pizza part is continuing too. Ian's, the pizza joint taking orders from around the country and the world, has discontinued regular business to serve only the protesters.

You gotta admit -- Wisconsinites (?) really know how to protest. And party.

ADDED: I'm so wound into this, it just occurred to me that people might not understand that this battle is NOT just about union-busting. It's about far more. It's Shock Doctrine come home to roost, according to Paul Krugman.

Thursday 24 February 2011

Your money or your life.

Two men walk into a bar to celebrate the big real-estate deal they've just closed. They're well-groomed and wearing expensive male bling-bling that announces to the world that they are big-spenders, men with power who enjoy throwing money around so everyone has a good time.

Their wallets are full of cash which they flash around, as they pay for drinks for the good-time fellows that gather around them.

The two men talk loudly and jocularly of flying to Vegas to play some poker, notwithstanding the fact neither of them have a plane.

Soon the guys are too inebriated to drive; one of their new acquaintances who is sober enough to get behind the wheel, offers to drop them off to their respective appartments on his way home. They accept the offer.

Next morning both men notice considerable amounts of money are missing from their wallets. They file a report with the police. After considering the evidence the crown prosecutor lays criminal charges against the man who drove them home; following a lengthy trial he is convicted of robbing them.

The presiding judge refuses to sentence him to prison time, as recommended by the prosecutor. Instead, he gives the robber a suspended sentence and justifies his decision by noting the victims were sending signals that "money was in the air" through their lavish spending and generous behaviour on the night of the robbery, which he calls "inviting circumstances." He specifically observes the men kept their money in wallets that were visible to everyone in the bar and they wore expensive suits and jewelry.

"That night they made their intentions publicly known that they wanted to party - which the defendant misunderstood to mean they wanted to share their good forture with other people. This is a different case than one where there is no perceived invitation," says the judge, this is a case of misunderstood signals and inconsiderate behaviour."

The judge adds he doesn't want to be seen as blaming the victims, but that all of the factors surrounding the case must be viewed to assess "moral blameworthiness."

By now you've caught on to the substitution involved; male rather than female victim, a theft instead of sexual assault. This is the actual case.

Victims of unarmed robbery have the right to feel angry and vulnerable particularly if they can't recover what was stolen from them, but the damage done is far from that physical and psychological harm inflicted upon someone who was subjected to sexual assault. That pain may persist for months and years after the crime was perpetrated.

In his pronouncements, Justice Robert Dewar expressed considerable empathy for the defendant (a clumsy Don Juan ...?!?) and displayed little sympathy for the complainant, suggesting that she had created the circumstances which led to her sexual assault.

Responses to Justice Robert Dewar's nostalgic longing for 19th century *values* have not been supportive - quite the contrary. Some have suggested that his judgement reeked of misogyny. It does. One prosecutor said his words could have implications for public confidence in the system. They would certainly discourage other complainants from reporting similar crimes to the police.

I'd certainly hesitate if this judge were presiding; while I don't wear tube tops or high heels, I've been known to cast "sex in the air" by using double V words in Scrabble.

Un grand merci to k'in, a frequent visitor and commenter at DJ!, who flagged this travesty of justice.

Solidarity with Wisconsin!

WARNING: Bad language.

More Anti-Abortion Terrorism

I'm busy with work and revolution-watching, so I'll let Mother Jones do the reproductive rights blogging. They're good at it.
February's been a busy month in the war on reproductive rights. Last week, MoJo's Kate Sheppard broke the story about an effort in South Dakota to classify the murder of abortion doctors as a "justifiable homicide" (the bill was scrapped); this morning we told you about a similar effort in Nebraska, which the Omaha Police Department says could incite violence; and in Georgia, lawmakers are considering a bill that would conceivably permit the state to execute women who have miscarriages.

The legislators behind these efforts have generally deflected criticism by arguing that their bills are being misinterpreted. But Jacksonville, Florida mayoral candidate Mike Hogan doesn't really have that option. Participating at a candidate forum at a Catholic church on Monday, Hogan emphasized his long-standing opposition to Roe v. Wade, which is to be expected from a conservative Republican. But then he went one step further:
Hogan added that the only thing he wouldn't do was bomb an abortion clinic, then the law-and-order advocate added, with a laugh, "but it may cross my mind."

The Mandarin crowd applauded.


These people are terrifying. Well, that's what terrorists want.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Very Important Refugees

This post is not about Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney willfully disregarding the rule of law. Others have already scoped out and plumbed the depths of that topic.

This is about the Gaddafi⎮Kadhafi family: Papa Dicktator and his progeny - Mohamed, Seif Al-Islam, Al Saidi, Motassim Bilal (aka Hannibal) and Aisha.

Once upon a time Silvio and Muammar were tight friends - perhaps allies is the more precise term. They
agreed to work together to stem the increasing numbers of migrants seeking a better life in Europe. In addition to those leaving from North Africa, thousands more have been moving up the Red Sea from Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia and other countries. Their point of entry is Italy–specifically, the small Italian island of Lampedusa, which lies in the Mediterranean midway between Libya and Sicily.
In 2009, Qaddafi and Berlusconi made an agreement that became part of an open and often vicious campaign against migrants: Libya would try to keep them from leaving in the first place; if they got out, Italy would send them back to Libya without providing them a chance to make asylum claims.

Human Rights Watch has documented the attacks on migrants in a detailed report calledPushed Back, Pushed Around: Italy’s Forced Return of Boat Migrants and Asylum Seekers, Libya’s Mistreatment of Migrants and Asylum Seekers.
More here.

So now Gaddafi clan members are attempting to escape retribution. Aisha is on the run; the UN revoked her "special goodwill ambassador" status which means her diplomatic status has been withdrawn. A few years ago, insiders speculated she and Berlusconi had a romantic connection, albeit unconsumated because Aisha, at the age of 31, was too old for him.

The Italian Prime Minister faces serious legal problems right now; his political future hangs by a thread and a furious population would not react kindly to his decision to provide refuge to anyone fleeing Libya, whether wealthy or poor.

Aisha Gaddafi may have better luck with Jason Kenney; it's not clear that he's taken any action toward deporting members of the Ben Ali clan from Canada. He and his Cabinet colleagues appear to have *flexible* standards when it comes to enforcing policies, if deposed tyrants, their families and their ill-got assets are under consideration. Other family sponsorship applicants bereft of such privilege and wealth can wait - forever.

One word of caution: if Kenney proposes to wed Aisha for the purpose of getting laid sponsoring her father's application to enter Canada, he will have to convert to Islam in order to satisfy critics and to demonstrate the marriage is legitimate. Wonder how the ReformaTories' base supporters would react to that?

Girls just wanna have guns

What do rightwingnutjob *REAL* women and young *REAL* women have to say about sexual assault? Phyllis Schlafly is on tour, blaming and shaming women for all the bad things that happen to them, claiming with a Botoxed straight face and a grim demeanour that feminists make women want to have divorces and abortions.

Meanwhile, the entrepreneurial & spiritual spawn of $arah Palin©™
believes girls and young women should carry guns to defend themselves from potential rapists. Since the majority of sexual assaults perpetrated on women under 25 are committed by men known to their victims - family members, neighbours, work colleagues, teachers or religious officials, classmates, acquaintances, friends as well as intimate partners, that's not bound to end well.

Nonetheless, here she is. Oh, and her sister participated in the ACORN entrapment scheme.

For a different, rational and not as shrieeeky analysis of sexual assault and rape culture, here's an opinion piece by Sady Doyle. She's known for her highly visible campaigns, mobilizing opposition to John Boehner's attempts to restrict access to legal abortions in the US and to defund Planned Parenthood.

Doyle compares and contrasts the media coverage of reports regarding journalist Lara Logan in Egypt, and about sexual assaults committed allegedly committed by Wikileaks founder Assange.

But the contrast is clear. In Logan’s case, all is fact. We believe her, as we have every reason to do. In the Assange case, nothing can be definitively known. In Logan’s case, the violence is clear and visible; in the Assange case, the alleged violence has widely been trivialized and dismissed. (In response to the allegation that Assange forcibly pinned a struggling woman and forced her legs open, Assange’s defender Geoffrey Robinson said that it was “what is usually termed the missionary position.”) In Logan’s case, the assailants were strangers, and they had multiple witnesses; in the Assange case, the alleged assaults took place privately, between acquaintances, which is also the case with most actual rapes.

We don’t need to play ranking games here. What happened to Logan was horrific; if the allegations against Assange are true, those assaults were also horrific. But one might assume — I did — that Logan would not be subject to the same sort of defamation or victim-blaming that Miss A or Miss W have been. We know it happened; there’s no way to dismiss it. We know that she was outnumbered and overpowered; there’s no way to blame her for what happened. Right?

Wrong. Just as Miss A and Miss W were subject to nasty insinuations about their sexuality and lifestyle — the Daily Mail found the time to tell the world that Miss A was “an attractive blonde” and “a well-known ‘radical feminist,’” and to assert that the case had negative implications for both women’s “values” — the coverage of Logan’s assault often focused on her sexuality or attractiveness. Simone Wilson of LA Weekly described her as a “blonde reporter” who was “known for her shocking good looks,” and whose “sex life famously came under fire” two years before the (completely unrelated) attack. Just as people insinuated that Miss A and Miss W somehow invited an attack, they said the same about Logan.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Gawd Says: as interpreted by Focus on the Family

Shorter Candi Cushman of US Focus on the Family: Homophobes? Nonsense, we're here to preach God's love for heterosexuals and only heterosexuals.

Only rightwing intolerant christian zealots *really* know what God says and so The Focus on the (fundamentalist religious nuclear) Family will shrieeek as loudly as it can over the "Day of Silence".

Other families - here, and there - are offensive to the christianists and their Gawd and are thus rejected as 'unnatural'.

Noted catholic bigot Margaret Somerville used academic flourishes to disguise the hideous loathing, and perhaps envy, that seethes from her form of family worship. So shallow is the defense of her opinion that her final resort is a quote from a woman (who owes her existence to reproductive technology) equating these medical interventions with the crime of sexual assault.

Responses to Somerville's peroration can be found here.

Monday 21 February 2011

The Colonel and his special advisor in happier times.

Personal friends? Tony Blair meets Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi at his desert base

From here:
Colonel Gaddafi is understood to be on first name terms with Mr Blair, who saw his work in Libya as one of the great foreign policy successes of his premiership.[...] Mr Blair's trip to Tripoli in 2004, where he shook Colonel Gaddafi's hand and declared a 'new relationship'. The meeting led to lucrative Libyan oil contracts for Shell.
A month before stepping down as PM, Mr Blair visited-Colonel Gaddafi in Tripoli again at the same time that BP signed a $900 million deal with the Libyan National Oil Company.[...] Since becoming a part-time Middle East peace envoy on leaving office in 2007, Mr Blair has exploited his contacts to amass a personal fortune in excess of £20 million.
He has a lucrative contract to advise JP Morgan, which pays him £2million a year. Part of his job for them is to develop banking opportunities in Libya. It is understood that British firms Mr Blair is linked to are also being given contracts to tap Libya's massive natural resources, and to help rebuild the country's outdated infrastructure.
The details are sketchy because he has built a labyrinthine business empire of interlocking partnerships designed, it seems, to conceal the sources and scale of his income.
So how's that working out for you these days, Tony? You enjoying your blood for oil money?

For anyone who has spent the last week in an isolation tank, here's a summary of what's happening in Libya.

Sunday 20 February 2011


HarperCon cabinet ministers - Baird, Kenney, Cannon and Stevie Spiteful the 1st - trained at the same Fundamentalist Finger-Pointing Academy attended by Saif Al Islam, Gaddafi's son.


Any fragile illusion that the point of Parliament these days is *NOT* to advance the greater glory of Stevie Spiteful the 1st has been brutally smashed by this:

The National Capital Commission met Friday to give final approval to the design of the glass dome that some federal officials have dubbed the "crystal palace."

The project was officially unveiled by commission architect Linda Dicaire, who said the spectacular dome is necessary to "provide parliament with a dignified chamber and quality facility worthy of Canada's most democratic institution."

While the Crystal Palace offers the perfect setting for the majority Stevie anticipates, it does raise some questions. Since the ReformaTories demonstrably enjoy throwing stones, why should taxpayers accept that they practice their favourite sport in a glass House?

Grand merci to Boris at TGB.

The Pizza Revolution

Again, I'm transfixed by a revolution being tweeted, only this one isn't in North Africa or the Middle East.

It's in Wisconsin.

Here's some background by Joshua Holland.
What's happening in Wisconsin is not complicated. At the beginning of this year, the state was on course to end 2011 with a budget surplus of $120 million. As Ezra Klein explained, newly elected GOP Governor Scott Walker then "signed two business tax breaks and a conservative health-care policy experiment that lowers overall tax revenues (among other things). The new legislation was not offset, and it turned a surplus into a deficit."

Walker then used the deficit he'd created as the justification for assaulting his state's public employees. He used a law cooked up by a right-wing advocacy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC likes to fly beneath the radar, but I described the organization in a 2005 article as "the connective tissue that links state legislators with right-wing think tanks, leading anti-tax activists and corporate money." Similar laws are on the table in Ohio and Indiana.

Walker's bill would strip public employees of the right to bargain collectively for anything but higher pay (and would cap the amount of wage hikes they might end up gaining in negotiations). His intentions are clear -- before assuming office, Walker threatened to decertify the state's employees' unions (until he discovered that the governor doesn't have that power).

In short, Walker is union-busting.

And looky at whose behest. The über-evil Koch brothers who have a lot at stake in the state as well as an irrepressible urge to harm people. (Mother Jones has been all over this story and has a reporter on the ground, tweeting like mad.)

There have been growing protests. People have been peacefully occupying the state capital building all week. DJ! reported on the arrival of the firefighters -- exempt from this legislation, by the way -- a few days ago.

Then 'The Mubarak of the Middle West' made a bad situation worse. He went on CNN and claimed he had received 19,000 emails from the quiet majority -- where have we heard that before? --backing his position.

He also got his TeaBagging buddies to organize a counter-demo. The Teabaggers were bussed in and held their rally yesterday. The most generous estimate of the number was 1,000 people, described as all white. One tweep reported that s/he was standing 20 feet from their bleating bullhorn and couldn't hear any of it over the real protesters' noise.

But the good, progressive people of Wisconsin weren't having any of this crap. Yesterday, they turned out for what can only be described as a MASSIVE demonstration. Teachers, nurses, snow-plow drivers, students, firefighters. Working people. Ordinary people.

Numbers were bouncing around yesterday, but today there seems to be a consensus on 80,000.

And it was a party. The signs were hilarious. (My fave: 'If you can read this, thank a teacher'.)

And, not surprisingly, spelled correctly. Unlike this classic from the Tea Baggers. It reads: 'Your fired!'

A protester in Egypt's Tahrir Square sent his message of support: 'Egypt supports Wisconsin. One World. One Pain'.

Protesters were angry, but also good humoured.
Mahlon Mitchell, the president of the Wisconsin Professional Firefighters Association, which has been a high-profile participant in the demonstrations, surveyed the crowd while recounting Walker’s boast about the 19,000 e-mails.

“I think I have 19,000 people behind me,” said Mitchell.

Pointing to one edge of the massive audience arrayed before him, he said: “And 20,000 there.”

He pointed to the other edge of the crowd: “And 20,000 there.”

Finally, he pointed down State Street, the thoroughfare that stretches from the Capitol to the University of Wisconsin campus, which was packed with students who have backed the unions: “And 20,000 there.”

On Twitter, Tea Baggers were spreading lies about violence, doctors signing sick notes for protesters, homeless from Chicago bussed in (the 'outsiders' dictators love to invent), and so on.

Today, the City of Madison issued a statement, saying that there had been not one single arrest and thanking the people for their good order. It included this:
As previously indicated, the goal of law enforcement has been to provide a safe environment for democracy to take place. That goal has been realized for yet another day.

(If that statement were a brick, I'd throw it through Toronto Chief Bill Blair's window.)

So, the pundits are punditting: Will this movement of real, working Americans take fire as in North Africa and the Middle East? In Ohio or Indiana, maybe, where similar legislation is pending.

Obviously, I dunno about that, but it certainly captured the imaginations of a helluva lot of Americans, Canadians, and at least one Egyptian.

For me, the most heart-warming part was this. Someone had tweeted that two restaurants -- one a pizza place -- had been delivering food to the protesters occupying the legislature. The phone number of the pizza place was posted. People from around the country and at least three other countries, Canada among them, ordered and paid for $2,500 worth of pizza to be delivered.

People power! Solidarity! Social media! Pizza!

All great and important and exhilarating.

But the most important part is that the Tea Baggers are totally exposed for what they are: bigoted idiots in thrall to evil billionaires who pay them to protest FOR government, specifically for Republican government, AGAINST working people. They can never be taken seriously -- if they ever were -- again.

Saturday 19 February 2011

"The worst government is the most moral ..."

… when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression."

late columnist HL Mencken coined many epigraphs that apply to Stevie Spiteful's five-year rule and his chokehold on Parliament.

The above may seem incongruous, given the debates centered upon Minister Oda's declared admission that she did know about the addition of *NOT* to a legal document after it had been signed. But from the the HarperCon perspective denying funding to KAIROS was an opportune and judicious action and therefore, moral. Read Catherine Porter's excellent analysis as to why that is,

Consider the "moral sins" - rightfully or not attributed to ReformaTory MPs who had to leave Harper's Cabinet.

Maxime Bernier, Helena Guergis: in spite of many administrative and blunders, what ultimately did each of them in was the taint suggested by news reports that featured words like *biker chick* and *busty hookers*.

And remember,
Diane Ablonczy is still not a full-fledged minister; observers suspect her past support for the funding of Toronto's Gay Pride events is the reason.

So, to recap: any implied support for non-marital and non-heterosexual sex appears to be grounds for being dismissed from Cabinet. Unless you're Vic Toews, of course.

We suspected Jason Kenney was still a virgin but who knew John Baird was a monk?

"No one has ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the masses." HL Mencken

Next: Hiring Quotas for HarperCons

Also known as Affirmative Action for RightWingers.

Radio-Canada and other media have raised some interesting questions and uncovered some fascinating information about the recent appointment of Tom Pentefountas to the CRTC. From here:
A Commons committee has voted to bring the newly appointed vice-chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission before them to answer some pointed questions about his qualifications and his vision for the role.

Opposition MPs have accused the government of making a partisan appointment in former Montreal lawyer Tom Pentefountas, hired to the senior-ranking CRTC position earlier this month. Critics have said that Pentefountas, who is the former president of the Action democratique du Quebec, a political party with ties to the Conservatives, does not have the credentials for the job.

At a Commons heritage meeting Wednesday, MPs agreed to call on Pentefountas along with officials from Canadian Heritage, the Privy Council and the Prime Minister's Office to describe the hiring process, from the criteria used in vetting applications to timelines for interviews.
The position involves a number of complex responsibilities, and applicants for the position are in principal, required to demonstrate that they have the knowledge, the experience and the skills needed to accomplish the job.

But never fear! The PMO, aka Stevie's Politburo, was directly involved in the vetting process. Furthermore Michel Arpin, who previously held the position, was hired to "coach" Pentefountas in all the areas in which he is deficient.

Friday 18 February 2011

Egypt in Wisconsin?

Some Merkins seem to be clueing in to the deep deep ugliness that is Teabagging, and in particular, its loathing for unionized workers. Well, except for firefighters.

Wisconsin is leading the way.
In all, Republicans now hold five of seven governorships in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. Last year, they held two.

The story is the same for legislatures in those seven states. Republicans now hold power in six of the seven lower chambers of the legislature (called the House in some states and the Assembly in others) – up from one last year. They also hold five of the seven state Senates. Only Illinois has bucked the trend, with Democrats controlling the General Assembly and the Senate and Democrat Pat Quinn the governor.

Walker [Wisconsin's governer] was the first of the Midwest’s four new Republican governors to push for weakening collective bargaining. But Ohio and Michigan already have bills targeting unions in the works, too.

. . .

In a time when large and tense demonstrations have become increasingly rare in America, the Wisconsin protests could provide an Egypt-like moment, says Norman Ornstein, a fellow at the nonpartisan American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

"If there's a big tea party demonstration in Madison, we may see a direct clash, just as we had in the streets of Cairo," he says.

One protester's sign at the capitol said, "Impeach Scott Mubarak" – a direct reference to protests that led Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to resign last week.

As it gains momentum, the union protest movement is likely to draw in young social-justice activists, Obama supporters, and even religious groups who fight for the dispossessed, says Bruno.

Last night, in Madison, the state capital, there was a huge demonstration. The place went nuts when off-duty firefighters marched in support -- complete with bagpipes! Note that firefighters, along with police and state patrol, were specifically exempted from the legislation.


For another innovative ploy, the state's Democratic senators have fled the state to deny the legislature the necessary quorum to pass the bill. Creative.

Cue the Fetus Fetishist Crowing

US House of Representatives votes to defund Planned Parenthood. Some Dems voted for it, some Rethugs voted against. Final vote: 240-185.

Have a look at this awesome defence of planned parenthood by Rep. Gwen Moore.

The Bill is said to be 'very unlikely' to pass in the Senate. Fingers crossed, though.

Should Oda go blonde?

This photograph of the Minister for International Bullying Cooperation, hiding behind her cloud of tobacco smoke (Rona Ambrose was busy elsewhere) went viral after the Odascam/Negate debacle broke in Canadian political news.

My advice to Bev Oda: lose the jet-black hair-dye. If you let it go, eventually you'll turn into a blonde because the fumes from the cigarettes you're chain-smoking will stain your hair yellow. (Ever visited a heavy smoker's den and noticed the patina of nicotine tar clinging to the walls and ceiling?) And Lord knows Stevie's HarperCons could use another diversion in the House of Commons.

Is there anyone proficient with Photoshop out there willing to show us what a blonde Oda might look like?

NOThing done about freezing Ben Ali clan assets.

The former dictator lies comatose in a hospital in Saudi Arabia, abandoned by family members who are no doubt scurrying about, secreting whatever's available of the MASSIVE fortune Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his thugs stole from the Tunisian people.

On Monday and Tuesday, BQ MP Jean Dorion tried in vain to secure from Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon a clear and straight answer about the assets held in Canada by the Ben Ali cabal. For two days running, Cannon supplied Con-voluted baffle-gab in response to pointed questions from Dorion.

Then the Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson took up the empty rhetoric refrain: "Our government is prepared to assist the Government of Tunisia in any manner while respecting our laws. We will continue to work with representatives of Tunisia on this file. Obviously, we all have a stake in ensuring that justice is done for the people of Tunisia."

Yesterday BQ leader Gilles Duceppe met the Tunisian ambassador - who says he has NOT received any communication whatsoever from Cannon or Nicholson.

At the end of January, Tunisian officials asked Canada to freeze assets held by the former President Ben Ali and his family, including illegal transfers of funds abroad. Ben Ali's family owns a house in Westmount valued at over $ 2 million.

[...] in an interview with The Associated Press the Ambassador of Tunisia in Ottawa Mouldi Sakri said the minister, Lawrence Cannon, has yet to respond to the request of Tunisia [...]

Belhassen Trabelsi, brother-in-law of the deposed president, fled to Canada following the uprising in Tunisia. He has permanent resident status, but the immigration department has taken steps to withdraw his status.

Cannon has invoked Canadian laws on privacy to justify his silence on this issue while Mr. Sakri has received no communication from Canadian officials.

"The Ben Ali must be frozen before they are squandered. The Ministry of Justice in Tunisia presented two requests to the Canadian government," he said.

[...] Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe, who met yesterday with the Ambassador of Tunisia in his office on Parliament Hill, said the Harper government cannot shirk its responsibilities. [...]

"The ambassador hoped for a speedy response to his requests and at the very least a temporary freeze of assets, pending a final decision. Ben Ali family members are experts in fiscal evasion. Now they've been given plenty of time to move money to off-shore havens [...]" said Duceppe.

If the HarperCons had acted efficiently and competently, they would have bragged about it. Their evasive tactics in Question Period means neither Cannon nor Nicholson have done anything except procrastinate and put off Tunisian officials.

As fern hill said yesterday, Stevie and his bullies respect the power of money. In addition, they appear to feel ideologically synchronized with oligarchies that undermine the democratic process.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Cannon and his Teensy Tunisian Obfuscations

This has been quite the week for Con-generated Convolution in the House of Commons, and it's not over yet.

On Monday, BQ MP Jean Dorion presented a clear query regarding the assets held by the Ben Ali family in Canada, here:

Mr Speaker, it took less than 24 hours for Switzerland to freeze Mubarak's assets. Europe and Switzerland also dealt quickly with the assets of Tunisian dictator Ben Ali and his entourage. Members of the Ben Ali family have been in Canada for weeks now and we still do not know whether Canada has frozen their assets.

Is anyone in this government able to tell us whether or not Canada has frozen the assets of members of the Ben Ali entourage?

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon uttered the standard HarperCon ring-around-the-rosy reply:
Mr Speaker there is a condition that needs to be met, as I have told my colleague many times: the request has to come from the Tunisian government. For example, in the case of Egypt, the request was made to the various countries my colleague mentioned. However, before we can take action, this request has to come from the Tunisian government. We have worked and continue to work closely with government authorities. My colleague, the Minister of Justice, is weighing all the options, and we will pursue this matter with the same intention I have already identified.

Those sentences contain subjects and verbs and yet offer no concrete information in response to a straight question. This is the
Minister who puffed himself up 18 months ago and huffed that he would have some strong words for Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. And last year, he lectured survivors of the Haïtian earthquake about transparence and accountability.

Yes or no. Were the Ben Ali family assets frozen? On Tuesday, this was the exchange in the House. MP Dorion tried again:

Mr. Speaker, here we have another example of misinformation from this government. The Minister of Foreign Affairs led the House to believe that he had not received any requests from the Tunisian authorities for Canada to freeze the assets of former dictator Ben Ali or members of his family. That is not true. How can the minister deny the many requests made to the Canadian government urging it to take the necessary steps to freeze the assets of Ben Ali?

Cannon said:

Mr. Speaker, I have always answered my colleague's question clearly. The Tunisian authorities have taken steps. We have encouraged the Tunisian authorities to take steps to allow us to work with them on developing options to freeze the assets of those who are not welcome in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, how could the minister, yesterday, still maintain his story that he did not receive any request, when a press release from the Tunisian embassy, dated January 26, confirmed that: “the Embassy has taken the necessary steps with the Canadian freeze and protect assets...that might be held by ousted President Ben Ali, his wife, and members of their families”? What more is the minister waiting for to freeze the assets of the Ben Ali family?

Mr. Speaker, if my hon. colleague reviews yesterday's transcript, he will see that he began his question by talking about Egypt. With regard to Egypt, I told him that we still had not received such a request. However, I continued by specifying once again that we are fully prepared to work with the Tunisian authorities on freezing the assets of those who are not welcome in Canada.

So you have it. Cannon was confused because Dorion mentioned Egypt. The fact is, Mubarak has no family in Canada, and it is the Tunisian embassy that issued a formal request, not Egypt. Cannon is doing what all the other PMO-coached Ministers do: leading the opposition up the garden path.

On Wednesday, the Tunisian ambassador issued a statement:

Canada must be on the side of the Tunisian people and not on the side of criminals, "said Ambassador Mouldi Sakri, in an interview with The Associated Press.

He claims not to have received a formal response from Ottawa despite a request from the end of January of the freezing of assets to countries of the former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his family, including accused of illegal transfers of funds abroad. [...]

"Our hope is that the Canadian government to take urgent measures to safeguard the property until justice is done," pleaded Mr. Sakr.

And if the former Tunisian president and members of his family are not found guilty, their property will be returned, he explains.

Two other requests were made to the Canadian government formally by the Ministry of Justice in Tunisia," he said. One is an international arrest warrant against Belhassen Trabelsi - the brother of former president - now on Canadian soil.

Despite claims that date back more than three weeks, Cannon - when pressed for action - simply answers questions from MPs in the House of Commons that the Canadian government is "evaluating options" with Tunisia.

HarperCon ministers are so well trained in the tactics of NOT giving direct answers. They fill the air with volumes of truthy gabble-fab. They don't appear to answer their mail, either.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

#laralogan & forcible penetration.

Was the brutal physical assault inflicted upon CBS reporter Lara Logan actual, *real* rape-rape? Were any of her body orifices penetrated with a weapon?

A penis can be a weapon when deliberately used with force and hatred, though many rapists are impotent and have tortured women with a variety of implements. Prurient minds need to know.

Even in the absence of the crudest of details, the shrieeeking hordes of gynophes (aka women-haters), islamophes (aka moslem-haters) and racists are yapping non-stop, spewing their ignorance over Twitter and the blogosphere.

Never mind it was a group of Egyptian women and men (soldiers) that rescued Logan from what some people consider a 'fate worse than death', right?

Of course, those same people seemingly have no time to consider the fate of women in the Congo. By the way, KAIROS and Rights & Democray, the organizations maligned and de-funded by HarperCons supported programs that provide assistance to women and girls who have survived vicious, vile sexual violence.

It's also important to remember the thousands of women in the US armed forces who were sexually assaulted by their male colleagues - not by the enemy - because, like Lara Logan, they were doing a *man's job*.

We Won't Go Back

Great new PSA, featuring Lisa Edelstein.

Choice: the gift of life and love.

Blob Blogging Wingnut probably believes Kristine Casey's gift was an abomination - SHE has produced shrieeeking diatribes about assisted reproduction in the past, so it's unlikely that HER so-called *pro-life* ideology includes Casey's choice.

Kristine Casey accepted to become impregnated with, and carry her daughter's fetus to term.

From here:

Almost 39 weeks ago, Kristine Casey set out on an unusual journey to help her daughter and answer a spiritual calling. Her goal was achieved late Wednesday when she gave birth to her own grandson at age 61.

Casey, possibly the oldest woman to give birth in Illinois, served as a surrogate for her daughter, Sara Connell, who had been trying for years to have a baby. Connell and her husband, Bill, are the biological parents of the child Casey carried, which grew from an embryo created from the Chicago couple's egg and sperm. [...]

The Connells decided in 2004 to try to have a baby, but Sara, now 35, soon discovered she wasn't ovulating. After undergoing infertility treatment at the Reproductive Medicine Institute in Evanston, she got pregnant but delivered stillborn twins, and later she suffered a miscarriage.

Kristine Casey chose to provide the physical, emotional and spiritual environment that her daughter and son-in-law's fetus needed to develop to term, and to give life to her grandchild. Modern medical science can be astounding - but not as amazing as a gestating woman extending the range of her procreative power.

Unfortunately, this event occurred in a country that may give religious zealots permission to murder doctors who provide medical care for women who need to terminate a pregnancy.