Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Freakout

A pleasant Friday to all y'all...


Are you furious, George?



Why do people taunt silverback gorillas? They have feelings, too.


Only in Tokyo:

Turtles have a lot of upsides as pets, such as being quiet and low-maintenance. Of course, they’re not perfect animal companions. For example, just think of how much fun dog-owners have taking their pooches for a walk. You can’t do that with a turtle, can you?

Sure you can, as long as you’re not in a hurry, like this resident of Tokyo out for a stroll with his gigantic pet turtle.



Fifteen things you should know about sake:

The origin of the word "Tōji" bears a deep similarity for a Japanese word that translates to "an independent woman." Other clues to the feminine influence on the drink's history include how housewives were once called the "toji of the house," and how a woman was listed as the toji for the Imperial court. Men seemed to take over saké production in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

Friday Post

Just in time for the week-end...


Canada to train "incompetent" Ukrainian military:

Canadian soldiers are heading to Ukraine to train military personnel there and none too soon, suggests one report.

Incompetence within the senior ranks of the Ukrainian army pose a serious risk to the former Eastern bloc country’s democratic future, says the report prepared earlier this month by the International Crisis Group.

“…incompetent, sometimes corrupt senior commanders are incapable of designing effective combat operations or unwilling to lead them, leaving junior officers on their own, under serious pressure,” says the report from the independent, non-profit organization that monitors global crises.
 
Well, gee, no wonder these is no headway in that region.


From the people who brought you "beer and popcorn":

Ontario's "biggest shakeup" to its liquor laws since it repealed prohibition in 1927 includes a new tax on beer and allowing it to be sold in hundreds of grocery stores, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Thursday.

"When it comes to the sale of beer in Ontario, I'm here to announce that the status quo is over and that the days of monopoly are done," Wynne said as she released a report by a panel appointed to look at liquor sales and Crown assets.

The Liberal premier made it clear there were big changes coming at the 448 retail outlets operated by the foreign-owned Beer Store, which controls 80 per cent of beer sales in the province.

"The Beer Store has grown into a de facto monopoly, controlled by a very small number of companies," said Wynne. "This system has stifled competition (and) kept craft and small brewers from growing."

The new beer tax — $1 on a case of 24 — will be phased in over four years starting Nov. 1 at 25 cents a case, which is expected to raise $100 million annually by 2019.

Ontario Liberal voters wanted this.


Did you know that Benjamin Levin, friend to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and co-developer of a controversial sex education program being pushed in schools, feels "shame" for encouraging an undercover police officer acting as a mother to abuse her daughter for his enjoyment and that thirty-six people wrote him character references?

Yep.

It's a good thing everyone is worried about Mike Duffy.


Once again, militant atheists answer questions no one ever asked:

City councils across Canada are reacting differently to Wednesday's Supreme Court ruling that praying before council meetings is a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

We need to elect our judges.


Good:

Justin Trudeau has been effectively kicked out of two churches by no less that the bishop of Charlottetown.

The Liberal Party of P.E.I. had two events lined up this weekend, both in Charlottetown Catholic churches, and both featuring Justin Trudeau.

However, that was before the diocese sent a directive to the province's parishes, reminding them that partisan events aren't permitted in church halls.

Both events have since been relocated.


Even if you don't have a title to land you can't prove is yours, that is not a problem:

Industrial giants, from forestry companies to mining operations, must respect aboriginal territorial claims in British Columbia just as they would heed the rights of any other Canadian landowner, the province's highest court has ruled.

A decision from the B.C. Court of Appeal paves the way for First Nations to launch lawsuits to protect their territory from private parties, even without proving aboriginal title.

Two northwestern First Nations expressed vindication on Wednesday after a panel of three judges overturned a lower court ruling that denied them opportunity to sue the aluminum producer Rio Tinto Alcan.

The Saik'uz and Stellat'en First Nations, based downstream of the company's Kenney hydroelectric dam and reservoir, were refused a trial on the premise that aboriginals must first establish their title. Their initial suit was mounted in September 2011.

The nations contend the dam, in operation since the 1950s, causes nuisance and breaches their rights to the natural waterway that runs through their land. They're seeking damages for property-rights violations, alleging the electricity generator has harmed the Nechako River system and its fisheries.

The decision means they can now take their claims to trial.

This is about money and we know it.


In this addiction story, there is a grain of common sense:

In 2013 Tshakapesh claimed the gas sniffing problem in his community was getting progressively worse and called on government to do more to help.

Both Tshakapesh and Natuashish Chief Gregory Rich said there's a lot of work to be done. 

"We need to target the families, we need to target the parents — the father, the mother, they need to sober up, they need to be clean," said Rich.

"They need to be more open up to their children and be more responsible."

 
Well, this must be awkward:

Most people know Dr. Mehmet Oz as America’s most famous doctor, occupying the coveted 4pm TV spot with his daily series, “The Dr. Oz Show”.

But what you may not know about him is that prior to becoming a household name via “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 2004, Oz was (and still is) one of the most sought-after cardiothoracic surgeons in the country, practicing at New York City’s prestigious New York-Presbyterian Hospital. And since 2001, he’s been a professor at Columbia University, where he’s currently the Vice Chair of the Department of Surgery. 

Now, some of Oz’s peers are calling that appointment into question. On Wednesday, a group of doctors from across the country called on Columbia University to remove Dr. Mehmet Oz from their faculty list...

The environment at medical conferences will be frosty from here on in.


That's nice, Gwyneth, but poor people can't quit their day-to-day struggle just to live:

Who didn’t see this coming? Gwyneth Paltrow writes in her magazine, Goop, that she only lasted four days on her much publicized SNAP challenge:
As I suspected, we only made it through about four days, when I personally broke and had some chicken and fresh vegetables (and in full transparency, half a bag of black licorice). My perspective has been forever altered by how difficult it was to eat wholesome, nutritious food on that budget, even for just a few days—a challenge that 47 million Americans face every day, week, and year. A few takeaways from the week were that vegetarian staples liked dried beans and rice go a long way—and we were able to come up with a few recipes on a super tight budget.
And she had a team helping her come up with recipes, and still failed.

There was no need to take on this "challenge" anyway. That was just posturing.  Secondly, it offers no solutions to actual poverty (those who genuinely struggle, not wastrels). Thirdly, this stunt served only to patronise those who struggle. Is coming up with a few recipes supposed to be cute? I'm sure the needy don't think so.


There's no censorship like post-Soviet censorship:

In an unprecedented move, Russia has cancelled the release of a Hollywood thriller set in the Stalin era - claiming it distorts history and would air as the country celebrates its victory over Nazi Germany.

The film, 'Child 44', starring Tom Hardy, Vincent Cassel and Gary Oldman, tells the story of a serial killer who targets children in the Stalin era. ...

(Sidebar: unprecedented?) 

The move to effectively ban a major mainstream Hollywood film just a day before it was due to premiere is unprecedented.

In recent years, Russia has cracked down harshly on negative depictions of the Soviet Union during the Stalin era, while criticism of those who fought in the Second World War is taboo.

The culture ministry accused the film of 'distortion of historical facts and the idiosyncratic treatment of events before, during and after' the war.
 
Is that so?

A North Korean who tried to bring a drunk Soviet lieutenant to justice said, “I cannot forgive the Soviet soldier who raped my wife. Many such perpetrators went unpunished. Though another lieutenant colonel urged the Soviet military police to punish the perpetrators to maintain military discipline several times, his words went unheeded, the report said.

The 25th Primorsky Krai unit commander of the Soviet Far East Army arrived at Pyongyang Airport on Aug. 26, 1945, and described the Soviet army as liberators. “Remember fellow Koreans! Your happiness is up to you. You have achieved freedom and independence. Everything is up to you now,” he said. The report, however, quoted the commander as threatening to hang half of the Koreans” if they rise up against the Soviet army in protest of their abuses.

The commander held a party with his subordinates for 22 hours in a row in downtown Haeju on Nov. 16, 1945. A fire broke out and burned houses, but he said the fire was an act of arson committed by dissidents and received 300,000 yen as compensation.

The report quoted another Soviet colonel as saying privately, “The Korean people were enslaved for the past 35 years. It’s okay for them be enslaved a little longer.


(Kamsahamnida)


It would be great if a Cuban trip ended up being a "Pope John Paul II Humiliates Castro" redux.

"How can anyone call himself a good man when he lives in a palace and the rest of the population can only earn twenty dollars a month? Oh, hi, Raul. I didn't see you there. Be an amigo and get me a cuba libre, will you? It gets awfully hot under these heavy robes."

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mid-Week Post

That's the one!


At first, he warmed to the idea of a Liberal/NDP coalition:

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says he would "maybe" be more open to the idea of forming a coalition with the NDP if Tom Mulcair was not running the party.

Asked on Tuesday whether having someone other than Mulcair as leader would change the dynamic in terms of a coalition between the two parties, Trudeau replied: "I don't know.... Honestly, I don't want to get into hypotheses. Maybe, but maybe not.

"There are no problems in terms of personality," he told The Canadian Press in an interview from Oakville, Ont. "Mr. Mulcair is a veteran politician who has proven himself.

"His style is anchored in the old way of practising politics. Politics needs to be about rallying. And we have very different perspectives on how politics should be practised."
 
Then he hated it:

Justin Trudeau is 100 per cent against the idea of forming a coalition with the NDP, in any way, shape or form, he said Wednesday.

Now, his mother has stepped into the fray:

Sure, she's his mom and all that.

But Margaret Trudeau told host Robyn Bresnahan on CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning Wednesday that she's dreading "that horrible game of politics" and the nasty campaign attacks she feels are bound to come Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's way in this year's federal election.

"All that attacking, all that meanness, all the partisanship… I have a bigger, peaceful view of life than aggressively breaking down other people. I try to build up people, not break them down, and in politics, it seems now the game is breaking down your opponents," she told host Robyn Bresnahan during an interview to promote her new book The Time of your Life.

"I'm not looking forward to the attack ads. I think it's straight out bullying, and I'm ashamed of Canadians for doing this — having this as part of their platform," she said.
 
(Sidebar: it doesn't look good when a grown man's mother stands up for him, especially when he wants to be prime minister.)

Leave Justin alone!

What would have been a fantastic source of clean energy is fracked natural gas but please continue, New Brunswick. I look forward to hearing how your latest scheme will bust up sooner rather than later:

New Brunswick's forests and tides are regularly marketed as tourist attractions, but renewable energy experts say they could both play an important role in reducing the province's greenhouse gas emissions.


A 2012 study carried out by forester Stéphane Bouchard said that byproducts from the wood industry in New Brunswick have the potential to generate up to 500 megawatts of power.

"That amount of energy would represent about one third of the electrical baseload of the province," said Bouchard. "Everywhere in New Brunswick has the potential to use biomass for energy. Basically because there is forest everywhere in New Brunswick."

Bouchard's Université de Moncton research with colleagues Mathieu Landry and Yves Gagnon proposed 17 regional combined heat and power plants. Bouchard acknowledges that investment costs to set up such plants would prove to be a barrier, but he's convinced biomass has an increasingly important part to play in future power generation.

"As the price of energy goes up and the technology for biomass evolves and the price [of that] goes down, it becomes more and more feasible economically," he said. "We have the local know-how and the expertise in forestry. It's just a matter of time before we integrate biomass energy into our society." ...

Biomass is a so-called carbon-neutral energy source. Trees remove the same amount of carbon from the air while alive, as they emit when burned.

NB Power says between 31 and 32 per cent of its in-province energy sales are currently generated using renewable technology. Almost all of that energy currently comes from eight hydroelectric power plants and three wind farms. 

...

The Bay of Fundy is home to the world's largest tides. Every day 160 billion tonnes of seawater flow in and out of the bay. 

Marie-Hélène Briand, the global director of water power at Hatch engineering, says the technology to harness that power is on the cusp of viability.

"What we call 'hydrokinetic technology' is about to enter the commercial stage," said Briand. "The Bay of Fundy is one spot that is identified as being high potential for this type of technology."

According to a 2006 study by Triton Consultants Ltd., tidal energy in the bay has the potential to power the Maritimes, hundreds of times over. The potential between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia is as high as 23.5 terawatt-hours per year. However, a 2008 Acadia University study warns that extracting the full potential of the tides could have a serious environmental  impact on the region.
The water power in the bay is such that the tide snapped blades off an experimental turbine in 2010. It is part of a test program, part-funded by the government of Nova Scotia.

"This is still considered new technology. It's equivalent to what the wind power industry was maybe 25 years ago." said Briand.

But the Montreal-based coastal engineer says one advantage of tides over wind is that you can forecast exactly when power can be generated.

"Predictability is a great advantage of this technology. Tides are predictable for years in advance with a very high level of accuracy."


The world's first commercial tidal turbine has been in operation in Northern Ireland since late 2008.

What is biomass energy? Wood or dung.

And what is wrong with using biomass material?

Burning wood in pre-industrial Western Europe caused massive deforestation, as is occurring in much of the developing world today. The indoor air pollution that biomass produces kills more than three million people annually. Likewise, modern energy crops increase deforestation, displace agriculture, and push up food prices.

While the tides coming in and out of the Bay of Fundy are the largest in the world, making the proposed tidal power project an enticing hydro-electric one (a form of energy the province of Ontario clearly despises), it will undoubtedly kill a number of sea-living creatures, rather like wind turbines killing birds and bats.

Because Premier Gallant has stalled any hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick, he must look elsewhere for energy and these proposals are the long shots he needs to make it seem that he is serious about energy.


Prime Minister Harper and visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have signed an agreement for 7.1 million pounds of Saskatchewan's uranium:

India and Canada signed several agreements Wednesday aimed at increasing trade and co-operation between the two countries, but the biggest one for both countries involves the sale of uranium for nuclear energy.

Canada has been inching towards a free trade deal with India over the last several years.

During an official visit to Ottawa by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, agreements were signed dealing with transport, space exploration, social security and maternal and newborn health.

An agreement with Cameco, one of the largest producers of uranium in the world, will have long term effects for Canadian jobs and Indian living standards.

India’s Department of Atomic Energy has pledged to purchase 7.1 million pounds of uranium from Cameco through 2020.

While the deal is small compared to Cameco’s annual sale of 30 million pounds of uranium, it is the first deal between a Canadian uranium producer and India’s nuclear industry.


In case Premier Wynne hoped that one forgot:

This afternoon, defense lawyer Clayton Ruby argued against the Crown's proposed three years and six month sentence for his client, disgraced former Deputy Minister of Education for Ontario Ben Levin.


Look- for the refreshing honesty of it, why not just admit that for some people teaching is not the easy ride some thought it would be and giving standardised tests is work one would rather not be doing. That way, real teachers could step in and mould students into the productive adults one knows they can be:
 
Everyone has one — that crazy, kooky, out-of-step teacher who got you thinking or feeling more involved in the classroom.

However, some advocates say increasing competition for jobs and resources, combined with an increasingly standardized curriculum, are forcing the brightest and most creative teachers away.

The result: nearly one third of new teachers are leaving the job within five years of starting out, says Joel Westheimer, a research chair and professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa.

Westheimer, who trains new teachers, says each year graduates outnumber available jobs.
At the same time, he said the last 10 to 15 years have seen a radical shift in the culture of teaching and education, skewing towards standardized training and testing.

As a result, "teachers feel compelled or forced to teach to the test and other aspects of the curriculum are pushed to the margins," he said.


The increase in standardization, combined with a heavy curriculum load that leaves limited time for creativity or autonomy, can leave teachers feeling like assembly line workers, he said.


The fields of education and training are going to have undergo a massive sea change in order for students to compete in a marketplace that sees Asian powerhouses dominate, cheaper itinerant labour, fewer benefits, job insecurity, lower wages and degrees in STEM fields. "Creativity" and "autonomy" are not what modern teachers do best.


Yazidi girls and women report that ISIS conducted some sort of "lottery" in order to determine who would be raped:

A doctor in charge of treating survivors in Dohuk said at least 70 of the 105 female survivors she had treated appeared to have been raped while being held hostage by the extremist group.

One woman, Rashida, described militants choosing women by drawing their names out of a "lottery". The 31-year-old says she tried to kill herself by swallowing a toxic chemical after being ordered by the fighter who picked her name to bathe. 

Two girls described the abuse of their 16-year-old sister by four men over a period of several months. Their sister, who was allowed to visit them, recounted a Ukrainian fighter beating her, raping her, giving her electric shocks and denying her food.

How is that "degrading ISIS" thing going, Western countries?


Anti-semitic attacks surged in 2014:

Anti-Semitic attacks surged worldwide in 2014, with the highest number of incidents occurring in France, according to an annual study published in Israel on Wednesday.

The report, by Tel Aviv University's Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, said 766 violent anti-Semitic acts, with or without weapons, were carried out around the world last year -- a 38 percent increase over 2013.

Arson, vandalism and direct threats against Jews, synagogues and other Jewish institutions were included in the figure, making 2014 the worst year for such attacks since 2009.

"The overall feeling among many Jewish people is one of living in an intensifying anti-Jewish environment that has become not only insulting and threatening, but outright dangerous," the study said, citing "alarming reports especially from Western Europe and North America".

For some perspective:

“It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris,” Obama said.
kosher shop victims
A couple of "folks" "randomly" killed at Paris' Hyper Cacher Jewish deli (source here).

Carry on.


There's no censorship like post-Soviet censorship:


Roskomnadzor, Russia’s media watchdog group, has updated a “personal data” law to allow for the government to regulate and ban memes using the likenesses of public personalities, including President Vladimir Putin.




And now,  a puppy doing push-ups.



Monday, April 13, 2015

For A Monday


Oh, what a lovely day....


The premier of Ontario has placed a disastrous cap-and-trade tax on the province:

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Monday she’s going to price industrial carbon dioxide emissions through a cap-and-trade market, without telling us the price.

She said it would be irresponsible to estimate how much more we’re all going to have to pay for virtually all goods and services, because the Liberals haven’t yet designed their cap-and-trade system.

This is very hard to believe.

The Liberals have been planning cap-and-trade for seven years.

It’s true they can’t come up with an exact price, because it depends on how quickly they plan to reduce emissions and what the market price of a carbon credit will be (more on that in a moment).
But for Wynne to claim she has no idea of the cost is absurd.

For heaven’s sake, someone in her government told the Globe and Mail recently the Liberals expect increased government revenues of up to $2 billion annually.

Don’t be fooled into thinking the one added cost the Liberals provided — about three cents more per litre of gas — is either accurate, or the only cost hike we’ll face, or that it will stay at three cents.

Fossil fuel energy, produced by burning oil, natural gas and coal, is responsible for modern civilization.

Industrialized societies like ours use it to grow, manufacture, create, produce, power and transport virtually all goods and services.

That’s why cap-and-trade increases the price of virtually everything, as opposed to a carbon tax which increases the tax on almost everything.

Also:



And:




(Paws up)


Some aging cow and Marco Rubio have declared that they will run for president:

Lines stretch around the block as people are spending hours waiting outside the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami, where Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) will announce he is running for President at 6:00 p.m. ET Monday.

Many in attendance have supported Rubio since even before his national headline-making 2010 Senate race, back when he was Speaker of the Florida House and a state representative; some even before he entered politics. There is a definite sense of homecoming and celebration. The Cuban-American community is extremely proud that one of its own is running for the highest office in the land, and Florida Republicans are excited that their state will have two major presidential contenders, Rubio and (it’s assumed) former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Wow! Look at that young guy unencumbered by tons of scandals running for president!


Hey- remember when people said that removing sanctions from Iran was no big deal?

President Vladimir Putin on Monday sanctioned the delivery of a highly capable Russian air defence missile system to Iran, a game changer move that would significantly bolster the Islamic republic's military capability and fuel Israel's concerns.

Also:

Ukraine's military accused pro-Russian rebels on Monday of using heavy weapons that were meant to have been withdrawn under a ceasefire deal, after one Ukrainian serviceman was killed and six wounded in rebel-held territories.

With fighting intensifying once more, the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany were due to meet in Berlin later on Monday to discuss the next steps in implementing a ceasefire agreement signed in the Belarusian capital Minsk in February.

"The rebels have not stopped firing at Ukrainian positions ... Over the past day, the enemy has used weapons banned under the Minsk agreements," Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said in a televised briefing.


Russia never fails to disappoint:

A gallery in central Russia has cancelled an exhibition of World War Two images by US and British photographers, sparking claims that the event was pulled for political reasons.

Yekaterinburg's House of Metenkov said the closure was a "technical" matter.

Russians would have had a chance to see 150 images from war episodes less familiar to them, such as the Battle of Britain and 1944 Normandy landings.

Stark photos from Nazi concentration camps were to be shown too. 

The exhibition had been titled "Triumph and Tragedy: allies in the Second World War".  


(Sidebar: but not really.)



What monitoring?

Beefing up international monitoring of Iran's nuclear work could become the biggest stumbling block to a final accord between Tehran and major powers, despite a preliminary deal reached last week.

As part of that deal, Iran and the powers agreed that United Nations inspectors would have "enhanced" access to remaining nuclear activity in Iran, where they already monitor key sites. 

But details on exactly what kind of access the inspectors will have were left for the final stage of talks, posing a major challenge for negotiators on a complex and logistically challenging issue that is highly delicate for Iran's leaders.


ISIS murdered ten doctors who refused to treat their wounded:

Militants fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq have savagely executed 10 doctors who refused to treat wounded members of the terrorist organisation. 


Bangladesh has hanged a war criminal:

Bangladesh hanged Islamist opposition leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman on Saturday for war crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan, a move met with an angry reaction from his supporters who called for a protest strike.

Kamaruzzaman, 63, of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was hanged at Dhaka Central Jail after the Supreme Court rejected his appeal against a death sentence imposed by a special tribunal for genocide and torture of civilians during the war.


It's explosive no matter who says it:

Pope Francis on Sunday marked the 100th anniversary of the slaughter of Armenians by calling the massacre by Ottoman Turks "the first genocide of the 20th century" and urging the international community to recognize it as such. Turkey immediately responded by recalling its ambassador and accusing Francis of spreading hatred and "unfounded claims."

Francis issued the pronouncement during a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica commemorating the centenary that was attended by Armenian church leaders and President Serge Sarkisian, who praised the pope for calling a spade a spade and "delivering a powerful message to the international community."
"The words of the leader of a church with 1 billion followers cannot but have a strong impact," he told The Associated Press.

Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century.
Turkey, however, denies a genocide took place. It has insisted that the toll has been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

Francis defended his words by saying it was his duty to honour the memory of the innocent men, women and children who were "senselessly" murdered by Ottoman Turks.

"Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it," he said.

He said similar massacres are under way today against Christians who because of their faith are "publicly and ruthlessly put to death — decapitated, crucified, burned alive — or forced to leave their homeland," a reference to the Islamic State group's assault against Christians in Iraq and Syria.
 
According to Turkey, this never happened.

Why Celebrity Apartheid is important:

Gwyneth Paltrow is slashing her food budget to raise awareness about hunger. But sometimes even the best intentions are met with criticism, eye rolls and sarcasm.

Last week, the Oscar winner announced that she had accepted The Food Bank for New York City challenge to live on food stamps for one week, with a grocery budget of $29 or about $1.38 per meal.
 
When this wealthy scion of  Hollywood parents is finished with this publicity stunt, what happens to those who are truly struggling? Do they feel better about themselves because she does?


They're not worried because they're stupid:

Asked how they expect to fare compared with their parents’ generation, most Canadians aged 18 to 35 surveyed by Abacus were upbeat. Less than one-quarter of them said they believe their age cohort will fail to live up to their parents’ overall level of happiness or standard of living. Nearly half, 46 per cent, expect their own generation’s standard of living to rise above that of their mothers and fathers, while about a third, 32 per cent, anticipate roughly matching their parents’ living standards.

Ask them how long they expect public sector jobs to keep getting the big bucks.


And now, the movie one has long been waiting for:

Also making an appearance: Thomas the Tank Engine. That’s right, your favorite choo-choo train from childhood throws down with Ant-Man in a climactic rumble. Apparently Yellowjacket doesn’t know who he’s messing with. 


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Mid-Week Post

The intermission of the work-week...


Dzokhar Tsarnaev (America's Omar Khadr) has been found guilty on all counts:

Nearly two years after two pressure-cooker bombs ripped through a crowd of unsuspecting spectators near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, a federal jury found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty on all 30 counts for his role in the deadly attacks, which killed three and injured nearly 300.

"We unanimously find the defendent Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev guilty," the court clerk said, again and again.

Tsarnaev, 21, offered no visible reaction to the charges, which were announced in a courtroom packed full of victims and survivors.

The decision came a day and a half after seven women and five men began deliberations in the first phase of the trial and after 17 days of emotional and often gruesome testimony and evidence in the case. Jurors repeatedly saw horrific photos and videos of the bloody aftermath of the bombs. They also heard heart-wrenching testimony from survivors, including the father of the youngest victim of the attacks—8-year-old Martin Richard--whose body was literally blown apart by the second bomb.


Federal prosecutors painted Tsarnaev as a heartless killer who conspired with his older brother, Tamerlan, to maim and kill Americans in retaliation for the country's wars on Muslim countries overseas. "This was a cold, calculated terrorist act. This was intentional. It was bloodthirsty. It was to make a point," government prosecutor Aloke Chakravarty told jurors Monday. "It was to tell America that ‘We will not be terrorized by you anymore. We will terrorize you.'"

Tsarnaev faced 30 charges for his role in the bombings, the deadliest act of terrorism on American soil since September 11, 2001. He was also charged with shooting and killing Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier days after the attacks and hours after the FBI released photos of him and his brother identifying them as suspects in the bombings. Though prosecutors acknowledged they were unsure which brother pulled the trigger, both were "equally guilty" of Collier's murder.

Tsarnaev has yet to be sentenced. His defense will attempt to portray him as a dupe of his elder brother. Apparently, nineteen years-olds have no idea what they are doing.

Do not extend the vote to teen-agers.


An Afghan soldier has killed an American soldier:

An Afghan soldier was shot dead after opening fire on American troops - killing one and wounding several other people.

The default disposition there is homicidal.

For some insight:

What France, and the West in general, face today is a war waged by a part of Islam against the democratic world. The most effective way for the West to deal with this situation, and eventually win this war, is to mobilize the resources of its nation-states for facing the challenge on all fronts -- political, economic, and cultural and, when needed, military. The silly slogan "this has no military solution" is self-defeating, if only because it is based on a denial of the reality that the Western democracies and their allies in the Muslim world are being challenged and attacked in a veritable multifaceted war.

Once the Western democracies have admitted to themselves that this is a war, they would be in a position seek allies in the Muslim world by posing the only question that really matters in a state of war: Are you with us or against us?

Today, they cannot pose that question because they are dancing around the issue, talking of social injustice, education, colonial heritage, racism, ethnocentrism and other fashionable shibboleths already mentioned.

The unwillingness of Western democracies to agree on a common analysis of the situation, enables opportunist Muslim powers to hedge their bets by helping or at least tolerating the terrorists under the banner of Islam. And that is bound to prolong the deadly struggle, which terrorism in the end cannot win.

I find it mind-boggling that of all religious and socio-political systems, the one that the left defends without reservation is Islamism. It has no reason for doing so. Intellectually, one understands the the leftist position is a contrary one.  The left will embrace whatever is opposite to its ideology. Pragmatically, embracing anything antithetical to the West is self-destructive. Communism didn't work. Now, its more insane mirror image of Islamism is poised to fail the left once more.


Archbishop Jean-Claude Turcotte has passed away at age seventy-eight:

Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, who oversaw the funerals of NHL great Maurice (Rocket) Richard and former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau during his 22 years as archbishop of Montreal, died early Wednesday after a lengthy illness. He was 78.

(Sidebar: I can understand the Rocket but Trudeau? That must have taken the stiffest of drinks for that fiasco.)


Families of murdered and missing aboriginal women do not have confidence in the police:

Police departments across Canada get a failing grade for their efforts at solving cases of missing and murdered indigenous women, according to CBC interviews with more than 110 family members.

CBC News has embarked on an exhaustive search for families who have lost a relative either to an unsolved killing or whose loved one still remains missing. 

So far, more than 110 families have responded to questions ranging from the efficacy of police investigations to the need for a national inquiry.


Families were asked to rate the quality of the police investigation in each case, on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being excellent. The average rating was 2.8.
 
Yes, about this:

According to an RCMP report released in May, the vast majority of murdered aboriginal women were not killed by strangers, they were killed by spouses, boyfriends, family members or acquaintances of the victims.

"Female homicide victims generally know the person who kills them -- more than 90% had a previous relationship with them," said the report. "This is true for aboriginal and non-aboriginal female victims."


A Pakistani national accused of terrorism has asked his government for help:

A Pakistani man the federal government accuses of plotting to bomb downtown Toronto has reached out to his country for help in securing his release from detention.

The request by Jahanzeb Malik comes in a letter to Pakistan's consulate general through his lawyer.
"As a Pakistani national, Mr. Malik has asked us to reach out and secure any assistance you may be in a position to advance," Anser Farooq writes on behalf of his client.

"This assistance can be in the form of financial, and/or bonds person's required to secure his release from detention."

Canada Border Services Agency arrested Malik, 33, on March 9 following an undercover investigation amid government accusations that he supports the Islamic State and planned to attack the U.S. consulate and other financial district buildings.

The permanent resident of Canada remains in detention in expectation the government will move to declare him inadmissible and deport him — a process that could take months — rather than prosecute him.

At previous detention reviews — in which no one came forward to act as a surety — the government's lawyer declared Malik to be a flight and security risk.

"The outcome of Mr. Malik's inadmissibility hearing should be of the highest priority to your government," Farooq wrote in the letter sent to the consulate last month.


No one from Pakistan's consulate general in Toronto nor its high commission in Ottawa returned calls seeking comment.

Perhaps Mr. Malik's government does not want to deal with him.



A Toronto-based dating website for married people seeking affairs has dropped its lawsuit against the government of South Korea after a court in that country overturned a decades-old law banning adultery.

Ashley Madison filed the suit last year after its newly launched Korean website was shut down by authorities who alleged it incited immorality.

At the time, adultery was illegal in South Korea.

The company denied the allegations in its statement of claim, describing itself as "a social networking website facilitating communication between like-minded adults."

A spokesman for the company says the website has now been restored following a February decision by the Constitutional Court of South Korea to strike down the more than 60-year-old statute.

The CEO of Ashley Madison's parent company Avid Life Media says the website's presence in South Korea — and its challenge of the ban — helped speed up changes to the legal landscape there.

Noel Biderman says he believes the data Ashley Madison collects on adultery will help "change society's perception about non-monogamous behaviour" around the world.

(Sidebar: what a presumptuous butthole.)

How it must stun the clueless citizens of the politically multicultural post-modern West that not everyone is into their brand of decadence and to believe that their little crusades matter a damn is just gob-smacking.


An American aid worker has been expelled from North Korea on charges of conspiring against its state:

North Korea said on Wednesday it was expelling an American aid worker for engaging in what it said was a conspiracy against the state, just weeks after the country ejected a German aid worker.

The North's official KCNA news agency said the U.S. citizen it named as Sandra Suh had "produced pictures and videos with an aversion to the Republic under the disguise of 'humanitarianism' and used them" in a propaganda campaign against the country.

"Sandra Suh admitted ... her criminal activities and apologized, seeking generous forgiveness. Out of generosity, the related agency took into consideration her age and decided to expel her from its territory," KCNA said.

What? No ransom?

This seems weird to me.


Copies of "The Interview" are being air-lifted into North Korea:
 
Thousands of DVDs of a Hollywood film about a plot to assassinate the North Korean leader have been sent into the country via helium balloon.

North Korean defector-turned-activist Lee Min-Bok said he had undertaken four launches since January, the last being on Saturday.

Each time, he tied bundles of The Interview DVD and anti-Pyongyang leaflets to the balloons, and then released them from the back of a lorry.

"I launched thousands of copies and about a million leaflets on Saturday, near the western part of the border," Mr Lee told AFP news agency.

Pyongyang has described the comedy about a fictional CIA plot to assassinate leader Kim Jong-Un, as a "wanton act of terror" .

(Sidebar: is the acting that bad?)



On July 11, 2011, then-22-year-old Matthew was heading to work on his motorcycle when he collided with an illegally parked car while merging onto a highway.

He suffered a long list of serious injuries, including multiple fractures of the femur, multiple jaw fractures, a fractured rib, lacerated liver, fractured collar bone, skull fracture, and a severe traumatic brain injury.

He was in a coma with only a 10 per cent chance of ever regaining consciousness. His chance at a full recovery was even smaller, just 5 per cent.

About a week after Matthew’s horrific accident, doctors told Danielle to consider taking her husband off life support.


She refused.

“I prayed a lot and chose not to take him off of life support,” she wrote on their blog. “The next day Matthew opened his eyes. Exciting as this is I later learned that eyes open without consciousness is typical of a vegetative state.”


Matthew was transferred to a rehabilitation centre in an attempted to “wake up” his brain. While his eyes started tracking the people in his room, he showed few other signs of movement or response to commands.


Danielle had him moved to her mother’s home where she could care for him in a familiar space.

At home, Matthew began what has become a remarkable recovery. First, he regained some movement in his limbs. Then he started grunting. After three weeks of around-the-clock care from his wife and mother-in-law, Matthew “emerged from the coma” and began a nearly three-month rehabilitation program that included hours of daily speech, occupational and physical therapy.