Thursday, December 02, 2010


...and there is lots to say.

Happy Hannukah.

We're screwed. Really:

This January, the first baby boomers turn 65. The huge post-Second World War generation—which numbers 76 million in the United States, makes up almost a third of Canada’s population, and according to one estimate, controls 80 per cent of Britain’s wealth—will continue to enter their dotage at the rate of tens of thousands per day for the next 20 years. By 2050, there will be 30 million Americans aged 75 to 85, three in 10 Europeans will be 65-plus, and more than 40 per cent of Japan’s population will be elderly. In Canada, the ratio of workers to retirees—currently five to one—will have been halved by 2036. And despite the odd dissenter, the generation that still oddly finds Paul McCartney relevant has made clear its intention to take everything it feels it has coming. It will be up to all who trail in their wake to pay for their privilege.

Common sense, not to mention decency, wouldn’t call that just. But an outsized, over-entitled, and self-obsessed demographic is awfully hard for politicians to ignore. Take Britain’s example. In last spring’s general election, the most effective ad run by David Cameron’s Conservatives was also one of the simplest: a close-up of a newborn baby, wriggling in a bassinet as a music box tinkled in the background. “Born four weeks ago, eight pounds, three ounces. With his dad’s nose, mum’s eyes, and Gordon Brown’s debt,” intoned a female voice. “Thanks to Labour’s debt crisis, every child in Britain is born owing £17,000. They deserve better.” The point was impossible to miss: the time had come to stop mortgaging the country’s future.

Too few kids, too much (undeserved) entitlement, too many problems, too little spine or intelligence. For this generation and the next, the bar is closed.

China defends its errant lapdog, North Korea:

China, pushed again by Washington to bring North Korea to heel after last week's artillery attack on the South, told Pyongyang their relationship had withstood international "tempests."

On Wednesday, South Korea's spy chief said it was highly likely the isolated North would attack its wealthy neighbor again. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week's bombardment threatened the stability of the region, home to three of Asia's biggest economies.

China has refused to blame its ally for shelling the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, which destroyed dozens of houses and killed four people, or for the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel in March.

"The traditional friendship of China and North Korea has withstood the tests of international tempests and changes and replenished itself over time," Wu Bangguo, China's chief legislator, told a visiting North Korean delegation, China's main official newspaper, the People's Daily, reported on Thursday.

None of Wu's published remarks mentioned the recent confrontation between North and South Korea, or the long-running dispute over North Korea's nuclear activities.

Here is what China actually thinks:

Shen Dingli, a security expert at Fudan University in Shanghai, was more direct in laying the blame on Seoul. "South Korea provoked the Yeonpyeong conflict first," he said. "The area where this incident happened is South Korean territory from a 'South Korean perspective'. But it is a disputed area from the 'North Korean perspective'. North Korea warned South Korea to stop the drills, but South Korea went ahead. And then the incident happened.

"It's South Korean provocation and North Korean over-reaction. South Korea's artillery killed fish. North Korean artillery killed civilians. If China should blame the party at fault, it should criticize both Koreas," Shen said. 

And there you have it. North Korea might be a nuisance but it's a valuable one. Is there any other piece of land that could act as a sufficient buffer between American-backed South Korea and China's wifeless armed forces? So some innocent people get in the way. Why should two dictatorships care?

Related: Kim Jong-Il should be dragged into the centre of Pyongyang with a rusty meat hook.

The man whose arrogant coldness and sticky fingers caused some governments to go red-faced could be extradited:

The law is closing in on Julian Assange. Swedish authorities won a court ruling Thursday in their bid to arrest the WikiLeaks founder for questioning in a rape case, British intelligence is said to know where he's hiding, and U.S. pundits and politicians are demanding he be hunted down or worse.

The former computer hacker who has embarrassed the U.S. government and foreign leaders with his online release of a huge trove of secret American diplomatic cables suffered a legal setback when Sweden's Supreme Court upheld an order to detain him — a move that could lead to his extradition.

Meanwhile, Assange continues to leak sensitive documents. Newly posted cables on WikiLeaks' website detailed a host of embarrassing disclosures, including allegations that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi accepted kickbacks and a deeply unflattering assessment of Turkmenistan's president.

Assange is accused in Sweden of rape, sexual molestation and coercion in a case from August, and Swedish officials have alerted Interpol and issued a European arrest warrant to bring him in for questioning.

I'm still stunned that this guy wasn't silenced for his reckless loose lips.

Related: "knee-jerk anti-Americanism":

The cable also reveals how CSIS feels about Canadian attitudes. Former CSIS director Jim Judd went so far as to complain that judicial rulings and public naiveté were paralyzing his spies – specifically lamenting that Canadians were prone to “knee-jerk anti-Americanism” and “paroxysms of moral outrage.”..

Yeah! If anything, give that guy a kewpie doll. He's spot-on about most Canadians. Ask the average Canadian how he feels about the US and you'll get an earful of spite and half-truths you could drive a truck through. While Canadians pat themselves on the back for being "multicultural" and "pacifist", they scream at Quebeckers in English, misidentify the Asians who work in their grocery stores and forget how martial their past and present really are.

Further: Trudeau still sucks (or) "How We Let a Nazi Sympathiser Sucker Us Out of the Rights We Already Had":

Many Canadians, blinded by the seductive but hazily-defined notion of "rights," welcomed Pierre Trudeau's 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but in truth the Charter represented a radical handover of the reins of legal authority that should have worried every Canadian.

Prior to 1982, Canada's cultural heritage and pre-Charter legal system operated under the principle, rooted in the Magna Carta, of the supremacy of Parliament, whose decisions regarding laws and statutes that govern were accountable to citizens at each election. The Charter transferred the erstwhile authority of common law to the courts and unelected judges, unaccountable to anything but the judicial community's subjective, too-often ideological, interpretation of the law.

In a newspaper interview, former Supreme Court Justice John Sopinka, now deceased, maintained: "I think it took a little while for it to sink in that when the court is dealing with Charter cases, they're not dealing with the law as we used to deal with it. Now, when the court is asked to strike down a statute, it is often dealing with the types of decisions that were made previously by elected representatives."

As long as the traditional parliamentary and common law systems remained in place, Canadian society was afforded a degree of protection from attack from arbitrary revisionism and the ephemeral trends of political correctness, but once the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was in place, traditional foundations of Canadian society inevitably came under intensified siege.

A good reason for not subsidising post-secondary education:

In a story out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, a PhD student is at the centre of a controversy about graduation requirements and exam anxiety. The doctoral math candidate was granted a PhD from the University of Manitoba without having to complete comprehensive examinations because of a severe case of exam anxiety.

A professor at the university, Gabor Lukacs, has since taken the matter to court claiming it to be a breach of academic standards. As a result of his actions, Lukacs was suspended by the university for harassment, insubordination and violation of the student's privacy.

I hated taking quizzes, tests and exams. I did it because I needed a piece of paper that said I had mastered what was taught in lectures. You have one honest man and one spineless one. Surely the former should come on top.

One would think.

There was something missing all along:

A Calgary parish has made history by becoming the first Anglican church in Canada to accept Pope Benedict’s invitation to convert wholesale to the Roman Catholic faith.

The decision ends what Father Lee Kenyon, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, called “35 years of isolation” from an increasingly more liberal Anglican Church of Canada.

“The important thing to mention is that the tensions that have existed in Anglicanism are the cause for many people departing the Anglican Church of Canada,” said Fr. Kenyon. “But they are not the reason for joining the Catholic Church…. That has to be underlined by a deep sense of personal conviction and an acceptance of Catholic teaching.”

The parish, which voted 90% in favour of joining Rome on Nov. 21, will likely face the same fate as other parishes that have removed themselves from the Anglican Church of Canada: ugly court battles over property in which two groups of Christians fight over who owns what.

Taking it in baby steps...

Canada’s Chief Justice says trade negotiators should consider undertaking “gender-impact statements” as part of their international dealings to measure the effect that they have on the lives of women.

Beverley McLachlin, the first woman to lead the Supreme Court of Canada, cautioned that she is not a “trade policy person” and that she is not telling governments how to do business, but she said that formally assessing how trade impacts gender issues could be an idea whose time has come. 

“We have to look at the actual situation on the ground,” she told a conference at the University of Ottawa on Thursday.

“It strikes me that if we look at impacts on the environment when we’re going to take on an environmental project, why wouldn’t we look at gender impact when we’re drafting a new trade regime or working on a particular trade problem?”

Judge McLachlin, the chief justice for almost 11 years, raised the prospect in a keynote speech at a gathering organized by the North-South Institute, a think-tank on foreign policy and international development.

She warned she was offering “merely a suggestion” and perhaps a “naive thought” on how to make globalized trade more equitable for women, adding: “It’s not for me to set the trade policy of Canada or any other country.”

Stop trading with China then. Or is that just lip service? Of course it is.

So-called ‘honour-based crimes’ should not be viewed as distinct from mainstream violence against women and the Criminal Code should not be amended to include a separate ‘honour killings’ charge, a panel agreed at what was believed to be the first-ever symposium on the subject in York Region.

“When you use the term ‘honour crimes’ the way we do in Canada, it becomes a way of saying ‘those barbaric practices’ done by ‘those barbaric cultures,’ as if the West’s hands are somehow clean,” said panelist Farrah Khan, a therapist with the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic. “Is this inherently a cultural thing? Yes. It’s a culture of patriarchy. It’s not a South Asian or Muslim culture.”

The panel — which featured self-proclaimed Muslim feminist, social worker, and beauty queen Tahmena Bokhari, and which also included Det. Christina Baker of York Regional Police, lawyer and activist Zarah Danani, and Anita Khanna, of the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians — agreed that the term ‘honour killing’ wrongfully suggests so-called honour crimes are somehow different from the crimes of yore.

“I think it’s important that we don’t buy into the hype: We’ve got to stop creating legislation — as is going on around the globe — that targets Muslim people,” said lawyer and panelist Zarah Danani. “It’s fear-based hype finding its way into the law because we have a right-wing Conservative government.”

Quickly- beating, berating, maiming and killing women over matters of "honour" occur in Islamic and South Asian cultures and are barbaric. People wouldn't need to be concerned if these awful practices were left in the seventh century where they belonged. I'm surprised why some troglodyte hasn't told these women to shut their yaps and go back to the kitchen. They clearly don't have the sense to take a clear and courageous stand against these vile acts. They are more concerned with how others see them. How do people see women who have had acid thrown in their faces?

NASA finds new life (and it isn't Vulcans):

NASA has discovered a new life form, a bacteria called GFAJ-1 that is unlike anything currently living in planet Earth. It's capable of using arsenic to build its DNA, RNA, proteins, and cell membranes. This changes everything. Updated.
NASA is saying that this is "life as we do not know it". The reason is that all life on Earth is made of six components: Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. Every being, from the smallest amoeba to the largest whale, share the same life stream. Our DNA blocks are all the same.

That was true until today. In a surprising revelation, NASA scientist Felisa Wolfe Simon and her team have found a bacteria whose DNA is completely alien to what we know today, working differently than the rest of the organisms in the planet. Instead of using phosphorus, the newly discovered microorganism—called GFAJ-1 and found in Mono Lake, California—uses the poisonous arsenic for its building blocks. Arsenic is an element poisonous to every other living creature in the planet except for a few specialized microscopic creatures.


Ladies and gentlemen, the late Leslie Nielson.

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