Thursday, April 07, 2011

Thursday Post

Japan just can't catch a lucky break:

Japan was rattled by a strong aftershock and tsunami warning Thursday night nearly a month after a devastating earthquake and tsunami flattened the northeastern coast.

The Japan meteorological agency issued a tsunami warning for a wave of up to 6 feet (two meters). The warning was issued for a coastal area already torn apart by last month's tsunami, which is believed to have killed some 25,000 people and has sparked an ongoing crisis at a nuclear power plant.

Officials say Thursday's aftershock was a 7.4-magnitude and hit 25 miles (40 kilometres) under the water and off the coast of Miyagi prefecture. The quake that preceded last month's tsunami was a 9.0-magnitude.

But at least the radioactive leak was plugged.

Remember- Obama wanted to meet Iran WITHOUT any pre-conditions:

An exiled Iranian opposition group said Thursday that its spies have found a factory that plays a key role in Iran's secretive nuclear program.

Spokesmen for the Mujahedeen-e Khalq told reporters that over the past 4 1/2 years the Iranian government has used a manufacturing facility west of Tehran to produce parts for tens of thousands of enrichment centrifuges.

These machines can make the low-enriched uranium fuel used in many nuclear power plants or the highly-enriched uranium required by nuclear weapons.

Iran says it is building a civilian nuclear power program, but the U.S. and other nations suspect that it is seeking the capacity to build nuclear bombs.

Speaking of Obama:

President Barack Obama on Wednesday said concerns in the United States about the potentially "destructive" nature of the Canadian oil sands need to be answered before his administration decides whether to approve the construction of Calgary-based TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline.

Speaking publicly for the first time about the controversial Keystone XL project, Mr. Obama referred to Alberta's bitumen deposits as "tar sands" -the term favoured by environmentalists -but refused to offer an opinion about whether the 3,200-kilometre pipeline should be approved.

"I will make this general point, which is that, first of all, importing oil from countries that are stable and friendly is a good thing," Mr. Obama said, essentially repeating comments he made last week in a major speech on U.S. energy security.

Canada "is already one of our largest oil exporters." Mr. Obama said during a town-hall meeting in Pennsylvania on energy. "These tar sands, there are some environmental questions about how destructive they are, potentially, what are the dangers there, and we've got to examine all those questions."

Canada is the biggest foreign supplier of oil to the United States, providing about 23% of the crude America imports every year.

The $7-billion Keystone XL has been delayed since last July, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asked the State Department to conduct a supplemental environmental impact study to address concerns about pipeline safety and the impact on climate change of oilsands production.

Who said Obama was Canada's friend? Let's put it more succinctly: who said Obama knew what he was talking about?

Which weasel will acknowledge how far up a certain creek we are?

Into the vacuous open pit of policy trivialities that has become this election, David Dodge, former governor of the Bank of Canada, has just dropped a ticking time bomb. The Canadian universal health care model, with governments as the major funders of service, is fiscally unsustainable.

If the election platforms of the major parties are an indication, no Liberal or Conservative bomb squads will be available to neutralize Mr. Dodge's device -a tidy bit of forecasting titled Chronic Healthcare Spending Disease.

Mr. Dodge reports that health-care spending in Canada could rise to take up almost 19% of the national economy within 20 years, up from about 12% today.

In dollar terms, that works out to an increase from about $5,000 today to $10,700 by 2031 in constant dollars for every person in Canada. If Election 2011 is being fought over family values, how's this for dinner-table political chat: Health-care costs for a family of four will jump 50% to $42,800 within 20 years.

The political question from Mr. Dodge is: How are Canadian families going to pay for these rising costs? He said Canadians cannot "sleepwalk" into the looming policy crisis on the assumption that no changes will be needed to the healthcare model they hold so dear -a model that our electioneering politicians refuse to talk about beyond empty platitudes. "We'll strengthen universally accessible health care," says Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff in a platform that contains nothing on how that might be done. Same for Stephen Harper's Conservatives.

In Mr. Dodge's analysis, such evasions mask what is an impossible and unsustainable funding regime.

Publicly-funded services rely on numbers and taxes. Where do our politicians suggest we get either of them from?

He never considered recusal because he's selfish.

We can always trust the parole system. Yes we can:

A B.C. man who killed all three of his children in 2008 has been granted escorted day passes from a psychiatric facility. 

Allan Schoenborn, 42, pleaded at a hearing before the B.C. Review Board on Tuesday for an opportunity to "get out in the community, go down to the mall for coffee." 

The board ruled on Wednesday that he may have "escorted leaves" from Hawthorne House at the Forensic Psychiatric Institute in Port Coquitlam. 

"He will have no unnecessary access to the community and no overnight leaves, but he could be given escorted day leaves, for example to a recreation centre or for fitness purposes," said review board chairman Bernd Walter in an interview. 

It was exactly three years ago Wednesday that Schoenborn killed each of his three children, slashing Kaitlynne, 10, and smothering his two boys, Max, 8, and Cordon, 5.

Another "popcorn and beer" moment or the unfiltered truth? YOU decide!

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has fired Quebec candidate André Forbes over past comments he made about the province's aboriginals suggesting they're lazy. Mr. Forbes, who is Métis, was the Liberal candidate for the riding of Manicouagan in northern Quebec. He was the founder of l'Association des droits des blancs, or the Association for the Rights of Whites.

He suggested in a 2002 newspaper interview that he felt aboriginal people are poor workers and are given too much money and land rights by government.

"We all know that the aboriginals will not keep their jobs . I have worked for many years for Gulf Paper of Clarke City, which closed in 1968. Many Montagnais worked there. I only remember one who did a good job. There must have been others hardworking among them, but I don't recall one name," Mr. Forbes told Le Soleil in March 2002.

The New Democrats raised the controversial comments and Mr. Ignatieff asked staff to check their validity. He fired the candidate on Wednesday afternoon.

Related: just one of the many reasons why teachers' unions should be abolished:

Ontario's English Catholic school teachers will be required to pay $60 each to their union to subsidize its effort to re-elect Premier Dalton McGuinty in the Oct. 6 provincial election.

Members of the teachers' association were informed of the fee increase in a letter, which noted that "much discussion" had gone into the matter. The money will be paid on July 1, providing the union's "political action committee" with a $3million pot to campaign against Mr. McGuinty's challengers, particularly Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak.

It should surprise no one that a public sector union would use members' contributions to further the leaderships' personal political agenda, as Canadians have become wearily accustomed to such things. But there is something particularly egregious about a union charging its members an extra fee so it can back a political party many of them don't support.

Union president James Ryan insists the association is not trying to tell members how to vote. He insists the money will pay for an "issues-based campaign promoting the educational rights of children and of students and of having a good educational system."

Call it what you will. For the 33% of union delegates who voted against the measure, it's a compulsory political donation to a cause they might not personally support. Although the measure was passed by a majority at the association's annual general meeting, it cannot be assumed those teachers who served as conference delegates are reflective of the rank-and-file teachers they represent. Teachers choose representatives they feel share their concerns for workplace issues; no one is asked who they vote for.

Ontario teachers are well paid, and well within the demographic among which Mr. Hudak finds much of his support. Others may prefer the New Democratic Party. Too bad for them. They'll be paying their union to support the Liberals. Even while offering lip service to non-partisanship, the union's letter makes clear it is targeted at Mr. Hudak, noting that "local AGM delegations left the AGM acutely aware of how the election of a Conservative government under Tim Hudak would threaten the common good." Not only does the association presume to choose the desired candidate for its members, it feels empowered to define what constitutes "the common good" on their behalf.

This might be defensible if teachers' membership in the union was voluntary. It isn't. Those who wish to pursue the high calling of educating children are in effect being forced to subsidize a political campaign if they wish to remain in their profession.

Why we should never let up and why we should cut Pakistan off:

A U.S. progress report on Afghanistan and Pakistan warns the Taliban insurgency in Pakistan's western border region is gaining in strength, despite the deployment of hundreds of thousands of troops.

The 38-page semi-annual report presented to the U.S. Congress Tuesday harshly criticizes Pakistan, saying it has "no clear path toward defeating the insurgency" along its borders with Afghanistan.

The review notes an effort by the Pakistan military to clear rebels from the Mohmand and Bajaur tribal agencies that began in January is failing -for the third time in two years.

The failure is "a clear indicator of the inability of the Pakistan military and government to render cleared areas resistant to insurgency return," it says.

Stupid letter of the day:

During the last 1,500 years, Islam's march to embrace tolerance has been very slow. The inherent quality of Islam, compassion, as claimed by the vast majority of its followers, does not really tally with the realities on the ground. No one can imagine such violent reactions from the Christian world if a copy of the Bible were burned or desecrated, as Christians do not believe that such an act can annihilate Christianity. Muslims must accept that only forgiveness can bring freedom and herald an era of enlightenment.

No, the transition of Islam from radicalism to rationality has been non-existent (just like compassion; see here) and Christians don't explode into fury whenever someone desecrates a religious symbol or insults them.

Culture: it matters.

And now, make it Tso.

No comments: