Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mid-Week Post

Lots to talk about...

Burdened by scandal, Alberta premier Alison Redford has resigned:

After weeks of controversy and revolt amongst the provincial Tory ranks, Premier Alison Redford announced her resignation Wednesday.

Redford, Alberta's first female premier, made the announcement at a hastily called news conference in the main rotunda of the Alberta Legislature.

She didn't take questions from reporters following her resignation.

Redford has been in hot water following a string of controversies, the latest of which were the resignations of two Calgary MLAs.

Her laissez-faire attitude toward waste has ruined her.

And the farce continues:

The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne released a public statement on Tuesday saying Quebec sovereignty would create "very real concerns" for the First Nations community.

“If Quebec ultimately chooses to separate, I would advise our Council and community to hold our own vote in order to determine whether we would stay within the borders of Quebec or separate ourselves,” MCA Grand Chief Mike Kanentakeron Mitchell said in the statement.

The question of Quebec separatism has been top of mind in recent months as the province moves toward an election in early April. Premier Pauline Marois, the leader of the separatist Parti Quebecois government, has previously said a vote on whether to separate from Canada would likely follow the party’s re-election. She has stepped away from those talking points more recently, likely due to polling number that suggests the party is falling behind its non-separatist opposition.

As I see it, neither of these parties would dare leave the comfort of Mother Canada. You can bite the hand that feeds you but you can't chew it off.


Native protesters once again blockaded one of Canada's busiest rail corridors Wednesday, stalling traffic between Toronto and all points east.

Buses were brought in to move travellers, while trains remained parked in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
More than 4,000 passengers were affected.

The protesters left the scene by late afternoon and police reopened the tracks.

If they left, Canada could just treat these losers like enemy combatants and act accordingly.

This is the government Liberal voters want:

Until now, the knock against Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals has been that their tax-and-spend, big-deficit policies are turning Ontario into an economic basket case, similar to the state of California.

Now comes word from the fiscally-conservative Fraser Institute that in fact, compared to California, "the poster child for fiscal irresponsibility", Ontario's financial situation is in much worse shape.

Ontario has a population of 13.5 million people, about one-third of California's 38 million. But Ontario's debt - based on the latest comparable data from 2011/2012 - is almost double that of California's, $267.5 billion compared to $144.8 billion.

Relative to the size of its economy, Ontario's debt at 40.9%, is more than five times larger than the same measure for California, at 7.6%.

Per capita debt is $20,166 per person in Ontario, more than five times California's $3,844.

The Ontario government spent 9.2% of its revenues paying off interest on debt in 2011/2012, more than three times higher than California's 2.8%.

In other news, Putin accepts Crimean secession:

In a gilded Kremlin hall used by czars, Vladimir Putin redrew Russia’s borders Tuesday by declaring the Crimean Peninsula part of the motherland — provoking a surge of emotion among Russians who lament the loss of empire and denunciations from Western leaders who called Putin a threat to the world.

In an ominous sign, a Ukrainian serviceman and a member of a local self-defense brigade were killed by gunfire in Crimea just hours after Putin’s speech, the first fatalities stemming from the Russian takeover.

I can't wait to see how Putin will react when Chechnya secedes (SEE POLL).

Crimeans, guess what you're in for:

The aftermath of recognition, however, has presented Russia with a long series of headaches. This week, economists have warned repeatedly that Crimea, if it is absorbed, will prove a serious drag on Russia’s budget, but their arguments have been drowned out in the roar of public support for annexation.

Aleksei V. Malashenko, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said Russian officials “will be shocked” with the challenges they face when trying to manage Crimea — reviving its economy, distributing money and influence among its ethnic groups, and trying to control the corruption that accompanies all big Russian projects. And, judging from precedent, the public’s euphoria will fade, he said.

“I think that in Russia, the majority of the society forgot about Ossetia, and if it weren’t for the Olympics, the majority of the society would also forget about Abkhazia,” Mr. Malashenko said. “Of course, Crimea is not Ossetia. But anyway, the popularity of Crimeans, and the Crimean tragedy, will be forgotten in a year.”

South Ossetia’s president, Leonid Tibilov, a former K.G.B. officer, was among the first to celebrate Russia’s decision to absorb Crimea on Tuesday, calling it “the only possible step to grant solid peace to Crimea, which is the main and essential condition for its further prosperity.” ...

Russia’s federal audit chamber found that six months after the conflict, only $1.4 million had been spent on reconstruction out of a disbursement of $55 million in priority aid. By last year, the chamber estimated that $33 million had been lost or misused. South Ossetia’s government eventually opened 70 cases against former officials, alleging that they stole a total of $22 million.

The flows of cash changed South Ossetia, complained an academic from Tskhinvali, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of angering the local authorities. Officials who once lived modestly began to build lavish houses in “apricot and pink” and cruise the streets in “black cars with blacked-out windows,” she said, adding that she had recently paid $6 for a cup of green tea.

“It will be sad if Crimea turns out the same way,” she said. “This culture of Russian expansion, it means lots of money, but terribly distributed. It destroyed the good ways of a small people.”

Though many in South Ossetia had hoped to be absorbed into Russia, the Kremlin has so far refused to consider annexation, most likely because it would prove destabilizing for Russia’s turbulent Caucasus region, Mr. Malashenko said. Despite 15 months of lobbying by Moscow, only four nations followed Russia’s lead in recognizing South Ossetia as an independent country, and two of them were Pacific islands with populations of fewer than 15,000.

Moscow has also stumbled in its attempt to maintain political control. When Kremlin “political technologists” tried to engineer a victory for its preferred presidential candidate in 2011 and 2012, they prompted street demonstrations that nearly ended in civil unrest.

Also, Russia relies heavily on its gas reserves which it wields over Europe like a club. Imagine lost revenues when Poland and Ukraine have their own gas pipelines. Imagine an empire stretched too thin.

May Russia get what it deserves.


Russia signaled concern on Wednesday at Estonia's treatment of its large ethnic Russian minority, comparing language policy in the Baltic state with what it said was a call in Ukraine to prevent the use of Russian.

(Sidebar: Perhaps it's a good thing Russia has no designs on Quebec?)

Remember when Sarah Palin said Obama would be weak if Russia ever invaded Ukraine and no one listened to her? Remember when Mitt Romney called Russia a geopolitical threat and Obama scoffed at him?

Remember when Obama had his @$$ handed to him?

It's just bad for the environment:

The Koran strictly bans the consumption of pork, leading to the virtual disappearance of domesticated pigs in Muslim-majority areas, then their replacement by sheep and goats. These latter overgrazed the land which led, as the geographer Xavier de Planhol observes, to "a catastrophic deforestation" that in turn "is one of the basic reasons for the sparse landscape particularly evident in the Mediterranean districts of Islamic countries." Note the progression from Koranic dietary injunction to the desertification of vast tracts of land. The scriptural command was not intended to cause ecological damage, but it did.

And now, a heart-warming message everyone must hear:

March 21 is celebrated all over the world as World Down Syndrome Day. CoorDown, coordinator of the Italian National Association of people with Down syndrome posted this heartwarming video that brought together 15 kids with Down Syndome from around the world.

A to-be mother, worried that she was going to give birth to a child with Down Syndrome, wrote an anxious email to the institute.

"I'm expecting a baby. I discovered he has Down Syndrome. I'm scared: What kind of life will my child have?"

This video, titled "Dear Future Mom" is a response to that letter.

Watch the video.

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