Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Mid-Week Post

Aahh, the last day of August...

Sunny ways and so forth:

Canada's economy shrank in the second quarter, its worst showing in seven years, hurt by a drop in exports and a disruption to oil production caused by wildfires in Alberta, though growth was seen as likely to rebound later this year.

Oh, dear:

Apparently the “big thinkers” inside the grit party are becoming worried about  Trudeau’s blatant attempts to hustle LGBT votes (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans-sexual groups). His actions on the LGBT front have created “quite”  a reaction from the muslim caucus in the liberal party.  As I am hearing things, the rift arose when the rather large muslim component of the present liberal caucus found voice and began openly complaining.

Trudeau is the conductor of a slow-moving and explosive train wreck that will be worth watching when it finally unfolds.

More to come.

(Paws up)

Ahem - Rwanda:

Having unburdened herself or himself of this revelatory gem, the Star’s editorial writer gets bullet-chewing tough — on the former federal government, the one not currently sending any Canadian soldiers anywhere. “It’s wise to re-engage carefully, especially given Canada’s record of relative inaction in peace operations under former prime minister Stephen Harper. Favouring isolation over UN activism, he allowed a celebrated tradition of Canadian peacekeeping to wither.” Terrible!

However, the Star’s writer concludes with evident joy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have set the stars back on their proper course. “The Liberal government is going a considerable way in correcting Harper’s neglect. With millions of innocent civilians at imminent risk of brutalization and death in war zones around the world, Canada has a humanitarian duty to take meaningful action in easing the threat.”

To call the foregoing nonsense understates it some. That The Star saw fit to print this is amazing, even in a time when newspaper editorial writers are called upon to dash off their offerings in minutes, like performance art.

Where to begin? A briefing book provided to Foreign Affairs minister Stephane Dion following his appointment to cabinet, obtained by Postmedia’s David Akin via access to information, outlined the status quo ante — peacekeeping at the close of the Harper era.

There were five small Canadian “peace-support” missions under way, under UN auspices, in October 2015 — in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Haiti, Cyprus and Israel/Lebanon. Canada ranked 68th among 124 countries in troop contributions to UN operations — and was the ninth-largest contributor, worldwide, to the UN’s annual peacekeeping budget, with an annual outlay just shy of US$240-million.

Additionally, the document shows, Canadian soldiers were contributing in small numbers to the Multinational Force and Observers mission in the Sinai, the Office of the U.S. Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the NATO Kosovo Force, as well as European Union support operations in the West Bank and Ukraine. Hardly a portrait of neglect.

More importantly, this portrayal of Canadian military history — which I have heard repeated in various iterations by Grit partisans for years, running into decades — contains bomb-crater-sized holes. Most egregiously, it airbrushes the laudable peace-building aspects of the Afghan mission from 2002 to 2014, as well as the failures of peacekeeping in Somalia and Rwanda in the mid-1990s, from the frame.

It was a Liberal government, that of Jean Chr├ętien, that exacerbated the Somalia debacle with its shoddy handling of the aftermath, and its wrong-headed disbanding of the Airborne Regiment. The same government presided over  the catastrophic failures of the Rwanda mission. It was also a Liberal government that launched the Afghan mission, both in its post-9/11 initial phase in 2002 and its more robust humanitarian and combat phase beginning in late 2005. Liberals enthusiastically backed the Afghan mission — until the day Stephen Harper took power in 2006, after which they began enthusiastically bashing it. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan knows this history well, having served with distinction in Afghanistan.

The prime minister, his defence and foreign ministers are not to blame for a bad editorial, granted. But they do share responsibility for perpetuating a transparently false construct of a glorious peacekeeping past that hasn’t corresponded to Canadian soldiers’ reality for at least the past 25 years.

Trudeau's Canada will definitely be back as Canadian peacekeepers stand back and watch bad things happen to people. Trudeau's mouth-breathing supporters will never hold him to account for his outright lies or glaring omissions but that does not mean that no one else should.

Delays are what governments whose interests lie elsewhere are counting on:

The deplorable violent demonstrations during the National Energy Board’s hearings on the Energy East pipeline in Montreal, and Tuesday’s announcement the hearings have been suspended indefinitely, provide more proof Ottawa’s pursuit of social licence for major energy projects is pointless, even harmful.

Instead of producing more opportunity for public input and building credibility of regulatory reviews, the hearings have degenerated into a soap opera. The result? More delays.

To wit:

In China, the state shuts down individuals. In Canada, individuals can apparently shut down the state. Or at least they can shut down any state apparatus they don’t like. But then the Liberal government had already undermined this particular piece of apparatus by declaring that the NEB needed to restore a credibility that it had never really lost. ...

State control has never gone out of fashion in China, but the country’s enormous success is due to unleashing the Chinese entrepreneurial spirit. Unfortunately, that success has enabled the recrudescence of imperial ambitions.

Meanwhile, Chinese economic interests and those of “Junior Trudeau” are hardly consistent. The Chinese are upset that the tens of billions of dollars they have poured into the Alberta oilpatch are showing significant losses, not just because of low prices but because Alberta oil is being blocked by the forces that closed down the Montreal hearings. The same anti-development groups have stood against West Coast LNG plants. That LNG could have replaced Chinese coal and thus addressed real environmental problems.

There are other ways in which the Chinese agenda is at odds with Trudeau’s climate obsessions. The prime minister said on Wednesday that Canada might join the Asian Infrastructure Bank, a Chinese-led rival to the U.S.-controlled World Bank. Insofar as the World Bank has become a tool for imposing expensive and unreliable alternative energy on poor countries, an alternative that is prepared to fund fossil-fuel projects is much to be desired. How that fits with the Canadian government’s climate posturing isn’t entirely clear.


Environmental Defence Canada was paid $212,500 by Tides USA “for outreach and education on the Line 9 and Energy East pipelines; ongoing promotion of Tar Sands Reality Check; leading government relations work in Ottawa; promotion of the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD); and supporting the work of allies.”

Has anyone bothered to ask Trudeau why the heavily-polluted China can have Canadian oil and gas but not Canadians?

Cheap Third-World vacations for everybody!

It’s such a peculiar Canadian conceit, this notion that our two countries enjoy a special and delightful relationship and that, somehow, the normalizing of United States-Cuba relations will impinge upon or utterly change the Cuba we loved when almost no one else did. ...

Over the ensuing decades, I never returned to Cuba, but plenty of other Canadians did. The handful I know who went regularly always took goodies for the locals — used clothing, geegaws and electrical appliances you couldn’t get in the stores there, simple things that were gratefully received.

In this way, Canadians reckoned, they were alleviating the deprivation and poverty — especially acute after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s ended subsidies to Cuba and ignited a major economic crisis — of the ordinary Cuban, while managing to put on the back burner of the conscience the fact that it was also a repressive state which at one point (2008, I think) even had the second-biggest number of imprisoned journalists on the planet.

If there is anyone who is filled with conceit and gales of hot sanctimonious gas, it's Canadians whose abandoned trinkets for the impoverished Cubans never occupied the same hemisphere as to why they went to that communist hellhole in the first place.

Uh, no. More money won't do the trick. If students, parents and teacher simply don't give a sh-- (and some of them don't no matter how much they tell that they do), they are not going to adopt attitudes and strategies to help them excel. When I taught abroad, I had students attend my classes physically and emotionally exhausted having spent the day studying and working to get into the best universities. From six in the morning to midnight, students trudged off to regular school and then supplementary classes. Some of them because their parents (who paid lots of money and sometimes attended supplementary classes themselves) wanted them to go and sometimes because they wanted to go. In Canada, teachers' unions sway elections after promises of huge paydays and benefits. Parents spend more money on computer games or hockey equipment and students flake out whenever any extracurricular activity that could give them an edge later on in life doesn't catch their interest.

Clearly students shouldn't be burned out and not every Canadian student/parent/teacher is idle but there is enough cause to make people point out the bleeding obvious, that being that unless everyone gets the lead out, there should be no more money:

Just days before Ontario children will be heading back to school, the Education Quality and Accountability Office has just released a report measuring how well students are doing on standardized tests and the results are shocking.

The Wynne Liberal government is offering the typical response sticking with the status quo curriculum but just proposing to spend more money on it.

Well, this must be embarrassing:

The State Department says about 30 emails that may be related to the 2012 attack on U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya, are among the thousands of Hillary Clinton emails recovered during the FBI’s recently closed investigation into her use of a private server.

Government lawyers told U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta Tuesday that an undetermined number of the emails among the 30 were not included in the 55,000 pages previously provided by Clinton. The State Department’s lawyer said it would need until the end of September to review the emails and redact potentially classified information before they are released.

Mehta questioned why it would take so long to release so few documents, and urged that the process be sped up. He ordered the department to report to him in a week with more details about why the review process would take a full month.

The hearing was held in one of several lawsuits filed by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch, which has sued over access to government records involving the Democratic presidential nominee. The State Department has said the FBI provided it with about 14,900 emails purported not to have been among those previously released.

Clinton previously had said she withheld and deleted only personal emails not related to her duties as secretary of state. With the November election little more than two months away, Republicans are pressing for the release of as many documents related to Clinton as possible.

In the meantime, Trump mends proverbial fences with Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto:

Donald Trump said he didn't push Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on who would pay for the border wall he wants to build as president, and instead said he hopes the two countries can work closely together to secure the southern border and bring jobs back to both countries.

"We did discuss the wall," Trump told reporters at a joint press conference with Nieto. "We didn't discuss payment of the wall. That'll be for a later date. This was a very preliminary meeting. I think it was an excellent meeting."

This no-bluster thing might work for Trump.

Whatever will his detractors say now?


A Colorado man has confessed to the attempted murder of his toddler son, after he unbuckled the two-year-old’s seatbelt and crashed his own car at approximately 75mph.

Nathan Weitzel, 29, told police he tried to kill his son, Isaiah, because he couldn’t handle the responsibility of fatherhood. He was charged with attempted first-degree murder, child abuse, assault, criminal mischief, possession of a controlled substance and vehicular assault.

This is a rather salty cartoon but it really captures the idiotic futility of pointless gestures against the cold steel of reality.

Britain used to be called "Great": 

A Muslim taxi driver in Leicester refused to pick up a blind couple because they had a guide dog. Charles Bloch and Jessica Graham had booked a taxi with ADT Taxis for them and their guide dog, Carlo. But when the taxi arrived, the driver said, "Me, I not take the dog. For me, it's about my religion." Many Muslims believe dogs are impure and haram (strictly forbidden).


More reports of the brutal treatment that Christians and other minorities experienced at the hands of the Islamic State (SIS) emerged during May. One account told of a couple who, after their children were abducted by ISIS militants, answered their door one day to find a plastic bag on their doorstep. It contained the body parts of their daughters and a video of them being brutally tortured and raped.

Another Christian mother from Mosul answered the door to find ISIS jihadis demanding that she leave or pay the jizya (protection money demanded as a tribute by conquered Christians and Jews, according to the Koran 9:29). The woman asked for a few seconds, because her daughter was in the shower, but the jihadis refused to give her the time. They set a fire to the house; her daughter was burned alive. The girl died in her mother's arms; her last words were "Forgive them."

And now, history's cat people:

Poet Laureate Robert Southey (1774-1843) was an out and proud cat lover. His felines made frequent appearances in his correspondence, often relaying messages through Southey to his friends' cats "from the Cattery of Cat's Eden." He too enjoyed picking arcane names for his pets. In 1826, when he was away from home in Leyden, he wrote this in a letter to his 7-year-old son Cuthbert:
I hope Rumpelstiltzchen has recovered his health, and that Miss Cat is well; and I should like to know whether Miss Fitzrumpel has been given away, and if there is another kitten. The Dutch cats do not speak exactly the same language as the English ones. I will tell you how they talk when I come home.
Seven years later, Rumpelstiltzchen's health finally gave out. Southey shared the news with his old friend Grosvenor G. Bedford, a cat lover in his own right.
Alas! Grosvenor, this day poor old Rumpel was found dead, after as long and happy a life as cat could wish for, if cats form wishes on that subject. His full titles were : "The Most Noble the Archduke Rumpelstiltzchen, Marquis M'Bum, Earl Tomlemagne, Baron Raticide, Waowhler, and Skaratch." There should be a court mourning in Catland, and if the Dragon [i.e., Bedford's cat] wear a black ribbon round his neck, or a band of crape a la militaire round one of the fore paws, it will be but a becoming mark of respect.
Jaspar was poor, and want and mice
Had made his heart like stone,
And Jaspar look'd with envious eyes
On yarn not his own.

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