Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Mid-Week Post

Autumnal zen...

Former Israeli president Shimon Peres has passed away at the age of ninety-three:

Israel on Wednesday mourned the death of Shimon Peres, a former president and prime minister whose life story mirrored that of the Jewish state, as the government began preparations for a funeral that is expected to bring together an array of world leaders and international dignitaries.

Peres, celebrated around the world as a Nobel Prize-winning visionary who pushed his country toward peace during a remarkable seven-decade career, died early Wednesday from complications from a stroke. He was 93.

Oh, burn:

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected President Barack Obama's veto of legislation allowing relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia, paving the way for the first veto override of his eight-year presidency.

The final vote was 97-1 against the veto, a blow to Saudi Arabia, a frequent U.S. partner in the Middle East recently subject to harsh criticism in the U.S. Congress.

Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid was the only senator to side with Obama.

Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, a vice presidential nominee, and Bernie Sanders, an independent and former Democratic White House contender, did not vote.

(Sidebar: there's your Democratic moral stalwarts for you.) 

Passengers who accompanied Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his first two international trips were apparently well fed.

The government has revealed, in response to a written question by the Conservatives, that the cost of food and beverages supplied aboard a government Airbus used for the trips amounted to just over $1,300 per person. ...

More than $1,000 for food and beverages per passenger per trip "is more than the average Canadian earns in two weeks," he said.

"Again, I'm just not sure anybody's minding the store when it comes to remembering that it's taxpayers who are on the hook for all these things."

Calkins said the meal tab is part of a "pattern" of excessive spending by the Trudeau government, which has been plagued for weeks by the disclosure of generous expenses claimed by political staffers, including the prime minister's top two aides, for relocating to Ottawa and by ministers for limousine and photographers' services.

Some of those expenses, including a portion of the Trudeau aides' moving expenses, have been reimbursed.

The latest disclosure shows that $72,040 was spent on food and beverages for 55 passengers — including almost two dozen journalists — aboard the prime ministerial plane during a trip to Turkey and the Philippines last November for a G20 summit and an APEC leaders' summit.

Another $81,383 was spent on food and drink for 62 passengers — including more than a dozen journalists —aboard the prime minister's plane for a trip later the same month to London, where Trudeau met the Queen, Malta, where he attended a Commonwealth summit,  and Paris, where he participated in a United Nations climate change conference.

Also: go here to make PM Gerald Butts repay what he owes.


Justin Trudeau is used to fawning media coverage from the Canadian press but the British media travelling with Prince William and Princess Kate aren’t going quite so easy on our charming Prime Minister. 

It began with young Prince George refusing to engage in a high five with Trudeau and then moved on to more serious matters when a visit to an immigration centre threatened to get political.

If Ontarians hate the way Wynne is running things, why did they vote for her in the first place (RE: gas plants, deleted e-mails, failed "green" policies, Ben Levin, children with autism)?

Half of Ontario voters feel unprotected from price increases in the electricity system, a new poll shows.

“Ontarians have never been this angry,” declares a presentation of the Innovative Research Group poll, to be revealed Wednesday afternoon at the Ontario Energy Association conference in Toronto. A draft of the presentation was shared with the National Post and the results of the 600-person poll show a growing distrust in the Ontario government’s handling of the energy file, in particular electricity prices.
The poll about provincial politics and energy rates was commissioned by the Ontario Energy Association — an industry group representing everything from gas to electricity companies — for its annual conference.

When asked if they feel “consumers are well-protected with respect to prices and the reliability and quality of electricity service in Ontario,” 50 per cent of respondents “strongly disagreed” — the highest rate of disatisfaction since the firm started asking the question in 2002. Another 20 per cent “somewhat disagreed” while just 19 per cent said they “somewhat” agreed and six per cent “strongly agreed.” Three per cent had no opinion and another two per cent didn’t know.

Well, obviously:

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a missile fired from a launcher brought into Ukraine from Russia and located in a village held by pro-Russian rebels, international prosecutors said on Wednesday.

The findings counter Moscow's suggestion that the passenger plane, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in July 2014, was brought down by Ukraine's military rather than the separatists. All 298 people on board, most of them Dutch, were killed.

The conclusions were based on thousands of wiretaps, photographs, witness statements and forensic tests during more than two years of inquiries into an incident which led to a sharp rise in tensions between Russia and the West.

Among the key findings were: the plane was hit by a Russian-made Buk-9M38 missile; the missile was fired from the rebel-held village of Pervomaysk in eastern Ukraine; and the launcher was transported into Ukraine from Russia.

Now make Russia accountable. 

The release of Concordia University professor Homa Hoodfar from Iranian custody is a welcome event and no doubt a joyous moment for her friends and family. But it cannot be categorized as a triumph for Canadian diplomacy.

It may not result from Canadian efforts at all. Foreign regimes, big or small, good or evil, cunning or irrational, have their own internal dynamics and processes over which not even a superpower has much control; it is far from clear that, say, the People’s Republic of China could make the despotic leader of North Korea behave, even if it wanted to.

Despite the posturing in some quarters, Canada does not enjoy much global influence over countries like Iran. If anything, Tehran’s mullahs delight in displaying their contempt for the sort of Western, democratic values Canada espouses. While their motives for releasing Hoodfar remain unclear, it would be a worrying sign if her freedom had been paid for with concessions from Ottawa.


Saudi Arabia has deported 27 Lebanese Maronite Christians, including women and children, for celebrating the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady in their home. Saudi Arabian authorities justified the deportation by claiming the Christians participated in "un-Islamic prayer" and that they possessed the "Gospel".


If the police are so affronted by citizens protecting themselves then maybe they ought to do what they are paid for:

A Facebook group called Farmers With Firearms is gaining attention since its creation last Thursday and causing concern among law enforcement.

The group, which now has more than 1,000 likes, describes itself as a group that “will fight if need be” to protect their property.

“We need to protect ourselves out here,” said Lee, a farmer from west central Saskatchewan who created the group but didn’t want his surname used.

“The police take hours to show up,” he told Yahoo Canada News. “I created the group/page to keep the farmers in rural [Saskatchewan] informed as to where people are seeing suspicious vehicles.”

Earlier this month, RCMP officials in Saskatchewan cautioned against vigilantism. Sgt. Earl LeBlanc, with the RCMP’s “F” Division Communications Unit in Regina, said residents who witness a crime or suspect a crime is underway should report it immediately to the police.
LeBlanc urged the farmers not to chase or subdue the suspects in any way.

“Let us do our jobs,” LeBlanc told Global News.

(Sidebar: then do your g-d- job.)
Farmers in Saskatchewan say they’re having to use their rifles to defend their property instead of shooting wildlife. Some farmers say they have been approached by masked gunmen on their property or have seen an increase in crime.

And yet he went to a Catholic hospital:

Ian Shearer had had enough of the pain and wanted a quick, peaceful end, his life marred by multiple afflictions.

But the Vancouver man’s family says his last day alive became an excruciating ordeal after the Catholic-run hospital caring for him rebuffed his request for a doctor-assisted death, forcing him to transfer to another hospital.

The US will move forward with a missile deployment system against Chinese-backed North Korea:

The U.S. intends to deploy a missile defence system in South Korea “as soon as possible” to counter the threat from North Korea despite opposition from China, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia said Tuesday.

Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel said he believes South Korea is firmly committed to the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence, or THAAD system. He told a congressional hearing the system is purely defensive and is not aimed at China but at North Korea.

The plans have complicated South Korea’s efforts to foster warmer ties with China, which traditionally has had closer ties with North Korea, and have added to tensions between Washington and Beijing as well. Beijing says the system’s radar could reach into Chinese territory.

(Sidebar: there can be no warm ties with a country that helped separate Korea in the first place.)

And now, medicine:

Scientists have created arteries that can be safely implanted and continue growing in their hosts. They published a report of their progress today, September 28, in the journal Nature Communications.

You know the best of Star Trek but what about the worst?

Yangs and Kohms (Yankees and Communists, get it?) fight it out in this thinly disguised Cold War allegory, which finds our three heroes and a redshirt held prisoner by a rogue starship captain (Morgan Woodward) who thinks he’s found the secret of immortality on a planet scarred by ongoing war between two tribal factions. Bizarrely, this was one of three scripts that Gene Roddenberry proposed for the second Star Trek pilot, but NBC passed; good thing too, as the show might never have been picked up if this silly exercise in pointless action and half-baked civics was presented to the network. It ended up getting made deep in Season 2, and surprisingly didn’t kill the series outright.

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