Thursday, April 20, 2017

At Random

To wit ...

A gunman kills a police officer at the Champ-Elysees:

An attacker with an automatic weapon opened fire on police on Paris’ iconic Champs-Elysees Thursday night, killing one officer and seriously wounding two others before police shot and killed him.

Paris police spokeswoman Johanna Primevert told The Associated Press that the attacker targeted officers guarding the area near the Franklin Roosevelt subway station at the centre of the shopping avenue popular with tourists. She said he appeared to be acting alone.

Police and soldiers sealed off the area, ordering tourists back into their hotels and blocking people from approaching the scene.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said counterterrorism investigators are involved in the probe. Two police officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation, said the attacker had been flagged as an extremist. They had no other details about him.

(Sidebar: I bet I can guess.)
It's just another day in Paris.

ISIS has been targeting American and Australian military advisors with mustard gas:

An Iraqi outpost with US and Australian military advisers in western Mosul was hit with an ineffective "low grade" mustard agent by Islamic State forces on Sunday, according to CBS News.

At least six Iraqis were treated for breathing issues at a field clinic, while none of the advisers were believed to have been injured. 

The Pentagon released a statement saying that the ineffective attack "further displays the desperation of ISIS as they seek to hold an untenable position in Mosul," ABC Australia reported.

"My advice right at the moment is no Australian troops were affected but Australian forces did provide assistance following the attack, said Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. "That's my current advice received in last few minutes."

Not that I would expect PM Hair-Boy to know or care how protectionism, supply management boards and trade friction between provinces work or how they are bad for the Canadian economy, but trying to sound tough to a guy who has actually handled money just makes him look more pathetic:

Trudeau told Bloomberg Television that the United States in fact ran a dairy surplus with Canada

Trump took aim at Canada's dairy industry this week and said on Thursday "what they've done to our dairy farm workers is a disgrace".

Canada's dairy sector is protected by high tariffs on imported products and controls on domestic production as a means of supporting prices that farmers receive.

Trudeau said the system "works very well" in Canada.

Yes, about that:

For years, Canadian dairy producers refused to admit the system did not serve the dairy supply chain and consumers well.

But since domestic milk prices were much higher than world market prices, processors started to import diafiltered milk from the United States. The product was imported under a different label, circumventing border rules and bypassing tariffs.

This lasted for a few years, creating an imbalance between milk produced in Canada and our domestic demand. The milk that was normally sold to make cheese, yogurt or other dairy products was slowly replaced by American diafiltered milk.

At the height of the crisis, in 2015, some reports suggested Canadian processors were buying more than $200 million worth of American milk. In April 2016, Ontario reacted by creating a new class of industrial milk. The policy allowed dairy processors in Canada to purchase milk at world market prices instead of higher prices controlled by the Canadian Dairy Commission.

A cross-Canadian approach was to be established by February 2017, but things have dragged on. In Ontario, the policy seems to be working. At the same time, American producers have enjoyed the increased Canadian demand and are hungry for more.

U.S. dairy groups have recently expressed this interest directly to Trump, as our dairy sector never really had a strategy, other than protectionism. In today’s world, this lack of strategy won’t do; Canadian dairy producers only have themselves to blame for the mess they are in.

So, how does the system work well in Canada?

It doesn't.


The new housing scheme will be a brutal failure in practice even if it doesn’t turn out to have loopholes those devious speculators manage to exploit. And it will fail in practice because it’s stupid in principle. It’s true that when some Chinese rich person nastily buys a nice house in a desirable Ontario urban location, it forces some hapless Canadian to accept a windfall they then inflict on their fellows through spending or investment. But in “I Pencil” Leonard Read demonstrated over half a century ago that nobody can know what all the things required to make a humble pencil do cost, from paint to loggers’ coffee, let alone what they “should” cost. Regulating prices with government’s characteristic clumsy ignorance thus inevitably sends harmfully disruptive effects rippling throughout the supply chain in ways the planners could not foresee, cannot understand and are helpless to correct.

Watch the francophone oligarchy versus monied foreign students train wreck in progress:

Quebec's Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness faced allegations Tuesday of possible racial profiling and violating the constitutional rights of more than 500 international students whose French skills are the subject of an ongoing probe.

Speaking at a news conference, Fo Niemi, director of the Montreal-based Centre for Research Action on Race Relations (CRARR), said most of the students targeted by the ministry come from either China, India or the Middle East.

"We're asking whether there are practices of profiling willingly, or unintentionally based on race, language and national origin of these students," he said.

CRARR's concerns about a possible violation of their constitutional rights stems from a letter the students received from MIDI alleging that they "provided information or a document that is false or misleading regarding your level of knowledge of the French language."

In a news release, CRARR legal team member Stephen De Four-Wyre said the claim is not backed by any evidence, and puts the onus of students to prove no fraud was committed.

"The presumption of guilt is clear violation of the students' constitutional right to the presumption of innocence because it is an arbitrary reversal of the burden of proof onto each student," he said.

Is it about the right of a French-speaking minority to impose upon foreign students? Is it about racism or the appearance thereof? Is it unfair to demand that there be a single operating language?

Who cares? Watch as these special-interest groups tear themselves apart.

What effort? This is the same dance!

U.S. President Donald Trump praised Chinese efforts to rein in "the menace of North Korea" on Thursday, after North Korean state media warned the United States of a "super-mighty preemptive strike."

No, vegetarians, you're not going to outlast omnivores the way you think

Researchers who tracked nearly a quarter million adults aged 45 and older in New South Wales found no significant differences in all-cause mortality, meaning the likelihood of dying, of any death, between those who followed a complete, semi- (meat once a week or less) or pesco- (fish permitted) vegetarian diet, and regular meat eaters.

Caulfield, a Canada Research Chair in health law and policy and expert in celebrity health trends, said the study (in which he played no role) fits with an emerging body of evidence that vegetarian diets don’t reduce the risk of premature death.

Vegetarianism has become almost a cultural norm in the Western World, he said. “Eating vegetarian is like the new Prius (Toyota’s hybrid). You’re telling the world the kind of individual you are, the personal brand.”

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