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Hope and Onions

What? You don't like Onions?

Updated: 2017-04-05T03:26:27.634-04:00


They made a desert and called it peace


Israeli troops began their withdrawal from Gaza, today:Israeli soldiers danced on top of a tank and gave "V" for victory signs as they pulled out of Gaza, but the war moved to a close on an ambiguous note.[...] While both sides put their best spin on the conflict's seeming conclusion, noncombatants were the biggest losers. More than half of the 1,259 slain Palestinians were civilians, according to medics, human rights groups and the UN.Aid groups sought to funnel more supplies to hospitals and food distribution sites from Egyptian and Israeli border crossings.At least 13 Israelis, 10 of them soldiers, were killed, according to Israel. Hamas fired hundreds of rockets at southern Israel, intensifying the fear of hundreds of thousands of people who had lived under the threat for years."We did a good job. Now we're going home," an Israeli soldier told Israeli television. His name was not released in line with military restrictions on the release of information. Smiling infantry soldiers walked toward the border in the rain, and a rainbow emerged from the clouds behind them.How is that for a made-for-TV ending? You know, after three weeks of looking at all those anguished parents and mangled bodies, it's about time someone MGMed this war up!Not that you haven't tried, corporate media. No. Night after night you did your level best to tell us this was what 'self-defense' looks like. Of course, it is easier to say stuff like this when you don't have the smell of incinerated children burning your nostrils. In the words of Bill no attention to those Washington pundits cheering the fighting in Gaza as they did the bloodletting in Iraq. Killing is cheap and war is a sport in a city where life and death become abstractions of policy.But those so-called 'women and children?' They voted for terrorists who use innocent civilians as human shields! Well, that is interesting, because I seem to recall another militant group army doing the same thing, not too long ago...B'Tselem's initial investigation indicates that, during an incursion by Israeli forces into Beit Hanun, in the northern Gaza Strip, on 17 July 2006, soldiers seized control of two buildings in the town and used residents as human shield....oh, well, isolated incident, right?Article 28 of the Convention expressly prohibits the use of civilians as human shields by placing them alongside soldiers or military facilities, with the hope of attaining immunity from attack. The official commentary of the Convention refers to this practice, which was common in the Second World War as "cruel and barbaric." The Convention, in Articles 31 and 51, also prohibits the use of physical or moral coercion on civilians or forcing them to carry out military tasks.Despite these prohibitions, for a long period of time following the outbreak of the second intifada, particularly during Operation Defensive Shield, in April 2002, the IDF systematically used Palestinian civilians as human shields, forcing them to carry out military actions which threatened their lives. It was not until a High Court petition was filed by Israeli human rights organizations opposing such action, in May 2002, that the IDF issued a general order prohibiting the use of Palestinians as "a means of 'human shield' against gunfire or attacks by the Palestinian side.'"But they're still 'terrorists,' aren't they? Everybody says so! They're firing rockets indiscriminately. Ladies & Gentlemen, here's where I turn you over to Avi Shlaim, a professor of international relations at Oxford University who served in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s. He is the author of 'The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World.' Here is Prof. Shlaim speaking with Amy Goodman last week, on Democracy Now:Before the ceasefire came into effect in July of 2008, the monthly number of rockets fired—Kassam rockets, homemade Kassam rockets, fired from the Gaza Strip on Israeli settlements and towns in southern Israel was 179. In the first four months of the ceasefire, the number dropped dramatically to three rockets a month, almost zero. I w[...]

Oh! The places you'll go! ...or not. Whatever.


Hey there, everyone! Long time no-see, eh? Yeah...about that...*shuffles feet*

I've spent the last nine months working myself stupid. I will spare you the details, but let's just say that the new job has nearly been the death of this here kitteh. But you remember: p/t blogger, f/t DRAAAAAMA queen ;)

So...tonight I return from Xmas part III (the Don Mills edition), only to find I've been tagged by skdadl. Tagged, I tellsya! Of all the cheek! And to make matters worse, here I am on my first Xmas-free night of holidayz and I've been asked to recount the whole of my working existence. Srsly! If ever there was a night to forget about work.

But. On the bright side, this meme thing does give me the sharp elbow to the ribs I need to load up the ol' blog again. And what a mess she is! Jesus phuque is this place a sty! Broken links, mangled Site Meter, and Gord knows what else is hiding under the side-bar. I'm afraid to look! So...while I get on hands and knees and give this place a what-for, you gang can learn a bit about the non-stop thrillride that is my life (*snort*). And if you do fall asleep, try not to drool all over the footer--I'm trying to keep the Board of Health from closing this place down!

OK...where to begin?
  1. babysitter, Mississauga, aka "Land of Factory Carpet Outlet" (sure, you can entrust the most precious things in your life to an anonymous stranger for $1/hr. And they will totally not eat your food after the kids go to sleep.)
  2. McDonald's "crew" and frygirl. The job lasted only three months, but the greaseburns are forever.
  3. Shitty neighbourhood video store. You haven't lived till you've been held up for 70s Betamax porn.
  4. Receptionist and DIY librarian for LEAF's national office (no joke--best job I ever had in my life)
  5. Hostess, book-keeper, and pastry-chef wrangler at a seafood restaurant in Queen's Quay. Emphasis on Queen's; this was Kitty's initiation into fag-hagdom. Kitty also learned to cuss and smoke here, much to the delight of Mama & Papa Kitty.
  6. BSc student & p/t bank-teller (sorry: 'Customer Service Officer, level 1' *snerk*)
  7. Calculus (and sometimes Chemistry) tutor.
  8. Computer help-desk 'consultant,' U of Moo. "How can I help you if you won't let go of my throat?"
  9. MSc student and p/t computer/network support (Fear and Loathing in the Forest City)
  10. Research assistant (Forest City)
  11. PhD student (Forest City)
  12. Unemployed (Forest City)
  13. P/t grant proof-reader ("if I see 'transdisciplinary' or 'leading edge' one more time, I'm going to stab myself in the eye with a dull pencil")
  14. Birth of GDKitty (awww! They grow up so fast!)
  15. Asst. on a software project for a kinky dentist ("don't ask why the receptionist is covered in glitter; Kitty's gotta eat.")
  16. Post-doc #1 of ? (fun times in Hammertown)
  17. Unemployed post-doc (desperate in that shithole we call Hammertown)
  18. Post-doc #2 of ? (still living in Hammertown but working in the Windy Apple)
  19. Death of GDKitty? (errmmm...maybe not; let's see if I can nurse this place back to health and still keep my GD job!)

Counting the flowers & candy


Five years after the made-for-teevee 'Shock 'n Awe' invasion of Iraq, journalists are seizing this war-i-versary to count the flowers and candy.Overflowing cemetaries. Unclaimed bodies.Refugees in Syria, refugees in Jordan, Refugees in their own cities.Oh but the "surge" is working. Divide, subdivide, and sub-subdivide. Arm the militias, arm the death-squads, and arm the sheikhs in the "awakening" councils. Pay no mind when these same sheikhs are bought off, assassinated, or accidentally killed by US forces. Go back to sleep.IPS, Oct 19, 2007:Abu Risha, who had been arrested by Saddam Hussein, became the centrepiece of Bush administration efforts to show that its troops surge in Iraq had been a success.Many Iraqis, even one of Abu Risha's distant cousins, think differently."Sattar was a common thief, and we all knew him to be chief of a highway robbers gang," Salim Abu Risha told IPS in Baghdad. "He and his gang brought shame to our tribe and the whole province, but the Americans tried to make a hero of him."It is no secret in Anbar province that Abu Risha's activities were not legal either before or after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. When the U.S. government began to support the 'Awakening of Anbar' led by Sattar Abu Risha, which operated under the flag of fighting al- Qaeda, some people did begin to think differently."Americans always choose the worst of their collaborators to be leaders of their campaigns," Sheikh Ahmed Ali of the Muslim Scholars Association told IPS in Baghdad. "Look at the governments and councils they chose to lead Iraq. This Sattar Abu Risha only provoked a division among the people of Anbar, and that was exactly what the Americans wanted."[...]"Americans applied a strategy that has affected some weak brains and hearts," former Iraqi Army colonel Jabbar Saed from Fallujah told IPS. "They starved people, arrested those who opposed their occupation, killed a million Iraqis, supported sectarian militias and death squads, destroyed infrastructure to increase the rate of unemployment, and divided Iraqis into sects and now into tribes, just to make us feel that life would not be possible unless we work for them." Well, at least that nasty Moqtada al Sadr has extended the cease-fire. The 30-something cleric is currently preoccupied with a crash course, of sorts: he's studying to become an ayatollah. I'm sure his militia will remain loyal and respect his call for continued peace. I mean, it's not like anyone's antagonizing his followers or anything...Many Mehdi Army members and Sadrist political leaders want the truce scrapped, accusing Iraqi security forces of exploiting it to detain Sadrists, especially in Shi'ite southern Iraq, where rival Shi'ite factions are locked in a struggle for power.[...] Analysts say he sought to impose order on the unrulier elements of his militia, some of whom have degenerated into gangsterism and organized crime. It is a powerful force in Baghdad and the southern oil hub of Basra.One can only hold a thumb on the spigot for so long.Some fear that the rampant violence of one year ago may be coming back, especially as the 30,000 soldiers sent to Baghdad last summer to help end a sectarian war begin returning home.But Iraqi politicians are still gridlocked over sharing power, and citizens appear to have little hope that Iraqi forces could control al-Qaida in Iraq and renegade Shiite militias on their own.[...]According to an Associated Press count, at the height of unrest from November 2006 to August 2007, on average approximately 65 Iraqis died each day as a result of violence. As conditions improved, the daily death toll steadily declined. It reached its lowest point in more than two years on January 2008, when on average 20 Iraqis died each day.Those numbers have since jumped. In February, approximately 26 Iraqis died each day as a result of violence, and so far in March, that number is up to 39 daily. These figures reflect the months in which people were found, and not necessarily — in the case of mass grav[...]

Muppets: is there anything they can't do?


This made me happy, today. I know it's the day after St. Paddy's, but that's ok: Danny Boy isn't really an Irish thing, anyway ;)
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What do you think you'll do then?


(object) (embed)
What do you think you'll do then
I bet that'll shoot down your plane
It'll take you a couple of vodka and tonics
To set you on your feet again

Maybe you'll get a replacement
There's plenty like me to be found
Mongrels who ain't got a penny
Sniffing for tidbits like you on the ground

© 1973 Dick James Music Limited

Pay no mind to the recriminalization of abortion; the important thing is that you had a good time. (UPDATED X3)


***3 Updates follow***So, like Ken Epp's fetus-personhood-granting Bill passed 2nd Reading in the HoC on Wednesday evening, 147-132.What's that? Didn't hear a peep about this on the news, last night? JJ and Birth Pangs were all over this story since last November, when C-484 was but a glimmer in Epps' eye. Here's what JJ said, Nov 23, 2007:The UVOC [Unborn Victims of Crime] bill would "protect a mother's choice to give birth", making it a crime to cause the injury or death of a fetus in the commission of violence against the mother.Don't get excited. Nothing "anti-abortion" to see here, noooooo, just move along. Why, the UVOC bill is just about protecting "choice" -- the mother's choice to carry a pregnancy to term and have it culminate on Day 273 as a baked-to-perfection babycake. And anyone who wields a knife or baseball bat (or scalpel?) and stops that from happening would be committing murder, as surely as it would be murder to kill the mother. Fetus? Hell, never mind that, this bill would protect embryos... zygotes, even. "At any stage of development before birth"And for a while there, it even looked like a lot of our elected representatives "got it:" this Bill offered nothing in the way of added protection for pregnant women; it was merely a vector for introducing anti-abortion legislation through the backdoor. Heck, even Raymond Gravel (BQ), a Roman Catholic priest, knew that enacting C-484 would set us all back many, many years:“I’m against abortion, but this is no way to solve the problem of abortion. It’s through education, through outreach, through helping women who have undesired pregnancies I think that’s how to solve the problem of abortion. But not recriminalizing abortion, I don’t ever want to see that happen.”Speaking in French, Gravel acknowledged that the murder of a pregnant woman is abominable. “But,” he added, “at the same time when the fetus is still in the mother they’re just one being. Its only when the fetus is born is when it becomes another being, when it becomes a human being.”So they had their first round of debate about it on Dec 13, 2007, with 2nd round scheduled for Feb 29--Sadie Hawkins Day! Birth Pangs and Joyce Arthur (ARCC) issued alerts and exhorted anyone who would listen to post/write/call/fax/carrier-pigeon their MPs to vote against this Bill. We even caught a break, and got an extension of sorts when the debate was post-poned till March 3rd--even more time to contact recalcitrant MPs! Meanwhile, Joyce and Carolyn of the ARCC stuck their necks out and hit the airwaves for us: Joyce, going up against the likes of John Hof (Campaign for Life Coalition, BC), and Carolyn against Ken Epp AND Mary Talbot (the mother of Olivia, who was murdered when she was 27 weeks pregnant).A lot of us did the quick "parliamentary fetus fetishizer" arithmetic and grew worried: could this thing really pass? Here's what I posted last week:Ok. There are a total of 308 seats in the HoC, and only 90 anti-choice MPs. But here's the problem: if you add the 65 undeclared MPs to the 90 anti-choicers, you get a potential maximum of 155 votes for Ken Epp's backdoor anti-choice bill. That's 50.3%.[...] Given that the Bloc and NDP will probably whip their respective caucuses to vote NO on C-484, we don't have to worry about them. Nope, the disquieting 'sect' is the Liberal caucus: Dion has not said that he will whip his group, so we have no assurances that those anti-choice or undeclared Liberals will vote against this Bill.And here we are. Our worst-case-scenario is reality: too many Liberals voted for this Bill. A freaking Dipper even voted for this thing (I'm lookin at YOU, Peter Stoffer!). But you wannu know what really takes the cake?Cake!!! Dion was MIA for the vote because he was hosting a party at Stornoway for...*drumroll*...International Women's Day. Susan Delacourt explains (h/t Antonia & matttbastard):Liberals and New Democrat[...]

WIRED publishes more Abu Ghraib photos


You know, I don't think "NSFW" really cuts it this time. Perhaps "NSFHR"--not safe for the human race--is more appropriate. I am posting a link and a bit of a blurb, but no comment. No doubt you already know what this is about.

From WIRED, Feb 28, 2008:
As an expert witness in the defense of an Abu Ghraib guard who was court-martialed, psychologist Philip Zimbardo had access to many of the images of abuse that were taken by the guards themselves. For a presentation at the TED conference in Monterey, California, Zimbardo assembled some of these pictures into a short video. obtained the video from Zimbardo's talk...
From the WIRED interview with Zimbardo:
Wired: Do you think it made any difference that the Abu Ghraib guards were reservists rather than active duty soldiers?

Zimbardo: It made an enormous difference, in two ways. They had no mission-specific training, and they had no training to be in a combat zone. Secondly, the Army reservists in a combat zone are the lowest form of animal life within the military hierarchy. They're not real soldiers, and they know this. In Abu Ghraib the only thing lower than the army reservist MPs were the prisoners.

Wired: So it's a case of people who feel powerless in their lives seizing power over someone else.

Zimbardo: Yes, victims become victimizers. In Nazi concentration camps, the Jewish capos were worse than the Nazis, because they had to prove that they deserved being in this position.

Have you poked a Liberal lately? One body. One person. One count.


Ok, just kiddin'. You don't have to touch any Liberals, but I would urge you to email a few, particularly any Liberals with anti-choice bona fides (see page 2 of this .pdf for a list). You see, the House is due to vote on an anti-choice private member's bill on March 5, 2008. The "Unborn Victims of Crime Act" (C-484) was first presented by Conservative MP Ken Epp (Edmonton Sherwood Park). Birth Pangs issued a Call Out for today, Sadie Hawkins Day, asking pro-choice bloggers to post about C-484. The Creative Goddesses at ACR responded immediately with this motivational video:As I said a few weeks ago, our government should be working towards increasing support and resources for pregnant women at risk of abuse or assault, but this bill has nothing to do with that. What's more, I guarantee you that we won't hear a word about new funding or resources when the House resumes debate on C-484.Here's the relevant arithmetic via fern hill (post-2006 fed election numbers):Action Canada Population and Development (ACPD) reported a new total of 90 anti-choice MPs from all parties, 16 Liberals and 74 Conservatives. [...] 65 MPs did not state their positions, (42 Conservatives, 23 Liberals). Ok. There are a total of 308 seats in the HoC, and only 90 anti-choice MPs. But here's the problem: if you add the 65 undeclared MPs to the 90 anti-choicers, you get a potential maximum of 155 votes for Ken Epp's backdoor anti-choice bill. That's 50.3%.Here's what I'm asking you to do:Given that the Bloc and NDP will probably whip their respective caucuses to vote NO on C-484, we don't have to worry about them. Nope, the disquieting 'sect' is the Liberal caucus: Dion has not said that he will whip his group, so we have no assurances that those anti-choice or undeclared Liberals will vote against this Bill. So...we gotta get on his case. Birth Pangs has setup an Activist Page that allows you to send a quick email to the Loyal Leader of the Opposition. It's quick. It's easy. It's polite. If you are uncomfortable filling in web-forms, then you can contact Dion directly:House of CommonsOttawa, OntarioK1A 0A6Telephone: (613) 996-5789Fax: (613) 996-6562EMail: DionS@parl.gc.caWeb Site:* www.stephanedion.parl.gc.caPreferred Language: French Constituency Offices 750 Marcel-Laurin Blvd, Suite 440Saint-Laurent , QuébecH4M 2M4Telephone: (514) 335-6655Fax: (514) 335-2712 Tell him we'll be watching. Next, get your butt over here and add your name to this petition. 3175 signatures and counting, yo!Still need more ammo info? Check out the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada's website, and help yourself to their tips & sample-letter. We've got work to do![...]

CSIS shows some of its pitiful cards: they got him outta the shower for this?


Lots of strange and outrageous news on the status of the four men held on so-called 'security certificates,' particularly in the last few weeks:Mohamed Harkat was one of the men held on a security certificate who was released on bail, but under VERY strict bail conditions. One of those conditions is that his wife or Mother-in-law had to be in the house (or yard) with him at all times. Well, CSIS got wind of the fact that his MIL had broken up with her partner and moved out of the house, so they came and arrested Harkat while he was in the shower (Jan 29). Last Tuesday, a judge ruled that Harkat could be released and sent back home under similarly strict conditions. His wife or mother-in-law must still be present at all times (Feb 19).On Saturday, CSIS finally released bits & pieces of the "evidence" they have against Harkat and the other men held on security certificates. The Harkats spoke to the Ottawa Citizen about it yesterday and it sounds like a total mess--Mohamed said that the name CSIS alleges to be a "shadowy financial kingpin" involved in terrorist financing is somehow equated with a friend--different name, different spelling, mind you--that Harkat happened to mention over 10 years ago. Gah!! CSIS also alleges that Harkat associated with Abu Zubaydah, but offered no proof. Hmmm...could it be something Zubaydah uttered while he was being waterboarded? One wonders. Mohamed's wife is also suspicious of the long, complete sentence-type quotes that CSIS alleges it extracted from her husband in the mid-90s, because he barely spoke any English at the time of those interviews. I want to quote the whole thing, but I shouldn't, so please go have a look if you have time.As I said above, CSIS has also released dribs & drabs of its allegations against the other men held on security certificates (CTV):The Canadian Security Intelligence Service released documents Friday that listed the various allegations against Moroccan-born Adil Charkaoui.CSIS claims Charkaoui was actually in charge of training recruits at the al Qaeda camp, and also accuses him of talking about taking over a commercial aircraft for "aggressive ends," and applying for airport jobs in what may have been part of a terrorist plot.[...] Here are some of the accusations made against Charkaoui and the four other accused:Officials allege Charkaoui told CSIS that Abderraouf Hannachi sent him to an al Qaeda training camp. Hannachi, also of Montreal, sent the millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam to similar camps, the Globe and Mail reported. CSIS also claims Charkaoui trained terrorist recruits.Syrian-born Hassan Almrei is accused of forging documents, and apparently using access cards to trespass on a restricted area of Toronto's Pearson International Airport in 1999.Mahmoud Jaballah, of Egypt, is accused of communicating with terrorist cells, along with Osama bin Laden's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri - who he allegedly contact on a satellite phone and called him "the father."CSIS has accused Mohamed Harkat of being an Algerian sleeper agent and claims to have overheard him possibly discussing terrorist activity.Adil Charkaoui has released a statement denying the allegations against him. He also believes that some of the 'evidence' cited by CSIS was obtained under torture. You can find Charkaoui's complete response to the allegations at his website, but I will leave you with a sample (emphasis mine):The new certificate was issued as a result of the Supreme Court decision ruling that the law under which the first certificate was issued was unconstitutional. The Coalition believes that the Harper government has not respected the Supreme Court decision, and that the new law, which entered into force today, remains unconstitutional, unjust and discriminatory. The law and the process which led to its adoption are an insult to democracy. [...]

Looking for our International Man of Mystery (plus notes from Lavoie and the Silent Chef)


Well, your delinquent kitty is late AGAIN. I'm finally posting some more notes from the Commons Ethics Committee's study of the Mulroney/Schreiber affair. I got a bit of a reprieve this past week, as the House was en vacances, but I'm still really, really behind.In the meantime, here's some new drama: a coupla days ago, the Chair of the committee, Paul Szabo, said that he's considering whether or not to hold former PM Mulroney in Contempt of parliament if he fails to cooperate with the committee's requests for documents:Szabo sent a summons to Mulroney's lawyers earlier this week demanding documentation about how Mulroney spent money he received from Schreiber and other details of the lobbying efforts he undertook on behalf of the controversial businessman.In a separate letter, the Liberal committee chairman also sought a guarantee that Mulroney would personally appear for a second round of testimony on Feb. 28.So far there has been no response from the Mulroney camp, and Szabo says that, in his view, MPs can't afford to let anyone ignore their authority.You might recall the former PM's testimony suggesting that he was an "international businessman" and consultant for Thyssen International--that he used the connections he gained as PM to peddle Thyssen's light armoured vehicles to Yeltsin (dead), Mitterand (dead), and Jiang Zemin (uhhh...ixnay on that whole Ananmentiay Aresquay. Y'know...what with the tanks and all). Mulroney was then asked by the committee to provide some kind of, uh proof of his "legitimate" business with these leaders and has stonewalled for two months. Until now, that is:"Mulroney sends old brochures as proof of international lobbying work"After offering to provide a Commons ethics committee with documentary proof of his international lobbying efforts, Brian Mulroney has sent MPs copies of two old brochures for light-armoured vehicles.That material, along with an unclassified NATO document that describes the general demand for such vehicles, does nothing to verify the ex-prime minister's explanation for the secret cash payments he received from Karlheinz Schreiber.And it's not clear whether it will satisfy the demands of committee chairman Paul Szabo, who threatened to cite Mulroney for contempt of Parliament if he didn't cough up documents showing dates, meetings and travel arrangements by the end of the day Friday."The only documents which Mr. Mulroney has in his possession are brochures concerning the light armoured vehicle (LAV) produced by Thyssen and copy of a fax attesting to the possible interest of foreign countries, e.g., the United States and the United Kingdom (copy attached)," said the letter from lawyer Guy Pratte, posted on Mulroney's website late Friday afternoon.[...] Pratte, in a separate letter to the committee Friday, said Mulroney will wait to see what transpires on Monday before deciding whether he'll accept an invitation to close out the hearings next Thursday.[...] Szabo said Friday he finds Mulroney's wait-and-see attitude on testifying to the committee again "disconcerting.""It would tend to suggest the possibility that, depending on what somebody else says, that will change my testimony. That does cause some concern."Yeah. Got the ol' "404-File not Found," eh? Now that's ballz, with a 'zed!'So. We shall see. Monday morning brings the long-awaited testimony of Elmer MacKay, Peter MacKay's dad and former Mulroney/Schreiber go-between. Karlheinz Schreiber will also return on Monday afternoon.In the meantime, I've finally posted my notes from Feb 7 (yes, more than 2 WEEKS ago). The Luc Lavoie testimony is organized into six sections:Luc & Brian, BFFWhy would an advisor give bad advice?"I know you're no stranger to profanity...""Let's not get metaphysical here..."Szabo lets fly with an awesome (near) curse-wordA high-maint[...]

F-F-Finalists? WTF?! er...Thank you!


Sweet merciful crap, my blogs have been included in the list of finalists for the "Canadian F-word Blog Awards:" H&O for the 'Individual' category, and Foul Deeds Will Rise for 'Humour.'* I'm both grateful and sheepish about these nominations. On the one hand, I'm so thankful that there are peeps out there in the tubez who come visit me. OTOH, I'm totally unworthy of the honour. Look at the others in these two categories: the Birth Pangs crew, Alison and JJ Hippie blog much more frequently and with much greater insight, humour, and frequency than your clumsy kitty. Please go visit ACR and vote for them, and all of your other favourites during the second round of voting, Feb 22-23! I was so pleased to see so many of my favourites (regular reads) make it to the finals--and a lot of new blogs, besides!And while you're visiting ACR...please consider contributing to WISE, "Wellbeing thru Inclusion Socially and Economically." As prole said in January (emphasis added):From community development inspired by the grassroots to media campaigning and lobbying, WISE - a group and national movement of low-income women - advances awareness of the links among policy, poverty and health; action to address them; and implementation of creative, inexpensive solutions at the local level. The goals of WISE are (via their website): Raising the collective voice of women who are living in poverty due to policies of exclusion;Changing public understanding of poverty: from that of socioeconomic inevitability, to a condition of social and economic exclusion;Encouraging community members to work with us to reduce poverty in our neighbourhoods to the benefit of all;Ensuring that policymakers understand the worsening economic situation of an increasing number of Canadians to have a systemic cause, one that they can be instrumental in changing.WISE is one of many organizations who have been mightily screwed by Canada's Eww Government's cruel and unnecessary cuts to the SWC, because of the need to toss some raw meat to their socially conservative, classist, anti-woman base. WISE needs your generous help more than ever to continue providing leadership, training, awareness, and advocacy for low income women across Canada.We know that you would help women in need out of the goodness of your heart - there is no doubt about that. However, to sweeten the deal, we have added a super-fantastic raffle which will entice you to give more!For each $10 donation to WISE - via paypal or cheque only - you will be entered into a drawing, i.e. if you donate $100, you will get 10 chances in the drawing. *Cheques must be mailed and received at WISE's BC address no later than February 20 so that we can verify your donation.Doubtless you're asking yourself,"Prole, what might I win?" Well I hope you're sitting down...It's a pair of fabulous, bodacious, hand-knit (by moi) Teutonic Titpillows!Thanks so much to pale & prole @ACR for organIZizing this process, and for knitting those pillows ;) Va-va-va-VOOOOM!*Foul Deeds' entry into the 'Humour' finals is It's actually a dry archive of my notes from various Canadian and American hearings (Mulroney/Schreiber, Michael 'Torquemada' Mukasey, and Blackwater warcrimes). I use feeble humour and goofy pictures to lure readers into reading some pretty depressing stuff. e.g. LOL Lavoie[...]

Snuggly the Security Bear & a Valentine's 'Torture Trifecta'


Finally! The US warrantless-wiretapping scandal made simple, from satirist Marc Fiore: The Spies who Love You!What's that you say? You wannu get into the weeds? If so, go read bmaz at Firedoglake (or just about anyone at FDL, lately; they've gotcher weeds). In the meantime, here are two things that I have tattooed on my arm about US Pres. Bush's warrantless wiretapping program:KITTY! DO NOT FORGET:This program began BEFORE 911: former Qwest CEO says that the National Security Agency (NSA) approached telecom corpses about the program on Feb 27, 2001 (6 months before 911)“We’re one bomb away from getting rid of that obnoxious [FISA] court” --David Addington, Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff and former legal adviser (NY Times)Here's Keith Olbermann on the Preznit's latest attempts to win retroactive immunity for the telecoms and his administration:It is bad enough, sir, that you were demanding an ex post facto law that could still clear the AT&Ts and the Verizons from responsibility for their systematic, aggressive and blatant collaboration with your illegal and unjustified spying on Americans under this flimsy guise of looking for any terrorists who are stupid enough to make a collect call or send a mass e-mail.But when you demanded it again during the State of the Union address, you wouldn’t even confirm that they actually did anything for which they deserved to be cleared.“The Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America.”Believed? Don’t you know? Don’t you even have the guts Dick Cheney showed in admitting they did collaborate with you? Does this endless presidency of loopholes and fine print extend even here? If you believe in the seamless mutuality of government and big business, come out and say it! There is a dictionary definition, one word that describes that toxic blend.You’re a fascist — get them to print you a T-shirt with fascist on it! What else is this but fascism? (Video here)Yes, fascism, "the seamless mutuality of government and big business," that F-iest of F-words, is OUT. Out in the open. And it's not just for spying on Americans. Remember that Addington quote I had tattooed on my arm? Well, I'm a sucker for symmetry so here's what I have on my other arm:KITTY! DO NOT FORGET:“the blood of the hundred thousand people who die in the next attack will be on your hands.”--David Addington to Jack Goldsmith (Office of Legal Counsel, US Dept. Justice, 2003-2004).Here's the full context: Goldsmith...agreed with the president’s determination that detainees from Al Qaeda and the Taliban weren’t protected under the Third Geneva Convention, which concerns the treatment of prisoners of war, but that different protections were at issue with the Fourth Geneva Convention, which concerns civilians. Addington, Goldsmith says, was not persuaded. (Goldsmith told me that he has checked his recollections of this and other meetings with at least one other participant or with someone to whom he described the meetings soon after.)Months later, when Goldsmith tried to question another presidential decision, Addington expressed his views even more pointedly. “If you rule that way,” Addington exclaimed in disgust, Goldsmith recalls, “the blood of the hundred thousand people who die in the next attack will be on your hands.”Well, we know that so-called "al Qaeda" or "Taliban" prisoners were tortured. But what we didn't know before this month is that the Bush Admin has been paying private intelligence contractors to torture prisoners. CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden has spilled the beans (Wall St. Journal, via TPM): The CIA's secret interrogation program has made extensive use of outside contractors, whose role li[...]



(image) This is way overdue, but I've posted my notes from last Tuesday's Ethics Committee Hearing. Yeah, yeah, I know...NINE days late!

Former Mulroney Chief of Staff Norman Spector presented himself to the Commons Ethics committee on February 5. I've annotated my notes and organized them into the following 5 sections:
  1. "Don't let this become Frank Magazine"
  2. What's a nice hack like you doing in a place like this?
  3. Brother, those ain't Girl Guides!
  4. Hey! You invited *me*!
  5. The return of Grumpy Old Tilson
Former Attorney General and Minister of Justice (1993-7) Allan Rock also presented himself to the Commons Ethics committee on February 5. My annotated notes are available in two parts:
  1. And the LANGUAGE that they used...
  2. But I *trusted* you, lyin' Brian!
I hope you find these notes useful, even just for future reference or research. Coming up next: I promise to post my notes from Feb 7 (testimony of Mulroney's Chef and Luc Lavoie). I've also recorded the Feb 12th hearings, and I've setup my recorder to cover the Valentine's Day Schreiber-hearing-blowout. Stay tuned!

Spector "Wall of Sound" postcard from

ALERT YOUR MP: Put an end to the backdoor shenanigans!


Our Big-Dumb-Parliament is poised to vote on an anti-choice private member's bill on March 5, 2008. The "Unborn Victims of Crime Act" (C-484) was first presented by Conservative MP Ken Epp (Edmonton Sherwood Park). Just where in the h-e-double-hockey-sticks did this come from? (Vancouver Sun):The sister of slain teacher Manjit Panghali is seeking support for proposed federal legislation that would make it an offence to harm or kill unborn babies during attacks on their mothers.Jasmin Bhambra wants people to sign a petition to Edmonton MP Ken Epp, who is advocating for the Unborn Victims of Crime Bill, which she said is scheduled for debate on Feb. 29.The petition,at, calls for unborn babies who are injured or killed in attacks on their moms to be recognized as separate from their mothers and for two charges to be laid against an offender, rather than one.The petition states that the death an unborn baby "violates the woman's right to protect and give life to her child."At the moment, Canada has no such law in place.Panghali was four months pregnant with her second child when she was murdered in October 2006 and her body set alight. She was found days later on Deltaport Way.Now, I should hasten to add that pregnant women are murdered at greater rates than their un-pregnant sisters. Our government should be working towards increasing support and resources for women at risk. But this bill has nothing to do with that, and I can guarantee you that we won't hear a word about new funding or resources when the House resumes debate on C-484, later this month.Nope. We're gonna hear about murdered babies. And innocence. And innocent babies. But don't fall for it for a second, dear reader, 'cause this bill will have nothing to do with protecting pregnant women from crime. And we've heard this song before. Check out the last sentence of the Feb 2 Vancouver Sun piece:The proposed bill is similar to the American Unborn Victims of Violence Act.Ah yes. The "Unborn Victims of Violence Act." And just like Epp's bill, the re-introduction (and passage) of the American UVVA was timed to exploit citizen outrage over the high-profile murder of Laci Peterson, a pregnant woman.Jeez there any American tactic that our Cons won't ape? Here's what Ken Epp's and other so-called 'fetal homicide' bills are really about (via Joyce Arthur):The narrowness of the bill indicates that the real intent is not to protect women, but to give fetuses legal personhood, for no apparent reason other than to try and use it as a wedge to re-criminalize abortion. The bill was introduced and promoted by anti-abortion groups and individuals (e.g., Campaign Life Coalition, Conservative anti-abortion MP's, Margaret Somerville, and others). Also, it uses anti-choice language, including "unborn child", "child" and "mother". The bill is modeled after similar bills promoted and passed in the U.S. by anti-abortion groups and legislators. In South Carolina, anti-abortion lawmakers explicitly stated they wanted to use the state’s fetal homicide law as a legal foundation to overturn Roe v. Wade (the decision that legalized abortion in the U.S.).I know, I know...private member's bills don't usually go anywhere, so it's not worth worrying about. Except that it is. Or at least it might be. Here's some quick arithmetic via fern hill (post-2006 fed election numbers):Action Canada Population and Development (ACPD) reported a new total of 90 anti-choice MPs from all parties, 16 Liberals and 74 Conservatives. [...] 65 MPs did not state their positions, (42 Conservatives, 23 Liberals). Ok. There are a total of 308 seats in the HoC, and only 90 anti-choice MPs. But here's the problem: if you[...]

I've let y'all down *sniff*


(image) Ok, that's a bit conceited, eh?

What I meant was: I totally neglected my Schreiber and Mukasey 'live' blogging duties this week. I was very busy when the House of Commons Ethics committee reconvened this week and, before I knew it, I'd already missed an entire day's worth of Norman Spector and Allan Rock testimony. For shame.

As luck would have it, CPAC is promising to re-air both its Feb 5 & 7 coverage on Sunday (12:30 PM and 2:30 PM EST). I will make an honest attempt to watch and je vais faire des notes. My apologies to the faithful readers who have come to my blog in search of those notes, only to find musty ol' coverage from 2007. I trust that you were able to get your Schreiber-fix elsewhere, e.g. Kady O'Malley's coverage on Feb 5 and 7, and, of course Impolitical's analysis.

And while I'm apologizing: I also missed the US House Judiciary committee's Feb 7th hearing on torture. Skdadl and I followed the Senate's latest hearing last week, but I totally abandoned her this Thursday, and left skdadl alone with Mukasey. Skdadl covered the HJC (beginning here, on this thread at BnR) and then posted about it at POGGE. Go! Read skdadl and watch those Youtubes. They will make your hair stand on end.

C-span has posted vids of the HJC proceedings, so I will try to catch up with that this weekend.

Shame-kitteh via Icanhascheezburger

Obama backer jokes: "we may give San Francisco to Canada"


Fightin' words from San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom (San Fran Chron):...just four years ago, current Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is said to have declined to have his picture taken in San Francisco with Newsom, who was then at the center of a national uproar over his decision to allow same-sex marriage in San Francisco."I gave a fundraiser, at his (Obama's) request at the Waterfront restaurant," said former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. "And he said to me, he would really appreciate it if he didn't get his photo taken with my mayor. He said he would really not like to have his picture taken with Gavin."[...]"He was pissed," said one former staffer.In fact, early last year, Newsom alluded to the incident in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Speaking to Reuters on Jan. 26, 2007, Newsom was asked about three potential Democratic candidates: Obama, Hillary Clinton and Al Gore.He was asked about the flak he took after announcing that San Francisco would allow same-sex marriages - flak that included claims he had helped Republicans by handing them a wedge issue heading into a presidential election year. In the interview, Newsom admitted he'd been hammered over the decision. "And I'm not just saying from Republicans," he added at the time."One of the three Democrats you mentioned as presidential candidates, as God is my witness, will not be photographed with me, will not be in the same room with me," Newsom told Reuters, "even though I've done fundraisers for that particular person - not once, but twice - because of this issue."Classy, eh? If you think this was an isolated incident, recall Obama's autumn courtship with homophobic preacher, Donnie McClurkin.Mr. McClurkin, a black preacher who sang at the Republican National Convention in 2004, has gained notoriety for his view that homosexuality is a choice and can be “cured” through prayer, a view ridiculed by gay people.Ridiculed by gay people? How 'bout "ridiculed by anyone with a fucking brain?!" Obama defended himself thusly:Mr. Obama said through a spokesman that he “strongly disagrees” with Mr. McClurkin’s views. He did not indicate he would cancel Mr. McClurkin’s appearance, but said, “I have consistently spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts of our community so that we can confront issues like H.I.V./AIDS and broaden the reach of equal rights in this country.”I still don't like it. I don't think you give bigots like McClurkin a seat at the table. You don't stand with them and sing-along. You do not clap in time to their odious music. You know what? I had nearly forgotten about the McClurkin thing until this morning, when I read about Newsom.But the ever-merciful kitty will let Obama's camp have the last word. Here's how they responded to Newsom's damning anecdote (via Ben Smith):Fumes a high-level Obama backer: "He is never going to serve in our administration, and we may give San Francisco to Canada."[...]

Wherein Matalin realizes she has to back McCain


...and Kitty remembers why she stopped watching Meet the Press:(image)
Republican Mary Matalin, right; Democrat James Carville, left, MTP, Feb 3

Mary is having a tough time these days. The former Cheney adviser and Republican 'strategist' has had a lotta bad luck, lately. Not "hey! I'm stuck in GTMO without access to a lawyer!" bad luck, but still: the woman's had better days.

I think the last time I saw Mary, she was heading up the "I'm with Fred!" campaign. Yeah. Even Fred's not with Fred anymore...

So what's going on in this picture? Matalin's listening to her husband, James Carville:
MR. CARVILLE: In 2004, we were sure there were three powerful pillars of the Republican Party: the right wing preachers, the nutty supply siders and talk radio, OK? It--McCain has vanquished all three. All of them had no influence in this election. McCain has said that he definitely was not on the right wing preachers, he's definitely not a supply sider and right wing talk radio can't stand John McCain. And now they have to deal with him. That's the, that's the reality.
...and the penny? She dropped.

Poor Matalin realized that she would have to back John McCain in the General Election! Aaaaaaaaah!

And poor kitty realized that she had lost an entire hour of her Sunday.

Seriously, for a GOOD take on what's wrong with American horse-race coverage, see media-prof, Jay Rosen. Please! Go Now! Save yourselves!

Photo credit: ME! This is old school, yo. I was watching teevee, paused it, and snapped it with my ancient digicam.

"I'm sure he'd kick an ass or two..."


I've been thinking a lot about the surreal Reagan necrophilia worship goin' on in the American GOP debates, lately. To wit: Wednesday night's debate at the Reagan library in Simi Valley, California. Here's CNN's Anderson Cooper, asking the final question of the evening:
Would, and if so, why -- why would Ronald Reagan endorse you? Would Ronald Reagan endorse you? And if so, why?
Governor Romney?
ROMNEY: Absolutely. Ronald Reagan would look at the issues that are being debated right here and say, one, we're going to win in Iraq, and I'm not going to walk out of Iraq until we win in Iraq.
Ronald Reagan would say lower taxes. Ronald Reagan would say lower spending.
Ronald Reagan would -- is pro-life. He would also say I want to have an amendment to protect marriage.
Ronald Reagan would say, as I do, that Washington is broken. And like Ronald Reagan, I'd go to Washington as an outsider -- not owing favors, not lobbyists on every elbow. I would be able to be the independent outsider that Ronald Reagan was, and he brought change to Washington.
Ronald Reagan would say, yes, let's drill in ANWR. Ronald Reagan would say, no way are we going to have amnesty again. Ronald Reagan saw it, it didn't work. Let's not do it again.
Ronald Reagan would say no to a 50-cent-per-gallon charge on Americans for energy that the rest of the world doesn't have to pay.
Ronald Reagan would have said absolutely no way to McCain- Feingold.
I would be with Ronald Reagan. And this party, it has a choice, what the heart and soul of this party is going to be, and it's going to have to be in the house that Ronald Reagan built.
Got it? He's Mitt Romney: The Dead-Reagan-Whisperer. You can watch all of the candidates respond here (beginning at 3 min 23 sec), but I would strongly advise against it.

You know what? Now that I think of it, the whole seemyseamy (har har...Simi Valley) spectacle reminded me of this:
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('What would Brian Boitano Do?' lyrics)

TKO! Happy Birthday, Birth Pangs!


It's Groundhog Day, mesdames et messieurs, and you know what that means: it's Birth Pangs' 1st birthday! Happy Birthday, sweetie dahlings. Let's all raise a glass and make a toast!
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'Martini Time' courtesy of The Imaginative Universal

Now journalists can't kiss the talking frogs, either


Good Gawd. ReWind.It and Mandos tell me that Harper is keeping the media from talking to the scientists who work at Environment Canada:
Environment Canada has "muzzled" its scientists, ordering them to refer all media queries to Ottawa where communications officers will help them respond with "approved lines."

The new policy, which went into force in recent weeks and sent a chill through the department research divisions, is designed to control the department's media message and ensure there are no "surprises" for Environment Minister John Baird and senior management when they open the newspaper or turn on the television, according to documents obtained by Canwest News Service.

"Just as we have ‘one department, one website' we should have ‘one department, one voice,' " says a PowerPoint presentation from Environment Canada's executive management committee that's been sent to department staff.
This news comes on the heels of the Harper government's dismissal of the National Science Advisor, which in turn came on the heels of the Harper government's dismissal of the nuclear safety regulator.

In case you missed the 'talking frog' reference: it relates to a joke often told by the dismissed National Science Advisor, Arthur Carty (I posted the joke on the weekend). It's about talking frogs, politicians, and journalists.

But these days, the only one left laughing is Mr. Harper.

You can waterboard, but for the love of God, don't "pick nits!"


US Attorney Gen. Michael B. Mukasey is testified before the Sen. Judiciary Committee today. Both skdadl and I followed his testimony as closely as our c-span streaming abilities would allow. You can read our collective notes on the hearings here:Part IPart III will clean-up these notes later today, after I've rested my poor, tired fingers ;)A quick word about the hearings: Mukasey is a loathsome human bean. You don't have to read the entire testimony to be convinced--here's everything you need to know about Mukasey (where "WB" is waterboarding, "D" is Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and "M" is AG Mukasey):12:27 PMDurbin: I asked you who your heroes were. You said you kept a picture of Orwell b/c of his essay, Politics and the English language. I respect you for that. In that essay, Orwell was critical of misleading pol speech ("concrete melts into the abstract") Mr. AG, I'd say, with respect to waterboarding, that the concrete melts into the abstract.D: (I'm) still troubled as I listen to your answers. First, you say in your letter to cmtee that reasonable people can disagree with respect to WB. Can you cite any court cases, scholars, people of good faith who disagree that WB is not torture? Secondly, when you replied to Biden, you said WB in certain circs would no shock conscience, e.g discovery of nukes. Why has gov discontinued this form of interrogation if there *are* circumstances that justify it? Third, your unwillingness to take an unequivocal position against WB--our troops protected against WB. There are special forces, personnel...[...]12:31 PMM: some in this chamber have disputed that it wouldn't be legal to engage in certain techniques...and then pull back, if necessary to save American livesD: the Senate? We've voted on a bipartisan, overwhelming vote to prohibit certain practices, the McCain amendment...M: and the chamber on another occasion declined, with respect to WBg, and others who said the lang was so general that it would open things up to other things that would be so objectionable and cruel...D: if Detainee treatment act is so clear, and went so far as to grant amnesty to employees who engaged in it, you still think the jury's out on whether WBg is torture?M: question is not whether Sen is "out" on this or that technique, the question is whether Senate has spoken clearly enough in leg it has passed, and that President has signed, which is all anybody has to work withD: where is lack of clarity in McCain legislation?M: the words, people on both sides of debate, to point to "this" or "that" seems to me is to pick nits at this pointD: as chairman has noted, Sens McCain, Warner and Graham (sponsors of legislation) that under Military Commissions Act, WBg is a "warcrime." At this moment, you have employees of yours in Iraq, counselling employees not to use torture. Your testimony so far is that "it depends on circs"--we're trying to teach to the world, a standard we want our own people to live by?M: the reasons I outlined are already matters of record.[...]D: Sen Biden's question? About "shocking conscience"?M: what I described was a situation in which it *would* shock conscience. It was put in place by the person who wrote the decision. Not by me.D: I assume you were arguing that the use of such techs to discover nukes would not shock conscience?M: No...that's not what I saidD: what about circs where tech would save lives?M: not part of program. Don't know how that would workD: under military standards, they're not interested in danger. They say unequivocally. You sa[...]

'Steve' or 'CPCBashi?'


"I admit it, there are too many portraits, pictures and monuments. I don't find any pleasure in it, but the people demand it because of their mentality."--Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenbashi (leader of Turkmens)CBS News' Bob Simon, 60 Minutes, Jan 4, 2004:If you think Saddam Hussein was fond of himself, just visit Turkmenbashi's country. There's a poster or a statue of him in nearly every public space.When Soviet rule collapsed in 1991, Turkmenistan was left on its own, with no real government, and no national identity. Turkmenbashi filled that void. He built a nation and a culture based on him.The golden likeness of the former communist party boss-turned-dictator is in the center of the capitol, always rotating to face the sun. His picture is on the airplane that brings you to the main port town called Turkmenbashi. It watches over workers in the field, over children in school, over drivers on the road. He's also on the money, and he's even on the national vodka.His face is everywhere, and you can’t walk a block without seeing either a statue or photo of him.[...] Turkmenbashi is so controlling that he has even rewritten the calendar, and he recently renamed the month of January to "Turkmenbashi." April is named after his mother.From Tim Naumetz, Ottawa Citizen:Photographs of Mr. Harper in various poses, at various sites, are hung throughout the private and cosy government lobby of the House of Commons.Ms. (Elizabeth) May and Ms. (Kady) O'Malley were surprised and a bit speechless when they saw the exhibit recently as guest Commons Speakers during a youth Parliament."When you walk in the door, all you see are pictures of Stephen Harper," said Ms. May"I'd say between every window, in every available space of the wall, at eye level, every available space has a photo of Stephen Harper.""You've got photos of Stephen Harper, but not of previous prime ministers," she added. "Photos of Stephen Harper in different costumes, in different settings, dressed as a fireman, in Hudson Bay looking for polar bears, meeting the Dalai Lama, even the portrait of the Queen had to have Stephen Harper, but in a candid, behind her."No Dogs Allowed! (The Sunday Times, Dec 17, 2006):In Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s spotless white capital that he is building in the desert out of unfeasible quantities of imported Italian marble, dogs are banned. Turkmenbashi doesn’t like their smell. Also banned are foreign newspapers, journalists, opposition parties, and, apparently, women’s make-up, because, according to the president, Turkmen women don’t need make-up.And...finally:The other day, he sacked the chief weatherman for getting the forecasts wrong. Before that he got rid of the cameramen who were making the women singing his songs look fat. Turkmen women don’t get fat. Recently he banned female newsreaders from wearing studio make-up as it made their faces unnaturally white. Didn’t they know a Turkmen woman’s complexion should be the colour of Turkmen wheat?All hail CPCbashi!h/t Cathie for the Ottawa Citizen articleGolden bust of Turkmenbashi courtesy of tmrepublican.orgStreet photo of Turkmenbashi by Alan Cooperman, APClassroom photo of Turkmenbashi by Burt Herman, APHarper & Batchelet photo, Hanoi APEC 2006, by Tom Hanson, CPHarper with Cheddar, the kitty cat,[...]

Celebrating 20 years: "I am mine. And that's where it ends"


The word "debate" keeps coming up: debate? What debate? The "debate" over whether women have the right to self-ownership (makes me sick just to type that) ended on January 28, 1988...I am mine. And that's where it ends.---JJ, aka "Unrepentant Old Hippie," on the 20th anniversary of R. v MorgentalerI couldn't have said it better, myself. As many of you know, Monday marked the 20th anniversary of R. v. Morgentaler, a decision that left our country without a single law regulating abortion. Seriously! Not a one. This actually makes us sumpin' special, as fern hill , Kuri, Chet and others pointed out today.And how have we coped with all this lawlessness? Fire? Brimstone? Dogs & Cats? All things considered, we're doing pretty well, relatively speaking. To get a veritable 'lay of the land' (no pun intended), check out the incredible 20th Anniversary blog-burst. A few weeks ago, Antonia and others put out the call, and boy, howdy, was there a RESPONSE!The depth and breadth of Monday's posts have been impressive. Some, like Berlynn and Regina Mom have provided us with important historical backround, particularly regarding the oppressive "Section 251" (remember 'Therapeutic Abortion Committees?'). Others, like Megan and Vicky have shared their stories of pregnancy and loss.Meanwhile, Alison and 900 Ft Jesus served as our trusty truth-squad, knocking down some of the most pervasive myths about why & when women exercise sovereignty over their own bodies. Do yourselves a grace & favour and add them to your bookmarks, to save for a rainy day. And there will be rainy days ahead. After all, us pro-choicers are just asking for it. Just ask deBeauxOs, who recounted her own interaction with "zealots who screamed "baby-killer" at me, conveniently ignoring the reality of my 18 month old daughter, snuggled up on my back."Ah yes. "Baby killer." Here's the Cynic, taking a few Blogging Tories to school over this lingo. And while you're in Cynic-land, PLEASE check-out Lulu, who had a righteous post about that particular invective, particularly in light of all of the documented violence perpetrated by these assholes. Take it away, Lulu!Their complaints that they’ve been silenced are plastered across national newspapers and on cars covered with abortion porn and on street corners in front of clinics but still they play the victim. They lie. And this is why I fight.These supposedly morally superior people consider themselves “pro-life” warriors on a mission from God and accuse those who disagree with them of being “pro-death”. They use terms like “pro-aborts” and “poor choicers” to describe anyone who believes that a woman has a fundamental right to choose what happens to her body, convinced that only they know best. They argue that it isn’t a matter of choice at all even as they seek to impose their views and their choices on everyone. They refer to the pro-choice movement as one that embraces a “culture of death”, while holding themselves up as defenders of the very sanctity of life. But this doesn’t seem to stop them from standing outside clinics and screaming accusations of “baby killer” at women struggling with a decision that is no one’s business but their own as they attempt to enter those very same clinics."(emphasis added)****applause****So, please, I implore you: put down that sign with the picture of catsuppy roadkill* and take Debra's advice:Those who claim a commitment to pregnancy and to fo[...]

Harper won't kiss the talking frog


In the Spring of 2004 (April Fools' Day!), former PM Paul Martin created the 'Office of the National Science Advisor' (ONSA). In the Spring of 2007 (again, April Fools'!), our "New" PM will officially shutter the ONSA (CBC). The first & last occupant of the position was esteemed chemist and former head of the National Research Council, Dr. Arthur Carty. Carty's original mandate, circa 2004 (in his own words):The principal element of the NSA's mandate will be to provide sound, unbiased, non-partisan advice on (science and technology) to the Prime Minister in the context of Canada's goal to be one of the most innovative countries in the world. In this regard I will certainly have to play a role in building a truly national advisory capacity that provides the PM with authoritative, well considered options for decision making.Why was this position so important? Here's Bob McDonald (Quirks & Quarks):The National Science Adviser is a voice of reason to the government over actions it should take on issues such as climate change, genetically modified foods, managing fisheries, sustaining the environment - any time the politicians need to be educated on the basic science behind those often controversial issues. Of course, decisions are seldom made for purely scientific reasons; all too often, the interests of industry, special interest groups or a misinformed public will cloud the scientific truth. The Adviser’s job is to provide clarity and perspective.Whatever his other failings, I would credit the former PM Martin for both creating the position in the first place, and for putting ONSA in the Privy Council Office. You see, Dr. Carty's office was created with the intention of giving ONSA direct access to the Prime Minister:Carty was no dummy. Even in his first months as NSA he knew he'd have to tread carefully. What on earth am I talking about? Well, Carty was particularly fond of a certain Joke. You will see this Joke again and again, if you take the time to visit his archive of speeches and presentations (hey! Guess what Kitty did on Saturday!). Here's the Joke, as he related it to the Canada Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Forum, Edmonton, Alberta, June 17, 2004:During a break in a meeting a politician and a journalist took a walk in a park, when a frog suddenly jumped out in front of them and started to speak: "I am a scientist who has been put under a spell. If you break the spell by lifting me up and kissing me I will serve you forever!"The journalist said to the politician: "Wouldn't that be something for you? Just imagine, you would always have an expert on hand to give you scientific advice!" But the politician said: "No, better not. We all know what scientists are like, they talk too much, know everything better than you and always want to be the centre of attention. But it would be ideal for you! Editorial offices don't often have science writers, or if they do, they are not always very well informed. He would be really valuable for you. So, go on, pick up the frog and kiss him!" The journalist picked up the frog and looked at it briefly before putting it in his pocket. The politician was amazed and asked "Why did you put the frog in your pocket instead of kissing him?" To which the journalist replied "Because a talking frog is a hundred times more interesting for the media than the best scientist".*groan* Quite the knee-slapper, eh? But it brings home several points for me, both as [...]

Hold onto your pearls, daaaaahlink: The F-word nominations are open!


If you haven't visited Pale & Prole's wicked-kewl new Awards site, you really gotta go. Go now! Nominate your favourite Canadian feminist bloggers. Need somewhere to start? Checkout my blogroll--loads of good'uns there. Personally, I've been on a wild, nominatin' free-for-all! I've spent the last couple of hours (yes, hours *blush*) combing through my Blogroll to select my favourite feminazis...and those who love them. Some of you were out there bright 'n early, so if I didn't nominate you, I swear it was only 'cause someone else beat me to it ;) BTW, "Support Bro" has gotta be the bestest category-name evah!

Oh! The inaugural F-word Awards is accepting donations to "WISE," aka "Wellbeing thru Inclusion Socially and Economically."
  • Raising the collective voice of women who are living in poverty due to policies of exclusion;
  • Changing public understanding of poverty: from that of socioeconomic inevitability, to a condition of social and economic exclusion;
  • Encouraging community members to work with us to reduce poverty in our neighbourhoods to the benefit of all;
  • Ensuring that policymakers understand the worsening economic situation of an increasing number of Canadians to have a systemic cause, one that they can be instrumental in changing.
Please consider giving what you can to WISE via ACR and you will be entered into a draw for one (or a pair?) of Prole's infamous "Teutonic Titpillows." Talk about a conversation piece!

Va-Va-Va-Vooooom! And don't miss out on Pale's saucy new F-words Awards promo!
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You wanna talk blushing? Kitty is both astonished and grateful to have been nominated this morning. I don't deserve it, given the lack of content here lately, but please know that I'm very touched!