Saturday, May 31, 2008

You're Right Mr. Clement, For You InSite Is All About 'Diversion'


Here it is, straight from the mouth of the HEALTH Minister of Mr. Stephen Harper's Canada:

"Programs to support supervised injection divert valuable dollars away from treatment."

OK, if that's the way you feel, what else have you got*?

What have you got that will actually stop the spread of disease and keep the junkies and the sick from dying, not to mention help divert them into other modes of treatment?


And while you contemplate that, perhaps you could also tell us how your diversionary spin campaign AGAINST harm reduction actually means that you still support the four pillars drug strategy.

Because the following statement from you, Mr. Clement, says something entirely different in terms of despicable diversionary spin that has absolutely nothing to do with trying to help the junkies and the sick.

".... government-sponsored supervised injection sends a very mixed message to young people who are contemplating the use of illicit drugs...."


Bogeyman-scary Mr. Clement.

By your diversionary reasoning, does that mean we should stop having public health initiatives to battle sexually transmitted disease because it might encourage young people, you know, to have, you know, well....


*Cue John Reynolds.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Creme Fight!


Lotuslandian civic scribes Mike Howell and FABula have the blow-by-blow-up:

"I started getting the emails at 1:38 a.m. about the dust-up, which started with ( NPA president Matthew) Taylor's remarks in today's Courier that he was getting tired of (potential NPA Mayoral Candidate Peter) Ladner campaigning against his own party and more. That was quickly followed by a demand from the Ladner campaign, through a news release sent to all media, that Taylor resign as president of the NPA....."

Kind of reminds me of the of one of the greatest cinematic brouhahas in perhaps the maddest movie of all time......

Meanwhile, over at Vision Vancouver, their mayoral candidates are doing crazy, mixed-up, tapestry-of-justice stuff like having debates, together on stages, with moderators, and public audiences, and everything.

What a concept.


You Don't Always Die From Tobacco


Earlier in the week we posted-up on a fantastic YouTubian video, made by a grassroots group in Victoria British Columbia, about the perils of nicotine addiction, especially for folks who are already making the best of a tough go of things.

Well, in the comments to that post our good friend, and BC Ferries watchdog extraordinare, Great Aunty Bertha, sent us towards the following video, that's a little slicker (and quicker) but just as powerful nonetheless.

And, yes, if you're reading this one E. and e., Pay Attention!



Will We Get High With A Little Help From His Friends?


OK, maybe not 'high' in the actual Lennon and McCartney sense.

But it looks like, maybe, that British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell has been getting by with a little help from his friends when it comes to making sure we pay the highest prices possible for our prescription drugs.


As he so often does on 'scores' like this, Sean Holman has the story:

The provincial government has recently been lambasted for pandering to brand-name drug companies. This, after the Campbell administration accepted the recommendations of its pharmaceutical task force, which was stacked with representatives from the drug industry.

And now Public Eye has learned Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies or Rx&D - the brand-names' lobbying association - may even have given the task force a hand completing some of its homework.

The last page of its report states, "Industry will provide staffing, information and research supports through Rx and D at no charge to the Task Force budget.".....



Did The Battle Over InSite Just Go Rovian?



Not this part:

OTTAWA — Health Minister Tony Clement says he will ask the federal justice minister to appeal a decision by the B.C. Supreme Court that saved North America's only sanctioned safe-injection site from closure at the end of June.

On Tuesday, Mr. Justice Ian Pitfield granted users and staff at the popular but controversial facility known as Insite a permanent constitutional exemption from prosecution under federal drug laws.....

After all, that was to be expected.

Instead, here's where the Rovian Rules really come in to play:

“There exists today a significant degree of uncertainty in the research — and so, based on this, I believe that priority must be focused on treatment and prevention,” Mr. Clement told the House of Commons Health Committee Thursday.

What the heckfire am I talking about?

Well, this is just crap.

Pure, unadulterated crap.

Because the science is in, and no amount of anti-scientific pretend science that is not actually science at all will change that.

So, unless Canada has suddenly become a place where demonstrable falsehoods count, Mr. Clement should be called out everytime he says something that is exactly the opposite of what he is actually doing.

Because if he truly did believe that our priorities 'should be focused on treatment and prevention', he would cut the crap and support InSite.

Based on the science.

The science that's in, like, right now.



Thursday, May 29, 2008

Gordon Campbell's Super-8 Home Movie


Despite the fact that it was officially open for business, the British Columbia Legislature was actually all about closure today.

To Eight Bills.

David Schreck (not Shrek!) has the story:

History was made in the BC Legislature on May 29th when the government forced an end to debate and called the vote on 8 bills, including the carbon tax and controversial changes to election legislation. The government's spin is that there was a legislative logjam caused by the Opposition taking too long to debate its bills. Anyone who is familiar with how the BC Legislature has worked for the past twenty or thirty years knows that the Campbell government is not telling the truth about closure.

And just which are the Super Eight?

Well, if I'm reading Hansard, from late this afternoon, correctly it's these ones:

Report and Third Reading of Bills

Bill 41, Patient Care Quality Review Board Act, reported complete without amendment, read a third time and passed. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Mr. Speaker: Hon. Members, pursuant to order of the House adopted May 6, 2008, all necessary questions for disposal of the various stages of Bills 20, 21, 24, 32, 37, 42, 43
together with any government amendments thereto, will now be put.

So there you have it.

Numbers 20, 21, 24, 32, 37, 41, 42 and 43.

Of course, our favourite (NOT!) is Bill 42, the Election gag law, both because of the spending limit crap-a-gammon, but also because it is designed to disenfranchise the poor, the homeless, the sick and the elderly.

All of which has us wondering why Mr. Campbell hates democracy so much.



The Harm Reduction Haters' Club.....Is That All They've Got?


I'll have more to say on it when I have time (on the road in a science geek bunker at the moment*)....

Kady O'Malley live blogged the InSite hearings in Ottawa today.

According to her report, after a slightly suspect 'no-show', the only thing the Haters' Club really had going for it today was a very fine fellow named Colin Mangham:

".......there is still one anti-InSite witness willing to testify: Dr. Colin Mangham, who huffs and puffs over the “bad science” and sloppy journalism behind support for the program. He also seems to suggest that he too has been threatened, but is nonetheless willing and able to speak out.

At one point, he mentions in an offhand way that he’s a graduate of UBC, but his accent is glaringly American. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.

“I’ve been called many names on this,” he says. “The intolerance just makes me sad.” He then goes into a rant about how people who support InSite, including some in this very room, are, in fact, part of a larger movement towards drug policy reform. He demands that “elected representatives” stop these “activists......"


Dr. Mangham?

Where have we heard that name before?

Oh, yes.....

Here it is, from my collaborative post with Cathie last fall titled 'The Ladder Of Science.....Has A Top And A Bottom", which I'm going to re-post in its entirety because it is important to point out the difference between rigourously peer-reviewed science and the exact opposite:


And the 'Journal Of Global Drug Policy And Practice' is definitely at the bottom of that ladder.

It appears to have little in the way of peer review. It's editorial boord is stacked with hardline 'war on drugs' types, many of whom appear to be living off the avails of Bush administration abstinence fantasy programs. It has 'published' exactly two issues the latest of which serves entirely to pushback (ie. bash) any and all programs that involve harm reduction.

Oh, yes, and just so you know, it is also funded by:

Grant No. 200-JL-FX-0128 awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

That would be Alberto Gonzales' very fine apolitically political department of flack-hackery.

Why does this matter?

Cathie has the story.

Oh wow, this sure does look like a really big story from Canadian Press: New report suggests Vancouver's safe-injection site a failure. But folks, it's tripe. Overblown, inaccurate, poorly researched, ideological tripe. Canadian Press should be ashamed of themselves.
Here's the story:

A new study suggests a safe-drug-injection site in Vancouver that has been hailed by scientists as a success is really a failure.
The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice, says there are serious problems in the interpretation of findings about Insite - the first such facility in North America - which opened as a pilot project over three years ago.
. . . report author Colin Mangham, director of research with the Drug Prevention Network of Canada, refutes such claims, saying positive findings about Insite have been overstated while negative ones have been ignored.
"(The findings) give an impression the facility is successful, when in fact the research clearly shows a lack of program impact and success."
First, the study's author Colin Mangham has been publishing reports for years against "harm reduction" drug policies -- which, briefly, are policies which tolerate drug use rather than try to prevent it. The safe injection site is a prime example of just such a policy in action -- and therefore, in this man's opinion, it must be stopped. What's the harm? Well, the problem seems to be that the harm reduction "ideology" makes us "vulnerable to the drug legalization movement". Can't have that, I guess.
Second, the Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice is an on-line journal which has published only two issues, with articles like "The Lure and the Loss of Harm Reduction in UK Drug Policy and Practice" and "Is it Harm Reduction Or Harm Continuation?"
Third, the Drug Prevention Network of Canada is a pretty small organization which takes a fairly conservative approach to social problems. On their website, they post articles with titles like "In defense of the drug war" and "Cannabis - A General Survey of it's (sic) harmful effects" .
Fourth, though Canadian Press acts like Mangham's article is a research study itself, it's not. It is actually a personal critique of ten research studies which Mangham says are biased, weak, overstated, misleading. Here's the list:

Wood E, Kerr T, Montaner JS, Strathdee SA, Wodak A, Hankins CA, et al. Rationale for evaluating North America’s first medically supervised safer injecting facility. Lancet 2004;4:301-6.
Wood E, Kerr T, Lloyd-Smith E, Buchner C, Marsh D, Montaner J, Tyndall M. Methodology for evaluating Insite: Canada’s first medically supervised safer injection facility for injection drug users. Harm Reduction Journal 2004; 1-5.
Wood E, Tyndall M, Li K, Lloyd-Smith E, Small W, Montaner J, Kerr T. Do supervised injecting facilities attract higher-risk injection drug users? American Journal of Preventative Medicine. 2005; 29: 126-130.
Wood, E., Tyndall, M., Qui Z., Zhang, R., Montaner J., & Kerr T, Service Uptake and Characteristics of Injection Drug Users Utilizing North America’s First Medically Supervised Safer Injecting Facility. American Journal of Public Health, 2005, 5, 770-73.
Kerr T, Stoltz J, Tyndall M, Li K, Zhang R, Montaner J, Wood E. Impact of a medically supervised safer injection facility on community drug use patterns: a before and after study. BMJ 2006; 332:220-222.
Wood E, Kerr T, Stoltz J, Quia Z, Zhanga R, Montanera SG, & Tyndall MW. Prevalence and correlates of hepatitis C infection among users of North America’s first medically supervised safer injection facility. Public Health (2005) 119, 1111–1115
Wood E, Tyndall M, Stoltz J, Small W, Lloyd-Smith E, Zhang R, Montaner J, Kerr T. Factors associated with syringe sharing among users of a medically supervised safer injecting facility. American Journal of Infectious Diseases 2005, 50-54.
Wood E, Tyndall MW, Lai C, Montaner JG, & Kerr T. Impact of a medically supervised safer injecting facility on drug dealing and other drug-related crime. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 2006, 1:13.
Wood E, Tyndall M, Stoltz J, Small W, Zhang R, O’Connell J, Montaner J, Kerr T. Safer injecting education for HIV prevention within a medically supervised safer injecting facility. International Journal of Drug Policy 2005; 281-284.
Kerr T, Tyndall M, Li K, Montaner J, Wood E. Safer injection facility use and syringe sharing in injection drug users. Lancet 2005; 366:316-8.
Wood E, Kerr T, Small W, Li K, Marsh D, Montaner J, et al. Changes in public order after the opening of a medically supervised safer injecting facility for illicit injection drug users. Canadian Medical Association Journal 2004; 171:731-4
Tyndall MW, Kerr T, Zhang R, King E, Montaner JG, Wood E. Attendance, drug use patterns, and referrals made from North America’s first supervised injection facility. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 83 (2006) 193–198.
Wood E et al. Attendance at Supervised Injecting Facilities and Use of Detoxification Services. New England Journal of Medicine, June 8, 2006.

Just thought I'd highlight four of the ten studies that were bashed by Abu Gonzo's propaganda arm.

Have a look at the journals they were published in......The Lancet.....The American Journal of Public Health.....The British Medical Journal......The New England Journal Of Medicine.

Those are all journals that actually have a real editoral board, rigorous and unbiased peer review (ie. not your friend who is also at the wingnut welfare trough down the hall), a track record of publishing actual research that can be repeated by others, and citation indexes which indicate that other researchers of some repute actually cite what you have published.

So how come the Canadian Press and all the other news outlets that so eagerly spun themselves into knots flinging this story into the whirlitzer didn't mention any of this?

Because they wanted the headline and because they are lazy - that's why.

And those two things, as Little Johnny Baird has demonstrated repeatedly over the last couple of weeks, are what the professional obfuscators count on.

It also demonstrates why it is so important for people to call them on it.

And Cathie did a very fine job of that.



The upshot?

I know a little bit about science.

And I also know at least a wee bit about rigour.

And no matter how you slice it, in my opinion at least, there is very little of either in "The Journal Of Global Drug Policy And Practice".


*And for the record, I'm actually on a peer reviewing mission at this very moment....


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Just Say No To Bein' A Ho'.....To Big Tobacco Co


Paul Willcocks, who has been on fire lately, posted up this important grass-roots public service announcement recently:

"If you're schizophrenic, you're most likely a smoker. In fact, if you're diagnosed with any mental illness, you're twice as likely to be using cigarettes. I haven't seen stats for people with other addictions and smoking, but based on my observation, they are big tobacco users too.

This Youtube video by a Victoria group looks at the issue. It would be nice if a lot of people saw it."


So, here it is - it's good and it's right from the heart and from the folks affected.

And E.'s - if you watch this, it is the real thing, so 'Pay Attention'.



Is Little Scottie Trying To Be The New John Dean


Well, whadd'ya know, apparently Little Scottie McClellan's gone and written a tell all book.

And, apparently, he's decided to throw a few of his fellow traveller's under the bus.

Travellers like Mess'rs Karl Rove and I 'Scooter' Libby.

This is the way Emptywheel calls it:

"McClellan also suggests that Libby and Rove secretly colluded to get their stories straight at a time when federal investigators were hot on the (outing of CIA agent Valerie) Plame case.

“There is only one moment during the leak episode that I am reluctant to discuss,” he writes. “It was in 2005, during a time when attention was focusing on Rove and Libby, and it sticks vividly in my mind. … Following [a meeting in Chief of Staff Andy Card’s office], … Scooter Libby was walking to the entryway as he prepared to depart when Karl turned to get his attention. ‘You have time to visit?’ Karl asked. ‘Yeah,’ replied Libby.

“I have no idea what they discussed, but it seemed suspicious for these two, whom I had never noticed spending any one-on-one time together, to go behind closed doors and visit privately. … At least one of them, Rove, it was publicly known at the time, had at best misled me by not sharing relevant information, and credible rumors were spreading that the other, Libby, had done at least as much. …

“The confidential meeting also occurred at a moment when I was being battered by the press for publicly vouching for the two by claiming they were not involved in leaking Plame’s identity, when recently revealed information was now indicating otherwise. …

I don’t know what they discussed, but what would any knowledgeable person reasonably and logically conclude was the topic? Like the whole truth of people’s involvement, we will likely never know with any degree of confidence.”

So, is this a case of Little Scottie trying to save his skin, or is he just trying to make a big whack of money?

Not sure, exactly, but I'd take pretty short odds on the answer being 'both'.

Regardless, Emptwheel suggests that we who are interested should save our money and let her buy a single copy so that she can buy a single copy and tell us the interesting bits.

That way, Little Scottie makes no money off the progressives and we get an idea of both the veracity and the hard facts surrounding the tiny one's claims.


Somewhere I read how the little Sultan of Smarm talks about how he had to go in front of the 'Kleig Lights' everyday to dispense his Swill to the Willing. Couldn't help but think of another SmarmMeister who worked with the Klieg and later turned turtle in book form. One big difference, however, was that the second guy did most of his mea culpatista writing from prison.


There's A Sadness In Lotusland...


Frances Bula has a succinct, but sincere and moving, tribute up for former Vancouver school board member and councillor Don Lee, who passed away recently.

Here's my favorite part:

"Don had a remarkable ability to be forgiving, even in difficult circumstances. I remember him telling me that, when he was first trying to get a job as a teacher, sometimes he would be asked to an interview but when he arrived and the interviewers found out he was Chinese, they were suddenly less enthusiastic. He didn't hold a grudge, though, and did end up getting a job and teaching for over three decades...."

And while Mr. Lee's politics were not my own, he was the kind of guy I knew I could vote for, even if it was only help keep the other side honest and, more importantly, honourable.

He will be missed.



Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This Just In.....

.....B.C. Supreme Shields Insite From The Cons

Rod Mickleburgh has the late breaking story in the Globe:

VANCOUVER — The controversial safe-injection site here that allows addicts to shoot up illegal drugs in a safe environment won a major court victory Tuesday, shielding the facility from a threat of being closed by the federal Conservative government, perhaps indefinitely.

The ruling by B.C. Supreme Court judge Ian Pitfield struck down the constitutionality of federal laws making possession of illegal drugs an offence, if they are applied to an addict seeking a safe environment to inject. However, he gave the government one year to rewrite the laws making it clear that the safe-injection facility here, known as Insite, should be exempt from prosecution.....

Guess maybe Mr. Reynolds wasn't able to lobby that particular activist judge, eh?

Especially when it comes to this part:

....Judge Pitfield has cleared Insite to continue operating, saying that its policy of harm reduction trumps the illegal possession of heroin and cocaine by its clients.

He said federal drug laws “prohibit the management of addiction and its associated risks at Insite. [They] are inconsistent with the state's interest in fostering individual and community health, and preventing death and disease.”


Thanks again to Bob for the heads-up.


John Reynolds: Who's Paid For His Strategic Advice?

.....Why It Was Smilin' Sammy!

Not City Hall.

Not Pacific Costal Health.

Not a Citizens' Group.

Just good 'ol 'CAST' and it's 'Principal Representative' Mr. Sullivan.

Which has us wondering if his personal cheques have "Vancouver City Hall" stamped on them.

As for the 'warchest' cheques?

Well, that not be clear yet, eh?


As for who Mr. Reynolds was lobbin' stategically for Sammy?

Stay tuned.....

And as for the address on all those 'KnoWards' cheques? Well, that, apparently, we will never know.


John Reynolds: What Was He Advising On?

.....Drug Rehabilitation?


Does Mr. Reynolds have special training in that subject?

A Ph.D.?

An M.D. with special residency training?

Nurse practitioner?

Addiction counseling?

Certainly would be interesting to know given who he was working for.


Who was Mr. Reynolds working for?

Stay tuned.....


John Reynolds: Senior Strategic Advisor....

...... For What, Exactly?

Stay tuned.....


What Will Tony Clement Do About Insite?


Well, based on a piece by FABula on her blog, it looks like Smilin' Sammy has his ducks/lobbyists in a row for his 'alternative' harm reduction initiative.

"...John Reynolds was registered as the official lobbyist for the Chronic Addiction Substitution Treatment project until February. Just as interesting, the registry listed the principal client as "Sam Sullivan," on behalf of Project CAST, with an address at city hall."

John Reynolds?

The former Stockboy backer who morphed into Mr. Harper's Lotuslandian Campaign Chair is an expert on addiction?

Who knew.

btw - we have been informed that Ottawa's best blogger, Kady O'Malley, plans be at Thursday's Insite Hearing on The Hill. We're are very much hoping for a live blog session of the festivities.
And thanks so much, Mr. Wells, for starting the swarm.....Oh, look, there goes one from the Privy Council right now......


Bernier, Schmernier!


Well, well, well.

It looks like the National Press won't have Julie to kick around anymore.

But, best of all, for those that are so inclined, the real news is that the time has come to really get rolling down that ol' Anschluss road:

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper has accepted the resignation of his embattled foreign affairs minister over an apparent security breach involving cabinet documents and added that Vancouver-Kingsway MP David Emerson will take over as interim foreign minister.

That's right!

My M.P (who I, and even those who thought they did, didn't actually vote for)......

The man who has done more to wave the white paper of 'Forest Industry Peace In Our Time' (go ask the good folks of Mackenzie B.C. about that bit of corporate Nevilleism) is now in charge of foreign affairs.


Maybe in the 'interim' Mr. E. can give away the Tar Sands to Enron/KinderMorgan/CarlyleGroup.

Or he could just cut out the middle man entirely and get together with Michael Walker and Richard B. Cheney at a hunting lodge in Northern Alberta.


And blame this fever swamp-like entry on Bob because started it - OK?


A Real Honour, In More Than Just Degree


We were never more proud of Michael J. Fox than when he did this.

Well, now we are even more proud to honour him by giving him this:

Highlights from Kelly Sinoski in the VSun:

...Fox, 46, was ushered through UBC's Chan Centre Thursday morning with a group of UBC grads and other honorary degree holders as part of the week's convocation ceremonies.

"When I received the invitation, I thought, 'What were you thinking?' I have no experience of graduating from university or even graduating from high school," Fox joked, before adding: "This means a great deal to me, I'm deeply moved.".......


......Fox shot to fame as Alex P. Keaton, a Republican teenager in a Democratic family, on the TV show Family Ties in the 1980s. He also appeared in TV shows and movies, including Spin City, Back to the Future, The Secret of My Success and Bright Lights, Big City.

But his biggest role came in 1991, when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a degenerative disorder that often impairs motor skills and speech.

He didn't publicly reveal he had the disease until seven years later, and in 2000, he founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, which has raised more than $120 million toward Parkinson's research.

During his speech at UBC, Fox's body often swayed with tremors and he sometimes stumbled over his words as he told the grads how "truly honoured" he was to share the day with them.

"No matter what path you take in life, remember that you have opportunity every day, every moment to invent the future you want," he said.

He said he's been lucky to have had different roles in life, including those of actor, husband, father and Parkinson's advocate, and remains inspired and challenged by those around him.

"I have been blessed with the opportunity to work for real impact on the world and in the lives of those around me, and to be a partner in the critical search for answers," he said.

Despite his success, Fox showed he will always be a B.C. boy with roots in Metro Vancouver who will never lose his sense of humour.

"This is not a big speech. I was told to be brief and casual -- that's me, brief and casual," he joked. "I'm working now on my memoirs and the focus is on optimism ... I'm never going to finish it. I'm so happy to be away from it and be home."

And while Mr. Fox would never say it, we can:


Here is my original commentary on the first link. Regarding, the second, I do not always fully approve of the all of the decisions that are made by the still kinda/sorta quasi-public institution which employs me, but this is not one of them.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Money Crocks II


A couple of days ago I took a shot at the notion that there is big money, some of it Canadian, to be made by speculators who swoop in now and buy-up huge swaths of foreclosed family homes South of the 49th.

And commenters tended to agree.

As for readers in general, well, that's difficult to know for sure.

But, all joking aside, this stuff has really hurt a whole lot of people.

In places like, say, Cleveland Ohio:

Since 2000, Cuyahoga County, which encompasses Cleveland, has recorded 80,000 foreclosures — the most per capita in the country. Nearly 19 percent of those foreclosures occurred last year, according to city statistics.

So, how has this happened?

Well, of course, a lot of it has to do with sub-prime loans chased by a bad economy.

But just as much of it has to do with Money Crockheads who were aided and abetted by Pushers in the Home Selling/Financing business.

Crockheads like this:

Often, a single speculator would buy up multiple homes, hoping to cash in at the close, (Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim) Rokakis says. He cites one speculator who bought up at least five homes in Cleveland.

She "probably received cash back on each of those properties at the close, the mortgage broker was probably a friend of hers, the appraiser was probably working in concert with them," Rokakis says. "The mortgage banker … really didn't care because he knew or she knew that she was going to take these mortgages and sell them to Wall Street.

"And until the bubble burst in sometime around October of 2006, it was a wondrous operation," he says.

But here's the real thing.

The crash is killing entire neighbourhoods:

On one street in (Cleveland City Councilman Zack) Reed's (3rd) ward, 25 homes stand abandoned. Many have been taken over by drug dealers and prostitutes. In Brancatelli's 12th Ward, 200 homes were demolished last year. Brancatelli says about 1,000 should come down, which would cost the city around $5 million — money that would not be spent on roads, schools or police protection.

"It's a crime because when you look at this house, it was occupied not too long ago when it was an affordable roof over somebody's head. Now we have to push it into the ground," Brancatelli says of the home stripped by vandals.



Sunday, May 25, 2008

Why Does Smilin' Sammy Hate Democracy So Much....



at bottom of post from Frances Bula


This time it's Miro Cernetig of the VSun who has the story:

It's a simple tenet of democracy: Require those seeking public office to debate each other, let the voters see the candidates' stuff, measure how well they champion their ideas in the cut and thrust of real political battle.

That's what the municipal party known as Vision is doing. Al De Genova, Raymond Louie and Gregor Robertson took each other on Wednesday night in their first debate.

The three men, who see themselves as Vancouver's next mayor, are embracing the idea of open debate: they plan to take part in another two such events before their centre-left party's June 15 nomination meeting to decide Vision's mayoral candidate.

But not Vancouver's Mayor Sam Sullivan. He seems to think he's somehow above it. He, and the board of the Non-Partisan Association, the centre-right party he runs under, are doing everything they can to avoid a meaningful debate with the mayor's challenger, NPA city councillor Peter Ladner.........


Where'd that bully pulpit go Mr. Sullivan?

Or maybe we should be asking where the bully went.

With his pulpit, I mean.


Update Monday May 26th: According to Frances Bula, Sammy is feelin' the heat and has relented. However, it is still not clear when the debate is going to be (ie. is it still the same day as the vote type deal that Sammy's henchmen tried to pawn off as democracy previously?). Thanks to West End Bob (who isn't even in the West End at the moment) for the tip.


Ya, But Will This One Go On The Mantlepiece?


Oh, goody.

Mr. Harper has just won an award:

EDMONTON - When it comes to secrecy, the Canadian Association of Journalists says nobody does it better than the Prime Minister's Office.

Stephen Harper's office was the hands-down winner of the group's "Code of Silence" award for 2007.

CAJ president Mary Agnes Welch says Harper's "white-knuckled death grip on public information" made it the easiest decision ever rendered by its judges.

The ignominious award, handed out Saturday night at the annual CAJ investigative journalism awards banquet in Edmonton, aims to dishonour the country's most secretive government, department or agency.

Welch says if journalists can't get basic information from the federal government, Canadians can't hold the government accountable.

Harper was invited to accept the award in person but failed to respond, the association said.

No word on whether the failure to respond was a snub for either the journalists or the city of 'Red'monton.

Or both.


Original Link Source: Mr. Chapman


Maybe They Could Fill The In 'N Out Burger...


Remember last week, when 75,000 folks from all walks of life streamed into a Portland park to see Barack Obama and we wondered if anything could bring that many folks out to see, say, John McCain.

Well, if it was going to happen, you'd think that hometown Pheonix Arizona just might be the place.

Wouldn't you?

Well, actually, no:
Phoenix Business Journal - May 23, 2008A
Tuesday (May 27th) fundraiser headlined by President Bush for U.S. Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign is being moved out of the Phoenix Convention Center.

Sources familiar with the situation said the Bush-McCain event was not selling enough tickets to fill the Convention Center space, and that there were concerns about more anti-war protesters showing up outside the venue than attending the fundraiser inside.

Another source said there were concerns about the media covering the event.

Bush's Arizona fundraising effort for McCain is being moved to private residences in the Phoenix area. A White House official said the event was being moved because the McCain campaign prefers private fundraisers and it is Bush administration policy to have events in public venues open to the media. The White House official said to reconcile that the Tuesday event will be held at a private venue and not the Convention Center.

Convention Center personnel confirmed the event has been canceled at their venue.

'Nuff said.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

When Ian Welsh Speaks...

.....I Listen

The graph above is from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, and it shows is how much cash US banks have on hand that they haven't lent to somebody.

As you can see they are bankrupt.

Or, as Ian and friend ChiDyke say, because the banks are still in business the technical term is actually 'insolvent'.


What's the upshot?

Well, that the US Fed is going to make regular folks pay for the malfaesance of the rich.

(US Fed Chairman) Bernanke said (as paraphrased by Mr. Welsh) "I am going to make Americans pay to clean up this mess. The huge amount of money that was transfered to rich people will not be paid for by the rich, instead it will be paid for by ordinary Americans".

The Fed saying that it will take any crap paper the banks care to give it at near par, even if they aren't worth anything, even if they are such garbage that no one but the Fed would take them, is a massive government bailout.

But government, in this case, means "American citizens". There are only two ways the US can pay for the trillions of dollars of losses. You can tax and directly bailout, or you can print money. Neither of these is free - the cost of taxation is obvious, the cost of printing money is inflation.

The rich.

They really aren't like you and me.

After all, when we get in trouble the banks make us pay.

With extravagant extras like, say, I dunno, our houses.


Oh, and as an added bonus Ian also explains what is really driving the ridiculous rise in oil prices, and it too has a whole lot to do with all the leveraged cash floating around that has been reaped by the selling off of all that crap paper.


Is Good Prop Gooder?



Update: Jeff and Zorpheous, in the comments, both make it clear that they were just joshin'. And I understand that - it's just that I don't agree with it when it is not evident, right up front (including in the header to a post) that it is a joshin' thing. However, this is just my decide.

Jeff, in a comment to his own post, makes an interesting point:

"....if the Conservative Party can take quotes and twist them ridiculously out of context for articles and even national TV ads, then I thought I could have a little fun and show they’re just as vulnerable to this kind of childish nonsense too."

What's this all about?

Well, it looks like Jeff and the Wingnutterer have decided to go ahead and Wurlitzer something said by Peter MacKay which, especially when taken out of context, looks pretty bad indeed.

It has to do with MacKay's suggesting that the Cons should 'cancel all student aid programs'.

But it was said completely in jest, during a soccer game when MP's were being beaten by student pages.

So, here's the thing.......

There is no need for this kind of thing, because in the end, in my opinion all prop is bad.

And besides, it's not as if there isn't enough egregious REAL Connitude about, just ready for the taking, that can be used against them and their own Wurlitzering.

Connitude like, say, this, from their own website:

"Canadians want action on the environment; action that reduces green house gases while preserving our standard of living and way of life. Unfortunately, previous Liberal governments failed to act while Canada’s air quality got worse and greenhouse gas emissions skyrocketed. Conservatives are turning the corner with a practical, achievable plan to clean up Canada’s air, land and water and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

Which, of course, in Connitudinous terms, really means "inaction" like this:

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Dec 17, 2007) - The Harper government stood alone on the international stage (at the International Climate Change Summit) Saturday facing renewed accusations of sabotage because of efforts to block Kyoto Protocol countries from recognizing the scientific evidence that stringent and binding targets are necessary to avoid dangerous and irreversible damage to the climate, sources close to the negotiations confirmed.

{snippety doobey-wah*}

(Canadian Environment Minister John) Baird was personally invited to attend the meeting by the summit's president on Thursday, which was supposed to be the second-last day of the conference. But he failed to show up for the marathon negotiating session which finished after three o'clock in the morning.


*Apologies for the 'doobey-wah' thing - Peter Frampton is coming to (the most sterile venue imaginable in our) town.


Money Crocks


Sometimes on a Saturday morning, when I get a little tired of the good, but earnest Sheryl MacKay on the the local Ceeb, I flip up the dial to hear what Michael, brother of British Columbia Premier Gordon, Campbell is spouting on his investment show called 'Money Talks'.

This morning, just before the 9:00am news, I heard Mr. Campbell crowing, with much glee in voice, about how much really big money there is to be made snapping up huge swaths of foreclosed family homes in the United States.

To which guest, market watcher Michael Levy, responded with equal glee that, what with our high dollar, we Canadians can now get in on that action too.


For the record - if I ever decide the time has come to start making a killing off the misery of others, well, that would mean that time has come to put me out of misery.



Astronauts: What Are They Good For?


My oldest kid, Bigger E, is fifteen.

And she's pretty sharp.

Which you have to be to get through high school these days.


Because high school is the only place where you have to know everything about everything.

Which, of course, is not really all that new.

What is new, however, courtesy the good folks at places like the Fraser Institute, is the fact that if a kid wants to have any hope in heckfire whatsoever of getting into a University of decent standing they have to start getting almost all A's right off the bat.

Which is, if you ask me (and remember I'm an academic), flat out crazy.

Anyway, last weekend we were at a family gathering and somebody asked Bigger E. (who is one of those kids that gets tons of A's, regardless) how school was going.

Initially, she answered nicely, politely, and in the affirmative.

And then she, who is also very socially aware, mentioned that she thought Astronomy is stupid.

Turns out that it isn't pure science Astronomy that bugs her, so much as all the hype and money wasted on 'space travel' that could be put to better uses in the 'real world' (ie. on the planet earth).

Now, I'm a lousy one to argue against her on that last point, especially since I turned 11 and shut down the Apollo command module cockpit in my bedroom closet.

And, besides, I'm a life scientist not a space scientist.

But, in the interest of helping her out (and proving that not everything is 'All Bruce All The Time'), here's a good one for Bigger E. about how 'important' astronauts are (and how cool teenagers always have been and always will be) :


Very good live version here.


Friday, May 23, 2008

NAFTA-Gate: The Friday Afternoon Whitewash Dump


Well, well, well......

Apparently, the soon-to-be former chief of staff to current Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Mr. Ian Brodie, didn't do anything wrong in NAFTA-Gate.

Here's the lede from the CBC's report:

A Privy Council Office report into the so-called NAFTAgate issue on Friday cleared Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff of breaching any confidentiality rules.

So, why was Mr. Brodie 'cleared'?

Well, according to Mr. Harper's Privy Council, it is all because of the timing:

The news report said Brodie had told Canadian reporters during a media lockup (on February 26th) that Obama advisers had privately assured Canadian diplomats that Obama's tough talk on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement was essentially rhetoric.

The story caused an uproar in the United States and came in the final days of the Democratic primary in Ohio, which Obama narrowly lost to Hillary Clinton.

The Privy Council Office report said it found no evidence Brodie broke any rules of confidentiality when he spoke to reporters in the lockup.

"Any comments Mr. Brodie may have made during the lockup did not reveal any information tied to the diplomatic report, of which he was made aware only on February 28," said the report. "There is no evidence that Mr. Brodie disclosed any classified information."

So there you have it - Mr. Brodie couldn't have possibly said anything of consequence on Feb 26th because he couldn't have possibly known anything of consequence until Feb 28th.

But does this 'clearance' of Mr. Brodie actually indicate that he didn't speak to reporters during the media lock-up of Feb 26th?

Well, actually, no:

"Friday's report does conclude that Brodie, who is said to be about to resign, may have spoken to CTV reporters about the subject of NAFTA and Clinton."

So, given that, is it not reasonable to wonder if, by 'clearing' Mr. Brodie, Mr. Harper's Privy Council report is, in turn, impugning the work of the reporter who originally spilled the (now well-washed and quite pale) beans?

Before you consider answering that question, even if only quietly to yourself behind closed doors (with cone-of-silence fully operational, of course), you may wish to consider the following from's Aaron Wherry:

There are various recommendations (in the Privy Council's Report), two related to Foreign Affairs, one covering the handling of documents by all government departments and then this.

"Any future undertakings signed by media representatives for admission to budget lock-ups should clearly indicate that comments made by any Government of Canada officials and/or ministerial staff during such lock-ups will be made on a background- not-for-attribution-basis only, and are to be considered and treated accordingly."


Mr. Bure's defense during the last days of his tenure with the Vancouver Canucks was, 'I didn't do anything wrong'.
Update: The Star, is not nearly so 'clear' about Mr. Brodie's role as was the Ceeb. Does this tell us something about how the times they are a changin' at the MotherCorp?


The Best Content Consulting Gig....



It was a heated debate in the British Columbia Legislature yesterday as North Coast MLA Gary Coons revealed that the B.C. Ferry Authority board members were paid $250 per minute for a four-minute meeting in 2004.

Coons, the NDP's critic for B.C. Ferries noted that the directors also paid themselves large stipends for other short meetings, such as a recent 20-minute phone meeting in February, for which board members were paid $750......


That's more than even the British Columbia's best known content consultant makes.



Two Notes Of Caution On Today's Omar Khadr Ruling...


While our Supreme Court has done much that is admirable, it's not quite all good for Mr. Khadr's defense and the rule of law in Canuckistan today.

Point 1:
....(A) lawyer for Mr. Khadr – Nathan Whitling – said that the decision does not go far enough. What the Khadr defence now needs most, he said, is a U.S. military report of the battle that took place on the day Mr. Khadr was arrested, and which were shared with Canadian authorities.

"The U.S. government claims to have somehow misplaced it," Mr. Whitling said in an interview. "The only way to get that report was to get it from Canada. We requested everything, but unfortunately, the Supreme Court has not gone far enough today."

Point 2, and this is potentially a big one:
In its ruling, the Supreme Court specifically instructed the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Canada, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to "produce to a judge … unredacted copies of all documents, records and other materials in their possession which might be relevant to the charges against Mr. Khadr."

The court said that the judge "shall consider any privilege or public interest immunity claim that is raised, including any claim under Ss. 38 et seq. of the act, and make an order for disclosure in accordance with the reasons for judgment."

So, who will this judge be who will decide on what to actually, ultimately, release?

Well, Kady O'Malley is reporting that it will be federal judge Richard Mosley who, she suggests, might be in a position of a conflict of interest:

The federal judge who will, as per today’s ruling, make the final decision on which documents will be disclosed to Omar Khadr’s legal team, and which may be redacted or withheld for reasons of national security grounds is Richard Mosley — the same Richard Mosley who, during a previous incarnation as associate deputy minister at the Department of Justice, was responsible for drafting much of Canada’s current anti-terrorist legislation, which has raised concerns over potential conflict of interest in the past.

I think Ms. O'Malley may just might have a point.



Thursday, May 22, 2008

What If You Could Be Who You Really Want To Be....

....And Get Paid For It?

Would it be enough to get you to force yourself to work for one of the worst employer's in the world?

For this guy it was:

Like everyone, I grew up going to Disneyland.

Even as an adult I loved it there and went at least once a month. I was an annual pass holder, though not like the freaky ones you may have heard of. I’d see the park’s characters and think, “It’d be so cool to work here.” But there was never a character I really wanted to play. I had a role on the television show
Veronica Mars and was working at Coco’s when a friend told me Disneyland was casting a Jack Sparrow character.....


We were the Johnny Depps and the Jack Sparrows of Disneyland. People called you either “Johnny” or “Jack.” They wanted to talk with you or ask for your autograph. It took me a while to get my rhythm down. I could figure out five or six different things to say to kids, so that by the time the sixth kid was gone, the next group in line hadn’t heard what I’d said to the first kid......


I'll be honest: I didn’t follow all the Disney rules. I played Jack like he was real, and if a woman flirted, I would flirt back......

Of course, there was only one way for this end.

And that was badly.

Because after wearing his costume off-site, which resulted in a surreptitious YouTube upload, the man who would be Jack (or Johnny, or Keef) was fired:

They had a manager walk me off the property. She told me she felt bad.

She took me past security and then asked for my Disney ID.

I asked when I could come back. She said in five years I could reapply......

But like all Fairytales it didn't end all that badly:

You’d hear that it sucks to work for Disney. They’re Nazis in Mickey hats. But I’d thought, “How bad could it be?” By the time I got fired, half of me was relieved. I was getting sick of constantly being barked at about what to do.

It was a month before I went back to the park. I missed it. At first I thought it would be a Walk of Shame, but everyone was very nice.

Not long after that I went back to stand in my girlfriend’s Ariel line on Valentine’s Day and give her flowers. I was wearing a beanie and a sweatshirt, but the parents in line were asking me, “Are you Jack Sparrow? You’re him, aren’t you?” I looked to the line’s host, who was a friend of mine. He said, “You don’t work here anymore—do what you want.” But I did what I was trained to do. I said, “Jack Sparrow and I are just friends.”.....


It's not just for children anymore.



Is The Lorax Coming To British Columbia?


British Columbia's forest industry is in big trouble.

So how have Gordon Campbell and big Rich Coleman decided to deal with it?

Well, apparently, they've decided to turn the catastrophe into an opportunity.

An opportunity to deregulate.

Gordon Hamilton has the story, albeit in "he said/she said" form, in today's VSun:

Victoria's latest round of deregulation for the ailing forest industry was welcomed as a first step by loggers Wednesday.

But the changes, the result of a 90-day review announced last January by Premier Gordon Campbell, were criticized by environmentalists and the NDP opposition who say it puts wildlife and other forest values at risk, and won't save any jobs.

Forests Minister Rich Coleman said the 28 regulatory changes -- the second streamlining process the ministry has undergone since 2001 -- are expected to improve the industry's competitive position......

{snippety doo-dah}

In a news release, the forests minister singled out three changes to save loggers time and money:
- Faster approval of cutting permits and road permits.
- Ensuring that loggers only need to submit digital files of plans.
- Dropping stumpage rates in recognition of the additional costs incurred by new ecosystem-based logging practices.....

{snippety doo-dah}

- Less focus by the forests ministry on compliance and enforcement.
- Giving the industry more of a say on future land-use decisions.
- Including economic impacts when making decisions to protect wildlife.

Maybe the time has come to call in Dr. Seuss.


Conyer's Starts Kickin' Rovian Posterior For Real


This just in.........

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday subpoenaed former White House top political adviser Karl Rove to testify about whether the White House improperly meddled with the Justice Department.

Accusations of politics influencing decisions at the department led to last year's resignation of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

The subpoena issued Thursday orders Rove to testify before the House panel on July 10. He is expected to face questions about the White House's role in firing nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 and the prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman of Alabama, a Democrat.

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers had negotiated with Rove's attorneys for more than a year over whether the former top aide to President Bush would testify voluntarily.

"It is unfortunate that Mr. Rove has failed to cooperate with our requests," Conyers, D-Mich., said in a statement. "Although he does not seem the least bit hesitant to discuss these very issues weekly on cable television and in the print news media, Mr. Rove and his attorney have apparently concluded that a public hearing room would not be appropriate."

"Unfortunately, I have no choice today but to compel his testimony on these very important matters," Conyers said.

Neither Rove nor his attorney, Robert Luskin, could be immediately reached for comment.

But in a twist of gigantuan bizarrity, apparently the Bush Administration, via the fiefdom sometimes known as the Dept. of Justice, has started up an investigation of its own.

Luckily, the ever vigilant Emptywheel thinks she has that one sussed out:

One more somewhat weedy note. Apparently, Office of Professional Responsibility has informed the committee that it "has opened an investigation into" the politicized prosecutions of the Bush Administration.

"Separately, Chairman Conyers recently received a letter from DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) indicating that the office has opened an investigation into allegations of selective prosecution of Siegelman and others."

Call me crazy, but it sounds like OPR is trying to stave off the Rove subpoena by claiming it has a prior investigation started....


Sounds like the StoneWally defense has gone to Washington.


Why Does The NPA Hate Democracy So Much?


First they tried to stop Peter Ladner from contesting Smilin' Sammy Sullivan's coronation.

Now, according to Ladner at least, they are trying to stop him from debating Mr. Sullivan.

Frances Bula has the story in the VSun:

The man challenging Mayor Sam Sullivan for his job says he's "disappointed" that his party won't hold a candidates' debate, as a result of what he calls a lacklustre response from the party board and the mayor.

"The board and the mayor have dragged their feet," said Non-Partisan Association Coun. Peter Ladner. "I'm going to organize my own event now June 3 and if the mayor wanted to come, he'd be more than welcome." Ladner's communications team sent out a press release late Tuesday saying the board has decided "against hosting a mayoral debate" and calling on the mayor to agree to one.....

Of course, the NPA excecutive puts a different spin on things:

NPA president Matthew Taylor said the board has agreed to a debate. However, it's on the morning of the vote June 8....

Sure they have.

But here's the thing - June 8th is also the day that the NPA is scheduled to have its 'Ladner vs Sullivan' nomination vote cage match.

All of which has us wondering why the NPA didn't go all the way and schedule the debate for June 9th.


That way they could have paid for it with what's left over from the smilin' one's half million dollar war chest and nobody would have been the wiser.


By the way, the Vision candidates are already going at it tooth and nail. More on that later, because when something actually involves a bit of substance it takes a little time to digest.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sometimes Your Medicine Can Kill You


And sometimes it's not even Big Pharma's fault*:

SEATTLE -- Should using doctor-prescribed marijuana be a deal-breaker for someone needing an organ transplant? It is not a theoretical question but a pressing and emotional one confronting hospitals and patients in states where medical use of marijuana is legal.

This month, Timothy Garon, 56, a Seattle musician, died after being turned down for a liver transplant. He was rejected partly because he had used medical marijuana.

Now, a second critically ill patient in Washington state says he has been denied a spot in two organ transplant programs because he uses doctor-prescribed marijuana.

Jonathon Simchen, 33, of Fife, a town south of Seattle, is a diabetic whose kidneys and pancreas have failed.

He said he was removed from the transplant program at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle because he admitted using medical marijuana. Later, he said, University of Washington Medical Center transplant officials refused to accept him because of the medical marijuana issue.

"I'm just so discouraged," said the community college student, who wants to be a teacher. "I've lost all remnants of hope. I look at my life right now as if it is a prison term. I just have to serve each day."

Costs and benefits......

Sometimes you have to wonder why the analysis is even done.

*Unless, of course, there is some kind of 'get 'em back on the prescription painkillers' lobby. But they wouldn't do something like that, would they?


We're Number 11!


Alison has the story of the Global Peace Index:

The Index is constructed from 24 indicators of external and internal measures of peace, including import and export of weapons, percentage of displaced and jailed people, military expenditure as a percentage of GDP, level of violent crime, and war deaths.

Japan is the only G8 country in the top 10.

#11 Canada

#97 USA

And Crabgrass has the (bestest) comment:

¢rÄßG®äŠŠ said...If they made peace an Olympic event, you can bet your ass the U.S. would get serious.

Maybe that's the answer.



She's Not Comparing Him To Hey Zeuss....

...She's Just Sayin' That St. John The Obscurantist Is Kinda/Sorta Just Like Him.

The Chairperson of the Georgia Republican Party that is:

Columbus Georgia, May 17/08 — Georgia Republican Party chairwoman Sue Everhart said Saturday that the party's presumed presidential nominee has a lot in common with Jesus Christ.

"John McCain is kind of like Jesus Christ on the cross," Everhart said as she began the second day of the state GOP convention. "He never denounced God, either."

Everhart was praising McCain for never denouncing the United States while he was being tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

"I'm not trying to compare John McCain to Jesus Christ, I'm looking at the pain that was there," she said.

Who knew?

Thing is, I'm not sure the bearded one ever called Mary Magdalene and the rest of the disciples vile names and epithets.


Original Link Source: BigCityLib