Weekly Highlights from our Conservative Overlords

Weekly Highlights from our Conservative Overlords

Monday, December 24, 2012

Guns for the New Year - Week 86 - Dec 17-24

Great timing Steve!  The Government announces that they won't adopt laws aimed at making gun shows safer.  The proposed requirements?  Gun show sponsors would have to notify police and provincial firearms officers that they are hosting a gun show, and they would have to "ensure the security and safety of the location and the firearms".  Boy, those sound like tremendous burdens.  The reason why these won't be adopted (other than "because a committee full of gun advocates decided it's unnecessary"?  "The vast majority of gun show hosts and exhibitors already follow the rules."  Shit.  That's totally logical!  I mean, we could do away with all sorts of laws now.  The "vast majority" of Canadians don't drink and drive.  Let's get rid of those laws too.  The "vast majority" of Canadians don't murder one another.  Don't really need those ones either.

I like this idea that boingboing is following...essentially trying to understand if gun control laws actually have some effect.  This first story speculates that they might...or might not.  It's hard to say as it's difficult to study the issue without passing actual laws.

But then this link points out that gun lobbyists have actively worked against the very studies that might shed some light on this issue.  So, I guess it is convenient to point out that there is no science to support gun control while you work to stifle any science that might support gun control.

On a similar note, Slate points out that gun control laws in Australia have been very effective at stopping mass shootings.  Different country, yes.  But enlightening.

And can you even believe these NRA shitheads?  Holy fuck.  Announce a major coming announcement as everybody anticipates you changing your insane stance on guns and then just double down on fucking crazy and announce that every school needs armed police officers!

These Vancouver Sun "Top 10 Photos" articles are usually the worst thing ever.  This one is kind of interesting.  The top 10 Countries in per capita gun ownership:
USA! USA! - #1 at 88.8 guns per 100 Citizens
Yemen - #2 with 54.8 guns per 100
Switzerland - Surprisingly #3 at 45.7
Finland - #4 at 45.3
Serbia - #5 at 37.8
Cyprus - #6 at 36.4
Saudi Arabia - #7 at 35.0
Iraq - #8 at 34.2
Uruguay - #9 at 31.8
Sweden - #10 at 31.6
Yes.  The USA has more guns per capita that recently war torn Iraq and Serbia.  Within smelling distance of 3 times as many guns.  Crazy.

Once again, Matt Taibbi gets the rage going.  This time combining two awesome themes:  Too Big to Fail and the War on Drugs.  This post highlights the settlement that HSBC made after being caught laundering Billions of dollars in cartel money.  No jail time, just a (relatively speaking) small fine.  He points out the discrepancy between being a white collar banking executive committing monstrous crimes vs. the average bloke caught with a joint in his pocket.  Pretty fucked up.

A troubling article about our dealings with China RE CNOOC, Chinese Mine Workers, Etc.

Those pesky opposition parties with all of their questions!  Don't they realize all of this "democracy" and "accountability" costs money?  We could save a fortune if we could just do what we want.

I think this guy misses the point a little bit.  First, is this a news piece?  Opinion?  Anyhow, he points out that all fighter jets are expensive.  And they all cost money to service and operate.  Which is true.  But he loses the point of the hullabaloo.  All of this was done without a rigorous evaluation of options.  And it was done with figures that didn't really represent the reality of the situation.  Yes, we may end up with the F-35 in the end.  But we need to make an informed decision and not just buy something because it's awesome.  And "stealth".

Surprisingly, most Canadians aren't willing to give up their rights in the name of "stopping terrorism".  Bloody communists!  Don't they know that government intrusion is okay when it's done for "security" reasons?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Andrew Scheer for Prime Minister - Week 85 - Dec 10-17

It's a weekend that makes me glad that I'm Canadian.  As bad as Mr. Harper seems, at least we don't have a country tearing itself apart over weather or not to ban assault rifles.

Good on Andrew Scheer, the Speaker of the House.  He layed the hammer down on his own party that seems intent on re-writing the rules of Parliament.  Maybe he should lead the party?

Hallelujah!  One guy has admitted that a robo-call stopped him from voting.  Does this mean the lawsuit can go forward?

The Conservatives have come up with another way to battle the robo-calls accusations without actually addressing the robo-calls accusations.  This time they say that the case should be thrown out because the organization representing the individuals in court (footing the legal bills, etc.) has a vested interest in the outcome and sought out applicants to bring the cases forward.  Wow.  How evil.  Somebody made people aware that they had standing to bring a case to court after they were victims of an illegal action.

Oil lobbyists have met 2733 times with public officials in the last 4 years.  Enbridge and other pipeline companies have had 52 meetings with cabinet ministers.  During the same time, there was 1 meeting with Greenpeace.

Apparently "temporary" foreign workers means "only foreign workers will be hired for four years and then will remain for another ten years after that".  But that's okay.  Jason Kenney insists everything is okay.

Even worse, many of them are unskilled and forced to pay recruitment agencies a large chunk of their earnings.  There was a CBC Radio story a few days ago that interviewed some of these miners.  They talked about how this was a "chance of a lifetime" to make decent Canadian wages to send back to their families.  I softened a bit on this program.  But knowing that most/some of this money is going back to unscrupulous recruiters completely kills this whole thing for me.  No jobs for Canadians.  No finanical windfalls for the Chinese workers.  No actual "advanced skills".  This whole program is crazy.

Oy.  Fighter Jets.  I can't even begin to follow what is going on any more with the Fighter Jets.  What was the original price estimate?  What did that include?  This timeline sets some of it out.  The government has released a "revised" number of $42 Billion, and announced that they are putting things on hold.  Is this the official 3rd Party number?  And we'll see how long it takes to blame this on the Liberals/NDP.

And...not just a fiasco in costs.  It looks like all of the financial "benefits" in the forms of construction contracts aren't really based in reality either.

A bit of a Tyee link dump.
First, an article that highlights some of the problems with the Oil Sands and the CNOOC deal.  Man, there's some crazy numbers in there.
Here's a pretty fucked up article about our foreign relations with the Congo.  Key points:  The Congo has perhaps the greatest mineral wealth of any country on Earth.  Yet it is dead last in per capita GDP.  We aren't really helping much.

This is a pretty great little story from CBC about bad behaviour in Parliament.  My favourite, and I can't remember if I posted this last year...was Justin Trudeau becoming unhinged when Peter Kent suggests that opposition members would be better informed if they had attended the UN Climate Change Summit in Durban...after they had campaigned for months to be included in the UN Climate Change Summit in Durban.  I think I did talk about that but it still is just an awesome example of how clueless these guys can be.

I don't really have an opinion formed on this story.  On one hand, Federal Government Employees have seen some significant wage/benefit increases in the last few years.  On the other hand, many of them are going to lose their jobs.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Selling Out the Country - Week 84 - Dec 3-10

So.  A Chinese state-owned oil company is allowed to buy a chunk of our Oil Sands.  A Malaysian state-owned oil company is allowed to buy a chunk of our Oil Sands.  Why don't we just run the whole place with a Canadian state-owned oil company instead?  No.  That's crazy talk.  Commie.

I don't think there is any comment required beyond the headline here: "Minister for Canada’s foreign aid agency says he was unaware of its key principles"

This is kind of a sad commentary of where we are and actually a personal justification for why I am doing this in the first place.  The Conservatives are trying to jam through another Omnibus budget bill.  And the Conservatives are limiting debate.  And I've just ignored it for the last few days.  I've come to accept that this is just the way that things happen.  And that's pretty fucking scary.

Interestingly, the morning after the Omnibus Budget vote I'm looking at the National Post and there is absolutely nothing on their front page and nothing on their "Canada" page either.  I guess it isn't newsworthy to them.  In fact, when I search "omnibus" on their site, absolutely nothing comes up.

Oh man.  Ohmanohman.  I'm going to quote an entire passage from this article on the latest Omnibus Bill.
As the final group of amendments proposed by the opposition went to a vote late Tuesday night, the NDP began to chant "2015," a reference to the next federal election, which is when they say the Harper government will be held accountable for the bill. (CBC's Kady O'Malley reported that the Conservatives chanted back, "Carbon tax. Carbon tax.)

A pretty fantastic opinion piece outlining just how fucked up Stephen Harper's policies are with respect to Israel and Foreign Policy.

Speaking of which.  We've voted for Israel again on an even more one-sided UN vote.  This time, only 6 countries voted with Israel (USA, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau)  against a UN resolution calling for Israel to join the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.  As well, there were only 6 abstentions this time.  Slate explains why we might be on the wrong side here.

Not only are we blindly supporting Israel.  Now we're no longer going to provide any aid to Palestine.  As punishment for the rest of the World voting in their favour in a UN vote.

Boingboing provides a nice summary to the changes in the Navigable Waters Act.  Good info in the comments as well.

Looks like Stephen Harper's war on crime is working really well!  Homicide rates rise 7%.  The first time it has risen in a long, long time.

The Conservatives have learned from the various copyright lobbies.  Just keep trying until something sticks!  Didn't work?  Change it a bit and try again.  A Conservative MP proposes "condemning" sex selective abortion.

A great article from Slate debunking some recent claims on how there is no Global Warming.  I love, love, love this claim that all of these scientists that claim "Global Warming" just do it to keep the gravy train rolling.  Yes, thousands of scientists around the World have advanced a singular conspiracy just so they can keep their probably-mediocre-level-of-income gravy train rolling.  All those oil and gas companies that are making billions of dollars have absolutely no economic interest in this fight.  It's those greedy scientists!  Nor surprisingly, the article that is being debunked originates from the National Post.

I had to look long and hard to find any other reference to this story that I saw while perusing a Metro paper while waiting for my Breakfast Club.  There isn't any.  Anyhow, this is very interesting.  First, Stephen Harper did the right thing?  He rejected some insane proposals created by Vic Toews "firearms advisory committee".  These claims included easing restrictions on handguns and assault rifles and increasing gun control licenses from 5 year to 10 year terms.  So, good job.  But, my next...why do we have a "firearm advisory committee"?  Why is the committee composed almost entirely of firearms advocates and why is the head of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police not allowed on it?

The Harper Government has delayed enacting a law requiring every gun sold in the country to have a unique serial number.  Really?  They don't need one now?  But, as the article kind of mentions, it doesn't really matter any longer because we have no idea who has the guns anyhow.

Don't worry!  Everything is fine!  Sales numbers have dropped by 30% but look at the prices!  They're still okay!

Another story on potential Copyright Lawsuits.  I like that this one points out that the government promised that this wouldn't happen while they were putting together this legislation.

This is why we shouldn't give the Copyright Companies more control over our computers:  They don't even know what is on their own.  This story from Boingboing outlines attempts by various networks and studios to shut down "infringing content", some of which was their own websites.

I really like this story via boingboing about how some companies are saving money and improving product by relocating manufacturing to the United States.  Two points:
1) One, as an engineer that buys lots of expensive equipment, I'm very often surprised by how quite often the best equipment is also the cheapest equipment.  Not always, but it often seems like for two relatively similar parts, the company that does a better job of designing it and building it often can make it cheaper.  Great design transcends.
2) How long until somebody thinks "wait a minute...with all these production efficiencies that we've designed in, imagine how much cheaper we could make it in China!"
3) I'm also reminded of an argument I had a few years ago with my brother.  "My economics prof says that the Porsche Boxster is the cheapest car to manufacturer in the world!  And they sell it for $60,000!"  I pointed out to him that maybe it was possible that they manufactured it with the cheapest amount of labour as compared to any other car due to it's modular design and modern factory but that it was impossible for a leather upholstered, high performance engined, mag wheeled, high dollar suspensioned sports car to cost less to make than a Geo Metro.  But no, he wouldn't agree with me.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Crazed Idealogues - Week 83 - Nov 26 - Dec 3

So, Canada has gone from moderate negotiator of peace to crazed protector of Israel.  A vote for Palestine as a "non-member observer state" in the UN didn't go our way, so we packed up our diplomats and went home.  I'd imagine many of our diplomats aren't even bothering to unpack we seem to be calling them home so often.  When did we take this turn?  What is the reason for it?  Is it simply blind support for Israel through fear of a second holocaust?  Islamophobia?  Why does Canada get to decide the way this will play out vs. the other 138 countries that don't agree with us?  The 9 countries that voted against the motion...those would be Canada, the USA, Israel, Micronesia, Palau, the Czech Republic, Marshall Islands, Naura and Panama.  You remember all those times in the past when Russia has voted for things that make no sense?  And it just defies all logic that they're standing in the way of meaningful dialogue and the will of the UN?  Ya...that might be us now.

Have you heard about these Queen's Jubilee medals?  Ya, there's something like 60,000 of them being awarded and it sounds like it is largely at the discretion of individual MP's.  One Saskatchewan MP has decided that a pair of ladies who have continually been arrested for anti-abortion related harassment.  He's praised them as "heroines of humanity".  Surprisingly, he's a Conservative MP.

So.  I was thinking about the above mentioned Saskatchewan MP story and I was thinking about why we have so many prairie yahoos doing all kinds of stupid shit.  And I started to think that there must be something to this...some reason why a disproportionate number of yahoos from the praries are in Parliament to stir up ridiculousness.  To Wikipedia!  Check out the table a few scrolls down from the top of the link.  If Canada were evenly distributed, one MP would represent exactly 113,308 people (with the current number of MP's).  We always hear about how Quebec is over-represented, and sure enough, each Quebec MP represents around 100,000 people.  "The West" is kind of shafted with 114,000 for BC and 117,000 for Alberta.  Ontario actually sees a similar amount of shaftedness.  But you want to talk about crazy over-representation in Parliament?  Look at Saskatchewan, ground zero for MP craziness.  69,000 people.  14 Yahoos that represent around 69,000 people each.  This explains a lot.

I find it very interesting that Mark Carney gets so much credit for Canada "weathering the storm".  I'm far from an expert on this kind of thing, but it's very curious.  But two things jump out:
- I've seen him/Canada praised several times for "not having to bail out our banks".  Were the policies not put in place many, many years ago to prevent this from happening?
- Many people believe we're on the verge of some severe housing price corrections, which won't have a very positive effect on the economy.  Is it going to be the poor bastard that fills his shoes that takes the blame for this?
Looks like his landing might not be so soft after all.

This graphic doesn't make things look very good with respect to Conservative fiscal management.  When did these clowns start?  Seems like we took a big swing down around that time.  Ya, ya.  Global financial crisis.

Somebody at the National Post has rationalized that a Mayor getting tossed out for breaking the rules is un-democratic.

I can't believe that we actually have to praise a decision by the Federal Government to not allow gas drilling in a National Fucking Wildlife Area...but here we are.

Elections Canada has finally released some official information as to how widespread the robocall scandal was in the last election.  56 ridings, apparently.

An article on vote splitting.  Unfortunately, I'm not sure we'll ever make it to a point where a party is in power that is able to implement this.  Perhaps an NDP/Liberal coalition could push this through.  Perhaps.

There was an interview on the CBC yesterday.  The lady was explaining how "lucky" we are in Canada that damages for Copyright infringement have been capped at $5000.  She was telling us all about how forensic internet companies had moved into Canada and were now tracking torrent traffic.  Ya.  Lucky.  A thing that was legal is now illegal and a bunch of companies are working on suing Canadians (Michael Geist explains it in more detail here).  Awesome.  At least we're not Finland, where the fines for illegal downloading are hundreds of times worse than the fines faced by rapists and murderers.

I agree that if it isn't necessary, Government officials shouldn't travel in private aircraft.  But it seems sad that our country has only two private aircraft left for government use.  A bit 3rd World, really.

I'm really starting to hate the National Post.  And the Financial Post seems to be the place where "rich" assholes can go and talk shit about how much money they've made on stocks.  That's why I love this.  November 22nd...A story on how much money there is to be made on RIM.
November 27th...A story on the dramatic one day collapse of RIM stock.
I know that this doesn't mean anything long term.  I know that there is still an incredible potential upside to RIM.  As well as a potential that they will go bankrupt.  I just hate the certainty that these articles are written with.  When they're just so full of absolute shit and really have no fucking clue what might happen.

Oh fuck the hell off.  The government that seems to treat Parliamentary committees as a joke is drafting a motion to haul Trudeau and McGuinty in front of a committee for their "anti-Alberta" comments?  And some poor schlubs were waiting in the background the whole time this insane debate was going on?

Perhaps in an effort to prop up his image, Patrick Brazeau has created a video in support of finding missing aboriginal women.  Still...who is this guy?

I'm sharing this story for one reason only...I sent Joyce Murray the link to this fine blog and she claims that she read it and laughed.  She sends me invitations to stuff as well.