Thursday, December 31, 2009

What we don't know

Gas Drilling is one of ProPublica's Hot Topics. Be sure to follow their links to associated stories. In northeast British Columbia, environmental risks from gas production compound, while government eliminates oversight. The result is another ticking bomb in BC. Similar threats grow elsewhere with North American production increasing from shale formations.



It takes brute force to wrest natural gas from the earth. Millions of gallons of chemical-laden water mixed with sand -- under enough pressure to peel paint from a car -- are pumped into the ground, pulverizing a layer of rock that holds billions of small bubbles of gas.

The chemicals transform the fluid into a frictionless mass that works its way deep into the earth, prying open tiny cracks that can extend thousands of feet. The particles of sand or silicon wedge inside those cracks, holding the earth open just enough to allow the gas to slip by.

Gas drilling is often portrayed as the ultimate win-win. . .

ProPublica article by Abrahm Lustgarten

Continue reading HERE
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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A right to complain

Andrew Jackson, 7th U.S. President, was a racist who supported slavery and tolerated aboriginal genocide. But, he knew how and for whom government operated:
Every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society -- the farmers, mechanics, and laborers -- who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their government. (1832)

Jackson - Fighting the Bank Monster

Unfortunately, despite passage of nearly 180 years, the quote above perfectly describes Gordon Campbell's Government of British Columbia.

For evidence, read this article at The Straight Goods about the Naikun Wind Power Boondoggle planned for Haida Gwaii.
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Billionaire skates for Olympics

Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee has been pardoned, again. This time for his 2008 tax evasion and embezzlement convictions. The Korean businessman had been fined $109 million and given a three years suspended jail sentence.

The pardon enables Lee to resume activities as a Korean representative to the International Olympic Committee. That is in keeping with IOC policy. Crime does not exist in their world; they recognize only "occasional public safety challenges." That allows bribery and other financial corruption but guards against rude signs.

In 1997, Mr. Lee was pardoned after a conviction for bribing the former Korean dictator Roh Tae-woo.

In 2005, aides of Lee were found guilty of selling undervalued corporate assets to the tycoon's son. Prosecutors accused Mr. Lee of orchestrating the deal, but the court found there was not enough evidence of Mr. Lee’s involvement, a ruling that many found hard to accept.



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Some businesses still optimistic

CBC headlines, "Slopes are empty, Whistler Mayor tells skiers." Mayor Melamed says an Olympic chill has descended, emptying the slopes.

Apparently not all those in the hospitality industry have noticed a paucity of visitors. A quick Internet search produced this result for a one week hotel stay in the lower mainland.

Happy Day Inn (Burnaby) offers a seven night stay for $5,367 through hotels.ca. Mind you, if one were to believe customer reviews at tripadvisor.com, this might not be the place to spend $766 a night for one double bed. At least, not without careful consideration. A sample:
  • "Warning, full of bed bugs."
  • "Stay away. I woke up with a severe skin rash.
  • "The passage is smelly and the rooms are NOT clean."
  • "Lousy service, place looked run downed and scary. Didn't feel safe at all."
  • "I would not recommend it even to a homeless person."
  • "Avoid if you can."
The good news (perhaps) is that continental breakfast is included. Way to add value! That will keep people coming back.

Remember how the HST proponents tell us that business cost inputs determine prices? You know, if costs go down, prices will too. That's the pass-through effect. Don't hold your breath for it though.
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Friday, December 25, 2009

Gordon Campbell is making history

History is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind.
- Edward Gibbon, English historian of Rome (1737 - 1794)

Doug McArthur at SFU's Public Policy School casts his eye on one of British Columbia's crime scenes.
I have suggested that since this whole system essentially involves a non-earned transfer of billions of dollars from BC citizens to private power producers, and that this result is perfectly obvious to anyone who takes the time to follow the money, the whole arrangement is essentially corrupt. The fact that the whole program has been developed behind closed doors in association with private power producers simply strengthens that argument.

Some have objected to this characterization, saying that while it may be bad policy it is not necessarily corrupt. I remain to be convinced. Meanwhile, it is perhaps worth noting that on the very week that Campbell profiled the Danish program, investigators in Denmark commenced a corruption investigation into the arrangement there. Perhaps a closer look at what is happening here in BC is warranted after all. Especially since the BC program is almost a total replica of that of Denmark.

We had a similar story HERE at Northern Insights last October. Imagine if Campbell's policies guided W.A.C. Bennett and Gordon Shrum when they developed the two-rivers policy years ago. Today, citizens would have no low-cost heritage benefits from the Peace and Columbia rivers. Instead, every kW-h would cost consumers whatever the market would bear in today's dollars, not those of 1965. That would have been bad for British Columbians but good for Wall Street, perhaps delaying its meltdown by 15 minutes or so.
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Vancouver 2010 Official Scalper

Someone stands to make millions, and allegedly, more than any other company in the events industry for the event. And he's done it all with tactics that might be construed by some as bribery.

Oh well. C'est la vie.

Ticket monopoly brings one man big profit
By Christine Willmsen and Ron Judd, Seattle Times staff reporters

It's a safe bet that few Americans headed north for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics have ever heard of a secretive New Jersey multimillionaire named Sead Dizdarevic.

But he's very well-acquainted with their money.

You can't buy an official ticket to the Games without ringing the cash register for Dizdarevic, a longtime Olympic insider who has spent tens of millions of dollars to become the official "hospitality provider" for February's Games. His exclusive contracts give him a monopoly to sell tickets and hotel packages at steep markups in the United States.

In effect, Dizdarevic is the official ticket scalper for the 2010 Winter Olympics. . .

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Freedom of the press, for those who own one

Malignant media disables our flow of news and information. Accordingly, most of us are skeptical of content. It is noise to which we give little consideration.

Nevertheless, fools pay attention. In America, radio listeners dial in Beck, O'Reilly or any of a surprisingly large contingent of hate mongers, including the guy Wanda Sykes calls the 20th hijacker. In our town, Michael Campbell, Charles Adler and Roy Green head a not-exhaustive list of radio nutbars.

I usually avoid CKNW in the mornings but poor sleep habits led to hearing Michael Campbell talk Dec 22/09. This is his nonsense:
Globalive is entering Canada's cell phone landscape and the immediate impact of this increased competition is lower prices and more choice for all of us. All in the effort to win over customers and of course established companies are also going to react. All good, for consumers.

This is hardly a deep insight. I mean, prices and levels of services are always being adjusted in an effort by companies to get a leg up on the competition and win over customers. Now this would seem common sense and it's often lost in our general debates.

A case in point is to push to maintain government monopolies in a variety of areas including healthcare and even education. It's an absurdity to suggest that these are the only two areas where consumers wouldn't benefit from more choice and there is every reason to believe that costs would go down as companies searching for the business seek to innovate.

The only people who wouldn't benefit are the current beneficiaries of the status quo. Innovation of prices and services are a direct result of incentives and in the real world, the incentive is money. And in that search for financial reward, the customer comes first, when they have a choice. The only time they don't come first is when we're held captive by monopolies or semi-monopolies.

When customers are up for grabs or a company's financial well-being is at stake, it doesn't take long for someone to do it better, more effectively and improve the quality of service.

By the way, this reality seems to be lost when we discuss the impact of the HST. Way too often, I've heard that businesses won't pass along the savings. That's just nonsense and, in an effort to win over customers, you can bet those savings are going to be passed along and prices in those areas are going to come down. That's just what's about to happen in the cell phone business.

Does anyone need an explanation of this man's foolishness? Thank you Michael but I would like to know why we pay the highest cell phone rates in the world and how one supplier, reluctantly added, will change things in a significant way. Perhaps a new player bought his way onto the stage while the same show goes on. And why have rates increased, despite surging utilization? Cost per unit of service delivered is the driving factor? Maybe not.

With sophisticated knowledge, Campbell is a purposed bull-shitter. His every message is implausible. While correct that a competitive economy would benefit all, why doesn't he advocate for real competition in the marketplace? Instead, he yearns for privatized medicine and education, as if a richer doctor or a chi-chi school in Shawnigan Lake or West Vancouver is our greatest need. At least for that, he gains one more badge from his well-healed clientele.

Michael Campbell, like Premier Gordon, is an ideologue. Truth, even if it were a stinking fish slapping his face, would be unrecognized. Neither brother is a humanist. Sorry, Mom. They prefer dreamscapes to reality. I suspect the actual psychological diagnosis is worse but that's a different story. Its enough to understand these people are moral criminals.

The stupidity of Michael's 90-second comment is astounding. It shows that he understands nothing of ordinary life. He is attracted to the idea of impoverishing workers so their effort is less valued. Even more astounding is that this crap, and the hours of science denials recently offered by CKNW, is served regularly, without concern for balance, accuracy or sanity. M. Campbell, for whom Money Talks above other gods, joins those who care nothing about a whole society; he measures the world with commodity indices. 10,000 children might die in Angola, but, if the gold index rises, it is a good day.

CKNW is known for its self-serving, worthless crap. Listen to late night or weekend programing to hear about flying saucers or miracle cures for every ailment that troubles mankind. Do you recall how "Financial Expert" Michael Levy promoted junior companies of the OTC Bulletin Board or the TSX Venture Exchange? Or, at least he promoted those who paid $6,500 for the exposure?

As David Baines wrote, "The program frequently leads listeners and would-be investors into treacherous waters. Some of the featured companies are riddled with Howe Street promoters who have become embroiled in previous stock market scandals." Not surprising, since the commentator had relations with embezzlers, others banned from BC markets and people linked with dubious business deals.

News you can trust? Not really. No, not at all.

Are you surprised?
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The meaning of words

Terry Dion Ironbow, 29, was struck by a car driven by an RCMP officer, on the Trans-Canada Highway in Valleyview, at around 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 11. The officer had just finished his shift and was headed home.

Ironbow spent several days in critical condition in Royal Inland Hospital before dying from his injuries on Thursday. Police did not release information about his death until Monday.
RCMP said Ironbow has a history with police.

I guess that makes a difference.

But, I'm not sure how.
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Traveler's Mind

A year ago, uncertain that I would fit easily among a small group of writers and artists attending a workshop in rural Mexico, I questioned the organizer, an old friend. Her response:
There's a wonderful saying in (Japanese) tea, an art so refined that it risks being over-mannered: "Preserve in me the humble but eager heart of the beginner."
This led to an inspiring experience in Papantla, Veracruz, Mexico. In 2010, Martha Gies, a personne extraordinaire, leads another small group of brave spirits to a place, perhaps even more exotic.

Traveler’s Mind Workshop: TEN DAYS IN SUCRE, BOLIVIA

This workshop is designed to capture the traveler's special state of mind - that combination of alertness and curiosity - and use it to heighten the classroom experience.

In 2010, we offer ten days of writing in Sucre, Bolivia, declared by UNESCO a world heritage site for the beauty and integrity of its Colonial architecture.

By traveling beyond the familiar surroundings of home, students can devote their undivided energy to the task at hand, be it cultivating the habits of close observation and a disciplined writing life, or risking encounters in a foreign landscape.

Limited to 10 students.

September 10-20, 2010

Details available in January at www.veracruzworkshops.com/

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A question for Christmas

Has anyone noticed that Canada Post has a new system for delivering parcels? They do, at least in North Vancouver.

Instead of bringing a parcel to your address, they provide a Delivery Notice / Avis de livraison. It announces that because you were not home [even if you were], you must pick up the parcel at their convenient parcel depot, tomorrow.

And, of course, the depot had our parcel on the day they delivered the notice. No 24 hour waiting period needed.

It appears Canada Post charges for carrying parcels to a specific address but does not actually take the deliverables beyond the depot. Door to door service means: Come to our door for service.
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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Here, there and everywhere

The Times, Dec 11/09,
Terror police to monitor nurseries for Islamic radicalization
Nursery-age children should be monitored for signs of brainwashing by Islamist extremists, according to a leaked police memo obtained by The Times.

In an e-mail to community groups, an officer in the West Midlands counter-terrorism unit wrote: “I do hope that you will tell me about persons, of whatever age, you think may have been radicalised or be vulnerable to radicalisation ... Evidence suggests that radicalisation can take place from the age of 4.”

The police unit confirmed that counter-terrorist officers specially trained in identifying children and young people vulnerable to radicalisation had visited nursery schools. . .
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Real and unreal

Sometimes, it is easy to separate truth from codswallop.

Further Evidence of Richard Colvin to the Special Committee on Afghanistan

Stephen Harper's Government might be astonished to hear allegations of Canadian complicity in torture but readers of Northern Insights / Perceptivity will not be surprised. Our June article about Amir Attiran contained this:

Finally, despite national self-righteousness, Canada has a rather poor record of respecting human rights. The UN's International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance has been open for signatures since 2007, and so far 81 countries have signed. The Harper government refuses to sign, although it issued assurances that it "supports" the treaty. Attaran believes that Canada does not sign because it is contravening the treaty in Afghanistan. He fears that the agreement between Ottawa and Kabul on prisoner transfers makes Canadian soldiers complicit to torture in that war zone.

Attaran faults fellow academics and NGO leaders for failing to speak out and complacently accepting the drift away from effective internationalism. He blames widespread self-censorship on the dependence of individuals and institutions on government funding. He also says that government has given in to the convenience of employing experts and consultants selected from a sycophantic gallery. As in most established bureaucracies, contrarians are unwelcome, even driven out.

Read more at Creekside.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bendy stretchy gang goes gold



Lululemon Athletica was publicly scolded by VANOC for unveiling a cheeky product line in honour of a "Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place in British Columbia Between 2009 & 2011."


For the whole story:
Vancouver Observer

A spokesperson says VANOC is "disappointed" that someone is trying to profit from the Olympics.

Imagine the nerve! Trying to profit from the Olympics?

I guess CEO John Furlong and his nine Executive Vice Presidents are not profiting. Probably working for $1 a year or, perhaps, for the $8 an hour minimum wage that Gordon Campbell thinks adequate for many. And, of course, Intrawest ULC probably is making Whistler Blackcomb available without cost to VANOC for the Games. And, the construction industry of BC built those facilities at cost. No effort to profit. Right?

Truly, this is a scandal. Tax paying businesses in Vancouver should leave profit making opportunities to multi-national corporations who pay homage to the Olympic movement in appropriate ways. (Swiss bank transfers accepted.)
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Her salary is $233,247 ? ? ?

“Maybe the salmon will return a year later,” [federal fisheries minister Gail] Shea said in an interview on CBC radio’s All Points West during her visit to Prince Rupert yesterday. “Nobody knows what’s happening in the marine environment.”
Perhaps the sockeye will follow a five year return cycle? Evolution, I suppose.

For the whole story, read Andrew MacLeod at The Tyee.


Photo from Our Place in Canada - The Newfoundland Experiment
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Roots of policing by consent

Much of what I've written on this blog is critical of the administration of justice, particularly in policing and specifically within the RCMP. Critics suggest that I am naively unfair and misunderstand the particularities of law enforcement. My reaction is that too many in policing have lost sight of fundamental principles that first guided their profession.

A book written by British Police Historian Charles Reith in 1956, A New Study of Police History, included an appendix listing principles underlying the philosophy of policing by consent. These were probably originated by the first Commissioners of the London Metropolitan Police, formed by an Act of 1829.

Despite 180 years passing, The Nine Principles of Policing maintain powerful credibility:
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Sliding toward totalitarianism

The Independent, Dec 3/09 Jerome Taylor: I was questioned over my harmless snapshot
I was on the South Bank of the Thames trying to compose a shot of the Houses of Parliament last week when two police officers stopped me. . .

For the next 10 minutes I was questioned about my evening and asked to give my height, name, address and ethnicity – all of which was recorded in a form that will now be held at the nearest police station for the next year. The form explained why I had been stopped: "Using a camera and tripod next to Westminster Bridge," it read.

Such is our fear of terrorism that photographing our seat of power is now regarded as a potentially subversive act. . .

Good luck to the next hapless tourist who dares to whip out a tripod near a famous London landmark. If you do, I suggest you make yourself a T-shirt explaining your intentions very clearly. I'm opting for: "I'm not a terrorist. I'm a photographer."

The Guardian, Dec 11/09, How my camera made me a terror suspect
It felt like a minor terror alert. Four security guards were watching me, whispering into microphones on their collars. A plainclothes police officer had just covered my camera lens, mentioned the words "hostile reconnaissance" and told me I would be followed around the city if I moved.

Two uniformed officers were on their way to stop and search me under section 44 of the Terrorism Act, he said. Special Branch, the police counter-terrorism unit linked to the secret services, had been informed.

It had taken less than two minutes from the first click of my camera. My subject was the Gherkin, an iconic London landmark photographed hundreds of times a day and, as it turned out, the ideal venue to test claims from a growing number of photographers claiming they cannot take a picture in public without being harassed under anti-terrorist laws. . .

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Enright talks to Kennedy, again

The Sunday Edition for December 13th, 2009

Introduction:
Paul Kennedy is both the RCMP's strongest critic and its staunchest supporter. With his findings on the horrific death of Robert Dziekański and its sad aftermath, the mild-spoken Mr. Kennedy censures the Mounties for their failures at the Vancouver Airport while at the same time offers ways to improve their procedures.

He concludes that Mr. Dziekański's death was avoidable and that the four officer failed on almost every level in the way they handled the confrontation. And he again urges independent oversight of RCMP practices so that Mounties don't end up investigating themselves.

Naturally his conclusions upset RCMP brass and the Government, which is bouncing Mr. Kennedy from his job as Commissioner for Public Complaints Against the RCMP at the end of the month.

In our FIRST HOUR this coming Sunday, Michael will have a conversation with Paul Kennedy.

Find the replay link here: The Sunday Edition, Dec 13/09
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CBC's Michael Enright talked to Paul Kennedy

Michael Enright introduction:
There are two public images of the RCMP.

There's the historical almost mythical image of the Horsemen in Red Serge taming the west, bringing law and order to a young country, always getting their man and upholding the law we've all seen in it in countless movies and TV shows.

And then there's the modern stark image of RCMP officers tasering a confused, angry man in the Vancouver Airport, Officers blasting demonstrators with Pepper Spray, stone faced Mountie officers dismissing allegations of brutality and wrongful deaths based on investigations the RCMP itself had conducted into the actions of their own officers.

The contrast between these two very powerful and contradictory images perplexes and saddens Canadians. And yet, year after year, the distance between the mythic historical perception and the near brutal reality of regular civilian-RCMP encounter widens.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

News about the dark side

An editorial by The Globe and Mail, Dec 9/09, "Left in the dark"

By giving out false information on the fatal tasering of the Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, and refusing to correct the errors for more than a year, the RCMP persisted in the destruction of the public's trust in their national police force. Two years earlier, a Mountie spokesman said, "The public doesn't have a right know anything," after a British Columbia officer shot and killed a 22-year-old man in unusual circumstances. The RCMP shows by its actions it still seems to believe the public is best left in the dark.

. . . The RCMP brutally killed a newcomer to Canada, put out false information into the public sphere while investigating themselves, then refused to correct the record and held on to a video that showed the horrible truth. The loss of public trust is no mystery.

Read Robin Mathews at BC Mary's The Legislature Raids:
Battle lines appear to be hardening

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More artwork

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Civic irony, but the mural is now restored

Update: voices heard. The artwork is restored.

From Marsha Lederman at the Globe and Mail, Vancouver orders removal of anti-Olympic mural:



The city of Vancouver has ordered the removal of a mural hanging outside a Downtown Eastside gallery depicting the Olympic rings as four sad faces and one smiley face.

The gallery says in 10 years, it has never before been asked to remove any work.

The city issued the order under its graffiti bylaw, but it comes in the wake of a debate over a controversial city sign bylaw that opponents feared would allow officials to stifle anti-Olympic expression.

. . . Vancouver spokesperson Theresa Beer says a city inspector viewed the work as graffiti, not a mural, noting “black graffiti tags on wood panelling covering a window.”

“It has nothing to do with content,” Ms. Beer added.

Yeah, sure.

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Words from a local hero

Hello

Last week I attended two meetings that taught me a great deal.

At the Fraser Sockeye Simon Fraser University Think Tank we recommended experimentally removing farmed salmon from sockeye migration routes. I heard that Ottawa is abandoning wild Pacific salmon because they don’t see their value.

At the National Aquaculture Strategic Action Plan Initiative meeting in Campbell River to write the DFO regulations required in the wake of our BC Supreme Court win I learned that fish farmers are reluctant to release disease information because it could lower the value of their stock market shares.

I also learned that the Canadian land-based salmon farmers, in operation for 60 years, cannot even get a meeting with the provincial government. Could this be because they are a threat to the Norwegian fish farmers?

For details:
http://alexandramorton.typepad.com/
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Friday, December 11, 2009

Warped, twisted and undemocratic

The House of Commons has become a "warped, twisted and undemocratic" place where MPs act like mindless "lemmings" forced to do the bidding of their parties instead of the people.
That's the bitter view of Liberal MP Keith Martin . . .

Read the entire column: Michael Smyth, The Province
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Talking to the wind

I talk to the wind
My words are all carried away
I talk to the wind
The wind does not hear
The wind cannot hear.

I'm on the outside looking inside
What do I see
Much confusion
Disillusion
All around me.

Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP reports:
  • "The RCMP has reached a crossroads in its development as a policing agency," said CPC Chair Paul E. Kennedy. "How it responds to the challenges to its reputation as a world-renowned agency will be determined not by statements confirming an understanding that these challenges exist but by embracing a philosophy of change and by making a concerted effort to implement that philosophy."

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A friend says we need levity here



Well, there is good news and bad news about my Christmas decorations this year.

Good news is that I truly out did myself this year with my Christmas decorations. The bad news is that I had to take him down after 2 days. I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever. Great stories. But two things made me take it down. First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents as they almost wrecked when they drove by. Second, a 55 year old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder almost killed herself putting it against my house and didn't realize it was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy). By the way, she was one of many people who attempted to do that. My yard couldn't take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard.

Kind of feel like I gave in to the man by taking him down but my neighbor did confirm two near miss accidents on the busy street next to my house. I think I made him too real this time.

So it was fun while it lasted
-- source unknown

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Lying with dogs, rising with fleas

The Vancouver Sun's lead reporter on the Olympics, Jeff Lee, has over the years written some stories unlikely to please the International Olympic Committee or local organizers. But the IOC must not have minded his recent "Feeling the Buzz" piece on preparations for the games in Vancouver and Whistler.

They paid for it and published it.
. . . continued
Andrew MacLeod could have added that Sun Reporter Jeff Lee is the only Canadian member of the Olympic Journalists' Association, which is called by Andrew Jennings at Transparency in Sport, the Olympic Reporters' Secret Club:
Swiss bagman Jean-Marie Weber who admitted in court last year that he paid $100 million in kickbacks to sports officials in return for lucrative marketing contracts was at it again in Lausanne last week, schmoozing wannabee Olympic 2016 hosts Chicago, Rio, Madrid and Tokyo.

What a great story for Britain’s Olympic reporters. But they haven’t published a word. Why can this be?

Transparency in sport has obtained the membership list of the self-styled Olympic Journalists Association – the OJA. Astonishingly, Bagman Weber is a member - alongside the BBC’s lethargic sports editor Mihir Bose and three of his specialist reporters.

Telegraph sports editor David Bond has also signed up to the OJA with two of his hacks. The Times is there and so are AP’s Steve Wilson and Reuters’ Karolos Grohmann. Between them they dominate international reporting on Olympic politics and money.
Some people in our town (my family, for example) are disappointed that so few Gold Medal hockey tickets were available for purchase in VANOC's lottery for the unconnected. However, even if you are not an organizing committee insider or friends with a BC Liberal Cabinet Minister, you still have an opportunity for gold. Jet Set Sports (the Official Hospitality Services Provider of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games) offers an alternative, including:
  • Exclusive access to an award-winning athlete and a memorable behind-the-scenes look at the Olympic Winter Games
  • Tickets to each of most sought-after Olympic events:
the Closing Ceremony,
the Men’s Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game,
the Figure Skating Gala Exhibition and
the three Short-Track Speed Skating gold medal races;
  • Three nights’ accommodation at Vancouver’s prestigious Sutton Place Hotel;
  • Olympic-certified ground transportation and an onsite personal concierge dining at Vancouver’s most highly acclaimed eateries (perhaps including McDonald's - the Official Restaurant of the Olympic Games).
Your entry to all this, is the Flexjet 25 Jet Card-—2010 Gold Edition, available in limited quantities, starting at $122,900, with timing of the package set for Feb. 26 through March 1, 2010.
Now, we'll connect the pieces with something else from Andrew Jennings:
Bagman Weber isn’t the only OJA member from the Dark Side of the Olympic business. Step forward tickets and rooms operator Sead Dizdarevic, boss of New Jersey company Jet Set Travel.

Mr. Dizdarevic admitted to the Feds that he handed over bags of cash in hotels and airports that were laundered to IOC members demanding bribes in return for giving the 2002 Winter Games to Salt Lake City. That didn’t harm his relationship with the ‘Olympic Movement,’ as they call it. Now he’s got a big chunk of London 2012. Mr Dizdarevic is not known to have worked as a journalist.
The Canadian Journalism Project added their take on the story by The Tyee. I suggest you pay attention to the worthwhile comments section that includes a statement from Tyee's driving force David Beers.

Admittedly, this is not new or earth shaking. It merely confirms that the Olympic Movement remains a plaything for the wealthy, subsidized by the proletariat and as corrupt as it ever was. Money laundering, bribery, secrecy, self-perpetuation, enrichment of insiders are only a few of the sins.

With their billion dollar budget, will the RCMP and other Official Olympic Harriers be searching for crooks inside the movement as diligently as they deal with social critics outside the circles of influence?

Why should we care? It's only costing a few billion dollars that might otherwise be dedicated to real economic development or healthcare or making higher education affordable once again. But, the Games and the parties will be so much fun for many of our deprived elites. Aging jock-sniffers are in heat and how do you put a price on that?

More dogs, more fleas

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Synergy?

From a forum at RadioWest.ca
I was listening to the 11:30 news on CKNW yesterday morning.

It was sponsored by doggydoo.ca, a pet waste removal company.

Could there possibly be a more synergistic pairing of sponsor and broadcaster?

I think not.
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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Privatization offers one sure result

As you read this American story, consider how BC Liberals aim to privatize health services to corporations who will put profit before people.

Exclusive: Temp Firms a Magnet for Unfit Nurses


By Tracy Weber and Charles Ornstein

Firms that supply temporary nurses to the nation's hospitals are taking perilous shortcuts in their screening and supervision, sometimes putting seriously ill patients in the hands of incompetent or impaired caregivers. Emboldened by a chronic nursing shortage and scant regulation, the firms vie for their share of a free-wheeling, $4-billion industry. Some have become havens for nurses who hopscotch from place to place to avoid the consequences of their misconduct. (This story will be co-published with the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 6, 2009.)
Read the story.
See ProPublica's complete coverage of this issue.
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Thursday, December 3, 2009

A story evolves

April 1, 2009, Statement from Metropolitan Police:
A member of the public went to a police officer on a cordon in Birchin Lane, junction with Cornhill to say that there was a man who had collapsed round the corner.

That officer sent two police medics through the cordon line and into St Michaels Alley where they found a man who had stopped breathing. . .


The officers gave him an initial check and cleared his airway before moving him back behind the cordon line to a clear area outside the Royal Exchange Building where they gave him CPR.

LAS took the man to hospital where he was pronounced dead. . .

April 7 2009, The Guardian:
The [initial police] statement made no mention of any prior police contact with Tomlinson. The following day, journalists were briefed by police that he was not a protester, had not been involved with police or been in a crush and had died of natural causes outside of the police cordon.

Independent witnesses subsequently challenged the account . . .


IPCC Commissioner for London, Deborah Glass, said: "Initially we had accounts from independent witnesses who were on Cornhill, who told us that there had been no contact between the police and Mr Tomlinson when he collapsed. However, other witnesses have since told us that he did have contact with officers. This would have been a few minutes before he collapsed. It is important that we are able to establish whether that contact had anything to do with his death."


April 8 2009, The Guardian: (with video link)
Dramatic footage obtained by the Guardian shows that the man who died at last week's G20 protests in London was attacked from behind and thrown to the ground by a baton–wielding police officer in riot gear.

Moments after the assault on Ian Tomlinson was captured on video, he suffered a heart attack and died.

The Guardian has handed a dossier of evidence to the police complaints watchdog.


. . .The film reveals that as he walks, with his hands in his pockets, he does not speak to the police or offer any resistance. A phalanx of officers, some with dogs and some in riot gear, are close behind him and try to urge him forward.

A Metropolitan police officer appears to strike him with a baton, hitting him from behind on his upper thigh. Moments later, the same policeman rushes forward and, using both hands, pushes Tomlinson in the back and sends him flying to the ground . . .

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Time for something completely different

In the news we find another community sports person accused of sexual misconduct with a child. This one hits close to home, literally and figuratively, because it originates in my home area, from an era when my children were immersed in kids’ sports on the North Shore. I too was deeply involved, having served many years in administration of minor hockey organizations and management of leagues throughout the Pacific Coast district.

First, I should relate that I am not acquainted first hand with the accused nor am I aware of the accuser’s identity. I do know something though about the risks to child safety and the management of risk in sports organizations. Charges in this case relate to offenses that allegedly occurred from 1991 to 1995. This was a few years before the infamous revelations of sexual abuse by Junior Hockey Coach Graham James.

In that situation, ex-NHL player Sheldon Kennedy demonstrated the courage to speak about James’ crimes against him years before. The previously respected coach was then convicted, sentenced to three and one-half years in jail and banned forever by Hockey Canada.

More importantly, it was a wake-up call to the world of minor sports. Hockey Canada, its provincial branches, districts and local associations imposed new policies to protect youth. This was a comprehensive approach, aimed at educating everyone, from players and team officials to administrators and parents.

In North Vancouver, as is now common, every coach, team official and association officer became subject to a police record check. Rules were laid down specifying that no adult should be alone in the company of a player, at the rinks or away from them. Cameras and cell phones were banned from dressing rooms and websites were monitored for inappropriate content.

The associations were alert for potential problems and everyone’s sensitivity was raised to the issues. North Vancouver Minor Hockey says they will review their entire program again to see if improvements can be made. I suspect the association has done as much as it can.

Groups can never substitute for parents and ultimately, moms and dads must themselves ensure a safe environment for their own children. That means young athletes cannot be dropped at the rink. Instead, the family must be involved, staying close and being observant. If parents do that, their children will be fine.

Any open community institution of more than 1,000 individuals includes people of all types. Almost everyone is well motivated and adequately appraised and supervised but there has been a growth of unsanctioned, unregulated facilities outside the purview of Hockey Canada and its community affiliates.

Independents range from off-ice training operations and schools to private fitness and skills tutoring, “select” team programs and unsanctioned spring and summer leagues. Sometimes, these will be led by a sort of guru who claims special knowledge and skills and direct connections to scouts and programs in the “big time.” These people know how to market themselves to families and massage the egos of moms and dads of the next generations’ superstars.

Frankly, they also know to evade the examinations and supervision of organized hockey, which is why they operate independently. If you choose these routes for young ones, be warned, be vigilant and be close at hand. Often, dangers come not from strangers but from those with a continuing relationship that enables pre-abuse grooming.
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Meddling in affairs of wizards

Returned from a quick visit south of the border, I cast the one good eye over news of recent days. There is a target rich environment but I couldn’t decide on a focus point. Like a bibliophile stranded in Hay-on-Wye or Montolieu, there is too much from which to choose.

Instead, I'll deal with these stories after more thought:
  • New evidence emerges to demonstrate that administration of police and criminal justice in this part of the world is flawed, if not fatally corrupt. Cpl. Monty Robinson rests at home after involvement in two separate homicides. He remains on full pay pending his court appearance for a relatively minor charge. So do other shamed RCMP officers who collect salaries while posted to the swelling detachment in Limbo. At the moment, I can't add to what Gary Mason wrote at the Globe and Mail.
  • Meanwhile the Harper Government fires Paul Kennedy, Commissioner for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, the man who told us that institutional resistance to real accountability remains intact and barely mitigated. We should not be surprised because the Tories did likewise to Peter Tinsley, the military police complaints commissioner. His sin was wanting to investigate unlawful treatment of Afghan detainees. Harper's Government, like other dishonorable ones, will conceal, distort and falsify before it admits imperfection.
  • The possibility that Lewis Carroll designed the templates for Canadian political parties, thus giving us Harper and Ignatieff as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Liberals who practice Conservatism, Conservatives who squander the heritage of generations still to come and putative progressives fixed indeterminate, except for the I’m-all-Right-Jack rump reminiscent of classic Ealing characters.
  • That America is a nation to be loved and despised. The land of Martin Luther King and Barack Obama is also the land of Fred Phelps and Rush Limbaugh. After Gwen and I attended a memorial in Portland for a recently lost, brave, thoughtful and empathetic friend, we were stopped at a Washington State roadblock. Grim-faced police were seeking Maurice Clemmons, the cowardly career criminal who cold bloodedly murdered four peace officers and fled with help from murderous associates.
  • Politicians who promise that “pass-through” savings will protect consumers from the multi-billion dollar impact of HST extensions don’t reside in this world. They say we can rely on competitive market forces to moderate prices. Sure, as it does now. By example, I priced a few things in Portland, where no sales taxes are added. A Panasonic Blu-Ray player on offer from $130 to $150 U.S. is listed in Canada at $300. A Canon Speedlite flash available at $429 in Oregon can be purchased from Canon Canada for $630. A hotel room is offered in Portland at $110 while its equivalent can be enjoyed in the same chain’s Vancouver location at $160. An 8-year driver’s license in Oregon costs $34, a 5-year license is $75 in BC. We must remember that competition never moderates anything unless it is real, not illusory.
Tuesday, instead of blogging, I spent the day with two small grandsons. The three-year old helped make crepes for lunch. He can crack eggs with one hand, a skill I’ve never mastered. Of course, I had to pick out egg shells and mop the milk and sweep the flour. But, it went reasonably well and next time, we might eat the crepes.

So that’s why I didn’t write yesterday. It’s near impossible to work up any authentic rage when you spend a day playing with happy toddlers while the parents aren’t there to criticize your technique.
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