Friday, March 30, 2007

Steve shows, once again, how classy he is

Our esteemed prime minister is heading off to Europe soon, to unveil a memorial at Vimy Ridge. Thing is, none of the opposition leaders were invited. Traditionally, things like paying respect to the war dead are supposed to be non-partisan affairs, but Harper is thinking ahead- he's no doubt thinking that people will see him, but not the opposition leaders, paying his "respects" before the TV cameras. Classy, Steve. Really fucking classy.

On a positive note, the U-Pass passed. Thanks to everyone who voted Yes- I won't benefit directly, but apparently GRT is going to make some general improvements to their service in response to this, so everyone in the region will benefit in the long run.

Bad news for the astrology buffs...

A British researcher has conducted an extensive study of how much influence people's star signs have on their choice of a mate. The conclusion- none at all:

A new study of 20 million husbands and wives has concluded that a pickup ploy linked with the Age of Aquarius is all wet.

According to a University of Manchester report released this week, asking a potential partner "What's your sign?" offers no more insight into the relationship's likelihood of success than consulting a Magic 8-Ball.

The investigation, which draws from 2001 census data in England and Wales, is thought to be the largest-scale test of astrology ever undertaken.

"If there is even the smallest tendency for Virgos to fancy Capricorns, or for Libras to like Leos, then we should see it in the (marriage) statistics," says study author David Voas, senior research fellow at the university's Centre for Census and Survey Research.

Assuming even one set of lovebirds in 1,000 is influenced by the stars, Voas says, favoured combinations of signs would appear an extra 10,000 times in a sample of 10 million couples.

Instead, he says the spousal pairings were instead "just what we'd predict on the basis of chance."

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but hey, you still have the tarot cards, Ouija board, and chicken guts, right?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Will Steve really cut your taxes?

Not unless you're pretty well off already, it seems:

The new message Canadians are sending their politicians is very clearly about better access to services, not tax cuts.

The Harper government wants you to believe that average families are squarely at the centre of their budget spending this year.

Before you celebrate this "something for everyone" approach to politics, consider this: A striking number of Canadians actually won't benefit from much of what is promised in this budget.

Most Canadian tax filers — 59 percent — report incomes of less than $30,000. Most of them will not be eligible for this budget's billions in promised tax credits.

Why? Revenue Canada statistics show people with incomes of less than $30,000 make up 99 percent of those who pay no taxes — 7.3 million tax filers. Tax credits don't reach people who don't pay taxes.

The only income "relief" for this group of voters goes to people who earn more than $3,000 but less than $9,500 in a year (or a family that earns less than $14,500).

The good news is that these people get a $500 benefit. The bad news is, that's the only help on the horizon — a measure designed to help encourage those on welfare to join the ranks of the "working poor" offers $1.37 a day.

No Canadian truly believes $1.37 a day can address the real needs of those struggling to pay the rent and feed the kids, let alone put them through school or save for retirement.

From here. Not that most people who read this here will be surprised, but it's a worthwhile talking point.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The war drum continues to beat...

You know those British sailors who were captured by Iran in disputed waters? Well, a former British diplomat says that the boundary used by the British is invalid:

Former British Ambassador Craig Murray is now challenging the legitimacy of the map just published by the British government in the current dispute with Iran over those 15 captured British sailors and marines.

“Fake Maritime Boundaries
I have been unpopular before, but the level of threats since I started blogging on the captured marines has got a bit scary. It is therefore with some trepidation that I feel obliged to point this out.

“The British Government has published a map showing the coordinates of the incident, well within an Iran/Iraq maritime border. The mainstream media and even the blogosphere has bought this hook, line and sinker.

“But there are two colossal problems.

“A) The Iran/Iraq maritime boundary shown on the British government map does not exist. It has been drawn up by the British Government. Only Iraq and Iran can agree their bilateral boundary, and they never have done this in the Gulf, only inside the Shatt because there it is the land border too. This published boundary is a fake with no legal force.

“B) Accepting the British coordinates for the position of both HMS Cornwall and the incident, both were closer to Iranian land than Iraqi land. Go on, print out the map and measure it. Which underlines the point that the British produced border is not a reliable one.

There's some background on this here. The crazy thing is, hardly anyone wants this, not even in the US, and yet the Bush administration marches on towards the chasm.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Has Stockwell had his day?

You gotta love stories like this:

The Liberals are demanding MP Stockwell Day resign from cabinet after documents surfaced Thursday that allege another MP was paid up to $50,000 to step aside in 2000 and let Day run in his riding.

The Liberals are asking the RCMP to investigate the allegations, and say Day cannot continue as the Conservative's public safety minister in the interim, since the Department of Public Safety oversees the RCMP.

Day denies any wrongdoing and calls the allegations a "driveby smear."

The allegations centre on events seven years ago when Day was elected leader of the now-defunct Canadian Alliance party. Day, who wasn't an MP at the time, had no riding and no seat in the House of Commons.

Fellow Alliance MP Jim Hart offered to step aside in the Okanagan-Coquihalla riding in British Columbia, forcing a byelection. Day won that byelection handily on Sept. 11, 2000.

On Thursday, Liberal MP Mark Holland alleged his party has found faxes that show Hart made a $50,000 compensation deal with the Canadian Alliance party to resign. If proven to be true, this would be a criminal offence.

Via here. I've sometimes said that the main difference between the Conservatives and Liberals is that the Conservatives have more bigots and the Liberals have more crooks, but if this is true there's no shortage of crookedness among the Cons either.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

News for U of Waterloo students

The U of Waterloo Federation of Students is holding a referendum on student bus passes shortly. I'm not currently a student, so it doesn't affect me directly... but encouraging students to take the bus is good for everyone. Unfortunately the Feds' page has no info on the date of the actual vote, but someone at the NDP meeting who is a student says it's next week. The only date on the page I linked to is the date of a meeting for forming Yes and No committees. Makes you wonder how much the current Federation really cares about this, but no matter. If you're a UW full-time student (undergrad or grad) you can and should vote (and vote Yes!). If nothing else, consider how much easier it will be for you to find a parking space if other people are taking the bus.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Scientists offered cash to dispute climate study

Not that it's all that surprising:

Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.

Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Those arseholes are really getting desperate, aren't they? When they so openly try to bribe scientists, it's a sign that they figure they have nothing to lose now. Which means they know they're losing the battle for public opinion. And that is a damn good sign.

Via skdadl at pogge.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Family detained in U.S. granted permit to enter Canada

So it looks like that family mentioned in a previous post are going to be allowed back into Canada, at least on a temporary basis. This is really good news; maybe the government actually listened to the flood of mail they got over this one.

The story is here.

Sunday, March 4, 2007


The Yankee bastards Americans have detained a family, including a nine year old boy (who is a Canadian citizen) in a jail in Texas. Why? Because they were on a flight from Guyana to Canada, and it had to make an emergency landing in US territory because someone had a heart attack on the plane. Since they weren't planning to go to the US, they didn't have visas (the parents are not yet citizens and thus would need them). The US authorities don't seem to give a shit about why they're there, though, and are keeping all of them (even the kid, who as a Canadian should not need a visa) in one of their nasty prisons. Following Verbena, I've written an email to Peter MacKay demanding action, and urge all Canadian readers of this to do the same. He can be reached at