Six In The Morning: A Leader For Palestine, Cabbage Patch Kids, Noisy Oceans, and Equine Herpes

1. FATAH AND HAMAS ARE MEETING IN CAIRO TODAY to choose a leader for the Palestinian unity movement. They’ll need to come to some kind of agreement if they want the United Nations to officially recognize a Palestinian state when they’re expected to vote on the issue this September. Here’s hoping they can work it out. (via Christian Science Monitor)

2. THE CABBAGE PATCH KIDS ARE BACK, but no one can tell us why. (via Guardian UK)

3. TALLY HO! It’s Day One Of The Royal Ascot! You can follow all the breaking news here. It’s going to be some party. On an entirely unrelated note, did you know that horses can get herpes? Neither did I.  (via Guardian UK and NYTimes)

4. CANADA POST STRIKES ABOUT TO ROLL OUT IN BIG CITIES. Toronto and Montreal are about to feel a world of pain as Canada Post workers prepare to stage a 24-hour walkout in those cities starting Wednesday.  (via Globe & Mail)

5. WHALES WISH WE’D JUST KEEP IT DOWN ALREADY. Apparently humans are responsible for underwater noise pollution doubling every decade since 1960, and it’s having a detrimental effect on sea life.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; humans are just plain rude.  (via New Scientist)

6. FERTILIZER COMPANY TARGETS GROWERS OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA. Miracle-Gro wants to help pot-growers produce better a better bud. Can broad legalization be too far behind when fertilizer manufacturers officially want a piece of the action?  (via Wall Street Journal)

All Hail Brigitte DePape!

By now, you may have already heard about the plucky young page that was fired yesterday from her post in the House of Parliament, after she mounted this protest against Stephen Harper and the Conservative government. Her press release echoed what most of us are thinking; “Harper’s agenda is disastrous for this country and for my generation”. I don’t know about you, but I was pretty moved. Yes, she’s only 21 and her contract was up in a couple of weeks anyway, but still, if you’re going to go out, you may as well go out in flames.

Official reaction to DePape’s protest has been pretty humourless. And unanimous – with Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella suggesting it raises security concerns, Elizabeth May essentially saying that there’s a time and a place, and Justin Trudeau complaining that it wasn’t in line with the decorum that should be observed during the throne speech. It’s true that this was an unprecedented protest, but this is an unprecedented government; Harper has prorogued parliament (twice!) when things weren’t going his way, renamed the Government of Canada the “Harper Government”, and his government was found in contempt of Parliament. I’d say they’ve done a fine job of not adhering to decorum themselves.


Six In The Morning: Altered Flight Paths, Looming Food Crisis, High Treason… And The Death Of The Diner

1 IRAN FLIPS GERMANY THE BIRD: A New Dehli-bound plane carrying German Chancellor Angela Merkel was forced to circle over Turkey, while Iran mulled over whether or not they felt like letting the plane pass over their airspace.

2 THE VIEW FROM SPACE IS THAT WE’RE RUNNING OUT OF WATER: Scientists in California are using satellites to monitor groundwater depletion around the world.

3 AND THE POOR GET POORER: Oxfam is warning that food prices will more than double by the year 2030, and mayhem will surely follow.

4 CREEPILY OPEN TO INTERPRETATION: Among the many topics up for discussion at the upcoming Conservative Party convention in Ottawa, the party will look at revoking the citizenship of any Canadian that “takes up arms against this country or its allies”. They’re also considering implementing a “high treason” punishment that would result in life imprisonment. Other topics up for discussion include cracking down on prostitution and increasing military presence in the North.

5 ONE LESS PLACE TO GET A GOOD BLT: A redevelopment in Winnipeg’s downtown could mean curtains for The Wagon Wheel.

6 UNCLES AND AUNTS, LITTLE CHILDREN LOST THEIR PANTS*: You’d think it was something they’d rather forget, but they’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of the launch of the Titanic in Belfast today! Oh well, it wasn’t their fault (that’s what my dear old Irish mum says anyway). *As an aside, I was almost 30 years old before a friend corrected me on the lyric to “It Was Sad When The Great Ship Went Down”. Apparently the line is “little children lost their parents” which, I concede, makes more sense. -But, in my opinion, the way my 8-year-old ear heard it is far better and lends a bit of levity to the whole thing. At any rate, I’m glad I learned that song instead of this one (no, I don’t recommend watching the whole thing):

Happy Birthday To The New York Public Library!

The New York Public Library celebrated 100 years today! This past weekend was a flurry of activity at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, which opened on May 23, 1911. There were readings and panel discussions (Adam Gopnik even moderated a couple of them!), and a tour of the stacks! There are 75 miles of them! And three  million books! Dear readers, I can tell you that, on the weekend upon which the world was supposed to end, there was no finer place to be.

The whole event was pretty inspiring. And moving. In spite of the fact this is happening at a time when more and more libraries across the U.S. are being radically cut back or axed altogether, or worse.

In honor of the occasion, the NYPL and Penguin books have published a commemorative paperback entitled with the library’s new slogan ‘Know The Past, Find The Future’ (isn’t that the best slogan for a library you’ve ever heard?). It features many cool and interesting people (check out the link and see) who reflect on their favourite items in the library’s collection, and they’ve been distributing free copies to patrons throughout the NYPL’s branches. Now that’s civilized.

Because Black Metal Fans Need To Eat Too

Have you had a chance to listen to this week’s installment of the Ultrasonic Alarm Call yet? If so, you might recall Danny Kresnyak’s stellar contribution on the subject of Regina’s Heavy Metal scene. At one point, the conversation turned to more macabre sub-genres, which I think weirded a few of us out. -But, just when I was about to write that whole scene off as sick and debased, I came across this, and my perspective was changed again.

It’s a bit long, but as an old friend of mine once pointed out; “when it starts to get annoying, that’s when the comedy really kicks in”.

Fair Vote’s National Day of Action Happening Almost Everywhere But Here

Given the results of this past federal election, it’s not surprising to see an outpouring of interest in Proportional Representation across the country. Fair Vote Canada, the national non-partisan Proportional Representation advocacy group has events planned across the country today. Sadly (and strangely) no events seem to have been planned for today in Saskatchewan. What’s up with that? You’d think, given the way things went in Saskatchewan this past election, there’d be an army of people willing to gather in support of electoral reform. I don’t get it.

If You Vote For The Conservatives, You Must Really Have Something Against Women.

This one is pretty obvious, given the recent flap about Brad Trost and his self-congratulatory statements at the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association convention a couple of weekends ago in Humbolt. By now, you’ve likely already heard about how Trost lauded the assembled crowd for their pro-life petitions, and informed them that it was largely due to these efforts that the argument was made to de-fund International Planned Parenthood. Good for you, Brad! You helped to make it even harder for women in developing countries to get much-needed reproductive health care, effectively refusing them access to HIV screening, pap-smears, and post-natal care. Feels good, doesn’t it?

By the way, wasn’t it a nifty trick the way Trost created a little media frisson about the de-funding of International Planned Parenthood, thereby giving Stephen Harper a plum opportunity to assure everyone that he’s “not interested in opening the law on abortion”? Why, it’s almost as though they had spoken at some point earlier in the week and cooked the whole thing up to target voters on both sides of the debate. No, I don’t think that’s far fetched. These people aren’t as dumb as they look.

Below is a video of Trost* in a debate with NDP candidate Denise Kouri. There isn’t much that’s terribly revelatory in this clip. It’s pretty much the same-old, same-old from Trost, reiterating that he’s a social-conservative (pro-life, anti-same-sex marriage, anti-long gun registry, generally hateful, blah, blah, blah). Still, it’s nice to see him slapped down by Kouri and to have the crowd erupt in applause for her.

God, I hope they don’t get a majority.

*Special thanks to Don Kossick for tipping us off to the video.

Score One For Bike Riding Pinkos!

It’s been a long time coming, but another city is about to implement the Montréal-based Bixi bike program, furnishing its citizens with access to affordable (and cute!) bikes for rent.  And this time it’s happening in… Toronto!

This is a particularly sweet victory in light of that city’s recent election of a particularly loathsome mayor who, along with some of his cynical and two-faced cronies, appear to actively oppose any mode of transportation that doesn’t spew copious amounts of CO2 in the air.

Cyclists in Toronto have been gunning for a bike share program for years now, following the lead of cities like Montreal, Minnesota, and Washington DC (not to mention Paris, London, and Barcelona).

And more bike-share programs are set to launch over the coming months in Ottawa (also Bixi), Brooklyn NY, and Miami.  Could Regina be that far behind?  Probably.

Anyway, isn’t it nice to hear a bit of good news for a change?

Oh yeah, and suck it Rob Ford!

Blow Your Mind

I was holding off on posting this because it sort of looks like a giant sea monster and, in light of the ongoing grimness on the Pacific rim, and some inappropriate jokes I heard this past week concerning Godzilla, I worried (probably unnecessarily) that it might offend.  Anyway, now that you know why I held it back, here it is.

* Note to Stephen and Shane:  You’re welcome.