Summit Security Czar Buys One Last Toy

The Globe and Mail is reporting that police in Ontario have just purchased a water cannon in anticipation of protests around the G20 summit happening this weekend.

Wait a second…. They’ve already spent a billion dollars on security, the summit starts on Friday, and they’re just buying the water cannon now??

What exactly has our summit security czar been spending his money on if not a water cannon? Walkie-talkies and a McAfee update?

Doesn’t he realize that when you’re planning for a G-whatever summit, your security bill should read: tear-gas, truncheons, jack boots, then water cannon. In that order. In this day and age, you can’t call yourself a civilized western democracy if your municipal police can’t dress up like dystopic-sci-fi-movie police. (“Sarge, can we practice the part where we march forward, slamming our shields with our clubs and shouting, ‘Obey’?”)

I mean, what are they going to do if Jaggi Singh wheels out the teddy-bear catapult?

Lunch Reading: Jeffrey Simpson On Tory Control Freakism

There’s a great article in the Globe and Mail about the Conservative government’s message-control mania. It should be mandatory reading for anyone considering voting for these terrible, scary people. An excerpt:

Although centralized control of messaging has been a growing feature of federal governments – indeed, governments in many democracies – nothing in Canada has come close to the attention, time and effort the Harper government puts into managing and manipulating information and image-making.

Every message from anyone, be it a minister or civil servant, has to be vetted by the Prime Minister’s Office and, astonishingly, quite often by the Prime Minister himself.

You can read more here. You should.

The Tea Party Explained In Two Minutes And 15 Seconds By Ventriloquist Dummies

Following American politics is like staring at the sun: it makes your head hurt and your eyesight blurry. But it’s funny too! Here’s a short about the Tea Party movement–the zaniest, torch-marching mob that ever toted an assault rifle at political rally. Watch and learn and laugh. Brought to you by Yootoob and the “secular, socialist agenda”.

More political fun–including a dig at oil-spill apologists–at mockthedummy.com.

Now THIS is how you do snark

Recently, Blogging Tory Stephen Taylor republished a fundraising letter to Conservatives, claiming the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was out to get them (Stephen Taylor).

Well, you could do what Scot at Scott’s DiaTribes does, and try to refute them point by point, but why bother? Calgary Grit has a better idea. He’s already drawn up the Cons’ next fundraising letter — the CBC is biased, BIASED I tell you, against Alberta because they won’t show any Alberta based NHL teams in the playoffs.

Not Watching Snuff Tonight (Update: I Watched The Snuff Film After All, And Was Predictably Sickened)

Have enough to think about with a paper going to press tomorrow. Not going to watch film of U.S. helicopter gunners blowing away civilians and children while gloating. Nope.

But here’s a tale of two newspapers reporting on the leaked video of a massacre of Iraqi civilians by a U.S. helicopter gunship. First, the American take on the leak, from the Washington Post:

WASHINGTON — A gritty war video circulating on the Internet that shows U.S. troops firing repeatedly on a group of men – some of whom were unarmed – walking down a Baghdad street is authentic, a senior U.S. military official confirmed Monday.

The official said the video posted at Wikileaks.org was of a July 12, 2007, firefight involving Army helicopters in the New Baghdad District of eastern Baghdad.

Wait a second… the Post doesn’t seem to have its own story on this. This is the (New York-based) Associated Press wire story. Which took 10 minutes to find since it’s stashed away pretty good on the Post‘s website.

Hm.

Now, contrast that lede with the Guardian’s opening:

A secret video showing US air crew falsely claiming to have encountered a firefight in Baghdad and then laughing at the dead after launching an air strike that killed a dozen people, including two Iraqis working for Reuters news agency, was revealed by Wikileaks today.

The Guardian–a British paper — calls the ‘copter attackers liars before the story is 10 words in. The Guardian also puts their story (this isn’t wire copy, it’s original work) on their home page.

The AP story–completely buried in the Washington Post, you’d never find it if you weren’t looking for it–is a lot softer, I think.

Draw your own conclusions about the credibility of American “journalism”.

I’m not watching it but you have a right to see what’s actually going on in Iraq. Here it is. Watch at your own risk. It’s people getting brutally slaughtered, so, I repeat, WATCH AT YOUR OWN RISK.

UPDATE: yeah, fine. I watched it. Ugh. Horrible as advertised. Definitely Vietnam-ish. The U.S should get the hell out of that poor country.

Faces Of Soshulism

Whitworth was a little kind on Teabaggers this morning — saying that our American cousins were just frightened and brainwashed by corporate propaganda. Uh…. Seems like a little more than that to me.

Take your pick — someone throwing money at a man with Parkinson’s or humiliating a little boy whose mother died without coverage. That would be some trick to turn people into such assholes with only propaganda.

To his enormous credit, Marselas replied, “My mother always taught me they can have their own opinion but that doesn’t mean they are right.”

Against Health Care Reform In America

I’ve just had one of those days where the world’s  too much to cope with and the only way to deal with it is to hide under the sheets with a friendly cat in arms reach for emergency cuddles. It’s a fitting day for an attack of existential angst, though. Today’s the day American politicians vote on health care reform. It’s going to be close from the sound of it, but the latest news is it’s going through thanks in part to the president issuing an executive order that only middle-class and rich people can have abortions the government won’t pay for abortions.

While this sorry tale limps to an unsatisfying apparent victory, here’s a video from the politics website Wonkette of some Tea Party health care protesters. These fucking stupid, mob-mentality vandals and anarchists concerned citizens have justifiably earned a lot of anger from reasonably intelligent, non-psychotic Americans (and Canadians). But let’s remember, they’re victims too. They’re just frightened, ignorant, powerless people angry about governments abandoning and betraying them who’ve been whipped up into a toxic froth by Fox News terrorists commentators like Glenn Beck.

The great irony and tragedy of this mess is that health care is for them, too. It is important to remember that.

Sci-Fi Author Convicted For Questioning Authority

Yesterday, Canadian sci-fi author, Peter Watts, was convicted in a US court of “failure to comply with a lawful command” from a federal officer. This is a felony and could send him to prison for upwards of three years.

What did his crime entail? After being beaten by American border guards, when they told him to hit the ground, he apparently asked them what the problem was. For that he was pepper sprayed and thrown in jail. (We blogged about this back in December.)

Meanwhile, the border guards who — and the jury seems to agree on this point — completely overreacted and used excessive force in beating, pepper spraying and jailing Watts, seem to have escaped any kind of justice.

You can read the Globe’s coverage here but it rehashes the story that he assaulted one of the border guards which, as it turns out, didn’t happen. Better to read Watts’ own blog post about his conviction. Have to say I’m amazed by how polite and understanding he seems to be of this whole absurd affair.

Frankly, as far as I’m concerned, this is yet more evidence that the US should be avoided at all costs. These days, it’s less a civilized country and more like a blind, diseased animal, it’s extremities flailing about in agony, clawing to death anything that comes within reach.

America In Meltdown

I’ve watched the States closer than most for most of my adult life and while I don’t want to freak readers out, things are getting really, really ugly down there and I’m worried. Still, I’m just an armchair observer. I don’t know all the facts. I haven’t done studies.

But fortunately (I guess), some people do. And here’s what one found. And it’s creepy.

The Guardian, the first newspaper I go to in the morning, reports on a U.S. civil rights organization that’s just released a study on dangerous and escalating right-wing radicalism. According to the Guardian:

The [Southern Poverty Law Centre] report, called Rage on the Right, said the rise in extremist groups was “a cause for grave concern” given their propensity to use violence during their heyday in the 90s, most notably with the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people. It added that the issues driving support for such groups were increasingly populist and that “signs of growing radicalisation are everywhere”.

The Guardian story claims a 250 per cent rise in right-wing militias in the states. They’re being fuelled by fear of changing demographics (more blacks, Hispanics and other minorities), falling economic power, religion and right-wing conspiracy pundits like a certain prominent Fox News egomaniac/sociopath.

The report says that, unlike during the 1990s, the patriot movement’s core ideas are more widely propagated and accepted by prominent politicians and some in the mass media, such as the Fox News presenter Glenn Beck.

“As the movement has exploded, so has the reach of its ideas, aided and abetted by commentators and politicians in the ostensible mainstream,” said the report. “Beck, for instance, reinvigorated a key patriot conspiracy theory – the charge that the federal emergency management agency is secretly running concentration camps – before finally ‘debunking’ it.”

The most powerful country in the world is gripped by paranoia, hatred, ignorance, religious fervour, racism and general psychosis. Madmen are flying planes into IRS buildings and Republican politicians are sympathetic (Think Progress). Lunatics are showing up at political events with legally-purchased assault weaponry. Religious militias are using proto-Taliban harrasment techniques on “sinners” (Daily Kos). They’re shooting abortion doctors.

The country is a sneeze away from a very violent, fascist uprising–and if the military joined in, we’d all be fucked.

I guess the take-away point is this: We need to educate ourselves about what’s going on in the States and be vigilant for signs of it in our own country.

And President Obama needs to wear a bullet-proof vest and stay the hell out of Texas.

Support The Troops Propaganda Is Out Of Control

Just me or is anyone else sickened of the whole “our brave troops serving for us” propaganda coming out of CTV as we head into overtime? What, are we Americans now? And is CTV Fox News?

I understand there can be principled differences on NATO involvement in Afghanistan but this military-boosterism is just propaganda from a brain-dead network.

It’s just disgusting. I’m trying to watch a hockey game here.

UPDATE: I am however pleased we beat the U.S. Even though I feel bad for Ryan Miller.