Harper Vows Loyalty To Israel

Quite a strong statement of support for the state of Israel by Canadian Prime Minister  Stephen Harper in a speech to the Israeli Parliament today.  Harper is on a 3.5 day visit to the country as head of what the Toronto Sun described as a “monster” delegation that includes a bunch of businessmen, some prominent Jewish-Canadians, 21 rabbis and some Christian fundamentalists.

There’s over 200 people in the delegation, and a good chunk of the tab is being picked up by Canadian taxpayers. Despite the large presence of Muslims and Arabs in the contested region (and their growing presence in Canada), no members of those communities were included in the delegation. Harper did meet with the leader of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas though,  where he pledged $66 million in aid to the Palestinian people. Press reports describe the rapport between the two men as “lacking warmth”, and Harper rebuffed questions about the ongoing expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

When it comes to the Middle East, Canada has traditionally played the role of an honest broker trying to calm inflamed tensions. When Lester Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 it was for work he did in defusing the Suez Canal crisis in Egypt. Canadian peacekeepers have been active in the  Middle East for decades as well.

I don’t have the time or energy to go into all the nuances of Israel and its relationship with the rest of the Middle East — suffice to say, it’s an extraordinarily complicated situation that has roots nourished by thousands of years of history, religion, economics, geo-politics and more. Only fanatic ideologues see things in black-and-white.

Sadly, Harper seems to be just such a person. Besides vowing loyalty to Israel in his speech, in which he was heckled by two Israeli legislators who eventually walked out, Harper pretty much equated any criticism of Israel and its policies with being anti-Semitic.

When Joe Clark was prime minister in 1979, I remember the Progressive Conservatives drawing flack for proposing to move the Canadian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. What Harper did today goes far beyond that and doesn’t serve the long term interests of peace and prosperity in the region. And it doesn’t serve Canada’s long-term (or even short-term) interests either.

The presence of the evangelical Christians in the delegation was interesting because some evangelicals have some pretty weird (and apocalyptic) ideas about Israel tied to Biblical prophecy. Harper’s an evangelical Christian himself, so how much of the fealty he expressed to Israel today is attributable to that is an open question.

Regardless, speaking as a Canadian, it’s creepy what he did.

You’re Doin’ Fine, Oklahoma! Oklahoma O.K.!

The problem for Bible-thumpers is that freedom of religion in a society means they have to accept religions they don’t like. Just ask the American state of Oklahoma.

A few years ago, religious zealots convinced the Oklahoma state legislature to erect a statue of the Ten Commandments on the legislature grounds. Not to be outdone, the Satanic Temple, a religious group in New York who worships Lucifer, wants to erect its own statue on the legislative grounds. Judging from the design of the statue, I guess they’re not going to go full tilt and have Satan’s erect penis double as a sundial.

What? No goat leggings? Dan Aykroyd will be angry.

Me? I’m waiting for the Church of the Sub-Genius to come up with its own proposal.

Rich People To Pope: Nice Church You’ve Got. Be A Shame If Anything Happened to It.

Frankly, there’s little social justice work anyone can do without angering wealthy and economically and politically powerful people. When you have rich people and poor people, and an economic and political system that’s designed to entrench the wealthy’s position, anybody questioning that system looks like a threat.

Just ask Ken Langone, the co-founder of Home Depot, a major financial donor to the Republican Party, a billionaire, and who is currently leading a campaign to restore St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. I don’t know how this guy survived in business while being so thin-skinned unless he also had the power to call down a million pound s**thammmer of vengance on anyone who crossed him … but Pope Francis’ most recent statements about runaway capitalism have got his dander up.

He’s apparently brought the issue up more than once with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York: “I’ve told the cardinal, ‘Your Eminence, this is one more hurdle I hope we don’t have to deal with. You want to be careful about generalities. Rich people in one country don’t act the same as rich people in another country,’” Langone said, adding that “you get more with honey than with vinegar.”

Let me get this straight. Langone is arguing that Pope Francis is wrong to criticize the rich and powerful for using their money and influence to control the policial and economic messages of society … and if and other rich people don’t like what the Pope continues to say, they will use their money and iunfluence to either silence him or the Church.

 

A lot of people (especially those on the political right) approach the teachings of Jesus the same way they approach the licensing agreement when they put new software on their computer, tablet, or smartphone. They don’t read the whole thing: they just go to the end and click, ‘I accept.’ God is merely a smokescreen: they worship Reganomics and its golden calf. That’s why Langone can be pious with his Catholicism and not think of Matthew 19:24.

Let It Be Known That The Following Nations Have Been Pathetic, Bigoted Dicks To LGBT People Recently

Australia: you’re a goddamn disgrace:

Australia’s highest court struck down a landmark law on Thursday that had begun allowing the country’s first gay marriages, shattering the dreams of more than two dozen same-sex newlyweds whose marriages will now be annulled less than a week after their weddings. The federal government had challenged the validity of the Australian Capital Territory’s law that had allowed gay marriages in the nation’s capital and its surrounding area starting last Saturday. For Ivan Hinton, who married his partner Chris Teoh on Saturday, the result was heartbreaking. The couple just received their marriage certificate on Wednesday and immediately applied to change their surnames to Hinton-Teoh. Still, Hinton said he doesn’t regret going through with the wedding, and will always consider Teoh his husband. “This was an unprecedented and historic opportunity,” he said. “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”

India: you’re an ignorant ass and an embarrassment:

The Supreme Court ruling reverses a landmark 2009 Delhi High Court order which had decriminalised homosexual acts. The court said it was up to parliament to legislate on the issue. According to Section 377, a 153-year-old colonial-era law, a same-sex relationship is an “unnatural offence” and punishable by a 10-year jail term. Several political, social and religious groups had petitioned the Supreme Court to have the law reinstated in the wake of the 2009 court ruling. Correspondents say although the law has rarely – if ever – been used to prosecute anyone for consensual sex, it has often been used by the police to harass homosexuals. Also, in deeply conservative India, homosexuality is a taboo and many people still regard same-sex relationships as illegitimate.

Russia: you’re a vicious, bigoted shit show:

In an apparent reference to the laws banning “propaganda of non-traditional relations”, the Russian president said that on the international arena Russia sees itself as a defender of conservative values against what it considers an assault of “genderless and fruitless so-called tolerance” which he said “equals good and evil”. He said Russia will oppose attempts to impose foreign political ideology on sovereign countries. Such attempts, Putin stressed, often lead to destruction and bloodshed, citing events in the Middle East and North Africa as an example.

All three of you ridiculous gay-bashing, mean-spirited, on-the-wrong-side-of-history, weak, frightened and cowardly babies are totally gay, completely in denial and riddled with self-loathing. Get over yourselves and stop hurting innocent people.

Or I’ll write more blog posts like this! Don’t think I won’t!

Pick Of The Day (Tomorrow Edition): Handel’s Messiah

I’m not sure about the status of tickets for this performance of Handel’s ode to the life of Christ that the Regina Symphony Orchestra presents annually in cooperation with the Halcyon Chamber Choir and Regina Philharmonic Chorus. But it’s usually pretty popular, and it’s being performed in the relatively snug confines (compared to Conexus Arts Centre, anyway) of  Knox-Metropolitan Church in downtown Regina. You can find out about the availability of tickets by calling 1-866-973-9614.

The performance goes Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., and guest soloists are Leora Joy Godden (alto), Chelsea Mahan (soprano), Floyd Gadd (tenor) and Dominic Gregario (baritone).

To give you a taste of Handel’s work, here’s a short excerpt from a performance of Messiah in Vienna:

Pick Of The Day: What Would Judas Do?

As I observed in my 14 Days Top Six blurb in our Oct. 31 issue, the title of this comedic monologue by Brit Stewart Lee seems designed to mock hardcore Christians by riffing on their semi-inane motto for moral guidance What Would Jesus Do? But apparently it’s a rather thoughtful and moving take on what it would be like to hang with the Son of God as a disciple.

This production is being presented by Golden Apple Theatre and stars Kenn McLeod in the title role. The performance runs at Artesian on 13th from Nov. 12-16 with shows each night at 8 p.m. Tickets are Adults $35, and Students $25.

I couldn’t find any video clips of previous productions of WWJ(udas)D?, so to close here’s video of Judas Priest performing “You Got Another Thing Comin'” from a 2013 concert DVD:

http://youtu.be/5omdIkrx3Yg

Pick Of The Day (Tomorrow Edition): Madonna & Child

Madonna & ChildThese days, the relationship between the arts and organized religion is pretty tenuous. Prior to the Modernist era, though, many artists from daVinci and Michelangelo to Raphael and Caravaggio did work that was commissioned by churches or wealthy patrons that had a religious theme.

Among the most popular motifs, in both the Catholic and Orthodox realms anyway, was the Madonna & Child which depicts Mary and the infant Jesus (that’s a sculpture in marble by Michelangelo [c. 1504] at left).

Thursday at 7 p.m. the MacKenzie Art Gallery is hosting a discussion on this familiar art subject with art historian Francesco Freddolini and Jungian scholar Mae Stolte. Through their joint participation the history of the image in visual art and its broader psychological significance to Western culture will presumably be examined. For information call 306-584-4250.

Weekly Reckoning: Enjoy What You Have Edition

Weekly Reckoning1. LOU REED 1942-2013. Like most of us, Lou Reed ate breakfast, read the papers, went for walks and eventually died. Unlike most of us, he played in the Velvet Underground, hung out with Nico and Andy Warhol, and made some of the best music of the 20th and 21st centuries. He also recorded a rap song in the late ’80s, which should have been terrible – but which, even now, I still find myself singing in the shower. The details of his death haven’t been released, but it’s known that Reed had a recent liver transplant. I suppose we could stroke our chins and throw around terms like cancer and hepatitis C, but the truth of the matter is that he’s gone, we’re all going to hit that marker soon enough, and we should probably focus on doing something even one-tenth as amazing as Transformer or Magic and Loss. I mean, even if Lou Reed did nothing in his life but record vocals for Rock and Rule, he’d still be awesome. So let’s remember Reed and do something incredible today.

*curtain rings scrape along shower rod* *hot water hisses* Better check that sausage before you stick it in the waffle/Make sure that candy’s in the original wrapper/ Hey pitcher better check that batter/ Make sure the candy’s in the original wrapper hey hey

2. THE TRUTH ABOUT MUCOUS. Ever wondered why your nose drippings are green? Click and be satisfied. This is why the military-industrial complex created the Internet.

3. THE US ESTABLISHMENT IS BUSY EATING ITSELF ALIVE. Allegedly, Obama knew as far back as 2010 that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone was tapped. And how do we know? An anonymous source in US intelligence told a German newspaper. Is it true? Is it nothing but a plume of disgruntlement’s noxious smoke? This is mesmerizing. UPDATE: If you follow the link to the original piece, you’ll see that the copy has been replaced by a flat-out denial of the allegations.

4. I BLAME LORNA. Regina’s oldest church is missing its crozier! Quick, someone call the crozier police! What, no crozier police? Well okay, contact the Crozier Squad at 1-900-CRO-ZIER. When the hell did that become a phone sex line? Citizens, it’s up to you. Go forth and form roving bands of crozier-seeking vigilante thugs. Raid homes. Steal children. Unleash your petty grievances on the city in the name of restoring croziers to their rightful places.

Seriously, though, St. Paul’s crozier is beautiful and irreplaceable. Let’s hope it makes its way home.

5. “GENETIC MATERIAL ONCE THOUGHT OF AS TRASH IS NOW BELIEVED TO BE IMPORTANT IN PERSONALIZING YOUR FACE.” Ha ha, scientists. If it’s personalizing your face, then it’s definitely trash (link goes to video) (a video explaining how some molecular trash makes our trashy faces look like they do).

Weekly Reckoning: The Inaugurationing

Weekly ReckoningWelcome to the first ever Weekly Reckoning, prairie dog’s attempt to grapple with discarded butt-ends of the week! Let’s reap a few things.

1. AIN’T NO PARTY LIKE A POPE FRANCIS PARTY BECAUSE POPE FRANCIS JUST DON’T STOP (SAYING AWESOME STUFF). Say what you will about the latest head of the Catholic Church – he seems determined to run headlong at issues of social justice. At a meeting with unemployed people in Cagliari, Sardinia, the pope put aside his prepared notes and delivered a heartfelt message about the evils of a globalized economic system that swallows people and burps up their bones. Not that he used those words exactly: “The world has become an idolator of this god called money,” is what he actually said at mass later that day.

2. TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE THINGS GOING ON IN NAIROBI. The attack by the militant group al Shabaab that claimed 59 lives – including that of two Canadians  – has devolved into a siege with hostages. Al Shabaab opposes the presence of Kenyan peacekeeping forces in Somalia, so the best way to fix that is to fire into crowds of shoppers in a downtown mall. “10 hours have passed and the Mujahideen are still strong inside #Westgate Mall and still holding their ground. All praise is due to Allah!” the group said on Twitter, because of course they’d have a Twitter account (since suspended).

3. DAMN, NOVA SCOTIA. A survey on marijuana use in Canada has come out, and it turns out that British Columbia is not the pottiest province around. That honour goes to Nova Scotia, where 14.8% of respondents to the Stats Canada survey affirmed that they had smoked the international healing herb within the last 12 months. Having grown up in Nova Scotia, this makes sense. BC came in second at 14.2%. Dead last? Good old productive Saskatchewan at 10.1%, where we just drink to forget.

4. TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE THINGS GOING ON IN PESHAWAR. Remember just a few seconds ago when you were reading about the attack in Nairobi? Let’s add another 60 to the number of dead that can be attributed to religious extremism and political tactics of mass violence. A bomb going off in a Peshawar church killed an unbelievable amount of people as they left the building. According to reports, they were about to get a free meal being offered on the front lawn when two suicide bombers in the crowd detonated their devices.

5. LOUIS C.K. ENDORSES SADNESS, FROWNS ON SMARTPHONES. “You just feel kind of satisfied with your products. And then you die.” Louis C.K. takes a minute to explain everything that’s wrong with our technologically advanced and absurdly privileged Western world. And since I’m incapable of unlocking the magic combination of keystrokes needed to embed a YouTube video into this blog post, I urge you to click on the link below. Will you get a free kitten for clicking? There’s only one way to find out.

Louis C.K. on Conan O’Brien

Double Dose Of Theatre

jennifer haywardHere’s a heads up on two theatre events that are happening in Regina on July 30.

The first involves Lorax Improv — a Vancouver-based company that’s in town at the invitation of their fellow Regina-based improvisers the General Fools. The show’s at the Artesian on 13th at 8 p.m., and tickets are $5. Sharing the bill will be a second Regina-based improv group called Combat Improv.

That same night, Saskatoon-born, Ottawa-based performer Jennifer Hayward (pictured) is presenting her one-woman show Jesus Even Loves A Crazy Horny Feminist at the Exchange (8 p.m., tickets $10 advance and $15 door). According to the Exchange website the play is a funny/touching story that explores the themes of spirituality, mental health, feminism and sex.

Satanists Turn Westboro Baptist Founder’s Mom Gay For All Eternity

gawkersatanistsI have nothing to add to this story that you can’t read on heavy metal website, The Gauntlet. Or on the Huffington Post. Or Gawker. In short, a group of Satanists performed a pink mass over the grave of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelp’s mother that, they say, will make her gay for all eternity.

From the Gauntlet article:

The Westboro Baptists, famed for their bombastic “God Hates Fags” anti-homosexual activism, raised the ire of the Satanic Temple months previous. “The idea for the Pink Mass ceremony and website came during the aftermath of the tragic Boston Marathon bombings, during which time the WBC were threatening to protest the funerals of the bombing victims,” explains [Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves]. “Members of The Satanic Temple were in Boston, waiting for them, but they failed to show. Later, the WBC issued a statement that they had been present ‘in spirit’. We decided that a same-sex couple celebrating ceremony at the grave-site of Fred Phelps’s mother was an appropriate way to meet the Westboro Baptists, ‘in spirit’, but this time on our terms.”

Explaining the ceremony itself, Greaves continues, “The Satanic Temple now believes that Fred Phelps must believe that his mother is now gay, in the afterlife, due to our Pink Mass… And nobody can challenge our right to our beliefs.”

The Satanists in question have a website, westboro-baptist.com, with photos and commentary on the ceremony. It also includes a Gaying Post-Mortem, which reads…

Other same sex couples are invited to respectfully and tastefully express their mutual affection at Ms. Johnston’s gravesite. After a Pink Mass has been performed, every time a same sex couple kisses over a gravesite, the now-gay deceased is pleasured in the afterlife.

I’m sure some people may find this post-death forced reorientation offensive. But who knows? Phelp’s mother has been dead a while. Maybe this switch will help break up the monotony of an eternal afterlife.

R.I.P. Exodus International

I learned via David Schmader today that Exodus International are folding up shop. From the Huffington Post:

Exodus International, a large Christian ministry that claimed to offer a “cure” for homosexuality, plans to shut down.

In a press release posted on the ministry’s website Wednesday night, the board of directors announced the decision to close after nearly four decades.

“We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change — and they want to be heard,” Exodus board member Tony Moore said.

See ya, Exodus. We won’t miss you. You were around for too long. With any luck, this will make the grave for “reparative” therapy a little deeper, as even those previously committed to the practice are forced to admit it’s not only incredibly ineffective but deeply damaging.

Dear Brian, Dan Savage Is Not A Hypocrite

In the comments under my blog post about a great Dan Savage essay on global warming being a real thing and climate change deniers being cowards, valued regular Dog Blog commentator Brian Mouland writes:

Dan Savage sits on an anti-bullying committee and bullies Christians. Yea he’s great One Great Big Effing Hypocrite

Lack of relevance to the topic at hand aside, Brian’s comment is wrong-headed because it unreasonably equates Savage’s frequent criticism of anti-gay public figures and powerful institutions with the terrorizing of LGBT youth BY said figures and institutions.

Dan Savage does NOT bully Christians. He DOES criticize and mock bigots, particularly bigots in positions of power and authority (who, incidentally, are very BAD Christians). Savage isn’t telling vulnerable Christian youth that they’re going to burn for eternity in a lake of fire, or pressuring them to change things about themselves that are core to who they are, or otherwise driving them to kill themselves.

What Savage does, and what REAL bullies do, is DIFFERENT. It’s important to recognize that.

Now everybody watch this.

Pick of The Day: Christcore

Produced by local arts community member Justin Ludwig, who is one of the founders of the local punk/hard rock label Harvest King Records along with being a member of Kleins96 and Amour Fou, this documentary explores what the promotional blurb describes as “the explosive subculture of Christian hardcore music”.

Christian and broader spiritual values have been, and continue to be, present in the work of many different musical artists from Elvis Presley to U2. But in the last 20 years or so there’s been a rise in acts with an explicit Christian/evangelical focus where the creation and performance of music becomes an act of worship and a way to spread the word.

Self-identified Christian groups span a range of genres from country and pop to hip hop and metal. In this documentary, Ludwig (who describes himself as an atheist punk rocker) goes on tour with two evangelical hardcore bands (Messengers and Sleeping Giant) and attends the Cornerstone Christian Music Festival in Illinois.

Christcore screens tonight at 7 p.m. at the RPL Theatre. Ludwig will be in attendance for the screening. Here’s the trailer:

Terrorism Or Crime? That Might Depend On Whether A Murderer Is Muslim

Glenn Greenwald has a must-read piece on the Boston Marathon bombing in the Guardian today:

Over the last two years, the US has witnessed at least three other episodes of mass, indiscriminate violence that killed more people than the Boston bombings did: the Tucson shooting by Jared Loughner in which 19 people (including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords) were shot, six of whom died; the Aurora movie theater shooting by James Holmes in which 70 people were shot, 12 of whom died; and the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting by Adam Lanza in which 26 people (20 of whom were children) were shot and killed. The word “terrorism” was almost never used to describe that indiscriminate slaughter of innocent people, and none of the perpetrators of those attacks was charged with terrorism-related crimes. A decade earlier, two high school seniors in Colorado, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, used guns and bombs to murder 12 students and a teacher, and almost nobody called that “terrorism” either.

In the Boston case, however, exactly the opposite dynamic prevails. Particularly since the identity of the suspects was revealed, the word “terrorism” is being used by virtually everyone to describe what happened.

The essay by Ali Abunimah Greenwald links to is also a must read:

All of these cases reinforce the widely noted observation that acts of violence, especially mass shootings, carried out typically by white males are immediately labeled as the acts of “disturbed individuals” while the acts of a person identified as “Muslim” are to be labeled “terrorism” regardless of the facts.

These are unsafe assumptions and foreclose the possibility of full understanding. Moreover, by reinforcing popular stereotypes, they give new force to the anti-Muslim backlash that seems only to be growing stronger and more poisonous as the 11 September 2001 attacks recede into the past.

It is also important to note the contrast between Obama’s eagerness to label the Boston attack as “terror” and its alleged perpetrators as “terrorists” – without evidence – and his reluctance to label last August’s mass murder at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin as “terrorism” despite the identification of the shooter as having a history of white nationalist and supremacist activism.

Add the 2009 murder of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller by an anti-government extremist to the list of crimes that weren’t widely called terrorism–despite the fact that the convicted murderer, Scott Roeder, was a highly religious political extremist (he belonged to the Montana Freemen and the sovereign citizen movement) whose motive was to bring about the end of abortion by terrorizing abortion providers.

But Roeder’s religion wasn’t Islam. And his skin colour wasn’t brown.

Rosie’s Six In The A.M. Features An Outraged Stephen Colbert, Collapsing Journalism (in More Ways Than One) And A Guy On a Buffalo

6-in-the-morning1 BENGOUGH? BENGOUGH. It’s cattle and Conservative country, where the townsfolk traditionally run people like me out of their sight. But the Gateway Music Festival has attracted Steve Earle and Corb Lund, for starters … holy moly, it appears they have a pretty good lineup.

2 LET IT SNOW (NOT) … I don’t think I’ll be singing that song to my former bosses in Melville, after the former home of Community Publishing (Prairie Dog used to get printed there long ago, but the printing presses shut down in 2008 and most of the printing now gets done in Estevan). The weight of this year’s snow pack caved in the roof yesterday.

3 NATURE OF THE BUSINESS Let’s face it, Melville isn’t the only place where the roof is falling in on the newspaper industry. The Boston Globe’s publisher recently told a conference that his newspaper used to make from $160 to $180 million on classified advertising alone. That’s gone, and thanks to Internet sites such as Monster.com, it ain’t comin’ back.

4 IN OTHER NEWS, MY MOTHER-IN-LAW WONDERS WHERE I GOT THE BLING FOR BUYING HAIR CARE PRODUCTS AT DOLLAR TREE The author of the book Friday Night Lights, Buzz Bissinger, won the Internet a couple of days ago when he wrote in GQ that in order to deal with his sexual dysfunction, he went out and bought clothes. A lot of clothes. A lot of very, very strange clothes unless he’s trying to a second career as a bouncer at a leather bar … “eighty-one leather jackets, seventy-five pairs of boots, forty-one pairs of leather pants, thirty-two pairs of haute couture jeans, ten evening jackets, and 115 pairs of leather gloves.” Buzz is in rehab now, for a mild bipolar disorder. (You mean, somebody can work in journalism and make enough money to afford all that? Who knew?)

5 SAD NEWS I attended the University of Regina in the early 1980s, and shared a Logic 100 class with about 100 others, including Ron Lancaster Jr. The son of Ron Lancaster, and a pretty good CFL coach in his own right, passed away yesterday in his Hamilton apartment at the age of 50.

6 DEFENSE OF GAY MARRIAGE ACT Stephen Colbert launches a freakout after Papa Bear (Bill O’Rielly) goes to play for the other team. In other news, the lawsuits regarding the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 9 (and how the Supreme Court is probably going to throw them both out) is succinctly and entertainingly explained here. And for the bigots in the crowd … were these quotes made by people opposed to gay marriage or those opposed to inter-racial marriage? And could you tell the difference?
HE’S MAKING IT UP AS HE GOES ALONG Let me get this straight. Brad Wall cuts the Saskatchewan Film and Video Tax Credit, saying that it’s propping up an economically unsustainable industry. Then he tells everybody opposing the decision — even the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce — to go pound sand. Then he says the government has studies that show it’s unsustainable. The studies don’t appear to exist, because his government never asked for studies about the film/video tax credit: they only asked for spin doctors to rationalize that decision AFTER the government made the decision. Christ on a crutch, if Wall was any denser we could use him as a sandbag.

YOUR MUSICAL MOMENT OF ZEN PART ONE: The greatest song in the world …

YOUR MUSICAL MOMENT OF ZEN PART TWO: In honour of the Saskatchewan film industry, here’s R.E.M. covering Richard Thompson.

Speaking Of Faith-Based Political Nonsense

Hey nonsense is now officially afoot in the not-so-great state of North Dakota.

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) on Tuesday signed the most restrictive abortion ban in the country, enacting a law that would prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. A fetal heartbeat can be present as early as six weeks, which would make North Dakota, by far, the state that bans abortion at the earliest point. With Dalrymple’s signature, North Dakota leapfrogged Arkansas for the most restrictive abortion law. The Razorback State earlier this month enacted a law that would effectively ban abortions after 12 weeks, or when a fetal heartbeat can be detected with an abdominal ultrasound.

You can–and should, if you enjoy phrases like “anti-choice hellscape”–read more here.

Anyway, this is the direction a lot of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives want to take our country. Does this sound familiar?

 Dalrymple also signed two other abortion bills that would prevent abortion in cases of gender preference or genetic defects — something a few other states have, as well — and require doctors performing abortions to have hospital-admitting privileges.

Give it up for North Dakota!

The Silver Linings of an Argentinean Pope

Maradona calls it "the hand of God".
Maradona calls it “the hand of God”.

While it’s true you can find a number of red flags in Francis I’s resume (staunch opponent to gay marriage and contraception methods, friendly to the Videla dictatorship), there are also a number of elements that make me — a lapsed Catholic — feel hopeful.

Francis I is Argentinean Jorge Mario Bergoglio is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Just by being born in Latin America, Francis I has been more in touch with extreme poverty than any other pontiff in recent memory. Also, Argentineans are known for their bold, larger-than-life personalities (see Maradona, Messi), and the Catholic Church is in desperate need of strong leadership.

He is a Jesuit Not only is the Jesuit order known for their modesty and work with the poor — this group is also singularly pragmatic. This approach may signify changes in the way the Catholic Church deals with hot-button issues like the abuse of minors, AIDS and thinning Catholic ranks.

He picked Francis as his Pontiff name Bergoglio is the first ‘Francis’ ever, which signals a desire for a clean break. On top of that, the Argentinean wanted to honor the co-founder of the Jesuit order, St. Francis Xavier, a socially-minded missionary who ventured in areas untouched by Catholicism.

Seems healthy Benedict XVI looked sickly from the get-go and bailed out after a few years. Also, Francis I is more of a doer than an academic, as opposed to his predecessor.

His actual name is Jorge All Jorges are trustworthy, lovely people. By the way, it’s pronounced ‘Hor-he’, not ‘George’.

There’s A New Sheriff In Popetown

As everyone but me probably heard already, the papal conclave picked the man (note: no women!) who will lead the Holy Roman Catholic Church forward to new adventures in sexist discrimination, attacks on gay and lesbian rights (and rites),opposition to divorce and birth control and whatever other rando ju-ju mysticism* that cloistered (and often closeted) Catholic wizards are selling these days. Everyone, meet cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a.k.a. Pope Francis!

(Alas,they didn’t pick Canadian cardinal Marc Ouellett. Guess he’ll have to keep his secret pope-identity hidden for now.)

Let me just say, the conclave picked this pope in the nick of time because there’s all sorts of ungodly perversion going on that needs Pope Frank’s immediate attention. For instance: today’s Leader-Post has a story on Saskatchewan wildlife’s tough winter. Just look at this blasphemy:

Among the deer population, pregnant does are more likely to reabsorb their fawns rather than give birth, which will further affect their numbers into 2014. The decline will no doubt affect hunters when provincial officials set quotas and season lengths for the different species in early spring.

In other words, in the absence of a pope Canadian deer are giving themselves abortions to protect their offspring from hunters’ guns (which is clearly God’s perogative, not a mother deer’s).

Does Pope Frank have something up his sleeve for this sort of theological situation? We can only hope.

*Giving sanctuary to pedophiles