Tuesday, April 27, 2004

"Don't force us back to bombing!"

Well now isn't that a nice sentiment. Is that an olive branch or a club in your hands sir? Muammar is back and he's not exactly reciting an act of contrition, for the murder of hundreds of his fellow human beings over the skies of Lockerbie. Nor is he providing a mea culpa for the assorted bombings, murders and thuggery of the past. And about that financing and supply of countless terrorist groups over the years, well you know how it is, let bygones, be bygones .

But now that he's on the "A list" with George Bush and Tony Blair, Muammar Gaddafi fancies himself to be a statesman. Today Gaddafi made his first appearance in an international gathering since he provided compensation for the Lockerbie murders and turned over his weapons of mass destruction for inventory and maybe destruction. With followers chanting and drummers drumming he took to the stage to harangue the gathered EU apostles and a waiting media (one which was not allowed to ask any questions, a free press a somewhat unwanted inconvenience at the EU it seems).

Accompanied by four blue clad female body guards, (giving the presentation, the appearance of a Robert Palmer video, "I didn't mean to blow you up") Gaddafi spent a bit over 30 minutes in a rambling defense of his past support of militant third world "freedom fighters". He then went on to issue a declaration the he hoped that "we shall not be prompted or obliged by any evil to go back or look backwards". He further added that he hoped that they did not have to return to the days where they bomb their cars or strap explosives to their bodies. Old addictions are hard to break one assumes.

While the European Union welcomed him back to their gathering for the first time since 1989, not everyone was overwhelmed with enthusiasm. Protestors from Amnesty International were offering a dissenting opinion during his appearance, reminding anyone who would listen, that Gaddafi still routinely jails and tortures those Libyan citizens who may not see the world with his grand vision.

With his return to the international stage after his laying low period, one wonders if the world is truly a safer place with his new found activism. One greets his conversion to the cause of world peace with just a bit of cynicism and suspicion. What do they say about the leopard? Something about how he rarely changes his spots?

This is one leopard the world should keep its eye on. And a very short leash probably wouldn't be a bad idea other.

We watch and then we talk

One of the few shows left on television that can still elicit conversation the next day continues it’s second to last season on Movie Central every Sunday night. The Soprano’s is a finely crafted drama about the life of a New Jersey Mob boss and the underlings, sycophants, opponents and family members who complicate the life of Tony Soprano.

Featuring an extremely well cast collection of characters, the profane, violent and addictive show has held a large audience and collected numerous awards in its run thus far. Cleverly filmed and with a great soundtrack to go with each episode, it’s a show that keeps pulling you back in.

As David Chase winds his morality play towards it’s final season next year, fans of the Soprano’s hang on every episode, looking at each one for subtle (or on some occasions not so subtle) hints as to how things will all finish up when Tony walks off the screen next year (If indeed he’s allowed to walk off).

Everybody seems to have an opinion on how Tony is coping with the pressures of running a crime family, how his own family life (both criminal and personal) is impacting on his health and happiness. From Television without Pity to Slate magazine everybody has something to say.

Slate has come up with an interesting approach to reviewing the program, basically providing a Monday morning quarterbacking club to recount the happenings of the night before. Three critics review the show and pass judgment on its bona fides in the world of organized crime. Last year Slate utilized the services of psychiatrists, this year they approached three guys who know their mobsters well.

Jerry Capeci the columnist with Gangland for the New York Sun, Jeffrey Goldberg who has been a crime reporter for New York Magazine and Gerald Shargel who teaches Law at the Brooklyn Law School, he’s also represented John Gotti in some of the late mobsters’ legal troubles.

The rapport between the three is quite lively and entertaining as they bring their extensive knowledge of the real criminal element to our computer screens, comparing the real criminals to the television ones. It’s a nice companion piece to one’s weekly Soprano’s fix.

For those that haven’t seen the program yet or are latecomers to the parade, Seasons one through four are available on DVD and Video at your local video store or on line for purchase. Give yourself a weekend to trace the beginning of the saga; it helps to be able to desensitize yourself, for the violence while not overly graphic is brutal and constant through the various seasons. A steady weekend of exposure could make you a tad hard to be around for a bit, not to mention seeing your vocabulary degenerating into vulgarities with each successive episode. But to fully appreciate where the Sopranos are heading you have to go where they’ve been.

Once you’re up to speed you’ll be surfing the various sites that offer you more Soprano background. And before you know it you may end up contributing to the numerous bulletin boards and forums which have sprung up over the years. You will end up taking time to Offer up your own theories, suppositions and character developments. It’s a rare show that can conjure up such fanatical involvement, but Soprano fans know that they have to share! Once you're hooked you go for the ride, wherever it's taking us we have to hop in and go.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Go with the Devil we know!

So ok, it’s not exactly something we’ll be seeing on a campaign poster, or as a closing line in one of those sentimental TV commercials with Paul Martin walking through a throng of children. But as far as endorsements go, it’s about as warm and fuzzy as Joe Clark is going to get.

Clark today decided that revenge best served cold, is better is served lukewarm. Just a few months after his brand of Conservatism, was hijacked by the forces of Harper (should Clark acolytes call him Dr. Evil?) Joe has offered up his opinion on who should best lead the nation after the next election. And Clark has decided that he’s more comfortable with four years of Paul, than a sentence of four years with Stephen.

Appearing on CTV’s Question Period, Clark said that he believed that Martin was a less dangerous choice to lead the country than Harper would be. Clark’s main concerns about Harper were a lack of leadership potential on the issues of health care, the role of women, gay rights, environmental concerns and foreign affairs. Clark is fearful of the agenda that the hard-line Reform/Alliance types are bringing to his old party, with the old line Tories being tossed aside on the sidelines, as the new hybrid gets ready for any election.

While Clark didn’t express any ringing defence of the Prime Minister, he effectively gave him a backhanded compliment with his comments on the current scandals enveloping the Liberals. In the end he says “he’s very worried about Mr. Harper. Personally preferring to go with the devil we know.” Clark’s comments make for a nicely worded placing of the knife, right into Harper’s ribs. To his credit Clark has been upfront all along about his dislike for Harper, though the timing of his comments may be considered to be sour grapes. He followed up his analysis of the leaders with some political suggestions for the Canadian voter.

He advised Canadians to consider the best candidate in their local race, avoiding the desire to vote just on the party line. Perhaps it was his version of a way to combat the “democratic deficit.” It will be interesting to see what Harper makes of Clarks latest broadside targeted at his leadership. The newly united right seems to still have a few recalcitrant converts to the cause. A lower level civil war than the one which Liberals are presently waging, but things aren’t that quiet on the center-right front either!

For Martin it’s a double edged sword, it’s always nice to get a high profile endorsement, lukewarm or not. But the devil comment is one that could cause havoc with his campaign. We can’t wait for the first poster, billboard or lawn sign to get its “devil horns”. Send the bill to Joe, he’ll dance with the Devil and clean his signs as well.

The week of essentials

On a weekend more suited to sitting in a nice warm home, posting mindless items on one's blogsite your faithful correspondent was out getting soaked. A weekend expedition to a nearby historical site with a group of local Cubs, was spent mostly getting drenched by monsoon like rain and trying to keep cabin fever from infecting eighteen, ten and unders . With that explanation for a missing Daily Essential posting we bring you the week in review. The items that caught our fancy in the week gone by.

April 18 Three wise men (or is it wiseguys) to testify
April 18 Shopping with Svend
April 18 Wait until they get their website up and running
April 18 2 out of 3 of us needs to get away from the computer
April 18 Suddenly the bus wanted to drive upstreet
April 19 A government that doesn't govern
April 19 Powell stands alone
April 19 Out of a Grisham novel: hockey, a gal and a hitman
April 19 Jesus says swap that file
April 19 What's up in the darkened Manitoba skies
April 20 A jury of his peers
April 20 The rail deal that keeps giving and giving
April 20 But Paul! Going to work can be such a drag
April 20 Air America loses its voice
April 20 PM the PM's paper trail of woe
April 21 Damn you Democratic deficit
April 21 Senator Kerry locks up the NRA vote
April 21 Straight from the horse's mouth
April 21 Back of Beijing
April 21 The ghouls of CBS news
April 22 Helping Paul get out the word
April 22 Sheila Fraser just didn't understand
April 22 Sars raises its ugly head again
April 22 Not the teachers pet
April 22 da da da da dum, da da da da danna
April 23 Chuckie says "that meddlin' Paul"
April 23 A bad week ahead to be sick in BC
April 23 The inclusive tent of Paul Bremer
April 23 Reclusive Korea asks for help
April 23 Playing pesticide roulette with your lawn and your life

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Are we there yet?

Like an anxious nine year old waiting to get to the destination on a road trip, the Canadian public grows weary of the never ending examination of the Adscam scandal, without any sense of progress to be seen.
Since Prime Minister Martin vowed “to get to the bottom of this”, we’ve watched a parade of middle managers, slick looking ad execs, bombastic bureaucratic minions and combative ex cabinet ministers weigh in with their two cents worth.

And all we’re left with thus far is the belief that somebody, maybe everybody, isn’t telling us the truth. Pick your witness, everyone covers their butt, no one comes clean and we just sit back and wonder how we let things get to this state.

The Prime Minister at the start of our journey said that Canadians wanted to hear from Mr. Guite and so did he. Well Chuckie spoke and for the most part tried to drag Martin’s name and office of the day into the pit of political interference, all the while claiming innocence of any wrongdoing.

His two days of testimony a classic example of sandbagging. Mr. Guite did his best to deflect any criticism of his work, at the same time as he pointed the finger at the Prime Minister and his inner circle from the days of Finance.

Martin’s closest aide of the time Terrie O’Leary has responded to Mr. Guite’s broadsides, basically advising one and all that his recollections of events of the day are rather suspect.

It was a theme that seemed to run through the committee as they wrapped up yet another interminable week of posturing and pontificating. For the first time since this dog and pony show got under way both Liberal and Conservative members agreed that perhaps Mr. Guite’s testimony was a tad self serving and really hasn’t addressed the issue of the sponsorship scandal. In fact all that Guite did was to deflect attention from himself and the Chretien era onto the shoulders of Prime Minister Martin. By taking the approach of recounting moments of interest by Martin’s team at Finance on matters pre dating the sponsorship scandals, Guite has taken two days of testimony to gain a measure of revenge on Martin.

Rather than getting to the bottom of the scandal at hand, we instead are treated to a skirmish or two in the Liberal party civil war. Each day of the hearings seemingly resulting in yet another drop in the popularity of the Liberal party in the polls, giving Martin and his handlers a huge migraine of a headache in deciding whether to face a testy electorate or not.

The hearings which have drifted on and off message for weeks now, have occasionally deteriorated into nothing but partisan sniping and televised electoral posturing. They were saving the country by spending millions, at times we heard rumour of drugs, witnesses afraid for their lives, you never knew where the road would turn, only that it seemed endless. Finger pointing is the order of the day, an observer to CPAC wonders when they’ll break to go do some finger painting in the corner, right after their cookies and milk.

Sadly all this exercise has shown is that, elected MP’s will always return to their partisan roots, to expect that this would lead to any kind of closure was to live in a fools paradise. It will be interesting to see what the final bill will come to for this display of democratic principle in action. Perhaps later on we can have hearing into the expense of the hearing; it’s almost the Canadian way.

As Paul drives us down the road we’re hoping we get there soon. Then again, maybe that was the strategy all along, a lengthy exercise in self interest never actually coming up with any answers. Instead we end up with more and more questions about the regime of the past. As if we haven’t been tortured enough, they now plan on calling back many of the key witnesses, like ghosts they’ll haunt us a little more. Alfonso, Sheila and Ran we need a little more, regale us with your tales of woe.

When the scandal broke we were up in arms over the revelations, looking for heads to roll. Since that burst of activism we’ve long since lost our outrage. Nine weeks have gone by and we have nothing. As we sit eyes glassy with day after day of testimony running together, we think enough. The weather is warming, the sun is shining and summer beckons not too far down the road. Do we really want to waste our time anymore on what we cynically believe is just business as usual?

For the Prime Minister there may be no better time to jump into an election and clean the slate. The Prime Minister is most likely hoping that on Election Day we think back to the testimonials from the old hands. He can claim to have tried to get the facts but hey, too many of the old timers hold to the old ways. He’ll offer up new faces, new agendas and new ideas. A populace tired of this drive will gladly take the rest stop. It may be a gamble, but its one that may work.

The above item is taken from my Boondoggle blog, for more items and links about government check it out.

Grooving on the vibes, diving for the floor

It's been many a year since I've attended anything resembling a rock concert. I think I can stretch my grey matter back far enough to Steve Earle in the late eighties in Brandon, Manitoba. There may have been some kind of music festival things happening since then, but they would have been your genial folksy love the one your with kind of affair. But as far as a bona fide rowdy crowd kind of event, that was it.

And you know I don't think I'm missing anything. At least not if the story from CFRA is any indication. There's an artist out there called 50 cent, he's all the rage at the moment as they say. (or whatever it is the kids use now to describe the happening thing). Mr Cent or 50 to his friends I guess, is presently on a tour of Canada to bring his tunes and tude to the millions of Canadians buying or downloading their music.

Thursday night he played Ottawa, Friday night Montreal. Ottawa went smooth, Montreal not quite so.
Montreal Police reported that a man in his 20's was shot outside the arena the concert took place at. Police credit the fact he was wearing a bullet proof vest for his luck in avoiding serious or mortal injury.

A bullet proof vest? Good God, is it really that bad out there? Am I really that out of touch? Sorry if you have to suit up as if on patrol in the streets of Kabul just to go see a concert, then pencil me out.
While I'm sure that once the full story comes out, we'll learn that the victim was involved in something he or she shouldn't have been involved with. The shooting probably just an incidental event at the concert. But just the fact that this kind of thing is happening where our kids are gathering, is a cause for concern.

I guess this is why I'm a homebody these days, the worst thing that could happen to me is getting stuck on the Lazy Boy chair, while I struggle for the DVD controller to watch my Springsteen or U2 DVD's. No spraying gunfire, no slashing knives. And I manage to stay away from the grape Kool aid.

We'd best try and figure out what's going on with our kids, cause wearing a bullet proof vest to a rock concert is just not normal. And if it becomes a requirement for a safe night out, we'd best be asking some questions and asking them fast.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Do as they say, not as they do!

Well we can already hear the rhetoric from the Senate hearings into Pro-American driving habits, circa 2006.

Sen. Foghorn ( R - anywhere) Have you now, or have you ever owned or driven an SUV.

President Kerry: Yes senator I do, but it belongs to my family, I only rode in it as a passenger.

(Much murmuring of Senators, aides and reporters, digital cameras whirring)

Earth Day 2004 and the Democratic Party candidate for President, Senator John Kerry was on the stump in Pittsburgh and Houston, shaking hands, making speeches and taking questions. Kerry took some time to answer a few conference call questions from reporters about his upcoming Jobs and more Jobs platform, which he plans to present to Rust Belt states shortly.

One enterprising reporter taking note of the fact that folks were celebrating Earth Day inquired as to whether the Senator indeed did own an SUV. Kerry said he personally did not, preferring to tool around in his Dodge 600 and Chrysler 300M. The Chevy Suburban is wife Teresa’s, they use it when they visit their second home in Idaho.

When asked about the Chevy, Kerry thought for a moment before answering and then declared in the best Clintonish fashion ”the family has it, I don’t have it”.

The candidate quickly turned the conversation around to being dedicated to buying American, claiming that it’s important that his family buy American vehicles and vowing to keep manufacturing jobs in the USA if elected. (Note to Paul Martin, prepare to worry about auto jobs in Ontario, protectionism is just around the corner!). The folks at Ford and GM might quibble with his personal tastes, as Chrysler is part of the Daimler family of industries in Germany.

Perhaps the Kerry's use the Suburban as part of his research on fuel consumption. Kerry has come out in the past in favor of higher fuel efficiency in order to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. He would like to see fuel economy standards reach 36 miles to the gallon by 2015.

Kerry did manage to find an environmentally friendly moment out of the hulking vision of gas guzzling SUVS and three car families. Kerry claims to have approached Ford to let him use a hybrid car as his campaign vehicle. At least until he gets to use that shiny black number that George is using right now. I can already here the defense if anyone questions the gas mileage on the presidential motorcade, “I don’t own it, but my employer does, have to drive the company car you know”

This incident brings back memories of Canadian Environment Minister David Andersons troubles with his fellow cabinet ministers. At the same time as he was chastising Canadians about their wasteful ways, his counterpart Herb Dhaliwal was motoring around Ottawa and Vancouver in not one, not two, not three but four vehicles, two Volvo's and two Chevy SUV's. The optics of it all lost on the government of the day.

After all it’s an age old adage in Politics “we should do as were told, not as they do”

Photographs to turn a war?

Row upon row of coffins, draped in an American flag, a powerful image and one the Pentagon would prefer not is shown. But the world is seemingly a lot harder to control these days than the Pentagon might like. A freedom of information request was granted last week and photos taken by a military contractor in Delaware have been released, and set loose on the internet. The wishes of the Pentagon not withstanding.

The photographs are simple shots of the return of the bodies of fallen soldiers from the War in Iraq. The Pentagon claiming it wishes to protect the families had made it job one to suppress publication of these images. Critics of the Pentagon stress that it’s no such concern for the families, but nothing but a power play of controlling the news from the deserts and cities of Iraq.

Freedom of Press advocate Russ Kirk took the photos and posted them on a website which quickly circulated around the world. The immediacy of the publication shocked the Pentagon into an immediate clampdown on any further photographic releases.

In fact the Pentagon’s concern over the issue led to the dismissal of a private contractor working in Kuwait, who took pictures of a plane being loaded with the coffins of soldiers being prepared for their final journey home. The photos taken by Tami Silicio appeared on the front page of the Seattle Times.

Is the Pentagon not behaving rather hypocritically? They were more than interested in showing the troops rushing across Iraq in the early days of the conflict, as embedded reporters treated the entire affair as some kind of live broadcast reality program. The real reality of war is death, a reality that is brought home vividly with the vision of row upon row of flag draped coffins.

None of the fallen soldiers is identified in the pictures and no family members are shown claiming the remains of their loved ones. Thus the identities of both remain unknown to all. It’s an uncomfortable feeling these photographs which show the ultimate cost of War, one which leaves you with nothing but empathy for the poor families of those that are serving at this time.

Obviously the photos will be used by those who are questioning the motives of the US Administration as it prosecutes the war in Iraq, but the simple fact is that soldiers are going overseas and soldiers are coming home, some are fortunate to have avoided harm, many are not. Acknowledging that fact should not be considered a sign of disrespect, but a reminder of the very high cost of doing what your country asks.

Shame on those that would use these photos to further a political agenda. Shame as well on a government that would use suppression of them, to hide the fact of how many people are dying for their country.

The bodies of those that gave their lives should not be used as props in a morality play. Rather they should be treated with the respect they deserve. Trying to control the reality that War results in death seems rather pointless. A better allocation of resources might be in finding a way to end the conflict and bring peace to a troubled part of the world. The sooner that happens the sooner families will be reunited, those will be photographs that won’t be controversial, just ones that are long overdue.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

George Bush: The Booksellers Best Friend

For a guy that many consider the most likely to have never picked up a book, George W. Bush is a one man growth industry for the world of publishing.

In the last three months publishing houses have been chopping trees, letting the ink flow and binding the bromides and broadsides, as author after author offers up their take on the Bush Presidency and its effect on American life.

The latest and seemingly the one causing the most distress at the White House, is Bob Woodward's "Plan of Attack". Woodward was given unequalled access to the inner corridors of the Bush White House, as the President and his acolytes planned the war in Iraq.

Woodward paints a complete picture of The Bush regime heading to battle, planning war before September 11th, diverting money from the War on Terror in Afghanistan to the Iraqi expedition and pushing Secretary of State Colin Powell to the periphery of the Bush agenda.

Woodward also stirred up a hornets nest with his claims that the Saudi's and the Bush inner circle have struck a deal to lower gas prices in time for the November election, a claim the Saudi's are going out of their way to try and debunk. And no doubt one the Kerry machine will want to keep on a front burner through the summer.

The many surprises recounted in the book, has the White House on full fledged damage control, sending out handlers and assorted key players to counter spin the offerings of Woodward. Of course they are the masters of their own misfortune, it's a tad surprising that the Bush handlers would allow such unfettered access to a man that basically brought down a presidency with All the President's Men. The book he co-authored with Carl Bernstein during the tumultuous Nixon era and changed the way journalism worked from the seventies on. Then again perhaps no one on the White House staff picked up that epic effort of journalism, because had they managed to thumb through a few pages, there is no way they would have given him a front row to the dysfunction he recorded.

This is the third of a blitz of books about the Bush presidency and the controversies that seem to be percolating just under the surface in this election year.

Richard Clarke made a splash with his tome "Against all enemies", that basically accused the Bush White House of ignoring terrorist threats to the United States prior to 9/11. His book was timed to climb the best sellers list as he was giving testimony at a Congressional Hearing into the events of 9/11. The non stop television exposure and the steady review of his testimony did nothing but help keep his book in the forefront over the last few months.

The White House went on the attack over Clarke's work as well, sending out the heavy hitters to give the official line when questioned about many of the issues that Clarke brought out. Increased book sales were the net result of their non stop rebuttal of his talking points, something his agent must be quite thankful for. No need to promote when the United States government is bringing up your book at every turn.

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill started the great Bush Rush, with his participation in a tell all book titled, "The Price of Loyalty", which was published in early January. O'Neill, who was fired from the Bush cabinet over a year ago, served up his revenge with a flourish. Interviewed by author David Suskind, O'Neill described the President as a person disengaged from his day to day job; he painted the picture of a Presidency that seems to survive purely through the inertia of the political machine. His blistering attacks on the attention span of President Bush, his compilation of 19,000 memos, thank you notes and other correspondences, all served to present a disconcerting sense of detachment by the high officials of the White House.

In fact, the tone of the book had the White House so worried that Donald Rumsfeld apparently warned Suskind not to publish to publish this book; Suskind did not take the words as a threat, more of a concern over confidential and possibly harmful conversations being published and misconstrued. The White House manned the barricades as they attacked almost every point that O'Neill made. Regardless, it was a book that caught the attention of the White House. And it was the book that began the current literary avalanche of all things George.

While many sectors of the US economy may be on shaky ground, one sector is in good shape. With three consecutive literary efforts now on the shelves, the Industry of explaining, examining and exorcising George seems to be a hot one. At the rate the Bush books are coming out, George could be a legitimate Book of the Month candidate. Hell if they keep up this pace of releasing books about the President, he will be a lock for the Book of the Month, one month at a time.

A fishing line or a smoking gun?

The opposition was in high dudgeon Tuesday afternoon in the House of Commons, as recently discovered memos dating as far back as 1995 were made public. The memos revealing the backroom dealings in Finance Minister Paul Martin’s office, were mysteriously provided to the TVA network in Quebec and to Opposition MP's . According to the Opposition these latest developments, are more proof that Martin was fully involved in the awarding of contracts in the Liberal cabinet of Jean Chretien. In fact they claim Martin's involvement predates the current adscam scandal under investigation, claiming that it was Martin not Chretien that laid the groundwork for the scandal to follow.

At issue for the opposition are Martin’s close ties to the Earnscliffe group, which benefited from a close working relationship with the Finance Department during the Martin era as Finance Minister. Since becoming Prime Minister and even in the run up to his accession, Earnscliffe insiders have always been a strong force in his camp. So the accusations are neither particularly new nor unreported in the past. None the less, having memo’s floating around expressing concern about the concentration of funds into one lobby group does raise some red flags.

As part of the continuing sideshow known as the adscam hearings, Martin will find his name dragged into the proceedings on Wednesday, when controversial bureaucrat Chuck Guite makes his long awaited appearance at the hearings.

Susan Delacourt in the Toronto Star is reporting that Guite's testimony could make for an uncomfortable day for Martin and heat up the already dvisive Liberal civil war.

Guite is rumored to be ready to draw a line between Martin and abuse of funds when he breaks his silence to the committee. It’s expected that Guite will train a fair amount of his testimony on the cozy arrangements between Earnscliffe and the Prime Minister in waiting phase of the last few years. Yet another shot in the ever increasing ugly Liberal civil war.

The opposition took turns attacking the culture of cronyism they claim found a father not in the office of Jean Chretien, but can trace it’s beginnings to the doors of the Finance Minister of the era. Using memos from Mr. Guite and former Liberal attack dog Warren Kinsella they sandbagged Martin and his Public Works Minister Stephen Owen on Tuesday with revelations of contracts being tendered without the knowledge of Public Works.

The Prime Minister said from the outright that the government needed to get to the bottom of this scandal, find out everything that needs to be made public and ensure that it never happens again. As the committee continues on along its meandering path, having the truth come out seems to be making life a little more difficult for the PMO than had been expected.

The Opposition members who are busy receiving a flurry of brown manila envelopes, are more than happy to assist the malcontent Liberals skewer the current leader. The prospect of Chuck Guite pointing a finger at a sitting Prime Minister is the kind of theatre they could only have dreamed of a few short months ago. His much anticipated testimony Wednesday morning should help to speed things along in the process. The only thing that remains to be answered about his appearance will be; whether it becomes just another fishing line for the opposition or if it indeed is the smoking gun that tarnishes the finely crafted image of the current Prime Minister.

***CORRECTION*** My apologies to all Podunkians who rose early to follow the dramatic testimony of Mr. Guite, turns out he doesn't do his Jack Nicholson (you can't handle the truth) performance until Thursday at 9am EST, 6 am PST. Rise early and follow the bouncing cheques!!

The above posting is from my Boondoggle blog, to find more items and links about government check it out.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

The week of essentials

Another week has rushed by, and while your loyal podunkian correspondent has tried his best, countless televised hockey games with much overtime action has taken it's toll on production. Original content went a bit wanting this past week, as HockeyNation posts had to be created to keep the pace of the frantic playoff hockey. But we'll endeavour to be a better podunkian in the weeks to come. However, we did our best to keep the Daily Essentials flowing freely and here for those that may have missed them is the week's collection.

April 11 Recyclable Fuel
April 11 Rwandan Replay
April 11 Everybody's baby talks
April 11 The invasion starts at dawn
April 11 A Handyman special
April 12 Ottawa is not a sububrb of Hong Kong
April 12 It's all in your head
April 12 Disney meets its Alamo
April 12 March Madness Ottawa style
April 12 A room with a view
April 13 Pointing fingers all around
April 13 Beijing Bluster
April 13 ABC's Of MP3 Litigation
April 13 Backing our Words with action
April 13 NIMBY, BC
April 14 Hey la de la, Bin Laden's back
April 14 The boiing point
April 14 If you promise to be good, you can be a citizen
April 14 Your car can send yout to the can
April 14 Cancer prepares to take the lead
April 15 Shopliftin' Svend
April 15 Avian flu marches westward
April 15 Money on a string
April 15 Michael Moore weighs in again
April 15 Tigger's roaming paws
April 16 This Diamond ring doesn't shine for me anymore
April 16 AC/DC to the front lines
April 16 Be careful who you splash
April 16 Donald Trump: King of Television
April 16 Gordie tries out that video thing
April 17 Dalai Lama arrives in Canada, Chinese gov't boils
April 17 He came back tanned, now he's canned
April 17 His hits on the ice were nothing compared to those off of it.
April 17 Disney pulls plug on Pooh in the park
April 17 Blogs Canada meets the Justice Dept.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

A bird in the burner, worth two in the landfill!

The NIMBY factor has risen in the heartland and the Province of British Columbia is at a loss as to how to handle it. The Not in My Backyard rebuff comes with the decision of the Provincial Government to bury the carcasses of culled, infected chickens in landfills out in the provincial outback, or the heartland as the government likes to call those areas after the last freeway exit in Chilliwack.

At issue is the need to deal with the breakout of avian flu, which has reached a crisis point with 30 chicken farms sealed off by the Food Inspection Agency from the Pacific Ocean to Chilliwack. Some 19 million chickens are to be killed over the next couple of weeks, all to rid the area of avian flu. 15 million of those birds designated as broilers will be “salvaged” which means they will eventually make their way to market, apparently considered healthy and not infected with the avian flu, they’ll live to die another day in the not too distant future. But that still leaves roughly 4 million birds to meet their end fast in either an incinerator or a land fill, and those 4 million birds seem to be causing some major distress in the heartland.

The preferred method of disposal is apparently burning, but the prospect of that many chickens going to the hothouse must have seemed rather daunting to the officials, as plan B quickly became the preferred idea. Double bagging the gassed chickens and trucking them to such places as the Cache Creek landfill, and other similar landfills around the province.

The folks in the heartland a little alarmed at the prospect of decomposing chickens resting in their neck of the woods have risen as one; a blockade went up in Cache Creek a few days ago, to turn back any truck carrying chickens for disposal. Signs stating that “no chicken will cross this road” sprung up like weeds on a hot Spring afternoon. The government misread the heartland on this one, the general feeling is if the chicken farms are in the Lower Mainland, then so should their dead byproduct. A Provincial emergency or not, the convoy of trucks heading east, with their diseased loads is not welcome at their dumps. Agriculture Minister John Van Dongen plans a meeting on Friday with the mayors of the landfill sites identified as home for the deceased birds, and while he has been backpedaling a bit about the landfill option, he says if they don’t address the issue fast it will only get worse. The prospect of RCMP escorts of truck conveys to the dump is not going to be a great visual image for a beleaguered government.

But the disposal of the dead is just a small part of the troublesome issue, what has yet to be explained is how such a widespread breakout took place in the first place. The Tyee has done an extensive piece on the issue of corporate farming in the lower mainland, one which raises many questions about the industry. It questions the current thinking that the avian flu was introduced by wild fowl in the area, apparently infecting the corporate chickens at will. As the Tyee points out, if the wild fowl are the culprits how come there is not a massive cull of those birds?

Another thing that has struck me as strange is, if the Fraser Valley is in such a critical state at the moment, how come the avian flu has not spread across the border to Whatcom county and Washington state chicken farms. It seems hard to believe that the wild fowl are so disciplined as to not stray over the US border, Homeland security act or not. Perhaps there is something in the corporate farming environment that has led to this outbreak, until we get a better understanding of just what has happened and why, then the NIMBY factor will rule the day.

Fear is a very great motivating factor, and judging at how little information has been provided by the government on this issue, fear rules. I can fully understand the concern of the folks in Cache Creek and other selected destinations. It’s easy to say there’s no health risk at hand, much harder to actually provide proof. And who wants to be the one to say I told you so at the end of the day, when it may be too late. It’s obvious that these birds have to be disposed of as quickly as possible, but to just dump them in the laps of the folks of the heartland seems like a rather arrogant position. To not fully explain the situation to them and the rest of the province, once again shows how out of touch with the people that this government seems to be getting day by day.

Speechwriter, speechwriter, write me a speech. Please make it factual and make it complete!

Maybe it was a typo, perhaps the Prime Minister didn't have his reading glasses on yesterday, or maybe the research team at the PMO needs a refresher course on Canadian History. Whatever the reason, Paul Martin rewrote Canadian and world military history in Gagetown yesterday.

While addressing Canadian troops at the Army base in New Brunswick, Martin took us back to 1944 as Canadian, British and American forces worked together planning the liberation of Europe. From the Martin briefing papers we are led to believe that the road to the end of tyranny began in Norway. As most Canadians know (or at least we hope they know) the invasion of Normandy was the launching pad against the Third Reich and the beginning of liberation of all of Europe.

The Queens own rifles were the first Canadian battalion to set foot on Normandy's Juno beach, over the following hours they would be followed by many more Canadians, from a wide variety of units. The North Nova Scotia Highlanders, The Sherbrooke Fusiliers, The Regina Rifles and Royal Winnipeg Rifles, just a few of the members of the 3rd Canadian Division and 2nd Armoured Brigade to see battle that day. The least we can do is try to remember that part of France which they claimed for freedom, at the expense of many lives.

The total after D-Day stood at 340 Canadians killed, 574 wounded and 47 captured. Cemeteries across France tell the stories of those that gave their lives for the greater good, stories that deserve a bit more research when made part of a political speech.

For the benefit of his research team, here are a couple of suggested readings for the PMO.

Pierre Berton's Marching as to War; pages 453-62 (pay particular attention to page 458, the state of Canada's military in 1944 eerily similar to that of today, a cautionary tale for the Prime Minister).

J.L Granatstein and Desmond Morton; Canada and the Two World Wars (a very good description of the D Day landing there)

Mr. Granatstein also has two other works for the PMO to take to heart;
Who killed Canadian History, and Who killed the Canadian Military.

One would hate to think that the finger has to be pointed at the Prime Minister!

Is History repeating itself?

The last week or so of reporting on the situation in Iraq has brought out the V word quite a bit. Commentators, editorialists, reporters and the average Joe and Jane alike, all whispering or shouting that this is becoming just another Vietnam.

Now the situation there is far too serious to deal with in a single blog entry, (no silver bullet so to speak, using the vernacular of the day) but there is quite a bit of interesting material out there. Some fine work to help one get a better understanding of the various intangibles in that fluid situation. To just lump it off as another Vietnam just doesn’t seem to give history it’s due.

Perhaps our vision should go back a little further than just the sixties. For the latest violent turn in Babylon is really a reprise of the 20’s. At least that is the theory of a respected British columnist, Niall Ferguson.

He offers up a fascinating study on the mind set in Washington and how the powers that be, have prosecuted the war thus far. What templates they’ve been using for the future and how they’ve discarded the past without even a second glance.

For those Americans (and Canadians) that can’t look any further back in time than the Vietnam War, the article is a well documented exploration of past empires gone awry. In fact it was in 1917 that a British General occupied Baghdad and proclaimed that “our armies do not come into your cities and lands, as conquerors or enemies, but liberators”. Sound at all familiar?

Within two months Iraq was engulfed in full fledged rebellion, Shi’ites, Sunnis and Kurds uniting together to make life a living hell for the British. History seems hell bent to repeat itself, less than 90 years later. Unfortunately, it would appear that no one has given any thought to learning from the past, to prevent a horrible future.

The article is a worthwhile read for a bit of perspective on what the US and it’s coalition allies could face, indeed what could be ahead for anyone with an interest in the situation of Iraq. It’s a great primer for those that want to get a bit of background on the roots of conflict, a solid indication to the truthfulness of the axiom that “those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.”

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

An aural oasis known as Radio Paradise

A little mindless blog surfing led me to an interesting site you may wish to explore on your own.

Radio Paradise an internet streaming radio station, features an eclectic play list of music. Kind of takes you back to the days of free form radio, back when FM was in its infancy. The interesting aspect of the Radio Paradise site is that you can make comments about the songs you are hearing as they are being played. You can also check back and see what other listeners have thought of the song when it last played. It serves as a rather neat approach to user friendly radio.

There are other features as well including things such as a listener journal you can share in the day to day tidbits of the author's life, your chance to be the busy body you always wanted to be. There is a whack of forums to jump into if you wish. The site also features a spot to just toss in some random comments that may pop into your mind. Or you can just listen to the music.

The play list is my favorite toy of the moment; it lists the entire rotation of music over the last six hours. If you hear a song that you find interesting you can click on it and see what the other Radio Paradise folks thought of it. For those with lots of disposable income and a certain moral distaste for the concept of downloading music, you can purchase the artist's CD direct from the site.

One would suspect that this is a site which would have the full endorsement of the RIAA. But don't let that stop you from listening; it's worth a few hours of your time used simply as background music while you work on your blog.

It apparently has received a positive review in Time Magazine which has sent thousands of listeners it's way in the last week or so, causing a bit of distress to the sites servers at times. And while the days of free form radio would never have dared been mentioned in Time, it's a whole new world out there now. Aging boomers still want to be hip, here's their chance to listen in to a wide variety of tunes and a lot more.

Radio Paradise it's an interesting convergence of music and internet, worth checking out.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Mr. Martin stands tall!

After a weekend of veiled threats from Beijing, Canada has finally decided that as an independent member of the world community, we shall meet with whomever we want, whenever we want. Though in true Canadian style we went about our brave declaration in a somewhat disorganized way. A quiet announcement from the PMO, on a Government holiday announced that the Prime Minister will meet with the Dalai Lama. An announcement that caught both the Dalai Lama’s representatives and Chinese officials by surprise equally.

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet is making a Canadian tour this month and for the last week or so Canadian officials have been waffling over whether they should have the Prime Minister meet him. Beijing which is intent on keeping the Dalai Lama’s influence in check, issued warnings to Canada that any form of official recognition could possibly lead to serious trade, cultural and political ramifications. The folks in Beijing apparently confusing Ottawa with Hong Kong and Taipei.

For a while there it seemed that official Ottawa was going to let China dictate Canadian foreign policy, but fortunately somebody at External Affairs and the PMO developed a back bone and have decided to tell China to mind its own business, diplomatically mind you. It’s expected an official announcement with details on just what format the meeting will take is expected in the next couple of days.

For far too long Canada has tip toed around China all in the quest for elusive trade dollars, from a country that turns around and dumps hundreds of millions of dollars of product on Canadian shores each year. To think that they will turn their back on a captive trade market for their products, simply because we met with a religious leader seems a tad incredulous.

What would be the worst that would happen if they chose not to send us their VCR’s, clothing items and pretty well any other item available at your local Wal Mart? Well there’s Employment possibly, if China no longer dumped their inexpensive items in Canada, then perhaps a Canadian manufacturing base would once again be feasible. A simplistic look at global economics yes, but since the tide of Chinese imports arrived in Canada factories across Canada have been closing one after the other.

However, don’t be rushing down to your local EI office looking for a job, China won’t be calling back the container ships. North America’s lust for their products will not go unfulfilled, Dalai Lama meeting or not.

The Dalai Lama issue is always a hot potato, George Bush and Tony Blair have both had an audience with him, though both went out of their way to do so in a format that would not cause too much distress on the Chinese. Jean Chretien had three opportunities to meet with him, but never managed to make time as Prime Minister (he did meet with him as opposition leader). Of course, Chretien enjoyed his “Team Canada” junkets and probably wouldn’t want to put them in jeopardy. Not to mention his post government lobbying for the private sector in China. So for Martin to actually schedule a meeting is certainly a change in Foreign Policy.

It’s also an indication that an office that has spent the last four months seemingly lost in confusion, is capable of making an important decision from time to time. A welcome change from the norm. But they really didn’t have any other choice, to allow Beijing to brow beat Canada into doing what it wanted would have sent a bad signal to other countries around the world.

While the Canada-Tibet committee might be wishing for a declaration of support for a return to Tibetan autonomy from Canada, they won’t get one. The Prime Minister while planning to meet with the Dalai Lama will do so under the umbrella of religion, in the same category as an audience with the Pope or the moderator of the Church of England.

Whatever the arrangement, the meeting is something that is a positive statement. Canada should have the courage to stand up and decide what’s best for itself. Dismissing China’s veiled threats is the proper way of treating a country that is overstepping its International weight.

There are still many lessons for Canada to learn from our international partners, but when it comes to topics such as human rights and international recommendations on who we should talk with, China had best stick to its own knitting.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

The Week of Essentials

Another week gone, here for posterity the week of essentials for April 4-10

April 4 A is Airline, broke and for sale!
April 4 The mean streets of Nunavut
April 4 Living up to the name
April 4 Vulture, a boor speaks out.
April 4 Knock down furniture, beats a knocked down dollar
April 5 Stop campaigning, Start governing
April 5 Better download as fast as you can
April 5 His Lordship, strikes back
April 5 Nortel gets some unwanted attention
April 5 Gophers 1, Hunters 0
April 6 But it's just a little two day getaway
April 6 Long distance operator, I wanna make this call for free
April 6 The bullies of Bejing
April 6 An unprecedented slaughter
April 6 It's why you want to be Finance Minister
April 7 An Iraqi infitada
April 7 A place for the UN in Iraq?
April 7 Condoleezza Rice takes the point
April 7 What colour was his parachute?
April 7 Let the Danes have Hans Island after all
April 8 Tell her I won't be coming home, want to start a new life
April 8 Belinda, we hardly knew ya
April 8 Lawsuits 3, Answering suits 0
April 8 FCC Clears the clear channel air
April 8 JTF Brain drain
April 9 Fans worse than players
April 9 Bejing bullies, law down the law
April 9 What would Dirty Harry think!
April 9 As if the world doesn't have enough problems
April 9 The lock up doors work fine thank you very much
April 10 Duffer Woods
April 10 At their Becks and call
April 10 Somebody is not going to heaven
April 10 Spare the rod, spoil the Province
April 10 Saving the country one goal at a time

Bend it Beckham, Bend it!

The truth is getting a major bend to it in England these days, as the guy they call Becks, finds himself in the celebrity scandal of the year. David Beckham is the former poster boy for British soccer, his days as a member of the Manchester United football squad would find him on the society pages as often as he was on the sports pages. A near royal wedding to British pop star Victoria (Posh Spice) only strengthened the bond between football boy and his public. His place of honor in England so entrenched that he even found that his name was attached to a much loved movie about girl’s soccer. Those pin up good looks giving teenage girls cause to plaster his photos all over their bedroom walls. It was as though he was England’s boyfriend.

And now it’s his personal life that once again puts him on the front pages of every tabloid and broadsheet in the country. For Becks may have been caught not once, but apparently twice cheating on his wife and the mother of his children. England which just loves a good sex scandal is eating up every lingering detail, as the subjects of his affections hit the speed dial to their respective publicity agents to get their story out to a hungry public.

First out of the gate is concubine number one, Rebecca Loos, who is claiming to be shocked at the lurid accounts making the rounds about her, to clear things up she will share her thoughts and remembrances with the fine subscribers to the News of the World. And apparently talk isn’t cheap Ms. Loos is reported to have been paid over 700,000 dollars for her memories of the days as the personal assistant to the beloved Becks, one assumes she will tell more than just tales of answering fan mail.

Hot on the heels of the first reported affair comes yet more news that Becks has been a busy boy for a while now. Concubine number two, Sarah Marbeck who claims she has been carrying on a torrid affair with Mr. Beckham for two years now. Releasing what she claims are text messages of his undying love for her over the period of their affair. She too has collected a stipend for her version of the loves of Beckham.

For his part Beckham has been dismissive of both rumours, not making any comments to press. In a show of family unity, the Beckhams spent the last week skiing in Europe showing a family business as usual face to the media, with pictures of the British power couple splashed across the same papers reporting news of the shocking scandal. Queen Liz must be quite proud of her subjects and their resolve, having something of a familiarity with domestic distress.

Beckham's decision to leave England to play in Spain sent the country into days of mourning, and apparently wasn’t well received by Mrs. Becks. As it turns out, she never moved to Spain to be with her husband, remaining in England to tend to her children and her recording career. Ms. Loos suggesting it was her refusal to move to Spain that sent Mr. Beckham into the arms of apparently more than one woman.

The Beckhams have built up quite an industry for themselves in England, so any talk of a marital split is being treated with the same kind of shock as the Royal travails of the nineties. The scandal is doing wonders for the British newspaper industry, never shy to jump on a good scandal they are running with this one, like Beckham runs the field in Spain. Special editions, entire sections and undercover reporters all are focusing their attention on the reputed Beckham Affairs. All that is left now is to learn if Beckham scores (and if he did it’s a lose/lose) or if Victoria gives him his final red card.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Maybe not the bottom of it all, after all!

Ah, yes another day, another Liberal at the witness table professing innocence, ignorance and hubris. The show trial of adscam continues on CPAC with guest appearances on CBC Newsworld, as the steady stream of Liberal officials and appointees comes forward and declares to a waiting public that “nothing was wrong”.

Today’s participant, Former VIA Rail President Marc Lefrancois made his debut on CPAC’s version of the daytime soaps, declaring that VIA Rail “never issued a fictious invoice in it’s business dealings”, LeFrancois blasted the Auditor General for besmirching the character of the Railway and its officials, with a highly negative report into the workings of VIA. The former president went on to describe the Auditor General as being “unacceptably inaccurate and vague in the use of such pejorative language.” Which I believe is better known as the shoot the messenger defence in court room parlance.

LeFrancois is the latest of the Chretien era appointees to be brought to the witness table following in the footsteps of Jean Pelletier, the former VIA Rail Chief who appeared in front of the committee on Monday. At the start of the week, Pelletier took his seat and promptly proclaimed his innocence and suggested that the committee would eventually find nothing to link the day to day workings of VIA Rail to any political master. Pelletier who used to be the chief of Staff for Jean Chretien, managed to say that with a straight face, having been appointed to the position of Chairman after serving Prime Minister Chretien for many years. As Don Stuart wrote in the Calgary Herald, the former guard dog to the PMO did his job here and did it well. And to put a bit of bite into his bark after his testimony, it was announced that Pelletier would be suing the government for wrongful dismissal and defamation of character. Nothing can make your point like trotting out your own lawyers waving court documents for all to see. Not to be outdone, LaFrancois became the third Liberal appointee to launch a lawsuit against the Federal government, when the CPAC ratings come out, the largest group of viewers should be lawyers trolling for clients.

The list of remorseless Libs grows daily, we started with Alfonso Gagliano, moved on to David Dingwall, Jean Pelletier and Mr. LaFrancois today, to hear them talk there is no problem and if there is or was; it certainly wasn’t anything that they had knowledge of, let alone participated in.

Prime Minister Paul Martin grasped upon the testimony of Pelletier to try and find a way out of this swamp of bad publicity, observing that “if Pelletier says it’s so, he would know, he was there” or words to that effect. Of course he probably was relieved that his name was not mentioned once during testimony, his own lack of knowledge claim able to survive yet another day.

As for the committee, the next big guest appearance should come on April 22nd, when Chuck Guite makes his much anticipated presentation to the assembled throng. Guite, who seems to be the central figure in the entire mess, could be the one to spill the beans or to quell the revolt. Lorne Gunter of the Edmonton Journal figures that Guite’s testimony will set the tone for Prime Minister Martin’s future handling of this. As Gunter explains it, Guite will be sending a message to the Prime Minister, if he declines to name any of the old guard as being responsible for the scandal the old Chretien forces will have put this issue to bed. Should Martin truly want to get to the bottom of the mess, he will have to rip open the Liberal party into a final bloody Civil War. All the gloves come off and Martin’s ten years at the elbow of Chretien will be reviewed day by day by day.

As the committee prepares to adjourn for Easter, the spirit of the season will take hold. Easter is a time for quiet reflection, forgiveness of sin and rejoicing of a resurrection. If ever there were a group in need of Divine intervention this must be it.

How the Liberals reflect over the weekend and into next week, will dictate where this meandering committee ends up. At the end of that reflection, will come a decision on whether the Prime Minister dares to take his battered party into an election campaign. Even more important for him will be whether his party is united enough to even attempt one.

The above item appeared on my Boondoggle blog. To find more items and links about government check it out.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Befuddlement at the PMO

These cannot be enjoyable days for PM the PM, his on again, off again election campaign seems to be sputtering onto the off ramp. Bad news piles up with every edition of the daily papers. A massive avian flu epidemic in BC, means the culling of 84% of the provinces fowl is to take place shortly. The province divided up into HOT ZONES, a description that conjures up visions of the SARS troubles of last year and the economic hit that delivered. The national airline once again is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, just in time for the busy summer season. Gasoline prices appear ready to skyrocket, which would be yet another shock to the fragile Canadian economy. Then there's the Sponsorship scandal that just seems to go on and on, each day a new testimonial to governmental abuse. These are not feel good issues to lead a party into an election with.

So it's no surprise that the Prime Minister is hearing some voices advising him just to get on with the job of governing for now, hold the election later, much later. The country seemingly in a state of limbo, unsure as to where we are, or where we are going, sits back and awaits some leadership.

Two interesting media pieces explore the theme of a Prime Minister and government not clear on where to turn, or what to do next. Jeffrey Simpson at the Globe, pens an open letter to the Prime Minister, advising him to get on with his job. Simpson provides Martin with his 10 Commandments of Governance.

Over at the CBC Larry Zolf warms the cockles of Jean Chretien's heart, with a fascinating piece about how the Martin star may burn out before it shines bright. Zolf paints a picture of how the mutual loathing of Chretien and Martin has soured the well for the heir. Perhaps to the point of losing what he longed for so long. The final line of the Zolf article is the most distressing for Martin's handlers "For the very first time, Martin faces a place in history that may be less than a chapter."

You can sense the panic at the PMO, the carefully laid out plans of the succession are falling by the wayside. Without a back up plan apparently in place, PMO staffers must be wondering if their man is going to suffer the same fate!

Monday, April 05, 2004

A moment's indulgence

A little shilling for one of my other blogs for a few moments, if you don't mind. My HockeyNation blog made it onto the BlogsCanada top blogs of April listings today. A nice reward for the juggling act I try to put together each week maintaining my various blogging interests. What started out as a wee diversion in my day, is quickly turning into a minor obsession.

There are some days when one or another of my little blogs sometimes must feel abandoned, as I focus on one of them tweaking, adding and composing a variety of entries. But in the end, for the most part they all equally get a bit of attention, and sometimes end up rewarding me.

Thanks to the folks at Blogs Canada for taking the time to look it over and thanks to those that nominated the blog for consideration. But most of all thanks to the folks that surf the sites and check things out, adding comments or leaving suggestions, they're always welcome and I find some of your contributions quite useful.

Check out the Blogs Canada website, there is an awful lot of interesting reading out in the wired world. They list a variety of sites you might find interesting, and who knows one day your blog may get the recognition it truly deserves.

Hey! How come no category for MP3 of the year?

It was a week where they celebrated the best, and where an industry heard the worst!

Perhaps the choice of host for the night could have been a statement on the state of the industry, Alanis Morrisette know for her hit song Ironic guided the Juno awards along their path on Sunday night. The assembled crowd at the Skyreach centre celebrating the success of the Canadian music artist, while the industry execs drowned their sorrows in the sky boxes over a recent court ruling.

Her hit from the 90’s should have been playing as the theme music for the night, as many of the artists showcased tonight have made strong statements about the “morality if not legality of the downloading issue”

On Thursday the Canadian Supreme Court handed down a ruling that basically said that the music industry had not proven that there was any copyright infringement with the downloading of music off the internet. A major blow to the campaign of the CRIA to end the practice, which it claims is taking a major toll on the recording business.

Now to hear the CRIA tell it, the massive losses from the downloading problems could spell the end of the new Canadian artist and cause severe stress on a fragile industry. If that’s the case, the word never got out to the folks of Edmonton. The Juno awards took the city by storm this week, with most public events sold out. Celebrity watchers staking out hotels and bars for a glimpse of the high echelon artists of Canadian music.

Sunday night’s televised gala on CTV attracted 16,500 loud and appreciative fans that paid between 57 and 91 dollars to share a night with their idols. The largest crowd to ever attend a Juno show in its 33 year history.

The Alberta rockers Nickelback opened the show with a rousing rendition of Figure you out and then were called up to the stage to accept the award for Group of the year, they would follow that up later with the Fan Choice award. Which proved to be an appropriately named award, for the 16,500 strong Alberta fans?

Sam Roberts from Montreal were the big winners taking home three Juno’s over the course of the night, winning for Rock Album, Album of the year and Artist of the year.

Nellie Furtado won a Juno for her single Powerless and Sarah McLachlan won for her Pop Album Afterglow. Shania Twain collected Juno for the Country album UP and Michael Buble was named newcomer of the year.

The Juno’s which rarely travel outside of the Metro Toronto area, found a receptive group in Edmonton. The folks in Winnipeg now have something to work towards. The Manitoba capital will be the site for next years awards show. The success of the week long festival in Edmonton will be hard to top.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

The week of essentials

For those that may have missed them, here's the week of essentials for your perusal.

March 28 This is ground control to Major Paul
March 28 John Kerry's coalition of the willing
March 28 Tony Sporano, political aide
March 28 A public ready to be wooed
March 28 And you thought your neighbor had issues
March 29 Alfonso's faulty memory
March 29 Hey David! Do you have any relatives?
March 29 John Kerry's seperation of church and state
March 29 Rosebud Redux
March 29 Smokin' in the Boyo's room
March 30 Bush serves up Rice to committee
March 30 Pop go the pop ups
March 30 On the left side of your radio dial
March 30 Election alert the cheques are flowing
March 30 Running at the pleasure of the Prime Minister
March 31 A heart beat away from financial collapse
March 31 Load up the hard drive
March 31 All about the man
March 31 The house doesn't always win
March 31 Left Wing launch
April 1 A very patient guy
April 1 Drive what you rivet
April 1 Go ahead dude, have a cow! We're on strike
April 1 Now they really do blame Canada
April 1 The Foolish revue
April 2 Now he needs 30 million dollars in legal advice
April 2 Turbulence
April 2 We were at War, there were no rules
April 2 Holdout Granny threatened, Tyco gets a mistrial
April 2 One foot out the door
April 3 A candidate overlooked
April 3 Does Money Change everything?
April 3 Things that go bump in the dark
April 3 The Final days of Donald S. Cherry?
April 3 Stability of days gone by, a far off dream today

Saturday, April 03, 2004

tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock

Yaaaaaaaaaaaawn, feeling sleepy yet, if not now, you will soon! For most of North America it's time to turn back the clock's, check the smoke detectors and lose an hours sleep. Except those folks in Saskatchewan where time never changes, (official Provincial song should be Time Waits For No one). At any rate, if you find yourself up late tonight worrying about that lost hour of sleep, here's an interesting article from MSNBC. Everything you want to know about why we mess around with the clocks and what sleep deprivation means to us. So wipe that sleep from your eyes, you've got some studying to do!

Watching the train wreck while it happens

Now this should be some wild entertainment, Bobby Brown wants to put a "reality show" about his life on network TV. Providing he can stay out of jail long enough (he's already been tossed in the can twice this year) cameras could follow him around, sharing in his thoughts, his meals, his work and whatever recreational activities he can partake in without a parole officer hovering nearby.

It's not known if wife Whitney Houston would be a major player in the series, Brown's publicist is approaching things as purely a Bobby thing, Whitney may from time to time enter his orbit. Houston who at times is firmly placed in space, recently left a rehab facility, trying to reduce her dependence on those things that are a bad influence on her. Of course most cynics would suggest she start with her husband.

Thus far there are not any takers on the Bobby show, most networks probably a little gun shy about his long term appearance potential. Whichever network eventually takes the risk, deep pockets and good legal contacts, will go a long way to securing the deal.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Unlucky in Love, Lucky in the Lotto

Finally, the shall we say unusual strategy of Raymond Sobeski is making a bit of sense, Sobeski for those who haven't said out loud "is that guy stupid" yet, is the guy who waited almost a year before claiming his 30 million dollar jackpot from the Super 7 lottery.

Yesterday the lengthy wait was described by Sobeski as just not wanting to do anything rash; you know just making sure he was ready to manage his money. He said he had been talking to a lawyer and a financial planner all in order to properly take charge of his fortune. While he was waiting to claim his fortune he was maxing out his credit cards and living from card to card. Truly a bizarre tale, even the worst failure at high school math could calculate that a full year of lost interest on 30 million would preferable to living off your maxed out cards and the debt incurred by them! It had a lot of folks thinking the guy was a few bricks short of a load, not the sharpest knife in the drawer, fill in your own homespun theory for him. It left you thinking there must be something more to this story, and well as we'll see shortly there was!

Yesterday came across as one of those aw shucks moments, the feeling in evidence at the Lottery office as he accepted his multi million dollar payday. Staff talking about how nice he seemed, just a gentle guy, and a simple fellow happy to have found some luck. No special people in his life, a Mom and Dad he wants to help out, no real goals yet, just wanting to do this up right. You could hear the Aw that's so sweet, resonating throughout the office. His last words to the journalistic pack on hand were: "I'm not going home; I'm getting on a plane, leaving the country and going somewhere for a vacation."

Today the top secret vacation spot sounds more like a get away hideout, for the story of Raymond Sobeski, is apparently a tad more complicated than the simple man on TV would have us explain.

The too good to be true story is apparently full of holes and one gets the feeling that more than one lawyer is going to be attaching him or herself into that 30 million dollar pile of cash. Sobeski, who described himself a single guy with no real attachments, has wandered down the aisle not once but twice in his 40 odd years. Leaving one wife with a couple of kids in his wake, divorced a few years ago. He finalized the divorce from his second wife less than two months ago. He managed to get the paper work out of the way, just in time to cash in his winning ticket.

Neither ex-wife was apparently in the loop regarding his good fortune; ex number two even had dinner with him the night of his giant payday, unaware that he had become a millionaire thirty times over. She was even surprised to receive a bottle of expensive champagne from him; apparently he received it from a bank when he made a sizeable deposit.

As you can imagine, the Lottery Corporation is astounded at the turn of events, amazed that yesterday's quaint story would turn into the mystery of the year. From their point of view all is well, they did the requisite check with the Family maintenance people, found no outstanding claims on Sobeski, and so paid him out the 30 million. However, stories are filtering out that Sobeski had presented wife number two with divorce papers, but she had never signed them. There are also reports that he has been presented with child support requests that hunfulfilledullfilled.

Regardless of the events of the past, with the new scenario, one can imagine that Mrs. Sobeski 1 and 2, might be a bit interested in an opportunity for a chat with lawyers in tow. Family law lawyer Linda Silver Dranoff is quick off the mark to point out that if he neglected to mention his newfound status as a monied man, during the final proceedings he will eventually pay the price for his silence.

For now, somewhere on a beach no doubt, is Raymond Sobeski, a guy that had his fifteen minutes of fame and is long gone. The quick escape takes on back to the days of Ronnie Biggs of the Great Train robbery, living out his life in Brazil. We wonder if we'll ever see hide or hair of Raymond again. The easy money says that 30 million can keep you away from home for a very long time. But we'll take even odds, that should he step back into Canada, lawyers and ex wives will be staking their claim, one wonders how much will be left by the time he returns, assuming of course he ever does!

Boondoggle bog down

As the Commons committee into the Advertising scandal continues it's never ending quest for truth, order and good government, partisanship has reared its ugly head brining things to a standstill.

This has not been the committees' greatest week, as witness after witness has been left to cool their heels while the politicians argue over minute issues and score political points over procedural motions, most of which the average citizen could care less about.

Auditor General Sheila Fraser sat around waiting for a turn to testify that would never come, Norman Steinberg a top public bureaucrat sat in wonderment for three hours before being told he wouldn't be heard at the moment. The Commissioner of the RCMP, Giuliano Zaccardelli apparently being given a heads up on the confused nature of the work at hand, chose to not even attend.

If last week saw shocking headlines, featuring innuendo and fact mixed in the witness testimonies. This week gave us six hours spent debating whether some testimony should be made public or not. And just what the schedule should look like.

At the heart of the bog down is some in camera testimony provided by Chuck Guite two years ago, at that time he gave testimony about the sponsorship program that he ran from 1997 to 1999. The Conservatives were fighting against the release of that testimony, fearing that the Liberals would then take Mr. Guite, off the witness list of those to testify at this committee. They feel the Liberals may be trying to use his two year old statements to scapegoat him, hasten the end of the inquiry and sweep the rest of the issue under the rug.

The Liberals won a partial victory, the testimony of two years ago will be allowed, and all that everyone is waiting for now is the translation of it, before it will be released in public. It's expected that Mr. Guite will then appear before the committee by the 22nd and 23rd of April. Providing all the committee members are playing nicely together in the sandbox by that time.

The fear of the Conservatives is that the Prime Minister will call an election before that date, should an election be called this committee would be disbanded. Should Guite's original testimony come out before then, it could be the last thing the public remembers of the scandal before an election. The issue unresolved, left to the judicial inquiry that has yet to get mobilized.

In the meantime we're treated to watching our elected officials descend into a state of paralysis, the outrage and hubris of a few months ago giving way to the culture of self preservation. Somehow the vision of transparency on this issue is getting a little clouded.

We were promised answers as to how this scandal happened, and we were promised steps would be put in place to ensure it never happened again. To hammer home the new political world we're entering there is a tv commercial featuring the Prime Minister, making the rounds sharing the word of change. The Liberals focusing on that very issue of accountability, perhaps the committee should ask for a copy!

Rather than entering that brave new era, it would appear the committee is falling back on a more familiar trait, one of serving their own best interests first. Which is what got us all into the mess in the first place. The more they try to change, the more they stay the same.

The above item is taken from my Boondoggle site, for more postings and links on Government check it out.