No Schools For NDP Ridings?

This one should've been in Thursday's Six In The Morning...unfortunately there wasn't one for reasons of editor laziness.

In brief: an NDP member of Parliament gets hold of an e-mail from an Indian Affairs official through an FOI request (wonder how long it took) that could be interpreted as saying the reason a school planned for an Ontario reserve hasn't been built yet is because the reserve is in an opposition riding.

In fact the official's exact quote is: "The existing facility is a 30 to 40 year old wood structure. No real issue, just sitting in (an) opposition riding."

Here's a link to a story in the Toronto Star, and here's a one to NDP MP Charlie Angus' Web page.

Do the Tories hold up school construction on reserves in opposition ridings? You decide.

(This post has been edited to reduce incoherence)

Sneaky Cephalopod

Earlier this week a scheming octopus at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium opened a valve and flooded the place. From the L.A. Times:

"The tiny octopus, which is about the size of a human forearm when its appendages are extended, floated lazily in the water that remained in its tank. It watched intently through glass walls and portholes as workers struggled to dry the place out in time for the day's first busload of schoolchildren to arrive on a 9:30 a.m. field trip."

Full details here. Octopusses are awesome.

Brother Can You Spare a Dime?

Gee, I guess things are tougher in the U.S. than was initially reported.

The "S" Word

the Conservative Political Action Conference is going on right now in Washington D.C. And those all-American Conservatives are buzzing about the country's new president.

Specifically, there is talk that Barack Obama is a socialist.

By "there is talk" I mean a Republican U.S. senator actually said Obama is "the world's best salesman for socialism." (CNN)

Senator Jim DeMint also says conservative Americans might have to “take to the streets to stop America’s slide into socialism,” which sounds to me like he might be advocating the violent overthrow of the United States' democratically-elected government. I'm not sure that's legal but what do I know, I'm a commie Canadian who doesn't own even one firearm.

The conference started Thursday. Noteable moment yesterday: Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee said “the Union of American Socialist Republics is being born.”

So what's with the socialism scare? The term “Socialism” describes an economic system where citizens, through their democratically elected government, own and control the means of production. There are degrees of socialism, from fully state-run economies to European-style social democracies, but in practice a country like Venezuela — with its nationalized oil industry and hostility to foreign ownership — is probably closest to what most people would think of as socialist.

The Obama-smearers know this. They know that by calling Obama a socialist they're suggesting the U.S. president is a dangerous extremist who's not much different than a Latin American dictator (yes I know Hugo Chavez was democratically elected but most Americans wouldn't, and while I don't have any actual "facts" on this I'll bet the few who DO know who Chavez is would be scared of him).

This is of course all insane, delusional propoganda. U.S. conservatives are trying to frighten moderate Americans into thinking their new president is a power-hungry dictator leading a coup against democracy to attract support for their jerky little political party, the Republicans.

Regardless, whatever one’s preferred definition, “socialist” is not a useful catch-all description for the basic government activities like collecting taxes, administering public sevices (like delivering the mail) and providing state health care (well, not in America because that would be "socialist").

Oh, and desperately trying to repair an economy wrecked by a terrible, and very conservative, president.

By the way, both Bush and Cheney addressed the 2008 CPAC. It's really nice that this year, a new president's got better things to do.

Conservatives and the Politics of Fear

I guess if minister hound dog of love, Peter MacKay, is to be believed, we're all supposed to be terrified of the Russians again. That's good because I never really came to terms with this whole post-cold-war world. Its spy movies lack style.

I like how MacKay reassures us that Russian planes skirting the edge of our airspace is not an uncommon thing. A great piece of doublespeak that. He's saying, "Don't worry, they do this all the time," and, "Quake in your boots, the Ruskie air force is swarming our northern border! Quick, we need more money for the military!"

A couple questions... First, if this is not an uncommon thing... why are we hearing about it just now, I wonder? And second, if our northern border is so vulnerable to a Russian menace (I'm not saying it is, mind), then how exactly will all those extra billions the Conservatives spent on air conditioned tanks and camouflage in desert hues defend us?

Six In The Morning

Special extra-surly edition!

1 YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW THAT The Canadian government is getting slammed for their crummy track record on openess. Canada's information commissioner singled out the Conservatives for being particularly stingy with information about the government's activities. Freedom of information requests are supposed to be processed within 30 days, but Information commisioner Robert Marleau says that's become the exception, not the rule. Marleau told the Toronto Star that response to freedom of information (FOI) requests are frequently taking more than three months. the Defence Department and the RCMP are among the worst offenders.

Access to information is critical to democracy. These delays make it difficult for Canadians to know what their politicians are up to. The system's breakdown is no good and very, very naughty. You should probably click on this link to the Toronto Star article to learn more. (Toronto Star)

2 YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW ANYTHING, IN FACT Okay, so the CBC's president says the network is in major financial trouble like all media these days (I guess we should get some kind of official CanWest death watch going, huh?). So is our goverment showing leadership and making sure the broadcaster has the cash to do its job? Hahahahaha, sigh. (Toronto Star)

3 STILL ROLLING IN IT Of course why worry about boring stuff like the death of media and our government acting like a secret society that can do whatever it feels like when Saskatchee-wan is bucking the economic trends?

4 SPEAKING OF THAT TREND WE'RE BUCKING That giant sucking sound you're hearing from the south is not your imagination--the U.S. economy is shrinking faster than expected. (New York Times)

5 DELICATE, SENSITIVE BOTTOMS If I ran things it would be against the law to make toilet paper that wasn't recycled. It is insane and evil that trees are cut down to meet our our poop-wiping needs when landfills are cluttered with unrecycled paper. Well, not surprisingly, it turns out American toilet paper causes more environmental damage than SUVs. Those super-soft rolls apparently are being made from woood ripped out of virgin forests.

From the Guardian's article:

"Future generations are going to look at the way we make toilet paper as one of the greatest excesses of our age. Making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution." Making toilet paper has a significant impact because of chemicals used in pulp manufacture and cutting down forests.

Full horrible, awful details are here. (The Guardian)

6 EVOLUTIONARY STEPS A South African archeolgist speaks about 1.5 million year-old fossilized human footprints discovered in Kenya. The prints are the earliest evidence of upright human walking. Also I'm going to assume that the reason there's only four toes is that second toes don't plant with much weight. Creationotologists are of course free to believe these prints are evidence of four-toed angels. (Associated Press/The Guardian)