Wake-Up Call

Spent an extra half-hour in bed this morning listening to an interview on CBC Radio's The Current with American author Chris Hedges about his new book Empire of Illusion. We all need a little escapism in our lives, I think. A guilty pleasure, a harmless vice. But when we live that way 24/7, whether through our relentless consumption of sports programming, Hollywood blockbusters, porn, reality TV, video games or whatever, what we end up doing is becoming disassociated from anything remotely resembling reality. Which suits the political, economic and religious elites in our society just fine. Here's the transcript of another radio interview Hedges did recently with Thom Hartmann.

Six in the Morning

1. BUSH FAR STRANGER THAN WE THOUGHT: Seems, in 2003 in an attempt to convice French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac that France should join the coalition of the willing in an invasion of Iraq, then-US-president, George W Bush, argued that

“Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”

The French PM wasn't swayed, as you may recall, but he was sufficiently perplexed by the president's appeal that he sought insight from a theology professor, Thomas Romer, from the University of Lausanne. Romer wrote of the incident in 2007 and Chirac has since confirmed the tale.

This was apparently reported on many months ago in the Toronto Star (although Alternet seems to have the Star beat by a couple days), but it's only now making its way onto blogs like Boing Boing, Mother Jones and The Daily Dish .

The story has yet to be confirmed by either the Guardian or the New York Times so it could still turn out to be one of those crazy urban myths. And if it is, colour me suckered.

2. PLIMER SHAMED INTO TAKING UP MONBIOT CHALLENGE: This one is also a bit of oldish news. On Thursday, Guardian science columnist, George Monbiot, reported on his blog that Ian Plimer -- the climate-change denying twit, science god to Rex Murphy, and author of the debunked Heaven and Earth -- has agreed to respond in writing to 11 of the most severe charges of misinformation in his book. In return, Monbiot has agreed to a public debate against Plimer on the subject of climate change. (Guardian)

3. FIRST MINISTERS FAIL ENVIRONMENT: While the country's premiers were supposed to turn their minds to climate change on Friday, and while environmental lobbyists were pushing for something big on the subject to emerge from the first ministers conference, the big announcements to come out of that day were on how the premiers were committed to investing in "innovation" as a way to staunch job loss. Wow! Daring move! Meanwhile, during a post-meeting press conference, Sask premier, Brad Wall, took time to indicate he was still not in favour of a cap and trade system unless it was one even more toothless than the one the Americans are considering.

4. FOLKFEST A BIG SUCCESS: They're saying it was "awesome." The fest sold out both nights, which they've never done before, and Vic Park was packed beyond all expectations. I didn't get to go to any of it, so I hope you all had a great time without me. I could hear the music off in the distance from my house and it sounded like you were having fun. So, anyway... congratulations Regina Folk Fest!

5. TYPHOON MORAKOT HITS CHINA: The Chinese government evacuated nearly one million people from its eastern coastal province in anticipation of the typhoon. (Al Jazeera English)

6. FLAHERTY APPOINTS CANADA-PENSION HATER TO POST WITH PENSION REVIEW: Jack Mintz has been made research director for a review of Canada Pension Plan. Mintz is a former head of the CD Howe Institute and is an advocate for RRSPs and individual responsibility for retirement. (Progressive Economics Forum)