Not a Hoax: Cons Pondering Weaker Emission Targets for Tarsands

The CBC has come into possession of documents suggesting the Harper government is looking for ways to weaken the already lax greenhouse gas emission targets that the oil and gas sector is subjected to.

Geez, guys. Think maybe you're the punching bag of the COP15 Conference because you deserve to be?

More Coming from Climate Pranksters

Here is Margaret Matembe from the Ugandan delegation responding earlier today to the announcement that Canada would be bringing forward aggressive, new carbon emission targets.

As we noted before, that Canadian press release was a hoax.

So is this press conference with the Ugandan delegation.

There was also a hoaxed article from a hoaxed Wall Street Journal website, hoaxed articles on other hoax media websites, and a press release from the Canadian government denouncing the first press release as a hoax that was itself a hoax.

It's a twisty knot of hoaxery. Here's the Globe and Mail to sort it all out.

It's looking like the Yes Men are behind all these hi-jinx and they're promising more for tomorrow at 13:00, Copenhagen time.

It's been a bad day for Jim Prentice. Here's hoping tomorrow will be worse.

Author of Dystopian Futures Has Brush With Same

Canadian science fiction author, Dr Peter Watts, was arrested by US border guards last Tuesday. He was then beaten, pepper sprayed, held in jail over night, not allowed access to a lawyer then deposited in Canada during a cold snap without his jacket.

His computer, flashdrive and notepad were confiscated.

Looks like the illiterates they have manning the US/Canada border can't tell the difference between notes written by a science fiction author and plans for a nefarious terrorist plot. Watts writes far-future sci-fi, by the way, not near-future, semi-plausible thrillers about geopolitical conflict.

Maybe the guards thought the references to genetically modified fishmen, posthuman zombies and vampire starship captains were some sort of sophisticated code.

Watts is charged with assaulting a federal officer (as if) and will have to defend himself against the charge in a US court. Mounting a defence is expected to be very costly. Watts is a successful writer, but as a successful Canadian writer, this will likely bankrupt him. As such, a fund is being put together to help him out.

Read a full account of Watts' ordeal over at BoingBoing, another at the Toronto Star or this one direct from Peter Watts himself.

Find out how to contribute to Watts' defense here.

And while you're at it, you should read what Watt's has to say about the CRU email scandal. The guy likely has the best and truest take on the scandal so far.

We're so screwed -- economically speaking

Well, if the world economy really does implode at a yet-to-be-determined date in the not so distant future, we can't claim we weren't warned.

And make no mistake, it will. Why? Because apparently we've some how lost our ability to take in new information and form new beliefs based on this new information. I believe they called it “learning” before it completely went out of fashion.

The always interesting, and usually quite right nobel laurete in economics, Paul Krugman, offers an excellent take-down of the alternative reality that the hard right finds themselves stuck in these days.

As he explains, they continue to delude themselves that all is well, despite the fact that their beloved business mavens have been the recipients of the largest and most shocking display of public largesse, um, ever, because their utterly unregulated business transactions blew up in their faces and their first reaction was to go running for the shelter of the welfare state.

Which, to recap, remains a bad thing for individuals, but apparently a good thing for companies and the wealthiest individuals the world has ever seen.

Oh, and he doesn't spare what passes for a left in American politics either, pointing out that the utter lack of meaningful reform by the bought-and-paid for by finance Democrats pretty much guarantees a repeat because, in the words of philosopher George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

And, as an added bonus, enjoy Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi's well-deserved drubbing of the Obama administration's craven cave-in to big finance, delivered in the fine form of a first class polemicist.

Americans Don't Want to be Seen Shaking Hands with Canadians

The Toronto Star is reporting that environment minister, Jim Prentice, was stood up at planned photo op with US environment secretary, Steven Chu. (Planned by Prentice's people but never approved by Chu's.)

Apparently, Prentice's people were trying to change the fake press release story by having a few chummy shots taken with his opposite number from south of the border. Chu, however, will only meet with Prentice and his people behind closed doors. He has no interest in being seen shaking the man's hand.

Remember when America was the bad guy of the globe and a Canada pin worn overseas could score you free beer?

Times are changing.


Received an email from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) today announcing the release of a new report on Canadian military spending. At $21.185 billion, our expenditure on defence in 2009-10 ranks us 13th highest in the world and sixth highest among NATO's 28 members on a per capita basis. For comparison purposes, the CCPA notes, the federal Department of the Environment received $1.064 billion. And I'll throw in this tidbit: in 2009-10 federal spending on arts, culture and heritage will total a humungous $535 million. Makes you think, doesn't it? Here's a link to the CCPA news release and report here.

Mind the Gap! Catalogue and Website Released

Art exhibitions are nice, but let's suppose you're too cold to see one in person. Or maybe you didn't hear about the exhibition in time. Or perhaps you're not even born yet, and you're planning on someday wondering what kind of art was being made at a given point in time.

That's what exhibition catalogues are for.

Mind the Gap! is an expansive exhibition of contemporary Saskatchewan art curated by Amanda Cachia and Jeff Nye at the Dunlop Art Gallery. The curators traveled all over the province, meeting with artists in communities large and small, all in an effort to bring together a diverse collection of artwork currently being made in Saskatchewan.

The catalogue is a nice addition to the exhibition, as it gives readers a glimpse into the background and intent of the show. Nye's essay explores some of the related themes present in the artists' work. The book also features works of creative non-fiction and poetry by Alice Kuipers, Bonnie Dunlop, Carle Steel, and Matt Hall, commissioned for the catalogue.

The exhibition, which will be touring several Saskatchewan galleries beginning in 2010, also has a website containing much of the content found in the catalogue.

Being that the Dunlop is part of the RPL, I'm sure there is a copy you can read for free. Or, if you're the consumerist-type, there are also copies available for purchase. Just think, non-denominational-winter-gift-giving day is just around the corner!

Finally, for the sake of transparency, I feel I should note that I have a piece in the show. But don't let that deter you! It's a fine exhibition, and a very pretty book, so please check it out.

Prank Shames Environment Minister

Earlier today, news came from Jim Prentice's Twitter account that the environment minister would be announcing bold, new emissions reduction targets. A press release was up on an Environment Canada website and a Wall Street Journal website confirmed the story.

The announcement was reported in many international news outlets.

Problem: it wasn't Jim Prentice's Twitter account. And, it wasn't a real Environment Canada website and it wasn't a real Wall Street Journal website. The announcement, the targets, all of it, were a hoax forcing minister Prentice's office to announce that, no, Canada will not be bringing new, bold targets to Copenhagen. We will be bringing the same lame-ass targets you already know about because we suck.

The merry pranksters remain anonymous but the whole thing seems very Yes Men inspired.

Elizabeth May is calling the stunt, "damn clever." Here's the full story from over at the Globe and Mail. Here's the press release that started all the hullaballoo.

Six In The Morning

1 POOR COUNTRIES WALK OUT OF COPENHAGEN Then walk right on back in. At issue: what rich companies owe the planet for all those years of pollution. (New York Times) I don't get the rich countries' resistence--isn't "you broke it, you bought it" a basic rule of capitalism?

2 CHRISTIAN BIGOTS INSPIRE GAY-BASHING UGANDAN NITWITS And then, the so-called Christians delicately back away from the imminent gay genocide they'll have helped create. Forgive me for not applauding. (Guardian)

3 STOP PICKING ON PANHANDLERS Regina's administration will recommend that the City's tag day bylaw shouldn't be used by police against panhandlers. Couldn't agree more. (CBC)

4 DAMN YOU, LIECHTENSTEIN How could you help wealthy Canadians hide their money so they wouldn't have to pay taxes? Is it because the first three letters of your name spell "lie"?

5 MEANWHILE IN GREAT BRITAIN There's an ongoing inquiry about the Iraq war investigating if prime minister Tony Blair lied and misled Britons into a bogus war they didn't want. (Guardian) Much like the inquiry in the United States about Bush and Cheney and co.'s Iraq war lies. Oh wait, they don't do that kind of thing in America. Republican presidents are allowed to run the country any way they want. Right. I forgot.

6 PRIVATE FITNESS, PUBLIC FACILITY Good, informative article by Joe Couture in the L-P about a fitness trainer whose Fieldhouse boot camps were cancelled by the City. No scandel, not much drama between the two parties but a good case study of an issue: to what extent should private businesses get to use a city facility? (Leader-Post)

12 Days of Christmas: Larceny, Inc.

It's that time of year when there seems to be nothing on TV but the same old Christmas movies that they play every year.

There's nothing wrong with these films - films like It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, any one of the many versions of A Christmas Carol that are out there, A Miracle on 34th Street, Holiday Inn, White Christmas, Babes in Toyland, etc. They just get a little repetitive as they seem to play on every channel.

Over the next twelve days, for those who want to watch something seasonal but off the beaten path, here in no particular order are some alternative choices that while they all having something to do with Christmas, they aren't the normal holiday film.

First up is Larceny, Inc. (1942). The film stars Edward G. Robinson as J. Chalmers 'Pressure' Maxwell - an ex-convict that decides he wants to go straight. While he was in jail, another convict played by Anthony Quinn told Robinson about his plan to tunnel in and rob a bank. Robinson dismisses it because he wants to fly straight. Once out he tries to get a bank loan so he can purchase a dog track in Florida. He's refused so he buys a luggage store that's right next door to the bank. He puts Quinn's plan into action by getting his lackeys to start tunneling into the bank.

There's a problem. It's the Christmas season and although the business that Robinson bought was a dying store, he has inadvertently turned it into a thriving business. And they can't drill if there are customers in the store. Meanwhile it's Christmas Eve and Quinn has gotten word that Robinson has stolen his idea.

The movie was based on the play The Night Before Christmas and this was one of the three gangster comedies that Robinson made with director Lloyd Bacon along with Brother Orchid and A Slight Case of Murder.

Pick of the Day: Boundless: Sublime Maelstrom

Born in Regina (she's the sister of Regina-based filmmaker Mark Wihak), Marian Wihak is a graduate of the University of Regina where she studied theatre design. For some time now, she's worked as a designer in film, TV and theatre based largely in Toronto. When not so engaged, she also finds time to paint. This exhibition of large-scale oil paintings, which is on at the Art Gallery of Regina until January 23, was inspired by time Wihak spent recently working on a film in Saskatchewan.

Because of the chilly weather, we didn't have many thunder storms in the province this past summer. But we all realize the immense power of nature and the suddenness with which a storm can brew up when the right combination of heat and humidity are in their air. Quite apart from their value as dramatic skyscapes showing massive clouds and storm systems, Wihak says, "the paintings in this series are expansive, stylized representations that are as much metaphors for spiritual longing as they are portraits of a magnificent geography."

To that extent, the paintings remind me of Taoist-type paintings which, through the scale of the natural features that the artist depicts in comparison to the human viewer, are meant to convey the relative fragility of our existence in a vast and often imperious universe. To put you in the mood to see the show, here's the trailer for the 2000 disaster flick The Perfect Storm. (YouTube)