The Late, Late, Late Afternoon, Okay, Evening, News

1.) HAITI: IT JUST GETS WORSE Sounds like we should expect more Canadian deaths in Haiti. That's in addition to the 100,000 Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive is gussing were killed in Tuesday's brutal earthquake. Also, there are problems getting medical help, food and water and other aid to people who need it--the scale of destruction in Port-Au-Prince and other devastated areas includes collapsed buildings and impassible streets. What fun. At least Ottawa will match individul Canadians' donations (up to $50 million anyway). Then again, is that really an efficient or practical disaster relief strategy? Sounds kind of like a multimillion dollar version of a bake sale to me. Someone left me know if I'm off base here. (CBC)

2.) CONSERVATIVES CRASH IN POLLS Thanks to Harper's diabolical proroguerry, support for the Tories has tumbled. Yeah, well, that was the Prime Minister's gamble. We'll see where the voters sit when parliament comes back and everbody's forgotten about this. Harper's betting things will be just fine for his party. Think he might be right. (Globe And Mail)

3.) LOTS OF INTEREST IN MARRIAGE COMMISSIONER LAW Yeah, not so surprising. And I'll just add here that prejudices masquerading as legitimate religious values don't belong in all kinds of public spheres: education, science, medicine, politics, etc. (Leader-Post)

4.) YOU CALL IT A "STRUCTURAL DEFICIT", I CALL IT A PLOT AGAINST CANADA Parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page says Canada can't have a balanced budget while it continues to spend far, far more than it raises in taxes. So do you suppose when the Conservatives sliced two per cent off the GST--which lost the government $8-10 billion in revenue--they knew they were manufacturing a fiscal crisis that would help create support for savage government cuts? (CBC)

5.) A RARE SHARK ATTACK Great whites don't usually eat people. This one did. (Guardian)

6.) HAITI: GOOD GOD, PAT ROBERTSON IS A DICK So what's he saying, Haiti deserved the earthquake? Yes, he is saying that. My question: what kind of an asshole worships a god who earthquake-nukes the poorest country in the western hemisphere anyway? A miserable creep, that's who. Sure as hell not any kind of real Christian. The only public forum Pat Robertson should have is his family's dining room table on major holidays. Get off the TV, evil loon.

(Note to woman nodding in sad agreement: Fuck you, too.)

Rally Time

If you check out the new prairie dog just hitting the streets now you'll find a news article by Stephen LaRose and an editorial by Stephen Whitworth taking issue with the parliamentary manouevring that a third Stephen (Harper) has been up to in Ottawa to save his government from embarassing questions concerning Canadian complicity in the torture of Afghan detainees, plus also buy himself some time to appoint more Conservatives to the Senate to consolidate the party's grip on that august chamber and the committee work that it does. If the democratic rights of Canadians get trampled in the process, why should he care? This is a man, remember, who's on a mission to revamp the country and turn it into his own personal utopia where religion trumps reason and priviledge trumps public duty and social responsibility.

Some Canadians probably couldn't care less. Fortunately, not everyone has been cowed into submission by Harpo's dictatorial ways. Saturday, January 23, a series of rallies are being held across the country to protest the latest prorogation debacle. In Regina, the rally will be on the Scarth St. Mall between 1-2 p.m. That's more or less on our front door step, and we'll have writers there to report on the event. We promise.

Pick of the Day: Coffeehouse Controversies

Back when the Cold War was raging between the East Bloc led by the Soviet Union and the West led by the United States, certain areas of the globe like south-east Asia, Africa and Central and South America were surrogate battlegrounds where forces funded by both sides waged guerilla and outright war against each other for regional supremacy.

Beginning with the elections of Margaret Thatcher in 1979 and Ronald Reagan in 1980, the West ratcheted up its involvement both militarily and financially in order to overthrow what were often democratically elected governments that were regarded as being too closely aligned with the Soviet Union. Few British and American troops were in the direct line of fire, but civillians in countries like Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mozambique and Angola suffered horribly.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a lot of those proxy wars petered out. They've since been supplanted, of course, by what some commentators have described as a clash of civilizations between the West and the Muslim World. While all this has been going on, there's been a resurgence in leftist politics in Latin America in particular led by peasant, labour and indigenous leaders. How governments like those led by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia came about, and how they are faring in this age of global capitalism, is what University of Regina Political Science professor Jeffrey Webber will discuss in the first Coffeehouse Controversies of the winter season at Chapters tonight at 7:30 p.m. The formal title of the talk is The New Latin American Left.

To get you in the mood for a bit of rabble-rousing, here's Bruce Cockburn performing his song "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" which was initially inspired by a visit he made to a Guatemalan refugee camp in 1984. (YouTube)