Saturday, February 28, 2015

Experts warn against dangers of Canadian government's police state bill

Ed. here. Walt's comments below were posted a week ago. Today, CBC Radio's The House features an interview with Prof. Craig Forcese, of the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa, in which he highlights the serious flaws in Bill C-51, aka the Harper Police State Bill. We also recommend the backgrounders written by Prof. Forcese and Kent Roach, of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, which tells you in great detail why this bill is a threat to the civil liberties of all Canadians.

Attention Canadian readers! Your civil liberties are threatened by Bill C-51, the "anti-terrorism" bill introduced by your Dear Leader, super-authoritarian control freak Stephen Harper.

The editors of Canada's self-styled national newspaper, the Globe and Mail -- the same ones who endorsed Mr. Harpoon and his party at the last federal election -- now accuse him of using his new spying law to create a "secret police force" in Canada.

Why call it a "spying law"? Because C-51 will give reckless and unnecessary powers to the Mounties, CSIS and other spy agencies, including the ability to detain people who haven’t committed any crime, with minimal oversight or democratic accountability.

Dear Canadian readers, don't let Harper mislead you as to what C-51 really means. Four former prime ministers -- Joe Clark, John Turner, Jean Chrétien, and Paul Martin -- are among almost two dozen prominent Canadians concerned about this bill!

Your rights and freedoms -- freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, even freedom of thought -- are in danger. Be sure to read "What's happening to Canada?!", posted here yesterday.

Your Dear Leader is telling you that people like Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair are careless of the security of the country, unpatriotic, and probably in league with the Islamic extremists too! The way he tells it, to be against C-51 is to be against Canada. If there's a climate of fear in the Not-so-great Not-so-white North today, Harper created it!

Yet, a poll published on Thursday claims 82% of respondents support this draconian, totally over-the-top legislation. I don't believe it. I don't want to believe it. Did they ask you? Are you willing to trade your rights and liberties for "enhanced security" against the threats which are the direct result of Harper's pro-Israel, pro-American foreign policy?

There’s little doubt that many Members of Parliament -- including some Conservatives -- are concerned about the outrageous laws and lack of oversight. But before they stand up to Harper, they need to know that people across Canada will speak out too.

Dear Canadian readers, you must ask yourselves: are you the kind of people who give up your freedoms to fear-mongers, or are you the kind of people who will defend your democracy? Right now is the time to reject fear! Sign this online petition to stop the encroachment on your freedom of Harper's increasingly authoritarian and dictatorial state.

Thanks to Agent 34 for making us aware of the petition. Stay free!

The lure of the limerick, the colour of the dress

Ed. here. Walt is tired and downhearted. Nearly every headline that catches his eye raises his blood pressure. So Doctor Daniels has ordered him to bed, on a strict diet of vitriol and Kellogg's Grumpies. Until he gets back, he has asked me to fill this space with something light and humorous. With what, I asked myself. Then I heard Homer Simpson say that he once knew a man from Nantucket (in "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo"), and thought, hey, I know that one. I won't post it here, but will copy out four other delightful limericks, which I hope will bring a smile to your face... and Walt's.

There was a young man of Calcutta
Who had a most terrible stutta.
He said "Pass the ham
"And the j.. j.. j.. jam
"And the b.. b.. b.. b.. b.. b.. butta."

There was a young man from Darjeeling
Who got on a bus bound for Ealing.
It said at the door
"Don't spit on the floor!"
So he carefully spat on the ceiling.

There was an old fellow named Cager
Who proposed an incredible wager
By offering to fart
The whole oboe part
Of Mozart's Quartet in F Major.

The was a young fellow named Clyde
Who fell in an outhouse and died.
Along came his brother
And fell in another
And now they're interred side by side.

Afterthought: Are you telling me the dress isn't gold and white?! Go on wi' ye!!!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Pope Francis more concerned with sucking up to Russia than with fate of Ukrainian Catholics

To understand the strife besetting Ukraine, one must understand that the state whose existence is now threatened by Vladimir Putin's Russia has never been truly united in matters of language, culture and even religion. The country is into western and eastern halves, more or less along the Dnieper River, which runs through Kiev, the capital.

The eastern part of Ukraine has over the centuries become more and more "Russified". That was official policy during the Soviet times, when the use of the Ukrainian language was suppressed in favour of Russian, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was subsumed into the Russian Orthodox Church.

The geographical division of Ukraine is reflected in the country's division by religion. The people of eastern Ukraine are predominantly Orthodox, members of one of the several autocephalous schismatic Orthodox churches of eastern Europe and the Middle East. Most Western Ukrainians, however, are Catholic. That doesn't mean they are all Roman Catholics. Most belong to the Ukrainian Catholic Church, of the Byzantine rite.

The Ukrainian Catholic Church, like the many other Eastern Churches, is in union with Rome -- thus part of the Catholic (i.e. Universal) Church -- and acknowledges the Pope as head of the Church. So you would expect the Pope to be more than a little concerned about the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, which targets the Ukrainian Church as the great protector of Ukrainian culture and independence. You would be wrong.

On February 20th, Pope Francis held separate audiences for the Ukrainian bishops of the Roman rite and those of the Byzantine rite, at the end of which all of the bishops received a written statement expressing the Pope's solidarity with the people affected by continued violence in Ukraine. Francis lamented the conflict that "continues to claim many innocent victims and to cause great suffering to the entire population." However, breaking from his prepared text, he said that he is pained by calls for the defeat of rebels or a victory for Ukrainian independence!

You might wonder, when the Pope deliberately stops short of condemning Russian-backed separatists, whose side he's on! Is he, too, so scared of Putin that he is afraid even to say a few words against the Russian tyrant? Walt is reminded of Josef Stalin's sarcastic remark to French Foreign Minister Pierre Laval, in May 1935, quoted in Winston Churchill's The Gathering Storm. In reply to Laval's suggestion that the Soviet Union should encourage Catholicism in order to propitiate the Pope and get the Church onside against the Nazis, Stalin is supposed to have said "The Pope? How many divisions has he got?"

Indeed the Pope has no army, and these days he does not even have the force of suasion, since no-one other than the kumbaya liberals and secular humanists pays any attention to the ramblings of an old man whose cheese is obviously slipping off his cracker. But still, could he not at least say a few words in support of the good Catholics of the Ukraine who look to him for leadership, but in vain.

The same thought was expressed [better! Ed.] on the day of the Pope's meeting with the Ukrainian bishops by noted Vaticanista Sandro Magister, in "Assaulted by Moscow and Abandoned by Rome". Here is the first part of Sig. Magister's article. The emphasis is mine.

He had a lot to be sorry about, Pope Francis, with the bishops of Ukraine who recently arrived in Rome for their periodic ad limina visit.

To these bishops and to their priests and faithful, when two weeks ago Jorge Mario Bergoglio had denounced to the world the war that is devastating their country, the words he had used had sounded terrible. "Fratricidal violence", the pope had called it, putting everyone on a par, aggressors and victims.

And it had been even worse when Francis had looked up from the text and added on his own, "When I hear the words ‘victory’ or ‘defeat’ I feel a great pain, a great sadness in my heart. Those are not the right word; the only right word is ‘peace.’ Think about it, this is a war among Christians! All of you have the same baptism. You are fighting among Christians. Think about this scandal."

The fact that Bergoglio has a soft spot for Russia had already been seen with the outbreak of war in Syria, when he called for a day of prayer and fasting to oppose the armed intervention of the United States and France against the regime of Damascus, and Vladimir Putin publicly praised him.

Then there is the influence of the ecumenical factor. Of the 200 million Orthodox Christians in the world, 150 million belong to the patriarchate of Moscow and "of all Rus’", and it is therefore with Moscow above all that the pope wants to cultivate good relations.

But the fact that the aggression of Russia against Ukraine, the armed occupation of its eastern border, the annexation of Crimea should have left the pope indifferent to "victory" or "defeat", was intolerable for the sentiments of Ukrainian Catholics. All the more so in that these words of Pope Francis promptly brought the applause of Moscow, this time not from Putin but from Orthodox patriarch Kirill, who also has jurisdiction over the Orthodox of Ukraine.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Why the rest of the world hates America -- another view

D'you know where Chuck Thompson comes from? Juneau! I know, but d'you know Juneau? It's the capital city of Alaska [Not Anchorage? Ed.] and, according to Chuck, a good place to be from. Like Bill Bryson leaving Des Moines, Mr. Thompson left his hometown to see the rest of the world. And write about it.

Chuck Thompson is a travel writer -- the kind who writes magazine articles about places like Juneau, because doing so pays the bills and gets you a look at the rest of the world. But he has the self-awareness to know when he's writing bullshit, and the courage to write the truth, when he can.

In Smile When You're Lying (Holt, 2007) Mr. Thompson gives readers "a hilarious behind-the-brochures tour of picture-perfect locales, dangerous destinations, and overrated hellholes". (That's from the blurb on the cover.) A reviewer said "This Thompson will remind readers of Hunter S.". Walt disagrees. No-one writes like Dr. Gonzo at his best, besides which travelling was only a sidebar to HST's main topic. Nevertheless, this Thompson does remind me of the early P.J. O'RourkeHolidays in Hell springs to mind. I give Smile When You're Lying a big thumb up.

But a book review isn't what I intended to write. And Smile When You're Lying is more than an anthology of bad trips. In the final chapter -- "Not-So-Ugly Americans and the Road of Good Intentions" -- Chuck Thompson gives his opinions on why Americans in general and American tourists in particular are more reviled in the rest of the world than ever before. His argument makes so much sense to me as to demand a lengthy quote. Here it is.

Around the planet, "America" has become a byword for the kind of pushy, greedy, arrogant, ignorant, scheming, intolerant, hypocritical, violent, militaristic, goose-stepping, blood-gulping, Limbaugh-worshipping bullies that civilized people since time eternal have despised and occasionally battled to death....

No matter how many beaches we [clean] up, no matter how many schools we build amid the rubble of villages we bomb, the world will judge Americans not as well-meaning individuals but as faceless supporters of a fascist regime drunk with military power and an unslakable thirst for oil. In the way Americans once held all citizens of the Soviet Union in contempt, in the way the world's 1 billion baptized Catholics are somehow held accountable for every impetuous decree from a geriatric pontiff whose native language the majority of them don't even speak, the world now judges Americans as an evil herd.

Unfair, maybe, but this makes a kind of sense. Universal scorn is what results from willingly paying taxes to a government that sends soldiers around the globe to secure oil fields and flatten ancient civilizations before trying to rebuilt them according to its own shabby blueprints.... If you pay the taxes that foot the bills, you're complicit in the big picture. And you're hated for it.

Since the entirety of American civilization is based upon European civilization...the progression of American history shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone in the Old World. In the Middle East today, the United States is only acting in the manner that virtually all of its European fathers did whenever they enjoyed military, technological, and economic superiority over a foreign country -- that is to say, using a dominant army to overthrow a foreign regime and shuttle in private enterprise beneath the security of a semi-permanent military presence to extract resources and amass wealth....

Let's all stop being so naïve about who runs the U.S. government and remember...that it was that great peacenik Jimmy Carter who in 1980 signed the Carter Doctrine, making it official U.S. policy to employ "any means necessary" to protect the flow of oil from the Middle East, a document used by both Bushes to justify military actions in the region.

Democrat or Republican, the U.S. government always operates in the interest of corporate profit. And when it yaps about protecting your freedom and the "American way of life", that expressly means the inalienable right to burn Middle Eastern oil so that we can be warm in winter, cool in summer, and travel anywhere we want, whether it's to a beach in Tahiti or the beer cooler at the Quickie Mart down the street.

And now a few words for Walt's Canadian readers. Chuck Thompson concludes Smile When You're Lying thus: Just when you think you've seen the best the world has to offer, there'll always be Canada. That's the very last sentence of the book. The suggestion is that, compared with the Land of the Free [sic] and the Home of the Brave [sic], Canada is, in the writer's opinion, a veritable free and righteous paradise.

Dear Canucks... please keep in mind that Mr. Thompson wrote those words in 2007, before your Dear Leader, Steve Harper, got his hands on the levers of power and began his campaign to remake the Great White North into a pale imitation of the USA. See "Ralph Nader asks: What's happening to Canada?!" I'm sure Chuck Thompson is asking the same question.

Monday, February 23, 2015

UPDATED: Anger mounts at "graphic revisions" to ON sex ed curriculum

In just a couple of hours, Ontario Education Minister Liz Sandals -- dear chum of Kathleen Wynne, the only openly lesbian head of government in North America -- will announce the province's new sex education curriculum. Agent 3 has parsed the hints, leaks and statements emanating from the Pink Palace at Queen's Park, and provides this summary of what the LGBT mafia in the Ontario government want kids in the Province of Opportunity [sic] to be taught.

The concepts of homosexuality, "gay marriage" and having "parents" of the same gender will be introduced in Grade 3, to students who are usually about eight (8) years old. Puberty will be introduced to kids of about 11 in Grade 6. They will also be taught about masturbation. One can imagine what the group activities will be like.

Information about sexually transmitted diseases will be introduced in Grade 7. This is important for 12-year-olds, Ms Sandals says, because "The research provided to us has indicated that pregnancy among girls has fallen since we introduced sex education [but] alternatively sexually transmitted diseases have gone up.... There are some young people who feel that what they are doing is more acceptable because they are not having intercourse."

Details of "what they are doing" were not provided, but a little rat has told Agent 3 topics to be covered include oral and anal intercourse. Is this really the kind of thing Ontario pre-teens do?

In 2010, when Kathleen Wynne was Minister of Education, the Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty tried to update the sex education curriculum in schools, but, facing an election, "Premier Dad" bowed to pressure from outraged parents and religious leaders and reversed its decision. This time, though, there will be no going back. Once it is rolled out, Ms Sandals said last week, it will not be changed, no matter what the public thinks.

In the same statement, Ms Sandals said that Benjamin Levin "was not directly involved" -- Walt's emphasis -- in the writing of the "updated, modernized" curriculum. Benjamin Levin is the ex-mandarin, ex-professor and leading member of the aforementioned Toronto LGBT mafia, currently charge with accessing child pornography, possessing child pornography, making child pornography, distributing child pornography, counselling to commit an indictable offence and agreeing to or arranging for a sexual offence against a child under 16.

See "Professor behind Ontario's pro-gay sex education curriculum to plead guilty to child porn charges" and "Are perverts pushing Ontario's sex education curriculum? Could be!". Prof. Levin will quietly plead guilty to some of the charges in a few weeks... after the new curriculum has been put in place.

Meanwhile, a growing chorus of parents and religious leaders is raging -- likely in vain but raging all the same -- against the Ontario government's attempts to corrupt their kids. And it's not just the usual gang of Catholics and evangelical Protestants, either. Agent 3 was in Mississauga ON, a city of about 750,000 of which the majority are south Asians -- Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs.

Last night the community organized a town hall meeting, facilitated by the Islamic Society of North America, to protest the curriculum, which, whether they like it or not, will be implemented for the beginning of the new school year in September. What message did the 1000+ attendees have for Premier Wynne? "It’s unacceptable. We reject it!"

Mississauga South MPP Charles Sousa (who is also the Minister of Finance in the Wynne government) attended the meeting and took the heat. Surprisingly, he did not appear as uncompromising as Ms Sandals. "This is not a law that cannot be changed, it’s not a bill," he said. "And there is no law that can prevent amendments to the curriculum."

Indeed. But in practice, the curriculum is written by bureaucrats within the Ministry, "progressive thinkers" like Benjamin Levin who have their own super-PC agenda: encouraging "alternative lifestyles", "celebrating diversity", "preventing bullying", yada yada yada. The chances of any real people having any input are slim and none.

Not only do parents get no input, they don't even get consulted! At last night's meeting, Mr. Sousa was told that all local school board trustees were contacted by the meeting organizers, and not one reported having been consulted in regards to the curriculum.

VIDEO link: Ontario sex-ed: They're teaching my kids to do what? with Brian Lilley.

UPDATE: Click here to go to the Parents As First Educators website. PAFE is an organization of concerned Catholic parents sponsoring a petition to "Stop Graphic Revisions to Ontario’s Sex Education Curriculum". Click here to go straight to the petition, signed by over 45,000 so far.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Canadians! Sign the petition against Harper's police state bill!

Attention Canadian readers! Your civil liberties are threatened by Bill C-51, the "anti-terrorism" bill introduced by your Dear Leader, super-authoritarian control freak Stephen Harper.

The editors of Canada's self-styled national newspaper, the Globe and Mail -- the same ones who endorsed Mr. Harpoon and his party at the last federal election -- now accuse him of using his new spying law to create a "secret police force" in Canada.

Why call it a "spying law"? Because C-51 will give reckless and unnecessary powers to the Mounties, CSIS and other spy agencies, including the ability to detain people who haven’t committed any crime, with minimal oversight or democratic accountability.

Dear Canadian readers, don't let Harper mislead you as to what C-51 really means. Four former prime ministers -- Joe Clark, John Turner, Jean Chrétien, and Paul Martin -- are among almost two dozen prominent Canadians concerned about this bill!

Your rights and freedoms -- freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, even freedom of thought -- are in danger. Be sure to read "What's happening to Canada?!", posted here yesterday.

Your Dear Leader is telling you that people like Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair are careless of the security of the country, unpatriotic, and probably in league with the Islamic extremists too! The way he tells it, to be against C-51 is to be against Canada. If there's a climate of fear in the Not-so-great Not-so-white North today, Harper created it!

Yet, a poll published on Thursday claims 82% of respondents support this draconian, totally over-the-top legislation. I don't believe it. I don't want to believe it. Did they ask you? Are you willing to trade your rights and liberties for "enhanced security" against the threats which are the direct result of Harper's pro-Israel, pro-American foreign policy?

There’s little doubt that many Members of Parliament -- including some Conservatives -- are concerned about the outrageous laws and lack of oversight. But before they stand up to Harper, they need to know that people across Canada will speak out too.

Dear Canadian readers, you must ask yourselves: are you the kind of people who give up your freedoms to fear-mongers, or are you the kind of people who will defend your democracy? Right now is the time to reject fear! Sign this online petition to stop the encroachment on your freedom of Harper's increasingly authoritarian and dictatorial state.

Thanks to Agent 34 for making us aware of the petition. Stay free!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Ralph Nader asks: What's happening to Canada?!

Thanks and a tip o' the tuque to Agent 34, who has passed along Ralph Nader's open letter to Canada's Dear Leader Steve Harper, expressing concern about what he (quoting the Globe and Mail) calls Harper's "Secret Policeman Bill".

Just like America's paranoid "Homeland Security Act", Bill C-51 threatens Canadians' civil liberties for the sake of protecting them from the threats of ISIS et al., which wouldn't even be a problem but for Mr. Harpoon's rabid Zionism and pointless meddling in the Muslim civil war in the Middle East.

In his weekly piece on CBC's The National, Rex Murphy warned that the "terror legislation" -- a phrase that cuts two ways -- sits at the intersection of public safety and individual liberty. He said that any proposal to protect the citizenry by abbreviating the liberties of the same citizenry must be examined as to its ultimate necessity, and put to the fullest parliamentary, media and democratic testing. Amen.

Now comes Ralph Nader -- long-time enemy of the abuses of power in the USA -- to ask why Canada is following his country down the Bush-Clinton-Obama road to a police state. Here are excerpts from "What's happening to Canada? Open letter from Ralph Nader to Prime Minister Stephen Harper"

Many Americans love Canada and the specific benefits that have come to our country from our northern neighbor's many achievements. Unfortunately, your latest proposed legislation -- the new anti-terrorism act -- is being described by leading Canadian civil liberties scholars as hazardous to Canadian democracy.

You are quoted as saying that "jihadi terrorism is one of the most dangerous enemies our world has ever faced" as a predicate for your gross over-reaction that "violent jihadism seeks to destroy" Canadian "rights." Really? Pray tell, which rights rooted in Canadian law are "jihadis" fighting in the Middle East to obliterate? You talk like George W. Bush.

How does "jihadism" match up with the lives of tens of millions of innocent civilians, destroyed since 1900 by state terrorism -- west and east, north and south -- or the continuing efforts seeking to seize or occupy territory?

What has all this post-9/11 loss of American life plus injuries and sickness, in addition to trillions of American tax dollars, accomplished? Has it led to the stability of those nations invaded or attacked by the U.S. and its reluctant western "allies?" Just the opposite, the colossal blowback evidenced by the metastasis of al-Qaeda's offshoots and similar new groups like the self-styled Islamic state are now proliferating in and threatening over a dozen countries.

Have you digested what is happening in Iraq and why Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said no to Washington? Or now chaotic Libya, which like Iraq never had any presence of Al-Qaeda before the U.S.'s destabilizing military attacks?

Canadians might be most concerned about your increased dictatorial policies and practices, as well as this bill's provision for secret law and courts in the name of fighting terrorism -- too vaguely defined. Study what comparable practices have done to the United States -- a course that you seem to be mimicking, including the militarization of police forces.

You may think that Canadians will fall prey to a politics of fear before an election. But you may be misreading the extent to which Canadians will allow the attachment of their Maple Leaf to the aggressive talons of a hijacked American Eagle.

Canada could be a model for independence against the backdrop of bankrupt American military adventures steeped in big business profits…a model that might help both nations restore their better angels.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Happy Chinese New Year + Know your Chinese sign

Walt, Poor Len [and Ed.!]
wish Agents 78 & 88
and all our Chinese readers

There is some confusion amongst us Westerners about what this coming year is called. Our agents tell us tell us it's the Year of the Sheep (绵羊) but other Chinese (and Vietnamese) say it's the Year of the Goat (山羊). The animal pictured above certainly looks like a goat. Or it could be the Year of the Ram (公羊) which I'm told is also correct. Since I'm one of whatever the animal is, I'll take the last one.

How do I know I'm a ram person? [No smart remarks, please. Ed.] I consulted the table below, which shows the years of the Chinese zodiac. It's a twelve-year cycle, so the last Year of the Ram was 2003, the one before that was 1991, and so on. If, like me, you're so old that you can't see your birth year in the diagram, just keep adding 12 to your birth year until you find the right one in the outer ring. Easy!

White lives matter! Another police killing goes unchallenged

Very disturbing story today out of Fairfax VA, as reported by Neil Macdonald, CBC News's man in Washington. The only place you'll find it in the US mainstream media is the Washington Post, which published this photo of a Fairfax cop about to shoot an unarmed white man, standing with his hands up in front of his own home.

Here are the facts, as laid out in the CBC report:

In April 2013, John Geer's common-law wife, who was breaking up with him and moving out, called police to report he was angrily throwing her possessions onto his front lawn. Asked whether Geer had weapons, the woman answered yes, but they were legally owned and secured. No, he hadn't been drinking.

Two squad cars — four officers — initially responded. Geer, on seeing them, retreated into his home, refusing to answer questions. A few minutes later, Officer Rodney Barnes, a trained police negotiator, arrived, and as the four other policemen stood close behind him with weapons drawn, he began trying to coax John Geer out onto the porch.

Barnes would later recall that Geer was polite, but reluctant to leave his home, saying repeatedly he was frightened of being killed. He said "I don't want anybody to get hurt," the negotiator told investigators a few months later. "I don't want to get shot."

Barnes asked Geer if he owned a pistol. Geer said yes, and fetched it. He held it up, holstered, for Barnes to see and set it aside, raising his hands again. He offered to let Barnes come into the house and retrieve the weapon. He asked for permission to scratch his nose, Barnes said, and did it slowly, then raised his hands again. He asked to reach into his pocket for his phone; Barnes asked him not to, and he obeyed.

"He said 'I know if I reach down or drop my hands I can get shot," Barnes told detectives later. "I said, hey, nobody's going to shoot you…" But Geer pointed to one nearby officer in particular: Adam Torres, who kept raising his Sig Sauer pistol from the "ready" position (pointed at Geer's legs) to aim at Geer's chest.

"Please ask him not to point his gun at me," Geer begged Barnes. Geer even offered to come out and be handcuffed voluntarily if Torres and the other patrolmen would agree to move "way back." Then he asked to scratch his nose again. Barnes consented. And Torres fired.

Geer, grabbing his wound, screamed in pain and stepped back, slamming his door. "And I'm like, who the fuck shot?" Barnes told detectives later. "I kinda got a little pissed."

Torres acknowledged it had been him, and began muttering how he was sorry, and that his wrist was hurting. Then, unbidden, he told Barnes how he'd had a fight over the phone with his wife just before arriving on the scene.

Asked by Barnes why he'd fired, Torres said Geer had dropped his hands to his waist suddenly, that he appeared to be going for a weapon. "I said I didn't see that," said Barnes later. "You know, and I never took my eye off him (Geer)."

The other three officers who'd been present told investigators the same thing. So did two civilian witnesses. But prosecutors and police commanders and county officials buried the case. Fairfax County's top prosecutor declared a conflict of interest and referred the shooting to federal authorities. Federal investigators did investigate, and have reported to the US attorney in Virginia, who has done nothing.

All this was done under a cloak of secrecy, until, earlier this month, a judge finally ordered disclosure of nearly 11,000 documents, containing interviews with nearly everyone involved. According to those official documents (including audio of the witness statements), now available on the Fairfax County website, the shooter — a cop with significant anger issues (he once screamed and cursed at prosecutors in open court) — is contradicted by four fellow officers and two civilian witnesses. That sort of rank-breaking is practically unheard of.

And yet [Mr. Macdonald continues] there has been no judicial action, and almost no public uproar. Most politicians have remained silent. Those who have marched against police shootings in the past have been largely uninterested. A protest at Fairfax police headquarters drew a couple of dozen people. Only the Washington Post has taken a serious interest in the case.

But the killing of John Geer should frighten everyone. It is the best example yet that while police often target minorities disproportionately, their basic and overriding demand is total and unquestioning submission to their authority. Resist, however peacefully and even in your own home, and heaven help you, no matter what your skin colour.

That, dear readers, is the stone truth about the police state Americans (and Canadians too) live in today. Cops do not discriminate. You can be black, white or striped; they'll shoot you anyway.

Here are the links you need to read the complete stories.
CBC News - "In Fairfax, Va., a different, no-less-scary police shooting" - I've copied most of Neil Macdonald's well-written piece above.
Washington Post - "Seven unanswered questions in the Fairfax police shooting death of John Geer" - This article is a follow-up to the original reports, and there are a couple of updates since. Search "Fairfax police" or "John Geer" on the Post website and you'll see all the stories.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Thoughts on viewing "SNL40": we are getting old

Have you ever played, or just thought about "the Six Degrees of Separation"? The nub of the parlour game (or idle pastime) is that you're probably no more than six handshakes away from just about anyone on earth. Think "I'm a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of [fill in a name here]". Pick someone -- anyone -- and put his/her/its name in the blank, then work the connections backwards until you come to yourself. You can probably do it in five or four steps, maybe fewer.

I was thinking about this last night, watching the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special. (Poor Len saw it too. He reckons it was on Sunday night to avoid a conflict with the excellent Habs-Leafs hockey game on Saturday.) One of the guest introducers was Jack Nicholson, one of my all-time favourite actors.

Jack Nicholson knows Lorne Michaels, the Canadian-born creator and producer of SNL.  Lorne Michaels went to school with a Toronto businessman who went to the same school as Agent 3, who later worked with that same businessman. And Walt has known Agent 3 for donks. So there you are.

But the real reason I'm mentioning Jack Nicholson and SNL40 is that I was appalled by how we're all aging -- Lorne Michaels, the Toronto businessman, Agent 3, and, yes, Jack Nicholson. This is how he looked in About Schmidt, released in 2002. Know what? I don't believe he needed a whole lot of makeup for that picture. He probably looked like that at the time, and now, even tidied up for the black-tie event, he looks even older!

And why not? Do the math. SNL debuted 40 years ago. The original cast members were mostly in their 20s or early 30s, which makes them 60-ish and 70-ish in 2015. Jack Nicholson was born in 1937, for goodness sake! That makes him 78! Robert DeNiro, who also appeared last night, was born just three days after Walt, and looks it too. Cornelius Crane* was born less than two months after Walt and Jack, and Lorne Michaels (né Lipowitz) a year later. Good grief! We're a bunch of geezers!

Baby-boomers in last night's all-star cast included Bill Murray (1950), Dan Aykroyd (1952) and Jerry Seinfeld (1954). The youngest SNL members I thought deserved top billings were Martin Short (1960), Eddie Murphy (1961) and Mike Myers (1963). Even Tina Fey is a child of the hippy-dippy 60s, born in May 1970 (so conceived around September of 1969) in Upper Darby PA (bit of trivia for you there). She'll be 45 in May. 45!   

They're all getting old, just like the rest of us. But I do wonder why there aren't more funny people in Generations X, Y and Z (or whatever today's 20-somethings are called). When we think about funny sitcoms, funny sketch comedies, funny movies, we think of people like those mentioned -- OK, Bobby DeNiro wasn't a comedian -- and shows like SNL, SCTV and Seinfeld. (Larry David appeared to. He was born in 1947.)

Where are the comic talents of today? Is it possible that life in America** just isn't funny any more? That's what I think. How sad.

PS - Ed. wants to know what I thought of the show itself. Well... in spite of all the high-priced talent -- working for free? really? -- SNL40 was... well... meh. Basically a clip show that could have been done (and done better) in 2 hours, tops, rather than 3 and 1/2.

PPS - Speaking of getting old... could Paul McCartney (DOB 18/6/42) ever sing? Did he need the money that badly?

* "Cornelius Crane" is the birth name of Chevy Chase. You're welcome.

** Poor Len craves leave to draw attention to the disproportionate number of Canadians who made it big with SNL and American comedy in general. Martin Short, Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers, and SNL creator/producer Lorne Michaels are Canadians. So are (or were) John Candy, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis, Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara and (reaching way back) Mack Sennett. When you come from such a nitwit nation as Canada, you can't help but be funny!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

VIDEO: Getting down at the Synod - satire by John Vennari

Perhaps, gentle reader, you've forgotten the scandalous Synod of Bishops which unfolded in Rome last fall. If only we (those of us who hold to the Faith of Our Fathers) could forget! This was the "Synod on the Family" at which Pope Francis and his liberal fellow bishops tried to push through changes in the law of the Church which would make it more welcoming to the LGBT crowd.

They also proposed admitting divorced and remarried Catholics -- objectively living in sin -- to Holy Communion. Understandable though that idea may be from a humanitarian viewpoint, it would fly in the face of the Church's dogma on marriage, based on the teachings of Jesus Christ Himself.

For details and comments, see "Catholic bishops say "interim report" asking Church to welcome homosexuals grossly misrepresented by pro-LGBT media" and "Even a liberal Cardinal calls pro-LGBT Synod report 'worthless'".

In spite of a lot of arm-twisting by the Pope, Cardinal Kasper and other misguided bishops, the proposals to change the unchangeable Dogma of the Church were rejected. But stay tuned, because the modernists -- dare I say heretics! -- in the upper echelons of the Church will bring these novelties back again... and again and again until they succeeded in making Holy Mother Church conform to the wishes of the secular humanists who dominate our formerly Christian Western world.

Next time these ideas come up for discussion, you might refresh your memory by reference to a little satire composed, played and sung by Walt's old friend, John Vennari. Here it is.

"Message from God!"

I heard this on The Irrelevant Show, the funniest programme on CBC Radio -- not counting CBC Toronto's Metro Morning which doesn't mean to be funny but is so politically correct that it is funny...or not.

Please pay particular attention to the part in which God asks us to stop taking His name in vain. The Holy Name Society approves this message! So does Walt.

Friday, February 13, 2015

About Saint Valentine's Day

Tomorrow is "Valentine's Day". Don't expect any hearts and flowers from Walt. [How about chocolates, then? Ed.] "Valentine's Day" is a crass and commercial secularization of the feast of Saint Valentine (Latin: Valentinius), Priest and Martyr.

All that is reliably known about the Saint is his name and that he was martyred and buried at a cemetery north of Rome, on the Via Flaminia, close to the Milvian bridge, on February 14th. A popular hagiographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire.

According to legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. An embellishment to this story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell. Whether or not this is true cannot be known seventeen centuries later. What is certain is that St. Valentine has been associated since the High Middle Ages with a tradition of courtly love.

What is more important is that he was martyred for his belief in the One True Faith. That is why the heart associated with holiday, and with love, is red -- the red blood of the heart of the Holy Martyr.

The good father(s) who write the Traditio blog note that the modern Roman Catholic Church has deleted from its liturgical calendar not only St. Valentine, but also St. Christopher, St. Blaise, St. George, St. Barbara, St. Catherine, and 200 other Saints who had been venerated in the Church for some two millennia. Curiously, the Anglican and Lutheran sects, as well as our separated Orthodox brethren, still venerate Valentine as a Saint.

And that, dear readers, is what St. Valentine's Day is all about.

News (?) from Africa: Ebola aid money gone missing

What's wrong with Africa? Why is it that the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa are, almost without exception, worse off now than they were in the bad old days when the white colonists ran things? Agent 3, who is by way of being an OAH (Old Africa Hand) says the answer is simple. Africans don't know how to run a railroad, or anything else. And they steal. Incompetence and corruption, he says, are the twin scourges of the Dark Continent, and will ever be so.

Case in point: Sierra Leone, one of the west African countries worst affected by the Ebola plague. Almost 23,000 people have been infected since the outbreak in neighbouring Guinea in December 2013. 9000 have died. The good-hearted (and guilt-ridden) governments of Europe and North America pledged some £2.9 billion in aid, of which about 40% actually reached the affected countries.

Why have some of the donors held back on actually signing the cheques? Perhaps the answer has something to do with what happens to the aid money when it gets to Africa. An audit of Sierra Leone's Ebola funds have not been properly accounted for. According to an official report published today, 25 billion leones (= £3.7 million of US$5.7 million) was paid from various emergency accounts with no proper receipts or other supporting documentation.

Sierra Leone's national audit service said the country's health ministry had showed "complete disregard" for the law in its disbursement of emergency funds. The 25 billion leones not properly accounted for amounted to no less than a third of the 84 billion paid out by the health ministry between the beginning of the outbreak in Sierra Leone in May 2014, and the end of October.

Of the 25 billion leones -- the name means "lions", by the way -- 14 billion was completely unaccounted for and 11 billion only partially accounted for, according to the report. What the auditors called "lapses" in the financial management of the funds resulted in a loss of quality in the treatment of the disease.

The audit team said the health ministry failed to produce documentation for contract agreements for the purchase of 50 vehicles and ambulances. They also pointed out large gaps in the serial numbers listed for frontline health workers as "possible misappropriation" of hazard payments.

Frontline workers like those in the picture are eligible for extra hazard pay to compensate for the risk of infection. But the auditors' review of such payments at the Connaught Hospital revealed that soldiers and police officers were included on the list of eligible health workers, in spite of the fact that hazard funds had already been transferred to both forces separately. In other words, it looks like the workers got paid twice. Either that or the paymasters pocketed the extra.

The audit service has submitted the report to parliament for action, but are not holding their collective breath. As the OAHs say, MAWA -- "Mother Africa Wins Again".

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Should we give Obama "a blank check for war worldwide"?

Walt knows full well that Barack Hussesin Obama did not order the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. He inherited those messes from the Bushes, not forgetting the 8-year Clinton interregnum. Blame them! But Mr. Obama did promise to end those wars and bring American troops home. Which he did, more or less.

But now, the President is asking Congress for authority to start a new, boots-on-the ground invasion of "Iraq and the Levant", as the folks at Foggy Bottom keep calling it, to avoid having to mention, errr, Syria, so that the infamous Obama Red Line will not be remembered. Yes, a new war of his very own!

But why??!! Walt will explain. First of all, it's about Mr. Obama's legacy. Being the first and only person ever to have been given the Nobel Peace Prize in advance, the Prez now has to do something to justify the award. Bringing peace to the Middle East by force of arms must seem to him a worthy achievement. If only it could be done!

Then there's the oil. See "The war against ISIS explained... again... seriously, this time". The jihadis are raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in oil money from the wells and refineries in the areas they control. This is money which (as they will tell you) rightfully "belongs" to Big Oil -- Exxon and BP and other multinationals. If you don't know why this is a concern to the Prez, check out "The REAL reason Obama opposes Keystone" to learn who funds the Democratic election campaigns.

The official reason for the New Obama War, though, is to degrade "ISIL" and stop the spread of Islamic terror and barbarity "before it reaches our shores". And... oh yeah... to teach the IS terrorists that they'll pay a heavy price for killing Murkins. Walt notes that the Prez wasn't too keen on getting involved as long as the jihadis were only killing Kurds, Yezedis and a few thousand other Muslims. But when they started beheading Westerners, well of course Something Had To Be Done. It all reminds me of the South Park movie, in which the USA attacks Canada in retaliation for the Canadian bombing of one (1) American family.

But OK, let's give him that one. Let's buy into the argument that if we don't fight the jihadis there, we'll have to fight them here. (That ignores the counter-argument that if we'd just leave them alone, they'd leave us alone! But never mind...) Walt's question is, why would we escalate the "war against terror", by sending in the Marines, when the air strikes are already working?!

You don't believe? Walt is referring to The war against Islamic State: It will be a long haul, in this week's Economist. Here's the key part of their analysis.

The coalition can claim to be making slow progress. It is six months since Barack Obama gathered 60-odd countries into a coalition to "degrade and ultimately destroy" IS. Since the first air strike in Iraq on August 8th, the campaign has extended into Syria and widened to include arming and training allies such as Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, and Iraqi government forces.

America’s Central Command claims that about 6,000 IS fighters have been killed, including up to half the group’s "top commanders". Some reckon it has 30,000 fighters in fray. At the end of January Kurdish fighters in Kobane, a Syrian town on the border with Turkey, said that they had expelled IS after four months of grim fighting with help from coalition bombers.

More than 1,000 IS fighters are thought to have been killed in that battle. Syrian Kurds have also extended their control into surrounding villages previously held by IS. Rebels in provinces to the west of Kobane say their front lines with IS have been quiet, suggesting that the jihadists are struggling to fight on multiple fronts.

The biggest setback appears to have been to the aura of invincibility that IS acquired last year when its advance through Iraq and Syria seemed unstoppable. Although IS still controls an area of Syria and Iraq about the size and population of Jordan, it has been unable to expand into areas of Iraq where Shias or Kurds are a majority. Threatening Baghdad or Erbil now appears beyond IS’s capacity.

Got it? The measures undertaken (however half-heartedly) by Mr. Obama (and friends like the Canadians -- the only country to actually have ground troops in combat) are working! Why on earth is it suddenly necessary to put 1000s of American (and coalition) soldiers in harm's way?

The Economist makes another telling point in conclusion. As IS gets squeezed in Iraq, the magazine says, the main action will shift westward, into Syria. If America finally admits that the fight must be taken into Syria (goodbye "Levant"!), it will then have to make common cause with, errr, Basher Assad and... wait for it... Iran. Some coalition that will be!

Strong note from Ed.: I just rewrote the title of this post to quote Ron Paul. Don't miss "Obama's Force Authorization is a Blank Check for War Worldwide"!!!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Caption this photo!

The gentleman of colour is Raheem Sterling. Apparently he plays football -- "soccer" to you North Americans -- for Liverpool. And he is delighted because he's just been made a wonderful offer that he can't refuse. That's as far as I got on the BBC News story, and they seem to have showed only the top half of the picture, so I can't be sure what kind of an offer it was.

To my twisted mind, this picture begs for a caption! Send your suggestion to the usual address. We may even give a prize!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

VIDEO: "Scary Catholic right-winger" gives Pope Francis a FAIL

John Vennari, editor of Catholic Family News, has been identified by RawStory as one of "5 scary ultra-right wing Catholics who are outraged by the cool Pope".

Seems like Mr. Vennari doesn't agree with the Party Pope's off-the-cuff "pronouncements" which have delighted liberal Catholics, secular humanists and "progressive thinkers" in the world at large. In Catholic Family News, Mr. Vennari has written "[Pope Francis] seems to have a good heart and some good Catholic instincts, but theologically he is a train wreck -- remarkably sloppy." [Walt's emphasis] He goes on to say, "Though this might shock some readers, I must say that I would never allow Pope Francis to teach religion to my children."

John told us, in a recent e-mail, that he's pleased to find himself in good company! The other four "scary Catholic right-wingers" named in the RawStory article are Raymond Cardinal Burke (now in exile in Malta), American pundit Pat Buchanan, Father Dwight Longenecker, and Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia.

Good company indeed! To make his views more accessible, in this age where people would rather watch a video than read, John Vennari recently launched "CFN Media", a series of short videos (10 minutes or so) in which he comments on recent developments in the Catholic Church and what passes for Catholic theology.

Here's the second in the series, published late in January, in which Mr. Vennari contrasts Pope St. Pius X's understanding of Papal duty as opposed to that of Pope Francis. What should Catholics understand from the words and actions of Pope Bergoglio? What should they do? How should they respond? Watch and learn.

You know what you can do with it!

The Lunar New Year, celebrated by Chinese everywhere, is coming up (February 19th) and Hong Kong's opposition Democratic Party had plans to raise some money by selling a special novelty item. It looks like this.

Yep, it's toilet paper, or as it's known in Chinese, lu wad. [Are you sure about this? Ed.] The image printed on these special varieties, designed exclusively for use in Hong Kong, is that of the HKG CEO,  the oft-ridiculed C.Y. Leung. Mr. Leung is unpopular with ["despised by", surely! Ed.] much of the Hong Kong public, and products mocking him have sold well in recent years.

But not this year! Agent 78 regrets to report that Chinese Communist authorities, not known for their sense of humour, have seized 7,600 toilet rolls and 20,000 packets of tissue from a factory in mainland China on Friday. The confiscated tissues depicted the pro-Beijing leader with a variety of expressions. Some printed the word "lying" on his forehead, while others showed him with fangs - a reference to how his opponents have described him as a wolf.

Lo Kin-hei, a vice-chairman of the Democratic Party said the toilet rolls sold out at Hong Kong's annual New Year fair last year, and called the seizure a violation of the right to freedom of expression supposedly guaranteed in Hong Kong's basic law, adopted at the handover by the British in 1997.

Walt expects that Mr. Lo will soon be reminded that he lives in China now, and that if he persists in that kind of talk he will become Lo Hong-hai.

VIDEO: "Bikini bandits" stop speeders in Denmark

Seems like everyone in this neck of the woods is getting heartily sick of winter. To combat SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), Agent 6 has sent us some good cheer in the form of a video from Denmark. Apparently controlling speeding motorists is as much a problem in that small and laidback country as it is here. Trust the Danes to think of an effective way to get them to slow down!

There now. Don't you feel warmer already? Kind of like a toasted Danish?

Note from Ed.: It has occurred to us that, even though we're still nearly two months away from April 1st, this might be a hoax. But who cares?!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Mugabe may not be a goblin* but...

he's a real cool surfer dude!

OK, it's a meme. You knew that, didn't you? Ed. scraped it off a story on the Zimbabwe NewsDay site. Where did the image of Comrade Bob falling originate? Have a look at this (from The Grauniad).

What happened was that Zimbabwe's nonagenarian President-for-Life tripped as he descended the platform after addressing supporters on his return from Addis Ababa, where he was installed as Chairman of the so-called African Union. Reporters and photographers who have been on death watch for at least a decade started clicking and tweeting immediately, but, alas, His Excellency got up again.

* See "Mugabe not a 'goblin', sez Chief Justice of Zimbabwe"

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Penis envy? TTC removes strange signpost

This has already gone viral on Reddit, Twitter and other sites, so there's nothing new here, but Walt can't resist showing you one of the reasons why The Economist has just named Toronto the world's best city to live in. Toronto -- particularly the Toronto Transit Commission -- is so liberal that they have no problems with signposts depicting... errr... well... What do you think it is?

OK, it is -- or was -- a directional signboard at the Downsview subway station, showing riders where to go to catch a bus to their destination, once they get off (geddit?).

The sign, which some blue-stockings found offensive [No kidding! Ed.] has been removed. The graphic artist who designed it probably got shafted. (Geddit?)

Walt's final comment, paraphrasing George Carlin: There are no dirty pictures, only dirty thoughts.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How "Heaven" looked... before the fire

This magnificent depiction of "Heaven, from below" graced the interior of St. Elias Ukrainian Catholic Church, in Brampton, Ontario (in the Eparchy of Toronto), before the terrible fire of last Easter. The beautiful art and architecture embodied in the church building can never be reproduced exactly, but, thanks be to God, a new temple is expected to ready for consecration in 2016.

Thanks be to God, yes, and thanks also to all who have answered appeals for help with Rebuild Fund. Here is a true story of Heaven-sent support, as recorded by the church's Pastor, Archpriest Roman Galadza.

Those of us who were able to attend the Benefit Concert and Dinner arranged on our behalf by the Ukrainian Orthodox Community of Toronto had a wonderful experience of brotherly love. Some 300 friends of our parish were in attendance. The hall was nicely decorated, the concert by the Canadian Bandurist Capella was delightful and the food excellent. In the course of the evening a number of donors came forward to make the eventual total raised for our Rebuild Fund to approximately $28,000.

And then, the miracle! A Ukrainian philanthropist sent up a note to have the organizers announce his donation in memory of his father, +Illya. The amount -- $250,000! All were stunned. I had to have people assure me I had heard correctly. A quarter of a million dollars given our community by someone who was here just once! – for a wedding!- but that was enough to convince him and his wife that our community is special and deserved his support. Certainly he and his family will be in our grateful prayers for as long as we pray in the new temple!

I have been asked why we are accepting donations to rebuild the temple, since insurance is covering the costs. Actually, we were underinsured. The coverage was not indexed over the past 10 years and we were short at least 25%. Catholic Mutual will be making a lump-sum payout which will enable us to begin rebuilding. If we are very careful, using the resources in our parish, this, plus what was allotted for the contents, might almost be enough to put up the walls. But the contents, the iconography, the books and sacred vessels – without donations from the community, the interior of the church could be quite bare for years to come.

This donation, and the donations being received every day, mostly from outside our parish community, enable us to plan the interior at the same time that the structure is being erected. When our church is consecrated once again (summer of 2016, please God!) we look forward to entering through the doors into an interior that replicates what we once had. Yes, we were insured to replace the structure, but everything inside is still up to us, and our God-sent friends! God bless them!

As Father Galadza says, more help is still needed. Please click here to donate. The St. Elias Church community will thank you (and give you a tax receipt, if you're Canadian) and God will surely bless you!

Canada's Foreign Minister finally comes out of the...errr... cabinet

The agenda of Canada's LGBT community -- to make being queer not just acceptable but admirable -- will receive a huge blow job [just "blow", surely! Ed.] this morning when John "Nancy" Baird, the country's Minister of Foreign Affairs [sic] will announce his resignation from the federal cabinet. He will say that he does not intend to run again in the election scheduled for October, and wants to give Canada's Dear Leader (Steve Harper) plenty of time to groom [word? Ed.] a successor.

Walt suspects that the real reason for the sudden departure of Canada's leading closet homosexual -- he's the one on the right -- is that he was about to be outed, at last, by the lamestream media. Nancy's gender preference has been an open secret on Parliament Hill for years, and the Gay Pride types were hoping that he would come out on his own, and thus be a credit to the community and a scold to straight white guys. However, Mr. Baird has chosen to keep his mouth shut.

Poletical ("The Gay Word") describes Mr. Baird as "a warrior for the gay and lesbian community. He has consistently avoided voting with many of his fellow Tories against legislation that advances gay rights. It also turns out that John Baird is revered and respected by Ottawa's gay community. Baird not only attends annual gay pride events, he has publicly condemned gay rights abuses in Africa. He has also been known to frequent Byzantium, a Toronto cocktail lounge that prides itself for being 'the grand matriarch of the gay village'."

Mr. Baird is only 45 years old. He is getting off the federal payroll just ahead of a change in the pension rules, so as to be entitled to suck off the taxpayers' teat for decades (and millions of dollars) to come. He is expected to be welcomed into the private sector, where lucrative but undemanding positions await on the boards of such organizations as the Gay Pride Parade, the United Jewish Appeal, and... just possibly... the CBC.

Further reading from Daily Xtra ("Everything gay, every day!")
"Glass Closet"
"Why is the CBC censoring Canadians to protect John Baird?"

Further reading -- same picture though -- on WWW: "Gay Canuck foreign minister condemned by REAL Women"

Monday, February 2, 2015

Be careful when betting the horses with a priest

An inveterate fan of the Sport of Kings was at the races playing the ponies and after three races had all but lost his shirt. Just before the start of the 4th, he noticed a priest step out onto the track. The priest walked over to the starting gate, and blessed the forehead of one of the horses. Lo and behold, that horse - a long shot - won the race!

Next race, as the horses lined up, the priest stepped onto the track again, and, sure enough, blessed one of the horses. The punter made a beeline for a betting window and placed a small wager on the horse the priest had blessed. Again, even though it was another long shot, the horse won the race.

The gambler collected his winnings, and anxiously waited to see which horse the priest would bless next. He bet big on it, and won.

As the races continued the priest kept blessing horses, and each one ended up winning. The bettor was elated! He made a quick dash to the ATM, withdrew all his savings, and awaited the priest's blessing that would tell him which horse to bet on.

Just as before, the priest stepped onto the track for the last race, walked over to the starting gate, and blessed the forehead of an ancient pony that was 100/1. This time, though, the priest blessed not just the forehead, but also the eyes, ears, and hooves of the old nag. "Wow!", thought the gambler, "This one's a winner for sure!" and he bet every cent he had on it.

Imagine his consternation when the old nag pulled up lame at the 3/4 pole and couldn't even finish the race. In a state of shock, the bettor went looking for the priest, and found him headed for the stables. Confronting him, the dejected gambler demanded,"Father! I bet every cent I had on that horse! All day long, you blessed horses, and they all won, except that one! What happened?"

The priest nodded wisely and with sympathy. "My son," he asked, "Would I be right in thinking you're not Catholic?"

"No," the man replied. "I'm Jewish."

"Well, that's the problem," said the priest. "Not being Catholic, you couldn't tell the difference between a blessing and last rites!"

Thanks and a big Hiya, Leah! to Agent 6.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

VIDEO: Atheistic materialism vs classical metaphysics

WARNING: This video contains strong (= powerful) language and incredibly deep subject matter. It is suitable only for mature adults interested in coming to grips with the arguments for "scientific materialism" -- the philosophy (for such it is!) espoused by Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking -- and classical metaphysics, as propounded by Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas.

This lecture "Does Richard Dawkins Exist? An Introduction to Atheistic Materialism and Theistic Hylomorphism" was given last week at the Aquinas School of Philosophy by Dennis Bonnette. It was taped by Agent 10 [Congratulations on your appointment! Ed.] who can be heard chuckling at  a couple of Dr. Bonnette's clever lines.

The video is just over an hour long, and Walt concedes that it's pretty heavy going, particularly for the first 40 minutes or so in which Dr. Bonnette tries to make sense of the atheists' argument that the universe exists merely by chance.

Walt does not pretend to have "got it" completely the first time through, or even the second. But if you take the time to listen carefully, the lecture is truly superb.

At the end, Dr. Bonnette mentions that his talk is part of a series, given Fridays at 6:30 p.m. If you live in the vicinty of Lewiston NY and would like to attend, click here for details. You never know who you might be sitting next to!

You can get a DVD of this presentation for only $5. Tell `em Walt sent ya!

Why sticking our noses in the affairs of the Third World is a bad idea

Since it's Sunday morning [early too! Ed.] I'll start with a text. This is from the chapter entitled "Recovery", in Butterfly Mind, by Patrick Brown (Anansi 2008). (More about the author and the book later.)

Intervention almost never works out as predicted, and it is almost never executed with sufficient thoroughness and commitment. The decision to intervene, either for humanitarian reasons or because a regime has become intolerable, are often made haphazardly, and the results almost always are disappointing. Those decision deserve care and attention proportional the blood and treasure lost when bad decisions are made.

I have been in Afghanistan many times since the Taliban left. I have watched a growing number of foreign nation-builders and peacekeepers lose their lives in the dusty hills of a country that once again produces 90 percent of the world's heroin.

NATO countries that are still willing to provide troops insist on à la carte deployment, picking and choosing where their forces are deployed and what they do. Countries that have put their troops in harm's way, like Canada and Britain, are naively stirring up a hornet's nest. Pacifying Afghanistan and improving its living standards rapidly would have taken much larger numbers of well-equipped troops, and an intensive and expensive development effort.

Those words were written in 2008, before the US-led "intervention" in Afghanistan had officially failed, yet the author refers to it (in the last quoted sentence) in the conditional past -- "would have taken". The conditions for success were never met, perhaps never could have been met. Six years after Patrick Brown wrote those words, even the greatest apologists for Obama's war have no choice but to describe it as a failure.

Thus endeth the lesson... Sad to say, the lesson has still not been learned by the Prez and other Leaders of the Free World (TM). If it were otherwise, why would be, at this very moment, making the same mistakes in Iraq and "the Levant"?

The failure of Western intervention in Afghanistan was hardly unique. During the 1980s, Patrick Brown was a foreign correspondent, reporting on the collapse of Communism, revolutions, wars and humanitarian disasters in East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Lebanon, East Timor, Burma, Cambodia and Korea. Western meddling, he observes, never solved the problems it set out to. Too frequently, our intervention only made things worse. As an interviewee told him, "WE have to solve our problems by ourselves."

There is more to Butterfly Mind than a potted history of Western failures in the third world. Patrick Brown is a recovering alcoholic. He speculates on the link between alcoholism and journalism. Perhaps journalism drives one to drink. Or perhaps alcoholics become journalists because it's a natural métier for garrulous drunks.

With professional help, Mr. Brown won -- or is winning -- his battle with the bottle. The beginning of his recovery coincided with his move in 1989, to China, where he now makes his home. In Butterfly Mind, he skillfully interweaves his personal story with his observations of Western engagement (to use the latest buzzword) with the Third World, and draws comparisons and parallels with the policies and politics of Communist China.

He writes of the efforts of several Chinese "freedom fighters", including several of those profiled in Out of Mao's Shadow, reviewed here a month ago. He concludes that if change -- regime change and/or social change -- is to come to China, the Chinese will have to bring about that change by themselves, without "help" from the West.

Patrick Brown wishes the Chinese good luck. Walt agrees and extends the same wish to the writer himself. And Walt recommends Butterfly Mind -- good reading as we approach the Chinese New Year.