Monday, September 01, 2014

Monday Post

The first of September and the inevitable dawn of autumn...

What's in the news?

Canadian pilots on patrol eastern European airspace:

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the "political organization of society and statehood in southeastern Ukraine." This after NATO allies - including Canada - demanded Russia not engage in any activity in independent Ukraine.

Then, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said Russia is "practically in a war against Europe." ...

Even though people here are worried about the Russians coming, right now it's the Canadians who have arrived.

More than 130 Canadians are on the ground.

In fact, the Canadian Air Task Force Lithuania will take over responsibility for air patrols here from the British on Monday. Six CF-18 Hornets from 425 Alouette Squadron based at CFB Bagotville, Quebec flew over from Romania and will begin protecting the skies of the Baltic states Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia immediately.

"We do thank them," Jurgilaite said. "We do feel safer with them here."

The Baltic State Policing mission also includes air forces from Portugal, Germany, Estonia and the Netherlands.

"This is Canada's first time to have fighter jets in the Baltics so it is Canadian history happening," said Capt. Christopher Daniel, who hails from Ottawa and works out of CFB Trenton in Ontario. "I can tell you we are all very proud to be here to protect the Baltic airspace and to serve with our allies."
In case some have forgotten, Putin invaded Ukraine.

The Chinese have gotten around to why Kevin and Julia Garratt are guilty:

Chinese state media has detailed how it believes two Canadians who have been identified as spies worked in the country - as "ordinary citizens" collecting military and national defence information.

Kevin and Julia Dawn Garratt have been detained since early August.

The Global Times, the Communist Party's mouthpiece, has published an infographic outlining the how spies are working in China.

The Garratts ran a coffee shop in Dandong in the borderlands between China and North Korea before their arrest.

In the infographic, the Global Times states one of the regular missions is having spies disguised as regular people target areas to collect information.

Other regular spying missions use the Internet to "deliberately denigrate China's military power in only forums," to "deliberately publish false information on China's military forces in forums, military websites or on chat platforms to covertly solicit corrections."

It took them long enough:

Iraqi security forces and a coalition of militiamen on Sunday broke a six-week siege imposed by the Islamic State terror army on a northern Iraqi village, amid mounting criticism over the Obama administration’s lack of a strategy to contain the bloodthirsty jihadists.

The farming community of Amirli, about 105 miles north of Baghdad and home to roughly 15,000 Shiite Turkmen, had been surrounded by ISIS since mid-July, according to reports.

“ISIS militants have fled as our heroes in the army and the volunteers are progressing at Amirli,” said Qassim Atta, the Iraqi military spokesman, according to a report on state television Sunday.

The military advance came after the United States hit ISIS militants with airstrikes on Saturday in support of a humanitarian mission.

The coalition that stormed the town from two directions included the Iraqi Army, Kurdish fighters and Shiite militias. ...

“I think I’ve learned one thing about this President, and that is he’s very cautious,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“Maybe in this instance, too cautious.”

On Thursday, during a television statement to the nation, Obama admitted “we don’t have a strategy yet” to combat the rise of the monstrous ISIS.

(Sidebar: Senator Feinstein is not smart. Carry on.)

A Quebec school decides to ban homework for a year:

College de Saint-Ambroise, a school of 339 students in the province's Saguenay region, has introduced a near-complete ban on homework.

Every class from Grade 1 to 6 will take part in the one-year pilot project.

Marie-Eve Desrosiers, a spokeswoman with the Jonquiere School Board, said the goal is to ease pressure on parents and even improve student performance.

She explained that teachers will still be allowed to assign studying and reading work, but there won't be, for example, "four pages of math problems."

"It's based on research that homework time is becoming more and more difficult," Desrosiers said in an interview.

"Often children are away at daycare from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at night, and a lot of families are finding it increasingly difficult, and so we've decided to try this out at a school."

College de Saint-Ambroise won't be the first school to try such an experiment.

An elementary school in Barrie, Ont. tried something similar in 2008 and found that student grades went up as a result.

In Europe, French President Francois Hollande floated the idea of a countrywide ban in 2012, while schools in Germany have also done away with homework.

I'll you why that's a bad idea. Just like any concept or skill, practice makes perfect. If students were absolute sponges, their time in academic institutions would be very short. As it is not, it takes time and effort to acquire the knowledge and abilities that will make students into productive people (yes, productive). Even reviewing the day's lesson is beneficial. What is fifteen minutes out of a student's day? The majority of extra-curricular activities are largely sports-related anyway and one knows what a burgeoning market that is. Furthermore, a student must learn to work or complete assignments independently. That is proven by assigning short yet relevant tasks at home (and, yes, there is a benefit from doing homework). What parents should object to is pointless busy work assigned by unionised teachers who want to appear to be doing their jobs when in fact they are just burdening students with extraneous matter that can be covered in class.

The Fur: go there.

And now, a perfectly cromulent Simpsons infographic that embiggens us all. Enjoy.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Freakout

Back to school soon....

Be strong, Sad Cat.
Knocking down a wall uncovered an underground city:

In 1963, a man in the Nevşehir Province of Turkey knocked down a wall of his home. Behind it, he discovered a mysterious room. The man continued digging and soon discovered an intricate tunnel system with additional cave-like rooms. What he had discovered was the ancient Derinkuyu underground city, part of the Cappadocia region in central Anatolia, Turkey.

The elaborate subterranean network included discrete entrances, ventilation shafts, wells, and connecting passageways. It was one of dozens of underground cities carved from the rock in Cappadocia thousands of years ago. Hidden for centuries, Derinkuyu‘s underground city is the deepest.

Because some Americans have a sense of humour:

 To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the burning of Washington, Historic Congressional Cemetery is hosting the Flee the British 5k on August 24th, 2014 at 8 am. Chase Dolley as she rescues the famed portrait of George Washington from the flames, and feel what it’s like to have the British on your heels as you scurry to the finish line....

Cooking hacks that take no time at all.

And now, wombats for you. Enjoy.

Sleeping Young Wombat

Friday Post

It's time for the week-end...

A North Korean banking manager has defected to Russia:

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper reported on Friday, citing an unidentified source.

Yun Tae Hyong, a senior representative of North Korea's Korea Daesong Bank, disappeared last week in Nakhodka, in the Russian Far East, with $5 million, the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported.

The Daesong Bank is suspected by the U.S. government of being under the control of the North Korean government's Office 39, which is widely believed to finance illicit activities, including the procurement of luxury goods which are banned under U.N. sanctions.

The bank was blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2010.

The newspaper said North Korea had asked Russian authorities for cooperation in efforts to capture Yun.

(Sidebar: ?!?! Of all people, this guy must be aware that Russia will co-operate with North Korea.)

Britain raises the terror threat level:

Prime Minister David Cameron pledged Friday to plug gaps in Britain's armoury to combat terror, describing the extremist threat posed by the Islamic State group as being more dangerous than even that of al-Qaida.

Cameron's remarks came just moments after authorities raised Britain's terror threat level to severe, the second-highest level. The decision was related to developments in Iraq and Syria, but there was no information to suggest an attack was imminent.

"What we are facing in Iraq now with ISIL is a greater threat to our security than we have seen before," Cameron said, using an abbreviation for a longer name the Islamic State previously used: the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.

He told reporters that while the Taliban facilitated al-Qaida terrorism, the Islamic State group is "effectively a state run by terrorists." He said the ambition to create an Islamist caliphate isn't something that could be ignored.

"We could be facing a terrorist state on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a NATO member," he said, referring to Turkey.

Intelligence and security services now believe around 500 Britons have gone to fight in Syria and potentially Iraq. Some of the plots are likely to involve fighters who have travelled from Britain and Europe to take part in fighting in the Middle East. ...

One action Cameron outlined was the possibility that passports could be taken away. He said further measures would be described in the House of Commons on Monday.

Britain also wants to revive a directive to enable police and security services to share passenger records in the European Union. Concerns about civil liberties have stalled the measure in the European Parliament.

"The root cause of this threat to our security is quite clear," Cameron said. "It is a poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism that is condemned by all faiths and faith leaders."

The last statement leads me to believe that Cameron is not serious about this but only wishes to be. It's the kind of political posturing without action and hard pragmatism that is more than often absent when threats like ISIS present themselves. There aren't roving gangs of Quakers rushing to the Middle East to fight nor are there Finnish Lutherans grooming girls as young as twelve for sexual purposes. Furthermore, ISIS remains standing instead of being vaporised as Obama could do but has no plans to.

Good-bye, Britain. You had a nice run on this planet but you blew it.

Also - bombing isn't a good idea because...?:

The White House isn't taking Weekly Standard founder and conservative pundit Bill Kristol's advice when it comes to battling the Islamic State forces in the Middle East.

Kristol argued in a radio interview on Monday that President Barack Obama should consider " bombing them at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens," according to audio posted by Mediaite

During a Friday afternoon media briefing, however, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest mocked the proposal. A fter one reporter grilled Earnest over why  Obama lacks a concrete strategy for combating the jihadist group in Syria,  Earnest, unprompted, pointed to Kristol's remarks as an example of what's "not ... a smart approach" towards the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Oh, yeah- you're not at war with ISIS:

The White House is insisting the U.S. is not at war with the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, despite an aggressive air campaign and previously labeling the jihadist group an "imminent threat to every interest we have." 

"Before getting into the strategy, though, there seems [to be] a fundamental, existential question: Is the United States presently at war with ISIS — yes or no?" MSNBC host Chris Hayes asked President Barack Obama's top spokesman, White House press secretary Josh Earnest, on Thursday.
Earnest went with "no."

"No, Chris. What we are doing is we are working very aggressively with international partners, with Iraqi and Kurdish security forces, to take the steps necessary to mitigate the threat that's posed by ISIL," he responded.

Or nothing.

Ukraine asks for Canadian support:

"Nowadays when we see the Russians are fighting as the military are doing, we need more support. When we’re talking support nowadays, we’re talking about military support. At least we will need some military equipment," Prystaiko told the Citizen on Thursday.

"We’re asking all of the allies of NATO, ‘Guys, we understand it’s not your war, we understand nobody wants your people to die. And we also don’t want our people to die. But if you want to stop this war right now with a little blood before it gets really ugly, we have to act right now – immediately.’"

According to the report, Prystaiko wants Canada and its allies to provide things such as fighter jets, armoured vehicles and surveillance equipment. Moreover, he said that while it's not his country's official position, he personally would like to see NATO boots on ground.

This is a matter of Canada is able to do. I would suggest military training support.


The Ebola crisis continues to spread overseas, picking up speed and defying international attempts to slow its movement. And while the likelihood of reaching Canada is still considered low, health agencies across the country are preparing for the worst-case scenario at home.

At the latest count, the Ebola epidemic has spread to four countries and threatened several others. The World Health Organization has confirmed more than 3,000 cases and 1,550 deaths in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. WHO has predicted the spread could reach 20,000 people.

The agency admits the spread of the outbreak is not slowing the way they had hoped; in fact, it appears to have accelerated over the past 21 days.

That's nice, UN. Now, what are you going to do about it?

The civil war in Syria has forced 3 million people out of the country, including more than a million people who fled in the past year, creating a crisis that the U.N. refugee agency said requires the biggest operation in its 64-year history.

The tragic milestone means that about one of every eight Syrians has fled across the borders, and 6.5 million others have been displaced within Syria since the conflict began in March 2011, the Geneva-based agency said. More than half of all those uprooted are children, it said.

Syria had a prewar population of 23 million.

"The Syria crisis has become the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era, yet the world is failing to meet the needs of refugees and the countries hosting them," said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.

The agency had described the 3 million as a record, but later qualified that the Syrian crisis was record-breaking in terms of the unprecedented size and scope of the $3.74 billion operation needed to care for the refugees.

The recent surge in fighting appears to be worsening the already desperate situation for Syrian refugees, the agency said, as the extremist Islamic State group expands its control of broad areas straddling the Syria-Iraq border and terrorizes rivals and civilians in both countries.

The UN has been the platform on which tyrants and murderers can speak. It has never acted as an obstacle for mass murder and war. Giving it money, even to alleviate immense suffering such as this, only keeps the problem active.

Cut the UN off.

If Trudeau is desperate to get in mandatory voting, I would like an IQ or some similar test to qualify the electorate. For example, prospective Trudeau voters can be asked what kind of "basic dictatorship" does China have, where is the North Pole and how budgets balance themselves?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thursday Post

Russia has sped up its invasion of Ukraine:

Russia has masterminded a counteroffensive by Ukrainian rebels, with well over 1,000 Russian troops operating inside Ukraine to man sophisticated weaponry and advise the separatists, according to NATO. 

Rebel forces have opened a second front in southern Ukraine, forcing Ukraine's army to divert some of its firepower, Brigadier General Nico Tak told reporters at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's military headquarters in Mons, Belgium. The second front along the northern edge of the Sea of Azov could also be a prelude to establishing a land corridor with Crimea, the NATO officer said.


A feud has broken out on social media between the Canadian and Russian NATO delegations following troubling reports out of Ukraine, spurred by video that appeared to show Russian soldiers inside the country's eastern border. ...

The Canadian Joint Delegation to NATO issued a sarcastic message to Moscow on Wednesday, attempting to show Russian soldiers the difference between Russia and Ukraine. ...

On Thursday, Russia's delegation fired back with their own map, which included Crimea as part of Russia and another region (which had declared independence from Georgia) as a shaded area (perhaps meant to indicate "Future Russia").

Is the Volga German by any chance?




More ISIS butchery:

Islamic State fighters executed scores of Syrian soldiers captures when the militants seized an airbase in the province of Raqqa at the weekend, according to a video posted on You Tube on Thursday. 
The video, confirmed as genuine by an Islamic State fighter, showed the bodies of dozens of men lying face down wearing nothing but their underwear. They were stretched out in a line that appeared to be dozens of metres long. 

A separate pile of bodies was shown nearby. Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the video.

The caption beneath it said the dead numbered 250. An Islamic State fighter in Raqqa told Reuters via the Internet: "Yes, we have executed them all." 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors violence in the war, put the death toll at more than 120.


Syrian war atrocities are spreading across the country and region, the United Nations said in a report that took the international community to task for not doing more to stop the violence.

Kidnapping, rape and torture are among the crimes against humanity committed by both sides of the three-year long conflict, the UN’s Geneva-based Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria said Wednesday in a 45-page report. 

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, is recruiting and training children as young 10 years old to fight in their ranks, the report claims. Meanwhile, the Syrian government unleashed a chemical agent, likely chlorine, on civilians in northern villages eight times in April, the commission said.

The Chinese are intercepting American surveillance planes:

One Chinese naval officer has advice for fighter pilots intercepting U.S. surveillance planes in the wake of an incident over the South China Sea last week that Washington condemned as dangerous - fly even closer.
The comments by Rear Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong from the National Defense University in Beijing, reported in state media this week, reflect what Chinese military experts say is China's determination to shield its expanding ballistic missile submarine fleet from U.S. spy planes.

Risky intercepts off China's coast are likely to continue, even intensify, the experts said, adding that such actions could represent a directive from above rather than the actions of rogue pilots.

No need to worry about an emboldened China unless you're Japan:

 Japan's defense planners are seeking its biggest budget ever for the coming fiscal year, including a bulk order of patrol planes and a stealthier submarine, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bolsters the military in the face of a territorial spat with China and North Korea's nuclear program.

The Defense Ministry on Friday requested a 3.5 percent increase to 5.05 trillion yen ($48.7 billion) for the year starting next April. If approved, this third increase in a row will more than reverse the decade of cuts that Abe ended after coming to office in December 2012. 

The hawkish premier, taking a more assertive stance on national security, has also ended a ban on Japanese soldiers fighting abroad and eased curbs on weapons exports.

By testing the constraints of Japan's pacifist postwar Constitution, Abe has angered some neighbors, especially Beijing, which accuses him of reviving the nation's wartime militarism.

Japan, in turn, is wary of the rapid military buildup in China, which has overtaken Japan in recent years as the world's second-biggest economy. Beijing's military budget has jumped fourfold over the past decade to 808 billion yuan ($132 billion), nearly triple Japan's.

And now, he is the hero Chiba deserves:

Batman is real, and he lives in the Chiba Prefecture in Japan.

The so-called “Chibatman” has been spotted by several people so far, with the most recent sighting being earlier this week.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Chibatman was first mentioned on Twitter about three years ago, but this new video is probably the best evidence yet. It shows the caped crusader in all his glory, speeding along the road on a three-wheeled Batcycle and wearing a very convincing version of the costume worn by Christian Bale in the Dark Knight movies.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mid-Week Post

Your middle-of-the-week blurb...

 Hamas claims victory in war with Israel, the clearly stronger and more sane adversary:

Israel's prime minister declared victory Wednesday in the recent war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, saying the military campaign had dealt a heavy blow and a cease-fire deal gave no concessions to the Islamic militant group.

Benjamin Netanyahu's comments, delivered in a prime-time address on national television, appeared aimed at countering critics of the seven-week war that killed more than 2,200 people.

Both hard-liners in his governing coalition, as well as residents of rocket-scarred southern Israel, have said the war was a failure because it did not halt Hamas' rocket attacks or oust the group from power.

"Hamas was hit hard," Netanyahu said, adding that Israel "didn't agree to accept any of Hamas' demands" under the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire deal.

The ambiguous cease-fire delivered an immediate halt in the fighting and has promised an easing of Israel's blockade of Gaza to allow humanitarian aid and construction goods to enter for the rebuilding of the territory. All goods are to go in under international supervision.

But Hamas' key demands are only to be addressed in a future round of talks expected next month in Cairo. Hamas is seeking an end to the Israeli blockade, including the reopening of Gaza's sea and airport. It also wants Egypt to reopen its Rafah border crossing, the territory's main gateway to the outside world. Israel, meanwhile, wants Hamas to be disarmed.

Netanyahu said Israel "will not tolerate" any more rocket fire, and if the attacks resume, "we will respond even harder." ...

Abu Obeida, a spokesman for the Hamas military wing, stood over an Israeli flag as he addressed the crowd.

"Gaza achieved victory because it has done what major armies failed to do. It forced the enemy to retreat," he said. "We must know that no voice is louder than the voice of the resistance."

(Sidebar: you got your @$$ kicked- again- by your successful, tolerant Jewish state neighbour. You must be as humiliated as you are mad.)

ISIL demands a random for an American aid worker:

The Islamic State militant group is holding hostage a young American woman who was doing humanitarian aid work in Syria, a family representative said. The 26-year-old woman is the third American known to have been kidnapped by the radical group.

The Islamic State group recently threatened to kill American hostages to avenge the crushing airstrikes in Iraq against militants advancing on Mount Sinjar and the Kurdish capital of Irbil.

The 26-year-old woman was captured last year while working with three humanitarian groups in Syria. A representative for the family and U.S. officials asked that the woman not be identified out of fear for her safety. All spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

Having raided banks and weapons throughout Iraq, one wonders how much more ISIL/ISIS need to fund their terrorism (Qatar has strenuously denied funding ISIS). This is posturing. It is frightening people into sharpening the knives that will cut their throats.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall points out Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's favouritism:

On Tuesday, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall called out Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne over her province's protectionism with regard to inter-provincial trade.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail — conducted prior to the start of the annual premiers' conference this week in Prince Edward Island — Wall decried Ontario's infrastructure contract bidding rules that favour local firms over those in other provinces.

Wall says that if Canada's most populous province doesn't change its stance -- which he says gives Ontario firms a 10-per-cent advantage -- he'll be forced to retaliate.

"If we can’t get improvement on that front we are not going to be Boy Scouts about that in Saskatchewan," he said.

(Sidebar: I'd listen to him if I were you.)

Wynne has to re-pay her supporters somehow.

Give it up, Mulcair. You're not going to be the official opposition:

Tom Mulcair says an NDP government would establish a full public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women within 100 days of taking office.

He says the NDP would begin consulting women and First Nations about parameters for an inquiry on its first day in power.

Yes, about that:

According to an RCMP report released in May, the vast majority of murdered aboriginal women were not killed by strangers, they were killed by spouses, boyfriends, family members or acquaintances of the victims.

"Female homicide victims generally know the person who kills them -- more than 90% had a previous relationship with them," said the report. "This is true for aboriginal and non-aboriginal female victims."

We know who's killing aboriginal women. Most of them are men -- 89%. Close to 40% of the killers were either the spouses or boyfriends of the victims, 23% of them were family members, and 30% were acquaintances. Only a small minority of the killers were strangers -- 8%.

So the picture that the aboriginal lobby is trying to paint, that aboriginal women and girls are being plucked off the street randomly by strangers and are being killed, is false, according to the facts.

The war is months-old, is backed by Putin and has nothing to do with Bandera and everything to do with shale gas in Crimea:

Ukraine and Western officials on Wednesday warned that Russian forces are opening up another, major front in the war, according to The New York Times .

“This is what happened: they crossed the border, took up positions, and started shooting," Sgt. Aleksei Panko said after telling The Times that about 60 armored vehicles crossed the border near the town of Novoazovsk. “This is now a war with Russia."

And now, how much do you know about Kirk Van Houten?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday Post

What's in the news?

PM Stephen Harper is a honey badger. He just doesn't give a...:

Keeping a wary eye on the situation in Ukraine, Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Tuesday said Canada "must not be complacent here at home" with Russia as an Arctic neighbour,

Accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of making sure there "be no peace" in the region, Harper explained Canada's role in Eastern Europe as one of "reassurance."

Canada has provided military aid a small commitment of 30 military personnel to the Ukrainian effort.
"Our position is clear: we support the Ukrainian people in their struggle to hold on to their country, leave behind so many tragic decades, to build a prosperous, free and democratic society," he reiterated Tuesday.

Harper also addressed the extremist group the Islamic State -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- which claims to have established an Islamic state in parts of Syria and Iraq.

ISIS, Harper said, was on a "murderous rampage" he said constituted a major threat to global security.
"(ISIS) is not only a threat to the millions in the region but has the clear potential, if left unchecked, to become a new safe haven for global terrorists, a threat to all of us," he said.

He extolled the Canadian Forces, praising their deployment as providing "humanitarian and military supplies to Kurdish forces holding back the terrorist advance."

(Sidebar: Steve, get a few drones, liquidate ISIS, do a cakewalk over their ashes.)

Curiouser and curiouser:

 A 19-year-old Ottawa man has the best "I was so drunk" story ever.

After cops Friday released security camera video taken of a prowler who broke into Justin Trudeau's Rockcliffe home Aug. 16, the man came into police headquarters, newspaper-in-hand, and told officers: "I think this is me."

There are likely a good number of things the man doesn't remember about that night, judging by how plastered he admitted being when he talked to investigators.

Staff Sgt. Kal Ghadban said the man was given directions to his buddy's house in Rockcliffe, a place he'd been only once before.

The man - who doesn't live in the neighbourhood - was dropped off in the general area by cab and wandered around drunk for quite some time, trying to match the houses to the one in his memory.

Satisfied he'd found it, the man went through the unlocked gate and into the unlocked back door of Trudeau's home.

Ghadban said the man eventually figured out he was in the wrong house and briefly considered stealing the expensive-looking knives he found. He ultimately decided against this, and left a note which - in his drunken estimation - amounted to a suitable apology for the unwelcome intrusion.

He didn't wander around the house - staying just inside the door.

The Trudeau family left the decision of charges in the hands of investigators. Police ultimately decided none were warranted because the man had no criminal intent.

Instead, police gave the man a stern warning.

Warren Buffet, an Obama supporter who wants his oil transported by rail car and not pipeline, stands to gain nine percent by merging Burger King with Tim Horton's:

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is providing $3 billion worth of preferred equity financing for Burger King's merger with Tim Hortons. Buffett's return on that cash will be 9%.

On a conference call regarding the merger, Burger King CEO Daniel Schwartz said the preferred equity portion of the deal's financing, which is what Buffett is providing, would carry a 9% coupon.

Preferred equity, also called preferred stock or just "preferreds," earns interest at a higher rate than bonds, but it also carries slightly more risk. If a company defaults, preferred equity investors are "junior" to all bondholders. Basically, they (most likely) get paid back second-to-last (after all bondholders, before common equity holders) if the company defaults.

So if Burger King doesn't go out of business, it looks like a pretty good deal for Buffett. Except some of the optics of the deal aren't great. 

Tax Inversion?

Burger King's deal to acquire Tim Hortons is also a "tax inversion," or a deal in which a company based in the U.S. acquires a foreign company and moves its tax base. 

The combined Burger King-Tim Hortons entity will be based in Canada, though both companies will maintain their physical headquarters in Miami and Oakville, Ontario, respectively.

Russian tycoons feel the pinch of sanctions over Ukraine:

While Russian President Vladimir Putin continues his staring contest with the international community over Ukraine, the conflict has laid havoc to the country’s natural-resource driven economy and the Russian tycoons who hang their fortunes on it.

All in, the civil unrest and Western sanctions have cost three of Mother Russia’s captains of industry a combined US$1.8 billion according to Wealth-X, and ultra-high net worth intelligence firm.

At the top of the losers list sits Gennady Timchenko, the billionaire owner of private investment firm Volga Group. The oil magnate lost $1 billion between March and mid-August putting his net worth at US$12.2 billion.

Despite his lightened pocket book, Timchenko refuses to push back against Putin telling Russian news network ITAR TASS: “In any situation Putin is guided by the interests of Russia. Period. There can be no compromise about it.”

(Sidebar: he can't have lost too much then.)

Forbid these tycoons from landing their private jets in European airspace until that pesky Malaysian Airlines flight 17 business is resolved.

And now:

The sun kicked off this week with an explosive solar flare that, while not aimed directly at Earth, may be a hotspot to watch over the next few days. 

The solar flare erupted on Sunday morning (Aug. 24) from an active sunspot known as AR2151. Two sun-watching spacecraft captured stunning video of Sunday's solar flare as it leapt off the surface of the sun at 8:16 a.m. EDT (1216 GMT).  

While sunpost AR2151 wasn't facing Earth at the time of the flare, it is a place to watch in the days and weeks ahead. "The responsible sunspot will turn toward Earth in the days ahead, boosting chances for geoeffective solar activity as the week unfolds," experts with the space weather website wrote on Sunday.

Spectacular Solar Flare Erupts from the Sun (Photos, Video)
(photo credit here)

Monday, August 25, 2014

No Regrets

On August 24th, 1814, British troops set the American capital Washington ablaze including the presidential mansion that would be known as the White House in retaliation for the burning of York (now Toronto).

This shell would be painted white and then occupied by a total putz who returned the bust of Sir Winston Churchill.

There is nothing to regret:

The British Embassy in Washington DC has been forced to apologise after attracting the the ire of some Americans by tweeting a photograph of a cake celebrating the anniversary of the burning of the White House. 
Sent from the official Embassy twitter account, @UKinUSA, the tweet showed a cake with a perfect miniature reproduction of the White House on top, flanked by British and American flags and surrounded by sparkler fireworks. 
The caption accompanying the photograph read: “Commemorating the 200th anniversary of burning the White House. Only sparklers this time!”

(Sidebar: why? Aren't they incendiary enough?)

Don't apologise, Britain. It's not like you returned the bust of Sir Winston Churchill or anything.

Canada: we won the War of 1812. Just deal with it.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Post

Have to beat the heat somehow....
It's time for the week-end...

Hamas executes eighteen people it claims were aiding Israel:

Hamas-led gunmen in Gaza executed 18 Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel on Friday, a day after Israeli forces killed three Hamas commanders, the highest-ranking militants to die in the six-week war.

Militants wearing masks and dressed in black gunned down seven of those condemned, whose faces were covered and hands bound, in front of worshippers emerging from the Omari mosque on Palestine Square, in the first public executions in the enclave since the 1990s.

A further 11 were killed at an abandoned police station near Gaza City, Hamas security officials said. Two bodies were seen being loaded onto an ambulance before Reuters journalists were told to leave the area.

"The resistance has begun an operation called 'strangling the necks', targeting collaborators who aid the (Israeli) occupation, kill our people and destroy houses," said Al-Majd, a website run by Hamas's internal security service.

A so-called conviction letter signed by the "Palestinian Resistance" was posted on a wall near where the bodies of the alleged collaborators lay. The notice read:

"They provided the enemy with information about the whereabouts of fighters, tunnels of resistance, bombs, houses of fighters and places of rockets, and the occupation bombarded these areas, killing a number of fighters ... Therefore, the ruling of revolutionary justice was handed upon him."

Remember- Israel is the bad guy here.

Of course she would say that:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is wrong in saying that police investigations, not a national inquiry, are the best way to deal with crimes involving missing and murdered aboriginal women, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said Friday.

"For Stephen Harper to say that there's not a systemic aspect to this, I think is just — I think it's outrageous quite frankly," she said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

All the provinces and territories endorsed calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women when they gathered last year for the Council of the Federation conference. They'll meet up again next week in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

The federal Conservatives have firmly rejected the proposal, saying they prefer to address the issue in other ways, such as through aboriginal justice programs and a national DNA missing person's index.

But the death of a 15-year-old aboriginal girl found wrapped in a bag and dumped in the Red River has prompted renewed calls for an inquiry. Tina Fontaine, whose body was discovered Sunday, had been in Winnipeg less than a month when she ran away from foster care. Police are treating it as a homicide.

Harper said most such cases are addressed and solved by the police, adding it's important to keep in mind that these are crimes.

"We should not view this as sociological phenomenon," he said Thursday in Whitehorse.

"We should view it as crime. It is crime against innocent people, and it needs to be addressed as such."

(Sidebar: Premier Wynne, I see your shaming into giving a little girl her medicine finally worked.)

Compounding the tragedy of broken homes, violence, little or no employment on northern ghettos reservations, white liberal paternalistic racism that dreams up squishy ideas of what Stone Age justice is like for the "noble savage", drug use and prostitution, is the fact that many aboriginal women will end up murdered and their killings either unsolved or given next to no attention. As stunningly slow as the police's response may be, it also doesn't help if some people won't talk to the police or will only to talk to aboriginal cops. This all being said, nothing PM Harper said was wrong. This is a police matter that has been given little attention. One can make whatever political hay one wishes to but if the cops aren't doing their jobs about this, they won't do their jobs anywhere else, either.

This is chilling:

The quotes below are from an edited version of a transcript provided to CBC by The Globe and Mail.
In the recordings, Harding calls a dispatcher — to whom he refers as RJ ​— at the MM&A offices in Farnham, Que.

At 1:47 a.m., Harding, who had already signed off for the night, calls the office to let the dispatcher know there is an emergency in Lac-Mégantic.

"Everything is on fire, from the church all the way down to the Metro, from the river all the way to the railway tracks...Flames, RJ, are 200 feet high. It's incredible, you can't believe it here," Harding said during the phone call he placed from a gas station after his hotel was evacuated.

It was only about two hours later, at 3:29 a.m., that Harding found out his train had rolled down a hill, derailed and exploded in the town's downtown core.

Harding called the dispatcher for more information about the blast, when RJ told him the news.
RJ: It's uh, it's your train that rolled down.

TH: No!
RJ: Yes, sir.
TH: No, RJ.
RJ: Yes, sir.
TH: Holy f--k. F--k!
Harding insisted he secured the train before he retired for the night.
TH: It was secure, RJ, when I left.
RJ: Yeah.
TH: She was f****** secure. F***!
RJ: That's what I, that's what I got as a news.
TH: And when did you get the news? Just a few minutes ago?
RJ: At 2:25, to be correct.
TH: Oh, Jesus Christ….How in the f*** did that thing f****** roll down, RJ?
RJ: I don't know. How many brakes did you put on?
TH: The units, the V.B., and the first car, seven brakes.

Harding has since been charged with 47 counts of criminal negligence in connection with the incident.

Sarah Palin responds to Richard Dawkins' idiocy:

Palin, who is the mother of a son with Down Syndrome, wrote a note to Dawkins on her Facebook page explaining why she loves her child,named Trig Palin.

“I’d let you meet my son if you promised to open your mind, your eyes, and your heart to a unique kind of absolute beauty,” Palin wrote.

“But, in my request for you to be tolerant, I’d have to warn Trig he must be tolerant, too, because he may superficially look at you as kind of awkward. I’ll make sure he’s polite, though!”
Remember- Richard Dawkins is supposed to be the smart one and Sarah Palin isn't.