Thursday, February 22, 2018

Syriana - an Update

It's hard to believe that in my last post more than three weeks ago, I commented that 'Afrin' - a Kurdish enclave in NW Syria - had been taken under attack by Turkish forces. What looked back then like a slam dunk waiting to happen,  has degenerated into another second-world failure to win.  For here we  are,  well-up the road and the Turks are barely beyond the areas they had bravely motored-into on Day 1. Motored into and failed to motor out of. Last week, if some sources are to be believed, the Kurds beat-off a Turkish assault that left the battlefield festooned with some burning armor and an estimated 34 Turks dead on the ground.  This is unusual for, until now, the Turks were content to let their SFA 'comrades' take pride of place liberating 'their homeland'.  As one source put it last week, the Turks 'have met mud and mountains and their advance has drawn a blank'. Winter in northern Syria, and southern Turkey is like that. Kurds are coming from  NE eastern Syria through government held arreas, to take part.

In the most recent development the Kurdish forces in Afrin have done a deal with Assad that is quite likely to see the Syrian flag hoisted over Afrin and the Kurds withdrawn to their enclave in the eastern part of Syria.  Today the government forces assumed control over the Kurdish suburb of the long embattled city of Aleppo. It too having suffered the blandishments of Islamic Jihad without caving, so it just as much in need of rebuilding as East Aleppo.

What's really interesting is intersting for Turkey which, all of a sudden, loses its reason to be grabbing another chunk of Syria - this time from Assad's forces and not ISIS or the Kurds.  As well as still having to face-off against the PKK in the Syrian version of Rohava. And that latter involves the USA

America is on the 'horns' of another 'dilemma',  for it now gets to face-off against the Turks or abandon its new friends the Syrian Kurds.  It will be facing-off against Assad as he turns his attention toward the jihadis and FSA still holding on in the Golan and near the SW border. Both of which, without Russian help, will be nasty and with Russian help will be complicated.  I think the Syrian Kurds know on  which side their falafel is greased and there isn't much America could, or would, do to stop the Turks. Assad would.

To ensure there is  no Turkish 'hanky panky' into what is marked out as 'Rojava', Kurdish units are evacuating north from the US-inspired conquest of the east bank of the Euphrates around Deir Ez Zor. That's something the US won't like. Especially if it leaves ISIS isolated and at  the mercy of Syrian forces which already have a bridgehead on the East Bank. (It was bombed last week for "threatening" US "allies"  in the area, or for repulsing an SDR/ISIS attack on the bridgehead - that news is clarified below.)  The US is also in a pickle further north backing-up its  Kurdish allies while facing-down a potential fight with the Turks over the 'buffer zone' the Turks want,  to keep Kurds off their border. Had the Turks not been taking a licking in Afrin, that zone might have been better-formed - as of now, it isn't. 

Assad's forces continue to 'bite back' the remaining ISIS enclaves in western Syria, as well as nipping off parts of Idlib governate not covered by de-escalation agreements.  The Russians are still bombing targets in central Idlib accused of being the launch points of drones that bombed Russian bases a week and a half back and, more recently, of being the 'home' of whichever group it was used a manpad rocket to down a Russian forces fighter-bomber.  The Russians had, I thought,  closed the airspace over Afrin, but since the Turks are still attacking the borders, aside from preventing any further bombardment of the hard-hit governate 'capital',  that isn't having any immediate effect on Turkish Air operations.

That incident near Deir EzZor last week upped the US ante significantly, as they waded-in to 'defend' their part of Eastern Syria and consequently may have killed a large number of Russians when they gave what they thought were 'only' Syrians  the full-treament from assets in the area.  While the Russians, so far, have taken time to study and decry the 'we got ya' idiots,  they were starting to release more information on the dead and wounded 'contractors' they claim had "nothing to do with the Russian military"  They were treating the incident far differently than they treated the notorious ceasefire 'introductory' boming at the same place, a year ago Christmas.

I don't think the fat lady has had her 'ups' about this one. Somebody's going to wait until America gets cocky again to perhaps show them what the Russians can do to a force caught out in the open.

Friday, January 26, 2018

This Was the Day It Was

It was an interesting sort of day in our sad old world. 

Some of us focused on Davos and the visual display of the Trump effect. That started with the 'vertical insertion'  of Hair Furor, on the third of four helicopters.  They didn't pop flares on the way in, there was probably a lot of surveillance on  that part of the Alps yesterday.  Trump met with the leaders of European Industry who introduced themselves and spoke briefly about what their corporation was doing for America. Some of the names like 'Nestle', Trump recognized - he asked about their candy bars and was informed they were now into coffee,  infant nutrition, water and more lucrative fields.  He politely congratulated each on on their accomplishments after their 30 seconds of thumbnail sketching. Trump closed the audience by inviting them all to do more in America. He should have asked them if they had homes there. I'd  bet most of them do.

Day two he gave his address to the 'Davosians'.  Basically he said America was up for anything - so long as it was an American idea. The world was invited to follow, but only if American rules were followed. 'Open for business' in America means you're getting a tax cut, 'open for business' anywhere else means no government involvement. Trump said nothing new. At home the state Department did, announcing a new round of sanctions against individual Russians. Trump announced that the DACA problem was going to be solved and WH spokespeople said that legislation would be forthcoming this week -  'breaks' for some young 'dreamers' who might not be sent back.

Another focus of attention was the enclave of Afrin in Syria which was taken under attack be Turkish forces in an effort to extend its buffer zone in, and influence on Syrian. Although the Turks were well positioned on three sides and had moved the whole Army it seemed into position , the only indication they were serious came in the form of some pretty spectacular bombardment. The military advance, mostly, it seemed, by 'free Syrians' allied with the Turks - seemed spotty and tentative and more about eating rations than fighting. The Turks announced killing hundreds of Kurds, while the Kurds claimed they were killing hundreds of 'gangsters'. It would appear that the Turks weren't suffering much at  all beside the ammunition expenditure. So far the eastern Kurds have done little to help their brothers. The Syrians, having been asked to intervene by the Kurds,  were holding out for a restoration of Afrin to the Motherland. That wasn't forthcoming. The Americans have managed to stay out of it, and to keep their Kurds out of it. But they may have to clamp down on Free Syrians who see this as an opportunity to get back at Assad.

It will be interesting to see if the Eastern Kurds will remain uninvolved,  as a loss in the West is every bit a loss to them. They might inconvenience the Turks at home or along the border or, with Assad's not looking,  travel west to reinforce Afrin from government territory.

The third focus of interest was on England where some cretin politician hit the headlines saying the Russians had threatened to kill hundreds of thousands of Brits by a nuclear attack on the water and gas works or infiltrating the electrical system. This came after yesterdays military harrrumph that there wasn't enough in the national mess fund to battle the 'feckin Russians' at all. The furor rose and was drowned out, in the tabloid media, by even more startling news that a pack ( a herd?  a giggle? ) of baboons had escaped the zoo there and were 'marauding' the city of Paris. As well as that, there was another tale spread about a EURO riot over a sale of Nutella. Hopefully most Brits could 'hoik it' home, to find the Russians had not yet eliminated all the utilities and hopefully find that any French baboons in the area had missed the Nutella in the larder..

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Trumping America

I got a look at a new documentary (October 2017) called 'Trumping America"  that tries to explain to the dense just WTF happened last year? A year after a stunning defeat somebody has been  taking look and blaming 'false news' and Russian hacking for electing Donald Trump.

 I think they're starting from a stupid premise,  for Trump is not the first candidate to lie his way into the Oval Orifice, that has been the case since the days of Jimmy Carter who did it too - but recanted and wasn't re-elected.

In doing so, whatever opposition there is to Trump perpetuates the mistake in thinking they can run a sow's ear, spouting platitudes for a party plank and expect to awaken to find their candidate 'kicking-off' the Inaugural Ball. Donald Trump won an election that surprised him as much as anybody else because the opposition was complacent, spent enough to ransom a continent and thought that there were enough people who believed their brand of 'shinola' to outvote the those who were absorbing the other variety of 'shinola'. There weren't  ... or at least they were not distributed in the best ways to knock Trump out. He won by a thin edge in a couple of places that statistically should have gone to Clinton, The electoral college confirmed that and,  as the idiots,  say "3 million voters were disenfranchised". They should relocate before the next election.

But back to the documentary.

It was a unique campaign from the primaries on through. Trump was a wild man in a field of evident mediocrities.  I can't think of one, viable Republican Candidate without a crippling wen or blight. And while Trump had his foibles, galore, none of the others could top him in either his nasty schoolboy disposition or the self-assuredness that he 'owned' the podium.  On the distaff side there was only one opponent facing Hilary Clinton and. whether this is false news or not I cannot say, the Democratic party torpedoed him ... and a Party Chairperson resigned when that news broke.

As the documentary laments,  the election,  from that point on,  was a series of disclosures some obviously false, some true and of the closet-skeleton variety and some that were made remarkable by who made them and the time they chose to do it.

Hilary Clinton entered the campaign partly on her acumen as a former Presidential spouse but more so on her career as the US Secretary of State - the top dog in the Obama first term cabinet. Along with that came a couple of blunders and a moderate scandal. The blunders arose from the Arab Spring, the take-down of Libya and the killing of the US ambassador to that place. The scandal came from an obvious, but she claims entirely innocent, 'mishandling' of some top secret communications on her private unsecured at-home 'server'.  When she tossed her tiara into the ring, the FBI was looking into some of those things.

 Who slung the first mud was probably Trump - who ran on a campaign that Clinton was inherently crooked and that, looking at a few things that happened ,with her as SecState:  people 'getting things' and subsequently  making donations to the Clinton Foundation  - made Trump proclaim that Hillary belonged in jail, not in the white House. In rebuttle he was chastened (if that's possible) by charges that he donated other people's money and claimed his Foundation did it, that he overspent Foundation funds to decorate, often with portraits of himself, the Trump 'empire'. He was accused of dirty-mouthing the ladies when a recorded tour bus conversation as aired. Trump responded by inviting to a debate, a number of women who had charged Mr. Clinton with sexual abuse.  They sat, silent, in camera range, as Trump absolved himself of sexism and reminded the audience that greater men had sinned more obviously.  That must have really pissed the Clintons  - Bill looked like a furious deer caught in the headlights.

There were leaks afterward attributed to 'the Russians' working to elect their man - Trump. For most of the leaks damaged Hilary. The ' torpedo Bernie;  campaign was the first one.  There was another even more significant appearance on Wikileaks of the contents of John Podesta's (Clinton's campaign  manager) Democratic Party computer hard drive.  this one contained a number of emails illustrating that John or his brother (Washington Power Lobbyists) had some distinctly weird friends who liked to have parties where celebrities feasted on body-shaped and sized cakes - eating them from the crotch outward. One of their artistic friends involved public nudity with what they claimed were menstrual blood 'wall-happenings'.  Trump couldn't have manufactured more damning material.  More of this virtually nailed Clinton's political coffin shut when somebody, with expertise in the field, posted some of Podesta's stuff that he claimed was in code used by pedophiles to describe what they were up to, with kids, to each other. He claimed that Podesta and some Democratic Party supporters were running a 'sex club' for perverts out of a Washington Pizza Joint. 

That might not have done Hilary in ( although she was beginning to show public signs of being all-in, health wise)  had there not been another email embarrassment coming, this time from the direction of her personal secretary Huma Abedin.  Huma was married at the time to Jeffrey Wiener the infamous 'wanna see my pecker' e-mailer. He had been caught, again, , early in the campaign,  sending pictures of his junk to young girls. As part of their investigation, the NYPD had sequestered his computer. (Wiener's laptop) Along with the penile implants on his hard drive,  the cops announced that they had found a number of State Department and other documents belonging to the former Secretary of State. He had those, Wiener told the police,  because his wife did not have a printer and wanted him to make hard copies for her. He had simply forgotten to erase them. 

That stimulated Trump to renew the cry to "throw her in jail" He swore, as part of his plank, that he would see her in court.  A week before the vote, the FBI announced they could find no evidence of malfeasance against Clinton, but the damage was already done.

One of the 'deth' cakes at a Podesta related event

 By way of counterblast, someone in the Democratic Party organization contracted an ex-agent of British MI6 to investigate Trump's ties to the Russians.

The first revelation involved Trump's Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort, with the Russians via the ex-pro-Russian President of Ukraine Mr, Yanukovich. Manafort lobbied for Ukraine in Washington but Yanukovich was unseated during the Maidan revolution and had run away to Russia. Manafort resigned, but an investigation was commenced hoping to connect Trump via Manafort , to Putin. Nothing has come of that so far, although Manafort is currently before the court on other charges.

The second part of the Englishman's investigation raised what he claimed was evidence that Trump, while he was in Moscow trying to land a hotel deal and organize a beauty pageant, had hired a number of Russian hookers to micturate on a bed, in a hotel Presidential suite that had been occupied by the Obama's on a State visit. Trump was reported to have watched and recorded the desecration.  That 'dossier' was, reportedly,  revealed privately by the head of the CIA John Brennan to President Obama and Trump at a White Hose meeting designed to investigate the possibility that Putin had his own recordings  tape and could blackmail the new President.

Things did not stop,  as questionable private internet security firm (Crowdstrike)  discovered what it claimed were 'Russian hackers' attempts to interfere with voting machines in Illinois (well before the election) and the hallmarks of those hackers in the files transmitted from Democratic HQ to Wikileaks.  This firm would proceed to be the sole source for the famous '13 Agencies Reports' into Russian hacking of the election. An investigation into which is, still, on-going.  The firm was also awarded over $100 million in government internet security contracts before Obama left office.

While the documentary would hardly touch on much of this in an other than 'would you believe this?' approach, it seems like a massively incredible excuse for failing to do an election properly. If Democrats still believe this, going into the mid terms, they will lose again. If they don't change, then 'the New York Peach' is virtually guaranteed another 4 years in the White House.

But according to the new documentary, all of this has been 'bosh and hooey'!  For the anti-Trumpites have discovered how he really dunnit. Well, not actually 'he' as much as the 'alt-right election machine',  powered by multi-zillionaire genius Robert Mercer,  his daughter, his Foundation, Breitbart News, Steve Bannon and a number of interrelated entities - including a British marketing research firm with an innovative way of scanning and sorting personal information data. 

What these folk did, aside from organizing and focusing the Trump campaign,  was to gather wads of personal data by purchasing that from Social Media sites.  The data was collated and scanned using numeric algorithms to determine who was likely to vote Trump and what could be fed to them to solidify that choice. The Trump Campaign also focused on States that Trump could win but which had been longshots for Republicans before, They made sure Trump paid attention to them.  While Clinton focused on the 'big win' states. Trump focused on winning Electoral College votes from the 'fringe' states.  The upshot of the election as a close-run popular vote with Clinton winning an unimpressive majority scattered all over the place. Trump however won enough states to give him the Electoral College votes he needed for an inauguration.

What's missing now is the hue and cry that Putin dunnit that has taken up two plus years of investigative time and cost billions. The election wasn't hacked,  it was played by the Stock Market  winners and finessed like a card sharp's game of  Acey Deucy.

The sad part, perhaps, is that Trump, ever the ingrate, seems to have cast his 'winning team' to the curb and bought into the Biffelbergers of the military/industrial/intelligence community. They'll eat his asshole for brunch.

Monday, January 15, 2018

America Goes to the Movies: 2017

'Tis the Awards season again and America gears-up for its annual tribute to what used to be called the 'land of celluloid' and now might be considered the 'land of cellulite' - at least among the unbuffed or interjected. The Golden Globe Awards presage the up-coming Oscars in a lighter 'more fun' approach to 'giving'. This year no less than others. The Emceeing was brilliantly wicked, even lacking Ricky Gervase, and the night was an upscale accolade to film and the women who make it all plausible.

Newly-buffed Mariah et alii

This year, you see, saw the coming-together of a number of tectonic 'issues' that had arisen in the 'ennertainment whirled' - Harvey Weinstein and  the 'second-class economic status'  automatically afforded to females by an industry predicated on the  old Yiddish notion that 'he has a fambly to feed'. As well as that,  there is the constant struggle of the 'bud' of  gender expression,  yearning to 'break free' and blossom, and polly ticks -  Trumpites and anti-Trumpites.  This year everyone, except a couple of 'real weird-ohs', wore black - with a variety of bows, badges, bangles, dangles  and pins to represent their particular sides of  'the struggle'.  A glittering night it was.

The Issues

The star of the evening and potential candidate for the next President of the United States was Oprah Winfrey! Whether she planned that or not, Trump might want to hire her speech writer.  For had she been in the Oral Office, and calling for another crusade into Central Asia, the mall-trotters would have abandoned their shopping carts and decamped to the nearest outdoor/Army surplus/gunshop/ outfitter to equip themselves, at their own expense, and, probably, even buy the tickets to 'deploy' themselves.  Oprah could move the housing market with a word - for the 'unable' to apply for a house, and bankers to give them a wobbly mortgage (not that they aren't already doing that, again, with automobiles). Had she actually said something about it, recruiting sargeants might not have been able to down a single coffee last week. Oprah - hush mouth now - might even be able to raise the dead - but don't say I said that.  She made me want to be my best me - imagine her effect on Putin,  or Kim!

But although the evening was about the movie industry and its art, I'm thinking that the 'black' thing was more in the way of a camouflage for the best year of wasted investment in film since the invention of the kinetoscope. The movies 'honored' by the press awards were some real stinkeroos. Three of the top nominees - 'Lady Bird', 'The Florida Project' and 'Three Billboards Outside somewhere in Missouri'  must have been written/directed by graduates of a film school where 'happy endings', or any other sort of endings weren't on the syllabus. They remind of someone who, in the middle of a screw (good, bad or indifferent)  gets up and goes out .... forever.  They made me feel like eating the bottom out of my popcorn container in search of whatever I missed. Personally I think they were intended to be 'internet theft bait' and they accidentally made it into a couple of film festivals. Maybe the  best of the year's crop:  'The Post', 'Thank you For Your Service' and even the paean to the real military '12 Strong' are to be considered next year.

That would leave something to really look forward to.   Perhaps, rather than reprising 'black' - not a happy color in most cultures - the Oscars could shift to mourning purples, violets and mauves - with flash of chartreuse in there, to represent the dawn of a new day - when the 'casting couch' reverts to being a contractual arrangement as it should have been - rather than another dreary porn set - for everyone , all along.

Hawaii's Big Skeer

Saturday morning last , or at least 28 minutes of it, must have been a real 'doozie' for those Hawaiians, and tourists,  who weren't sleeping through it.  Some lummox at Civil Defense HQ  accidentally toggled the switch  that posts the alert for incoming rocket strikes - assuming there are a variety of such alerts.  All of a sudden individual cell phones received the 'automated message'. If you were messaging the family, back on the mainland, over a vacation breakfast, they had a few minutes to wish you hadn't done that Hawaiian get-away.  TV programs were interrupted with a red 'warning bar' scrolling across the screen indicating ICBM, imminent and take cover - a British premier league soccer game - was one I noticed. The warnings triggered 'somebodies' else to toggle local air raid sirens (which had, we are told, recently been part of the high-intensity 'training' going on - the NORK's threat to civilization, eh?). So a cacophony of sound (I was going to say not heard since the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor, but they've 'upgraded' the sound to a sort of eerie, alien 'warbling' - that none save a sound engineer, or Darby O'Gill,   has ever heard) added to the already heightened tensions.  Road traffic took a turn for the worse as people pulled-off to the side as instructed, and abandoned their cars, while others bolted for home or the office. One fellow even tossed his toddler into a storm drain for protection.

It only took Civil Defence 28 minutes - in consultation with every other attack detection and warning agency on 'erth', the four branches of the armed forces in the Pacific, National Security HQ and, no doubt, the White House - to determine that one, there was no incoming attack and two, someone had blundered. I guess the notion of just turning things off isn't in the 'play book'.

Which all leads one to believe that the CD warning system might be tied into something automatic with the 'manual override' that caused the problem. And that 'the human element' doesn't have immediate access to real-time awareness of an actual threat situation.  Next time a faulty chip or sensor could trigger a warning and nobody might 'know' for more than an hour - although  real incoming missiles from eastern Asia would have a flight time of between 13 and 20 minutes - so the loud 'bangs' interspersed with the alien noises and the pandemonium might 'prove' something. A blinding white flash or two, would shut everything to fuck up.

The White House took until later on Saturday to comment.  Thank goodness the President might have been 'occupied' - taking a Trump dump,  or entertaining some overpaid, over-injected "golf  tournament diversion" and didn't make one of those crucial  '2 pm decisions'.  I'm pretty sure somebody important was asking if the Norks, or the Chinese or the Russians,  might not have 'stealth ICBMs? And shouldn't we let off a few just to be careful?   I visualize Pence and the Prosyliterians poring over 'the Big Board' down in the war bunker.

There's possibly a book, or two, in this one.

The Trump dump emoji

                    Mia Khalifa - last weeks 'meme' for Islamic 'wummin' and golf diverter

What ever happened away from the news is starting to take on the aspects of human nature at its best and worst.  Honeymooning couples celebrated their last few minutes together with a glass of wine and render expressions of eternal love. Others used the opportunity to do some crime. One fellow stiffed his young child into a manhole to help him, or her,  survive. Others made tearful calls home , bidding farewell - courtesy of our interconnected whirled.  I'm pretty sure more than a couple hit their knees to 'get right' with 'God'  or simply bent over, quietly,  to kiss their ass good-bye.

 To-day it's looking like the 'book' would be a revised CD manual, for the only thing America sees going wrong is that this was 'only' a false alarm. the notion of it actually being a real alarm is discounted as - well - not very 'American',  or not very 'well-prepared to survive'.   After some clear-eyed thinking, 'upping the CD 'game' is being touted as the panacea.

Atomic war is still very much 'on the table'.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Best P'leece Force

As the 'big stick' of Canada's National Police forces hangs up his 'Sam Brown and six gun'  (and takes the spurs home for bedroom' gymnasties')  - we get one final dose of his incredible BS.  This one at an investigation into another tragedy that transpired on his watch.

They didn't need no 'military grade' firearms.

While 'Pat' may be somewhat sincere in his belief that a police force shouldn't be 'militarized', he has either been 'living a lie' or dwelling in La-La Land since he 'joined up' with Canada's singular quasi-military police outfit. These guys have actually gone to wars before, as policemen,  some of the Staff at HQ actually sport a 'gong' for 'serving' in Afghanistan. Maybe if 'Pat' had one of those, he might be more 'realistic'.  Removing the 'old boys',  officers' mess-mentality, from the redcoats was something he was supposed to be doing - so there could be some 'continuity', or something, there.

What's surprising is that someone who has made noises about 'under-resourcing' and 'government parsimony' when it comes to 'the Force' , before, wouldn't be at the head of the army-surplus line when it came to them giving away free CadPat 'battle rattle' and light-armored AFVs. A C-4 in every patrol car would have been a bonus - they were/are 'standard issue', along with a (riot) shotgun,  in many 'ordinary' police force cruisers. - some of them carried 'up front' for rapid deployment -  American style.

In a very recent development the Dudley's have 'doo-wronged' again.  That ended the trial of an accused killer of 6.  Although the trial judge has sealed his ruling in vacating the charges against the accused, the action came after defense lawyers presented evidence in court that had been 'overlooked' when preparing the Crown's case. Where did they get that you might ask? Well 'from the RCMP' comes the rejoinder. 'Mirabile dictu',  it had been included in a 'package of information' given to the defense team. A mass murderer walked because somebody 'fudged the data' - by accident of course, like every other similar accident before. They will show up to testify accurately about your speeding ticket or DUI - no misinstructing the Crown there.

Needless to say Vancouver's Sikh population  - another case the Doowrights blew - is 'up in arms' and accusing somebody of collusion. It ain't collusion - although the accused killer has some of the earmarks of a 'skin head'.   But it is incompetence, again, just like always. If the new 'Barge Pole' hasn't been appointed already - and I haven't read that someone has - I guess the 'black eye ' here, has to fall directly onto the Force. There is nobody commanding who wants to fall on their ceremonial sword.

As always Tronna's force is a gift that keeps on giving too.

News came out that the case of a Drug Squad cop,  who died 'on the job' a year or so back, involved him dying of an overdose of illegal fentanyl. The expired trooper was a 'secret doper', too.  I'm wondering what qualifies somebody for work on a drug squad?  While identifying 'stoners' may not be a prerequisite,  it IS one of those things that anybody with a few firing synapses learns 'on the job' - for self-preservation, if nothing else. I'd be wondering how it came to pass,  that the deceased had a drug 'problem' that remained unremarked by  the singular body of people, in the city, who might reasonably, be expected to notice those things - the guys he worked with. Nobody's asking, so deep in mourning have they been, I'd guess. Nor wondering 'if a relatively, young, 'unjaded' officer had such a drug problem, might there not be other 'problems' like his on the force?  Being stoned, like being drunk,  on duty may make you a jolly good fellow ( Until recently, might get you into serious counselling.) but how does it improve job performance?

The ink had barely dried on that news story  before Toronto's finest had their feelings hurt when somebody at the Human Rights Commission started a campaign to reevaluate the force's 'growth' in racial equality when making 'routine patrol stops' - formerly known as the 'carding' program for gathering HumInt.  Police spokespeople were shocked , and the union leader outraged as usual, that an 'issue', addressed years ago (years ago!)  was being 'dragged out' for an airing in a despicable attempt to make the best pleece' service in, almost the whole world, look bad! Again!!

Related story: another murdered female body has been recovered in the Toronto 'downtown core'. The first one was noticed  two years ago and finally identified very recently. The second is a woman reported missing by her family a week or so back. The body was found in what is described as "Toronto's gay district" - not that there's anything wrong with that.  So was the first one.  Obviously, in the absence of any more corpses, there is no connection.

The service has even  got lotsa 'darkies' on the force now.  One of them is THE BOSS - although he's been on sick leave recently! Some of them are still, Orangemen - so that's progress!

In another late-breaker,  the city was rocked last week when news broke on Friday morning that an 11 year old girl , on her way to school, had been accosted by 'Edward Scissorhands' , twice, on which occasions he cut her hijab. By 10:30 am  the little gal was telling her story on the local and national news at a press conference - surrounded by family and 'community mentors' and a representative of the TPS.  By Monday morning - after a weekend marked by litany of apologies and ruminations and 'that IS NOT who we ares', the same TPS was announcing that, 'after an investigation' they had determined the girl "had been lying". That, of course, engendered a swelling tide of the  'that IS who we ares'  to start howling about them all being liars and how they shouldn't have hijabs anyway and a bunch of 'hey! those apologies were just like letting jihadis back into the country and giving them millions of taxpayer dollars, etc. 

The story is still unfolding for, now, the little girl isn't (shouldn't have been) allowed on TV. That the 'community mentors' at the school need their heads read and, perhaps, the notion of police 'tweeting' news of the assault, twice, before they investigated, may have caused the 'press scrum' that was 'organized'. I think the 'she's lying' thing will need looked at too, for, so far, there is no public indication that she has admitted to that,  or recanted her initial story, I would hope the TPS know that but have not made it public.

What Kind of Dope Am I?

The IOC has labored and Dicky Pound and the 'Royal Canucks' have taken a stand. The IOC 'hearts' Russian athletes, they abhor the Russian medal-producing system that fills them full of performance enhancing drugs and then hides the 'facts' from honest people. Russia is officially banned from the 2018 Olympics in Korea, but individual Russian athletes - who have shown themselves to be 'dope free' - may participate as 'independents',  under the Olympic banner. I hope the only Russians who would do that are the ones who can't make the US team. For this all started in America.

After the Sochi Olympics,  a pair of Russian athletes defected to the USA. On arrival they  told the story of how Russian competitors - maybe even them - were doped to provide their very best performances at the Olympics. Shortly thereafter, the man who headed the Russian anti-doping program defected, too, and with him came 'chapter and verse' on who was doped and how they did it and even more particularly, how they avoided getting caught. That involved holes drilled in walls and urine samples slipped into the testing labs in the dead of night by NKVD secret agents.  I'm thinking that if any of that doping moved a fifth place loser into silver or gold contention it was an effort well spent. For along with the dope there was also the small matter of beating the best in the world.

I'm pretty sure that, among the best in the world,  taking something to ameliorate a problem, or even to ensure an untroubled or pain free effort - 'using' is  not something they pass-up lightly. I think many of them dope, it's just that anti-doping is so fool-receptive that few of them get caught.

Canada 's singular doper, Big Ben Jonson,  probably wasn't smart enough to appreciate that the 'vitamins' the team doctor as infecting him with, weren't. But he won the gold and PO’ed the US champ - who started  the rumours,  later borne out in substance,  that Benny had been custom-doped to 'excel' on his big day. His doctor confessed, Ben was banned,  lost his gold and lucrative series of commercial contracts. After that Canada learned a lesson;  no Canucks have been caught doping since. (One (Gold Medal-winning) snowboarder was accused of being under the influence of 'pot' - no particular performance-enhancer  - but he said he might have inhaled it 'accidentally' while visiting 'toking' friends. Although the rumours are out there about the good stuff.  Let’s face it Olympic athletics are a career for those into it - training is what they do and perfecting ‘the instrument’ might require some medication. If it’s the kind of stuff that would get them banned, they're careful about it or, better still, they get a medical dispensation to 'test dirty'. Let's face it,  no 'national hope' is going to be tested when they’re dirty - unless they're Russian, or citizens of Lower Slobbovia.

Let the games begin. We'll see.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Maidan Snipers : a smoking gun.

One of the things that has yet to happen in the new, rebutylhydrated EUkraine is the trial of some Berkut riot police accused of 'inhumanity' on the Maidan and indirectly blamed, by the current government, with killing Maidan protesters. The most notable incident of the killing as video recorded for posterity - the Maidan 'snipers' who changed a protest into a coup.

Today there is a news scoop on that topic.

The Georgian Connection

The same story from somebody else.

What we already know:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Maple Flavoured War Stories - Remembrance 2017

One of the interesting things about wars, as they recede into history, are the 'accretions of valor' they pick-up from those who, apparently, were never noticed or failed to be mentioned but who,  now it seems, conveniently fit into  the 'equal rights', 'multiple-gendered', 'politically correct' world we live in. To become even more memorable,  wars of the past are having their gay, minority groups, female aspects 'discovered' and brought to the fore.

The Great War as a study in history still has much grist to be ground.  The Western Front is and has been the major focus of much or western 'history' and literature the echoes of that war rang down into the explosion of its sequel.  But there is 'an epic' of the astern world, outside the cinematography of Lawrence of Arabia,  that tied the world-up into the late twenties and gave rise the troubles of that region to-day. Afghanistan became a problem after the target war - one solved by the newly fandangled 'air power' which is, still, being used to 'solve' its problems  - with far less obvious success than it had then,  when it actually frightened them..

The Great War was also fought in the Pacific raising an ally to the position of 'an empire' and setting the stage for another war a quarter century later.  While Hemingway may have created noble female participants and the stories of Edith Cavell and Mata Hari are still fairly well-known, there were other less remarked 'women at war' - Lara of Dr. Zhivago and other nursing sisters on every front.

Edith Cavell
The story of the first licensed female driver in Ontario - volunteering to 'go' and being denied is now 'reborning' - if it was ever 'outed' before. Not only did she go on her own, she organized an ambulance and drove wounded warriors to the French port town for evacuation to 'Blighty'.  There was an all-female Battalion of Death that was supposedly deployed on the Eastern Front and the history of the allied intervention in the Revolution is something that could use more study. So far no one has stepped up to reinterpret the US 'Rainbow' Division as anything 'special'; although no doubt some of its members were  homosexually-oriented, other soldier-heroes apparently were.

A  modern day recollection of a secret all-Chinese Canadian  unit deployed into the WW2 jungles of Burma was in the media this Remembrance day.  While I know nothing about the 'ultra secret' unit and its operations,  it does ring sort of true that somebody occidental might think that any oriental could fool the Japanese in Burma better than a 'regular' Canuck from Bobcaygeon or somewhere else civilized.  It probably wouldn't dawn on such a 'sore thumb',  that Chinese-Canadians might be equally-hamstrung trying to blend-in with the Burmese.  Any of those Chinese-Canadians meeting a Burmese, could have been told that wasn't 'on'. I would hope the unit never was deployed, or  sent to an area in Burma where there were no Japanese,  or Burmese.

Chinese Vet remembers Secret Service

I'm trying to figure out how a Chinaman would even get into the Canadian Army of the Second World War - they must have known someone (?) -  as Japanese Canadians and other European 'enemy nationals'  were getting interned.  It must have been after the 'zombies' had created the 'manpower shortage' that brought on conscription and a constitutional crisis with Quebec.  For among other parts of real history ignored or played down,  are the facts that Canadians weren't too multiculturally tolerant, even in WW2,  ( it was worse in WW1). That, while the Brits of Canada (most of the population)  rallied to 'save the Motherland' in 1914,   by 1917 not as many were volunteering (in England either) .   That Canadians had a vibrant memory of the 'killing fields', and casualty lists, and so, when 'the balloon went up' again, in 1939 there were even fewer who wanted to go overseas (actually there were enough to form 2 Canadian Divisions (50 000)  as opposed to those volunteering  staying 'at home'  to defend Canada from foreign invasion.  Getting those 'zombies' to change their minds is an even odder, and not-too-creditable, saga.

The Brits had a poignant ad for their Remembrance Day  this year - current members of the forces remembered parents who had, or hadn't, been in service and "blokes they'd had lost" in current operations. They were 'remembering the sacrifice'. It strikes me that modern-day Afghans and Syrians and Libyans and Yemenis don't have to remember much at all,  they just need to go smell a graveyard.

Remembering: Brit style

I'll close with something uplifting. We all know how Hong Kong, which figured so much in the history of WW2 was returned to the rule of Red China. Apparently the 'communist masters' permit a very British tradition to  remain - and the organizations to maintain it.

Yet to be remembered, let alone 'tributed' (outside the Irish Republic), is Sir Roger Casement - a member if the British Ascendancy, hanged for treason  during the Great War, for having had some truck with the Germans and being arrested after being dropped by U-boat, in Ireland, to assist with their mid-war 'rebellion'. At the time,  he was castigated as a homosexual libertine almost as much as for his treachery.  Now-a-days he would be neither.


Anthony Bourdain would be the first to tell you that the quality of any meal starts with what it looks like on the plate.  Some meals that have 'eye appeal', off the calorie chart, can taste like wet cardboard and other meals that look like they should be in the dog's dish can be sheer delight on the tongue. The same logic as Bourdain's 'looks' is taken to ridiculous extremes when the the 'ingredients' and the 'outcomes' are far less attractive and often anything but palatable. I'm talking about international affairs and the elite among us who earn living having them. This stuff is what big business used to be.

I was watching an old Afghanistan documentary the other night, I think I've mentioned it before, but it included a 'bit' where two  US Marine 'advisors' are instructing a number of Afghan troopers in the fine points of proper hygiene.  After giving then the 'wash-up before you eat' and caution about what the bad bacteria a can do to you - they pause to let their message about sanitary wipes sink in. That tales a couple of minutes for the Afghans to figure out - no doubt as the translator puts the lesson into a language the Afghans understand.  They 'get it' quickly and, surprisingly, they're insulted. The Americans are telling them something they learned at their mother's knee - something the Americans - used to soap water, thorough cooking and decontamination procedures up the yin-yang - don't seem to realize - that Afghans, bring raised in a Moslem culture,  without the benefit of regular showers an flushing port-a-sans , decent refrigeration ,  preserved foods  and lacking the concept of  paper used  only for wiping shit - are scrupulously careful to avoid contaminating what they put in their mouth  with whatever might be 'left over from yesterday' and coming out.  I'm hoping that those two Americans were aware that the left hand, for Muslims, has a purpose that the right hand just never shares.  If they were,  they failed to mention that - other than saying they 'had no intention of offending anybody' - which put a skid mark on the rest of the presentation. If they had anything good to impart that was lost in the subsequent Afghan  round of 'these guys think we're idiots'.   The presentation - meant for the folks back home, courtesy of a front line videographer -  was lost on the Afghans and served no purpose.

When it comes to that home front and far more important things, the 'presentation' is sometimes blown out of all proportion. Sometimes the presentation is everything.

I don't know if the military has a training program in intra-unit communications,  but as in any self-respecting organization - getting the word out well is probably a leadership tool skill.  But I have a feeling that, like the briefing for General Dreeble's visit in Joe Heller's  'Catch 22' ,  those so involved might get carried away with the beauty of their 'weapons' - or rather their power point and slide making skills. There have been reports of some incredibly intricate schematics used to describe probably far-less-complicated situations - done,  I would imagine , when the presenter doesn't know his stuff and hopes bullshit will baffle brains. I remember Ben Netanyahu addressing the US with a graphic that looked like something from a Wile E Coyote cartoon and using a red marker to draw a red line on it. Ludicrous!  He did the same thing again,verbally , at a more  recent event,  when he interrupted his speech to recognize Trumps' son-in-law and fellow Hebrew, Jared Cushner. Granny Netanyahu cooed about how he remembered the lad as a baby and inquired "How long is it now that we have known you?"  The Roman emperor couldn't have done a better job talking  to little  hostage Herod in some Hollywood epic.  Americans just eat up that homemade shit but such stuff comes honestly,I guess, to them.

Pattun 2: I AM the Presentation

Look at the way they're cocked-up to be  special.  They look like the country club set with their very own caddies and, in some cases, social planners and personal 'fluffers'. A lot of 'really important' Americans play it like that. J. Paul Bremer comes to mind. I'd bet that John Negroponte never sat on a dirt floor or got fleas.  If he did it was 'for fun'.  He certainly didn't get too near the Miskitos.

Look at the photo of America's latest  military Triumvirate .  Not only are the mood lighting and camera angle enough to enhance 'the willies', the occasion is meant to portray substantial change for 'the guys' were reporting that,  after 17 years,  the Afghans were finally 'involved' - like really really involved -  with America's war in their country.

They're NOT dicking-around any more

As if in counterpoint, the Taliban attacked the Afghan  Military,  across Afghanistan, killing over a 100 of them last week alone and wrapping things up by sending another American home in a box.

There's a lot of deep thinking in train these days as the good guys try to get a wheel back on the wagon of 'democrazy' that seems to be heading into a Calvin&Hobbesian drainage ditch,  This is an interesting study - done to the Nth to impress with  'Presentation'.

The CSIS Study on how best to address Terrorist violence World-wide

Tony Blair and Leon Panetta, the original 'bullshit artist' and the latter-day 'Pagliacci' headed-up an all-star panel of, essentially, western think-tankers to come up with the best way to 'tackle' a terrorism problem that has only grown since first we noticed it in 2001. Essentially it boiled down to three things:  First - baffle them with bullshit - flood the "ideas market" with the kind of thinking about a possible heaven on earth brought to the have-nots by free markets and western business.  Second: do what good guys do best and cut off their funding. And, third: failing the first tow, go all out to kill them. The order is mine - I have a feeling that number three could be number one because it is both easier and ultimately more effective.  More of the same with glossy new packaging and brilliant photography depicting the ultimate objective (even some humanitarian white Helmets). If they don't stop - 13th century living  via  21st century bombardment.

The big weakness, aside from the obvious repetition of failed policy expecting a different outcome  here, is that it's written as an 'action-paper' for Donald Trump. And yet it doesn't mention him once.  Lightweights at work. Ergo: FAIL.

Here's another 'slick little piece', this time on the sort of distaff side that global thinkers don't bother thinking too much  about. But it's the kind of thing that probably got that old terrorism ball rolling in the first place. And the kind of thing that has probably been at the root of every evil ever done. It's about somebody 'screwing up' and, first,  nobody giving a shit. Then spending an awful lot of time and resources to cover their asses. It's the kind of thing that both Blair and Panetta have done - personally.

An Australian Tale: The Valley

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Syria: Another stinking pile of Democratic Doo Doo

The truth about Syria is emerging and will one day - it is to be hoped - see the perpetrators of a staged revolution hauled before the World Court - or better still, fall victims to their own petard - none of them are what anybody would call secure in their establishment.

From the earliest days anybody who was reading more than the US media - where Saddam was depicted as having children beaten and killed, his people brutalized by police goons and cast into dungeons - were hearing a quiet dissonance in the 'chorus of freedom' rising in Syria.    If it hadn't been for disorders breaking out across the Arab world,  as people "cried out for more democracy on social media' - as well as a break from rising bread,  food and fuel prices (after a western engineered food staples price increase), we might not have understood how Syria would 'go wobbly',  like Libya and Egypt  did. After all,  the Syrians and their government seemed to have coped, fairly-well, with a 10 year drought and population shift into the urban areas - none of that caused an uprising.  It turns out that what did cause an uprising was the CIA and Saudis providing weapons and money as well as numbers of foreign fighters, to take things to a dark side. And we 'suckers for a good fight', out west, were panting for some humanitarianism after the press and media pulled another wag the dog on us. America was almost disingenuous in its 'uninvolvement',  as it 'let' the French and British call for the 'invasionary overthrow'. It did  set an ambassador to provide 'photo ops' of visits to 'friendly riots' and protests  - while he begged Assad for  mercy and a resignation. Photos of what appeared to be American 'trainers',  in mufti, started to appear on military photo sites.   Within the first year there were car bomb attacks in Damascus and other towns and a retaliatory strike that was rumoured to have killed Saudi Security Minister  Bandar Bin Sultan,  who disappeared from the Saudi 'whirl' after that explosion  and  has yet to return to the public eye.

Sarah Abed offers this explanation of the early days

Every Syrian I have spoken with, whether they side with Assad or not,  explain that it was not local forces, on either side, that caused them to flee the country - it was "gunmen" - armed foreigners who quickly took the fight to unexpectedly violent levels and threatened  to involve them in it directly, or indirectly.

Who these gunmen were was not unknown to the US security services and, hence, to the government.  Material leaked by Snowden pointed to the direct involvement of the Saudis in directing attacks that killed civilians in Damascus. At least one operation noted in US security sources

The intercept that might have changed everything

Six months before Assad was accused of gassing his own people the first time, a British newspaper printed what it claimed were emails from a hacked site in Malaysia belonging to a British security firm. The emails detailed plans to import Libyan weapons of Russian manufacture and engineer an outrage that could be blamed on Assad.  That story quickly went south when the security firm sued the British paper that published the story for libel. That case later wound-up, successfully, for the security firm - who, if they didn't make money off the Syria plan,  made money from the court ruling. e are very aware that, at about the same time the British court ruled, Assad was accused of firing sarin tipped missiles into a rebel-held area. The UN investigated and Obama threatened war.

We all 'know' that Assad used rocket artillery to gas his rebelling people. An incident that nearly led to a war with the USA, did lead to Assad dis-arming himself, chemically, and was later investigated and demonstrated that the incident might have been more like that spurious, 'emailed  scenario' mentioned above, than the one we all believed.

Would the  news that 'the bozos',  so roundly congratulated by -  and later armed at the behest of -  John McCain, were in fact the command echelon of what would turn out to be  ISIS,   have changed anything? Not even if they 'offed' the Pope,  or bull-dozed every church in Syria.  They were there to remove Assad for us. And had they not tried removing the Shiite government of Iraq instead - threatening much of the 'goodness' we had already done there, they might well have succeeded making that Caliphate, governed from Baghdad, instead of Mosul, Idlib,  or Raqqa.

If they'd been really smart they'd have gotten us to arm and pay for it all  - massacring everybody only after we anointed them.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

'Bang' to the Nth

There are places on Earth where violent men with guns are a regular fact of life. We like to think that 'those people' in 'those places' hold a lesser value for life than we, more enlightened folk do. But in all the great gun range that is our ballistic world,  one land stands head and shoulders above the rest for the regularity of banal killings executed with a firearm  - and the reticence of the governments or legislatures to put any meaningful  restrictions on the right to own a firearm 'guaranteed' under the national constitution - that land is the United States of America

a jaded, biased perspective from the ax-grinders at the Intercept

And so it was only with mild shock and a little dismay that the World learned that America had self-inflicted another 'national tragedy'- as opposed to say another attack by those who hate freedom - that would have been really serious. As it is there are some roads closed on the Vegas Strip, windows busted in a tourist hotel and the next audience taking in some live 'ennertainment' will be doing so with an ear cocked for a volley of automatic rifle fire.

The undertakers re still busily packing corpses for FedEx shipment and the hospitals are only starting to tote-up the costs to be passed on to insurers or, worse, sent to home addresses. As in most of its other tragedies America is 'go funding me'  dollars at the victims. The 'News' networks are beating the story to death and even if they don't really understand what happened, most Americans aren't thinking it had as much to do the 'the beauty of our weapons' as much as the mentality of a trigger-man, who fired into a crowd so far away he could only imagine the effect of his shots. Although he did have 'optics' on at least one of his weapons - he might have seen,  but he probably didn't hear.

He wasn't long for this world either - being deceased himself by the time - within minutes that it took for the swat squad, alerted by a 'fire alarm' set off by the battlefield barrage,  to come through the wall. Strange that the picture of the dead man's body - making an assumption he, somehow, made his head something to be kept from the public -  had something that looked very much like another supine person's foot  beside his leg.  What was up with that?

This past week another attack was thwarted. Actually it wasn't an attack. It probably wasn't thwarted either.  It wasn't even noticed.

The Airport bomber

But the real problem with America and its guns is:

Maybe to get some attention, or maybe just because he was  'mad' or 'nuts',  another shooter cut loose in two schools in Chicago killing 2 and wounding  2 others.   And somebody went wack-o in Maryland an killed thee people - one in a nearby state.

The beauty of it is that,  three weeks later,  it's like nothing happened.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

North Korean Tourism

Them 'dedly' Norks.

Some screwballs can visit North Korea - talk to the locals and even act silly  - without falling afoul the NKVD or the evil that is Kim.

Other tourists - generally 'returning' Korean ones - particularly the 'born again' variety,  have run afoul Korea's draconian espionage and sedition laws and have spent considerable amounts of time in what we style 'Korean gulags'.

And then, sometimes, bad things happen to people who really, on the surface, didn't do all that much wrong - like a young Chinese-American tourist shot when she entered a restricted border zone a few years ago   or a kid who just wanted a souvenir.

A visit gone bad: OTTO WARMBIER

Otto Warmbier a young American visited North Korea as a tourist in 2015.  Whatever he was like when arrived in North Korea,  was at some very noticeable odds with how he was when he came home.  He died within a month of his arrival back in the USA. His parents refused an autopsy and any medical studies that might have explained what happened to him are, so far, inconclusive.

 It seems evident that something did happen to him.

The first thing is that he was arrested after removing a 'propaganda poster' from his hotel to, I imagine, take back home with him.  By the time he appeared in a North Korean court he was exhibiting some noticeable psycho-physical affects.  At times he appeared alert and normal, at other times he appeared dazed and detached. At one point he seemed unable to walk on his own. He was visibly emotional admitting his 'crime' and asking for leniency.  The court gave him 20 years.

The North Koreans claimed that, at some point during his imprisonment, he contracted botulism and "after taking a sleeping pill" - no timeline defined here - he went into a coma.  He was 'comatose' when he arrived back in the USA but his family claim he was howling like an animal,  unresponsive to them and "disfigured".  Doctors treating him noted that there was significant loss of  brain tissue.

Warmbier's parents were on the news and talk show circuit almost immediately, claiming that the Koreans and brutally tortured their son,  after a 'sham' trial in which he was 'unfairly' convicted.    Donald Trump tweeted sentiments   corresponding to theirs.

American government agencies decried his arrest and trial and incarceration but there are no diplomatic ties to Korea, so Warmbier was essentially left on his own.  There were no US representatives available in North Korea to see to his welfare  - no 'good offices' of other nations on which the US could call to look after the interest of a US citizen.

The USA is looking after his interests now,  as Warmbier  seems to fall into the 'beautiful baby' classification that resulted in Syria being attacked.  Warmbier's treatment probably has as much to do with North Korean isolation as does their nuclear threat and rocket tests.   He isn't however an 'icon' - so far he isn't a Davy Crockett or a Nathan Hale.

What he is,  is a victim of 60 years of  US intransigence. If North Korea isn't being ignored, it's being classed as a threat. 60 years in which a couple of generations of American have stood guard on the ramparts of Democracy on the 38th  parallel - hostile to North Koreans and best allies to their southern cousins. That, as much as anything, has stopped Koreans from solving their purely political, but now 'time honored' differences.

Positively Electrifying

Nicola Tesla had a large role in turning Ontario Canada into the first publicly-electrified jurisdiction in the World.   After he left electricity in Ontario was a truly public  utility until a 'Pregeressive0 Conservative' government decided that selling it off to pay down public debt was a smarter idea. It was hived off to private enterprise who, we are told, are "investing in it" and, naturally , reaping the profits  from steadily increasing electricity rates. 

This past year the current government in Ontario 'swore' they would do something about skyrocketing electricity bills.  They did.  In return for the hydro industry placing a 7 year 'freeze' on  profit-driven increase, s the Government has 'foregone' their portion of the bill derived from a Sales Tax applied to them and agreed that the rates will increase again in 2024 to allow the industry to recoup its losses. 

Instead of a common-sensible reset of already overly high bills - those private owners have to pay down the money they borrowed to buy the business  - government has provided a band aid which will be ripped off later when they're long gone.  

I wrote a letter to gripe about this and received a nice letter back. 

Note the reference to delivery rates - that's one of the for factors that go into making your monthly bill - the charge for the electricity you use (another factor) related to the time you use it (another factor) which is function of the cost of producing electricity (another factor) with relevent fees and surcharges etc (other factors)  that go into the overall 'cost' of electricity divided among the three Electric Corporations and related Production Corporations.  Simple eh?

 If you read the  nice letter you realize there is no solution - just another layer of bullshit. 

Dear  (ME) 

Thank you for your email to our Customer Communication Centre.

We heard from our customers that their delivery rates were too high so we advocated on their behalf to the government to ensure fairness across all electricity customers and the Fair Hydro Plan is a result of that.  The actions we have taken to date demonstrate our new leaderships’ commitment to improving our customer service and our relationship with our customers. The new Hydro One is working harder than ever to put our customers first and we see advocating to government on their behalf as our responsibility. The recommendations we brought to the government reflect what we have heard from our customers across the province, many of whom were struggling to afford their monthly electricity bills.

The Fair Hydro Plan has created a more fair and affordable electricity system for customers living outside of urban centres. About 60% of our customers now benefit from a delivery line that is in line with the provincial average, which represents a savings of approximately $600 a year. The Fair Hydro Plan helps those who need it the most; fixed-income, rural and Northern customers who have been struggling to pay rising electricity bills.

You may not be aware that the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) sets the commodity price and that this is the rate that has been frozen.  The OEB announced lower electricity prices for Regulated Price Plan (RPP) customers effective May 1, 2017. The OEB estimates more than 90 per cent of electricity customers in Ontario will benefit from these lower prices. These prices will be in effect until April 30, 2018.

Customers who are not on the Regulated Price Plan (RPP) but are eligible under the Fair Hydro Act, 2017 will see their bills lowered through a reduction in their Global Adjustment charges. These customers include those who are eligible for the RPP but have chosen a contract with an energy retailer or spot market pricing instead. The Ontario Energy Board has set a Global Adjustment credit of $32.90 per MWh, which translates to about 3.3 cents per kWh. The Global Adjustment credit will be effect from July 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018.

The Government of Ontario has created a site to address any concerns, opinions or thoughts regarding the Fair Hydro Plan. Your feedback is important and I would recommend completing the form provided on the following link:

The affordability fund will help customers make their home more energy efficient if they, cannot afford to make energy efficiency improvements and or do not qualify for the Save on Energy Home Assistance Program. The fund will help electricity customers in need who cannot qualify for low-income conservation programs. It will provide support to customers for energy efficiency improvements to help reduce their future electricity bills. The government will pay for this fund through provincial revenues.

There is also the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP), this program provides eligible low-income households with a reduction on their electricity bill. We encourage customers to check to see if they are eligible to receive a credit. First Nations and M├ętis customers are eligible for an enhanced credit. Eligibility requirements changed on May 1, 2017 and more customers will qualify for a credit. If any of the folks you help require assistance they can visit  or call 1-855-831-8151 for details.

Regarding your concerns of the involvement of the United Way, in-line with OEB's guidelines, we use a lead agency that can support province-wide delivery of the LEAP program. The United Way then works with local agencies to support customers at a more local level through in-take agencies. The Unite Way is also equipped to combine multiple assistance programs available in each community to maximize financial assistance for the customer. This is an area that would be outside a utility's experience.

Hydro One made the decision to partner with a single local agency, The United Way in order to streamline the customer’s experience. By partnering with the United Way, we were able to reduce wait times for this process as there is one point of contact for all applications, rather than applications coming in from dozens of agencies across the province. As a result, we are able to better assist our customers and manage our LEAP portfolio, while also providing an improved customer experience.

The United Way is a highly regarded agency within the Not For Profit sector and we felt that they would provide the most comfortable, timely and effortless experience for our customers.  

Thank you for taking the time to write and share your concerns.

Senior Customer Consultant, Customer Service
Hydro One Networks Inc.
185 Clegg Road
Markham, ON, L6G 1B7
Tel:   905.946.6211
Tel:  800.419.5208 ext. 6211

Received: 8/5/2017 6:57:29 PM
Subject: Thanks for nothing

Thanks for the recent email you sent about my new 'bill decrease'. I am
overjoyed. But there are a couple of points I would like to raise in
clarification of all that happiness.

"Advocating with government" seems to me to be asking for a stay of
execution. In return for being able to jack the rates into low earth orbit
in a number of years Hydro one and the electricity oligarchs of Ontario
have only committed to not increasing rates during that period, the rates
will, however, remain at the high rates that caused that "advocacy".

The brunt of the 'decrease' is being absorbed by 'the government' - viiz
hydro rate payers - in the reduction of applicable HST charges. Somebody
will want to increase income tax levels or other charges, to 'recoup' that
lost income.

I notice that the affordability fund is now a cornerstone of the Electricity
picture. In my estimation rather than having me pay a little more (hidden on
my bill) to make sure those who may not be able to afford their Hydro
costs have a little institutional charity available (I actually work to
assist some of those poor folk) - would it not be more sensible to have
affordable electricity rates to begin with?

A further 'bee in my bonnet' is engendered by the involvement of United Way
in vetting these folk. United way provides a valuable service, but they
also retain a 15 percent off-the-top fee to assist with the costs of the
office and paid staff they have. One might think that the best people to
'vet' (the main question seems to be so you need help paying your hydro
bill?) problem customers, might be a department at Hydro itself - you
are involved before, and after, no? At the very least you might be able to
assist, correct that ... WE might be able to assist 15 percent more of

I would like to congratulate your PR department on their valiant effort to
con your customers into thinking you have our best interests at heart. If
that were the case you would have been negotiating a rate reduction with the
government instead of 'freezing rates' in return for an up-the -road-

Kevin Quinn Owen Sound

PS: CC to Premier Wynn - she seems much in the dark as anybody not paying
your rates would be. If you reply, I'll post your response on my blog. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Canada and Ukraine

UPDATE:  Another Ukrainian arms dump goes 'kablooie'!  A day after somebody tried to assassinate a 'dissident' leader in Donetsk.  Co-inky-dink?  Who knows?  Canada better 'pitter-patter' on their free 'bang-bang!

This past weekend after a meeting with Poroshenko the  ("peace") President of Ukraine, Canada's Justin Trudeau announced that his government was giving the green light for the export of restricted weapons to that benighted land.

This in counterpoint to the US announcement that it would not be arming the Ukraine.

A decent overview of the Canada-Ukraine  relationship  was written by  Jim Miles for Global Research

Global Research Site

Here's his article:

Poroshenko and Trudeau: Canada’s Ukrainian Attitude

"“We continue to stand with Ukraine against the illegal illegitimate incursion of Russia into Ukrainian territorial sovereignty and their attempts to destabilize Ukraine economically and many other ways,” Trudeau said. CBC, September 22, 2017.  

The Canadian government operates under as many double standards as that of the U.S. and its other NATO allies.  Russia did not invade Donbass, but more than likely supplied the rebel defenders with equipment, (much as the U.S. does globally). And what were they rebelling against, you dare not ask?
Well, they rebelled against the U.S. covert actions against the democratically elected government of Yanukovich, not wanting the newly installed neonazi Maidan strongmen (e.g. Arseniy Yatsenyuk) to control their region of the country. Further, the same bunch also used language that indicated they wished for ethnic cleansing and even genocide – Yulia Tymoshenko, the new revived darling of the western backed government, called for their complete destruction. The criminal Saakashvili (wanted for crimes in Georgia, his home state) is attempting to do something now that he has returned to Cherkasy in the geographical centre of Ukraine, another CIA sponsored overthrow of their first internationally illegal operation?
The Minsk agreement is an agreement signed between Donetsk-Luhansk on one side and Ukraine on the other, with France and Germany as co-signees – not the Russians. The agreement calls for unconditional ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line, release of prisoners of war, and constitutional reform in Ukraine. All of these are dependent on the Ukraine government in Kiev to act upon (not Russia) and they have not acted on any of them.
Heavy weapons have not been withdrawn and continue to fire daily and nightly from the front line into the Donbass region, mostly at civilian targets. Some prisoners were exchanged, but many from the Minsk side were simply civilians rounded up to use as ‘trade’. There has been no constitutional reform from the Ukrainian Rada.
The current desire to place peacekeepers inside Donbass is a non-starter for Donbass residents who have suffered under continual artillery fire since the Minsk agreement was signed. If the peacekeepers were on the ceasefire line, that might be acceptable, but for Poroshenko that obviously recognizes that the real problem is internal rather than with Russia.
Canada’s integrity
So where else is Canada concerned about territorial integrity? Hmmm, perhaps Syria, with its support for U.S. actions against Assad – nominally against terrorism, but the intelligent broad reader would know that the real target is Assad astride a critical oil route (as well as having ongoing troubles with Israel, the country that illegally annexed the Golan Heights, an action that the Canadian government never criticizes.)
Or perhaps Libya? Canada was one of the lead brave bombers that destroyed that country, aggravating the ISIS terror nexus, aggravating the immigrant problem to the EU, once again supporting U.S. international criminal actions under the false accusation of genocide (there wasn’t any, Gaddafi was fighting against ISIS affiliates in his eastern provinces).
Or maybe Yugoslavia/Serbia, where once again the brave Canadian bombers destroyed civilian infrastructure and more in order to carve apart another country that did not fit the U.S. definition of what a country should be – that is, subservient to the U.S., as Canada is.
Trudeau and cohorts would of course cry out that Crimea is an obvious illegal international intervention. But consider….Crimea had always wanted independence from Ukraine ever since the fall of the Soviet Union. Twice they voted for it, twice they were denied it by Ukraine, and Russia at that time was to weak to do anything to assist them (remember originally Crimea had been ‘gifted’ to Ukraine by Khrushchev).
When the U.S./Yatsenyuk team overthrew the duly elected (if corrupt) government, the Russian forces already in Crimea blocked any attempts of the Ukraine towards violent actions such as happened at the Maidan, in Odessa, and in Donbass. Really they should be thanked for the prevention of another area with a large loss of life due to U.S. imperial desires (sort of like they should be thanked for destroying most of ISIS in Syria, you know, the Saudi backed group the U.S. covertly supports).
It also became known that U.S. warships were bound for the Crimean port of Sevastopol, an action prevented by the quick move of the Russian forces stationed there. What would have happened if the U.S. had arrived first, once again violating an international boundary – well of course, the sycophantic Canadian government would have lauded the action, while the Ukrainian forces rampaged against all things Russian in Crimea – which is most of it.
Following that a referendum was held to know if the people wished to join with Russia. The vast majority said yes, not at gunpoint as the western MSM wished to argue, and the Russian Duma accepted the request. Peaceful, no lives lost, and Crimea is better off than the rest of Ukraine and the Donbass.
Trudeau can lament that all he wants, there is no way Crimea will voluntarily return to Ukraine. But as long as the U.S. wants it, so long as the domestic Ukrainian lobby wants it, so the lament will continue.
Economic destabilizing
If the actions of the countries involved are looked at closely, the main economic destabilizing factor for Ukraine has been its own actions. It was Ukraine that blocked coal shipments from Donbsas. It was Ukraine that stopped the farmers and citizens of Kherson from trading with Crimea. It was Ukraine that knocked down power lines to Crimea, and cut of water to Crimea as well as parts of Donbass. It is Ukraine that continues to shell civilian structures in Donbass (water pumping stations, power stations, railways, schools, hospitals et al) causing serious economic damage to that region. Donbass has not responded in kind, and has withdrawn its heavy weapons from the contact line.
Ukraine itself has devolved into familiarity, with various oligarchs controlling the political, industrial, and financial actions both domestically and internationally that have ruined much of what little the Ukrainian people had. Factories are closing (lack of coal, lack of orders, for the latter a significant part being industries that used to sell equipment to Russia). The war effort of Kiev against Donbass is itself a costly affair, both in human lives and in economic losses to the economy.
Canada’s Ukrainian attitude
Canada’s Ukrainian attitude – that is its anti-Russian attitude – is a combination of both domestic politics as well as its subservient role to U.S. interests via NATO. The ultimate U.S. goal is to deconstruct if not destroy Russia, to make it part of the U.S. empire as it tries for global hegemony. Unfortunately for the world it is that very U.S. imperial desire that has wreaked havoc across many countries on all continents of the world.
Personally, I support the actions of Russia in Syria, an area where they are operating within international law, as opposed to the U.S., Canada and all the other uninvited nations fighting – theoretically – against terrorism. Given the global method that the U.S. uses to destabilize nations – through economics (sanctions, embargoes et al) combined with covert military means that frequently become overt military means – I support the growing positive relations between Russia and China and their efforts at building infrastructure and economic relationships across Eurasia (and Africa and Latin America), without using the military.
That of course is another reason for Ukraine being used as it is – to keep Eurasia from developing independence from the U.S. economic system and the reserve currency status of the US$. With Ukraine as another puppet U.S./EU/NATO government, it will be easier to try and block the Chinese BRI (Belt and Road Initiative). That then spreads globally to U.S. actions in Syria, Iran and anywhere else in the Greater Middle East where Canada plays its supporting role in all things imperial. After all it’s only natural – the U.S. and Canada are children of the once greatest colonial-settler imperial nation in the world, the U.K.
In short then, Canada’s Ukrainian attitude is supported by its internal Ukrainian cohort and more broadly by its warmongering imperial backing of U.S. adventurism to capture…well, the world.
Featured image is from Radio Canada International.