Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Another outstanding Harper choice! 

Canada's newest Harper-picked Supreme Court Justice may well turn out to be another Mike Duffy or Pam Wallin in the making.
In this Toronto Star article, she sounds like an entitled and egotistical nut case:
...Madame Justice Suzanne Côté battled five years with Revenu Québec, the provincial tax agency, after she claimed annual expenses of $50,000 to buy work clothes for each of three years from 2004 to 2006. During that same period, the top-flight Montreal lawyer claimed more than $25,000 in expenses related to personal care, as well as other miscellaneous items.
Court documents show that Côté made claims for tax deductions totalling $204,685 over those three years and that those claims were rejected by the Quebec tax agency.
Revenu Québec noted in a statement of defence that it began auditing Côté’s expense claims in 2007 and that she refused on four separate occasions to provide receipts or other documents that would justify her claims.
Fighting a five-year legal battle? To defend a $200,000 deduction? For clothing?
Apparently the usual black legal gowns that lawyers wear in court cost about $800.  How many did she buy?  Or does she think the Quebec bar also requires its high-powered lawyers to wear fur coats and Armani suits?
Of course, all the receipt documentation has now been withdrawn so we -- the public who will be paying her salary for the next four decades -- aren't going to be allowed to know exactly what items of clothing or grooming she thinks she should be entitled to deduct from her taxable income.
Oh well, if her bills get to be too high, we can always cut back on payments to veterans...

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Oh, you shouldn't have! 

Just a little bloggy roundup of some really bad gift ideas from here and there on the web.
First, a jolly old elf, from Mock Paper Scissors:

Hummer for a White Christmas

From Dr. Grumpy, a really cute little toy giraffe which you should definitely give to someone with really awful kids:

And what real guy wouldn't love this calendar featuring girls, and fish:

From Marie Claire, a "Life Gem" -- it looks sort of pretty, doesn't it?  But then you find out what its actually made of....

<strong><a href="http://www.lifegem.com/" target="blank">LIFE GEM</a></strong>, $2,699-$24,999.<br /><br />You can't go wrong with diamonds — unless those diamonds are a by-product of recently deceased Fluffy's remains. Life Gem cremates departed pets, using the carbon to create a unique gem with a creepy backstory.

Finally, this...

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Tuesday, December 09, 2014


Shorter US torture report:

Bush and Cheney corrupted the soul of the United States when they adopted torture as a state policy -- and in return all they got was a s**t sandwich.

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Friday, December 05, 2014


Ann Telnaes writes
White Americans don’t understand the racial profiling black Americans deal with on a daily basis.
The New York Times quotes protestors across the country saying "No justice. No peace. No racist police." Yes, they're finally calling police racist, in spite of the pearl-clutchers at Fox News.
As Charles Blow writes
Racism is a real thing, not because the “racial grievance industry” refuses to release it, but because society has failed to eradicate it.
Racism is interpersonal and structural; it is current and historical; it is explicit and implicit; it is articulated and silent.
Biases are pervasive, but can also be spectral: moving in and out of consideration with little or no notice, without leaving a trace, even without our own awareness. Sometimes the only way to see bias is in the aggregate, to stop staring so hard at a data point and step back so that you can see the data set. Only then can you detect the trails in the dust. Only then can the data do battle with denial.. . .
The activism that followed Ferguson and that is likely to be intensified by what happened in New York isn’t about making a martyr of “Big Mike” or “Big E” as much as it is about making the most of a moment, counternarratives notwithstanding.
In this most trying of moments, black men, supported by the people who understand their plight and feel their pain, are saying to the police culture of America, “We can’t breathe!”

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Thursday, December 04, 2014

Reflections on racism and the police 

Two long reads from Gawker, of all places, on racism and police: Why Should Anyone "Respect" the Law?:
How can you ask people to respect the law when the law does not respect them? How can you remind them of the importance of the process when Missouri and New York are reminding us the process is hopelessly broken?
There is a troubling trend in American thought that holds we should "respect" cops as we might "respect" venomous snakes: by staying away from them, by avoiding eye contact, by not making threatening gestures.
Can You Breathe? Reflections on Non-Indictments, Activism and Black Life
It's hard to continue to care. For many of us, by the time we heard the non-indictment of Garner come down we were numb. Some of us got numb when we saw loved ones beaten within an inch of their lives by cops and realized that no one cared—not the grand jury, not internal affairs, not the mayor, not even the politician who promised to get tough on corruption. Some of us have been numbed by what we have access to—hey, who doesn't want to get that 60-inch flatscreen TV on discount? Some of us are numb because the cost of caring is reckoning with the vulnerability we all must come to grips with—you may have three or four college degrees but your skin remains a target. We've got to care enough to fight.
We've got to fight the system. We've got to struggle with ourselves. Love ourselves enough to correct ourselves. Love each other enough to remind each other that we got this. That our ancestors have already showed us ways and walk with us now. We've got to love so that we can see a new day. When I look at my daughter in resting slumber, I get haunted with visions of the reality that she will face. I get scared. I get angry. I fight that with ancestral love. I fight it with knowledge that if we wake up, nothing can put us to sleep. I fight because I love her.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Trying to put lipstick on a pig 

The Harper Cons are trying to put lipstick on a pig:
An aide to Prime Minister Stephen Harper has taken over as chief of staff to embattled Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino as opposition MPs call for his resignation.
...Fantino, who has appeared chippy in his dealings with some veterans. In February, he was forced to apologize for his snub of veterans upset by the closing of regional Veterans Affairs offices. More recently, he was chased down a hall by a woman crying out to him, seeking help for her husband suffering from post-traumatic stress. Fantino didn’t stop to talk with her.
Fantino is the face of the problem but the problems run deeper into the bureaucracy that has an insurance company mindset in dealing with veterans who need help, said retired colonel Pat Stogran
Actually, my husband worked forty years with insurance companies -- any company that treated people like this would have gone out of business. And a CEO who acted like Fantino would have been fired long ago.

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Taken to the cleaners in #Ferguson 

Tabitha Southey has a brilliant column in the Globe and Mail  Hey, white person, imagine if you were stopped as though you were black :
...Let’s imagine, for example, you’re being stopped and questioned by dry cleaners, and see how that goes.
Dry cleaners approach you often. You get to know the drill. “It’s linen, dry cleaner,” you say politely, as your mother taught you to do. “Natural fibres do wrinkle; it’ll relax in the heat. You don’t need to press this. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for a meeting.”
It starts to get to you after a while, white people – a short while, I imagine, knowing you as I do. “No, I don’t need to come in,” you snap one day, upon your third grilling that month. “It’s hand wash, dry flat. I read the label, I know what I’m doing here, I got this one.”
Yet, still they stop and ask, “Do you starch that collar?” or demand to see your dry-cleaning ticket.” They check your pockets and when you complain about it, people tell you that’s their job.
Now, suppose on top of everything else, when you do go to the dry cleaners, when they’re needed, their response time is terrible. There’s no same-day service for you, white people, even when you’ve a wedding to go to and you ask the local dry cleaner nicely. It’s like you don’t pay the same dollar as everyone else for the service.
Imagine you’re told that things will get better, yet still those dry cleaners remark on your pleats as you walk down the street, as if just being on the street were an issue. Maybe white people, while being grilled, you see black people walking by – the status of the lining of their smart fall coats unchallenged.
I know you would get angry, white people.
...and maybe black people would then say, “If you weren’t out on the dirty streets, you wouldn’t need a dry cleaner, but there you are, making trouble.”
Some white guys would tip a Volvo during one of these protests, as if their team lost the Cup.
Perhaps that car lit on fire would be virtually all that got reported. A car burning in the street unattended for three hours sparks more network hand-wringing than a black boy’s body left for four.
“Look at all that grey smoke,” non-white pundits would say, gravely. “The dry-cleaning bill is going to be huge.”
UPDATE: The outrage in the Comments is telling, isn't it.

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