Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Unattractive Side of VP Candidate Sarah Palin

"Palin Laughs as Opponent is Called 'Bitch,' 'Cancer,' Mocked for Her Weight"

That's the headline readers at the popular political site, Huffington Post, read today. They will likely want to get to know more about their Republican Vice Presidential candidate after reading the article and listening to this audio.

The shock jocks interviewing Palin insults Lydia Green, a political opponent of Palin, calls her a cancer, while knowing that she had cancer. The potential most powerful woman in the U.S. laughs and does not suggest that the radio show host has gone too far.

Wonder how respected she will be if the story gets magnified by other big U.S. media.

In the Green

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Passing the Political Torch in the U.S.

This week at the U.S. Democratic National Convention the Clintons had to bite the bullet and cheer on rival Barack Obama, the man who surprised everyone with a defeat over Hillary. Hearing Bill Clinton say that Obama is the type of person the U.S. needs seemed so unusual. There had been a cooling off period since Bill's better half had to quit her unanticipated and long-drawn out battle. It almost did not seem natural for the Clintons to be up at the podium championing the candidate they reportedly barely liked, according to Hillary biographer Carl Bernstein. After all, Obama was powerfully endorsed by the lion, Ted Kennedy, and Jack's daughter Caroline. That was damaging to the Clintons since they admired the Kennedys since JFK. Even Jackie O said that Hillary was her favorite first lady since Camelot. As well, JFK Jr. supported Bill Clinton when he ran for the Democrats.

It was odd too to hear Bill & Hillary's support and unity speeches this week when you consider that only months ago their strategist Mark Penn had planned to suggest that Barack Obama is not fundamentally American. After that attack angle Obama probably decided against Hillary as a possible running mate anyway. Penn, according to Carl Bernstein, had a hand in writing both Clinton speeches this week, and they let it be known.

Despite their spite, the Clintons put on a brave and politically professional face this week. Not actually selecting Hillary had to be a final wound. Continuing to crusade for Obama will be a test of the the Democrats unity and the Clinton's inner strength.

Politics can be hurtful when it has to be. Bill Clinton would have liked his legacy to have been repeated at a level befitting a successful President, but because his wife was Obama's main challenger, he should not have expected too many accolades when that obviously would have been self defeating to winner Obama. Obama had indeed mentioned that under Bill good things happened in the country but his praise was understandably restrained.

In Bill Clinton's DNC speech this week he delivered a fairly convincing message of support for the historic candidate from Chicago. The Clintons now have to try to shine in their new roles as Obama promoters, though yesterday's Republican choice for Vice President, female Sarah Palin must have made Hillary think, "the same role could have been mine". A relative unknown, and inexperienced Alaskan Governor could potentially hook the second most powerful position in the U.S. Hillary will be speaking on Obama's behalf but she just might be biting her tongue much of the time given the shocking GOP VP candidate.

The Clinton's sincerity and how it is perceived by the public could be a huge factor in whether Barack Obama makes history as the first black President, or simply becomes history.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin - Never Heard of Her? You Will

She is the Governor of Alaska, she hunts, fishes, eats moose burgers, and could be the Vice President of the United States.

John McCain actually shows his reformer side by choosing a "non-typical" running mate. Palin, a woman, is highly respected. She is 44, a mother of 5, including a child with downs syndrome, and pro-life. It's an interesting pick for several reasons.

Despite McCain's criticism of Barack Obama for his purported inexperience, he has picked a VP candidate who is younger than Obama. She has two years experience as Governor, and before that was mayor of a small town called Wasilla. If McCain is elected, she could be the leader of the free world, taking on terrorists, and navigating the perpetual swampland of Arab-Israeli and Mid East conflicts.

Lately some Hillary supporters had made it known that they will support McCain, and now with a woman VP candidate, it may be more enticing for women voters to choose the McCain ticket. On the other hand she is very much against abortion, and that side won't go over with many women who supported Hillary because of her pro-abortion stance.

Sarah Palin will probably be the most searched internet name in the next week. She will no doubt have her background scrutinized like a lab expert examines DNA. One story so far puts her in a curious situation. "Currently a legislative investigation is looking into allegations that Palin fired Alaska's public safety commissioner because he refused to fire the governor's former brother-in-law, a state trooper. (CNN)"

She also supports drilling for oil in the Arctic national wildlife refuge area.

Finally, if Hillary was ticked at Obama for not picking her as Vice President candidate, imagine how wierd it would be for a virtual unknown woman to be the first female Vice President. Could this impact how strongly Hillary campaigns for Obama over the next several months?

If you thought that Obama's Presidential coronation was a given, given the last eight years of Bush's mess, then this choice for McCain refreshingly breathes youth, life and curiousity into what could very well have been a traditional old white boys team. This election campaign just got very interesting to watch once again.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

3 Elections in 5 Years - Is There a Need?

The talk is getting louder that Prime Minister Harper will go ahead and call a fall election. What is the reason? Apparently, Arctic sovereignty and economic stewardship, according to national media. Harper also says that the Liberal's "green shift" plan is so opposed to the Conservatives that it is very difficult to work with them on economic matters. If the government in power did have a majority it would make them more secure, hence, be a less hassled by opposition when trying to achieve its goals. He told reporters that Opposition leaders have not been returning calls to discuss the government's fall agenda, and the outlook did not look promising for productivity. So Harper has a point there.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion says Harper is panicking, and inventing reasons to call an election. That's politics - the opposition in the last year and a half have been tempting to bring down the government, but the polls of the day told them they did not have the public's support to win an election.

This could be a case of "be careful what you wish for". An August 8 Angus Reid poll showed the Conservatives at 35%, Liberals at 30%, and the NDP at 20%. Dion's criticism of Harper side-stepping his fixed election date legislation, was rebuffed by Harper when he replied that it only applied to Majority governments - he got you there Dion.

Still, couldn't Harper wait till the fixed election date of October, 2009? It's quite possible that the result will be another Minority government anyway, so does that mean another near future election yet again?

If someone declared war on Canada I think the parties would come together fairly quick with some consensus on how to defend ourselves, but I am not so sure that Arctic sovereignty is something that requires a third election in such a short period. At this point, it seems like a waste of time, money and effort.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Maple Leaf Cured Meats - Avoid Meats with 97B Next to Expiry Date

The number 97B represents the plant where the listeria-tainted cured meats were produced. Maple Leaf Foods issued a recall of all cured meats with that number. Avoid these meats, or throw them out if you already have them.

Other brand names may also have dangerous meats from the same source. They are: Schneiders, Hygrade, Parma, Hickory Farms, Shopsy's, Western Family, Artisan Collection, Compliments, Campfire, Overlander and Safeway (National Post). Restaurants like Mr. Sub, and MacDonalds, possibly Tim Horton's may also use Maple Leaf meats.

Listeria is a bacterium that obviously may be found in food. Preventing it is done by sanitizing food contact surfaces.

Already 4 people have died, 21 others are confirmed to have been infected by it, and more are being investigated. What's scary about this illness is that symptoms may not appear until 90 days after the meat had been consumed, and in most cases, 30 days. Symptoms include vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. Most peoples' immune systems can fight it off, but unfortunately some peoples' can't.

It's another wake up call to the meat industry, restaurants, and anyone handling meat, to be ever so cautionary when handling meat.

Update: 16 deaths have now been linked to the listeriosis outbreak.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Going with the flow of Hebron

Though the deal was done in July the official announcement comes tomorrow, and according to Williams critic Ed Hollett at Bond Papers, just in time to precede the Corporate Research Associate quarterly poll. It would probably not be the first time a government timed a big announcement to affect poll results, especially with by-elections coming up. However, evidence to suggest that government lacks openness and honesty are something the public should be aware of and concerned about, and some NL bloggers have really driven that thread.

Most people do not analyze the fine internal political machinations that take place, but rather may dismiss it. What matters to most people are the economic benefits the Hebron project possibly has for them individually in terms of jobs and income levels, and the social, health and economic well being of the province. The field will pump 200,000 barrels of oil for 25 years (there could be more oil in the field, yet unannounced). It will not be as big as Hibernia, but the $16 billion worth of benefits to Newfoundland and Labrador is not too bad at all, and it will create over 3000 jobs in the first few years of development. The federal government will get $7 billion from the project.

The $16 billion is based on oil prices of $70 per barrel. Right now the prices are from the governments' point of view, wonderfully high at $115 a barrel - down from $147 over a month ago. It could keep going down. In recent months there are reports that consumer demand has fallen considerably. Might this be a see-saw situation? Once the fuel prices goes down enough will people go back to consuming more, hence driving prices up once again?

If alternate forms of energy like wind power, and electric cars continue their slow development, it seems to this non-expert that there will be a big demand for fossil fuels for many years to come, thus keeping the price of oil high.

Electric cars are promising. The Zap is a low priced electric vehicle, at $11,000 for the three wheeled city vehicle. Unfortunately, for many users it is not practical - low mileage per charge, and a bit too slow for arterial roads. Other more powerful electric cars may have the power, but for many the price is too out of reach, and therefore, not replacing the gas fed cars to any significant degree.

For now, the oil money from current and future sources seems like a steady flow - how to use this new found wealth to get rid of the provincial debt, maintain and improve health care, and other important needs, is a bigger challenge. Perhaps more government openness could be attained if a goal-oriented, long-term debt reduction, and economic outlook plan was produced. One that showed how much the provincial debt will be reduced each year for the next year, by 5 years, 10 years - 20 years. One that showed how much of our "have" status revenue will be devoted to reducing the provincial debt over the long run.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Believe it or Not: Australian town Mayor calls on 'ugly women' to populate town

It is in fact the year 2008 in the town of Mount Isa, Australia, too, and this story is current. This mining town has a population of 21,400, and according to Mayor John Moloney, "blokes" outnumber women 5 to 1 (even though a 2006 census has men making up 52%). Not only is Mayor Moloney a relationship expert but he is sure knows a thing or two about how to advertise his town and draw in tourists. Check out this quote:

May I suggest if there are five blokes to every girl, we should find out where there are beauty-disadvantaged women and ask them to proceed to Mount Isa.... Quite often you will see walking down the street a lass who is not so attractive with a wide smile on her face. Whether it is recollection of something previous or anticipation for the next evening, there is a degree of happiness.

"Beauty-disadvantaged" .. well, he did try to be tactful, but I don't think that "euphemism" will catch on with many future public speakers.

And, who would have thought, the beauty-beholders are not just men either. Among some of the town's women who say there aren't many gems among the men either, a witty Anna Warrick told a Brisbane paper, "We've got a saying up here that the odds are good, but the goods are odd." That's a beauty, Anna.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gold Medal Performance

Even with the publicized faked parts of the opening ceremonies, the eye-catching venues (e.g., the "Birds Nest", and the psychedelically-alive Water Cube), the "real" fireworks, the stadium performers and theatrics, the creative ingenuity, and the coordination were still astounding - well so far. Faking the city fireworks "footprints" through Beijing for the tv or lcd viewers around the world is acceptable because the smog level on most days continue to reduce visibility to just 100's of metres, and on some days it's as good as Toronto's worst smog days. So no big deal, no ones gets hurt. China's ever so important image, on the other hand, is hurting somewhat at the podium, the one on which a girl appeared to sing "Ode to the Motherland", but really didn't.

The pretty voice heard by over a billion people was that of another cute little girl, 7 year old Yang Peiyi (left), who was not considered to be cute enough for Olympic organizers. The images that really get projected are that China is uncaring for the feelings of a young girl, that it's presumptuous in thinking that the rest of the world would not be equally impressed with the actual singer with the actual angelic voice, and that it's a country that still hides the truth. It makes you wonder, did the men's gymnastics team win two gold last night for China, or, was it Tibet?

Update - It's just been revealed that the 7 year old girl who was rejected was actually absent for another reason. She had been called into work at the lead paint factory, as she was on night shift that week.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Canadians Get a Taste of Extreme PETA

PETA tried to use the grizzly and tragic bus murder in Manitoba last week as part of a new ad, comparing beheading a human to killing animals. The ad uses imagery of an innocent victim's throat being cut, in reference to the slaughter of cows, chickens and pigs on factory farms. Many of the fanatic members do actually believe that animals are as valuable or more than humans. Take Dan Matthews for example, in 2000 as PETA vice-president, he declared his admiration for the man who shot and killed fashion designer Gianni Versace.

When asked who is the most important man he loves of the 20th century, he replied, "Andrew Cunanum, because he got Versace to stop selling fur." - Dan Mathews, vice-president of PETA (December/January, 1999 issue of Genre Magazine) (source)

The shock value of ads from this animal rights group falls in line with their publicity style.
"PETA's publicity formula -- eighty percent outrage, ten percent each of celebrity and truth." - Ingrid Newkirk, President of PETA (The New Yorker, 2003)

The PETA-philes have apparently left the tasteless ad on their web site. What a sick mentality. You have a traumatized grieving family who lost a son in a nightmarishly horrific way, and then a group will use this tradegy to promote their extreme views - all the while equating human and animals. At least the Portage la Prairie Daily Graphic paper refused to run the ad, and more Canadians see what the extremists in PETA are capable of.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Irony - McDonald's as Olympics Sponsors

McDonald's is one of the proud sponsors of the Beijing Olympics, and also of Canada's 2010 national team. Nothing says get fit and athletic like McDonald's real-looking rib steak burger, and fries smothered in gravy and chunks of cheese-like sauce.

A few of our athletes for the 2010 Olympics

Friday, August 01, 2008

Cancer Doctors Threaten Outmigration

It appears that the salary raise for Pathologists earlier this year was the last straw for three frustrated gynecologic oncologists who are threatening to resign in October. They are the only three such specialists in the province to treat and care for ovarian and cervical cancer patients, and there are only about 50 such doctors in the country. According to Dr. Patty Power who was interviewed on Canada AM earlier, she and other doctors have been trying for years to get government to improve the level of treatment care the hospital could provide - inadequate equipment and resources.

"If your mother was diagnosed with an ovarian cancer in Newfoundland, she would not receive the same treatment in Newfoundland as she would in Ontario or B.C. or any of the other Canadian provinces," (cbc)

She did also say that being the lowest paid in the country is a factor as well, and if no improvements are made between now and the fall, it will make that much harder to recruit replacement specialists.

This is scary for patients who depend on doctors like Power, but also maddening. For fellow blogger Peter Whittle it's personal as well. He believes heads should roll over this one. The option of flying patients out for treatments is not new for patients in the province. If a procedure like donor bone marrow transplant for example, is not done here, then you can opt to be sent to an out of province hospital. When your life depends on it, you'll go where you have to - personally I'm thankful for that. However, to add more to the list seems to be a backward step. Depending on one's level of energy, disease phase, and condition, traveling out of province can be an added hurdle to people who need to muster every ounce of strength to fight and survive life threatening diseases. It can also be a drain financially, for the patient and the province. If 100's more ovarian and cervical patients have to be flown out for treatment, wouldn't it be just as well for the health department to invest that same money here for equipment, resources and salary?

The province has a huge debt, yes, and it should also concentrate on cutting that down significantly. As well, this year alone is looking better than last years record surplus because of record high oil prices. The province is in a better position than ever to do something about the particular problems described by Dr. Power and others.