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April, 2010:

Follow-up to the Frank Graves so-called “controversy”…

The Harperites have scaled up their attacks against the CBC and the remarks made by EKOS President, Frank Graves.

“Make no mistake, we will continue to challenge Frank Graves’s credibility as a neutral pollster on party politics,” the Conservative Party says in a memo circulated to MPs and supporters.

“The public broadcaster is spending the public’s money, not Liberal Party money,” the memo says. “If the CBC is serious about reversing its declining status and influence within the Canadian population we recommend that they re-consider their position.

“At the very least Mr. Graves’s partisanship should be disclosed to viewers each and every time he appears on-air.”

What a bunch of clap-trap! Like I said in my post yesterday, of COURSE he’s biased! We ALL are! He is markedly less biased than most because of his job!

A good article in the G&M this morning notes that:

…They forget, for example, that the CBC has hired Kory Teneycke, the former director of communications to the Prime Minister, who is now being paid with taxpayer dollars to tout the Tory line and do Mr. Harper’s bidding.

The Reformatories, boys and girls, are practising what you might call hypocritical cherry-picking!

If the Cons are holding on to the “how dare you suggest that a wedge be driven into the country, thus dividing it”  call…

Dean Del Mastro, the Peterborough Conservative MP and parliamentary secretary to the Heritage Minister, had been pushing for the probe. He was outraged over Mr. Graves’s “culture war” comments, believing the pollster was driving a wedge between east and west after Conservatives have worked so hard to unify the country.

…then they need to look in the mirror a little more often! No Prime Minister since Trudeau (who I admire, but face it – he did pit east against west) has sought to divide this country more than Harper! West versus East, secular versus non-secular, rural versus urban… you name the schism and Harpy is there dancing merrily over it! Factional splits are seen as opportunities for the ever-cynical Harperites.

Look no further than the gun registry – a tool that needs some improvements but is a useful database that is used by police forces across the country. But for the Cons, it is more useful to exploit the registry for political purposes… ignoring its benefits.

If the argument that the ReformCons are hitching their donkeys to is the use of public funds for partisan purposes, then what about these?

But for me, the most enjoyable thing is a journey through ReformCon blog-land or a perusal of random comments on main stream media stories. Here’s a sampling:

From the Globe and Mail story:

The Party needs to reign in the CBC. It is primarily staffed by Socialists and Bolsheviks who are trying to undermine the State. If they won’t change their ways they should be brought in front of a government tribunal and made to explain themselves.

Hmmm… I wonder if there is someone named Lenin on the payroll…

If Harper was a genuine small-c fiscal conservative he would immediately begin to eradicate the deficit/debt by changing this embarrassment to a private pay for view station, sell the complete far-left bias and extremely unbalanced CBC and force the bimbos to get a real job, or simply shut down this bimbo-driven humiliation to humanity.

Bimbos? really?

From torydrroy.blogspot.com

Complain about grit hack frank graves

Senator Findlay wants us all to complain to the CBC about biased liberal hack frank graves. I have already written to the cbc ombudsman. I already give the maximum, I can  to the party. I urge you all to write to the cbc ombudsman and donate money to the Tories. Let’s teach the cbc, and the liberal hack frank graves, a lesson. I also urge you not to answer ekos when they attempt to contact you. We should boycott this liberal front organization.

From onwardjames.blogspot.com

There are times I think that we should have our version of the Tea Party, — a start with Ontario with manipulative Liberal Dalton McGuinty — however, I believe that Prime Minister Harper, perhaps the best Prime Minister in the history of Canada, considering the times and events, has done a superb job with notable ministers behind him for a UNITED CANADA.

You get the picture.

Supporters of the ReformCons like to pile on like a bunch of brain-starved zombies whenever they feel like they are being unfairly treated or portrayed!

And they call we lefties overly sensitive?

And here’s the kicker: over at a post called Inconvenient facts always ruin an attempted narrative at Scott’s Diatribes, the author cites a Tweet from Glen McGregor:

By my math, since CPC formed government, “Liberal partisan” pollster Frank Graves has done $5,657,710 in work for Harper govt.

Followed by:

Also, EKOS has done two polling contacts worth $131,440 for Privy Council Office under Harper.

Glen muses he perhaps should do a story on that in his paper. I really hope he does, to get it out there to a wider audience what a silly thing this attempted line of attack is. Sometimes, facts can be very inconvenient when you’re trying to push out propaganda.

Maybe now is the time for an election… gotta remove the DeceptiCons (Hey! I just made that up!) and their lemming-like minions from any position of power before they destroy all that has made Canada a great country over the past 140+ years!

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End of the week miscellany

Looks like the congressional elections in the States this fall might prove to be interesting.

With the rise of the über-right-wing-nut Tea Party whack jobs, the GOP nominations are facing ideological splits, and this may harm them mightily at the polls.

It encourages me to see that there is still some sanity within the ranks of the Republicans.

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Question – Why doesn’t McDonald’s sell hotdogs? It seems like it would be a no-brainer.

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Here at home, Harpy seems to be trying to dare the Opposition into forcing an election through a non-confidence vote over the detainee documents issue.

While the robot was initially all “sure, whatever the Speaker has ruled is something we’ll live with”, he has now backpedalled…

Initially, Harper said he “looks forward to complying” with the ruling, adding that he’ll consider any reasonable suggestion that will give MP’s access to the documents while protecting national security.

But he later said that the government may prevent the release of all of the requested documents.

He also said that the other parties can have a vote of non-confidence on the matter, possibly sending Canadians to the polls.

No big surprise, though.  The politics of cynicism is Harper’s specialty and if he senses a bullying and polarization opportunity, then he will go for the jugular. Don’t take the bait, dudes of the Opposition… it is exactly what the Harperites want!

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Question: If you had an envelope that someone told you contained the date of your death, would you open it?

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This is interesting.

Bilingualism in Canada’s Public Service has long been a sticking point for unilingual folks.  Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be bilingual to get a job in the PS, but you do have to learn your second language if you want to advance up the food chain.

The latest debate is about whether new Supreme Court Justices should be bilingual.

Bill C-232, a private-members bill, would require that any future Supreme Court justice “understands French and English without the assistance of an interpreter.” It passed the House of Commons last March, with the opposition MPs uniting against Conservative MPs, and is now being considered by the Senate.

As long as we have the English/French duality in this country, we will have debates like these. But as long as Canada is n officially bilingual country, we need to require those in charge of the ship of state to be capable of communicating in both of the founding languages.

Yet, like we can see with the language requirements in the PS, many very well-qualified people would be automatically excluded from the bench of the highest court in the land because they cannot conjugate an irregular French verb. And that to me is a pity. Only 7 per cent of Anglophones outside Quebec speak both official languages, and most of those live close to the Quebec border, meaning that if you are a highly qualified judge who is from somewhere west of the Ottawa valley, your chances of being a Supreme Court Justice are slim unless you are one of the rare ones who speaks both languages.

The fear in this matter is that there is always a danger that language will trump everything – including ability – and that while we may appoint a judge qui peut dire «il faut que je sois bilingue», they may not necessarily be the best person for the job. Me, while I do support the requirement that senior members of the PS and those who interact with the public on a daily basis need to have level of proficiency in both languages, I don’t think the argument that “a unilingual English judge has only limited access to the large body of legal commentary and scholarship written in French” is strong enough.

But that’s just me.

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Question: How do you handcuff a one-armed man?

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Finally, here’s hoping the Habs make a quick exit from the playoffs! If there is one thing more annoying than Sen fans, it’s a fan of les glorieux (moi, je préfere les pathetiques…)

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Frank Graves spoke as he should – honestly!

The latest EKOS poll results are out and surprise, surprise, the ReformCons are hovering around the 32% range…

Sigh. Watching the movement in the latest polls is becoming about as predictable as a Mike Weir Saturday melt-down…

But wait! There is something interesting coming out of EKOS! Franks Graves – President of EKOS research – is apologising for some remarks he made to G&M columnist Lawrence Martin on what advice he would have for the Grits in their ongoing (and hopelessly slow) attempt to overtake the Harperites.

In case you missed it, this is what he said:

In his advice, Mr. Graves could hardly have been more blunt. “I told them that they should invoke a culture war. Cosmopolitanism versus parochialism, secularism versus moralism, Obama versus Palin, tolerance versus racism and homophobia, democracy versus autocracy. If the cranky old men in Alberta don’t like it, too bad. Go south and vote for Palin.”

He apologized (though somewhat lamely) by saying :

[Ottawa – April 23, 2010] – In the course of an interview with the Globe and Mail columnist, Lawrence Martin, this week, I made some suggestions for a strategic course that presented itself to the federal Liberal Party.
My intention was to foment debate. However, I used incendiary language that had not been carefully enough considered. I recognize now that my stark language was understandably offensive to some Canadians.
In that light, I wish to retract my remarks and unreservedly apologize for making them.

True. In his position it is extremely important to appear unbiased – bias can cast aspersions about the neutrality and validity of the data that his firm collects. But general advice from a pollster is hardly new or rare. One often sees folks like Nick Nanos, Allan Gregg or Michael Adams on line or on TV or radio opining on what the Grits/CPC/NDP should do to better their fortunes. Lawrence Martin notes this as well.

No, it wasn’t the fact that advice was given, rather:

  1. The words used in Graves’ opinion were stark and honest.
  2. By being the CBC pollster, Mr. Graves has let himself vulnerable to screams of liberal media-bias.

On the first point, well, duh! Of course the best way to build support for the centre-leftward side of the spectrum is to further widen the nasty schism that exists between the right and the left in this country. And I agree with that. If the sole goal is to gain political ground then exposing the difference – be they cosmopolitanism versus parochialism, secularism versus moralism, Obama versus Palin, tolerance versus racism and homophobia, democracy versus autocracy will do the trick. These are real differences between rural and urban and east and west and taking a stand on one side of the line is a way to cement what you stand for. The Harperites sure havn’t had a problem doing so and who cares if you alienate a few yahoos in tar sand land, right?

While I agree this is an approach that may be used to pump up the numbers, I am worried that the bitterness and anger that would result in such an active pursuit of a culture “war” would forever harm the unity of this country.

But that does seem to be the direction in which we are headed.

The other issue is that of perceived media bias. Here, I think the Cons are blowing out their air holes! Of COURSE there is bias! The Star is biased toward the Grits, the Post toward the Cons, CanWest is a Harperite trumpet.. etc. And as Simpson said:

The subject of media bias is a complex one in Canada because of the political culture. Normally a journalist is considered neutral or objective if he or she is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, reflecting neither the left- nor right-wing point of view.

But in Canada, the big mushy middle is the home of the Liberal Party, which has sought to locate itself in the mainstream and has profited over time from doing so. Therein lies the conundrum. If you’re a centrist, you can well be accused of having a Liberal bias.

In other words, it’s inescapable. You’re biased if you’re on the left, right or middle. In other words, everyone is biased; you, me, CBC, CTV; you, me and Mr. Graves and Stompin’ Tom Connors and the polar bears of Frobisher Bay.

So gimme a break Harperites and go back to your power breakfasts…

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Now for a community moment…

A colleague of mine who is an avid cyclist, asked me to pass along the following request. While I am not a cyclist, it pains me to think that Ottawa dentists might be profiting because of poorly maintained bike paths!

Hi folks, Can folks send a quick note to the NCC requesting they begin work rehabilitating the bicycle path between Andrew Hayden Park and Britannia Beach? This section of path is so bad it will knock your fillings loose! Maybe then the time frame for fixing the path will be less than “several years” as I was told. Email address: info@ncc-ccn.ca. Pass this on to others who you think would like to help out! Thanks!

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The Evil Empire

Some people laugh at me when I tell them that I will not set foot inside a Wal-Mart. Never will. No way. No how.

But the prices are soooooo good!

You get better service than at Zellers or Canadian Tire!

You’re just being anti-American!

In the latest of a series of events that has further cemented my anti-Wal-Mart position, the MotherCorp reports that the retail behemoth faces class action charges due to gender discrimination. Big surprise.

In its 6-5 ruling, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said the world’s largest private employer will have to face charges that it pays women less than men for the same jobs and that female employees receive fewer promotions and have to wait longer for those promotions than male counterparts.

The retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark., has fiercely fought the lawsuit since it was first filed by six women in federal court in San Francisco in 2001, losing two previous rulings in the trial court and again in the appeals court in 2007.

The Bentonville Leviathan

Wal-Mart is now the world’s biggest corporation, having passed ExxonMobil for the top slot. It hauls off a stunning $220 billion a year from – more in revenues than the entire GDP of Israel and Ireland combined.

But what about the workers – they look pretty happy to me!

  • The average employee makes only $15,000 a year for full-time work. But most don’t receive even this much cuz they’re held to part-time work. While the company brags that 70% of its workers are full-time, at Wal-Mart “full time” is 28 hours a week, meaning they gross less than $11,000 a year.
  • But shurely they get health-care benefits? Only if you’ve been there two years; then the plan hits you with such huge premiums that few can afford it-only 38% of Wal-Marters are covered.

But they are just like any other business, right? And what is wrong with that?

  • Just before opening each morning there is a pep rally, where they are all required to join in the Wal-Mart cheer: “Gimme a ‘W!’” shouts the cheerleader; “W!” the dutiful employees respond. “Gimme an A!’” And so on. There is a word for these types of groups. They are called cults. They are NOT like any other biz.

If things are so bad, why haven’t the workers organised?

  • HA! Wal-Mart is in fact rabidly anti-union, deploying teams of union-busters from Bentonville to any spot where there’s a whisper of organizing activity. “While unions might be appropriate for other companies, they have no place at Wal-Mart,” a spokeswoman told a Texas Observer reporter who was covering an NLRB hearing on the company’s manhandling of 11 meat-cutters who worked at a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Jacksonville, Texas.
  • These employees were sick of working harder and longer for the same low pay. “We signed [union] cards, and all hell broke loose.”  Eleven days later, Wal-Mart announced that it was closing the meat-cutting departments in all of its stores and would henceforth buy prepackaged meat elsewhere.
  • Here in Canada, an attempt by the employees in Jonquière to organize ended with Wal-Mart closing down the whole store. They would rather split town than to deal with unionized workers. Business Week had a great piece on the story behind this.
  • Now, I am not a big union gy, but I do believe that if workers want to organise, then they should be allowed to without retribution form the employer… and certainly without the fear that an entire establishment might be shut down due to their actions!

C’mon Trashy, they can’t be THAT bad?

  • Workers’ compensation laws, child-labor laws (1,400 violations in Maine alone), surveillance of employees-you name it, this corporation is a repeat offender. No wonder, then, that turnover in the stores is above 50% a year, with many stores having to replace 100% of their employees each year, and some reaching as high as a 300% turnover!
-You’re just being anti-American!
I am NOT anti-American. Never have been. But I am anti-Wal-Mart and anti poor-planning!
You get better service than at Zellers or Canadian Tire!
Maybe. But at what cost to your friends and neighbours who work there?
– But the prices are soooooo good!
Again, maybe they are. But what cost are you willing to accept to pay 40 cents less for that toothpaste?

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Harper: maternal health does not include abortions under any circumstance…

Well, at least they have come clean on their 1950’s styled position!

Go team!

International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda said the government would consider funding family planning measures such as contraception, but not abortion under any circumstances.

“We’re saying that we’re using the definition in our discussions of family planning, which does not include abortion,” Oda told reporters on Monday in Halifax, where she was meeting with her G8 counterparts.

“We’re not debating abortion; we’re clarifying family planning.”

Thanks Bev for ignoring the reams of evidence that prove the connection between all possible choices regarding family planning and maternal health.

Liberal MP Bob Rae said the government has taken an ideological stand on the issue.

“They just reopened the abortion debate,” Rae told reporters outside the House of Commons. “We are saying to the countries that are the poorest: ‘We won’t apply the law that we have in Canada’.”

NDP MP Paul Dewar said the government has caused confusion with its lack of clarity ahead of the G8 meeting and that its position will cause problems with other G8 members at this summer’s summit in Ontario’s Muskoka region.

“It’s just unusual to see the ignorance of a government that claims to be a member of the G8,” Dewar said.

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Why the secrecy?

The G&M is reporting that, despite the Auditor-General requests, MPs and Senators are refusing to submit their expenses for scrutiny.

I don’t get this. Why doesn’t Sheila Fraser push the issue?

Ten months ago, Auditor General Sheila Fraser formally asked two committees for permission to audit Parliament’s expenses, including the expenses of MPs and senators. She still hasn’t received a reply. Silence equals no.

Similar audits in Great Britain and Nova Scotia resulted in major scandals after revelations of major abuse.

In Ottawa, MPs and senators are determined to prevent anything like that from happening.

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So, if the CRA decides to audit me (again), I can just ignore them?

Cool.

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But I somehow think that it wouldn’t turn out good for me.

Yeah, I do realise that all of the parties are reluctant to release this information and this is abhorrent to say the least. BUT the Harperites have trumpeted transparency-this and accountability-that since they rode their horses into Ottawa. So where are they now? I mean, what a great way to prove to nay-says like me that they really are going to carry through with all of that talk!

However, we have been down this road before, haven’t we?

Remember the Harperites when they tried to destroy the credibility of:

Now which direction do you think  Sheila Fraser’s departmental budget is going to dive toward?

LOOK OUT BELOOOOOWWWWW!!!!

But Fraser has already been warned by the PMO to play nicely. New directives from the PMO prohibit Sheila Fraser from to speaking directly to the public without vetting her comments through the PMO first. All communications must be approved by political staffers. Here in town, they are called MEPs (Message Event Proposals).

You can read about them here in The Hill Times.

In the meantime, will someone on the Hill stand up and say something about this cloak of secrecy?

Anybody?

Beuller?

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Volcano pictures

INCREDIBLE pics of the Icelandic volcano.

Simply amazing. Enjoy.

And here is a live webcam.

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The roadrunner is a good lobbyist – and other stuff

Taking a day off to go golfing tomorrow, so I’m doing the end of the week thing a little earlier this time…

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According to the Globe, the Nova Scotia Minister of Natural Resources is considering a bounty on coyotes.

This has been prompted by increased concern about the potential dangers that these criters can pose to humans.

John MacDonell is expected to announce measures on Thursday to reduce the risk of coyote attacks, which have become a local media cause célèbre since several killed singer Taylor Mitchell last fall in Cape Breton. One option he has mentioned is offering incentives to reduce the population.

Sure, these animals can be dangerous. But is this not more of an issue of overlapping territories than coyotes becoming inexplicable more aggressive toward humans? Humans are forever expanding their communities and forcing animals into ever-shrinking territories. You can see it everywhere. My Mom has a bear as a frequent visitor on her porch.

And can someone please answer this question: is it coy-ote (silent e) or coyotE (long e)?

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So the skies over Europe are open again.

It looks like the worst of the volcanic ash threat is over- at least for now. The Icelandic President is warning the world that another volcano may be set to spew even more crap into the sky and disrupt air traffic yet again.

President Olafur Grimsson fears if the second volcano, Katla, blows, it could have devastating consequences worldwide.

Mr Grimsson admitted: “Katla is much bigger and usually erupts once a century. The last one was in 1918 so we have been waiting for some years.”

Katla is east of the smaller Eyjafjallajokull volcano which sparked the ash cloud and in the past has triggered subsequent eruptions from the Katla volcano.

Mr Grimsson added: “We have emergency plans in our own country, so I think that it’s high time for European governments and airline authorities to start planning.”

Airlines and aircraft manufacturers of the world? You should start right now to invest in technologies to protect aircraft from these threats!

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My 2nd favourite (Richard Dawkins is my fave) fellow atheist, Phillip Pullman, is publishing another book due out in North America early next month, I believe.

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ looks at the Gospels a, uh, little differently than does the mainstream church.

In his new story, he writes that Jesus had a manipulative twin brother, Christ, who tempted him in the wilderness and betrayed him to the authorities.

Using the four Gospels as its source, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, which will be published on Wednesday, has the naive young Mary giving birth to twins after a visit by a mysterious stranger claiming to be an angel.

The babies grow up into the physically robust, straight-talking, straightforward Jesus and the bookish, calculating, often morally tortured Christ.

Stay tuned as I am sure the righteous indignation, book banning and burnings are soon to follow… and just because a fellow human being dares to question notions that are held to be true by a large number of other folks simply because they are told to do so by a church.

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And if it is true that Rahim Jaffer did claim to be the “access point” to millions of dollars of green infrastructure money, as has been claimed by a couple of folks, then what I have been writing off as largely trivial has suddenl;y gotten hold of some legs.

Two businessmen who heard Rahim Jaffer speak last August at a Toronto-area restaurant believed the former MP would be their connection to millions of dollars in government grants.

The men, who spoke to the CBC on condition of anonymity, said they were lured to the Aug. 25 meeting by an email that boasted: “Rahim Jaffer, who is the Canadian government money access point for us, will be in attendance.”

“We left with the impression Jaffer was the source of funding,” said the president of one company who pitched to Jaffer and his business colleague Nazim Gillani, the author of the email and the organizer of the meeting.

Wow. If this is true, then the troubles may be just beginning for the Harperites!

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About rudeness

No, this is not about Harper, Baird or any of the ReformCon henchmen…

I was inspired to pen this post after reading the comments made on this entry written by Gordon over at gordon.dewis.ca. The subject of the post is not as important (well, to me anyhow) as the comments in this case.

When we, as bloggers, scribble a post on whatever happens to be top of mind that day, we do it knowing full well that everyone with Internet access can read it, and not everyone will agree with your opinion.

I love this part of my blog thingy! I get into some great exchanages with a few intelligent folks and we banter back and forth on issues ranging from child care to whether the ReformCons are slimier than the Grits.

But one line is never crossed and that is the line of simple civility. There is no name-calling. No rudeness. No ad hominem attacks questioning someone’s character. If nothing else, my parents raised me to be polite when dealing with others and I am raising my kids the same way.

But some folks don’t agree with the idea that civility is a preferred approach in discourse.

Check out these statements made by a certain commenter (I won’t name him. You can go to the site yourself and see):

You’re the kind of individual that makes me ashamed to be human.

You won’t win any debating contests. Too narcissistic and closed-minded…

Wow, are you ever confused …

You just spew words like a babbling child … All navel-gazing grunt with no meaning.

Except for your critique of the appendix, which obviously wasn’t written by an idiot…

There’s more. But like I said, go and see it for yourself.

Me? I woulda banned this clown from commenting after receiving the first one. Such attacks are not welcome on my site nor would I ever expect one of my “regular” commenters to spew drivel like this.

What about you? If you have a blog, where is the line where you say : “enough”?

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Footage of the erupting Icelandic volcano

Mother Earth was really pissed at something that day…

The effects on air traffic could be felt for months. Some friends of mine are currently living in England and their son attends university in Ottawa. He was scheduled to fly home yesterday but that has been delayed for a least a week.

I imagine there are a lot of stories like these and worse…

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