End of da week miscellany

This is a day early once again as the 2 youngest sub-units and I head to my hometown tomorrow morning. The RLG is off to NYC for the weekend, so why not get outta Dodge too!

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Gulf oil spill – let’s hope this works.

In the meantime, I have been watching the right-wing coverage of the disaster and there be a lot of hootin’ it up in those quarters because they see the BP spill as a slam against Obama… hell, blame him for the U.S.A. losing the gold medal hockey game against Canada while you’re at it, eh?

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., writing for the Huffington Post, has a different spin on this. Turns out this whole debacle may have been avoided – or minimized, if not due to Bush and Cheney cozying up with Big Oil…

Here is a key quote:

The absence of an acoustical regulator — a remotely triggered dead man’s switch that might have closed off BP’s gushing pipe at its sea floor wellhead when the manual switch failed (the fire and explosion on the drilling platform may have prevented the dying workers from pushing the button) — was directly attributable to industry pandering by the Bush team.

…between January and March of 2001, incoming Vice President Dick Cheney conducted secret meetings with over 100 oil industry officials allowing them to draft a wish list of industry demands to be implemented by the oil friendly administration. Cheney also used that time to re-staff the Minerals Management Service with oil industry toadies including a cabal of his Wyoming carbon cronies. In 2003, newly reconstituted Minerals Management Service genuflected to the oil cartel by recommending the removal of the proposed requirement for acoustic switches. The Minerals Management Service’s 2003 study concluded that “acoustic systems are not recommended because they tend to be very costly.”The acoustic trigger costs about $500,000. Estimated costs of the oil spill to Gulf Coast residents are now upward of $14 billion to gulf state communities. Bush’s 2005 energy bill officially dropped the requirement for the acoustic switch off devices explaining that the industry’s existing practices are “failsafe.”

So there you go… the Bush and Cheney administration just keeps on giving and giving…

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Brits go to the polls today!

In what has to be one of the most interesting races anywhere in a long, long time, the British will vote in Parliamentary elections today. A minority government is almost certain due to the rise of the Liberal-Democrats from a wanna-be party to a major player – largely due to its charismatic and young leader, Nick Clegg.

Polls point to a high level of support for Clegg’s party but it is fairly even across several ridings – having the effect of giving them only 70-90 seats despite a percentage of voter support. But this would make the Liberal-Democrats the kingmakers after the dust settles on Friday.

This should be fun!

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World-wide economic shitstorm – deuxième partie

Still in Europe – this whole Greek thing has got me a little worried. Four countries in the Euro zone are on the edge of financial collapse. While Greece is the first to ask for and receive handouts from it neighbours, many think that Ireland, Portugal and Spain aren’t far behind.

So while bail them out at all? Well, what might start in Greece may well spill over into the other 4 countries and beyond… and Germany cannot afford to bail out all of the rest of Europe.

Slapped in the face by this ugly scenario, the Europeans decided to throw everything they and the I.M.F. had at bailing out Greece.   The program as announced has only a small chance of preventing eventual Greek bankruptcy, but it may still slow or avert a dangerous spiral downward — and enormous collateral damage — in the rest of Europe.

A small chance, yes. But there is a chance that the funds will slow down the Greek death spiral and allow other exposed countries to make some fiscal policy adjustments that will at least delay if not avoid their own Greek scenario.

But… a few of us were discussing last night how your average German must feel about all of this…

Let’s see, I have to work until I’m 67 at a reduced pension to pay off the debts incurred by my government to pay down the debts incurred by the Greeks… so the average Greek can retire at 57 with full pension benefits… hmmm… something doesn’t seem right with this picture.

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Organized crime? Really???

Finally, the Harperites are once again playing on the fear factor that has tended to garner them mucho votes and is reintroducing  a draconian Bill called the Penalties for Organized Drug Crime Act.

Touted to fight organized crime and make the streets oh-so much safer for seniors, soccer Moms and kids (have any of the Cons ever watched Weeds?), the Bill imposes mandatory jail sentences for offenders…. starting with those surly and vicious mobsters who grow SIX freaking plants!!!!!

Apparently, the Mom and Pop who grow a bit of weed in the outside shed or the college kid in his flat are now considered by the ReformCons on the same scale as the Hell’s Angels and inner city Drug Lords!

Are they kidding me? Mandatory means that the judge will NOT have any leeway and that Grandpa, Bob Jr., and anyone else who likes the odd toke without having to buy it off the street will AUTOMATICALLY go to the joint (forgive the pun)!

Whether or not you are for decriminalization of weed, a sane and rational human being surely must see that growing a half-dozen plants is does NOT mean that you should be lumped in – from a legal perspective – with organized crime!

Will the Opposition band together to stop this? I suspect the Dippers and the Bloquistes will… but the Grits… I dunno.

Proposed New Mandatory Sentences for Serious Drug Offences
Schedule II drugs (cannabis and marijuana)

OFFENCE MANDATORY PENALTY NOTES
w/
AggravatingFactors- List A1
w/
Aggravating Factor – List B2
w/
Health and Safety Factors3
Trafficking 1 YEAR 2 YEARS n/a Offence would have to involve more than 3 kg of cannabis marijuana or cannabis resin
Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking 1 YEAR 2 YEARS n/a Offence would have to involve more than 3 kg of cannabis marijuana or cannabis resin
Importing
Exporting
1 YEAR n/a n/a n/a Offence is committed for the purpose of trafficking
Possession for the Purpose of Exporting 1 YEAR n/a n/a n/a Offence is committed for the purpose of trafficking
Production –
6 – 200 plants
6 MOS n/a n/a 9 MOS Offence is committed for the purpose of trafficking.
Maximum penalty will be increased to 14 years imprisonment
Production –
201 – 500 plants
1 YEAR n/a n/a 18 MOS Maximum penalty will be increased to 14 years imprisonment
Production – more than 500 plants 2 YEARS n/a n/a 3 YEARS Maximum penalty will be increased to 14 years imprisonment
Production –
oil or resin
1 YEAR n/a n/a 18 MOS Offence is committed for the purpose of trafficking

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