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Friday miscellany

FINALLY, there is some sense inserted into the vaccine / autism “debate”. The doctor responsible for the studies that linked vaccinations to autism has been outed as nothing more than a fraud! Yup. He made up research results to prove his hypothesis.

But no studies have shown any clear link. The U.S. Institute of Medicine has issued several reports saying not only is there no evidence of a link, but urging researchers to look elsewhere for possible causes of autism, which affects an estimated 1 in 110 children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control says nearly 40 per cent of U.S. parents have some mistrust of childhood vaccines.

And that last sentence is the most damaging of all. Due to fraudsters like “Dr.” Wakefield and no-nothing ignoramuses lusting after fame – like Jenny McCarthy – diseases that were close to being wiped off the planet have instead made a comeback.

The only dude who is please with the work of hucksters like Wakefield and McCarthy is this guy:

I blogged about this yesterday and there has also been a lot of back and forth on the issue of the OCDSB’s aging infrastructure and crowded urban core schools. It is vital that the Board look for long term solutions to these problems instead of short term stop gap measures.

BUT. Before we go too far down the “blame the Board” road, remember that the OCDSB has discretionary control over only 15% of its $700 million budget – not chump change, but all they can really do is tinker around the edges. The other 85% is either revenue-neutral (you cut the program and the funding is cut by the province) or is already committed (e.g., teacher salaries). Plus – as I understand it – capital projects above a certain value MUST go through, be approved by and funded by Queens Park.

So, while some Ottawans (including me) might jump on the soap box and rage against the Board for being anti-urban and pro-suburban, remember that many of these decisions are out of their hands.

Though I still think that the overcrowding and infrastructure issues should have been foreseen by the Board… and a response better planned.

So if the province is the real problem, then parents should contact their MPP to voice their dissatisfaction. And if they tell you that their just aren’t any free funds around in these times times of economic restraint, then remind them that we have a needless and wasteful duplicate education system in Ontario. And if this were eliminated, BILLIONS would be saved! Ontario school boards will receive $20.2-billion this year, with a projected $6.7-billion going to Catholic boards.

I saw this headline on the G&M website the other day and almost fell off my chair:

RCMP wants less strict rules on disclosure to defence lawyers

The Mounties are whining that it is just way too expensive to comply with the judicial system that is an integral part of those little things I like to call “due process” and “democracy”

“There is a cost to [disclosure], and there is a cost to public safety to that. In times of strict budgets and in the tough economic times that we are in, it’s really difficult,” said Deputy Commissioner Knecht, who oversees police operations as the most senior assistant to civilian Commissioner William Elliott. “We have to take a long, hard look at disclosure, and we have to find much better ways to deal with the disclosure burden that we currently find ourselves under.”

The comments are likely to ignite an intense debate between law-and-order supporters who want to speed up the pace of law-enforcement operations, and civil libertarians who believe police powers should be constrained to prevent abuses and wrongful convictions. The RCMP in particular has been under fire for years over a variety of actions.

What costs? Photocopying? Faxing documents? Give me a break.

Finally, and I know no one wants to talk about this anymore, but yes, we did lose to the Russians at the WJHC this week.

Yes, the team choked. And yes, hockey fans from coast to coast were disappointed. But remember that there is no one more dejected than those teenage boys who tried their utmost but came up 20 minutes short. Kudos to them and congrats on the silver medal!


New dress code on the Hill…

So the Harperites and their taser-carry toadies, the RCMP, have decided that the appropriate response to the recent Greenpeace action on the Hill is to ban all those wearing Greenpeace t-shirts.

Heather Bradley, a spokeswoman for the Speaker’s office, said it is routine for guests to be obliged to remove attire that may “disrupt” proceedings.

“When someone is invited in as a member of the public in either the chamber or a committee, they’re invited in as an observer. That’s it,” she said.

OK. Fair enough. These are the ground rules. It is a little odd to respond to a massive security breach by banning a certain piece of clothing bearing a certain emblem, but whatever.  Even though I do not support Greenpeace, I do kinda like the t-shirt.

t- greenpeaceBut then I got to thinking about what other kinds of t shirts may be interpreted as “disruptive” in the minds of folks like Ms. Bradley. I mean, why stop at Greenpeace? There shurely must be scores of cotton-blend upper body wear with logos and pictures that may disrupt the minds and actions of scores of cotton-blend wearing Upper and Lower House members!

For example, this one would be sure to disrupt the thoughts of any Honourable Member who had a yen to deke out behind the Parliamentary Library for a quick spliff!

tshirt marleyOr what about this fine design that, while I personally think that peace is something worth celebrating, some members of the ReformCon caucus may find disruptive due to it’s somewhat anti-arms-industry message! Can’t piss off Boeing!

t-shirtpeaceAlong the same lines, all of those in the Reformatory caucus and some of the spineless wimps in the other parties may find this gem disruptive. After all, it would be wrong to demean the American organization that helped to begin the dismantling of the gun registry!

tshirt nraNeedless to say, this one would disrupt the sensibilities of any and all who are not members of Leaf Nation!

leafsLastly, can you image the extent to which proceedings would be disrupted by this baby! Mammals of all party stripes would barely be able to contain their anger! As well, rumour has it that the noble dinosaurs is being considered as the symbol of the ReformCon Party of Canada. Like the easily recognizable elephant and donkey to the Republican and the Democrats in the south, the dinosaur represents all that encompasses those of the Harperite Cult: outdated, lumbering and soon to be extinct!

tshirt - dinosaur


And if ya can’t play with it properly, then you don’t get to play with it at all.

The Government of Québec has made the wise move of pulling all of its police force’s Tasers out of the field after some of them were shown to be malfunctioning.

Hopefully a full ban is next and the rest of the country follows suit… if our cops can’t use it with respect, then they should not have this weapon.

Are you listening, RCMP???