Friday, May 09, 2008

Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier and ex-girlfriend Julie Couillard

What a great combination - a Quebecois cabinet minister, murderous bikers and a beautiful woman. But is this a national security threat? Maybe.

By comparison, no Canadian sex scandal was more notorious than the Munsinger affair. During a heated debate in the House of Commons in 1966, it was revealed that Gerda Munsinger, a German call-girl and minor KGB spy, had engaged in sexual relationships with high-ranking Tory ministers in former prime minister John Diefenbaker's government. A Royal Commission was held, and tales of sex and espionage dominated the nation's news for weeks.

Couillard's ties to organized crime figures might be considered comparable to Munsinger.

What the Hell Is That Thing on Amy Winehouse’s Forehead?

Great News on Global Warming

Full story can be found here.

Tulip Farm in Holland

The aerial view makes the farm look like a giant box of crayons. More than three billion tulips are grown each year and two-thirds of the blooms are exported, mostly to the U.S. and Germany.

Last Surviving Witness to Signing of Israel's Declaration of Independence

If Jewish leaders had not been willing to stand on their own against the advice of the U.S. and other Western nations 60 years ago, the Jewish State would never have been established, said a man who witnessed the country's birth.

On Wednesday, air raid sirens sounded and Israelis paused for two minutes to remember the 22,437 fallen soldiers and terror victims who have died here since 1860 -- the year that Jews began to settle the land outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.

At sundown on Wednesday, Israel will move from mourning its dead to rejoicing in its Independence Day. Flags will be raised from half-staff to full staff and the celebrations will begin.

Arieh Handler, who is 93 this month, was present at the signing of Israel's Declaration of Independence in 1948. He may be the only living one of the 200 people who witnessed the event.

Sitting in his Jerusalem home, Handler told Cybercast News Service that he wished people around the world and in Israel understood the impact of what really happened that night.

"At the time, the Americans -- particularly President [Harry] Truman -- asked [David] Ben Gurion to wait, not to declare a state," said Handler, who was an associate of Ben Gurion. (Ben Gurion was Israel's first prime minister.)

Israel had accepted the United Nations partition plan six months earlier, dividing British controlled Palestine into two states -- a Jewish state and an Arab state. But the Arab states rejected the plan.

Although the U.S. pressed the international community to approve the U.N. plan, the State Department worried that the fledgling state would ally itself with the Soviet Union.

Some in the U.S. and in pre-state Israel feared that a new nation populated mainly by poor people -- many of whom had just escaped the horrors of the Holocaust and World War II in Europe -- would not be strong enough to succeed, said Handler.

When the British, who had ruled the area by U.N. mandate since 1923, officially withdrew, Israel went ahead and declared its statehood.

"[Ben Gurion] was of course right, because if at that time [he] hadn't declared the Jewish State, the state would not have been established," said Handler.

"I really felt that it's history -- that I was present in history. I'm a religious person," Handler said. "It was the Almighty who helped us to get to this place."

By the time Handler left the hall in Tel Aviv that evening, Egyptian planes were already trying to bomb Tel Aviv and the Arab army was trying to enter the city.

The Arab Legion was stopped by Israel's own defense forces at the place where Tel Aviv University now stands and where Handler's son is currently a professor, he said.

"The whole night we were dancing in the streets of Tel Aviv because we didn't know what was going to happen, whether the Egyptians or the Arabs [would] get in but we knew that [it was] a great day," he said.

The next day, the nascent Jewish State, reborn in its ancient homeland, was attacked by Arab forces from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. By the time a ceasefire was signed seven months later on January 7, 1949, Israel had increased the size of its original territory by 50 percent.

To this day, the Palestinians mark Israel's Independence Day (which also could have been their own if they had accepted the partition plan) as the "Nakba" - the "catastrophe."

Handler, who spent most of the last five decades living in England and working for Jewish and Zionist concerns, returned to live here nearly three years ago.

He said he is mostly concerned these days about social justice, including the gap between the rich and the poor. He said those problems would have been dealt with differently by the country's socialist-leaning founding fathers.

In Handler's opinion, Israel must consider what the U.S. and other countries say, but the nation shouldn't try to make peace with the Arabs by giving away land.

Handler did not want to comment on the current legal troubles of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that are overshadowing the 60th year celebrations. Police questioned Olmert as part of a new criminal investigation last week but the court has refused to release details.

"[In] the world there are some who are in favor of Israel, some who are not in favor of Israel but they do not know what has been created here -- something tremendous. The leaders are not always the best, I don't want to say more about that, but the people who are here -- they are good people," he added.

Celebrations for Israel's 60th anniversary will continue for weeks. President Bush is one of many world leaders marking the event. He is due here next week to celebrate with Israel and is scheduled to address the Knesset.


Mug Shot of the Week

Marti Ottley got into a fight with a car and lost while driving drunk.

Yeah, why don't you make it OFFICAL

Question Period at Queens Park Moves to a New Time Slot

Question period, the daily ritual where the Queen's Park opposition holds government to account, got a new time slot on Monday.

Against the wishes of the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats, the Liberals rammed through legislation changing the time by a vote of 49-19.

So question period moved from its traditional mid-afternoon slot to 10:45 a.m., which the Tories and NDP complain will give them less time to research questions to ask Premier Dalton McGuinty and his ministers.

Government House Leader Michael Bryant said the changes, which end night sittings, make the Legislature more "family friendly" for MPPs with young children. The rationale is pretty weak which reinforces that view that it was done to better control the handling of communications and news stories.

So what do you think was the first item dealt with at the first morning sitting of the Legislature on Monday? If guessed coffee, you are correct. You see, no food or beverages are allowed in the Legislature - only water. Here is the actual debate:

Mr. Norman W. Sterling: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: We're moving into a new time frame here. I want to indicate to you that when I first arrived here a long time ago, they allowed members to bring coffee into the legislative chamber. Now we're going to be here at 9 o'clock in the morning, and I normally have a coffee at my desk at 9 o'clock in the morning. Mr. Speaker, I ask your indulgence to allow the morning session to enjoy a cup of coffee while they're listening to debate here in our morning sessions.

Hon. Michael Bryant: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Of course it's up to members of this House to decide on unanimous consent matters, and I also will obviously respect whatever ruling you make with respect to decorum etc., but if in fact the House agrees, not only do I think that the dean of the Legislature deserves a coffee, but I'll be happy to pour it for him. I'm assuming it's a double-double for Mr. Sterling.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Conspiracy Theories Dominate Leaf Nation

So this is how it will work. The Leafs have only one candidate they are pursuing to run their team and that is Brian Burke. The Leafs sought permission to talk to Dave Nonis as part of a plan that includes getting Burke to Toronto in the summer of 2009, when his contract with Anaheim expires.

Nonis worked for Burke in Vancouver. The theory was that Nonis could be hired as GM now, replacing interim man Cliff Fletcher. A year from now, with Burke having fulfilled his contractual obligation in Anaheim, he could be hired by the Leafs as team president and be re-united with Nonis.

To disguise their true intentions, the Leafs also asked permission to talk to San Jose GM Doug Wilson knowing very well that they would be turned down.

You see the people in MLSE are so clever that they would have no problem covering up any evidence of tampering. Oops, but the smart Toronto media let it out of the bag.

People get a grip! The Toronto sports media has no interest in following the punchless Blue Jays so they are going back to the old reliable Maple Leafs for some headlines. Except nothing much is going on at MLSE except for axing Paul Maurice (which everyone knew was coming). No buyouts yet, no trades, no signings, no GM. So lets make up some stuff.

Smile You're on Candid Camera

Over in the U.K., closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are a ubiquitous sight: the country—led by London—has more of the tiny public surveillance cameras than any other country in Europe.

They’re not that effective after all. Detective chief inspector Mick Neville of Scotland Yard, metropolitan London’s police force, called the assumed crime-deterrents an “utter fiasco” adding that the cameras have only helped to solve 3 percent of street robberies and that people aren’t really camera-shy when it comes to committing crimes in public. (CCTV footage did, it's nonetheless worth noting, helped British police successfully investigate terrorism suspects in the July 2005 London transit bombings.)

For Torontonians, soon to be monitored on and in TTC buses, subways, streetcars, and stations, this should be a point of contention. Ontario’s privacy commissioner has already addressed Big Brother concerns by recommending annual audits, and that footage be deleted after three days (unless it’s being used in an investigation). And unlike in London Toronto transit cameras won’t be manned.

Panhandlers are Getting Creative

Get Paid to Stay in Bed

This sounds like a sweet job: NASA Offers $5000 a Month For You to Lie in Bed.

Need a break from the working, walking, and standing required by the demanding and stressful life you lead? Well, pack your bags for Houston because NASA wants to pay you $17,000 to stay in bed for 90 straight days.

The bed-rest experiment, to take place in the Human Test Subject Facility of Johnson Space Center, is designed to allow scientists to study some of the effects of microgravity on the human body.

Josef Fritzl wants you to believe he is a decent guy

Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man who fathered seven children with his daughter while keeping her imprisoned in a windowless dungeon in his cellar, has complained about poor media coverage of the case.

You know he is a decent guy. If he was a monster he would have killed his children not just imprisoned them in a basement for years.

Also it was the Nazis who fostered his twisted morality that led him to imprison his daughter, Elisabeth, in that basement for 24 years. He was just trying to "rescue" Elisabeth, who was then 18, to keep her from "going out to seedy bars" and "drinking and smoking".

Fritzl said he had never intended to rape her – as he was "not a man to abuse children" – but felt an "overpowering" desire for "a taste of the forbidden".

Thanks Joe for clearing that up for us.

Fired for giving away a Timbit

Nicole Lilliman lost her job at Tim Hortons Wednesday.

The reason? She had given away a Timbit (a donut hole at Dunkin Donuts) to a toddler.

The youngster came in with a regular customer, and Lilliman, who had seen other employees give out treats to kids and even dogs, handed him the free treat.

Tim Hortons charges 16 cents for a Timbit but it likely costs less than 10 cents to the company.

The 27-year old was fired by the district manager, who said giving food away free is against the rules and "it doesn't matter if it is a Timbit or a coffee or a doughnut or 10 sandwiches."

But by Thursday, she was back on the job. Another Tim Hortons in London had called with an opening, and she accepted the offer. Pretty sad considering Tim Hortons is a Canadian icon.

Juror in Pot Trial Caught Smoking Weed on Break

Judge Sherman Ross tried to assemble a jury of peers for a woman accused of possession of a marijuana on trial Tuesday. But authorities say prospective juror Cornelia Mayo might have taken that concept a bit too far after she was caught smoking a joint outside the courthouse during a break. The 49-year-old Houston woman was one of 20 people in a jury pool in Criminal Court at Law No. 10. Ross said he realized something was wrong when juror No. 2, Mayo, didn't return from a 45-minute break. Before the judge could file a bench warrant for the missing juror, his bailiff got a call from police notifying him that Mayo was being booked on a charge of smoking marijuana outside the criminal courthouse. "I've had prospective jurors get lost before, but it never occurred to me that they might be getting ready for a marijuana trial by, allegedly, smoking marijuana," Ross said. He also said it was a strange coincidence for a court that also sees trials for DWI's, family violence and many other misdemeanors. "It's the first weed case I've tried in years," Ross said. "People usually plead out."


Father of the Year Candidates

How about the dad giving his kid a beer at the game.

So How Good The Blue Jay Pitching Been?

Well I think everyone realizes the pitching staff has been incredible over the past 11 games. The numbers say it all. The team ERA for those 11 games has been just 1.46 and they have averaged only 5 hits per game and almost 8 strike outs per game. Meanwhile their opponents have been only batting .165 during those 11 games. And the Jays also posted 3 shutouts in that span. So you would expect with these numbers, they would have been undefeated over those 11 games. Well not with their anemic offense. They have only won 6 of those 11 games.

As good as the pitching has been, the hitting has gone the opposite direction. The Jays only hit .250 with just 5 homeruns during this current run. And they are only averaging just under 3 runs per game.

What a waste of some excellent pitching.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

For the Cigar Smokers Out There

WARNING: The video below is definitely NSFW (not safe for work or children). Although the ad is not pornographic, the Europeans are much more permissive when it comes to advertisements. I wonder what would be more difficult in Canada, getting a cigar ad aired or one with nudity. Though I've seen more nudity in some HBO programs.

Looks Like Breast Pudding to Me


Michael Moore Supports Obama

Early in the campaign Michael Moore had indicated that he wasn't endorsing any candidate. He had described the Democratic front-runners as a less-than-stellar group of candidates.He is still not that enthusiastic about the candidates and said he would support any Democrat running for President. But he now prefers Barack Obama.

His reasoning is that he has been disgusted with the sleazy attempts by Bill and Hillary Clinton to smear Obama. You can read it right here.

White Sox Try Blow-Up Dolls to Prevent Blue Jay Sweep

The White Sox tried to break out of their slump by placing blow-up dolls in their clubhouse on Sunday, and boy did it work out great: they lost the final two games in Toronto as the Blue Jays completed a four-game sweep in which the Sox managed just 16 hits and got shut out twice.

On Sunday, the bats were circled around the two naked female dolls, one of whom had a bat inserted in its backside to prop it up. Each wore a sign over her breasts, one saying "Let's Go White Sox" and the other reading "You've Got to Push".

One group not amused by the prank was the Association for Women in Sports Media, whose members work toward ensuring a non-threatening work environment for all women in sports media.

Hey these are desperate times.

A Little Irony in This Roger Clemens Commercial