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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Putin checkmates Obama after symbolic sanctions manoeuvre

It was one of the most brilliant geopolitical chess moves in over a decade, and it involved doing nothing, according to Eurasia senior analyst Lauren Goodrich.

An expert on Russian politics at the intelligence firm Stratfor, Goodrich was referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin's response, or lack thereof, to the recent sanctions imposed on his country by U.S. President Barack Obama. 
Instead of retaliating for Obama's order Thursday to expel 35 Russian diplomats and close down two Russian compounds, Putin insisted he would not reciprocate. 
And, for good measure, he invited the children of U.S. diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year's and Christmas parties in the Kremlin.

"Putin deciding not to retaliate and say I'm going to wait for the Trump administration, delegitimizes Obama's decision on one side and then also puts extra pressure on Trump to act more conciliatory when he comes in," said Goodrich...

Friday, December 30, 2016

Obama green lighted a tally of funding for Iranian terrorism: Over $10 Billion in Cash, Gold

WASHINGTON—In the three years since a preliminary nuclear deal was struck with Iran, Tehran has received more than $10 billion in sanctions relief from around the world in the form of cash and gold, according to current and former U.S. officials.
The large shipments of gold and cash, from oil funds unfrozen in numerous countries, represents the kind of financial relief that made Iran’s leaders eager to complete the international nuclear accord. Some of the cash and gold went to Iran while the U.S. and other world powers negotiated with Tehran on a final nuclear deal. More shipments took place after final deal went into effect last January.
This tallying of the sanctions relief to date includes payments previously announced and others that haven’t been. In one previously unreported payment, the U.S. authorized Iran to receive $1.4 billion in sanctions relief between when the final deal was struck in July 2015 and when it took effect, according to the U.S. officials.
Some U.S. lawmakers and Middle East allies contend that the shipments of cash and gold, a highly liquid form of money, can be used to fund Iran’s allies in the region, including the Assad regime in Syria, the Lebanese militia Hezbollah and the Houthi political movement in Yemen.
Forking over cash and gold to the world’s leading state sponsor of terror is incredibly dangerous,” said Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who sponsored a House-passed bill to ban such payments...

Read the rest at The Wall Street Journal

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Serial liar John Kerry tries to spin the Obama Administration's betrayal of Israel

US Secretary of State John Kerry repeatedly lied to the American public about the terms of the disastrous Iran nuclear deal he negotiated. Today he is lying to the world about his involvement with an anti-Israel resolution he helped broker at the UN Security Council last week.

Fortunately, incoming President Donald Trump has pledged to counter the betrayal of Israel by Obama and his minions.

The very weird 1978 Ringo Starr TV special

This has an appearance by Carrie Fisher.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Expect 'revolution' in US foreign policy under Trump

A very insightful interview with Harvard historian Niall Ferguson:
Q: Some experts have pointed out that global sentiment today is similar to what it was in the pre-World WarI or pre-WWII periods.
A: We need to avoid drawing comparisons with the 1930s because I don't think they are appropriate. Our economic situation is nothing so bad as in the 1930s, and the kind of movements that we see in Europe and the U.S. are not fascistic. There is a very important distinction to be drawn between populism and fascism. Populism is not militaristic. There are no Brexit supporters or Trump supporters in military uniform marching through the streets of Washington or London.
So we need to go further back in history to find a good analogy. It's much more helpful to look at the period after 1873, when a financial crisis led to a prolonged period of economic stagnation and deflation, which then triggered a populist backlash against free trade, large-scale immigration, powerful financial institutions and corrupt political elites. All of that happened in the 1870s and the 1880s in the U.S. and in Europe, and the resemblances are very close between that period and our own.

Read it all HERE

It's a good thing Obama keeps telling everyone what a great president he was, otherwise people might conclude he was a total disaster

Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal:
Barack Obama’s decision to abstain from, and therefore allow, last week’s vote to censure Israel at the U.N. Security Council is a fitting capstone for what’s left of his foreign policy. Strategic half-measures, underhanded tactics and moralizing gestures have been the president’s style from the beginning. Israelis aren’t the only people to feel betrayed by the results.

Also betrayed: Iranians, whose 2009 Green Revolution in heroic protest of a stolen election Mr. Obama conspicuously failed to endorse for fear of offending the ruling theocracy.

Iraqis, who were assured of a diplomatic surge to consolidate the gains of the military surge, but who ceased to be of any interest to Mr. Obama the moment U.S. troops were withdrawn, and only concerned him again when ISIS neared the gates of Baghdad.

Syrians, whose initially peaceful uprising against anti-American dictator Bashar Assad Mr. Obama refused to embrace, and whose initially moderate-led uprising Mr. Obama failed to support, and whose sarin- and chlorine-gassed children Mr. Obama refused to rescue, his own red lines notwithstanding.

Ukrainians, who gave up their nuclear weapons in 1994 with formal U.S. assurances that their “existing borders” would be guaranteed, only to see Mr. Obama refuse to supply them with defensive weapons when Vladimir Putin invaded their territory 20 years later.

Pro-American Arab leaders, who expected better than to be given ultimatums from Washington to step down, and who didn’t anticipate the administration’s tilt toward the Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate political opposition, and toward Tehran as a responsible negotiating partner.

Most betrayed: Americans...

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Obama shafts Israel

Four weeks before he leaves the White House, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Barack Obama betrayed the principles of peace, the State of Israel and America’s values by letting a lynch mob at the United Nations mug the only democracy in the Mideast with a resolution that calls for no Jews to live in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem or to pray at the Western Wall, the last remnant of the Second Temple of antiquity.

This obscenity, on the eve of Chanukah, when the ancient Israelites freed the Holy City and the Second Temple from pagans, should have been immediately vetoed by Israel’s ally, the United States. Instead, President Obama stood aside as the UN Security Council voted unanimously for a measure which has the force of international law.

Ostensibly aimed at Israeli settlements on the disputed West Bank, which should be subject to direct negotiations with the Palestinians, the text declaims that Israeli presence on “territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”

In the real world outside the Turtle Bay nuthouse dominated by dictators and tyrants, a “just, lasting and comprehensive peace” will come only when, after decades of avoiding talks, Palestinians sit down with Israel and cut a deal.

It’s going to be hard for both sides, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and all of his predecessors back to 1948 have waited for an Arab partner. Netanyahu is still waiting. Now, the Palestinians and their weak, corrupt leader, Abu Mazen, will believe they will never have to negotiate since the UN has already decided...

Friday, December 23, 2016

Rogue One is great - do yourself a favor and see it

I saw Rogue One this week, and it was fantastic.

Where last year's The Force Awakens was derivative to the point of effectively being a remake of Episode IV, and filled with an annoying amount of smug, self-referential winks to the original trilogy, Rogue One is an original, very clever action movie. And the action is extremely well-paced. There isn't a dull minute in the whole movie.

Visually, Rogue One may be the most impressive of all the Star Wars movies, the closest rivals in that area would be The Empire Strikes Back and Revenge of the Sith. As to acting, it's very good across the board. What was rather interesting to me is that while I wouldn't be able to tell Rogue One's Felicity Jones from The Force Awakens' Daisy Ridley if I had to pick one out of a police lineup, Jones puts in an exponentially better performance than the female lead of the last Star Wars movie.

A particularly irritating aspect of The Force Awakens was Ridley being unable to wipe her thrilled smile off her face in virtually every scene of the movie. I get it. I too would be thrilled to be in a Star Wars movie with Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill, to say nothing of Chewbacca and C3PO. But when your job is to be an actor and you're getting paid lots of money for it, then for Christ's sake, learn how not to look like an ecstatic fan standing in an autograph line-up at a science fiction convention while you're onscreen.

The one aspect missing from Rogue One that the other Star Wars movies offered is an enduring character you'll see kids want to clamor to get a toy version of. But the dark plot, the gorgeous cinematography, the massive scale of events, and the intense action more than compensate.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Through painstaking research, two Gender Scholars discover a link between having a vagina and being a woman

Two brilliant Gender Scholars, one an Associate Professor who focuses on gender issues at the University of Auckland's Psychology Dept, and the other an Honorary Professor at the University of York's Sociology Dept, through painstaking research, have made a breakthrough in establishing that there is a link between having a vagina and being a woman.

It took two people to do this.

I'd be interested in seeing the study that proves Gender Studies actually destroys brain cells:

h/t New Real Peer Review

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Iran intends to incorporate Syria into its version of a caliphate

Clifford D. May in The Washington Times:

...In 2011, during that hopeful moment known as the Arab Spring, peaceful protesters took to the streets of Damascus. The dynastic dictator Bashar Assad responded brutally. Before long, a civil war was ignited.

Mr. Obama’s top advisers recommended assisting non-Islamist and nationalist rebels — not with the proverbial boots on the proverbial ground but with secure communications devices, money, weapons and training. Mr. Obama rejected that advice. He had done the math: Mr. Assad, a member of the Alawite minority, hadn’t enough loyal troops to prevail against Syria’s insurgent Sunni majority. So the fall of the Assad regime had to be both inevitable and imminent.

What that failed to take into account: Iran’s theocrats would send in foreign Shia fighters, including those of Hezbollah, their Lebanese proxy, all under the leadership of their Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Vladimir Putin also would deploy forces in support of the Assad regime. We can surmise his reasons: to have a Mediterranean port for his navy; to re-establish Russia’s influence in the Middle East; to show the world that, unlike Mr. Obama, he does not abandon his friends; to diminish American credibility and prestige.

Mr. Obama’s response was, as it so often is, mainly rhetorical. He warned Mr. Putin that he was stepping into a quagmire. He proclaimed, as so he often does, that there can be “no military solution.”

The Russian president, a product of the KGB rather than the faculty lounge, knew that was nonsense. In the Middle East, the law of the jungle trumps international law every time. 
Having accused President George W. Bush of overreach, Mr. Obama adopted a policy that might be called underreach...

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Wall Street Journal: Obama Goes Off the Clinton Script

Hillary Clinton told her donor base at Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel on Thursday that Russian cyber attacks were both “a personal beef against me” and meant to undermine “the integrity of our democracy,” and Democrats fanned out this week to spread this Kremlin-hacked-the-election narrative. President Obama was asked about all this in his year-end Friday press conference, but even he couldn’t square the contradictions.
As liberals assailed the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s victory, Mr. Obama defended “the integrity of our election system,” noting that there is no evidence that ballots weren’t counted fairly. So much for those Jill Stein, Clinton-endorsed recounts, or the conspiracies about compromised voting machines.
The President also explained that the emails stolen from John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee were “not some elaborate, complicated espionage scheme.” He said intelligence and law enforcement were “playing this thing straight” and disclosed sufficient information about the hacks for “the American public to make an assessment as to how to weigh that going into the election.”
Mr. Obama conceded that some of the leaked content was “embarrassing or uncomfortable” but all in all “pretty routine stuff.” His main complaint is that “I don’t think she was treated fairly” by the press corps and the Russian hacks became “an obsession that dominated the news coverage.”
Really? The Podesta and DNC emails mostly revealed that the Clinton apparat don’t much like conservative Catholics or Bernie Sanders. Mr. Trump’s offenses against beauty queen Alicia Machado in the 1990s and his Billy Bush video were far bigger stories. The emails that really harmed Mrs. Clinton were those she stored on a personal server as Secretary of State, because the arrangement was potentially criminal and underscored doubts about her political character and judgment...

Monday, December 19, 2016

Alexander Hamilton would have thought it treason for the Electoral College to deprive Trump of the Presidency

When it comes to in-depth Constitutional interpretation and analysis, you might be better informed if you had a conversation with your Cocker Spaniel than with a typical Hollywood celebrity.

A few of them, and some George Soros-funded organizations are involved in a campaign to undermine the results of the American presidential election by trying to persuade Republicans selected to the Electoral College to vote against Donald Trump.

That is a betrayal of the purpose for which the Electoral College was created.

Contrary to the understanding of some celebrities, the Electoral College was not a creation of Alexander Hamilton, a Broadway musical about him being popular right now notwithstanding. It is Hamilton who is the presumed author of Federalist Paper Number 68 which explains and advocates for the purpose of the Electoral College.

Hamilton (we presume) explained it is a body, and by that meaning a process preformed by Electors chosen on the basis of the vote in each state, who would choose the President. Its purpose was not to prevent Donald Trump or someone like him from ascending to the presidency. It was to prevent a corrupt person or people who had undue influence in one or two states from ascending to the highest political office in America.

While Hamilton considered that it might be possible to gain control through corruption in one or two states, it would not be possible to do so in all the United States of America. Therefore the Electoral College was created as a safeguard against just a couple of populous states being able to control the fate of the nation on their own. The Electoral College represents a compromise between the popular vote and the right of all the states in America to be able to effect the outcome of a national election.

As we're seeing from November's election, almost all of Hillary Clinton's advantage in the popular vote was localized in a a fraction of populous states, particularly California. But it was always the Founding fathers' intention that such an eventuality, of itself, would not be how a president is selected.

Here is the relevant section from Federalist Paper Number 68 explaining the rationale behind the Electoral College:
Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union? But the convention have guarded against all danger of this sort, with the most provident and judicious attention. They have not made the appointment of the President to depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes; but they have referred it in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America, to be exerted in the choice of persons for the temporary and sole purpose of making the appointment. And they have excluded from eligibility to this trust, all those who from situation might be suspected of too great devotion to the President in office. No senator, representative, or other person holding a place of trust or profit under the United States, can be of the numbers of the electors. Thus without corrupting the body of the people, the immediate agents in the election will at least enter upon the task free from any sinister bias. Their transient existence, and their detached situation, already taken notice of, afford a satisfactory prospect of their continuing so, to the conclusion of it. The business of corruption, when it is to embrace so considerable a number of men, requires time as well as means. Nor would it be found easy suddenly to embark them, dispersed as they would be over thirteen States, in any combinations founded upon motives, which though they could not properly be denominated corrupt, might yet be of a nature to mislead them from their duty.
Therefore were the Electors to defy the will of the voters in their states and choose, not the person for whom they were delegated the honor of selecting, but instead substituting someone of their own choice (or that of some influential Hollywood actors or a notorious billionaire currency manipulator), it would be treason.

Hollywood is saying the members of the Electoral College should follow their conscience. But that's not what they mean. They are telling them to betray their oaths, the Constitution, and the people of the United States to get an election result that they couldn't get from the American people in the general election.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Social Justice Word Of The Day

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Mau-Mauing the Trump Electors - A Wall Street Journal Editorial

Even before taking the oath of office, Donald Trump has achieved the impossible—driving liberals to the original text of the Constitution. This strange new respect for the Founders will only last until the President-elect nominates a new Supreme Court Justice, and too bad it arrives as an assault on the Electoral College to elect someone other than Mr. Trump.

This organized political campaign is being conducted in the name of Alexander Hamilton, and not merely because of the Broadway musical. In Federalist No. 68, Hamilton wrote that the Electoral College “affords a moral certainty, that the office of president will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” 
Progressives are invoking this line to claim Mr. Trump lacks such qualifications. And they are calling on those they call the “Hamilton electors” to vote for Hillary Clinton or somebody else when they meet on Dec. 19. The immediate goal is to peel away 37 from Mr. Trump’s 306-vote majority and deny him 270 votes.

This gambit is being promoted by supposedly lucid Members of Congress, liberal columnists, left-leaning constitutional scholars and Hollywood celebrities. OK, maybe the last group is not so lucid, but remnants of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign are also on board. GOP electors report being bombarded with tens of thousands of emails and phone calls.

There is an originalist constitutional case that the electors are supposed to act as an deliberative body who can exercise their own “discernment,” as Hamilton put it. They could vote for anyone they choose.

But the Electoral College as the framers conceived it was never meant to be independent of the popular will. The Framers had tremendous respect for the judgment of the people, and the electors aren’t supposed to be de novo second guessers. There have been 150 faithless electors in U.S. history, and only nine since World War II.

The historical record suggests that discernment was meant to be triggered only in exceptional circumstances when new information about a President-elect’s “qualifications” unknown to voters emerged after the general election. Nobody can claim that Americans didn’t understand the nature of Donald J. Trump when they voted.

There have been no revelations...

Idiot celebrities think they know best about how the country should be run

One of the many funny things about this is that Team America was made in 2004, and a dozen years later, it's still a lot of the same smug, idiot celebrities they made fun then of that are still trying to shove their politics down people's throats.

Friday, December 16, 2016

University of Minnesota football team boycotts rest of season to protest Title IX insanity

A major showdown over Title IX is brewing at the University of Minnesota, where the entire football team has agreed to boycott future games in support of 10 players who were suspended for sexual misconduct violations.

Student-athlete Drew Wolitarsky read a statement on behalf of the team Thursday night in which he blamed the administration for conducting an "unjust Title IX investigation without due process."

"We are concerned that our brothers have been named publicly with reckless disregard in violation of their constitutional rights," he said. "We are now compelled to speak for our team and take back our program."

Coach Tracy Claeys appears to be in full support of the boycott. "Have never been more proud of our kids," he tweeted.

The incident in question took place the night of September 2, after the team's season-opener. One female student alleged that she was involved in nonconsensual sex with several people, including Carlton Djam, one of the football players. According to The Star Tribune, the woman consumed "five or six" shots before heading to a party where she met Djam. He took her up to a bedroom and proceeded to have sex with her. She then engaged in sex with a number of other men—she told the police they waited in line to "take turns." She thought as many as 12 men were involved, though she couldn't recall the exact number.

That's the woman's version. Djam told police that their sex was fully consensual. He produced three video clips taken on the morning in question that showed the woman was "lucid, alert, somewhat playful and fully conscious; she does not appear to be objecting to anything at this time," according to the police report. This satisfied the police and no charges were filed.

The woman then pursued a restraining order against six football players, and an agreement was reached: they had to stay away from her, and she agreed not to take further legal action against them.

End of story? Nope. That's because the university has its own process for investigating sexual misconduct that is separate from the police. According to the Education Department, Title IX—a federal statute mandating equality between the sexes in public education—requires universities to adjudicate sexual misconduct internally. These Title IX proceedings often deny fundamental due process rights to accused students, since the Office for Civil Rights—the agency that ensures Title IX compliance—has instructed universities to use a lower standard of proof. OCR guidance also discourages administrators from allowing cross-examination, one of the most vital tools a defendant has to prove his or her innocent.

As a result of Minnesota's Title IX proceeding, 10 players were suspended...

An open letter from Ryan Bellerose: On Canada, Israel and Indigenous Peoples - the hypocrisy of anti-Israel activists leeching on the aboriginal rights movement

On Monday, Nov. 28, 2016, the Toronto Star published an editorial written by Dr. Yousef Jabareen, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, with the headline "What Israel Can Learn From Canada." The following is a response to Dr. Jabareen from Ryan Bellerose, B'nai Brith Canada's Advocacy Coordinator of Western Canada.

Dear Dr. Jabareen,

I recently read your op-ed in the Toronto Star, and while I appreciate your admiration for our country, I feel like there were several inaccuracies that can be pointed out.

Firstly, I find it paradoxical that you start by admitting you’re an “Arab-Palestinian citizen of Israel,” a state that pays your bills as a paid member of Parliament, before essentially denouncing its democratic nature as it pertains to Palestinian rights.

You can’t have it both ways.

You say Canada's record of recognizing and overcoming discrimination and inequality is commendable, but I’m having a tough time believing that you, as a descendent of actual colonialists, even understand Canada’s history.

For starters, you're a participating member of a government that allows you to supposedly represent the Arab population of Israel, but you instead use that position to spread libel about it. Rather than trying to make the lives of Arab Israelis better, you waste your time attacking the only state in the Middle East that actually treats its non-majority population like human beings.

You complain that Israel has many “features” of a democracy (in a bid, I assume, to suggest that it is not), yet Arabs are not only allowed to vote in Israel but actually participate in the governance of the country. Furthermore, Israeli Arabs are not forced to worship God in a Jewish manner nor are they forced to speak Hebrew. In your "Arab and democratic" neighbouring countries, how many churches have been built in the past five years? How many synagogues?

Now for your least truthful statement. You claim you’re an "Arab-Palestinian" but also say you're a remnant of the "indigenous Palestinian people." Which one is it? Because to claim indigenous status, while admitting you are the descendant of Arabs who occupied the entire Middle East in the seventh century, is offensive to actual indigenous people like myself. By claiming that you have such status because your people stole an indigenous people’s land a long time ago only shows you don't actually know where indigenous status stems from.

In your op-ed, you give the ludicrous example of why Canada is inclusive because our government must give services in both of our official languages, English and French. But actually, both are colonialist languages, and neither of the official languages are the three-thousand-year-old indigenous language...

‘The Hitch’ - a documentary about Christopher Hitchens

'The Hitch'- Christopher Hitchens documentary from Kristoffer Hellesmark on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Fred Litwin: Not my rights movement

Currently, LGBTIQCAPGNGFNBA is believed to be the world’s longest acronym used to describe human sexual orientations and gender identities. Chances are it’s already been surpassed by an even longer acronym with the self-discovery of yet another person, or group of persons, with a unique gender fixation. It’s probably pointless to try to memorize what all the letters stand for, because theoretically there’s no limit to the proliferation of sexual identities. But some of them come with unique pronouns, and you had better learn those. Otherwise you might run afoul of new federal and provincial human rights and hate crimes laws.

How on earth did we get here?

Well, in the beginning there was G. And it was good. I’m not talking about God but about Gays. Back in the early 1980s, I joined the fight for gay rights and marched in the Toronto Gay Pride parade. Before G, there was actually H, for Homophile, as in the Queen’s (University) Homophile Association, which I discovered in 1978. I have to admit I welcomed the change from H to G.

It didn’t take long before Lesbians decided they had to have their own letter. I always thought that G could have covered them. But they were insistent and Gay Pride morphed into Gay and Lesbian Pride. Before long we realized, with almost no debate, that we couldn’t leave out bisexuals, and so we became the LGB community.

LGB was no ordinary acronym. It had an electromagnetic charge and began attracting other letters. Soon it became LGBT, with the T standing for Transgender/Transsexual. LGBT then added a Q for queer. I still don’t understand the difference between a queer person and a gay person, but apparently some queers do. And one good Q obviously deserves another, so Q for questioning was added to make it LGBTQQ, or LGBTQ? for those who prefer punctuation over repetition.

At this point there was some serious momentum...

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Taiwan viciously ridicules Justin Trudeau for sucking up to China for cash

And I thought I was mean about Prince Bonehead...

Ontario needs to give homeowners the same protection from property tax hikes that tenants get from rent hikes

Next to Vancouver, Toronto's real estate market is the most expensive in Canada and one of the hottest markets in the world. The cost of living is skyrocketing in Ontario's capitol and it's at the point that a person has to make a considerable income just to get by comfortably there.

Toronto's politicians have been claiming that they've been keeping property tax increases at or around the level of inflation. Like most things politicians tell the public, that claim is a distortion of the truth. The tax rate on the value of a property may only be going up by a couple of percentage points every year in Toronto, but the amount the average taxpayer has to fork over to the municipal government in property taxes is going up by ten per cent of more per year for many homeowners.

The reason for that is Market Value Assessments.

The average detached Toronto home is worth over a million dollars, more than twice what is was ten years ago. So if you live in Toronto and bought your home for $500,000 in 2006, you're now probably paying the tax rate for a million dollar home. That regardless of whether you're a senior citizen on a fixed income, or if you lost your job, or if you're income has only gone up by a fraction of the percentage of your tax rate increase.

Basically, you're getting screwed over by incompetent Toronto politicians who refuse to rein in their exorbitant spending. They dole out grant money to their activist friends in the guise of arts funding, they go on expensive junkets and enjoy massive perks, they mismanage the city's budget, and they stick homeowners with the bill.

It's a disadvantage that homeowners have compared to tenants. The Ontario Residential Tenancies Act sets annual guidelines for rent increases, typically in the 2% range, and landlords have to get special dispensations to raise the rent above that rate. Whereas the average downtown Toronto homeowner has seen their property tax bill go up by about 100% in the last five years due to the huge increase in property values and the Market Value Assessment.

When Toronto's municipal politicians say they love poor people, the must mean it, because they've set about to make as many people poor as they possibly can.

When a tenant occupies an apartment in Ontario, the landlord is bound by the provincial guideline rent increase. When the tenant moves out, the landlord can increase the rent to whatever he likes and the market decides if he gets it. Homeowners need similar protections from incompetent municipal politicians who act like abusive landlords. Property taxes should be based on the value of a house when it was purchased. Increases should be a percentage of the tax rate of that assessment. When a house is sold, then the new tax rate should be based on the purchase price, instead of penalizing Torontonians for living in a city with an upswing in real estate prices.

That would also afford some protection to the city's coffers. If the market were to take a sudden dive, as it has at times in the past, a reevaluation could halve the city's property tax revenues.

It's time for the Provincial government to step in a put a moratorium on Market Value Assessments. Because otherwise, it's going to exacerbate the divide between rich and poor in Toronto and make a city will be "world class" only in its problems and inequity.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Toronto's schools need better teachers and a better curriculum, not indoctrination and forced attendance

One of the Toronto Star's resident hysterics, Heather Mallick, wrote an article this past weekend bemoaning the closing of some Toronto schools with very low attendance thresholds. The reason that these schools are underpopulated is that many parents choose to send their kids to better schools in other districts. It is the marketplace in action. Given the choice between a good product and a bad one, most people will choose the good product.

The fact that parents can act like consumers in a free market and that they're allowed to make choices that benefit their kids' education upsets Mallick. She thinks kids should be forced to go to the school in their district, no matter how substandard it may be.

That may suit Mallick's ideological prejudices, but it's bad for the kids who would be subject to her ideological experimentation and no intelligent parent would pay any attention to her. As a parent, the main objective is to provide the best possible outcome for your child in a competitive world, not to become a cog in the vast 'social justice' machine that cares more about ideology than people.

From what she wrote, it appears Mallick really doesn't have much understanding of what goes on in Toronto's public education system. I do. My son has been in Toronto's public system for his entire scholastic education. I've been involved with the School Council of every school he attended, including being Co-Chair of the School Council for his first year of high school.

Parent involvement is a huge factor in the varying quality of education kids receive at different Toronto schools. For a child's education to be successful, parents have to act as advocates, not only for their individual child, but for the school as a whole. The available resources mean that parents have to contribute their expertise, time, and sometimes funds to improve the school's quality. It also means that schools with involved, informed parents are less likely to tolerate substandard education being delivered to their children than schools where that isn't the case.

But unfortunately, a handful of parents in a particular school can't do it alone. It requires a critical mass of involvement to apply suitable pressure on local politicians and the school board to make a difference. So quite naturally, informed parents will gravitate towards sending their kids to schools where that is in place, or those that have established, high-quality programs that will lead to success in life.

Conversely, Mallick's idea of education is a type of political indoctrination which won't benefit students but will produce adults who think like Heather Mallick. Does that sound absurd? It may, but no more absurd than Mallick's assertion:
"...abandoned public education ceases to be a pillar of democracy. It no longer protects against the election of tyrants like Trump. A well-taught person will think logically, will not believe fake news and will understand the concept of the common good. He will not vote for the Trumps. "
Get that? Good public education means you wouldn't vote for someone who Mallick doesn't approve, such as Donald Trump, and instead would vote for someone she does approve, such as a venal, corrupt candidate who doesn't relate to common people, like Hillary Clinton.

Except that's the opposite of what education is supposed to do. Education is supposed to provide students with facts and objective knowledge and teach them to present and organize such facts and knowledge. Education isn't supposed to turn out indoctrinated adults who all reach the same, Heather Mallick-sanctioned conclusions. It's supposed to produce people with different ideas but who can back those ideas with rational arguments.

Ironically, one of the sources Mallick used to support her preposterous assertions is Jason Kunin, a teacher at Vaughan Road Academy, one of the schools closing due to low enrollment. When my son was entering high school, Vaughan Road Academy was among the closest schools to where we lived, and I chose to send him to a better school that was further away, specifically so he wouldn't be subjected to people like Jason Kunin.

The type of indoctrination that Mallick wants is what Kunin has used his classroom to promote. Kunin has tried to use his position as a teacher to ram anti-Israel activism down the school system's collective throat. He is someone who wants a fellow teacher who endorses child-murdering terrorists to be able to influence children in a public school classroom. While that may flatter his self-worth as an "activist," that's not the type of education that produces well-informed students nor good citizens. It is, in fact, a type of education that Harvard University Professor Aurel Braun has described as a form of child abuse that he compares to methods used for indoctrination in the Soviet Union.

If we genuinely want to improve Toronto's schools, we don't need to take choices away from parents, but rather provide them with better choices, better resources, better teaching methods, and better teachers. One way to start would be to promote teachers based on assessing their skills rather than to do it on union mandates of seniority. Just because a teacher has been in a class for a long time doesn't mean that they are particularly good at their job.

There are lots of great teachers in the Toronto District School Board. But not all of them are as good at teaching as they are at "activism." And some don't understand or care what the difference is between the two. Once teachers understand they have to be good at what they do to stay employed, they'll be consistently better at what they do. And the bad ones will be weeded out. That would be a good outcome for students and for anyone who cares about the type of citizens our public education system produces.

The darling of the #LeapManifesto imbeciles is jailing people for twitter comments

This is the evil regime that the morons behind the Leap Manifesto admire:

...Hugo Chavez ruled Venezuela between 1999 and 2013 with a firm hand, driving some opponents into exile and jailing others. But Maduro, 53, a weaker leader facing a more popular opposition, has far surpassed him.

Local rights group Penal Forum lists 108 political prisoners currently, up from 11 when Maduro was elected president following Chavez's death from cancer in 2013. The opposition coalition puts the current number higher, at 135.

In the last two years, there have been 6,811 politically-motivated detentions, though most of those were short-term and spiked during a wave of anti-Maduro protests in 2014, according to Penal Forum which tracks cases and offers free legal assistance.

The accusations range from stashing arms and explosives, to inciting violence and hate via Twitter and political ads...

Sunday, December 11, 2016

For all his threats, Trump is seen by businesses as key ally

...The prospect of a stronger economy and richer profits is appealing enough that most businesses -- and stock investors -- are downplaying the uncertainties that followed Trump's presidential victory last month. The Dow Jones industrial average has rocketed 8 per cent to a record high since Election Day on expectations of faster economic growth.

Many manufacturers, which have been reeling for years from shrinking demand for their goods, say they view Trump as more sympathetic to their interests than President Barack Obama was.

"When he uses the phone, he does it to tell manufacturers that he supports them and wants them to create jobs in the United States," said Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers. "That is a far cry from what we hear in the current administration."...

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Ancient Space Dust Washes Up in Rooftop Gutters

..."It was an amateur scientist, a chap called Jon Larsen who's actually quite a well-known jazz musician in Norway, who got interested in this and started collecting all the debris that ends up in the gutter," Genge told Seeker. After going through the debris found in the roof guttering from buildings in Oslo, Paris and Berlin, Larsen would send photos of interesting particles he'd find to Genge and, despite his pessimism that Larsen would ever uncover this unlikely quarry, he eventually struck gold.

Now, with Genge's assistance, the pair have identified hundreds of particles that fell from space and have origins dating back to the birth of the solar system. Larsen documents his micrometeorite discoveries as part of Project Stardust.
More at Live Science 

Some Toronto City Councilors Really Are Walking Pieces Of Garbage

It's true! Money can't buy happiness...If you're Hillary Clinton. She outspent Trump 2 to 1 to lose the election

Hillary Clinton and her supporters spent a record $1.2 billion for her losing presidential campaign — twice as much as the winner, Donald Trump, according to the latest records.

The president-elect, who confounded critics during the campaign by saying there was no need to raise or spend $1 billion or more, ended up making do with $600 million.

Clinton’s expensive machine tore through $131.8 million in just the final weeks, finishing with about $839,000 on hand as of Nov. 28.

Team Trump spent $94.5 million in the home stretch — from Oct. 20 to Nov. 28 — and had $7.6 million left...

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Free Speech in a Post-Fact World

Some interesting points on TVO's The Agenda. It's worth watching this all the way through.

If I was getting sued by an embryo, I'd demand the plaintiff take the witness stand and testify under questioning

...Sofia Vergara, having been locked in a year-long battle over custody of her fertilized eggs, is herself no stranger to family drama. But the legal saga took an extraordinary turn this week as it emerged that the actress is now being sued by her frozen embryos for the right to life.

Emma and Isabella, the names given to the embryos by Vergara’s ex-partner Nick Loeb, are named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit which claims that they have a right to live, access to a trust fund and asks that they be raised by Mr Loeb.

The potentially landmark case has been filed in Louisiana because the state legally recognizes an in vitro fertilized egg as a “juridical person” until it is implanted in the womb...

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Toronto: Where idiot politicians & bureaucrats waste money then raise taxes

TORONTO - Last Thursday, when Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti asked how the city will get the word out to beleaguered seniors about all the new taxes and tolls in store for them, the city manager’s answer was proof of why U.S. voters gravitated to Donald Trump for president.

“With respect and care, there is an already enormous amount of public engagement in a relatively modest set of manoeuvres that won’t take effect for some time,” said Peter Wallace about the tolls, his voice not at all sounding respectful of one of the few councillors at City Hall with backbone these days.

Wallace also told Mammoliti that council already “made a commitment to raise revenue” by voting to expand services. All he’s asking, he said, is for council to “step up” and fulfil that commitment by “making some modest contributions.”

Now one can’t blame Wallace. After all, he came to the city last year after 30 years at Queen’s Park, most recently as cabinet secretary to the taxaholic deficit-plagued Liberal government. 
He’s had many years to practice his slick delivery and the bureaucratese that he likes to use to make spending and more taxes sound, well fun.

As I figure, he’s making around $320,000 annually (on top of his government pension one wonders?) based on the $163,000 reported as his income for six months last year.

Why should he worry about a few “modest” set of fee increases?

Heck, why should he and the city’s fiscal brains break a serious sweat by looking for real, long-term savings...

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Save Us from Social Justice

After expending public funds to deal with it, Ontario's idiotic Human Rights Commission Tribunal comes to realize it was being trolled by a funny wiseass

A&W papa burger poster

Following a bizarre correspondence with an anonymous letter-writer, Ontario’s human rights tribunal has strongly dismissed claims that the A&W fast food chain’s Burger Family poses a threat to the self-respect of the LGBT community.

“The whole heteronormative, phallocentric marketing scheme of A&W is highly degrading to non-tradition families,” reads the complaint filed to the tribunal last month.The complaint — filed last month by a man posing as a radical lesbian feminist — demanded $50,000 from the restaurant chain, alleging that its trademark Papa, Mama, Grandpa and Teen burgers were “an attack on my womyn identity.”

“The level of humiliation and degradation I felt exceeded that which I felt when I was raped.” 
Calling it “outrageous” and “vexatious,” the human rights tribunal threw out the application earlier this month over concerns regarding the veracity of the complainant’s story.

Questions over the legitimacy of the claim came after learning the pseudonym used on the application, Gloria Ironbox, was the same as a parodied feminist on the adult cartoon series Family Guy... 
h/t Greg

Activist Group With Racist Co-Founder To Receive Toronto Race Relations Award

From GenuineWitty:

William P. Hubbard was a great Torontonian. Born on the then outskirts of the city to former American slaves, Hubbard worked his way up from baker to cab driver and eventually became one of the most celebrated and influential politicians in the city. He’s credited as being “instrumental” in the creation of Toronto Hydro & Ontario Hydro.

In 1999 the City of Toronto honored him by creating the William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations. The city’s website explains that the award is presented “to a person or persons whose outstanding achievement and commitment has made a significant contribution toward a positive race relations climate in Toronto.”

The award is a great idea in concept, and it’s gone to some great achievers including the first Black Canadian elected into the legislature, Kamala-Jean Gopie “a doer, not a chronic complainer”, and Samuel Getachew who recently wrote an interesting article praising Andray Domise.

But something has gone horribly wrong. This year’s Hubbard award is going to one of the most divisive groups in the city’s history that was co-founded by a supremacist who recently called an Ethiopian refugee a “coon”...

The great Kirk Douglas turns 100 this week!!!

Kirk is one of my all-time favorite actors.

He says that Lonely Are The Brave was his favorite movie. He's wonderful in that as he was in so many of his roles.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Liberal Democrats' Nick Clegg isn't so fond of democracy when it comes to Brexit

Basically, his side lost, so he thinks Remain is entitled to have a sore losers' new referendum on every aspect of the Brexit deal

Trump may release files Obama has hidden related to Iran deal so Americans can see how bad a deal it is

The private files outlining hidden agreements in the Iran nuclear deal may be released in one of President Donald Trump’s first actions in office.

Senior officials who will be part of the Trump administration are already discussing what so-far-unseen information about the Iran agreement they will be able to make public after January, according to an individual who has participated in those conversations.

Releasing Iran nuclear deal documents would be cheered on by hawkish lawmakers who have opposed the agreement, and bolstered by cabinet appointees who have long called for transparency about it. Michael Flynn, who has been tapped for national security adviser, and Mike Pompeo, who has been picked for CIA director, have both long been bullish on providing transparency on internal information regarding Iran...

A Problem Like Keith Ellison

...Ellison has long been a vocal defender of the so-called Nation of Islam, the bow-tie gang founded by Elijah Muhammad whose relationship to orthodox Islam is approximately that of a UFO cult to the Anglican communion. The NOI and its charismatic leader, the former calypso musician Louis Farrakhan, is an explicitly racist organization, holding as a matter of doctrine that the white race is the result of a doomed mad-science experiment conducted by the biblical Jacob while he was living on the isle of Patmos. Farrakhan is a true religious entrepreneur who has attempted to graft L. Ron Hubbard’s fanciful “Dianetics” onto his own cracked version of Islam, but he has mostly relied on a very old and reliable tradition: Jew-hating. 

Farrakhan’s history of vicious anti-Semitism was already well established when Ellison was helping him organize the Million Man March. The Democratic representative says that he rejects anti-Semitism, but he has a long history of sticking up for Jew-hating weirdos, and not only Farrakhan. When Kwame Ture — you may remember him as Stokely Carmichael — claimed that Jews had collaborated with the Nazis in the Holocaust as a pretext for establishing the state of Israel, Ellison was there to defend him from criticism. When the head of a Minneapolis political group declared that the allegations of anti-Semitism against Farrakhan were made up and insisted that the real problem is racist Jews, Ellison said: “She is correct.” He is a defender of the terrorist Sara Jane Olson and the murderer Assata Shakur and the Islamic terrorist Sami al-Arian. He is a longtime admirer of the murderous dictator Fidel Castro. 

Ellison has said that he has since “rejected” the Nation of Islam and its anti-Semitism, and that his involvement with Farrakhan was simply an exercise in community organizing, i.e. the usual liberals-in-a-hurry bull. Ellison is invoking the unwritten Robert Byrd Rule: Democrats get a pass on associating with crackpot racist cults if they vote the right way on the minimum wage...

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Hillary Clinton is blaming everyone for her election loss...except Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has lots of excuses for losing. There’s the electoral college, James Comey, the media’s alleged over-exuberance in digging into Clinton’s email server, etc. But Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said Thursday that one particular group is especially to blame: millennials...

In Iran, history began with the warlord founder of Islam, Mohammed, and woe unto anyone who says otherwise

Iran's Islamic Republic has arrested the organizers of a march last week near the tomb of the ancient Persian king Cyrus the Great that attracted thousands of people celebrating the country's pre-Islamic glory.

Crowds of mostly young Iranians attended the march near the ancient city of Pasargadae in central province of Fars on Friday to celebrate the day unofficially marked in the Iranian calendar as Cyrus Day.

Videos released on social media show them chanting "Iran is our country, Cyrus is our father." Reuters could not independently verify the videos' authenticity.

"The main leaders and organizers of this gathering who chanted unconventional slogans against the (Islamic Republic's) values have been arrested," said prosecutor Ali Salehi in the provincial capital Shiraz on Monday, according to Fars news agency.

A senior Shi'ite cleric, Ayatollah Nouri Hamedani, denounced the gathering and its participants on Sunday.

"These people are against the Revolution. I wonder how they can gather around Cyrus's tomb and chant the same slogans (about Cyrus) that we chant about our supreme leader," Fars quoted him as saying. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has both the highest religious and political power in Iran...

Saturday, December 3, 2016

‘We’re teaching university students lies’ – An interview with Dr Jordan Peterson

...Part of the reason I got embroiled in this [gender identity] controversy was because of what I know about how things went wrong in the Soviet Union. Many of the doctrines that underlie the legislation that I’ve been objecting to share structural similarities with the Marxist ideas that drove Soviet Communism. The thing I object to the most was the insistence that people use these made up words like ‘xe’ and ‘xer’ that are the construction of authoritarians. There isn’t a hope in hell that I’m going to use their language, because I know where that leads.

There have been lots of cases where free speech has come under attack, why did you choose this particular issue?

This is very compelled speech. The Supreme Court in the United States has held that compelled speech is unacceptable for two reasons. One is to protect the rights of the speaker, the other is to protect the rights of the listener. The listener has the right to be informed and instructed without being unduly influenced by hidden sources. If your speech is compelled, it isn’t YOU who is talking, it’s some other entity that’s compelling your speech. So I actually think that Bill C-16 is unconstitutional. I’m using American case law, but the principles apply. It just hasn’t been pushed to our Supreme Court yet.

For me this became an issue because there is not a chance I’ll use radical, authoritarian language. I’ve studied this psychologically, and I know what it does.

I was also quite profoundly influenced by [Alexsandr] Solzhenitsyn’s book The Gulag Archipelago. People say that real Marxism has never been tried – not in the Soviet Union, in China, in Cambodia, in Korea, that wasn’t real Marxism. I find that argument specious, appalling, ignorant, and maybe also malevolent all at the same time. Specious because Solzhenitsyn demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that the horrors [of the Soviet system] were a logical consequence of the doctrines embedded within Marxist thinking. I think Dostoyevsky saw what was coming and Nietzsche wrote about it extensively in the 1880s, laying out the propositions that are encapsulated in Marxist doctrine, and warning that millions of people would die in the 20th century because of it.

You’ve painted a pretty bleak picture for the future.

There are bleak things going on...