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Toronto: Vote for Tory, kowtow to the wealthy

A vote for John Tory is a vote to continue the long tradition of citizen subservience to the Canadian moneyed classes. Is there anyone in Toronto more a scion of the wealthy than Mr. Tory?

Thailand's "Protests": Er...democracy, anyone?

Thailand has been shaken by protests for months now. Observers such as myself can see that soon the military will give in to the demands of the "protesters," and take power from the elected government.

Last November, feigning disgust at the "corruption" of the majority of Thailand's elected representatives, many members of the national legislature, most members of what's laughably called the "Democrat Party," abandoned their elected positions and took to the streets.

Florida courtoom makes mockery of a circus

Of all the outrages that occurred during the kangaroo court that was the George Zimmerman trial, here's the one that most sticks in my craw. The judge allowed a "close friend" of Zimmerman's to claim in testimony that his experience as a soldier during the invasion of Vietnam (nb. at least 40 years ago) left him with the ability to recognize the voices of people who are in great distress.

Another Willie Jerome Manning tragedy: DNA testing won't help

Recently my Facebook news feed has been alive with concern about the impending execution of one Willie Jerome Manning in the State of Mississippi.

And these are important concerns. The US justice system has established a shameful record of wrongful convictions and executions. Groups like the "Innocence Project," very active on the Manning case, have done the US justice system a great service, preventing that system from putting to death dozens of wrongly convicted people.

Guns, amendments, insurrections

Of all the arguments for the peculiarly American "right" to arm themselves to the teeth, one is the most specious. That is the fervently held belief that American citizens have the "right," due to the second amendment of the US Constitution, to gun ownership to protect themselves against rapacious governments.

Bombs, drones, people, disasters

Currently the United States military/industrial/financial/political complex is engaged in a campaign of "drone strikes" on suspected Islamic militants in Waziristan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan.

RIP, "blowback"

We're in the process of losing a really good word: "blowback."

How are we losing it? A lot of writers think it's a pretty cool word, and writers like to use cool words. Unfortunately, they don't know what it means. They think it means "reaction."

It doesn't. It's a word invented by CIA operatives to describe the negative, often surprising, consequences that rebound on an actor because of things that actor does in pursuit of their own objectives. It's a very special type of reaction. Here're some examples:

Haroon Siddiqui, chicken hawk?

I was shocked and horrified today when I opened my Toronto Star and turned to what I like to read first thing Sunday morning—Haroon Siddiqui's column.

Usually I count on Siddiqui to comment on some situation or controversy and bring some wisdom to bear on it: information you might not have been exposed to, other ways of thinking about it, other people's views and how they fit, etc.

Police "PR," Australia style

Australia is agog.

"Prime Minister attacked by wild mob." "Gillard saved from Aboriginal riot by police." Lurid media stories are accompanied by photos of Prime Minister Julia Gillard being hauled through a crowd of police, losing her shoe, stumbling and falling at one point, being shoved into a car, and hauled to "safety."

No-fly zone in Libya—did it prevent a massacre?

(Following is the text of an e-mail I sent to Avaaz.org today, commenting on their continuing to claim credit for having "prevented" a massacre of civilians in Benghazi in March. I also include the e-mail trail below.)

Dominick et al, I want to thank you for the e-mail below. While I disagreed with it intensely, I did appreciate it that Avaaz put an effort into explaining its positions, and that it was a thoughtful reply, and not a bunch of buzzwords/key messages.

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Brian Robinson
+85516445835 (in Cambodia)
1,000 Apologies, I had to remove my actual e-mail address from this page. I got really tired of sock puppets offering me free sexual favours. (And NO! I don't know how many of them were Russian, and it wouldn't change my vote!) So here's one of those crappy contact forms that I really hate. Did I mention I'm sorry?
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