Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, July 09, 2010

More Fascinating Stories

Just a few matters you may find of interest:


Happy days are here again. Just like with traffic numbers showing huge truck traffic increases that the DRIC-ites like to use, can we now say that the Big Three crisis is over using the same logic? Hardly:
  • "Chrysler Canada said its June sales soared 101 per cent"

Its numbers went from 9,211 in June 2009 to 18,502 this year.

Wow spectacular until you remember that in 2009, industry sales were much lower and two of the Big Three were in bankruptcy. Remember as well that Chrysler sales in 2007 and 2008 were 22,029 and 22,048.


  • "Canadian Intelligence Director Repeats Claims of Foreign Influence

    The director of Canada’s intelligence service told a committee in Parliament on Monday that he thinks two provincial cabinet ministers, as well as some municipal politicians and public servants, are under the influence of foreign governments...

    “This is not quite as extraordinary as everyone is making it out to be,” he told the committee, noting that past annual reports by the intelligence service have included general accusations about foreign nations’ influence in Canada...

    “We are dealing here with a spectrum of behavior by foreign entities that often start out innocently, but later veer toward something that actually harms Canadian interests,” he said. ”This is a very subtle process.”


Those Russian foreign agents are small-time players, not in the Big Leagues when it comes to influencing.

Great story in the Wall Street Journal that you must read about how foreign governments try to compromise people: "A Cold-War Spy Story."

  • "Ever since news broke that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had rounded up alleged Russian spies in New York City, the lingering question has been: What were they after with all their B-movie spycraft?

    Paul Browne thinks he has a pretty good idea. Long before he had ascended to his position as a deputy New York City police commissioner, Mr. Browne had firsthand experience being recruited by a Russian agent—a Soviet spy betting a relationship with a small-town newspaper reporter would one day bear fruit.

    The year was 1973, and Mr. Browne, then 24 years old, had taken a leave from his job as a political reporter at the Watertown Daily Times to get a master's in journalism at Columbia University. As part of a class taught at the United Nations, he met and became friendly with Alex Yakovlev, a 32-year-old who broadcast U.N. news to Eastern Europe.

    Mr. Yakovlev started wooing Mr. Browne over drinks and dinner. At one point, he offered Mr. Browne $30 to write a freelance article "on anything you wish..."

    But 35 years later, it seems clearer. Since Columbia and Watertown, Mr. Browne has been chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan and for the Office of Enforcement of the Treasury Department, where he had top-secret clearance and sat in on daily federal law-enforcement briefings. Today, he is one of Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly's top policy strategists.

    "At the time it made no sense to me," Mr. Browne said about Mr. Yakovlev's attempted recruitment. "But in retrospect, the Russians were in it for the long haul. Had I been turned, it would have paid dividends for them years later."

$30...Peanuts! Imagine if they had $550M to offer! Why the Russians could take over major assets of a US State for that and become an Instrumentality of the State Government too I bet.


Think the declaration by Edgar (aka Eddie) was correct or an over reeaction? You decide:

  • "Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

    “emergency” means a situation or an impending situation that constitutes a danger of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property and that is caused by the forces of nature, a disease or other health risk, an accident or an act whether intentional or otherwise.

    Declaration of emergency

    4. (1) The head of council of a municipality may declare that an emergency exists in the municipality or in any part thereof and may take such action and make such orders as he or she considers necessary and are not contrary to law to implement the emergency plan of the municipality and to protect property and the health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants of the emergency area.


    declared emergency

    A signed declaration made in writing by the Head of Council or the Premier of Ontario in accordance with the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This declaration is usually based on a situation or an impending situation that threatens public safety, public health, the environment, critical infrastructure, property, and/or economic stability and exceeds the scope of routine community emergency response.


    A situation or an impending situation that constitutes a danger of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property and that is caused by the forces of nature, a disease or other health risk, an accident or an act, whether intentional or otherwise. Term defined in the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.


    The Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) has recently received several requests for information on how to access the resources of the chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN) response teams and heavy urban search and rescue (HUSAR) teams operating under memorandums of understanding (MOU) with the Government of Ontario and available to respond to significant emergencies across the province.

    In this context, significant emergency is defined as:

    a large-scale or complex natural or human caused heavy urban search and rescue emergency,

    where the need for resources to respond effectively to the situation exceeds local capabilities, and the municipality has declared an emergency or is in the process of doing so.

Wouldn't you like to see this and know what was in it

  • "Municipal emergency plan

    3. (1) Every municipality shall formulate an emergency plan governing the provision of necessary services during an emergency and the procedures under and the manner in which employees of the municipality and other persons will respond to the emergency and the council of the municipality shall by by-law adopt the emergency plan."

Imagine, how comforting that this would be if anyone was trapped in the rubble:

  • "Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis declared a state of emergency to allow the city to access provincial emergency response teams that will delve into the wreckage to help search for any trapped victims...

    Provincial Emergency Response Teams from Toronto and Bolton, Ont., were dispatched to Windsor with search dogs."

There is a heavy urban search and rescue (HUSAR) team in Toronto that responds anywhere in Ontario but one wonders why they would need to travel here:

  • "Crews sent in a robot and later dogs to determine if anyone was stuck in the rubble or in one of the vehicles smashed under the concrete ceiling. Engineers worked to determine how many nearby buildings might have been affected by the collapse.

    Eventually, it was determined no one was trapped in the rubble.

    “A Windsor police department robot was able to give us some visual of the situation, and the dogs determined that there was no one trapped,” said Francis."


Interesting decision out of the Mayor Hazel McCallion inquiry:

  • "McCallion’s lawyers lose fight to limit inquiry

    The judge overseeing the Mississauga judicial inquiry has rejected attempts by Mayor Hazel McCallion’s lawyers to narrow the council-ordered probe of a controversial land deal involving her son.

    “Members of city council are entrusted by those who elect them to act in the public interest,” said Justice Cunningham in a strongly worded ruling today.

    The decision is the first setback for the veteran mayor at the inquiry.

    Optics are important. In other words, members of a municipal council must conduct themselves in such a way as to avoid any reasonable apprehension that their personal interest could in any way influence their elected responsibility.”

    “Suffice it to say that members of council (and staff) are not to use their office to promote private interests, whether their own or those of relatives or friends,” said Cunningham. “They must be unbiased in the exercise of their duties. That is not only the common law, but the common sense standard by which the conduct of municipal representatives ought to be judged.”

    “For these reasons: I don’t need to more precisely define conflict of interest,” he said.

    McCallion’s lawyers had appeared before Cunningham this week saying she should be judged and examined in the inquiry by a very narrow definition of conflict of interest as set out in the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.

    They argued the act only requires politicians to declare a financial interest in a matter (as it relates to themselves, a parent, spouse or child) at council meetings and committee votes."