Followers

April 30, 2010

Should the USA be worried about militias?

POLITICS - Should the United States be worried about the growth of anti-government militia groups? Yes and no, but for different reasons.

Since 2008 there has been an astonishing growth of anti-government militia groups with a hatred of the White House, the New York Stock Exchange and America's banking industry. The recent capture of the Hutaree militia / terrorist group for example was planning to attack police officers in the hopes of setting off a civil war between militia groups and the U.S. government.

Yes, the USA should worry about terrorist attacks on government and financial institutions. Such attacks would damage the USA's economy and defensive capabilities, leaving long term repercussions on civil liberties and the economic status quo.

No, the USA should not worry about possible civil war with militias. People are overestimating the number of right-wing fanatics out there actually willing to declare war on their own government. Wackos are rare and their schemes are ludicrous to say the least. The vast majority of militia groups support the government, not the other way around, so the assumption that all militias are inherently anti-government is wishful thinking on the part of would-be terrorists.

But that doesn't mean the government should not take these groups seriously for the potential to damage and cause chaos.

Calming down these people will take time however. We can't just assume they're all Astroturf conspiracy theorists. Some of their anger is real, especially when it comes to bank bailouts and the current economic crisis. It doesn't matter whether they blame Bush or Obama, they blame the government in general and that dissatisfaction needs to be addressed so that such groups can be diffused with common sense instead of calling out the SWAT team.

See Also
Christian militia sought civil war with US government
Anti-government sentiments a cause for concern
William Swor, Hutaree lawyer must be on crack

Military to help oil rig spill cleanup

ENVIRONMENT - Yesterday United States President Barack Obama said his administration will use “every single available resource at our disposal” to respond to the massive oil spill expected to reach the Gulf coastline today.

The government's response will include the Defence Department and Obama has dispatched three Cabinet officials to the region and has called the governors of the five Gulf Coast states to coordinate the cleanup efforts.

The oil company BP PLC will ultimately pay the cost of the cleanup. BP operated the offshore rig that exploded and sank last week.

The oil drilling underwater is leaking massive amounts of oil into the gulf coast. Its unknown when the drilling will be capped, but the environmental damages are already estimated to be catastrophic.

Higher interest rates could hurt Canada's economy

CANADA - The United States and Canada could see their economies hurt if interest rates go again in the near future. Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney is warning G20 countries to keep that in mind when trying to solve Greece's debt woes which is now threatening the European Union with a 2nd recession.

As Greece's national debt grows there is increased speculation that borrowing should be made more expensive by raising interest rates. But if various countries follow suit with this philosophy it will hurt businesses that are struggling in Canada and the United States, still in a state of recovery from the last recession.

Mark Carney says the problem is bigger than Greece, and bigger than the requirement that industrialized countries start ramping down their burgeoning debts, which in some cases are equal to the size of their entire economies.

Carney also says the industrialized nations must make clear to China and other emerging economies that the system cannot function unless they adjust their currencies and play a bigger role in supporting the global economy.

The United States, Canada and others have long complained that Asian nations have kept their currencies deliberately low to boost exports at the expense of other industrial economies, mostly in North America and Europe.

Some have pointed out that China's continued refusal to raise the value of the yuan is essentially "a trade war" designed to undercut the economic abilities of other countries.

It has been argued that a single currency system for the entire globe might eliminate these economic standoffs, but the process of creating a single currency system is plagued with problems of its own.

April 29, 2010

Snoopy and Charlie Brown sold for $175 million

ENTERTAINMENT - Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the “Peanuts” gang has been sold for $175 million to Joe Boxer owner Iconix Brand Group Inc. In the deal Charles Schulz's family will receive 20% of revenue.

Charlie Brown has been around since 1950. Creator Charles Schulz retired in 1999 and died in February 2000.







China's Age of Cars

CARS - The future of cars is in China and India... Why? Because as their economies grow, China and India's population guarantees an age of freeways, expressways, super highways the likes of which will make the USA's network of roads to be mere practice for the engineers in charge of designing them.

And automakers selling cars in China are well aware of this fact. The auto shows alone are so big its mindboggling. Think 40 football fields of automotive display cases and 700,000 visitors in a single day. The Detroit Auto Show is small in comparison.

And unlike buyers in North America who frequently get car loans Chinese buyers prefer to pay with cash. They pay in full and drive the car away the same day.

Furthermore the thirst to have a "nice car" is booming in China so much that many car buyers return 6 months to a year later to buy another car, a dramatically more expensive one because they've realized its a status symbol.

And again they pay cash. Getting a car loan is a rarity in China.

This is golden age of the automobile in China. Buyers are lining up to buy cars, packing into buildings like sardines and they've realized that cars are a status symbol, a stepping stone to a life of luxury.

According to General Motors’ China division head Kevin Wale, China's thirst for cars is nothing short of “seismic.”

China is officially now the world’s largest car market: sales of 13.6 million cars in 2009 trumped the 10 million and change sold in the United States during the same time period – a first.

J.D. Power and Associates predict sales in China in 2010 will top 14.5 million. Others are suggesting car sales might reach 18 million. China’s 2009 car sales was up 53%. Depending on who you talk to China should expect car sales to rise anywhere from 10 to 40%.

70% of Chinese customers are first-time buyers, a trend that’s expected to continue. 90% of new car buyers in China pay with cash. Thats good news for automotive makers who badly need the cash to pay off their bailout debts in the USA and Canada.

April 27, 2010

Stephen Harper drops the bomb on abortions

CANADA - Stephen Harper's Conservative government will no longer fund clinics which offer safe abortions overseas in third world countries. This breaks a long standing agreement that Canada has held for decades that supports safe legal abortions.

Because of the lack of funding it means women overseas in third world countries going to clinics may not be able to obtain a safe legal abortion... and will have to opt for unsafe illegal abortions instead.

This is the problem anti-abortionists don't seem to realize. Poor women who are desperate will use whatever abortion method is available to them. Cutting the funding doesn't stop abortions, it just forces women to use unsafe abortions.

Deaths from unsafe abortions account for 13% of maternal deaths in poor countries, according to the World Health Organization.

The following is abortion statistics from the USA:
Black women are three times more likely to have an abortion and Hispanic women are twice as likely to have an abortion.

33% of all women who have abortions are between the age of 20 and 24.

66% of women who have abortions are not married.

60% of women who have abortions already have 1 or more children.

73% of women who have abortions are living below the poverty level (earning $9,570 or less per year).

75% of women who have abortion cite lack of money to raise a child as one of their reasons for having an abortion.

27% of women who have abortions cite "unexpected sex or rape" as the reason for their pregnancy.
If anti-abortionists were serious about cutting the abortion rate they'd focus more on getting rid of poverty.

See Also
Open Letter to Anti-Abortionists
A Woman's Choice - The Right to Privacy and the Right to Choose

April 26, 2010

JTF2 returns home to Canada

CANADA - One of Canada's elite commando units, the JTF2 commandos, have returned home to Canada after serving in Afghanistan for almost 9 years.

In their first raid back in late 2001 the team captured a computer hard drive which later helped with gathering intel about Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders. Since then the JTF2 (Joint Task Force 2) have been involved in the capture of over a hundred top level Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders.

The JTF2 has been pretty mum on their operations in Afghanistan but now that they're returning home it doesn't seem to matter any more. Their mission is over.

When they first setup a base of operations in Kandahar they only had 2 weeks of food/supplies and there was a logistical snafu when nearby countries refused to let Canada's forces fly over their territory to drop in more food and supplies. The JTF2 had to rely on the Americans for food, bullets and even transportation.

There were other problems too. The JTF2 was part of Task Force K-Bar which included six U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets, etc.) and special elite units from other countries involved. During the assault in which they gained the computer hard drive the American helicopter carrying them had a rough landing and later on their way back to the base it nearly ran out of fuel.

Since that rough beginning the team has been credited with destroying Taliban and Al Qaeda weapons and training grounds, searching caves, compounds and hideouts, performing search-and-rescue operations and calling in bomb strikes on the enemy from their mountain vantage points.

There were other Canadian forces in Afghanistan too, regular army units which were more in charge of local security in Kandahar and road side bomb detection teams. The JTF2 however got all the high-stakes missions... and won praise from their American allies who were at first confused as to "Who the f*** is the JTF2?"

The JTF2 were busy right up until the end. Their final mission was an assault on an enemy compound located three-and-a-half hours by helicopter from their home at Kandahar Airfield. 24 JTF2 members snuck up under the cover of darkness, blasted a hole in the side of the compound using explosives and then forced a surrender of 53 resistance fighters inside.

They arrived back at Kandahar at 7 AM in the morning. An hour later they boarded a plane bound for Canada and home, their mission completed.

Should Fitness Gyms be Free?

HEALTH - Last year the City Council of Birmingham in England created a program to promote healthy living and general fitness called "Gym for Free", a program which has since won awards and international recognition.

At first it was just a pilot project for the neighbourhood of Ladywood but when attendance at the public gym went from 90 to more than 6,500 within 7 months the project was extended to all of the city's 1.1 million citizens.

Health benefits aside the city (Ladywood is one of Britain's poorest areas) has also seen some economic benefits. Higher gym attendance gets people talking, networking, finding jobs they didn't know about and people who are more active have more money for other things because they spend less on junk food... and the government ends up saving money over the long term because of reduced hospital costs.

So fitness and recreational fees hamper the public's health... interesting. So if local governments in Canada and the USA made access to gyms free (or at least subsidized private gyms) then Canadians and Americans would have better health and our governments would save money on medical costs. The value of prevention.

Its not just personal health either. There is also benefits for pregnant mothers. Less premature or still births. Less babies with low birth weight. More healthy children, less medical costs for the 2nd generation.

So will we make a similar program in North America? I think its possible progressive cities or provinces in Canada might do it... but I can't see the USA doing it. They're too paranoid about "socialized" healthcare in the United States.

Ignatieff supports Farmers

CANADA - Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff is promoting a plan which would help farmers and help Canadians eat healthier, home-grown food. The program includes:
  • $80 million for a “buy-local” fund to promote farmers’ markets and home-grown foods.

  • $40 million to help 250,000 low-income children get better access to healthy food.

  • New health-labelling criteria for food and tougher standards on trans-fats.

  • $50 million to ensure foreign imports meet local standards and to improve food inspections.
  • Canadian farms generate $42 billion annually and provide one out of every eight jobs. Helping farmers therefore helps everyone who works in the food industry, which in turns helps Canadians since everyone needs to eat.

    "We need more home-grown food on Canadian tables because our health and our economy depend on it," says Ignatieff. "Our farmers produce the healthiest, safest, highest-quality foods in the world and we’ll help them get more of their products on our tables with Canada’s first comprehensive National Food Policy."

    This National Food Policy is the second part of the Liberal’s Rural Canada Matters plan, which also aims to attract doctors and nurses to rural communities.

    Are Private Schools the Future?

    TECHNOLOGY - As the gap between the rich and poor grows there is increasing number of parents who opt for private schools for their children's educational needs.

    There are benefits to private schooling, namely:
    #1. Networking with other well-to-do people.
    #2. Better teachers.
    #3. Better equipment / computers / etc.
    #4. More money for extra curricular activities.
    #5. More extra curricular activities. ie. Ski trips, etc.
    However there are other issues to worry about. Snobbishness and naivete, having been in a pampered and sheltered atmosphere for learning.

    There's also religious-oriented private schools, which leave the students with a biased opinion on religion... a tendency to be an intolerant religious bigot.

    However there is new "specialty schools" which are becoming increasingly popular. Artsy schools, drama schools, ballet school, tech schools, etc. It rather assumes that the children already know what they want to be at a young age... unless of course their parents have decided this for them.

    Helicopter Parents Vs Negligent Parents

    There is also two more reasons why parents would be tempted towards private schooling. Parents who hover and often control their children (often called Helicopter Parents) want their kids to be successful, pampered and live vicariously through their kids. These kids however are often so spoiled they don't know how to take care of themselves without their parents helping them constantly.

    For the complete reverse however... parents who care little about their kids and don't want the stress, there is the temptation to send their kids to private boarding school because it eliminates the need for them to spend time with their children. The end result is children who feel like they've been rejected and weren't good enough to make their parents happy. If its an all girl or an all boys school there is also the added problem of being socially inept around the opposite sex.

    Fashion

    Seriously, who want to wear a school uniform? Its one step away from military school. I wouldn't be surprised if most of them graduate with a poor ability to dress themselves properly or match colours.

    Tiered Education

    What seems to be happening in wealthy countries is a system whereby students are being segregated into different tiers of special schools.
    1. Public Schools, general purpose.
    2. Publicly funded Religious Schools (ie. The Ontario Catholic School Board).
    3. Publicly funded Specialty Schools (ie. Rosedale Heights School of the Arts).
    4. Publicly funded Schools for the Gifted (students with high IQs).
    5. Privately owned Religious Schools.
    6. Privately owned Specialty Schools.
    7. Private / Boarding Schools for Girls / Boys / Unisex.
    8. Private Schools for the well-off.
    9. Private Schools for the super-rich.
    10. Uniquely prestigious Private Schools (ie. The National Ballet School of Canada).
    So assuming our society continues to grow in wealth, with a growing middle class / higher standards of living we could see a lot more parents opting for special schools in an effort to pamper their kids.

    The problem with this system however is how it has a tendency to decimate the public school system, resulting in cutbacks in funding and a lowering of standards. Governments in North America seem to be chopping education, meanwhile in Europe and Asia the competition is so fierce that parents are sending their kids to special aftershool institutions and hiring private tutors.

    See Also
    Five Reasons why Private Schools Produce Tomorrow's Tech Leaders
    Disaster Capitalism in Brazil's Education System
    Privatizing Education in New Orleans
    Privatizing Education in China
    The Impact of Disaster Capitalism on England's Education System
    The Impact of Disaster Capitalism on Hong Kong's Education System
    Privatization in Sweden's Education System
    The Commodification of Ontario Students
    Disaster Capitalism in the United States
    The Erosion of Public Schools in Ontario
    Funding Ontario's Schools

    April 25, 2010

    World Malaria Day

    HEALTH - Today (April 25th) is World Malaria Day, a day to raise awareness about the spread of malaria in 3rd world countries. One person dies from malaria every 30 seconds.

    A mosquitoe net however cuts the risk in half. People can still be bitten during the day while not sleeping, but are less likely to because mosquitoes usually come out at night.

    For more information see SpreadTheNet.org.

    April 23, 2010

    Michael Jackson's art collection

    ART HISTORY - Years ago when Michael Jackson sold off one of his houses he accidentally misplaced his art collection.

    An opportunistic man managed to snatch up Michael Jackson's collection and started selling it over the internet and Michael had to sue him to get his collection back, which he eventually did succeed in doing.

    But by the time Michael got his collection back the secret contents of it had become well-documented by the court case.

    The thing about Michael Jackson's collection was its unusual theme of naked boys. The sample shown here is just one of hundreds of pieces from his collection depicting children, often with little or no clothes on.

    Now that Michael Jackson is dead his collection is being slowly sold off, but I have to question... who would buy this?

    Amazingly there are devout Michael Jackson fans out there who still refuse to believe that Michael Jackson was bisexual and a pedophile. They somehow turn a blind eye to all the lawsuits Michael Jackson settled by paying out vast numbers of dollars because all the lawyers involved knew he was guilty. He tried to keep it as quiet as he could.

    You could also analyze the lyrics of his songs like "Keep it in the Closet" or you could survey his art collection in books like "Michael Jackson Opus: The Ultimate Celebration of an Icon", but the end result is still dubious at best. We have to assume that the really explicit art pieces from his collection will never make it into print. The kind of artwork that would probably make Robert Mapplethorpe blush.

    Fans will no doubt take it as a matter of faith and try to ignore such things.

    The piece above by artist David Nordahl was commissioned by Michael Jackson in 1999.

    Green Ribbon for the Gardiner?

    CANADA - A year ago architect Les Klein made a proposal that Toronto turn the aged and ugly Gardiner Expressway into an urban garden by adding a roof to it, gardens, walkways and cycling paths.

    People oohed and ahhed at the novelty of doing something similar New York's High Line Park (which transformed an old elevated railline into an urban garden), resulting in architect Klein doing 18 interviews in a quick 24 hour period before the novelty wore off.

    Except the novelty never quite wore off. Last fall Toronto Council voted to include the "Green Ribbon" proposals to either scrap the expressway, improve it or keep the status quo (ugliness, falling apart and danger to the public if something ever falls and hurts someone).

    Originally finished in 1965 the Gardiner has been eye sore near Toronto's waterfront for the last 45 years and people have been trying to fathom what to do with the damn thing ever since.

    Right now there is an environmental assessment going on and the Green Ribbon proposal is gaining steam... here's why:

    #1. People who live downtown and own cars want to keep the Gardiner. Its convenient for wanting to get out of the city.

    #2. Other proposals to scrap the Gardiner or bury it under ground are all expensive or wasteful. The cost of fixing the Gardiner/implementing the Green Ribbon proposal is $700 million, which is less than half the price of tearing down the Gardiner and replacing it with a road at ground level.

    #3. People don't want the Gardiner replaced with another eye sore. Transforming it into green space solves the problem.

    So its cheaper, its greener and it solves the eye sore problem. Sounds good to me. Check out the Facebook page for Toronto's Green Ribbon.

    Architect Klein believes its better to reuse a building than destroy it. From a "green perspective," Klein says, "the last thing you want to do is throw stuff away if you’re trying to improve something."

    Eventually there will be a vote by Toronto City Council on what to do about the Gardiner, but public support for an idea is always the first step.

    See Also:
    Follow the Lilith eZine on Facebook

    Archie Comics' 1st Gay Character

    ENTERTAINMENT - The beloved preteen/teen comic book series Archie is getting a new character in September 2010... one which is sure to mess with its traditional love triangles of Archie-Veronica-Betty-Reggie and others.

    The fictional town of Riverdale has been around since 1941 and while it was always fashion forward, it was also frequently behind the times when it came to sensitive issues.

    For years there has been rampant speculation that Jughead is gay (because he shows no interest in women and his first and only love is food). Now that can finally be put to rest by having a character (named Kevin) who is honestly homosexual... but unfortunately can't convince Veronica of it.

    “It’s nothing against her. I’m gay,” Kevin tells Jughead over a burger at Pop’s Chocklit Shoppe.

    Archie comics has previously tackled issues like racism, drug addiction, alcohol abuse... but these were kosher topics supported by the general public. Homosexuality in the USA is still very much a hot button topic for many conservative religious folks.

    Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater admits they might lose some fans from the far right of the political spectrum but also says: "We want to make Archie Comics [to] move forward and make it fun and inclusive."

    Which then begs the question... when will they introduce lesbianism, more religious backgrounds and more ethnic diversity? There is Chuck Clayton (stereotypical African-American athlete) and his girlfriend Nancy (African-American cheerleader, reporter, artist)... which have been around since 1974 and 1976 respectively.

    Evidently the folks at Archie Comics are very worried about upsetting their fan base and thus add new characters slowly and cautiously. No guts no glory.

    Of course there's also been unintentional incidents where the characters look to be doing something unusual... some more dubious than others.









    Do you have enough Ice Water in your diet?

    HEALTH - Sounds funny right? What would be the point of drinking ice water in a diet?

    Let me explain and try to keep up.

    A Calorie (large C) is a measurement of the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of a litre of water (1 kg's worth) by 1 degree Celsius.

    The normal human body has a core temperature of 37 degrees Celsius. This temperature is clocked by heart pressure and blood circulation, giving off excess heat through the skin. 37 degrees sounds hot doesn't it? Our skin has a much lower temperature in comparison.

    So what happens when you drink 1 litre of ice water which has a temperature of approx. 1 degree Celsius? The answer is the human body compensates its core temperature by expending energy to warm up the water in your belly (and you later urinate and get rid of it). The amount of energy used is approx. 36 Calories.

    Now lets contrast... a pop can of Pepsi has 150 Calories in it and takes up 355 mL. That is approx. 422.5 Calories per litre of Pepsi. By drinking a litre of ice water instead of Pepsi you've just rid yourself of 458.5 Calories you didn't need.

    Keeping in mind a lb of fat contains 3,500 Calories. You've just saved yourself 1/8th of a lb. You would have to jog for approx. 50 minutes to lose that many Calories.

    Thus instead of whatever you're normally drinking (soda pop, coffee, energy drinks, beer, anything containing sugar) you could substitute an ice cold glass of water... and since people are recommended they drink at least 2 litres of water per day the Calorie savings really add up over the period of a month if you normally are addicted to a sugar heavy drink.

    The average human is only supposed to consume approx. 2,000 Calories per day so cutting out anywhere between 72 to 900 Calories per day is a big deal over the long term.

    Some people will point to the health benefits of drinking tea (and there are benefits), but that tea is best served ice cold. Mmm... calorie-free ice tea.

    You can apply this principle for burning Calories to other things. Shed layers, freeze your butt off a bit and your body burns extra Calories. I'm not saying you should turn on the AC and walk around naked... but you get the idea.

    April 20, 2010

    Anti-government sentiments a cause for concern

    POLITICS - There is a small but growing number of Americans who are unhappy with the direction the United States is going. First the recession, then the bank bailouts by the Bush Administration, then a black president named Barack Obama, then free health care which they consider to be a socialist idea... coupled with America's changing demographics and it has conservative Christian families extremely worried about their future.

    Basically its people like the Tea Party movement, the Branch Davidians in Waco Texas, the Oklahoma City bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the Hutaree Christian militia, the Klu Klux Klan and anybody else which has a vendetta against America's democracy movment and increasing ethnic diversity.

    The kind of people who think Barack Obama is like Stalin, Hitler or is the devil incarnate. The kind of people who think Satan or the anti-Christ is alive and we're all going to hell in 2012. You know, complete religious WACKOS who have lost touch with reality and are living in their own delusional fantasy world and take the Book of Revelations in the bible way too seriously.

    9 years ago I recall a discussion with an university colleague from the USA and she mentioned something about how there was a very real threat of a second American Civil War. It was a mindboggling concept at the time and I thought she was exaggerating. To me the idea of Americans fighting amongst themselves was ludicrous because it drew a mental picture of people fighting in the streets. Complete anarchy seemed too far fetched and it still does.

    Except that isn't really a practical method. What we should be worried about instead is DOMESTIC TERRORISM. Small groups acting alone but sharing their thoughts and ideas online via the internet in an effort to overthrow the U.S. government and establish some kind of new order where Christians (and to some extent white people) are the sole majority and all other religions or non-belief are banned.

    The thing is however is I don't think the average Christian in the United States has any interest in overthrowing the U.S. government and creating a fascist regime in its place. These home-grown Christian terrorist groups are over-estimating their support and haven't clued in to what kind of minority they are.

    Let me explain...

    1. The percentage of Americans who are in a militia is relatively small compared to the larger number of Americans as a whole. Most of these militias are more casual and there more for fun, "weekend warriors", more than anything else. The danger is the religiously-motivated militias like the Hutaree who form conspiratory groups focused on acts of domestic terrorism. (The Hutaree wanted to wage war against police officers and form their own country located in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. The Hutaree however grossly over estimate their ability to gain followers.)

    2. The Klu Klux Klan is a leftover from the first American Civil War and reached its peak during the 1920s with 6 million members, a number which has become dramatically reduced. There is no shortage of racism in America however so its difficult to estimate their popularity. One thing is for certain: The KKK is incompetent. The KKK have been around for 145 years and have been nothing more than a thorn in the side of American politics and have focused their attentions more on denying African-Americans civil liberties, a task they ultimately failed in.

    3. 76% of Americans identify themselves as Christians. 16% aren't religious at all and 8% are other religions. However this doesn't mean that 76% of Americans are die-hard Christian extremists. Like any religion the percenatage that fall into that category of extremism is likely less than 1%.

    4. There are varied beliefs between the different anti-governmental groups. Some people just hate taxes. Some are worried about free "socialized" health care. Some are upset about bank bailouts. Some are just racist and upset about having a black president. Some are religious wackos who think the Apocalypse is coming. They're all divided on these issues and there is no leadership (which is a good thing!), and no amount of Sarah Palin lovers is going to change that.

    Now I'm not saying that its impossible for the USA to become embroiled in an anti-government civil war, what I'm saying is its more likely to take the form of terrorism first because these individuals/groups have no real leadership, they are divided in their beliefs, they over-estimate their own numbers and they're under the delusion they could actually win popular support.

    Lets pretend for a moment that the Anti-Christ is real. Not a real person per se, but conceptually... the Anti-Christ represents the perversion of Christianity. Taking Jesus Christ and using him as an excuse for war. No actual person, just a symbolic metaphor for people who are so obsessed with serving Jesus that they've warped Jesus Christ into an upside down version which allows them to commit murder and acts of terrorism.

    Nothing about the brotherhood of mankind. Nothing about turning the other cheek. Just murder in the name of Jesus.

    I'd argue that REAL Christians (and I've known quite a few, nice people for the most part) believe in forgiveness, acceptance and learning to live together peacefully.

    This radicalized version of Christianity where men and women tote guns and have become deluded into thinking the U.S. government is in league with the devil... well, thats just plain wacko and has nothing to do with real Christianity beyond being a perversion of it.

    My advice for Americans is that people need to think for themselves.

    Jesus may be a good moral compass sometimes, but basing your beliefs on superstitious coincidences from numbers in the Book of Revelations is just silliness. Revelations mentions almost every number anyway so trying to predict the Apocalypse based on circumstantial numbers is a bit like trying to guess which baseball player will get paid the most based on a batting average from 5 years ago. Or guessing which horse will win the Kentucky Derby based on the weight of its jockey to the square root of the horse's best time on a wet track.

    Judge people on their actions, not on their religion, race or shoe size.

    April 17, 2010

    When will Iceland's volcano stop erupting?

    ENVIRONMENT - Air travel in Europe has practically ground to an halt as ash and chemicals from an erupting volcano in Iceland makes air travel very dangerous. The amount of ash being spewed into the jet stream is such that most of northern Europe and parts of southern Europe have cancelled most of their air flights. Even transatlantic flights from Canada and the USA are being cancelled.

    But the volcano in question (Eylafjallajökull) in Iceland just keeps on erupting. According to scientists there's no limit for how long it could keep erupting.

    "So far its only been erupting for a bit over a month, but it could be years or decades before it either slows down and quiets completely," says one scientist/tourist in Iceland, there to enjoy the spectacle.

    If that were true and the eruptions became a constant fixture it could spell disaster for Europe's aeroplane and tourism industries. It also is a danger for people with respiratory problems, who are currently being told to stay indoors.

    When Mount Pintubo erupted in June 1991 the aerosols in the ash resulted in a global drop in temperatures by 0.4 degree C (0.9 degree F) and created a sulfuric haze that circled the globe for a period of a year. The eruptions only lasted 2 weeks but the effects were long lasting.

    If Eylafjallajökull keeps erupting it could cause severe havoc to the global economy. Hypothetically an ash cloud that extends across Europe, Russia, Asia and eventually North America as it circles the globe could wreak any number of troubles to local economies that rely on air travel, tourism, warm temperatures, food imports and even military aircraft. Already economists are predicting billions of dollars in daily economic losses due to the disruption the volcanic ash is causing.

    Eylafjallajökull is situated on the Mid-Atlantic ridge, a highly unstable volcanic region. Iceland itself has had constant eruptions for thousands of years, but this is the biggest one in recent history.

    A similar eruption in 1783 of the Laki volcano in Iceland was recorded by Benjamin Franklin (then the American Ambassador to France) in which he records winter weather that lasted well into 1784, with the "effect of heating the Earth was exceedingly diminished. Hence the surface was early frozen. Hence the first snows remained on it unmelted. Hence the air was more chilled. Hence perhaps the winter of 1783-84 was more severe than any that had happened for many years."

    April 16, 2010

    TTC announces plans to allow credit/debit payments

    CANADA - Last night I attended a Toronto City Hall open house meeting for the public wherein TTC Chair Adam Giambrone announced plans to allow riders to use debit or credit cards equipped with PayPass when riding the subway or TTC buses. They also plan to allow SmartCard/contactless credit card access and iPhone PayPal access (basically it allows people to pay just by tapping their iPhone with it setup with a PayPal account).

    Overall its a necessity. Other transit systems around the world (New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul) have all switched to a variety of different card systems. The various transit commissions operating in the GTA area wants to create a seamless "any card" solution for all of the GTA.

    The TTC has been criticized for foot-dragging when it comes to updating its old-fashioned fare system which uses tokens. This addition to the fare system will cut down on costs and make it faster/easier for users.

    The open house included a presentation by Paul Korczak, the retired former chair of the Transportation Council of the Smart Card Alliance which oversaw the transition of New York's open payment system.

    April 15, 2010

    China's Red Hot Economy soars 11.9%

    POLITICS - While the United States wanes in recession, China's economy continues to wax and grow at a phenomenal rate. In the first quarter of 2010 China's GDP grew 11.9%.

    The rapid increase in China's spending power has resulted in a 2.4% inflation rate, with some areas more than others. Property prices for example are up 11.7%.

    Economists point out that during recession times many people opt to buy cheaper things, many of which are made overseas in China. America's trade deficit with China has been growing every year at a phenomenal rate.

    Canadian Dollar worth more than American

    CANADA - Yesterday the Canadian dollar closed at 100.08 cents US, up .27 of a cent from Tuesday. This is the first time in two years the Canadian dollar has passed over parity.

    On November 7th 2007 the loonie hit $1.1024 USD, a modern day. Economists won't predict whether we see valuation that high again in the near future, but I'll take a stab at it: I think it might go as high as $1.05 or $1.07 US before it settles back down again.

    The reason is because Canada's economy has been virtually uneffected by the recession compared to other major G7 countries. Canada's GDP is growing and the brief recession Canada had only lasted from the fall of 2008 to the summer of 2009 and was only a brief 3.3% drop in GDP and a 1.8% increase in unemployment.

    Compared to previous recessions in 1981-82 (down 4.9% GDP over six quarters and 5% increase in unemployment) and 1991-92 (down 3.4% GDP over four quarters and 3.2% increase in unemployment) this was a relatively SMALL recession both in terms of effect and length.

    In contrast however the United States has suffered way more than Canada did, resulting in the U.S. dollar to lose a lot of its value in recent years as the Euro and other currencies steadily gain. The USA has had a lot of anxiety over its banking and automotive industries, whereas Canada is more of a resource based economy (oil, minerals, lumber, etc) which is always in high demand.

    April 14, 2010

    William Swor, Hutaree lawyer must be on crack

    POLITICS - The following is a list of things uncovered by the FBI from the Hutaree Christian terrorist militia in Michigan (according to court papers released Monday):

    Dozens of assault Rifles
    Machine Guns and Sub-Machine Guns
    Thousands of rounds of ammunition
    Nazi propaganda
    Crack cocaine
    Steroids
    Gas masks
    Hand grenade instructions and schematics for building your own hand grenades.
    Potassium chlorate, an incendiary commonly used in explosives
    Swords and machetes
    A copy of "My New Order" by Hitler
    Audio of "The Turner Diaries", a novel that is popular with white supremacists
    A samurai sword
    A jeweled dagger
    A ballistic helmet
    An intrusion detection machine
    A CD titled "Explosives, Ordnance and Demolition."
    A variety of computer hardware
    Mapquest directions to a terrorist target in Washington state

    David Stone Sr. and eight other members of the Michigan-based terrorist group known as the Hutaree plotted the mass killings of police officers in the hope of sparking an anti-government revolution. They are charged with seditious conspiracy, planning to use weapons of mass destruction. The group was planning to overthrow the American government and declare their own country (comprised of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana) a new Christian state.

    William Swor, the defence attorney for Hutaree leader David Stone Sr. called the prosecutions assertions "nonsense" and after listening to the list of items found in the raid responded with: "It sounds like a big 'So what?'"

    Swor's defence of the Hutaree is based on his concept that its not illegal to plan to use WMDs or plan to overthrow the U.S. government. Except it IS illegal. Its called seditious conspiracy.

    If it was a group of Muslims planning to overthrow the U.S. government there wouldn't even be a question over the fact that their plot was uncovered and foiled. This argument of "So what?" is so ridiculous the only conclusion is that the defence lawyer William Swor is either high on drugs or is mentally disturbed.

    I did a Google search and found William Swor's website, where it says he also defends drug traffickers.

    He also published a written work in 2007 titled: "Defending the Non Citizen, The Anti Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act" in which he talks about defending terrorists...

    So in conclusion he helps drug dealers and terrorists. Nice combination. And for some silly reason he thinks its perfectly legal to plan acts of terrorism and sedition. Yep, he's probably on crack.

    Earthquakes becoming more common, scientists admit

    By Ai Lung Nguyen - April 2010.

    ENVIRONMENT - The number of earthquakes in recent years has been going up. The most recent was today's 6.9 magnitude earthquake in China which has killed over 400 people, but there is a lot of scientific debate about what has caused the recent increase.

    If you've been keeping track of the earthquakes in China, Haiti, Chile and even huge tsunami/earthquake from 2004 you might start to wonder if earthquakes are becoming more common. There has also been an increase in tremors in the United States, Mexico and Japan.

    This is actually true says seismologists, earthquakes in recent years have become more prevalent, but the cause is still being debated. Below is several different theories being tossed around by noted seismotologists.

    #1. The recent seismic activity may simply be a temporary jump in earthquakes due to a variation in the Earth's lithosphere (The lithosphere is the outer solid part of the Earth.), but still within the acceptable range.

    "Relative to the 20-year period from the mid-1970's to the mid 1990's, the Earth has been more active over the past 15 or so years," said Stephen S. Gao, a geophysicist at Missouri University of Science & Technology. "We still do not know the reason for this yet. Could simply be the natural temporal variation of the stress field in the Earth's lithosphere."

    #2. Its just a coincidence that all these quakes happened in a short time period.

    "From our human perspective with our relatively short and incomplete memories and better and better communications around the world, we hear about more earthquakes and it seems like they are more frequent," says J. Ramón Arrowsmith, a geologist at Arizona State University. "But this is probably not any indication of a global change in earthquake rate of significance."

    #3. Melting polar ice caps caused by climate change has shifted the weight of ice on the polar regions of Earth's lithosphere. This causes the pressure in polar regions to buckle upwards while regions around the equator experience a downward effect.

    #4. Overpopulation in seismically active regions.

    As the human population skyrockets and we move into more hazardous regions, we're going to hear more about the events that do occur, says J. Ramón Arrowsmith. When large earthquakes strike in populated regions, news travels faster, especially with cellphones.

    "What happens is when a lot of people get killed there's a lot of reporting of it, and if an equally big event occurs somewhere out in the middle of nowhere it doesn’t attract the attention," said G. Randy Keller, professor of geophysics at the University of Oklahoma.

    "The [8.8-magnitude] earthquake down in Chile, that's an unusual event, those don't happen too often," Keller says. Seismologists would expect such an event at some point. "It sounds cold-blooded but it's an earthquake that occurred in a place that you'd expect it to sooner or later."

    #5. Its normal for earthquakes to happen around the Ring of Fire (the Pacific Ocean). Over 90% of the world's earthquakes are felt in this region. The next most popular location is the Mediterranean Alpide belt (6%).

    #6. Its a natural cycle to have quiet periods and busy periods when it comes to earthquakes. We could be entering a busy period. Usually busy periods are also accompanied by either an ice age or an extremely warm period.

    "If you look at it globally the occurrence of earthquakes is confined to zones we already know have earthquakes but it's a largely random process and so sometimes it's a little quieter than normal and sometimes it's a little more active than normal. But it doesn't mean anything, because on a global basis these things aren't connected," says Keller.

    "We're having a few more than the average, but nothing particularly remarkable. This was a magnitude 6.9 earthquake so on the bigger scheme of things it's not that big." If we get some really BIG earthquakes then we can have cause to worry.

    So can we expect more in the near future? Yes, say scientists, although you have better odds of winning the lottery than predicting a big earthquake.

    Microsoft's Vision of the Future

    TECHNOLOGY - The following is what Microsoft predicts the future of computing will be like. Apparently the technology to do it is already available today, but the price needs to come down dramatically. Microsoft predicts the computers you see in this video will be affordable by 2019.

    April 13, 2010

    America to double exports by 2015

    POLITICS - American President Barack Obama has issued an executive order called the "National Export Initiative" which aims to double American exports overseas by 2015 in an effort to boost the American economy.

    The goal is simple: Increase factory productivity, increase exports overseas = more profits, more people working, less Americans unemployed.

    By improving "conditions that directly affect the private sector's ability to export" and working to "remove trade barriers abroad" the idea is that businesses (large and small) will be more able to compete in a global economy.

    The National Export Initiative includes:

    "(a) Exports by Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs). Members of the Export Promotion Cabinet shall develop programs, in consultation with the TPCC, designed to enhance export assistance to SMEs, including programs that improve information and other technical assistance to first-time exporters and assist current exporters in identifying new export opportunities in international markets.

    (b) Federal Export Assistance. Members of the Export Promotion Cabinet, in consultation with the TPCC, shall promote Federal resources currently available to assist exports by U.S. companies.

    (c) Trade Missions. The Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the TPCC and, to the extent possible, with State and local government officials and the private sector, shall ensure that U.S. Government-led trade missions effectively promote exports by U.S. companies.

    (d) Commercial Advocacy. Members of the Export Promotion Cabinet, in consultation with other departments and agencies and in coordination with the Advocacy Center at the Department of Commerce, shall take steps to ensure that the Federal Government's commercial advocacy effectively promotes exports by U.S. companies.

    (e) Increasing Export Credit. The President of the Export-Import Bank, in consultation with other members of the Export Promotion Cabinet, shall take steps to increase the availability of credit to SMEs.

    (f) Macroeconomic Rebalancing. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with other members of the Export Promotion Cabinet, shall promote balanced and strong growth in the global economy through the G20 Financial Ministers' process or other appropriate mechanisms.

    (g) Reducing Barriers to Trade. The United States Trade Representative, in consultation with other members of the Export Promotion Cabinet, shall take steps to improve market access overseas for our manufacturers, farmers, and service providers by actively opening new markets, reducing significant trade barriers, and robustly enforcing our trade agreements.

    (h) Export Promotion of Services. Members of the Export Promotion Cabinet shall develop a framework for promoting services trade, including the necessary policy and export promotion tools."

    April 12, 2010

    Peter Nygard's empire reeling from CBC expose

    By Ai Lung Nguyen - April 2010. Edited by S. MacNevin.

    CANADA/FASHION - Peter Nygard's fashion empire is reeling today from a recent blow to its popularity. So much so his army of lawyers and staff (those that are still loyal to him and/or have never actually met him) have been sent on the attack, trying to discourage the blogosphere from writing about his dirty filthy life...

    And how he is basically a 21st century "slaveowner" living in the Bahamas, according to the National Labor Committee.

    Let me explain...

    Peter Nygard is a Canadian fashion designer who owns a string of fashion stores for women. He has done very well at it and is now a millionaire (his net worth is valued at $800 million) living on a chunk of an island in the Bahamas where his employees are not allowed to leave the compound and are basically treated like slaves.

    According to the CBC Fifth Estate documentary "Larger than Life", Peter Nygard also has faced a string of complaints from airline staff, fashion models and even women as young as 16... the long and short of it is he is an abusive "rapist" who hides behind a team of lawyers and basically gets away with whatever he wants to do. The allegation of rape comes from a young woman who was once a guest on Nygard's estate but has since gone missing. Nygard's lawyers claim there was no foul play, but the girl hasn't been seen since.

    Recently a multitude of ex-employees (including two escapees from his Bahamas compound) made a huge expose on the CBC show The Fifth Estate, basically exposing to the world that Peter Nygard is nothing more than a temper tantrum prone sexual predator who treats his employees like slaves... the kind of man who deserves a come-uppance. The Fifth Estate has received numerous past awards for the quality of their investigations.

    Now here is where the blogs come in... ever since that the Fifth Estate aired that documentary Peter Nygard's lawyers and staff have been attacking all the blogs which mention what a big phony he is, how he masquerades as a playboy when in reality he's a 67-year-old man who cheats on his wife and has sex with astonishingly young women.

    Back in January 2010 Peter Nygard set a record for child support payments, $15,091 per month for children he fathered. So far he has fathered 7 children by 4 different women.

    Philanderer? You bet. Low life cheating bastard is a better description. Slaveowner might be a stretch (read the National Labor Committee report on how Peter Nygard is involved in human trafficking and forced labour in Jordan), but forcible confinement would certainly be accurate for someone who would not let his employees leave.

    These are the kinds of words Peter Nygard does not want to be described as. His reputation and his clothing sales are at stake if a boycott against him is formed... too late.

    Numerous boycott pages on Facebook have been made, but they keep getting deleted by Peter Nygard's lawyers by claiming they contain copy-written material.

    But the thing is, between the Fifth Estate documentary which shows Peter Nygard treating his employees like slaves and the National Labor Committee report which shows he is involved in human trafficking / sweatshop labour, Peter Nygard's reputation is on the ropes.

    No amount of lawsuits or lawyers will stop the anti-sweatshop movement from talking about Peter Nygard and encouraging a boycott of his clothing lines.


    Gothic Culture is Practically Dead

    GOTHIC - Goths aren't in the news much these days. There is so little happening in gothic culture these days that gothic culture might as well be dead.

    Let me elaborate...

    Circa 1999 there were about 20 or so different gothic clothing shops in Toronto, which for a period of time was basically the goth capitol of North America... now there's only 2.

    #1. Hell's Belles (formerly known as Siren) at 463 Queen Street West.

    #2. Borderline at 425 Queen Street West.

    Its so pathetic its sad.

    Its the same online too. Once there was plethora of online websites selling gothic clothing. There is still a plethora... but the list has been culled over the years so that now only the strong survive.

    Part of the reason I'd argue is the Bush era and the resulting wars and recession. Gothic culture by its very nature is a form of protest against social norms. The Bush Administration gave young people something else to protest against so instead of goths we have a whole era of anti-Bush protestors.

    When the recession hit in 2007 Bush was winding down out of office... and young people are quickly parted with their cash. With fewer jobs available, less cash, people having to act frugally spending money on gothic clothing is less important. Its expensive to be a goth... the clothes, the music concerts, the partying with gothic friends.

    Plus there's been a resurgence in punk and heavy metal (which both preach nihilism instead of existentialism)... and then there's competition in the form of emo. There's so many more options now it makes goths even lonelier people than before.

    There's also the matter that for some people gothic culture really is just a phase. Some people don't grow out of it, but quite a few do. They get older, they get married, they have kids, they might still go out and party once in awhile but its not the same...

    "Ewww... they dance like people in their 30s!"

    I tried really hard to make that sound like Valley Girl talk... and it was totally deliberate. Gothic culture has changed in recent years. The concepts of existentialism, social rebellion and even religious aspects like Wicca are still there... but they've been sidelined by the obsession with fashion, music and partying... in other words goth isn't so much the existential rebellion it was during the 1990s... In 2010 its become little more than a fashion statement... its all fluff and little substance, hence the Valley Girl comparison.

    Its not just the fashion industry either. The lack of gothic oriented movies (the latest vampire flicks (Daybreakers, Twilight and New Moon) are good, but they're not really gothic. Neither is the plethora of recent zombie films and other traditionally thought of gothic films.



    So is goth dead? No. But its definitely hit the bottom of the barrel.

    Gothic culture has this horrible habit of coming back, more brutal and existential than ever. The trick I think is to recapture that brutality of life/death.

    Why does this matter to me? I think of gothic culture as more of an art movement, one that spans religion, films, paintings, music, fashion and even philosophy. At its core is a valuable life lesson:

    "Life is harsh, brutal and then you die. Try to make the best of it."

    April 8, 2010

    Ontario approves 184 green energy projects

    CANADA/ENVIRONMENT - 184 new solar, wind and water "clean energy" projects will be up and running by 2012. They received the green light today. The renewable energy projects will supply almost 2,500 megawatts of power, enough for 600,000 homes.

    The Ontario governments is bombarded by new private energy proposals every year, but there isn't enough infrastructure spending to upgrade the grid for the 10,000 megawatts worth of proposals. In theory if Ontario had more money allocated for improving the electricity grid's infrastructure it could approve more private energy.

    What is Private Energy?

    Private Energy is whenever a person or a company decides they want to sell electricity back into the grid. In some cases this can be pretty small, a homeowner with 10+ solar panels on their roof, or it could be big like a major corporation building a hundred or so wind turbines. They're privately owned by the people, but the trick is actually attaching them to the electricity grid so the electricity can be tracked and distributed.

    Ontario's electricity grid (and this is the problem faced the world over) has only in the last decade or so began the process of being able to take electricity from many multiple sources and then distributed it.

    Ontario's Subsidized Electricity Prices

    Right now Ontario Hydro isn't even profitable. Not even remotely. The cost of making electricity is over 13 cents per Kwh, but because that is pretty expensive its actually sold to consumers at a rate of approx. 6.5 cents per Kwh.

    Thus Ontario Hydro is taking huge losses every year, mostly due to overpaid workers at nuclear facilities like BNPD. Paying exactly 13 cents per Kwh to private producers of electricity is a step forward because that price is locked in. Unlike workers who can strike, demand wage increases and have pensions to worry about... over the long term Ontario actually saves money by buying the electricity from private producers who can guarantee a specific price per Kwh.

    The one-time upgrade to the power grid is a worthy investment for the future, especially since Ontario's thirsty for electricity keeps growing. What we need to be therefore is increasing the rate at which we upgrade the system. We could be building twice to four times the upgrades / year, dramatically speeding up the rate at which we switch to reliable pricing and renewable energy.

    Furthermore once upgrades are in place it allows existing projects to expand their output, without the need for additional upgrades.

    Subsidized electricity prices aren't going to disappear. We subsidize oil and gas prices too, in order to keep prices low and the economy humming. Its all eventually paid for in taxes.

    April 7, 2010

    Canada's economy leads the G7

    CANADA - Canada's economy is the fastest growing of all the G7 Nations according to a new report released today that estimates Canada's economic growth was 6.2% during January to March 2010.

    The G7 is an economic brotherhood composed of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the United States. (Not to be confused with the G8 which includes Russia and focuses more on global energy cooperation.)

    Overall G7 Nation economies grew 1.9% during Jan - March 2010. Canada is expected to continue outperforming other G7 nations by at least double or triple economic growth.

    Canada's economy is largely resource based (minerals, oil & gas and lumber) and has been largely immune to the recession in the USA, allowing Canada to grow while other economies continue to struggle with high unemployment.

    April 6, 2010

    Parliament Hill getting Submachine Guns

    CANADA - The RCMP has been ordered to up security around Canada's Parliament Hill following security concerns that a gunman might try to attack the center of Canada's government.

    Thus RCMP officers will now be toting Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns in their vehicles patrolling around Parliament Hill.

    Security concerns were raised in December 2009 when protestors used a ladder to climb up the side of the Parliament building and unfurled a banner mocking Prime Minister Stephen Harper's stance on climate change.

    No new guns were purchased, the RCMP had old MP5s in storage and the officers patrolling are be given a refresher course in their usage. MP5s are significantly better at providing stopping power at a medium range than the current 9mm pistols the RCMP usually carry.

    The RCMP didn't say whether there has been any specific threats against the government or Stephen Harper.

    Canadian dollar hits par, again

    CANADA - The Canadian dollar briefly hit 100.12 cents US today, despite reports that Canada's economy during 2009 was actually in a deficit.

    The Canadian dollar is hot right now because of high oil prices. Whenever the price of oil goes up, the Canadian dollar usually follows suit.

    In New York today oil prices hit $86.84, an 18 month high.

    According to a new economic report by Statistics Canada however Canada went into a trade deficit during 2009 due to low exports and higher imports, the first trade deficit since 1975.

    Canada had a trade surplus of $46.9 billion in 2008, compared to a deficit of $4.5 billion in 2009. It is a sobering realization that Canada's economy may not be as strong as we think it is.

    The high Canadian dollar is hurting Canada's exports, thus creating a trade deficit.

    Thieves using Twitter and Facebook

    TECHNOLOGY - Think you're safe from thieves while you go to work or on vacation?

    Think again.

    Smart thieves are using information from your Twitter and Facebook accounts to determine when you go on vacation, what hours you work and when you won't be home.

    Then they break into your home, ransack the place for hours, load everything into a van or truck and are gone before you arrive home.

    And they're not the only ones watching your Twitter/Facebook feeds... hackers are also looking, hoping to sneak into your email accounts and rob you of your internet identity, your credit card info and anything else of value.

    Solution? Don't let unwanted people become friends with you or follow your Twitter feeds. Increase your privacy options as high as they can go. Don't give out too much info to "new friends" who are interested in you.

    This isn't just a personal matter either. Its also a security issue for banks, governments and corporations. Members of the Canadian government, the Dalai Lama and other notable public figures have suffered at the hands of hackers.

    According to a report released today by a team of researchers from the University of Toronto and Ottawa-based SecDev Group the Canadian government and the public needs to do more to safeguard their identity, their private data and keep it secret when they go on vacation.

    Recent attacks by hackers in China targeted democracy advocates, the Canadian and American governments and appears to be fishing for sensitive government/personal data which has been stored insecurely.

    See Also:
    Follow the Lilith eZine on Facebook

    Toyota brake problems caused by hacker?

    CARS - Imagine if someone could hack into your car and turn your brakes on or off just by using a laptop remotely.

    Well it could happen and its possible Toyota has been a victim of computer hackers from rival companies. Toyota has been pretty mum on the precise cause of the brake failure on certain new car models.

    The glitch didn't show up during any testing. There is no mechanical reason for the brakes to not be working...

    Which leaves the car's internal computer at fault. With new cars when people step on the brakes it sends a message to the computer which then juggles commands for all the stability and handling programs and then determines how much braking power to apply to individual brakes as people go around corners... or stop entirely if someone's car is coming to a full stop.

    However if someone's been messing with the car's computerized braking system remotely your car could become a deathtrap.

    Toyota of course would never want to admit they've been the victim of corporate spies and hackers. Especially when they are still working to determine exactly what or who was messing with their brakes.

    Food for thought.

    April 3, 2010

    US Economy lagging behind Expectations

    Or is it?

    POLITICS - According to the United States Labor Department employers added 162,000 jobs in March 2010, but the unemployment rate remained at 9.7% for the third straight month.

    Economist were expecting growth of 190,000 jobs so it is below what they were hoping for, but its still the largest jump in job numbers in three years.

    15 million Americans are still out of work, double what the unemployment numbers were before the recession hit while the Bush Administration was in power.

    Manufacturers added 17,000 jobs.
    Temporary help services added 40,000.
    Health care added 37,000.
    Leisure and Hospitality added 22,000.
    U.S. Census hired 48,000.
    Construction added 15,000.

    Note these are preliminary numbers for March. These numbers will be adjusted upwards, so the 190,000 mark still might be reached its just that they haven't counted every job gain yet. For example January's job numbers were recently adjusted an extra +40,000.

    April 2, 2010

    Record Heat forecast for Toronto 2010

    CANADA - Forecasters are predicting record non-stop heat for the next three months in Toronto, a prolonged period of hot and dry weather which will test a number of temperature records.

    The predictions are that temperatures will be as much as 15 to 20 degrees F above the average temperatures for this time of year, not just for Toronto but for all of Ontario and Quebec.

    Scientists say the reason is a combination of El Nino and Global Warming, stressing that the latter is prolonging and strengthening the effects of El Nino. El-Nino is a climate pattern which happens every 3 to 7 years and results in bizarre weather patterns. The effects of global warming/climate change is causing El Nino to happen more often and have a longer cycle.

    Scientists predict that by 2050 El Nino may simply become constant and climatologists will have to come up with a new term for El Nino's bigger brother "El Nino Grande".

    This is bad news for poor Ontario farmers who lack the infrastructure to water their plants with large scale sprinkler systems and must rely on rain.

    Mitsubishi Electric Car

    CARS - Japan has unveiled its first mass-market electric car today, making e-cars more affordable in a growing price war.

    The i-MiEV from Mitsubishi Motors Corp. is a four-seater, bubble-shaped car priced at a mere $31,000 CDN (after Canadian government incentives) and is built by Japan's fifth-biggest automaker. Mitsubishi already has 2,000 advance orders in Japan alone.

    Nissan meanwhile is scheduled to unveil the "Leaf" in December 2010 which will cost $32,000 CDN (after government incentives).

    Across the pond General Motors is already selling its electric car, the "Volt".

    See Also
    The Eco-Car Battleground

    Christian militia sought civil war with US government

    POLITICS/RELIGION - 9 Christian people living in the Detroit area are in jail today charged with conspiracy to preparing to overthrow the U.S. government. Their plan was to kill police officers, attack police stations with homemade bombs and eventually expand their civil war to attacking the FBI, CIA and Homeland Security.

    Their hope was to inspire other groups and individuals into a full scale Christian war against the US government with plans of installing a Christian fundamentalist government.

    The Midwestern Christian militia members were lured out in a ruse by the FBI to attend a phony memorial service last Saturday and then arrested. Several other weekend raids netted the a total of 9 Christian militants.

    According to a FBI source "they had enough firearms to make Sarah Connor jealous", referring to the mother in Terminator I and II.

    "We basically set up a scenario where we were able to draw them all to one location," said Andrew Arena, head of the FBI in Detroit. "And the reason we did that was to obviously get them away from their weapons."

    The nine members calling themselves the "Hutaree" ("Christian Warrior") were charged this week with seditious conspiracy, plotting to levy war against the United States, attempting to build and use weapons of mass destruction and other crimes. They planned to make a false 911 call, kill the responding police officers and set off a bomb at the police funeral to kill many more.

    The plan was to begin during the coming weeks of April.

    They were also plotting to blow up non-Christian schools with a high population of minorities, set fire to Mosques and Synagogues, kidnap and kill celebrities, build homemade missiles to shoot down airliners and assassinate CIA, FBI and Homeland Security officials.

    Ringleader David Brian Stone of Clayton, Michigan, first start organizing the group years ago according to his ex-wife. The 9 members are:

    David Brian Stone Sr., 44 (a.k.a "RD", "Joe Stonewall", "Captain Hutaree")
    David Brian Stone Jr., 19 (a.k.a "Junior", "Jaggers", "BearBack" )
    Tina Mae Stone, 44 (a.k.a. "T-Bod", "She-Stone")
    Joshua Stone, 21 (a.k.a. "Josh")
    Jacob J. Ward, 33 (a.k.a. "Jake", "Nasty Nate")
    Thomas William Piatek, 46 (a.k.a. "T-Rock" )
    Joshua Clough, 28 (a.k.a. "Azzurlin", "Az", "Mouse", "Jason Z", Charles")
    Michael David Meeks, 40 (a.k.a. "Mikey" )
    Kristopher T. Sickles, 27 (a.k.a "Pale Horse")

    According to website photos however there are supposed to be 17 people (and a dog). Who are the other 8 people?

    According to their website (hutaree.com) their slogan was "Preparing for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive" and included several videos of training exercises set to German music. Their website also professes a hatred of the United Nations and vowing to create a "Colonial Christian Republic" which would expand Christianity through international war.

    The FBI managed to discover the plot with the help of an undercover agent when it was determined the group was selling pipe bombs over the internet.

    The number of Christian militias operating in the United States has grown in recent years, from 42 in 2008 to 127 in 2009. Police fear other Christian militia or so-called "Patriot" groups may become inspired to act.

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