Is Anyone As Mad As I am?

Is anyone as mad as I am over Trudeau Junior’s remarks as it relates to his handling of the Khadr affair?

He is saying that if they, the Federal Government , continued with the court actions it would have cost too much . Are you serious, Mr. PM?

1. Suddenly there is a question of cost concerning principles? Oh? That’s a new one on me. I thought we prided ourselves on our court system and that this would be the final arbiter . Even Daddy Trudeau had to bow to the Supreme Court when it ruled against his unilateral patriation actions. Of course, no one wants me to raise that now . Might ruin Daddy’s reputation.

2. Since when did our Junior get interested in watching spending? This is the person who has tripled the deficit in one year. Yes, he promised a deficit–and Canada fell for it, but it was suppose to be $10 billion—now its almost $30 billion. And he promised the Government would be back in surplus or at least balance by the next election and now the forecast, by his own Finance department , and the Parliamentary Budget Officer, is that this cannot be achieved. And furthermore , it is uncertain when we will see a balanced budget again.

So, these shallow excuses just make many Canadians like me even more angry.

And look at the precedent it sets for the future. How easy it will be for future Governments to take the easy way –with our money–forget principle and stoop to political maneuvering.

Hard to take!

Health Care . Canada Comes 9th Out of Eleven !

So when will Canaiadian leaders finally accept that we are not doing well in health care when compared to out peers? Or for that matter Canadians generally understanding that we are not near number one like many continue to tell me. .

The latest study of 11 countries show us coming 9th.

The Commonwealth Fund , an American based organization, has been involved in studying Heath care systems for some time and their latest study shows the US coming last and Canada not far behind.

Here is what the report says it does:

‘This report uses recent data to compare health care system performance in the U.S. with that of 10 other high-income countries and considers the different approaches to health care organization and delivery that can contribute to top performance. We based our analysis on 72 indicators that measure performance in five domains important to policymakers, providers, patients, and the public: Care Process, Access, Administrative Efficiency, Equity, and Health Care Outcomes.’

Of course, anyone in Canada who has had recent experience with out health system can verify the sad state of affairs in this country . Of course, that’s why tens of thousands go outside the country each year for health care. I know of experiences in BC, Ontario, Newfoundland where wait times for specialists is six months to a year , for example.

The countries involved besides Canada and the US are: UK, France, Germany, Netherlands , Switzerland , Australia, New Zealand , Norway and Sweden.

The UK, Netherlands and Australia head the pact.

So , first let’s stop putting our heads in the sand and declaring how good we are; and always comparing ourselves to the Americans . After that finding better ways to do health care will become much easier.

By the way the three top countries all had different methods to deliver their health care.

We , Humans , Took Much Longer Than Thought ——–

This article is by the always fascinating Matt Ridley , author of the wonderful book The Rational Optimist.

This latest information reminds me of the work of the late , great Stephen Jay Gould and his concept of ‘punctuated equilibrium’

‘Modern human beings took a third of a million years to emerge

My column in the Times on recent sensational discoveries relating to human evolution in Africa:

News is dominated by sudden things — bombs, fires, election results — and so gradual news sometimes get left out. The past month has seen three discoveries in Africa that radically change our understanding of a crucial phase in human evolution. For those interested in the common history of all humanity, this should really be among the biggest news of the year.

The first of these discoveries is genetic. Swedish and South African scientists have made the origin of us — modern human beings — an even more mind-bogglingly gradual phenomenon than we used to think. Here is what they found. A skeleton of a boy who died 2,000 years ago at a place called Ballito Bay has yielded a good sample of preserved DNA. He was a Khoe-San, that is to say an indigenous native of southern Africa of the kind once called “bushmen”, who still live in the Kalahari desert.

But unlike all today’s Khoe-San he had no DNA from black Africans or white Europeans in him. Neither had yet arrived in southern Africa. So comparing the Ballito boy’s DNA to all modern people’s DNA made it possible to calculate when we last shared a common ancestor with him.

The date was a big surprise: more than 260,000 years ago. That is to say, 2,600 centuries, ten times as long ago as the extinction of the Neanderthals in Europe, and halfway back to the split between human beings and the ancestors of Neanderthals. Surprisingly, the Ballito Boy’s people appear to have had little or no genetic contact with other African people as recently as 2,000 years ago, but they have had considerable gene mixing since.

So, until they experienced recent hybridisation, the Khoe-San people of southern Africa had been more distantly related to the rest of us than we had thought by a long way. Yet they are still recognisably human. There is no way anybody would describe them as “sub-human”, intellectually, linguistically, adaptively. They are just people.

This throws all our ideas about the “human revolution” into the air. Until a few years ago, anthropologists were talking of a “great leap forward” in human evolution around 50,000 to 100,000 years ago when tools suddenly became much more sophisticated, and were speculating about this being the moment that language or consciousness crystallised. It has been clear for a while that this was too Eurocentric; African tool kits had begun to change much earlier in a mysterious technology known as the Middle Stone Age.

Another discovery also announced this month seems to confirm that early human beings living in Morocco around 300,000 years ago were showing anatomical “modernisation” much earlier than we thought. So one possibility is that people throughout Africa were changing in parallel, rather than one small tribe becoming “modern human beings” and taking over the continent and later the world, as had been the assumption. Put the two discoveries together and you can conclude that as far apart as South Africa and Morocco, people experienced both growing culture and more modern anatomy.

It is certainly possible that culture was the horse and genetics the cart, not vice versa. That is to say, once human beings reached a certain level of culture, they created selection pressure to change their genes to make things like the development of language and imagination easier. So it could happen in parallel in different lineages. This phenomenon is known as “gene-culture co-evolution” or “niche construction”.

In passing, these findings reinforce my view that genetic differences in intelligence among human races today really do not matter. Human civilisation is a collaborative achievement, not a product of individual intelligence or innate capacity. It came about because we networked our brains, not because we improved them. We had very primitive lives for a quarter of a million years despite having modern IQs. There may be a lesson here for artificial intelligence.

However, the story may not be quite so simple. Other genetic evidence suggests that the initial effective population size of the modern humans in Africa was small, which is not compatible with a large population occupying most of a continent. “Ghost genes” in modern Africans testify to hybrids with now-extinct kinds of African hominid — similar to what happened between Africans and Neanderthals (as well as Asian hominids called Denisovans) when the former spilt out of Africa and into Eurasia at around the same time. As the anthropologist John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin tells me, these “ghost” populations had to have been living somewhere.

Hawks and his colleagues have made another startling discovery. The fossils of a far more distantly related species of hominid called Homo naledi, which retained a small brain and a chimp-like jaw, have been discovered recently in a South African cave. But instead of being millions of years old, such fossils have now been dated — in yet another announcement this spring — at (you guessed it) between 236,000 and 335,000 years old.

So as we push back the date of modern human beings, we pull forward the date of the extinction of other kinds of hominid. When already culturally advanced, we shared the African savannah with a small-brained ape-man that was much more closely related to us than chimpanzees are, but was a quite different species.

So who made the Middle Stone Age tools, which are found all over the continent but vary from region to region? Almost certainly several different archaic lineages contributed, as well as the particular species or race that was on the way to turning into modern human beings. Perhaps even Homo naledi made some of them.

The truth probably lies somewhere between two extremes, one of which has distinct species of early human living all over Africa, interbreeding not very much and with only one on the way to modernity; the other has frequent hybridisation between populations in different parts of the continent, both genetically and culturally.

Either way, something was stirring in Africa that would lead eventually to iPhones and nuclear weapons, Beethoven and the Beatles. And it was stirring much earlier than we had thought, almost a third of a million years ago. It is hard to get your mind around just how gradual the emergence of modern human beings was. We are talking of 10,000 generations. Now that’s long term.’

By: Matt Ridley

The Canadian LNG Boondoggle !

It’s hard to find anything so mishandled as the Liquified Natural Gas initiatives of Canadians; in this case the British Columbian Government . Sitting on trillions of cubic feet of reserves in north east BC, the BC Government dilly dallied while industry was getting the necessary approvals from the National Energy Board for exporting the gas. By the time the BC Government had got around to a royalty /tax structure for the various projects lined up to go, it was too late. The Australian and American interests had outflanked them and the rest is history.

Obviously, the BC Government did not understand the industry —–

It is a cruel lesson on the culture of our place that we could so easily be out maneuvered by our competitors . Nice place alright —-too nice.

While we revile their politics , as if we were lily white on this score , the Americans score big in Natural Gas , the very area where we mistakenly thought we had the edge.

The latest report of the International Energy Agency brings this home –in spades—where is Canada ? Not mentioned —it all about the US and Australia and Quatar.

Here is the IEA Statement on their Report:

‘The global natural gas market is undergoing a major transformation driven by new supplies coming from the United States to meet growing demand in developing economies and industry surpasses the power sector as the largest source of gas demand growth, according to the IEA’s latest market analysis and five-year forecast on natural gas.

This evolution of the role of natural gas in the global energy mix has far-reaching consequences on energy trade, air quality and carbon emissions, as well as the security of global energy supplies, according to the new report, Gas 2017.

Global gas demand is expected to grow by 1.6% a year for the next five years, with consumption reaching almost 4,000 billion cubic meters (bcm) by 2022, up from 3,630 bcm in 2016. China will account for 40% of this growth. Demand from the industrial sector becomes the main engine of gas consumption growth, replacing power generation, where gas is being squeezed by growing renewables and competition from coal.

The United States – the world’s largest gas consumer and producer – will account for 40% of the world’s extra gas production to 2022 thanks to the remarkable growth in its domestic shale industry. By 2022, US production will be 890 bcm, or more than a fifth of global gas output. Production from the Marcellus, one of the world’s largest fields, will increase by 45% between 2016 and 2022, even at current low price levels, as producers increase efficiency and produce more gas with fewer rigs.

While US domestic demand for gas is growing, thanks to higher consumption from the industrial sector, more than half of the production increase will be used for liquefied natural gas (LNG) for export. By 2022, the IEA estimates that the United States will be on course to challenge Australia and Qatar for global leadership among LNG exporters.

“The US shale revolution shows no sign of running out of steam and its effects are now amplified by a second revolution of rising LNG supplies,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director. “Also, the rising number of LNG consuming countries, from 15 in 2005 to 39 this year, shows that LNG attracts many new customers, especially in the emerging world. However, whether these countries remain long-term consumers or opportunistic buyers will depend on price competition.”

Dr Birol added, “The environmental advantages of natural gas, particularly when replacing coal, also deserve more attention from policy makers.”

US LNG will be a catalyst for change in the international gas market, diversifying supply, challenging traditional business models and suppliers, and transforming global gas security. A new wave of liquefaction capacity is coming online at a time when the LNG market is already well supplied. This LNG glut is already affecting price formation and traditional business models – and attracting new LNG-consuming countries like Pakistan, Thailand and Jordan.

At the same time, this ample availability of LNG is also creating new competition with pipeline gas supplies, which could benefit consumers. This intense competition is loosening pricing and contractual rigidities that have traditionally characterized long-distance gas trade. The change will be accelerated by the expansion of US exports, which are not tied to any particular destination and will play a major role in increasing the liquidity and flexibility of LNG trade.

Europe could see growing competition between LNG imports and pipeline gas as domestic production declines, creating extra uncertainty on the sources of future supply. The recent standoff involving Qatar, which supplies about a third of the world’s LNG, and neighboring countries has also underscored potential risks to gas supply security. “Even in a well-supplied market, recent events remind us that gas security remains a critical issue.” said Dr Birol.

Former PM Harper Calls Khadr’s Victims .

From Toronto Sun

First it was a Toronto Sun reader buying a full-page advertisement to apologize to Omar Khadr’s victims for the eight-figure settlement he received from the Canadian government.

Now former prime minister Stephen Harper has reached out to the families to express his outrage.

Upset about the Liberal government’s $10.5-million settlement with Khadr, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s predecessor picked up the phone Wednesday and called American soldier Layne Morris at his home in Utah.

“Layne spoke with Prime Minister Harper today,” his wife, Leisl, said on Wednesday night.

The call came just hours before lawyers for Morris and the widow of American special forces Sgt. Christopher Speer went into court to attempt to freeze Khadr’s assets with a view that the windfall could be applied to a $134-milllion American court judgment they won.

It is believed Harper made a similar call to Speer’s widow, Tabitha, but neither side has confirmed.

However, Leisl Morris said her husband had a good talk with Harper.

“Layne had a little trouble matching schedules with Prime Minister Harper but once they did connect, they spoke for a little over six minutes,” she said.

Her husband was thrilled by the gesture.

“He was very nice,” she said of Harper. “Prime Minister Harper apologized for the payout to Omar.”

And although he appreciated the former prime minister saying that, Morris said it was not necessary.

“Layne told him he did not need an apology because he knows the heart of the Canadian people and understands it’s the government and the current prime minister’s doing,” Leisl said.

She also said it “touched our hearts” that a “concerned” Canadian would spend their own money to take out a full-page ad in the Toronto Sun to let the families know not all Canadians agree with both the amount of the settlement to Khadr and the official apology.

The man who took out the ad told me Thursday: “I am staying anonymous for now because it was meant to come from the sentiment of regular Canadians who feel this way and not just from one. I did it because I felt I needed to put my money where my heart was.”

He said he also appreciated seeing similar commentary from Canadians from coast to coast, including from Harper himself.

Harper has been critical on social media of the settlement.

“The government today attempted to lay blame elsewhere for their decision to conclude a secret deal with Omar Khadr,” Harper wrote in a statement Friday. “The decision to enter into this deal is theirs, and theirs alone, and it is simply wrong. Canadians deserve better than this.

“Today my thoughts are with Tabitha Speer and the families of all Canadian and allied soldiers who paid the ultimate price fighting to protect us.”

And now Harper has expressed this sentiment directly to Khadr’s victims.

Our Federal Government( Canada) Fails On Budget Clarity and on Doing What They Say —So , What’s New ?

The Parliamentary Budget Officer tries to track the Budget of the Federal Government.

Poor fellow has a problem . Its very difficult given the sloppy manner in which the Government operates its budget. So, If the PBO is having problems tracking the budget what hope has the MP’s or the ordinary citizen ? Very little .

Here is the Summary of th PBO’s latest tracking report . You can read the whole report by going to the Parliamentary Budget Office website.

‘ Following the Dollar—Tracking Budget 2016 Spending and Tax Measures

Executive Summary

In its annual budget, the Government outlines its fiscal plan, including additional spending for ongoing programs, new spending initiatives and changes to taxation.

To help parliamentarians hold the Government to account for the implementation of its plan, the PBO decided to track spending and tax measures from announcement in the budget to parliamentary approval through appropriation and budget implementation bills.

Overall, the PBO found that 123 Budget 2016 measures, 92 per cent of the budget’s measures, received some form of funding through the supplementary estimates in 2016-17.

More specifically, 58 budget spending measures (44 per cent) line up with items included in the 2016-17 supplementary estimates, and all but one change to statutory spending and taxation was implemented.

However, many spending measures had more funding or less funding in fiscal year 2016-17 than indicated in the budget (31 per cent), or were not provided funding through the supplementary estimates (8 per cent).

That is, they were not implemented as stated in Budget 2016, which suggests that the Government may need to improve its funding processes or its estimation methodology for spending measures included in the budget.

Moreover, there is no clear line of sight from budget announcements to their implementation.

The different presentation, wording and accounting methodology makes it challenging to align budget spending measures with items included in the estimates. And it is not possible to track spending on most budget measures beyond the first year or what was actually spent on specific measures.

It is thus very difficult for parliamentarians to follow the dollar and hold the government to account for implementing its fiscal plan, as outlined in the budget.

The Government may be able to alleviate some of these challenges by preparing and presenting its budget and estimates concurrently and using a more consistent method of presentation.’

Remember this is the party that promised all this Accountablity and Transparency ?

Balderdash !

Drinking Israeli Wine ? Yes You Can –

Let me first say I am pro Israel.

Oops —The Canaduian Government made a blooper –The Food Agency decided that wine from the West Bank could not be sold in Canada. Not with ‘made in Israel’ on the label. Oh, ya?

Well, it only lasted a few hours. Various pro Israeli groups jumped on the matter pointing out to the authorities that they would be violating their own free trade agreement with Israel. Imagine that.

The decision was quickly reversed .

But how in all common sense, could this mistake happen in the first place. The authorities actually talked about Israeli borders and the 1967 war. Sorry folks , I smell something foul here.

But the pro Israeli forces , quick off the mark , exposed the incompetence of the Federal Authorities.

The last word goes to one wine owner who said when he heard the original decision:

Yaakov Berg, Psagot Winery’s CEO, said Thursday he was “amazed” at Canada’s decision.

“We are living in Judea and Samaria by historic right. Canada, of all places, which was established and developed on basis of occupying and sacrificing the homeland of another people and which has no roots or historical validity to its existence there, doesn’t recognize the right of a Jew to live and cultivate vines on land inherited from his forefathers?” he said in a statement.