The folks at Greenpeace ranked Apple Computer Inc. 11th out of 14 in its “Guide to Greener Electronics” and decided to rent a booth at a recent Mac World show in London, England to shame Apple into polishing its environmental record. Mac Worlds are trade shows for the Apple Mac ecosystem. I once covered one in San Francisco. It was pretty cool so far as trade shows go. I suppose Greenpeace, too, thought this would be a cool place to hang out and try and move the green dial at Apple. Wrong. Greenpeace got turfed, it says, for being a little critical of Apple:
“Now here's the rich part. The exhibition hall may have kicked Greenpeace out, but Mac Expo is FULL of people campaigning for a greener apple. They're called Apple Customers. To date, more than 155,000 people have visited the Green my Apple site. Over 1000 blogs are linking to it. 12,000 Apple fans have written to Steve Jobs asking him to change Apple's ways.”
Those of us in the Parliamentary Press Gallery wondered, in the wake of Garth Turner's departure from the Conservative caucus, if Turner would one day ask to be taken back or, if and when a tight vote might be coming up, the caucus might ask Garth (left) if there was a way he might come home. Well, I've only been in Ottawa now for a little more than 18 months, but even with my rookie radar I'd be willing to bet that with the following comments — taken from Turner's blog — Turner is pretty much putting any “return-to-Caucus” speculation to rest:
In my first private meeting with Harper he shocked me with his demeaning and insulting tone. My criticism of his hypocritical decision to put a floor-crossing Liberal in cabinet created the first crisis. My dismay at our lack of an effective climate change strategy in the failed green plan created the last. And in between I was appalled to discover that the legendary intolerance and narrow views of the Reform Party were at the heart of the new Conservative party, while the prairie populism, respect for the grassroots and empowerment that Preston Manning had stood for had vanished.
So, my libertarian, Progressive Conservative, democracy-loving ass was in the wrong caucus.
But no more. And now, as each day passes, it becomes more apparent that I will actually be a better MP for being an Indie.
Huge amounts of time are spent by party MPs each week sitting in party meetings devoid of policy debate. Countless more hours are devoted to filling chairs in committee rooms, where the outcome of almost every meeting has been pre-determined by the government. And the rest of Ottawa time is largely spent sitting in QP where Tory MPs are expected to clap, but dare not ask tough questions, if any.
If most voters dropped in and spent a day with these guys, they’d be floored. Only now am I realizing how much wasted time passes for important, as I find many extra hours to talk to constituents, deal with their issues and do some independent work on those things that matter to me. I’m rediscovering what it means to be a member of Parliament, and what it must have been like before MPs were turned into high-priced support staff. I get to think. And I like it. A lot.
The Canadian defence establishment wants to spend up to $4.6-billion to buy 17 new C-130J Hercules transport aircraft from Lockheed Martin. One of Lockheed's competitors, Airbus Military, wants the Canadian government to buy its new plane, the A400M. As I report tonight, the favourite, Lockheed, as well as the process chosen by the government, is coming under a bit of fire.
“…Underneath the billion-dollar battle between Lockheed and Airbus is a tangled web of professional and personal relationships in Ottawa's political and lobbyist community.
For example, before he became Canada's top soldier, Hillier was on the staff of General Patrick O'Donnell. O'Donnell retired to head up a consultancy, CFN Consultants, and is now the registered lobbyist for Lockheed Martin. The firm Hill and Knowlton is the registered lobbyist for Airbus. It's chief executive is Michael Coates, who worked on the last two Conservative election campaigns, including coaching Prime Minister Harper for the leaders' debates. Gordon O'Connor, before entering politics, worked as a lobbyist at Hill and Knowlton and one of his clients was Airbus.
Both Hillier and O'Connor have scrupulously avoided even mentioning either aircraft by name in public for at least the last six months for fear there may be any accusations of conflicts-of-interest…”
[Read the full story]
The London Free Press reports that newly-minted Conservative candidate for the federal by-election in London North Centre is, all of a sudden, not talking to the media. Diane Haskett, a former mayor of London who some believe could be a controversial candidate, won her party’s nomination on Tuesday night.
Since then, the Free Press reports,
“…[she has] cancelled radio interviews … scheduled and… cancelled a TV interview. The short-notice cancellation vexed CJBK-AM host Steve Garrison and staff at CBC Ontario Morning, who had to scramble to find replacements. No new dates were promised.
“She's being muzzled and told not to talk to local media,” said Garrison, who got five minutes' notice… that his pre-arranged 8:20 a.m. live interview was off.
Local CBC representative Gary Ennett said he got a voice-mail message … cancelling a 7:15 a.m. live interview. The reason given was “she had another scheduled appointment,” Ennett said.
Still later, staff at CTV's Mike Duffy Live were told Haskett wouldn't be available until tomorrow.”
I just checked with the producers on MDL and she still hasn’t been on the show. Incidentally, Ryan Sparrow — well-known to the Ottawa Press Gallery for his work as Environment Minister Rona Ambrose’s Associate Director of Communications and, before that, as a communications person in the Opposition Leader’s Office, has taken on the job of handling Haskett’s communications for the campaign.
[A tip of my black beret to Cerberus]
How good is Wikipedia? Well, a professor at a college in Buffalo, NY tried to test Wikipedia’s credibility by deliberately inserting some false information into the online encyclopedia, including a fictitious account of a Canadian politician done in by a sex and drugs scandal. To do this he used a false name (Dr. al-Halawi) and false credentials. Did he succeed? For about three hours before he was caught. Here’s a story from the Chronicle of Higher Education on Dr. Alexander Halavais’ experiment:
Some of the errata he inserted — like a claim that Frederick Douglass, the abolitionist, had made Syracuse, N.Y., his home for four years — seemed entirely credible. Some — like an Oscar for film editing that Mr. Halavais awarded to The Rescuers Down Under, an animated Disney film — were more obviously false, and easier to fact-check. And others were downright odd: In an obscure article on a short-lived political party in New Brunswick, Canada, the professor wrote of a politician felled by “a very public scandal relating to an official Party event at which cocaine and prostitutes were made available.”
Mr. Halavais expected some of his fabrications to languish online for some time. Like many academics, he was skeptical about a mob-edited publication that called itself an authoritative encyclopedia. But less than three hours after he posted them, all of his false facts had been deleted, thanks to the vigilance of Wikipedia editors who regularly check a page on the Web site that displays recently updated entries. On Dr. al-Halawi's “user talk” page, one Wikipedian pleaded with him to “refrain from writing nonsense articles and falsifying information.”
Mr. Halavais realized that the jig was up.
Read the full story at: The Chronicle: 10/27/2006: Can Wikipedia Ever Make the Grade?.
Members of the Canadian Forces learned yesterday they’re getting their annual pay raise. Everyone gets a minimum of 2.62 per cent, retroactive to April 1. Some will get more, depending on their profession. Those with the rank of colonel and greater will get a minimum of 3.5 per cent. Here’s some reaction:
Jack Layton, NDP Leader: “Well, I've got to ask the Conservatives how come the brass are getting over three percent and the rank and file are getting less, barely inflation. That doesn't seem right to me. Let's have some fairness in this. And also the places that they're living, we had two of our members at Petawawa just the other day. The homes aren't in good shape, the sewer systems, water systems. Let's start taking take care of the health and well-being of the people who are willing to be on the front lines for Canada.”
Ujjal Dosanjh, Liberal Defence critic: “[The brass] already are better paid than the people in the lower ranks and that simply increases the gap on an ongoing basis and I just don't think that that's good for morale of the people . . . I think that we should be actually increasing the wages, the salaries of those in the lower ranks with a larger percentage. I'd like to hear the rational as to why what's being done is done.”
[A military spouse] “I think it is a fair amount, considering inflation. Its nice to get these raises since a lot of military families are one income families because we move so much its hard to find a real stable job.”
Some other notes:
- Last year, CF members received a raise of about 2.5 per cent
- Members of the Canadian Parliament earn a base salary of $144,700 this year. That’s about 2.3 per cent better than last year. (MPs earn more for things like chairing committees, being a cabinet minister, and so on.)
- According to the new pay scale, a Brigadier General in the Canadian army earns a top rate of $12,058 a month or about $145,000 a year. One Brigadier General in the news a lot these days is David Fraser, the Canadian general in charge of Canada’s troops in Afghanistan.
- The average wage in Canada increased by 3.5 per cent between July 2005 and July 2006, according to Statistics Canada
- U.S. military members are getting a raise this year of a minimum of 2.2 per cent. (President Bush signed this into law on Oct. 17). Last year, U.S. military members got a 3.1 per cent raise.
- The top rate for a Captain in the British army is 102.31 pounds per day, which works out the equivalent of about $84,000 Canadian dollars a year, and is about 3 per cent more this year than last year. The top rate for a Captain in the Canadian army is now $87,020.
Some interesting discussion on this issue and reaction from serving members at the venerable Army.ca board.
Members of the Canadian Forces are getting out their calculators to see how they fare under the new “Rates of Pay”, just announced this morning by the Department of National Defence. Most will get at least a raise of 2.62 per cent of their annual salary. Some — mostly colonels and up — will get more — about 3.53 per cent.
Here’s the bulletin, complete with all the military jargon, from “head office”:
THE [Minister of National Defence] IS PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THE FOLLOWING INCREASES TO CF PAY AND ALLOWANCES
EFFECTIVE 1 APR 06
1) A PAY ADJUSTMENT OF 2.62 PERCENT FOR ALL NCM RANKS
2) AN ADDITIONAL PAY ADJUSTMENT OF 3.88 PERCENT TO SPECIALIST 1 AND SPECIALIST 2 TRADE GROUPS
3) REGULAR FORCE MEMBERS EMPLOYED IN SPECIALIST 1 OR SPECIALIST 2 OCCUPATIONS WHO COMPONENT TRANSFER TO THE RESERVE FORCE AND CONTINUE TO BE EMPLOYED IN THEIR FORMER OCCUPATION, SPECIFICALLY IN A POSN THAT REQUIRES THOSE SKILLS, WILL BE COMPENSATED AT THE APPROPRIATE RESERVE FORCE SPECIALIST RATE OF PAY
THE CREATION OF TWO NEW PAY LEVELS FOR REG F CPO1S/CWOS. ONE SHALL APPLY ONLY TO THE CFCWO WITH RATES BENCHMARKED TO 11.3 PERCENT ABOVE THE EXISTING CPO1/CWO PAY LEVELS, AND ONE SHALL APPLY TO CPO1S/CWOS APPOINTED TO THE SENIOR APPOINTMENTS LIST BY THE CDS WITH RATES OF PAY BENCHMARKED TO 7 PERCENT ABOVE THE EXISTING CPO1/CWO PAY LEVELS. THE NEW PAY LEVELS ARE EFFECTIVE AS OF 01 SEP 06, THE DATE THE CDS APPROVED THE SENIORp APPOINTMENTS LIST
FOR CF FLAG/GENERAL OFFICERS AND CAPT(N)/COLS, A WEIGHTED AVERAGE PAY ADJUSTMENT OF 3.53 PERCENT EFFECTIVE 1 APR 06
FOR GSOS (CDR/LCOL AND BELOW), PILOTS (CDR/LCOL AND BELOW) AND MEDICAL AND DENTAL OFFICERS (A/SLT/2LT AND SLT/LT)
A RETROACTIVE LUMP SUM OF PAY IN THE AMOUNT OF 0.86 PERCENT FOR EACH MONTH OF FY 05/06
EFFECTIVE 1 APR 06 1) A PAY ADJUSTMENT OF 3.42 PERCENT AND 2) A 1.0 PERCENT INCREASE TO THE MILITARY FACTOR TO BRING IT IN LINE WITH THE RATE CURRENTLY BEING PAID TO NCMS
FOR MEDICAL AND DENTAL OFFICERS (LT(N)/CAPT TO CMDRE/BGEN)
EFFECTIVE 1 APR 05, AN ECONOMIC ADJUSTMENT OF 2.8 PERCENT
EFFECTIVE 1 APR 06 1) AN ECONOMIC ADJUSTMENT OF 3.0 PERCENT 2) AN ADJUSTMENT TO THE SPECIAL MILITARY DIFFERENTIAL FOR MEDICAL OFFICERS AS FOLLOWS I. REG F – INCREASED TO 20,002 DOLLARS PER YEAR II. RES F – INCREASED TO 55 DOLLARS PER DAY 3) AN ADJUSTMENT TO THE SPECIAL MILITARY DIFFERENTIAL FOR DENTAL OFFICERS AS FOLLOWS I. REG F – INCREASED TO 10,013 DOLLARS PER YEAR II. RES F – INCREASED TO 27 DOLLARS PER DAY 4) AN INCREASE TO THE SPECIALIST PAY DIFFERENTIAL FROM 15 PERCENT TO 20 PERCENT FOR CF MEDICAL AND DENTAL OFFICERS (LCDR/MAJ TO CAPT(N)/COL) WHO HOLD A CLINICAL SPECIALITY 5) A RECRUITMENT ALLOWANCE FOR MEDICAL SCHOOL GRADUATES WHO WISH TO PURSUE A CLINICAL SPECIALITY AND WHO ENROLL IN THE CANADIAN FORCES PRIOR TO LICENSING IN THE FOLLOWING AMOUNTS I. 215,000 DOLLARS FOR AN OFFICER REQUIRING ONE YEAR OF SUBSIDIZATION AND II. 180,000 DOLLARS FOR AN OFFICER REQUIRING TWO YEARS OF SUBSIDIZATION
FOR LEGAL OFFICERS, SINCE THE RATE STRUCTURE FOR ALL LEVELS OF THE LA GROUP ARE STILL FROZEN, NO CHANGES TO THE SALARIES OF CF LEGAL OFFICERS CAN BE MADE AT THIS TIME
EFFECTIVE 1 APR 06, ENVIRONMENTAL AND SPECIAL ALLOWANCES WILL INCREASE BY 3.94 PERCENT
MOST ADJUSTMENTS SHOULD BE REFLECTED IN THE MID DEC 06 PAY WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE LUMP SUM PAYMENTS AND THE NEW CPO1/CWO PAY STRUCTURE AS PROGRAMMING CHANGES TO THE CCPS ARE FROZEN AS A RESULT OF THE PENSION MODERNIZATION EFFORTS. DETAILS ON PAYMENT OF THESE BENEFITS WILL BE PROVIDED AT A LATER DATE
“…importantly, the [Strategic Advisory Team-Afghanistan] initiative is explicit recognition that the character of armed conflict has undergone a major transformation since the end of the Cold War and that traditional concepts for the use of armed force are insufficient to establish a lasting peace.”
– Col. Mike Capstick, “A Year in Kabul: Strategic Advisory Team – Afghanistan”, On Track, Autumn 2006, p. 14
“Canadians spend $343 apiece on the most important role of any society – defending itself, and advancing its citizens’ interests abroad. The Dutch, who aren’t exactly known as warmongers, spend $658. The Australians spend $648. The British spend $903. We need to get our military spending to 2 percent of GDP (it has hovered around 1 per cent for decades) to protect our citizens at home and fulfill our military obligations abroad. Otherwise we will remain trapped in our lack of capacity when emergencies arise.”
– Senator Colin Kenny, “Canada’s Military Fix: The Illusion and the Reality” in On Track, Autumn 2006, p. 7