Thursday, October 30, 2008

Is the Republican Fix Already In...?

CNN is reporting that irregularities are already showing up in advance polling for Tuesday's US election. Mistakes by voting machines have already been reported in three states.
"You can be almost certain that there will be irregularities in some places around the country," said Rep. Rush Holt, D-New Jersey. "The problem now is that roughly a third of voters nationwide will use unverifiable electronic machines. So if there are uncertainties, there will be no way to resolve them."

CNN futher reports that:
For this presidential election, 55 percent of American voters are casting ballots via optical-scan systems, up from 49 percent two years ago. One-third of Americans are voting by electronic touch screen. The state of New York still votes largely by mechanical lever machines -- those curtained relics from the 1960s -- while several small counties in Maine and Vermont still use old-fashioned paper ballots, counted by hand.
Some observers believe this patchwork quilt of electronic, mechanical and paper balloting from state to state -- even county to county -- makes it more difficult to regulate voting systems. According to a joint report released this month by three nonprofit democracy groups, including Common Cause, 22 states use electronic voting machines that produce no voter-verifiable paper record.

You'd think that after the huge voting frauds in 2000 and 2004 that the United States, the so-called "Leader of the Free World," would adopt the easist and safest method to insure against voting fraud: the paper ballot. And an X. It isn't that difficult.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

BC's Orcas Suffer Their Worst Die-off in a Decade

British Columbia's endangered population of orcas is facing its worse die-off in a decade.
Seven orcas from the local resident population are believed to have died in the last year. This lowers the number of resident orcas to 83. Historically, the number has been around 120, until it reached a low of 71 in 1973.
What is worrying is that two of the deaths are breeding-age females. Infant mortality among the three local pods is normally around 50%. As well, chinook salmon stocks, the orca's main food source, are disappearing and many biologists are fearful for the whales' survival.
Ken Balcomb, Center for Whale Research executive director said, "They need to eat and that means they need chinook salmon. We have to manage our wild salmon properly and that means for the benefit of the ecosystem and natural world, rather than jobs. It's going to be at least 20 years of nail-biting to see if they are going to make it."
Howard Garrett of the Orca Network also fears for the local pods' survival. He said, "This is a drastically steep drop-off and, if the conditions don't improve, meaning more chinook, we might see this for the next few years and this population can't stand that. It's hard to imagine they could disappear."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Documentaries...

Some great documentaries about climate change and food are out there...Slow Food Canada will be presenting An Island at the Edge about Vancouver Island food security in November and this film will be included as well at their first Film Festival.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Michael Palin Is Number 2, Says Cleese



John mentions who is the number one funniest Palin at about 1:02 into the video. Nice to see he's still paying attention....

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And We Spent $300,000,000 For What Exactly....?

2008 Voter Turnout:
59.1% of registered electors (or about 41% of all Canadians)
- one of the lowest in recent history

Total Conservative vote percentage:
2006 - 36.3%
2008 - 37.6%
- A 1.3% increase after governing for 2 years
- From 127 to 143 seats (gained 16 seats)

Percentage of Canadians who did not vote for Harper's Conservatives: 62.4%

Times Stephen Harper has attempted to get a majority and failed:
Three times (in 2004, 2006, and 2008)


Overall Seat Count 2008:
Conservatives: 143
Opposition: 163

Liberal vote percentage:
2006 - 30.2%
2008 - 26.2%
From 95 to 76 seats

NDP vote percentage:
2006 - 17.5%
2008 - 18.2%
From 30 to 37 seats

Bloc Québécois
2006 - 10.5% (Canada-wide)
2008 - 10% (Canada-wide)
From 48 to 50 seats

Green vote percentage:
2006 - 4.5%
2008 - 6.8%
No seats

Under a Proportional Representation system, the seat totals would have been:
Conservatives: 116
Liberal: 81
NDP: 56
BQ: 31
Green: 24
When a party like the BQ gets 10% of the vote and 16% of the seats, while the Greens get 7% of the vote and no seats, that clearly shows the flaws of the current first-past-the-post system.

All five party leaders have some thinking to do this morning. While many of them had a bright side to look at, none of them really got anything they wanted.
The Green's Elizabeth May got her wish: she was in the debate. The Greens increased their popular vote more than any other party. And were still nowhere near electing anyone. The Greens need a leader who will run for Prime Minister, not offer up advice on strategic voting.
Speaking of running for Prime Minster, that's what Jack Layton of the NDP did. He took dead aim at Harper's job. And finished fourth. Yes, the NDP did gain some seats, but how many more fight does Jack have in him?
Then there's Gilles Duceppe, The Man Who Would Not Be King. He's got to feel good. His party gained a couple of seats, and clearly his plea to Quebeckers to stop a Harper majority worked. It's too bad for him that all those voters who listened to him chose to block Harper by voting Liberal. How many more elections does Duceppe have in him? Can the Bloc survives if he leaves, or has it become irrelevant and does it survive only by the force of Duceppe's personality?
The only bright side to the Liberal's performance is that they did make some gains in Quebec, but otherwise it was a dismal show. Dion is toast. The knives are out. The Liberals need to make some big changes soon, or they will disappear has a force in Canadian politics. Who will be the next leader? I'm thinking Ignatieff. But the leader after him will have a familiar name: Trudeau.
Harper and the Conservatives had a reasonable night. But this is Harper's third time at the plate and he couldn't close the deal with a majority. And if he couldn't do it this time, with the center/left vote split three ways, an ineffective opposition leader, and an economist's perfect issue dropped into his lap in mid-campaign, can he ever? The knives may not be out yet for Harper, but I'm sure some Tories are going through the knife drawer.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

John is hoping Louise knits...



Oh yes, there's more. I love this blog--Why Would You Knit That? Check out what happens when biologists learn to knit. And then there's the Dark Roasted Blend collection of knitted weirdness.
A similar blog, different topic, is over here.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Is it a lion motorbike or a motorbike lion?

BC's Southern Resident Orcas Starving

The local population of killer whales might be starving to death. According to this Victoria Times-Colonist report, members of the three local pods of orcas are showing obvious signs of starvation. Salmon runs are down again this year, and orcas are desperately trying to find food. That desperation is forcing them in to unusual behaviour patterns. "A small group from L Pod have been traveling with J Pod all summer long, and twice J Pod has split into two completely separate groups, out of acoustic range from each other," said a researcher. "It's an indication that they are searching high and low and in every nook and cranny for fish."
This may explain why today eight leading environmental groups have launched a legal action against the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. They allege that the DFO ignored a September 10 order to protect the whales under the federal government's Species at Risk Act. The DFO helps to enforce the Act, which protects species considered at risk.
There are about 87 southern resident whales in British Columbia waters and they are considered endangered.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Save the Planet: Stop Harper

Canadian artists have joined together to attack Harper's record (what little record these is) on climate change.

After checking out the song, check out the website.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

That Canadian Guy on the election(s)

Brief stand up bit on American vs Canadian Elections etc


And for the "undecided" voter,try his "Random Voter" -- now with both US and Canadian versions available.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I've Said it Before....

...and I'll say it again:
If Gilles Duceppe would forget about sovereignty, run a national slate and change the name of the party to Bloc Canada, he'd get my vote.