Trouble Brewing?

This is rather disquieting news, isn't it?

Short version (in case the link doesn't work): 15 British navy personnel have been taken into custody, at gunpoint, by Iranian forces. It happened while the Brits were conducting an inspection of a vessel heading for Iraq.

Details are still sketchy, but needless to say, the British government is not happy about this, at all.

Apparently, something like this happened in '04 (check out the BBC story for more details), and it was resolved - but as noted in other media covering this story, the situation vis a vis Iran and "the west" (including the UK) is significantly more tense now.

Here's hoping that this is quickly remedied by the quick return of the British sailors (along with an apology, but I wouldn't hold my breath on that one) - because if it isn't, the British, and perhaps others, will have to respond more directly.

More later.



Such a Shame - He Was Having Such a GOOD Campaign ...

If there's a landmine, or even a cow-flop, out there, it seems Andre Boisclair is bound and determined to step on it.

But still, it's not as if leaders of the PQ have a history of saying really stupid things about people who don't fit the typical "pur laine" model of Quebec nationalist - right?

More later.

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Bloggin' the Brier (VI)

Howard can maybe put the game out of reach with this shot ... Here we go .... Damnit. He made a super shot and is up by 4.

It was an amazing shot, and ON deserves its win, but damn, it shows how this game can turn on a dime. NL looked like it had the edge at the 1/2-way mark and had Gushue made that risky shot a few ends back ...

Oh well. Howard & co. earned their win, but Gushue's rink earned some respect that they didn't have coming in, despite the gold medals at the Olympics last year.

In the 10th now, and Newfoundland & Labrador has just run out of rocks. Congrats to ON (who lost in the final last year) and see ya next year for NL - hopefully they can do what ON did this year, and bounce back for a win.

More later.

Bloggin' the Brier (V)

Hard luck for NL in the 8th ... They really needed 2, but got stuck with a single. Ontario leads by 1 and has the hammer in the 9th.

Gushue & co. will need some luck, or a bad break for Ontario, here.

More later.

Bloggin' the Brier (IV)

BIG risky shot from Gushue - and he missed BIG. Ontario steals 2, and Ontario's in the driver's seat heading for the 8th, up by 2.

I dunno - NL can maybe score a couple here, but now the Gushue rink's really under the gun. Damnit!

More later.

Bloggin' the Brier (III)

Ontario grabs 2, as Brad Gushue misses a double-takeout with his last rock, leaving a relatively easy draw for Howard (though the boys had to sweep for it!). We're tied after 6 ends, with NL holding the hammer in the 7th.

More later.

Bloggin' the Brier (II)

Bad ice has been the story this week, and it has reared its ugly head this week. Both Ont and NL have had good-looking shots go south.

In the 6th end and Ontario's threatening....These are 2 fine rinks here.

Ont scored 1 in the first; NL got 2 in the second, and ON did the same in the 3rd. NL scored 2 in the 4th and stole 1 in the 5th.

More later.

Bloggin' the Brier (I)

(Lord knows if this "remote blogging" will work this time - last time, during the '06 elections in the US, it screwed up 9 ways from Sunday - but it's worth a shot.)

Heck of a game going on today at the Brier in Hamilton. We're 1/2-way through, and NL has a 5-3 lead, but ON has the hammer in the 6th.

Great shooting from Nfld skip Brad Gushue, and not-quite-so-good shooting from Ontario's Howard, has been the diff so far in my uneducated opinion, but it's still very close. The ON rink can pick up 2 points easy, and maybe more.

More later. 

The Demos Get More Interesting ...

The NY Times had a bit of the glitch other day, but I have to say, I don't think the Dems have ever looked better.

More later.



Sometimes, a Story Can Be Summed Up In a Single Word...

... and that word is disgusting.

More later.

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Because Secret Ballots Are *SO* 20th Century ...

Not that Canadian politics isn't enough fun, but an article from south of the border caught my attention.

The gist of it is that the Democrats, who are now running Capital Hill, plan on changing the existing rules governing how a workplace gets unionized. Instead of requiring a secret yes-or-no ballot, the Dems and their union-head allies want to impose an automatic "card certification" process, which means that once a simple majority of eligibile workers sign union cards, the union is automatically "certified", or officialy recognized, without having a follow-up election.

The problem is, an individual worker could be pressured into signing a card - or for that matter, could be pressured into not signing. A secret ballot lets that individual make up his or her own mind, and vote accordingly, without anyone being able to prove how he or she voted.

If the worker signed the card of his/her own free will, then great: he or she can vote accordingly. But if for any reason they want to express themselves differently without everone in their shop knowing about it, a secret ballot lets that happen.

Unions, it is said, exist in part because the power of the individual worker is nowhere near as strong as the power enjoyed by his or her employer. But if that logic is accepted, then it follows that there is also a "power imbalance" between that individual worker, and a union on an organizing drive. One way to protect those individual workers from that "imbalance" is to allow them to make a yes-or-no choice without having to inform their fellow workers, the union organizers, or their employers & managers. And that's done by a secret ballot.

The Liberal government in Ontario has gotten up to similar shenanigans, bringing back Bob Rae-era "card certification", with a 55% threshold, in the construction industry. The McGuinty Libs haven't gone the whole hog and introduced "card certification" throughout Ontario - so far. But they have brought in some other pro-union "reforms". The CFIB has mounted a PR campaign setting out these changes, which you can read about here (note: Adobe document).

Naturally, the CFIB isn't exactly an unbiased observer in all of this by a long shot (but then, neither are most bloggers ...), but they do set out some of the more troubling changes introduced by the Libs.

But of all the "reforms", it's the card certification one that bothers me the most. Protecting an individual by giving her or him a secret ballot is seen as a pretty important principle to me - but it looks as if it's a principle that some unions, and their allies north & south of the border, would rather see the back of.

More later.