Unpleasant facts about corporations – above the law, at a price?

SNC Lavalin wanted a DPA – Deferred Prosecution Agreement. Our Prime Minister put ‘no pressure’ on our Attorney General to permit this.’Make your own decision.’

Until he demoted her from being Attorney General. She was an early indigenous example of a cabinet post. She later resigned from her lower cabinet post, apparently in protest.

DPAs are part of the UK legal landscape and they permit large corporations to pay fines – essentially to buy themselves out of legal action – while admitting no guilt. Since there is no guilt, no corporate executive goes to jail either.

DPAs are common in the USA. Corporations rarely admit guilt even when caught red-handed.

DPAs were created in Canada in 2018 by the Trudeau government. Yes, this rabbit hole was created just in time for SNC Lavalin.

The legislation was slid into an omnibus bill that was essentially financial. Some MPs were surprised, including budget ones. (See today’s Toronto Star for this one, I think David Olive.)

I used to like Justin Trudeau, but I think he blew the entire file on this one in three different directions.

SNC did, apparently, a lot of bribing in Libya. The math of this is simple: pay off a government or corporate decider to get the contract, and get the contract at a much higher price. Those paying don’t pay, either their corporations or their Government/taxpayers do;

So, you can be above the law – at a price.Right, Justin?

Matt Nagin: A Feast of Sapphires

This is a cut&paste of a review that will appear on Amazon and possibly GoodReads.

Feast of Sapphires    Matt Nagin

Personal experiences, social commentary, in seventy-eight poems.

four stars

As always, do not let my star count override your judgement of content. More on the stars, counting, and my rating challenges later. I am a tough reviewer, and only one person’s opinion can appear here. Let’s get to the good stuff, Nagin’s work.

For a fun intro to Nagin’s style, turn to Donut Shop. Many images of unwilling participation lead to the final joke at the end.

Nagin is comfortable with social commentary, as in Palace of Lies, which includes this: “How you like my credit card? /Platinum-tier damages— /Ferrari in the garage— /Penthouse on Madison?”

As always, Google anything of which you are not absolutely certain. I learned a few things this way. Back to the book.

Spoiler alert: here is the entire short poem Pregnancy: “I kiss the sunset /and such magic falcons /such dreams unanswered /kick the heavens furiously /like a baby /waiting to be born.”

For a truly scary experience, turn to Vegas Massacre, which begins thus: “He unloaded the bullets /like rain drops /the ominous pitter-patter of death…”   and that’s only the opening.

For a personal and pleasant experience, turn to Birds Singing in my Chest, which includes this: “I woke up /like a new man, /a soul reborn /with intensity; /birds singing in my chest, /squirrels….” That’s not a spoiler; there’s a lot more in the poem where that came from.

For a good laugh, and to see Nagin in prose, turn to Eyebrows, which begins thus: “This manicure place in my hood advertises 3D eyebrows on a day-glo sign and I always pass it in mute wonder—”

Again in prose, Nagin demonstrates his communicative power in Hit by a Car, where we find this: “skull to the cement, glass lodged in the guts of your arm, blood unleashed onto grim shoes—the destitution of spirit.”

I have other favourites here, but that should give you a decent feel for what is on offer in this book. Now for the star count boilerplate.

My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. I try hard to be consistent. Nagin’s work easily gets four stars from the curmudgeon. Highly recommended.

Kindle Book Review Team member.

(Note: this reviewer received a free copy of this book for an independent review. He is not associated with the author or Amazon.)

The EU should, imho, wake up

Brexit was, imho, a bad idea.

Brexit was, imho, manipulated via Facebook via a Canadian company via a free sports lottery.

Brexit is so f…d up I can’t see straight when I read the news. There is a Lot of fear-mongering.

– Brits will run out of food, medicines, et cetera.

Let’s have a serious look at that claim. The EU will suddenly be able to sell, elsewhere, the fresh food and stale medicines it normally sends to the UK?

Why aren’t those EU corporate interests weighing in on the current Brexit negotiations?

Has all of the EU decided this: it is necessary to punish the first exit-or severely as an example?

Remember, this is the EU that imposed crippling sanctions on countries (Greece, for example) so they borrow at absurd interest rates to pay loans they made at absurd interest rates. Germany should, imho, remember that Greece wrote off a lot of their debts after the war. Apparently gratitude is not something Angela Merkel experiences in her political life.

If Greece had its own currency, it could print that and pay its debts and merely experience inflation. Fewer imports, more exports. Internal prices could be stable.

A painful Brexit will signal many messages. Greece might wake up and decide to bail, as it has less to lose then the UK has already lost.

This is, imho, not theoretical. The EU should wake up and give May a decent deal.

Promises: in Ontario

Guaranteed income experiment: Cancelled by Doug Ford.

University campuses subsidy: Cancelled by Doug Ford.

Impoverished student subsidy: Cancelled by Doug Ford, replaced by a fee cut that benefits everyone, including the rich. The poor get to borrow more, and have less time after graduating to start paying interest. Shafted by Doug Ford.

Ontario Place refreshment: about to be manipulated by Doug Ford. He’ll probably insist on a large ferris wheel. Designed by Doug Ford.

Toronto Council: Shrunk by Doug Ford, just before an election. Result: some of his opponents didn’t make it. Manipulated by Doug Ford.

He promised good government. Is that what this looks like? Promised by Doug Ford.

An alternalte theory re MBS – Lenin’s Law

I will carefully spell his name here. Mohammed bin Salman. (from Wikipedia.)

He is the current crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

He is implicated in the killing of Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Turkey.

Now I invoke Lenin’s Law: to understand a historical event, find out who profited from it.

MBS has consolidated power with many scary moves, including imprisoning a large number of key Saudi persons in a ‘gold star’ hotel. Many were allowed to exit after paying large fines.

MBS is modernizing his country. Women can drive. Big university budgets. Diversity from oil revenue.

MBS has made a Lot of enemies with the above, and other, decisions..

If you were to benefit from MBS being deposed, who are you? Those who do not want the country to move forward – in women’s rights, in science, in non-oil economic prospects?

So, what would you do? Send a team of 15, mostly by private jet,.to assassinate a journalist in Turkey?

Lenin’s law: who benefited?

Is MBS dumb enough to arrange the murder, and body disposal, of a minor journalist?

Was it a plot to reduce his power and credibility?

That’s today’s dumb question.

Emergency Alert ?

A few days ago my cell phone went off for an emergency alert system test.

There was an emergency alert in Hawaii last year that turned out to be false. The threat of an incoming missile was incorrect. Officials did not correct this for some 38 minutes.

I have a request to the tall foreheads setting up this emergency alert system. Don’t warn me of an incoming atomic missile. There’s nothing I can do in this case, and would rather be surprised than spend a minute or so in dread.

I also have a dumb question.

Will this alert go off if my phone is in airplane mode? Supposing its a hurricane warning, telling me to take cover.

What do you think is the right answer here? That’s the dumb question.

Drones: serial numbers?? why not??

I personally own and use a number of ‘technical’ pieces of equipment. My cameras all have a serial number. My binoculars all have a serial number. My desktop and laptops all have a serial number. My car has a VIN number which uniquely identifies it. Some (expensive) cars have the VIN recorded again, hidden in multiple parts and places.

I submit that a drone is roughly as complex as a good camera. So, why do they not have serial numbers burned into them?? Why is this not a legal requirement from the government to the manufacturers?

If they did, capturing a drone in Gatwick could have led directly to the manufacturer, the lot and retailer, and the eventual purchaser.

If drones don’t have numbers burned into them, why not?
If they do, why can’t law enforcement find their purchasers?

Debjeet Mukherjee – a new and promising writer

This is a copy of a review on Amazon and GoodReads.

Voyages      Debjeet Mukherjee

Forty poems from a new writer – with some history.

Three stars.

This is an unusual work, and I am not sure how to evaluate it. So, as always, do not let my star count override your judgement of content. More on the stars, counting, and my rating challenges later. Let me give you an insight into Mukherjee’s offering.

I could rate this book solely on the power of the poems in it; or I could also comment on the exposure the author has given you, his reader, of his growth over time. I will do a bit of each.

For a quick peek at his later work, turn to My Balloon Girl, where a subtle infatuation changes the course of at least one life. This is a demonstration of this author’s potential and power.

As we walk backward in time, to earlier work, we can see what Mukherjee grew from. If you’re interested in studying how a poet strengthens over time, this book will be of great interest.

Star counts are hard. My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. I try hard to be consistent. This is a young and very promising author. Three stars feels about right.

Fording the Swamp

Here you will find a Chatelaine article summarizing the damage done by our fine Provincial Premier to Ontario and Toronto.

I will content myself with two quotes. Emphasis mine.

On October 2, Doug Ford announced in the Ontario legislature that his government would be “getting rid” of Bill 148. Introduced by the Liberals, it’s an employment and labour reform bill that:

• guarantees part-time workers will be paid the same rate a full-time workers doing the same job
• orders employers to pay workers for three hours if their shift is cancelled with less than 48 hours notice
• gives workers three weeks of vacation after five years of employment, as well as 10 personal days a year—two of which must be paid

It’s also the same bill that introduced the minimum wage increase to $14/hour in 2018 (from $11.60), followed by an increase to $15/hour that was scheduled to happen on January 1, 2019. (Scrapping the $15 minimum wage was a campaign promise that provincial finance minister Laurie Scott said the PCs would keep in a September 14 opinion piece in the Financial Post.)

Ford’s justification for scrapping Bill 148? He considers it to be a “job killer” that he alleges has already cost the Ontario economy 60,000 jobs.

(IMHO there is no basis for Ford’s statement. Ontario’s employment rate improved when this bill went in.)

On August 1, Children, Community and Social Services minister Lisa MacLeod announced that the PCs would be ending the Liberal government’s pilot project looking into providing Ontarians with a no-strings-attached “basic income.” The pilot involved 4,000 people earning less than $34,000 annually who were given up to $17,000. Unlike traditional welfare, the payment was not conditional upon employment status. Couples would receive up to $24,000; those with disabilities were eligible for up to an additional $6,000. The experiment began in April 2017 and was set to last three years.

In her announcement of the pilot cancellation, MacLeod said that it was scrapped because it wasn’t working, although she was unable to provide any data to clarify what that meant. There were also no details on how the program would be wound down for those currently supported by it. This comes on the heels of another announcement on July 31, when MacLeod said the government would increase disability support rates by 1.5% instead of the 3% promised by the Liberals before the election.

(There’s more, but you can use the hotlink above to see the entire article.)

Have a nice day.

Trumping the Facts

Here you will find an Atlantic article on Donald Trump.

I will content myself with a small quote.

Ordinarily, a politician cannot be held responsible for the actions of a deranged follower. But ordinarily, politicians don’t praise supporters who have mercilessly beaten a Latino man, as “very passionate.” Ordinarily, they don’t offer to pay supporters’ legal bills if they assault protesters on the other side. They don’t praise acts of violence against the media. They don’t defend neo-Nazi rioters as “fine people.” They don’t justify sending bombs to their critics by blaming the media for airing criticism. Ordinarily, there is no historic surge in anti-Semitism, much of it targeted at Jewish critics, coinciding with a politician’s rise. And ordinarily, presidents do not blatantly exploit their authority in an effort to terrify white Americans into voting for their party. For the past few decades, most American politicians, Republican and Democrat alike, have taken care not to urge their supporters to take matters into their own hands. Trump did everything he could to fan the flames, and nothing to restrain those who might take him at his word.

Have a nice day.