Wolfowitz on verge of being fired?

Sources say the panel investigating Wolfowitz's actions re girlfriend has concluded that he breached ethics rules when he engineered a pay raise for his girlfriend. Committee is considering requesting that he resign. He appears before panel on Monday to explain/defend his actions. Meanwhile more than 40 members of the organization's anti-corruption team, formed to promote transparent government and closely identified with Wolfowitz, have declared that the controversy over his conduct is undermining their work. They called on the World Bank's board to take "clear and decisive actions to resolve this crisis," which they said was undermining the bank's "credibility and authority to engage" on the corruption issue.



Harper govt caught in web of lies

Stephen Harper's mad scramble to make sense out of the inexcusable would be funny if it weren't so dishonest. As he faces the first real crisis of his mandate he comes across as a bully who sees nothing wrong with blatantly lying to the Canadian people and their representatives. His iron-fisted rule has come unglued. Caught in a trap by suppressing the assessment of Canada's diplomats in Afghanistan that detainees are being tortured, Harper is sideswiped by Gordon O'Connor's sudden claim at the Foreign Affairs Committee that a new arrangement has been worked out with the Afghans. Neither O'Connor nor General Hillier had any details to provide. Then Harper tells the House that the new arrangement is in the process of being formalized. Facing a barrage of questions from the Opposition parties, Harper's only response is to resort to schoolyard bully tactics and attempt to bludgeon them into submission. The distinction between Harper and Dion is becoming clearer for voters: dishonesty and lack of integrity versus honesty and integrity. Stay tuned!


Are baby boomers less healthy than parents?

Contrary to popular perception, new evidence indicates that baby boomers are likely to be less healthy than their parents. According to the Washington Post, baby boomers "are more likely to report difficulty climbing stairs, getting up from a chair and doing other routine activities, as well as more chronic problems such as high cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes." The trend seems to be that people are not as healthy as they approach retirement as they were in older generations.



America seen as a violent society

The tragic killings in Virginia have brought an outpouring of sympathy and condolences from around the world. As people shake their heads in bewilderment, trying to puzzle out what would prompt such a senseless act, others see this as another manifestation that the US is a violent society obsessed with the right to bear arms. The Washington Post carries a cross-section of reaction from around the world. It observes: "Officials, newspaper columnists and citizens around the world described the Virginia Tech massacre as the tragic reflection of an America that fosters violence at home and abroad, even as it attempts to dictate behavior to the rest of the world." Much of the foreign reaction centered on the proliferation of guns in the United States. Perhaps there is a lesson here for our own government as it moves to lighten restrictions on gun ownership.


Wolfowitz:Time to Resign

Paul Wolfowitz, major architect of the Iraq war and current President of the World Bank, is now mired in scandal and under increasing pressure to resign. The current uproar over his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, which began when details of her pay package were publicly revealed last month, calls into question Wolfowitz'z integrity and values. Riza was working at the World Bank when Wolfowitz left the Pentagon to become President in 2005. They were already involved in a romantic relationship. The Bank board ruled that "professional contact" between the two violated bank policy and instructed Wolfowitz to order the personnel department to arrange her departure and compensation.Wolfowitz directed Bank officials to agree to a proposal which included the following terms and conditions. Riza was to be "detailed to an outside institution of her choosing while retaining Bank salary and benefits." She was to receive an immediate raise with approximate annual increases of 8 percent.By 2010, when Wolfowitz's five-year term expired, she would reach a salary of $244,960, significantly above the maximum of $226,650 allowable for her pay grade. On her return to the bank, she would be automatically promoted to the level of senior country director; if her return were delayed another five years by a second Wolfowitz term, she would be elevated to the level of bank vice president.

After coming under public scrutiny for this inappropriate arrangement, Wolfowitz has publicly apologized but has refused to step down. Ironically, one of Wolfwitz's primary missions has been to demand that developing countries implement anti-corruption measures before receiving funding from the Bank.

On Sunday the Bank's most powerful oversight committee delivered an unusually public rebuke of his leadership, expressing “great concern” about the institution’s future and the need to preserve its credibility and staff morale. It's time for Wolfowitz to do the honourable thing and resign before he is fired.


Dion/May make pact

The Globe and Mail reports that Stephane Dion has decided not to run a Liberal candidate against Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in the next federal election. In return, it is rumoured that May will promise not to run a Green candidate against the Liberal leader and will essentially endorse Dion for prime minister.

How will Liberals and Green Party members react to this deal? Will they see it as a means of bolstering May's chances of taking MacKay's seat from him? No doubt it will improve the odds. Dion is a shoo-in in his seat anyway so it'll make no difference there. Will Greens resent May cosying up to the Liberals and the Liberals resent Dion making a pact with the Greens?

Harper has no shame

The Harper government has hired a former Quebec separatist cabinet minister who played a key role in the 1995 referendum campaign to investigate the polling contracts of the previous Liberal government. Daniel Paillé, the "independent adviser" hired to conduct the investigation, refused to say yesterday whether he is still a separatist.He has been hired to investigate all government practices regarding polls and other public opinion research from 1990 to 2003. He is to look at files, contracts, reports and records.

What kind of vindictive nonsense is this? Harper hires a separatist to look into the polling practices of the Chretien government. Does he have no confidence in his own ability to win election on his own merits? So he has to go digging under every stone to see whether there's any more dirt he can turn up? This would be laughable if it weren't so offensive.


Generals say "No" to Bush

Bush is desperately seeking someone to oversee the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.Reportedly this individual would have the power to issue directions to Defence, State and other agencies involved.Bush has approached three retired four-star generals who have rejected his offer. These were all all earlier supporters of his war initiatives. "The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going," said retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job.

Bush is going to need more than a new war Czar to save the US's bacon in Iraq.


Life in Iraq

The Washington Post has an interesting story on changing views in Iraq. Some who welcomed the toppling of Saddam Hussein in the spring of 2003 now wish for a return to the "law and order" of his regime. They tell the story of a man who was seen around the world taking a sledgehammer to the statue of Hussein. Four years later he's having second thoughts. "It achieved nothing", he now says."Now, we regret that Saddam Hussein is gone, no matter how much we hated him." Surprising sentiments? Perhaps not, given the chaos now prevailing in Iraq. http://http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/08/AR2007040801058_pf.html

Harper's Wait Times Scam

Stephen Harper has reached a new low in trying to hoodwink Canadians with his so-called success in securing wait time guarantees from the provinces.Harper claims to have fulfilled another of his five priorities. Well, this boat won't float. The deal does not come into effect until 2010, and provinces only have to promise timely treatment in one of several priority areas:
Cancer care
Hip and knee replacement
Cardiac care
Diagnostic imaging
Cataract surgeries

The Conservatives had promised in the last federal election campaign that they would ensure guarantees in all of the above areas. Their new agreement with the provinces proves to be a sham when you take a look at what the provinces have actually committed to. To take one example, Ontario is promising that by 2009, patients who cannot obtain cataract surgery within 182 days will be given the opportunity to receive treatment outside the province. However, the current average wait for cataract surgery in Ontario is 183 days -- just one day longer than the target. And it's a somewhat similar situation for other provinces. They have picked areas and targets which they already meet.

This falls far short of the comprehensive improvement in wait times that the Conservatives promised during the last election. As Andrew Coyne put it in the National Post, Harper has learned to lie shamelessly in the expectation that the public doesn't care. Well, here's hoping that voters do care and will express their frustration at the ballot box.


Cons pledge to stay in Afghanistan

The Conservative government has no intention of withdrawing Canadian troops from Afghanistan in 2009 when the current mandate from Parliament runs out. Defense Minister Gordon O'Connor stated today that:

"This government will support the mission — by our words and by our actions — until the progress in Afghanistan becomes irreversible."

"Afghanistan is a success story," he said.

What fantasy world is Mr. O'Connor living in? Next he'll be wanting to dispatch Canadian troops to Iraq.