Bob Broughton's Blog about British Columbia politics

The Israel/Lebanon/Hezbollah conflict

It's on the news constantly, but what's going on there is so horrible, that I've been having a hard time getting a handle on it.

Terry Glavin wrote a column in the August 3 Georgia Straight, StopWar’s peace is about opposing Israel, that is a big help. Glavin spells out the obvious: Hezbollah is a group of racist religious fanatics, funded and provided with weapons by another group of racist religious fanatics in Iran. These racist religious fanatics are making the world a very dangerous place, especially because the racist religious fanatics in Iran want to get nuclear weapons.

Glavin also wrote, "You could fairly mark July 2006 as one of the most squalid months in the history of the 'left' in Canada." I'll leave it to you to click the URL in the previous paragraph to find out why. A lot of people aren't going to like some things that Glavin wrote, but it's time for them to take a hard look at themselves in a mirror. No, we are not all Hezbollah.

Update on August 11: Let's talk about war crimes. That's what Louise Arbour, The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is doing. See this Green Party of Canada press release, Harris condemns Harper's delayed cease-fire call.

Terry Glavin's blog: http://transmontanus.blogspot.com/

Organ Harvesting in China: followup

The Epoch Times has run another article about the use of political prisoners as a source of organs for transplantation. The issue has attracted some attention in Canada. Former Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas want to go to China to investigate the allegations, but are getting the official run-around. Kilgour went to a visa office to apply for a visa, and was told, "I don't deal with visas." The article is China Embassy Dodging Organ Harvesting Probe, Says Ex-MP, by Masha Loftus.

Update on July 7: Here is the report by Kilgore and Matas: http://www.david-kilgour.com/2006/Kilgour-Matas-organ-harvesting-rpt-July6-eng.pdf.
Extensive story in the Epoch Times: Kilgour-Matas Report Confirms Organ Harvesting in China

The origin of "jumped the shark"

This story falls into the "you learn something new every day" category. I was listening to airamericaradio.com today, which is something I do pretty often. The subject of discussion was former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who is currently running for the Senate, and headed for a dismal defeat. Harris gained considerable notoriety for her role in stealing the 2000 presidential election, although, in the interest of fairness and balance, I'll point out that if Gore had managed to carry his home state of Tennessee, what happened in Florida wouldn't have mattered.

It seems that Harris has been going around saying that Florida's Democrat members of Congress are telling her privately that they hope that she wins. This claim is being dismissed as complete nonsense, and Air America Radio commentator Sam Seder said that Harris has "jumped the shark".

My reaction was to start wondering where the expression "jumped the shark" came from. Thanks to Google, I was able to find out in about a minute.

It's a Hollywood term, and it originated with the Happy Days sitcom. This show deteriorated badly during the last couple of years that it was on the air, and during this period, the character Fonzie (a greaser played by Henry Winkler) jumped over a shark while water skiing. The expression "jumped the shark" came to apply to the point where a TV series has been on too long, and gotten stale or silly. The best example that comes to mind is the last season of Ally McBeal.

There's a jumptheshark.com site which contains viewer evaluations of 2,500 TV shows, and visitors can vote and comment on the moment when their favorite or detested show jumped the shark. This Hour Has 22 Minutes is listed; there are 17 votes for "when Rick Mercer left the show", and 17 for "never jumped". There are 50 voters who say that Desperate Housewives has "never jumped", and 19 for "the second season". There's also a "bait shop" where you can by a book with the title Jump the Shark.

Another Linux installation experience

After several years of procrastination, and some unsuccessful bids on eBay, I finally got a laptop computer. It's a Dell Latitude, and it came with a 650 mHz processor, a 12 MB hard disk, and 128 MB or memory.

"Only 128 MB of RAM," you say? Hell, I got by for years with a Commodore Amiga that had "only" two MB. I wasn't worried about this because my plan was to install Linux on it, and knew that Linux would work with this configuration.

So, after switching on the power and making sure that I got what I paid for, I proceeded to install RedHat Enterprise Linux Version 4. For a personal-use computer, it might have made more sense to install Xandros or Ubuntu, but I already had a copy of RH Enterprise on hand; somebody gave it to me at the recent LinuxFest in Bellingham. RedHat has another important advantage; it's easy to find RPM's for updated software.

Organ Harvesting in China

The April 20-26 issue of The Epoch Times has this article on the front page: Good Organs for Sale - but You Have to Hurry, written by Mary Silver.

This article makes a very serious accusation: kidneys, livers, and other organs available for transplants in Chinese hospitals have been involuntarily harvested from practitioners of Falun Gong. Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) is primarily an exercise regime that incorporates some principles of Buddhism. It has become a target of the government of China, primarily because it's something that exists in China that they don't control.

China is a major trading partner of Canada and the United States, and a major supplier of cheap consumer goods. Officials of federal, provincial/state, and municipal governments frequently visit China to drum up more business. The 2008 Olympic Games are to take place in Beijing. If the Chinese government is, as alleged by The Epoch Times, facilitating Nazi Germany-style medical practices, the involvement of North American governments in trade relationships with China is totally inappropriate.

An editorial in the same issue, An Open Letter to Our Colleagues in the Media, calls on the media to allocate an appropriate amount of investigative resources and time and space to this issue. This blog isn't the New York Times or CNN, but I'm willing to give the same weight to atrocities in China as is given to atrocities in Iraq, Rwanda, and elsewhere.

Political alternatives to the Gateway Project

Look out, here comes argument number 223 in favour of implementing proportional representation in British Columbia.

Both the Green Party of BC and the Democratic Reform BC parties have spelled out alternatives to the government's Gateway Project. The Green Party's is at http://www.greenthink.net/, and DRBC's is at http://www.drbc.ca/download/DRBC-Gateway.pdf.

Both proposals call for revival of light rail transit east of Surrey. The DRBC proposal is more specific about this and other transit improvements. It also contains a novel proposal for a rail and truck bridge in the Port Mann vicinity. This deserves a lot more public scrutiny; the Fraser River rail bridge (next to the Patullo Bridge connecting New Westminster and Surrey) is 100 years old, and needs to be replaced soon. (Yes, there are safety concerns.) This is going to be an expensive project.

In the tradition of holism, the Green Party proposal also addresses the effort by the provincial government to pave over Eagleridge Bluffs and the Larson Creek wetlands, which the Green Party opposes.

Neither of these parties are currently represented in the Legislative Assembly. This is yet another example of why this should change; opening up the Legislative Assembly to more voices will ultimately give us better government.

A related article that I wrote: Eagleridge Bluffs and Olympic sustainability