Here’s quick round-up of a few news tidbits salient to us Canucks.
Former PM Brian Mulroney might be lying about his having represented Karlheinz Schreiber’s business interests in a trip he made to China in October 1993. The scandal is that he took three hundred grand from Schreiber to lobby for a project to have German-made tanks built in Canada; Mulroney says he was paid $225,000 to peddle Schreiber’s tanks internationally. Beyond that, due to a tax loophole, Mulroney was taxed on only half of $225,000 for his back taxes which were voluntarily filed in 2000. That halving-back-taxes process was discontinued only last year. No matter which way you slice it, Mulroney is in for a shitstorm — either he used his influence to peddle wares of a very dubious military nature to the Chinese, or he took money to have tanks built in Canada and mis-declared his taxes, and either way he used a loophole to pay for only half what he should have, a loophole I certainly wasn’t aware of personally until reading about this. I’m of the opinion that everyone should pay taxes equally according to their means if you expect to reap the benefits of public education, roads, doctors, emergency services and military protection. If you’re making about ten years’ worth of the average Canadian’s salary just for making one measly lobbying trip, then you have the means to pay your damn taxes.
In Calgary police are holding an internal inquiry about a fatal shooting wherein a drunk man man with a sawed-off shotgun held a neighbor hostage for several hours over an alleged theft of a whammy bar. Like, for a guitar. Dude’s obviously unstable, and he has an illegally modified weapon that’ll do a fuckload of damage if he even points it moderately close to being in the right direction; far as I’m concerned, winging or tasing this guy isn’t an option. Good on them. Shameful loss of human life, but it’s better than the dead one being a guy who may not have even stolen a guitar part.
A pair of Canadians will be making a rendezvous in space, at the International Space Station, marking the first time in history two Canucks are in space simultaneously. No, I’m afraid Bob and Doug McKenzie will not get to finally “take off”, it’s actually going to be Bob Thirsk and Julie Payette. And they’re going to celebrate with, no joke, a picnic consisting of “smoked salmon pate, salmon jerky, maple butter, maple leaf cookies, bison pemmican, beef jerky and maple syrup.” There is so much awesome in this news bite I don’t even know where to begin. So I won’t.
More good news: the city of Vancouver has gone fully open-source, open standards! This is a huge win for people who consider this movement more than viable and important for individuals’ access to the data produced by government, but being vital to the continued prosperity of the computer industry as a whole. One councillor tried to water the bill down, and voted against a number of parts of the bill, but the bill passed in its entirety. Said Andrea Reimer, city councillor and proposer of the motion, regarding the members of the public in witness of this meeting:
“The only sort of negative [comment] was ‘Can’t you go further? Can’t you do more?’”
She added that some felt open-source software should be favoured, rather than just be put on equal footing with proprietary software.
“But I think the city would want to know how it works first before it jumps into that.”
That’s pretty well the only problem I’d have, too, is that if you’re going to respect open standards, you have to consider open source software first, because Microsoft’s track record with open standards of embrace-extend-extinguish is well documented. Being that Microsoft’s pretty well the only competition when it comes to office suites, and the “open formats” law affects mostly office documents, it’s only logical to consider Microsoft as being hostile to the goals in the proposal and so they should be looked at last, not equally.
And finally, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled on Monday that Radio Canada’s “Bye Bye” comedy program which aired on New Year’s Eve was wrong in airing a sketch suggesting that Obama’s skin color would make him easier to assassinate, and suggesting that blacks all look alike and that you should hide your purses. Yet they claim they’re not racist. Fuckers. Radio Canada is due to apply for a license for renewal in 2011, and stuff like this doesn’t slide off.
And that’s everything in my feed readers that pertains to Canada and interested me directly. Jason Thibeault, news aggregator extraordinaire.