Wednesday, September 17, 2014

He really must have been the Master of Suspense: Patient in vegetative state for 16 years reacts to suspenseful Alfred Hitchcock show

A group of Canadian neuroscientists says they have successfully used an episode of the suspenseful Alfred Hitchcock Presents television series to record the conscious experiences of a patient who has been in a vegetative state for 16 years.
The researchers at Western University in London, Ont., released a paper Monday about a brain scanning technique that monitors the response of non-responsive patients to a shortened version of the episode, Bang! You’re Dead.

plus, more at NATURE

Toronto public school trustees racked up high costs for conference travel

Toronto public school trustees spent $108,000 on conferences over a three-year period, travelling to California, Boston and Whistler on the taxpayers’ dime, say two confidential reports obtained by the Star.
The biggest spenders were trustees Gerri Gershon, racking up $13,804.54 in conference costs; Elizabeth Moyer, with at least $13,727.53; and Shelley Laskin with more than $13,533.93, from 2010-11 to 2012-13, the reports show. There were no cost estimates available for three additional conferences attended by Moyer and Laskin.

Is Olivia Chow nuts? She endorsed a TDSB candidate who was a speaker at a pro-Hezbollah rally

The NDP establishment in the downtown ward of Trinity-Spadina is pushing out an extremely troubling figure for Toronto District School Board (TDSB) trustee.  The candidate, Ausma Malik has been endorsed by high-profile NDPers including Mike Layton, Joe Cressy, and former MPP Rosario Marchese.  She's also sharing a campaign office with Layton and Cressy.  In fact, so close are the three that they appear to consider themselves an allied slate, as opposed to three individual candidates.

Who is Ausma Malik?

According to The Varsity, Ausma Malik played a major role in a crooked student union election at the University of Toronto - which is located in the very ward in which she is now running for TDSB trustee...

Blogwrath is crowdsourcing support for a book about the media vs Rob Ford

You can read more and support him HERE

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

eBay/Participant Media's Jeff Skoll endorses Toronto School Board Candidate Richard Klagsbrun

Participant Media's Jeff Skoll
TORONTO, Sept 16,2014 /CNW/ - World-famous Canadian philanthropist, entrepreneur, and Hollywood movie producer Jeff Skoll has done something unprecedented for him this week. The eBay innovator who was both its first employee and first president, took a public position in Toronto politics by endorsing Richard Klagsbrun for Public School Trustee in Toronto's Trinity-Spadina district.
Skoll's eponymous Skoll Foundation is one of the premier catalysts for Social Entrepreneurship in the world and his Skoll Scholarship program has awarded millions in education grants. Among Skoll Foundation awardees is Sal Khan'sKhan Academy, whose highly effective methods Klagsbrun has proposed utilizing to a greater extent in the Toronto District School Board.
Said Skoll, "I have personally worked with educators in both Canada and the US at a systems level.  Amongst other partners in education, the Skoll Foundation has been a long-time supporter of Free the Children in Canada and the US and as such we have had great visibility into both country's systems.  While the Canadian system in many respects is superior to that of the US, both systems suffer from bureaucratic logjams.  It takes someone like Richard Klagsbrun, who is passionate, knowledgeable and fearless, to break these logjams and help our kids get the best possible education to prepare them for the modern world."
Klagsbrun was one of the first employees at Skoll's Participant Productions, where as a Strategic Planning and Creative Executive, he helped formulate the organization's unique model of tying social action campaigns to the company's films in partnership with legislators and social action groups.  That model is considered one of the main reasons of the tremendous success of Participant's Academy Award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth.
A writer and consultant who has been a fierce critic of the decline in standards in public education, particularly inToronto, Klagsbrun has been featured in national publications and as a television commentator.  He also served for a year as co-Chair of the School Council at Central Technical School, the largest school in Trinity-Spadina.
"We need a complete overhaul of the way education is delivered in Toronto's public schools, where our kids are becoming victims of a politicized curriculum,"  said Klagsbrun. "The current political establishment will only make things worse. The NDP is trying to impose a candidate on Trinity-Spadina who represents deplorable aspects of identity politics. She was a speaker at a rally that supported the terror group Hezbollah and at a pro-Marxist conference, and according to the University of Toronto newspaper, The Varsity, as a U of T union official, colluded in a corrupt investigation of a crooked student election. The other ward candidates have offered nothing but meaningless platitudes. This election is an opportunity for Trinity-Spadina voters to choose between real change or the dismal status quo."
Among Klagsbrun's other endorsers are author and CFRB radio host Tarek Fatah,  Harvard University professor Aurel Braun, broadcaster Michael Coren, and Toronto FC Goalkeeper Chris Konopka.
Added Skoll, "I have known Richard Klagsbrun for over 20 years and he is thoroughly knowledgeable and passionate about public education and the need to improve it. Ward 10 couldn't hope to have a better representative at the TDSB.  As education standards are declining and the curriculum is becoming increasingly politicized, Toronto needs Richard, who will fight for the next generation's right to an education that provides them with the tools they will need to succeed."
SOURCE Campaign for Richard Klagsbrun
 For further information: The Campaign for Richard Klagsbrun at, Website:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Not the kind of education we hope for: London children as young as ten being 'trained to be junior jihadis,' warns Deputy Mayor

London children under the age of ten are being “trained to be junior jihadis” in a disturbing new sign of the growing extremist threat in the capital, City Hall’s policing supremo warned today. 

Deputy Mayor Stephen Greenhalgh said that the way some children were being radicalised was  “horrendous” as he revealed that both he and Boris Johnson have been briefed on cases in which primary pupils have been subjected to propaganda and “extremist ideology” by their families.

His comments, ahead of a counter-terrorism summit at City Hall today, came as a new report added to the concerns about terrorism by warning that at least 40 British fighters involved in the conflict in Syria and Iraq are likely to attempt “blowback” terrorist attacks when they return to this country...
More at the London Evening Standard 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Gaza War in 5 Minutes: Thoughts from Col. Richard Kemp

A phony NATO flap

One would think from the recent media outburst regarding Canadian defence spending that Prime Minister Stephen Harper had endorsed the Iceland paradigm (no standing army) as Ottawa’s new security model.
The garment rending view with alarm was prompted by the recent NATO summit desire that NATO members spend at least 2% of their Gross Domestic Product on the military.
Ho-hum. One recalls the cynical NATO definition, “No Action: Talk Only.”
There has never been a NATO defence review that didn’t call for greater spending by alliance members.
It has been NATO’s constant drumbeat for well over a generation.
NATO defence spending has never reached the objectives sought in its annual defence planning questionnaires, a review of every member’s military spending.
Then, as now, Canada spends significantly less on defence and security than objective reviews of its economy suggest is possible.
Hectoring simply doesn’t work.
Canada has not spent affordable amounts on defence since the Korean War (1950-53).
Essentially, Canada came to an implicit conclusion about defence spending.
That is, that it could never defend itself against a hostile USA, regardless of defence expenditures.
But that any other threat powerful enough to concern Canada would also threaten the United States — and it would have to address it and thus defend Canada.
Hence, Canada could be poorly defended at great cost or poorly defended at relatively little cost.
Actuarial assessment drove the conclusion money not spent on defence in Canada could be spent on social and health benefits.
Nevertheless, even minimal defence expenditures can be costly. And easily politicized.
It is useful to recall the disconnects between the three major Canadian political parties on this issue.
In contrast to the U.S., where Democrats and Republicans agree it should have the best defence/security forces and bicker only over how excessive expenditures should be, Canadian political parties are defined by their differences.

h/t BC Blue

Sunday afternoon movie treat: Caesar and Cleopatra

From the play by George Bernard Shaw. Starring Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh.

Climate hysteric Michael Mann disavows his own résumé

From the fantastic Mark Steyn:

...the graph that has "absolutely nothing to do with Dr Mann" is listed on Dr Mann's own CV as one of his published works. And, when Mann's lawyers (John Williams and Peter Fontaine) state baldly that "Dr Mann did not create this depiction", he is, by his own admission, one of the co-creators of said depiction.

One is inclined to be generous. My old friend Irving Caesar, lyricist of "Tea For Two" and "Just A Gigolo", had a legendary Broadway flop with a show called My Dear Public. The reviews were scathing, and singled Caesar out particularly, as he was the show's producer, and lyricist, and co-author and co-composer. The following morning he bumped into Oscar Hammerstein and said, "So they didn't like it. But why pick on me?" That's Mann's attitude to the 1999 hockey stick he co-authored: So it's misleading and over-simplified. But why pick on me?

Justin Trudeau's deep thoughts...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Doug Ford taking over Rob's ballot spot throws a monkey wrench at the Tory and Chow strategies

The message from Toronto mayoral candidate John Tory was that he would be Rob Ford without the personal scandals.

Rob Ford's brother, Etobicoke Ward 2 Councilor Doug Ford, is Rob Ford without the personal scandals, right down to their shared DNA. Doug is neither a drinker or a partier and is every bit the fiscal conservative that Rob Ford is.

Tory, relying on Ford voters fed up with the mayor's antics to form the bulk of his support,  now is faced with voters having a new alternative as Doug replaced Rob as a mayoral candidate yesterday. With Rob Ford's unshakable support likely to stay in place for Doug, Tory will have to fight hard to keep his voter base from hemorrhaging to the Ford camp.

Olivia Chow faces the same problem with Doug Ford's entry into the mayoral race. Chow, who is childless, based her election platform on the inane mantra,  "Rob Ford is not a good role model for my grandchildren."

But Rob Ford isn't running for mayor anymore. Now the inarticulate, inept Olivia Chow will have to run on her merits, and being the widow of Jack Layton, as her steady decline in the polls suggest, isn't going to be nearly enough to make her a serious contender.

Chow may try to hammer away at Doug Ford for having stood by his brother Rob during his travails. Should she do that, it would likely backfire in a big way. All Chow attacking the elder Ford brother would accomplish would be to highlight that Doug is a loyal and devoted friend while Chow is not.

Less than a month ago, when Chow's top strategist Warren Kinsella sent out a foolhardy twitter "tweet" implying that John Tory was a racist, Chow immediately distanced herself from him in the most dishonest way possible. It was widely understood that Kinsella was running Chow's "war room"  rapid response team, yet Chow implausibly claimed that he was just "one of thousands" of her volunteers. (I won't go into the implausibility of Chow having "thousands" of volunteers for now.)

I'm not a fan of Mr. Kinsella nor his tactics, but one thing that can be said in his favor is that while he is working for a candidate, he is fiercely passionate and gives it his all. Chow could have said that Kinsella was being over-enthusiastic, point out that he had already apologized for the tweet, and left it at that. But instead she insulted the intelligence of Toronto's voters by being obviously dishonest about Kinsella's role on her team, and threw a dedicated supporter of hers to the wolves.

Contrast that with Doug Ford, who stood by a campaign volunteer who stupidly assaulted a halfwit who decided to trespass at the Ford campaign office the other week. While the action of the volunteer was idiotic, the episode reminded people that Doug Ford is loyal to his supporters and Chow is not.

Beyond that, Chow's claim to restoring integrity to the mayor's office is belied by her continuing to lie about having lived in a federally-subsidized co-op apartment.

Election day in Toronto is six-and-a-half weeks away, on October 27. The only thing that's certain between now and then is that municipal politics in Toronto will have some interesting moments to come.