Stephen Harper’s plagiarism scandal

The Liberal Party of Canada has accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of reading a plagiarised speech in 2003 two days after the then-Australian PM John Howard read effectively the same speech. At the time, Harper was in opposition.

Well, judge for yourself. Politicians surely should double check what has been written for them. I doubt this will cause too much of a dent in confidence in Harper in the upcoming elections but come on.


Facebook disables ‘old Facebook’ workarounds

Facebook has today disabled workarounds to the “old Facebook” layout. Previously, installing Greasemonkey on Firefox and an additional script, or installing the Developer add, would get you access back to the old layout and not have to see Facebook’s ugly new look.

Despite over 2,100,000 people joining a group asking for 1,000,000 against the new layout, Facebook has once again said “screw you”, and appears so hell-bent on the new layout they’ve disabled these workarounds — and have even disabled the old facebook for developers. Quite ridiculous.

Hurricane Gustav: water flowing over Industrial Canal

Hurricane Gustav made landfall near Cocodrie, Louisiana, at around 1430 UTC (9:30 am local). Rainbands lashing New Orleans right now, with TV pictures showing waters flowing over the Industrial Canal. More to come.

Sarah Palin is McCain’s pick

Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, is to be John McCain’s vice-presidential nominee, according to CNN. If elected, she would be the first female vice-president.

It’s going to be a historic campaign — either the first black President, or the first female VP, will be elected. Now, I wonder what effect the selection of Gov. Palin will have on Hillary Clinton’s disenchanted women supporters…

CNN reports that she’s a long-time NRA member, which will boost the gun community’s trust in the ticket, but why not Mitt Romney? Michigan’s 17 electoral votes — and a boost on the economy angle — surely would’ve helped.

Joe Biden?

“Biden voted in favor of the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003.”

Biden’s also been in Washington longer than John McCain has. Is that really “change”?

Ex-W.H. press secretary Tony Snow dies

Ex-White House press secretary Tony Snow has died aged 53 after a second bout with cancer. He worked in the Bush administration for 17 months, replacing Scott McClellan in 2006.

Reactions have come in from around Washington. CNN reports the following quotes:

Snow’s successor, Dana Perino, issuing a statement for the White House:

“The White House is so deeply saddened by this loss. He was a great friend and colleague and a fantastic press secretary. And his dear family is in our thoughts and prayers.”

President George W. Bush and the first lady said they were “deeply saddened” and issued a statement:

“The Snow family has lost a beloved husband and father. And America has lost a devoted public servant and a man of character. It was a joy to watch Tony at the podium each day.”

Representative John Boehner (R-OH/Cincinnati):

“Churchill said, ‘I like a man who grins when he fights,’ and that was Tony Snow. For 35 years, as a writer, broadcaster, and spokesman, he fought fiercely for what he believed in, and he did it with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. His loss is a loss for our country.”

Presidential candidate and Senator John McCain (R-AZ):

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Tony Snow. He was a loving father, husband, friend, and truly one of America’s most gifted commentators. Whether he sat behind a radio mic or stood behind a White House podium, Tony Snow always sought to give the American people new insights into our government, political process and leaders. … His fight [with cancer] served as an inspiration to all Americans. In the coming days, we will celebrate the life of a truly great and generous man.”

Awaiting response, if any, from Senator Barack Obama.

Israel and Iran: posturing or something more sinister?

So, Israeli shows off its fighter jets. Iran responds by test-firing missiles twice. Israel unveils new spy plane.

Is this just posturing between old enemies, or is this a very strong warning from both sides that we could be on the brink of a new war, one that involves two states? Does Israel, or does Iran, have anything to gain from war?

The answer, to my mind, is no. A definite: Iran will not strike first. If they do so, I think they immediately lose any support they could hope for from Moscow or Beijing. As for Israel, an attack would make life very difficult for Washington, which is opposed to military force as the first solution in dealing with Iran — and it would give John McCain, and perhaps moreso Barack Obama, headaches.

It would probably scupper plans of Senator Obama’s to talk directly, without preconditions, to President Ahmadinejad of Iran — he would lose Jewish support (or whatever is left of it, since he’s still stressing he will speak with Iran) in a hurry. The U.S. would support Israel at the UN, probably reluctantly, but they can’t afford to be seen as leaving their allies in the lurch.

As for the current standoff, this has already triggered new conflict between Washington and Moscow, over Washington’s planned missile defence systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. Washington says Iran’s test proves the need for them to protect their interests in Europe; Moscow says Iran’s test proves that their missiles do not have the range to threaten Europe and the U.S. shield is an aggressive act against Russia.

In the world of tense relations between two great superpowers — and between two Middle Eastern states each of the superpowers back to an extent — I think the answer is, you’ll never know what is going to happen until it happens.