I recently spent some time in a government office. While in the usual back and forth through the front door, to the bathroom and so forth, I observed that they had a surprising number of signs that stated the obvious.
They seemed, like so many preventative measures, to attempt to indemnify the government against potential legal action. They amused me a little, so I snapped some photos. Each one is really mundane by itself, but the volume of them was a little overwhelming.
This one was on the inside of the mens’ room door. I wonder how I’ve survived the hundreds (thousands?) of sign-free swinging doors I’ve confronted in my life.
Ironically, I had to hold the door open to snap a photo of this one:
Here’s one more photo from the same office. These packages were attached to the underside of each desk in the conference room:
I gather they’re individual disaster preparedness kits. I didn’t look too closely, but they contain a filter mask, a little bottle of water and whistle, among other things.
I only discover them because I accidentally kicked one under the desk. I’m not sure I’d like to be reminded of my potential doom every time I took a meeting.
Yesterday, as you probably know (I first read about it on Beth’s site), Finance Minister Jim Flaherty gave a financial update of sorts in the House of Commons. I’m not an economist, so I won’t speculate on the pros and cons of the Conservatives’ no-stimulus stance. I am, however, interested in talking about their proposed cuts to political subsidies.
Parties currently receive $1.95 for every vote they receive in a federal election, provided they win at least two per cent of the nationwide popular vote. The annual subsidy is used to pay for staff and expenses.
But because the Conservatives have such a strong fundraising base, their subsidy represents only 37 per cent of the party’s total revenues. By comparison, the subsidy amounts to 63 per cent of the Liberals’ funding, 86 per cent of the Bloc’s, 57 per cent of the NDP’s and 65 per cent of the Greens’.
There is also, it’s worth noting, a $1000 cap on donations from unions, corporations and other organizations.
When the Liberals introduced this plan in 2003, I thought it was a terrifically democratic idea. Not only does it make each vote more meaningful, but it enables smaller and fringe parties to have a little more money to work with. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation supports the cuts, saying:
“It’s absurd that Canadian taxpayers are forced to subsidize through their taxes, political parties that they do not support, especially in the case of the Bloc Quebecois — a party that seeks to break up our country.”
I disagree. What could be more democratic than giving resources to all of the political voices, even the country’s critics? I don’t want my politicians beholden to corporate interests to the degree they are in the US.
In any case, there’s a great deal of sturm und drang in Ottawa about the proposed budget cuts. They amount, I gather, to about $50 million. The Conservatives knew this would be hugely controversial, and that it would look like they were exploiting home field advantage. Is their strategy backfiring (a bit like their cuts to the arts), or do they have a bigger picture in mind?
The Great Bear Rainforest is a huge swath of the land–the size of Austria–on BC’s central coast. It’s home to three kinds of bears, six million migratory birds, 3000 genetically distinct salmon stocks and many species of plants unique to the region. Most importantly, it’s the largest tract of intact coastal temperate rainforest left on Earth.
As you may recall, there was a landmark agreement in 2006 among various stakeholders–the provincial government, logging companies, First Nations and environmentalists. They agreed to a new approach to resource planning developed by an independent team of scientists, and committed to its implementation by March 31, 2009. But we’re not (ahem) out of the woods yet. From the petition:
A couple of years ago, Premier Campbell made a very specific commitment to preserve this precious rainforest. The final countdown is on for the BC government to make their promise a reality by the March 31, 2009 deadline. Premier Campbell needs to hear from you.
We are down to the wire. Unless all elements of the promise are kept, the ecological health of the rainforest will be in jeopardy once again. We’ve come so far towards the rare success of having a vast unspoiled forest safeguarded, letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not undermine all this good work by not reaching the finish line.
Give Me an Early Christmas Present: Sign This Petition
If you can spare 37 seconds, I’d really appreciate it if you would sign the petition urging the government of BC to keep their promises regarding this precious region. You don’t have to be from BC, either–support from other parts of the globe really helps.
If you’re keen to help beyond signing the petition, consider any of the following:
I’ve been to Moscone Center in San Francisco a few times. I only learned a couple of weeks ago that it was named after George Moscone, former mayor of San Francisco. Along with city supervisor Harvey Milk, he was killed by a former, disgruntled employee.
I was talking to somebody about Moscone at Web 2.0 Expo yesterday. During our conversation, I wondered out loud whether a Canadian government official had ever been assassinated on domestic soil. I did a little searching, and couldn’t find anything. Can you think of anybody?
UPDATE: D’oh. How could I forget the October Crisis? Thanks to Andre for reminding me. Thinking back, I don’t think I ever studied this bit of history in high school. And I took no Canadian history courses in university. Still, I hang my head in shame, eh?
The demonstrations came despite the ruling military junta’s orders on Monday that the protests halt immediately.
Again on Tuesday, government supporters drove around in pickup trucks, warning protesters over loudspeakers that the demonstrations could be “dispersed by military force,” according to the BBC.
Myanmar’s current military dictatorship isn’t exactly renowned for its tolerance of anti-government protest. The monks have been joined by students and other protesters in the past few days, and the world seems to be watching, so hopefully these events won’t end in bloodshed.
In an effort to curtail online gambling (a foolhardy effort akin to the War on Drugs), the Greek government has seen fit to ban all video games. According to an English language newspaper, the Greek government is ‘incapable of distinguishing innocuous video games from illegal gambling machines.’ What the hell? When did Greece stop being a first-world democracy?
I don’t even know where to begin on this one. Forget about the human rights issue–consider the economic impact. In the US, the video game industry recently surpassed the film industry in terms of gross annual revenue. Clearly this will cost the Greek economy a big chunk of change (never mind the revenue from grey-to-black market online gambling).
Regardless, be careful what you bring on your laptop should you be visiting Greece. That innocent game of Minesweeper could cost you dearly.