Green Energy Stores

Even though costs are presently three to five times more than coal or natural gas, some giant retailers are turning to solar energy generation. Stores like Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, Safeway and Whole Foods Market are hoping to be the forefront of a national shift toward renewable energy.

Retailers are also looking at other ways to extend their use of renewable energy by testing technologies like wind turbines and reflective white roofs, which keep buildings cooler in warm weather.

Bernard Sosnick, an analyst with Gilford Securities who has examined Wal-Mart’s plans, said the day might come when people can pull their electric cars up to a store and recharge them with power from the roof or even from wind turbines in the parking lot.

“It’s not as over the horizon as it might seem,” he said.

Meanwhile, so-called “conservatives” are responding to future energy challenges like this.

Fake Fireworks & Real Cranks

Irrespective of the surprising news today that most of the spectacular fireworks featured in the Olympics opening ceremony were actually computer-animated fakes, it can’t be disputed that the Chinese staged a thoroughly impressive show.

Or maybe not. Writing on his blog, architect Ai Weiwei, who helped design the Bird’s Nest stadium, dismisses the whole extravaganza as nothing but:

”…a recycling of the rubbish of fake classical culture tradition; a sacrilegious visual garbage dump and an insult to the spirit of liberty; low class sound play that’s just noise pollution.”

Yikes! That curmudgeonly attitude would probably find a lot of sympathy with the Duke of Edinburgh, who previously has described Olympic Games’ opening and closing ceremonies as “bloody nuisances.” In the Duke’s opinion, such events destroy the spirit of the games, which should be strictly about competition. “They ought to be banned. They are a pain in the neck,” he added. The Duke also said that he hoped to do “as little as possible” during the 2012 Olympics in London by which time he will be 91 years old.


What else can you call Finley’s performance today?

The Conservative party campaign manager shows up two days ahead of when he was slated to appear because of a “scheduling conflict,” then refuses to leave the committee hearing when told that they can’t accommodate him today and ends up having to be escorted out by Commons security guards.

Not that his testimony promised to be at all edifying:

…Finley was planning to tell MPs that “it is unquestioned that, in the last election, Conservative party money was used to buy Conservative party advertising to support the election of Conservative party candidates.”

“There is a rather arcane legal dispute as to how some of that spending, which has all been fully disclosed, was or should be accounted for. That’s all this is.”

What a willfully obtuse characterization of an elaborate money-laundering scheme that Elections Canada alleges resulted in the Tories exceeding their campaign spending limit by $1.1 million.

Update: Perhaps it’s not too surprising why the Finley tried to disrupt the Commons ethics committee hearing this morning with his “squalid little stunt” considering the testimony of the actual first witness.

Gary Caldwell, who ran for the Tories in the Quebec riding of Compton-Stanstead, said he later redrafted his election spending report to withdraw a claim for a 60 per cent federal rebate on that amount [$37,000 the party sent to his campaign in 2006 and quickly took back].

“I realize that the central party, any party, can give money to the local riding association, but when we examined this further I became convinced that it was only a legitimate local expense if we in fact spent it,” he told the Commons ethics committee. “In fact, that was not the case.”

Caldwell (who now plans on running for the Greens) left the Conservative party after it became clear that it “was no longer interested in rehabilitating parliamentary institutions.” Yes, we get that impression too.

Update2: Much more fun at Liberal Arts & Minds.

The predictable “Blogging Tory” reaction. Yes, just one. I looked high and low and this is it. You’re not surprised, are you? Come on, you should all know the BT motto by now: “La la la la la la la la la la la…”

Porky Pete’s Spending Spree

While the Harper government was busy axing money to leftist infested arts groups last week, Peter MacKay was generously doling out the pork in his home province as fast as diminutive Finance Minister Jim Flaherty can say, “This is not a time for excessive spending.”

$12 million here, $6 million there, and so on — all super-worthy infrastructure expenditures, I’m sure. But what about the more than $760,000 over three years from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency for the nebulous Atlantic ECONOMUSEUM® organization to help them sign up ten new businesses by September 2010 to its “network” of local artisan ventures/tourist attractions?

From its website, this top-heavy, bureaucratically intense, non-profit outfit doesn’t really seem to offer much in the way of value other than providing links to various companies in the region offering handmade soaps, jewelry, specialty alcoholic beverages, etc. So why does it take $75,000 to get each new quilt-maker or whatever on board with its little marketing scheme?

Is this one of the “efficient and effective” government initiatives “that meet the priorities of Canada”? Perhaps some so-called “Conservative” can tell me why businesses that help promote tourism are different from the arts sector in terms of receiving government support in their laissez-faire vision of things…

Baghdad: City of Walls

An Iraqi reporter for The Guardian returns home after five years to chronicle his impressions of a city scarred by war from the perspective of people who live inside the walled sectarian ghettos that now define much of Baghdad.

Funny, despite success of “the surge” it doesn’t look much “like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summer time.”

Stephen Harper: Not a Sports Fan

I haven’t really been watching the Olympics all that avidly over the weekend, but had vaguely wondered why Stephen Harper didn’t appear to be there. Now we learn the answer via this morning’s Globe & Mail:

“Why would a political leader go to a non-political event?” Secretary of State Jason Kenney said yesterday on CTV’s Question Period.

Well, of course. Why would there even be the need to ask? I mean, going to the Olympics would be just such a dumb thing to do.

Thank goodness, there’s at least one adult in the Conservative cabinet:

Mr. Emerson said the media and other critics of China’s human-rights record should consider where the country was 30 years ago.

“China has reduced poverty more than any other country in the history of the world,” he said. “Have they reached the Nirvana, the pinnacle of where we’d like them to be in terms of democracy and human rights? No, but they’ve come a long, long way.”