Monday, 28 November 2011

Jobs/Economy Number One Priority for Canadians

Canada overall, compared to its G8 partners, has fared well during the recent recession.  Although some stimulus money was spend on bailing out the auto industry, Canada's banks needed no help.  The Conservative government is also on track to curtail spending and reducing its deficit.   Regardless, Canada can't function in isolation.  The United States is its number on trading partner and the Obama Administration and Congress have not been able to reduce spending and the debt clock keeps clicking having reach $15 Trillion this month.  With the seemingly unmanageable financial crisis in Europe, Canadians are well aware how volatile the economy is, especially the influence of outside sources.  Jobs and the Economy have overtaken Health Care as the number on issue for Canadians, according to a CTV/Nanos poll. 

Canada held an election in May and for the first time, since first elected in 2005, the Conservative government won a majority.  The New Democratic Party (NDP) overtook the Liberals as the official opposition.  For the first time in Canadian history the Liberal Party has been relegated to third party.  The majority of gains for the NDP came from the Province of Quebec, who rejected the BLOC Quebecois in favor of the NDP. 

The latest Nanos poll seems to indicate that the Liberals have gained ground on the NDP and are now in a statistical tie with the New Democrats.  It should be noted that the NDP is concentrating on a leadership campaign, in a quest to replace Jack Layton, who passed away due to cancer earlier this year.

The poll conducted as a telephone survey of 1202 Canadians between the 16th and 21st of November, concluded that   35.6% of Canadians supported the Conservative Party, while 28.1% supported the Liberals, 27.3%  the NDP and 3.9% the Greens (support for the Bloc Québécois rose marginally to 3.9% nationally and 15.9% in Quebec). 

Stephen Harper retains a clear advantage overall in the Nanos Leadership Index (102.4), while interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae is firmly in second ahead of interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel, with respective Leadership Index scores of 43.9 and 24.9.

As a national issue of concern, jobs/the economy has surpassed healthcare (jobs/economy 29.3%, healthcare 22.8%).  Nanos Poll

Below is the the Methodology for the poll and additional results:

Between November 16th and 21st, Nanos Research conducted a random telephone survey of 1,202 Canadians 18 years of age and older. A random telephone survey of 1,202 Canadians is accurate plus or minus 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

For 938 committed voters, it is accurate plus or minus 3.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Results for October 24th, 2011 are from a random telephone survey of 1,202 Canadians conducted between October 20th and 24th, 2011. A random telephone survey of 1,202 Canadians is accurate plus or minus 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

For additional data on specific questions you can visit Nanos Research Website.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Mainz 05 Upsets Bayern 3-2

 Mainz 05 upset FC Bayern Muenchen 3-2.  The win was well deserved for the team from the Pfalz.  Bayern during the first half played with little imagination and many of their passes did not reach the intended target.  Mainz on the other hand played in top gear from the start and were rewarded.

 Just eleven minutes into the match, Mainz's Ivanschitz put the ball into the net after a perfect pass from Nicolai Mueller, moving around Manuel Neuer. Mainz took the one goal lead into half time.

The lead at half time was well deserved.  Mainz's efforts gave them more chances at goal.  Up to the 20th minute Bayern hadn't had a shot on goal.  At the end of the half the toll was 8 shots to 6 for Mainz with 11 - 6 corner kicks, although Bayern had 65% ball possession.

Although Munich had a better effort in the second half and appeared to get control of the game when Van Buyten scored the equalizer in the 56th minute.  That was an illusion though.  Mainz was not about to give up.  Caligiuri scored the go ahead goal in the 65th minute.  With a shot from 28 meters into the lower right hand corner, Neuer was defeated.  Although Neuer moved in the right direction, he was a split second late and crossed the line just next to the post.

For insurance Niko Bungert made it 3-1 for Mainz in the 74th minute.  The goal came as a result of a corner kick, when Bungert dodged Gometz and headed the ball past Neuer into the goal, his third goal of the season.  The upset was complete.

Van Buyten narrowed the score in the 76th minute, giving Munich the hope of at least an equalizer.  There was drama right to the end of the game and Mainz fans were sitting on the edge of their seats.  In the end David beat Goliath.  The record champion was defeated, moved off the top spot of the league and Borussia Dortmund is the lead leaguer, with Borussia Moenchengladbach second and Munich in third place.

 Just two weeks ago FC Bayern was hailed as the runaway champion.   Phillip Lahm had discounted that by saying it's a long season and added that in order to top the league befor the winter break all they had to do is win four games and Bayern would be two points ahead.  Obviously easier said then done.

Mainz deserved this victory and Munich needs to go back to the drawing board.  After a successful Champions League match earlier this week, they have lost their second match in a row in the Bundesliga.   Jupp Heyncke will have a few words of wisdom for them, no doubt

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Bundesliga Matchday 14 Roundup - Dortmund Back on Top for Now

 Matchday 14 is in the books, Borussia Dortmund has regained the top spot in the Bundesliga, leading Gladbach in goal difference and Bayern Muenchen by one point.  Bayern had an opportunity to maintain a two point lead, but Mainz 05, with a brilliant and spirited performance stopped the record Champions league run away. 

 Borussia gained the top spot after defeating Koeln by three goals to nil yesterday.  The top six clubs in the league are not separated by many points, Bremen defeated Stuttgart on Sunday, trailing Bayern by two points.   Those that thought that Munich would be the run away league champion better think again.  The performance demonstrated in the Bundesliga this year doesn't get much better.  With only three matches remaining to the winter break, the spring round could prove to be rather exciting.

Nuernberg managed to move up to 13th spot after defeating Kaiserslautern with a one goal margin.  Freiburg managed a 1-2 draw at Hoffenheim, with the hope of moving out of the relegation zone by the time the winter break rolls around.

FC Augsburg registered its second win of the season, defeating Wolfsburg by 2-0.  Perhaps it will be a sign of things to come.  Is Augsburg finally adjusting to the Bundesliga?  Leverkusen lost some ground this week.  After a successful Champions League campaign against Chelsea, the side only managed a draw against Berlin. 

With the games of Matchday 14 in the history books, only seven points separate the top 6 teams.  The relegation battle will also get exciting with only Only four points separate 11th and 18th place.  . There is still plenty of excitement left for the top and bottom of the league. 

25.11.11,20.30     1. FC Köln     -     Mönchengladbach      0-3
26.11.11,15.30     1. FC Nürnberg     -     Kaiserslautern     1-0
26.11.11,15.30     1899 Hoffenheim     -     SC Freiburg      1-1
26.11.11,15.30     FC Augsburg     -     VfL Wolfsburg      2-0
26.11.11,15.30     Borussia Dortmund -    Schalke 04      2-0
26.11.11,15.30     Hertha BSC Berlin     -     Bayer Leverkusen      3-3
26.11.11,18.30     Hannover 96     -     Hamburger SV      1-1
27.11.11,15.30     Werder Bremen     -     VfB Stuttgart      2-0
27.11.11,17.30     FSV Mainz 05     -     Bayern München      3-2

Bundesliga Table: 

                                                                             GP  W  D  L     GF/A        Pts

1Borussia Dortmund14923
2Borussia Mönchengladbach14923
3Bayern München14914
4Werder Bremen14824
5Schalke 0414815
6Bayer Leverkusen14644
7VfB Stuttgart14635
8Hannover 9614554
91899 Hoffenheim14536
10Hertha BSC Berlin14464
111. FC Köln13517
12VfL Wolfsburg14518
13FSV Mainz 0513436
141. FC Nürnberg14437
15Hamburger SV14356
161. FC Kaiserslautern14347
17SC Freiburg14338
18FC Augsburg14257


Dortmund Shuts Out Schalke - Tops Bundesliga

 Dortmund entered the Revier derby after defeating Bayern Muenchen last weekend.  During the week, in Champions League play, Dortmund left London defeated with Bender in the hospital and Mario Goetze's participation today questionable.  

Gladbach, which won its match against Koeln yesterday moved into the league lead by one point.  There was pressure on both Dortmund and Schalke to pick up three points. 

Dortmund dominated the match from the start and Schalke barely gave Weidenfeller any work in the first half.  There was never any real danger in the Dortmund 16 meter area.  Dortmund was rewarded sixteen minutes into the match, when Schmelzer lowered a freekick into 5 meter area.  Lewandowski, unhindered by the Schalke defence, headed the ball into the net.  A well deserved 1-0 for Dortmund.

Dortmund continued its attack on Schalke but was unable to capitalize although shots on goal were 8-0.  The halftime lead was well deserved.  Schalke would have to turn up the tempo in the second half.

Schalke started the second half a little livelier, realizing that a draw would at least maintain contact with the league leaders.  Dortmund kept pushing for the go ahead goal.  The push finally paid off, after Goetze missed an excellent opportunity, tried to go it alone, and fired at the net from an impossible ankle.  The resulting corner finds Schmelzer, who headed the ball to Hummels, who headed it square to Barrios, Unerstall deflects Barrios' attempt but Felipe Santana gets to the ball about 13 meters out and fires it into the net, for a 2-0 lead for Dortmund.

Dortmund, despite the absence of Sven Bender played a superb match and there was never any danger of the match being lost.  Final score 2-0.  With the win Dortmund takes the top spot in the Bundesliga, however, Bayern plays tomorrow. 

Starting Line-Ups:

Dortmund:  Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Santana, Hummels, Schmelzer - Leitner, Kehl - Biascykowski Lewandowski, Goetze - Barrios

Schalke:  Unnerstall - Uchida, Papadopoulos, Matip, Fuchs - Jones, Holtby - Baumjohann, Draxler - Raul, Huntelaar

Pakistan and Iraq Headline Today's News with More than 40 Killed

As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, battle in stores during Black Friday and U.S. troops are completing their withdrawal from Iraq, there is disturbing news of more killings in both Iraq and Pakistan.  At least 15 people have been killed and more than 20 have been wounded in a Saturday bombings in the Abu Ghraib area of Iraq.  Pakistan has accused NATO of a helicopter attack on two Army check points in the north west, killing at least 25 soldiers.

Bomb attacks in central Iraq killed at least 15 people and wounded more than 20 on Saturday, security officials and a doctor said.
The latest bombings came two days after triple blasts killed 19 people in the southern port city of Basra.
In the first attack, bombs on each side of the main road from Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, to Fallujah hit a truck carrying construction workers, First Lieutenant Omar Zawbai of the Abu Ghraib police told AFP.
Dr Omar Delli of Fallujah Hospital said "the hospital received seven bodies and seven wounded," two of whom later died.
An interior ministry official put the casualty toll at eight dead and 13 wounded from the Abu Ghraib attack.  AFP
The attacks come amidst the withdrawal of American troops.  Approximately 18,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, mostly responsible for packing and moving American equipment back to the U.S. or relocating it to Afghanistan.  All troops are expected to be withdrawn by the end of the year.

The recent escalated violence in Iraq calls into question the capability of the Iraqi government to maintain control after U.S. troops have departed.  Brigadier General Bradley A. Becker, who is responsible for oversight, support and sustainment for U.S. forces participating in Operation New Dawn, believes that Iraqi Security Forces are capable to face the challenge after U.S. troops leave.  The proof will be in the pudding.  

Although Iraq, unlike Afghanistan, had a trained military prior to the U.S. invasion, there appears to be a lot of discontent and disagreement among the various ethnic factions.  The challenge for Iraq will be to unify the various factions and to keep Iran out of its business.  With the international community putting pressure on Iran, it will most likely try to assert its influence on Iraq.  The political situation is also unclear in neigbouring Syria.   The whole region is a delicate balancing act.  

Pakistan is another region of major concern.  Again, on Saturday, a NATO helicopter allegedly pushed across the border.  This time it allegedly attacked Pakistani Army Checkpoint.  Sadly this will not improve relations with the Pakistani government.  
Pakistan on Saturday accused NATO helicopters of firing on two army checkpoints in the northwest and killing 25 soldiers, then retaliated by closing a key border crossing used by the coalition to supply its troops in neighboring Afghanistan.
The incident Friday night was a major blow to already strained relations between Islamabad and U.S.-led forces fighting in Afghanistan. It will add to perceptions in Pakistan that the American presence in the region is malevolent, and to resentment toward the weak government in Islamabad for co-operating with Washington.
It comes a little over a year after a similar but less deadly incident, in which U.S. helicopters accidentally killed two Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border, whom the pilots mistook for insurgents. Pakistan responded by closing the Torkham border crossing to NATO supplies — as it did Saturday — for 10 days until the U.S. apologized. Washington Post
 Pakistan is the key to success in Afghanistan, but these incidents do not help the situation.  The Pakistani military blamed NATO for attacking the Mohmand tribal area and said that NATO "carried out unprovoked and indiscriminate firing."

NATO said that it was aware of the reports and that it would comment after more information on the incident had been gathered.  It said that air support had been called for the region and that it is highly likely that NATO is responsible for the killings.

spokesman tells BBC its forces are "highly likely" to be behind attack which killed 24 soldiers

The situation in the complete region is still very volatile.  Bombings continue in Iraq and NATO continues to attack across the Afghan/Pakistani border.  These recent incidents give food for thought.  Is the withdrawal from Iraq and the draw down in Afghanistan political expediency or based on the conditions on the ground?

Friday, 25 November 2011

Gladbach Tops Bundesliga After Win in Koeln

Fourth place Borussia Moenchgladbach outclassed Podolski's 1.FC Koeln with 3 goals to 0 in Bundesliga Matchday 14 opener.  The victory moves Gladbach temporarily into the leagues top spot, one point ahead of FC Bayern.  Goals by Hanke (2) and Arango soldified the victory.

For twenty minutes Koeln was able to hold off the Gladbach onslaught.  In the 20th minute Patrick Hermann slipped and Hanke was quickest on the scene and fired at the net from 12 meters, for his first goal of the season.

Ten minutes later, in the 30th minute, Gladbach was awarded a free kick approximately 25 meters off the goal.  Arango, with an accurate shot fired the ball in the lower corner of the net.  His third goal of the season gave Gladbach a 2-0 lead.

Although Gladbach had 65% of the ball possession at that point, Koeln held on to the halftime whistle.
Borussia dominated the half from the start and showed themselves to be more confident and without and the stronger team.  Koeln had a relatively good start, but trailing in the game chipped away on the team and threw them off their game.  The 2-0 lead at halftime was well deserved.

Just two minutes into the second half Gladbach struck again. In the 47th minute Gladbach executed a perfect counter, outnumbering the Koeln defence.  Hermann took aim, but the shot was blocked and diverted to the side by Rensing.  Hanke was on the spot and slides the ball into the net for his second season goal.

Rensing, who arguably had managed the score lower than it could have been, robbed Marco Reuss several times.

After a great away performance and a win, Gladbach now leads the league with one point, at least until tomorrow.  A Dortmund tie or win will push them off the top spot by goal difference.  Schalke 04 will have a word in that match.  Sven Bender will definitely not play tomorrow and the jury is still out on Mario Goetze.  Bayern is not due to play until Sunday in Mainz.

Regardless of the outcome of the remaining league games, Bayern will not be able to extend its lead beyond two points.  With three matchdays left until the winter break, the Bundesliga remains tight at the top.

Should Canada's National Broadcaster Be Accountable?

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has been fighting against disclosure of documents requested by Canada's Information Commissioner, stating that some secrets are necessary for its independence and competitiveness.  The problem with that argument is that the CBC receives $1.1 Billion in taxpayer funding annually and it already has an unfair advantage over the other Canadian networks. 

While there is no argument that the CBC should be able to protect journalistic sources, the proponents for disclosure argue that as a federally funded corporation the CBC should be under the same rules as Crown Corporations, i.e what are the salaries paid to executives, travel expenditures not related to journalism, etc etc.

Suzanne Legault on Wednesday won a Federal Court of Appeal case giving her the authority to review documents CBC doesn’t want to release because they deal with programming, creative or journalistic issues.
Lacroix noted the law allows CBC to stop short of releasing information that would prejudice its competitive position.
"If you or another broadcaster that competes against us for audiences, producers, talent, and programs, want to know how much Peter Mansbridge gets paid …or CBC’s promotion strategy including how much it spends on advertising Stromboulopoulos on billboards or through a special launch of his season at [the Toronto International Film Festival], that information will not be disclosed publicly," he said.  CBC

While calling for the government and associated Crown Corporations to be more open and accountable, the CBC has resisted to be judged by the same measure, when in fact it would be incumbent upon the corporation to lead by example.  The resistance by the CBC begs the question, "What is the Corporation trying to hide?" 

Sun News Network, called "FOX News North" by some detractors, has been in the forefront in the pursuit of CBC disclosure.  Needless to say, this has caused some parties to allege that SUN News has an agenda.  Perhaps they do.  That, of course, is irrelevant in view of the fact that taxpayers should get an account of how its $1.1 Billion is spend by the CBC. 

The easy route out of this for the CBC is to give up its annual funding and conduct its business like the other media outlets.  What are the chances of that happening?  Failing that the CBC should comply with the disclosure requests, while protecting journalistic sources.  The Privacy Commissioner, in co-operation with the CBC, should be able to sort this out. 

Bundesliga Referee Quotes Depression for Suicide Attempt

Bundesliga referee Babak Rafati says the reason for his suicide attempt was a diagnosed depression and not personal reasons, suggested in the media earlier.  The pressures of officiating in the Bundesliga and the fear over making a wrong call were the main reasons. 

 Rafati and his team were scheduled to officiate the 1.FC Koeln vs Mainz 05 match on November 18th.  The match was cancelled when the news of the suicide attempt emerged and no replacement team could be found. (Details Here)

In a statement, composed by Rafti and prepared by his lawyer Sven Menke, Rafti said that a false impression was created by quoting personal reasons for the suicide.  He elaborated:

"In the pesonal well being of Mr. Rafati the performance stress, for him as referee, and the resulting stress combined with constant fear to make an error, put increasing pressure on him.  The pressure started also made day to day problems appear unsolvable.  In the end he didn't feel he could measure up"

Orginal German Version:

"Im persönlichen Empfinden von Herrn Rafati wurde vor allem ein wachsender Leistungsdruck für ihn als Schiedsrichter und der damit verbundene mediale Druck in Kombination mit der ständigen Angst, Fehler zu machen, zu einer immer größeren Belastung. Eine Belastung, die irgendwann selbst Alltagsprobleme unlösbar erscheinen ließ und der er sich am Ende nicht mehr gewachsen fühlte",

Rafati will now undergo treatment and after successful therapy plans to become active as a referee again. 

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Canada's Celebrates Success in Libya - Becomes Controversial

Canada had an elaborate ceremony, on Parliament Hill to honour the Canadian military for its role in freeing the people of Libya from its brutal and psychotic leadership.  On the outset that seems like the decent thing to do and there can be no argument that troops should be recognized for their contribution.  The ceremony became controversial with opposition Members of Parliament, since it was seen as overkill.  This was especially in view of the fact that Canada has lost 158 soldiers in Afghanistan, with several hundred wounded.  The Afghanistan mission has  not been officially been recognized with a ceremony, although Canada ceased its combat mission in July.  There has been no formal recognition for the contributions Canadian troops made in the Balkans, particularly in Bosnia and Croatia.

The ceremony also honoured Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, who was the Commander of the NATO mission.  General Bouchard was awarded he Meritorious Service Cross.

The Prime Minister, with Gouvernor General David Johnson, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Chief of Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk in attendance, thanked the Canadian troops on the mission and hailed the mission a success.

“It is a day to pay tribute to the extraordinary men and women of our Armed Forces who played their part. And yes, it is a day to honour the great Canadian who led them. 

The prime minister said Gadhafi's harsh and violent response to the uprising was "an invitation to genocide" and that is why Canada joined its NATO allies to support the United Nations-backed response.
He said Canada will always defend what is right. "For we believe that in a world where people look for hope and cry out for freedom, those who talk the talk of human rights must from time to time be prepared to likewise walk the walk," said Harper.
A 21-gun salute and a flypast over Parliament Hill kicked off the morning's event before it began in the Senate chamber.
The flypast involved seven CF-18 fighter jets, a Sea King helicopter, an Airbus and a Globemaster aircraft, and was meant to pay tribute to the aviation support provided by the Canadian Forces in the Libyan mission.  CBC

While everyone recognizes the contributions made by Canadian troops in many theatres around the world, espcially in Afghanistan and and Bosnia, during the past two decades, it seems odd that there would be a "Mission Accomplished" moment for Libya.

Many would argue that Libya is far from a success.  Yes Gaddafi is dead, Saif al-Islam and the former Intelligence Chief are in custody and the National Transitional Council (NTC) is attempting to establish governance in a destroyed land.  Infrastructure needs to be rebuild and there are daily reports of revenge acts. The UN has pointed to human rights abuses by the Rebels on former Gadaffi loyalists.   Even the death of Gaddafi is being questioned.

The troops that did the heavy lifting in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan would like to see some recognition come their way, as would the troops involved in the fighting in the Medak Pocket in the former Yugoslavia, including those held up in the Sarajevo airport, while the Serbs put Sarajevo under siege.

It seems appropriate that the same courtesy of recognition would  be afforded them.  When the issue was addressed on CBC's Power and Politics, Parliamentary Secretary Chris Alexander, rightly said that the Canadian Forces went through a decade of darkness when a Liberal government was in power.  However, when asked about Bosnia he was dismissive and said it wasn't a combat mission.  Technically he was correct, but only technically.  Perhaps Mr. Alexander should read Carol Off's book "The Ghost of Medak Pocket" and then come back and tell his audience it wasn't combat. 

Major General Lewis MaKenzie's account in" Peacekeeper The Road to Sarajevo" gives you an idea what it was like in Bosnia during the time of the UN  mandate.  We won't talk about the Chain of Command problems with the UN Operation Centre in New York, but it wasn't pretty.  Yes Mr. Alexander it wasn't combat, but it sure smelled like it.

We could also talk about the Somalia Affair, where the whole Canadian Airborne Regiment was disgraced and then disbanded over a couple of bad apples.  That, however, was the Liberal Governments and the media's doing. 

The point of all this is that each and every Veteran deserved to b honoured.  The Canadian Forces did a superb job, dropping more than 600 bombs on Libyan targets and Canada had a big part of removing Gaddafi.  Lieutenant General commanded NATO and did the strategic planning for the mission and was the front man for criticism directed at NATO.  He did an outstanding job and deserves to be recognized.

While the military mission has ended, let there be no doubt that a lot of work remains to be done and the mission is a long way from being accomplished.  Canada needs to recognize all Veterans and not just on Red Friday as the Defence Minister suggests, but in a formal ceremony.  It is high time that those that sacrificed life and limb in Afghanistan be recognized.   Lest we Forget.

Latest FIFA World Rankings

FIFA, the governing body of World Soccer released its new ratings today.  Spain still leads the pack with 1564 points, while Netherlands and Germany also remained unchanged.  Germany, however has closed to within 20 points of the Netherlands.  England has moved up to fifth place, moving up two from the previous rating.  Brazil, another soccer powerhouse dropped into sixth place.  Croatia moved up four points to move into the top ten of the rankings.  Italy dropped three spots, while Argentina maintained its tenth place. 

Team USA came in 34th, unchanged, while Canada moved up eleven spots to 72nd place.

Men's Rankings

  1Spain Spain15640Equal
2Netherlands Netherlands13650Equal
3Germany Germany13450Equal
4Uruguay Uruguay13090Equal
5England England11732Up
6Brazil Brazil1143-1Down
7Portugal Portugal11001Up
8Croatia Croatia10914Up
9Italy Italy1082-3Down
10Argentina Argentina10670Equal

In Women's ranking the first seven teams maintained their rankings with the United States leading the pack, just before Germany, Brazil and Japan.  Korea DPR moved up four spots  to eighth place, while Canada dropped one spot to ninth, and Australia to tenth.

Women's Rankings

RnkTeamPts+/- Pos
1USA USA21510Equal
2Germany Germany21460Equal
3Brazil Brazil21210Equal
4Japan Japan21060Equal
5Sweden Sweden20850Equal
6England England19850Equal
7France France19820Equal
8Korea DPR Korea DPR19674Up
9Canada Canada1964-1Down
10Australia Australia1956-1Down