Posts from our progressive community

Trudeau Has Dug a Grave for the Paris Climate Accord. Thanks, Justin.

The Disaffected Lib - 6 min 51 sec ago

Trudeau has put paid to any notion of restraining global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Tyee's Andrew Nikiforuk writes that a new study by Oil Change International shines a hard light on Trudeau's approval of new pipelines, the key to Tar Sands expansion. This prime minister has single-handedly put the Paris targets out of reach.

Canada can’t increase tar sands production or build more pipelines if the world is to achieve the targets on global carbon emissions set by the Paris Agreement on climate.

That’s the central conclusion of a new report by Oil Change International(OCI), a U.S. research and advocacy group dedicated to exposing the full costs of fossil fuel extraction.

“There is no scenario in which tar sands production increases and the world achieves the Paris goals,” says the report.

The majority of Canada’s oil exports consist of raw bitumen, a cheap refinery feedstock, which is then upgraded at U.S. refineries for local consumption or export.

“Eighty per cent of the climate impact of tar sands oil,” says the report, “comes from releasing carbon wherever the fuel is burned — thus the most important impact of tar sands expansion is global.”

But the unrestricted approval of pipeline projects such as Trans Mountain and Line 3 could drive the expansion of bitumen production by nearly two million barrels a day over the next two decades, says the report. Current oil sands production is 2.5 million barrels a day and accounts for 60 per cent of Canada’s oil production.

That means that Canada could be adding more new oil production to global markets than Brazil and Libya combined.

As a result, emissions from Canadian oil could eventually gobble up 16 per cent of the world’s total carbon budget if it is to keep global temperature increases below 1.5 degree Celsius, or seven per cent of the two degree Celsius global carbon budget, the report found.

“Without action, Canada could become one of the fastest growing extractors of new carbon pollution over the next 20 years through the expansion of long-lived tar sands production,” adds the report.

It's been awhile since I placed much stock in anything Trudeau promises. We heard enough of his empty promises out here to know that much. However he did pledge that his government would be guided by science. The government has a raft of capable scientists on its payroll. Presumably Trudeau must have sought their scientific assessment of the Trans Canada and Energy East pipeline impacts on global warming and climate change. Why doesn't he show us that professional advice that he must have sought? I'm guessing that's not in the cards.

Figures Don't Lie But Liars Figure

The Disaffected Lib - 20 min 51 sec ago

As of today it's best you remember that phrase and keep it in mind. You'll find that, over the next four years, you may need it daily.

Around the time of the Carter presidency, pollsters began logging incoming presidents' popularity numbers. How does the citizenry perceive their new boss when he takes up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Even George "hanging chad" Bush showed up for work with a 61% rating. Obama had a powerful 84%. Some polls have the Great Orange Bloat at a record 32% approval rating. This is before he puts presidential pen to paper.

Here's the thing. That "fresh out of the box" popularity wanes pretty quickly. The honeymoon period passes. The bloom is off the rose.

Presidents do as much as possible to preserve that opening day popularity but they don't succeed. How hard is Trump going to have to work to shore up his 32%?

This is not to say that Trump doesn't have loyal followers. Of course he does. They were the tailgate barbeque and beer gang that were foolish enough to believe his magical promises. Hillary was heading to jail. A 30 foot wall would spring up stretching from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. Factories just full of $30 an hour jobs would spring up everywhere. And the swamp - that swamp - well that was in for a draining. They're why I coined the term "gullibillies."

There was a study done recently that found a significant percentage of Trump supporters want Obamacare gone. However they don't want the axe to fall on their Affordable Care Act privileges. Somehow, it never reached the depths of their minds, that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is Obamacare.

The original Republican idea was to replace Obamacare with something "better." The public would simply transition from Plan A to Plan B. Trump, however, wants Obamacare rescinded, 20 million Americans denied health insurance, and then, if they're in the mood, the Republican Congress can maybe come up with something to replace it, provided the new president approves.

20 million. Those are the sort of numbers that guarantee mayhem and horror stories and there'll be plenty of front page space for that.

The coal mines? Oh yeah. Let's see how Trump gets that going again without massive government handouts.

Unlike any president before him, there'll be no honeymoon for Mr. Trump. No, he's starting off with his numbers in the crapper and he lacks anything approaching a coherent policy to guide his administration and his nation.

As Richard Wolffe writes, the future doesn't look rosy for Trump.

[Poll numbers] are the white blood cells of the circulatory system that flows through Washington. Good poll numbers can inoculate a president when Congress opposes him. Bad numbers reveal a president vulnerable to outside attacks and embolden his many rivals both inside and outside his own party.

Those numbers are about to get a lot worse. In his first year in office, Obama lost more than 15 points on his job approval. If Trump follows the same track, he will be polling in the mid-20s by this time next year. To put that into context, Richard Nixon’s job approval on the day he quit the Oval Office was 24%.

And no Mr President, these aren’t rigged polls.

The polls just reflect what people think of you, and they all rate you poorly both on a personal and professional basis. Here’s what’s rigged: an election you can win after losing the popular vote by more than 2 oints, as the polls correctly forecast. 

What could drive Trump’s poll numbers so low? Unlike Obama, who inherited the worst economy in two generations, the incoming president cannot blame external forces. The greatest threat, both to his presidency and the republic, comes from Trump himself.

Wolffe offers a catalogue of the scandals that are moving into the White House today with its new resident. The Great Orange Bloat hasn't been able to break free of them. No, not the Christopher Steele "dossier." This isn't about hookers taking a pee break in fancy Moscow hotel rooms. This is about the other scandals. A couple involve the Kremlin to be sure. Others involve the apparent corruption and manipulation of the US government's most trusted agencies, the FBI and possibly the CIA. Couple that with a new president beginning his term with one foot in the political grave, weak beyond belief, and you've got the formula for an exciting first term.
Such is life when a minority of voters and a majority of the Electoral College hand the brass ring to a narcissistic deviant with significant psychological problems.

Empire of the Pig: America Uber Alles!

Rusty Idols - 35 min 51 sec ago
Trump uses an explicitly Bundist slogan from the movement opposing the fight against Hitler:

(CNN)"My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people, and American security, above all else. That will be the foundation of every decision that I will make. America First will be the major and overriding theme of my administration."
It is extremely unfortunate that in his speech Wednesday outlining his foreign policy goals,Donald Trump chose to brand his foreign policy with the noxious slogan "America First," the name of the isolationist, defeatist, anti-Semitic national organization that urged the United States to appease Adolf Hitler.sdnxry5z7g

Empire of the Pig: Day One, Overture

Rusty Idols - 2 hours 29 min ago
We can't count on liberals and their cherished institutions or standard of decorum and responsible governance they keep hoping against hope the Republicans will come back to embracing.But of course, the whole post war amity between Republicans and Democrats was based on shared assumptions about liberal democracy and the need to give the American people a real stake in their nation's success. Plus a real and disturbingly successful looking - at the time - alternative model from an enemy they felt they had to compete with in wealth expansion and social welfare.The fight against fascism rubbed their noses in the dangers of both ethnonationalism and extreme economic equality. To greater and lesser degrees both parties agreed with an activist state and yes, wealth redistribution. That and an explicit recognition of the value of trade unionism and loosening of the legal blockades to workers organizing created the single biggest expansion of wealth and health in human history. It was an activist state and unionized workers that created the middle class.As World War II recedes from living memory the global right slinks back to ethnic scapegoating and gilded age style robber baron exploitation like a dog returning to its vomit.There's no common ground, no basis for cooperation or trust in institutions to protect the shredded post war consensus.The Republican party and the global ethnonationalist right is the enemy of the whole human race and should be treated as such.sdnxry5z7g

Goodbye yellow brick road. Hello Mordor.

Trashy's World - 2 hours 49 min ago
Very soon, a racist, classless and misogynist piece of trash moves into to the White House. Be above this swamp rat, American friends. You are better than him and his sputtering jackals. Most of you are fine people. Fight and obstruct everything he and the GOP for the full four years, just like the GOP and their […]


Northern Reflections - 4 hours 1 min ago

Donald Trump's cabinet choices make it clear that one of his administration's prime directives will be to protect and entrench the fossil fuel industry. George Monbiot writes:

Trump is the president that corporate luddites have dreamed of: the man who will let them squeeze every last cent from their oil and coal reserves before they become worthless. They need him because science, technology and people’s demands for a safe and stable world have left them stranded. There is no fair fight that they can win, so their last hope lies with a government that will rig the competition.
The most obvious signal of Trump's intention is the appointment of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State:

By appointing Rex Tillerson, chief executive of the oil company ExxonMobil, as secretary of state, Trump not only assures the fossil economy that it sits next to his heart, he also provides comfort to another supporter: Vladimir Putin. It was Tillerson who brokered the $500bn (£407bn) deal between Exxon and the state-owned Russian company Rosneft to exploit oil reserves in the Arctic. As a result he was presented with the Russian Order of Friendship by Putin.
But Trump's other appointments underscore his prime directive:

Trump’s nominations for energy secretary and interior secretary are both climate change deniers, who – quite coincidentally – have a long history of sponsorship by the fossil fuel industry. His proposed attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, allegedly failed to disclose in his declaration of interests that he leases land to an oil company.

The man nominated to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, has spent much of his working life campaigning against … the Environmental Protection Agency. As the attorney general in Oklahoma, he launched 14 lawsuits against the EPA, seeking, among other aims, to strike down its Clean Power Plan, its limits on the mercury and other heavy metals released by coal plants and its protection of drinking water supplies and wildlife. Thirteen of these suits were said to include as co-parties companies that had contributed to his campaign funds or to political campaign committees affiliated to him.
  Last year was the warmest year on record. The two previous years broke the previous records. We were told that Neanderthals became extinct thousands of years ago. We were misinformed. They are alive and congregating in Washington. They will eventually die out -- along with every other living species.

Image: The Guardian

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - 4 hours 37 min ago
Assorted content to end your week.

- Liam Byrne argues that it's long past time to reevaluate an economic framework which has produced only highly concentrated wealth for a lucky few at everybody else's expense. And Graeme Wearden reports on Oxfam's call to rein in both firm-level tax avoidance, and government policy oriented toward eliminating any corporate social responsibility to contribute to public revenue.

- Meanwhile, Aamir Bharmal, Jia Hu and Yassen Tcholakov assess how free trade agreements can be detrimental to social health, both by inflating the costs of medical care and by exacerbating inequality which produces ill effects.

- Russell Hixson reports on LIUNA's call for a review of the use of temporary foreign workers to suppress wages. And Dougald Lamont notes that public-sector jobs typically involve equality and security - which means we should be looking to make private-sector employment more like public-sector work, rather than the converse option of increased insecurity for all preferred by right-wing governments.

- Andrew Simms notes the possibility that it's too late to limit global warming to the generally-agreed target of 2 degrees Celsius, while recognizing that either way we need a substantial push to substitute clean energy sources for dirty ones.

- Finally, Kady O'Malley points out the good which could come from Nathan Cullen's proposal for multi-party participation in developing electoral reform legislation.

Donald Trump and the Road To Nuclear War

Montreal Simon - 6 hours 20 min ago

It was one of the worst and most depressing sights I have ever seen. Donald Trump and his ghastly family standing there in the shadow of the great Lincoln, who appears to be looking down on them in disbelief.

While a military band played, a military choir sang the Battle Hymn of the Republic, and a massive power fireworks show spelled out the letters U-S-A in the sky.

But of course the real horror show begins today.

When Trump is sworn in as President, and delivers a speech he claims to have written himself.
Read more »

Empire of the Pig: Zero Minus One

Rusty Idols - Thu, 01/19/2017 - 22:13
If nothing else, the lies, the bullying, the racism, the utter incompetence do not disqualify Donald Trump from holding office as the town dog catcher he cruelly mocked and crudely mimicked a disabled reporter.

He did. It's not ambiguous, its not debatable, it's not forgivable and just the act of denying it in the face of the undeniable evidence is itself cowardly and sickening and insulting. It's textbook gas-lighting. It's 'Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?'

The act of contempt for both one man and everyone else with the insistence that we did not see what we clearly saw is the Rosetta stone of Trump atrocities in one incident.

 Everything you need to know about what a complete and utter asshole is about to befoul the White House in one childishly vicious and piggish act of sniggering mean-spirited cruelty.

Don't kid yourself.  Don't yearn to accept the normalization efforts  which will become increasingly frantic as the gatekeepers try to keep things running while Caligula marries his horse.

We need to accept the numbing unavoidable truth unflinchingly and resolutely in the face of a blast wave of gaslighting.

Never lose sight of the observable, inescapable reality.


New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 01/19/2017 - 18:56
Here, on the options available to the Wall government in responding to a budget deficit other than to renew its attacks on Saskatchewan's public servants - and why we shouldn't trust a premier whose answer to the failure of his anti-worker economics is to amplify the pain.

For further reading...
- In case we need a reminder of the Saskatchewan Party's systematic austerity no matter how much money is flowing into provincial coffers, here are just a few of the examples from 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016.
- Kent Peterson nicely sums up what Brad Wall's position seems to be on his own fiscal management:
This news release on the Sask. Party's latest deficit messaging is bold, if not a little unconventional... #skpoli— Kent (@SameOldKent) January 18, 2017- And I'll note again that SaskForward is offering an opportunity to propose better ways than the Wall slash-and-burn plan.

Thursday Evening Links

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 01/19/2017 - 18:14
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Peter Goodman observes that any meaningful action to build a more equal economy needs to involve bolstering wages and workers' rights - meaning that the elites-only musings in Davos miss the point entirely:
Davos is — at least rhetorically — consumed with worries about the shortcomings of globalization. About the deepening anxieties of the middle class in many developed economies. About the threat of trade protectionism and its attendant hit to economic growth. About the fear that robots are on the verge of sowing mass unemployment.
It is a conversation fueled in part by fear: If the world is indeed in the throes of a populist insurrection, the pitchforks could do worse than to point here. The Davos elites have enjoyed outsize influence over economic policies in recent decades as a growing share of wealth has, perhaps not coincidentally, landed in the coffers of people with a need for bank accounts in the British Virgin Islands, while poor and middle-class households have seen their earnings stagnate and decline.
Yet the solutions that have currency seem calculated to spare corporations and the wealthiest people from having to make any sacrifices at all, as if there is a way to be found to tilt the balance of inequality while those at the top hang on to everything they have....
“People talk about inequality, how it’s a major problem, the greatest threat to globalization and the global economy,” Mr. Stiglitz said. “You have to recognize that the way we have managed globalization has contributed significantly to inequality. But I have not yet heard a good conversation about what changes in globalization would address inequality.” That is not an accident, he surmised. Any sincere list would have to include items that involve transferring wealth and power from the sorts of people who come to Davos to ordinary workers via more progressive taxation, increased bargaining rights for labor unions, and greater protections for labor in general. Same as every other year, Davos is again plastered with the slogan of the World Economic Forum: “Committed to Improving the State of the World.” But whatever improvements are supposed to be made, one can safely assume they will not conflict with those in attendance continuing to enjoy the state of the world as it is now, with canapés and aged Bordeaux and private jets at the ready.- Meanwhile, David Ball reports on a reminder from UNICEF's David Morley that Canada is backsliding even compared to other countries in our growing inequality.

- Desmond Cole laments Toronto's decision to take social housing away from people who desperately need it in order to throw more money at expressways and subways.

- Jorge Barrera reports on how Health Canada's callous refusal to fund mental health services in the face of urgent First Nations needs contributed to the suicides of two young girls at Wapekeka First Nation. And Mike De Souza and Riley Sparks note that Justin Trudeau is now explicitly breaking his promise to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by deciding to suppress the federal government's legal opinions about indigenous rights.

- Finally, Jessica Botelho-Urbanski reports on Niki Ashton's findings in consulting with millenials across Canada - including the glaring need to reverse a sense of hopelessness.

Harper Humps Trump

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 01/19/2017 - 15:20

Beijing Butt-Kisser Extraordinaire, Sideshow Steve Harper, has slithered back into public view to praise what he predicts will be Donald Trump's hostility to China.

Harper says Trump will erase the past 70 years of American foreign policy and, to him, that's a good thing.

"Trump is going to reverse the cornerstone of American foreign policy," Harper said. "He is going to reject and reverse the idea that the U.S. has an overreaching responsibility for global affairs. The U.S. will cease to view the rise of China as essentially benign."

The former prime minister also said he thinks large, multilateral trade deals are "dead."

He said Trump's position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership makes it a "certainty" that the 12 country trade pact — which his government negotiated — will not see the light of day.

"You may be surprised to know I'm not entirely unsympathetic to Mr. Trump's view on this. I'm not entirely sure where he's going, but … what I share in common with Mr. Trump is I've actually negotiated deals."
Oh, Steve, spare us the false modesty. You have much, much more in common with Donald Trump than you let on.

Sam Bee on Kellyanne Conway

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 01/19/2017 - 15:11

This time tomorrow the wildly unpopular Donald Trump will be president of the United States of America.

Sam Bee takes a look at the woman who put him there:

Black Lives Matter, But Bullying Is Still Bullying

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 01/19/2017 - 13:49

Just back last evening from our Cuban sojourn, it will take a little while to get my blogging and political legs back up to speed, given that I was peacefully unconnected for a week. However, an item in today's paper caught my attention that I feel moved to comment on.

Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that I take great exception to the abuse of power, whether political, economic, or social. However, none of that exempts victims from criticism, not as victims, of course, but as members of our larger society. It is in that spirit that I offer my criticism of what looks to be an affirmation of the decision to exclude the Toronto Police from future participation in the annual Gay Pride Parade.

First, some background:
Black Lives Matter brought the 2016 parade to a standstill for more than half an hour in July, refusing to move until Pride officials agreed to a list of nine demands.The most contentious of those extortionate demands, in my view, was the total removal of all police floats/booths in all Pride marches/parades/community booths.

I always felt it was not Black Pride Toronto's call to make, and that they had in fact abused the invitation they had been given to join the parade; of course, ultimately that judgement and the decision on whether or not to honour the hastily-agreed upon deal by then-executive director Mathieu Chantelois to get the parade moving again had to be made by the membership. And according to the article referenced above, they have done so.

This strikes me as a huge mistake. No one would argue that the police have, historically, abused the gay population, the infamous bathhouse raids of 1981 being perhaps the most public and egregious example, when patrons were mocked, humiliated — and arrested by the hundreds. A brief video found here affords a glimpse of the mindset that pervaded the times.

But this is no longer 1981, and last July Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders made an historic apology for this flagrant abuse of authority, an apology that was an important repudiation of such repugnant tactics. I like to think that the intervening 36 years have seen some evolution in the authorities' attitudes.

Why jeopardize those advances and the understanding between the two communities that both the passage of time and the participation in the Gay Pride festivities have helped make possible? To shut off such an important line of communication between the gay community and police culture seems to be counterproductive at the very least, given that the cultivation of such positive ties can only serve to strengthen understanding and empathy.

As neither a black nor a gay man, by what right do I offer an opinion on this issue? To suggest that this is only a black issue or a gay issue overlooks a larger point. They are all part of something bigger, Canadian society as a whole, so my expressed view is as a member of that society. To assert that only gays or blacks have any right to opine here would be to ghettoize and, to some extent, dehumanize, them as occupying special categories of citizenship.

We surely do not want to return to such prejudicial thinking, I hope.Recommend this Post

Monbiot - But, Hey, Does This Sound Familiar?

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 01/19/2017 - 12:05

Guardian enviro-scribe, George Monbiot, lambastes America's incoming president. Here's the gist of it. Now I want you to take away "Trump" and replace it with another leader's name, our own.

Trump is the president that corporate luddites have dreamed of: the man who will let them squeeze every last cent from their oil and coal reserves before they become worthless. They need him because science, technology and people’s demands for a safe and stable world have left them stranded. There is no fair fight that they can win, so their last hope lies with a government that will rig the competition.

The climatic disruption of crucial agricultural zones – in North and Central America, the Middle East, Africa and much of Asia – presents a security threat that could dwarf all others. The civil war in Syria, unless resolute policies are adopted, looks like a glimpse of a possible global future.

These are not, if the risks materialise, shifts to which we can adapt. These crises will be bigger than our capacity to respond to them. They could lead to the rapid and radical simplification of society, which means, to put it brutally, the end of civilisations and many of the people they support. If this happens, it will amount to the greatest crime ever committed. And members of Trump’s proposed cabinet are among the leading perpetrators.

You don't have to like it. You don't get a say in that. You do have a choice. Do we pursue the expanded and ongoing exploitation of fossil fuels or not? It's either we rapidly transition off fossil fuels or we stay with them, the latter being the choice of our federal government and the provincial governments of Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
The thing with Trump is that he's open about it. Trudeau yammers on about "phasing out" bitumen production even as he greenlights new pipelines that have a 40 year lifespan, perhaps longer. Even the CBC is calling bullshit on Trudeau's empty phase out promise.

Trudeau's comments last week caused a political tempest in Alberta, but not much of a ripple in the business community. That's because even the idea of phasing out the oilsands seems, if not impossible, then unlikely enough that it requires no serious consideration.

"To phase it out would take many, many decades," said Martin King, director of institutional research at GMP FirstEnergy. King described Trudeau's comments as a blip in the media.

The companies that invested in Canada went through an arduous and expensive review process and spent billions of dollars because oilsands projects last for 30 years or more and there is time to recoup their investment. Canada's reputation as a place to invest would be destroyed if the rug was to be pulled out from those companies.

Trudeau, with a remarkably straight face, says we cannot choose between the environment and the economy. That's a shameless lie. We do choose and always on the side of the fossil energy economy. He chooses and then stands fact, logic and reason on its head to claim that he doesn't. Each of us has to choose. You and me. We've got all the arguments in front of us. As Schellnhuber warned at the Paris climate summit in 2015, if we want a future for the next generations there's only one route - an "induced implosion" of the fossil fuel industry.

I agree with Monbiot. We are perpetrating "the greatest crime ever committed." A crime against humanity. Sure it will come as an economic blow to Canada to do the right thing. But the price that will be paid for not doing the right thing won't be measured in GDP but in lives.

The Real Trump Scandal

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 01/19/2017 - 11:00

Forget the story about hookers peeing on hotel beds. That's the story that was seized on by the media, the idea that Putin has recordings of Trump perversions.

The real story, is the one they didn't focus on. It's how Russian money poured into the American election and how the government's most trusted agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was corrupted. It's a story of voter suppression, voter manipulation, and how a man who lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots will become president.

America may not have a surplus of credible news services but one of the exceptions is McClatchey, formerly Knight-Ridder, the sole outfit that declared the Bush-Blair WMD casus belli for waging aggressive war on Iran utter bullshit. That set them head and shoulders above the pack including the major nets and newspapers.

McClatchey reports that five US government agencies are investigating how the Kremlin covertly interfered to hand the presidency to Trump.

The informal, inter-agency working group began to explore possible Russian interference last spring, long before the FBI received information from a former British spy hired to develop politically damaging and unverified research about Trump, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the inquiry.

The working group is scrutinizing the activities of a few Americans who were affiliated with Trump’s campaign or his business empire and of multiple individuals from Russia and other former Soviet nations who had similar connections, the sources said.

U.S. intelligence agencies not only have been unanimous in blaming Russia for the hacking of Democrats’ computers but also have concluded that the leaking and dissemination of thousands of emails of top Democrats, some of which caused headaches for the Clinton campaign, were done to help Trump win.

Trump and Republican members of Congress have said they believe Russia meddled in the U.S. election but that those actions didn’t change the outcome. However, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a former chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that she believes that Russia’s tactics did alter the election result.


The BBC reported last week that the joint inquiry was launched when the CIA learned last spring, through a Baltic ally, of a recording indicating the Russian government was planning to funnel funds aimed at influencing the U.S. election.
Adding to the intrigue, once Trump swears his oath of office at noon on Friday, his newly appointed intelligence and security chiefs will have ultimate control of the inter-agency group.

The agencies are said to be examining the activities of several Americans linked to the Trump campaign and corporation and a bigger group of Russians and citizens of other ex-Soviet republics who are based in the US who may be linked to Trump.

One of these "several Americans" is none other than Trump fixer, Rudy Giuliani. From the Sydney Morning Herald:
...just three weeks before the presidential election and Trump's stunning victory, a third, further-refined application was successful.

The court's (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court) authorisation to investigate funds moving between Russia and the US reportedly does not name Trump or his associates, but a lawyer familiar with the case, told the BBC that the investigation was focusing on three Trump associates and "it's clear this is about Trump".

Huffington Post, meanwhile, has a compelling exploration of how certain Trump insiders may have corrupted the FBI and its director, James Comey.
Information presently public and available confirms that Erik Prince, Rudy Giuliani, and Donald Trump conspired to intimidate FBI Director James Comey into interfering in, and thus directly affecting, the 2016 presidential election. This conspiracy was made possible with the assistance of officers in the New York Police Department and agents within the New York field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. All of the major actors in the conspiracy have already confessed to its particulars either in word or in deed; moreover, all of the major actors have publicly exhibited consciousness of guilt after the fact. This assessment has already been the subject of articles in news outlets on both sides of the political spectrum, but has not yet received substantial investigation by major media.
In case you're wondering,  yes, it's that Erik Prince, the founder of the controversial Iraq War contractor, Blackwater.
The Huffington Post "dossier" is more to the point than the documents assembled by Brit spy, Christopher Steele. This business smells as bad as a week old fish on a Baghdad sidewalk. Let's see how fast Trump moves to put a blanket over the investigation.

Read more here:

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Mr. Wonderful?

Northern Reflections - Thu, 01/19/2017 - 06:45

Kevin O'Leary is in. But Brent Rathgeber isn't impressed by either O'Leary or his prospects:

The first few times I saw Kevin O’Leary harshly criticize a contestant, I thought it was so over the top that it had to be contrived. His affected viciousness repelled me; predictably, it also earned him a seat on the American copycat program Shark Tank. The American entertainment industry has a history of embracing the obnoxious.
There are those in the Conservative Party that are trying on Trump Lite for size:

We’ve already seen some of the worst aspects of the excruciating 2016 American presidential campaign migrate north. Kellie Leitch’s opportunistic proposal to screen potential immigrants for their embrace of ‘Canadian values’ is carefully nebulous, allowing it to send different messages to different people. Steven Blaney wants to revoke citizenship for terrorists and ban the niqab from the public service. Red meat for the anti-Muslim crowd.

Both Leitch and Blaney went after Maxime Bernier last night in Quebec City, before and during the French language debate, for campaigning to end corporate welfare after having handed out the pork as Stephen Harper’s industry minister. Leitch, the queen of the drive-by smear, quickly issued a press release calling Bernier a “liar and a fraud.”
But O'Leary sees himself as the Trump of the North -- a notion that Rathgeber doesn't think will fly:

I believe the Trump phenomenon was more an accident then the beginning of a trend. He’s the outcome of an unlikely collision between multiple factors: a deeply disillusioned electorate, fear of undocumented workers ‘stealing’ jobs, fear of terrorists — or anybody who looks like he might be one — and a very, very unpopular Democratic nominee. Take away any one of those factors, and Trump loses.

And the conditions that could permit the ascent of ‘Trump Lite’ simply don’t exist here. Undocumented Mexicans ‘stealing’ Canadian jobs? That’s not even a thing. Terrorism? Canada hasn’t been immune from terrorist attacks — but mass shootings are, thankfully, rare here. Stephen Harper tried to capitalize on islamophobia in 2015 but the barbaric cultural practices ‘snitch line’ and the war on the niqab were soundly rejected by the electorate.

Finally, there’s the obvious: Justin Trudeau is no Hillary Clinton. I may disagree with many of the current government’s policies, but Trudeau is young, hip, photogenic and (politics aside) personally very likeable. Moreover, Canadians already have had the opportunity to “drain the swamp” — and to some extent they did so in 2015.
Rathgeber is betting that Canadians will understand that Mr. Wonderful is not who he says he is.


Why I Have Decided To Support Kevin O'Leary

Montreal Simon - Thu, 01/19/2017 - 04:48

Well now it's official. Kevin O'Leary has finally announced that he does indeed want to be the leader, or the new King of the Harper Party.

He claims ordinary rubes Canadians are excited and grateful that he's going to save them from the Liberals. 

And he wants Justin Trudeau to know that he is going to be his worst nightmare.
Read more »

Demographic Fairy Tales

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 01/18/2017 - 12:37

Never has mankind's future been so uncertain. There are powerful forces at work today and we have only the vaguest notion of how they'll play out individually much less collectively in either the short-range or medium-range.

One is the combined effect of global warming and climate change. That's the big nasty. There are also two related phenomenon, tightly interwoven with global warming and climate change - overpopulation and over-consumption. Each of the three has a wide range of permutations. Combined, as they inevitably are, they manifest in a powerful synergy that is much greater than the sum of their parts.

One of the great failures of climate change advocates is the persistent refusal to address the companion challenges of overpopulation and over-consumption in formulating recommended responses. That's a self-defeating omission. There is no effective response to global warming and climate change that does not incorporate measures to address overpopulation and over-consumption. Focusing our attention, our efforts and our resources on one while ignoring the others is to work at cross purposes. To me it's akin to fighting a house fire in the kitchen but ignoring the blaze spreading through the livingroom and into the sleeping quarters.

A recent article in Foreign Policy seeks to explore the changes in global demographics the world will see by 2050.

First problem, 2050. The further ahead you seek to look the greater the chance you're casting bones and reading entrails. It's the difference between a wild-assed guess and a silly wild-assed guess. Here's why. A decade ago we were warned that, unless we kept global warming under 2 degrees Celsius, the Arctic could just possibly be ice free by the turn of the century. It seems we got that wrong by a staggering 80 years out of what was a 90-year projection. If only we knew then what we know now... you get the idea. That is the peril inherent in navigating uncharted waters.

Nothing better exemplifies "uncharted waters" than human population growth. To get a sense of how surreal this is consider this line from the article: "In the 35 years from 2015 to 2050, the world’s population is expected to rise by only 32 percent. During the 20th century, it nearly quadrupled."

"Only 32 percent" over the course of just 35 years. A global population that "nearly quadrupled" in just one century.

Now, consider this:

This means that in 2050 there will be around 3.5 times more Africans (2.5 billion) than Europeans (707 million). In 1950, there were nearly twice as many Europeans as Africans. Demography is a drama in slow motion. But tick by tock, it transforms the world.
The staggering reversal of population fortunes is largely the result of the huge continental differences in birthrates — 1.6 children per woman in Europe today versus 4.7 children per woman in Africa.

Reading the article it's hard to tell if the author simply made a bad choice of words, i.e. population fortunes, or if he believes that the figures he projects for 2050 are a good thing.

The article goes on to discuss how we're lifting people out of poverty, a billion since 2000. Nowhere is it mentioned how the impact of adding these people to what's now being called the "consumer class" is increasing their carbon footprint and adding to our looming resource crisis.

The article pays no heed, none at all, to "overshoot," the steadily increasing rate by which one species, our own, is depleting the Earth's resources faster than they can be replenished. We're already exceeding our planet's carrying capacity by a factor of 1.7. That's not a made up number. It's verifiable, measurable, tangible. It can be seen by the naked eye from the International Space Station viewing cupola. It is an inescapable truth, hard as granite.

The article explores at length how Islam will outgrow Christianity by 2050. The author, however, ignores the fact that it's the Muslim world that will bear the most severe impacts of global warming and climate change.

Time and again this article presents a projection that rests atop a foundation of omissions. That should be anything but persuasive and yet it's an approach that has become commonplace today. It's not just annoying, it's dangerous.

This Might Go a Long Way to Explaining Trump

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 01/18/2017 - 09:49

Donald Trump behaves just like a person in the throes of severe sleep deprivation.

No, this isn't just casting bones and reading entrails. During the nomination and election campaigns Trump repeatedly alluded to how he gets by with just a few hours of sleep every night.

The good news is that this is a well researched problem. Doctors know how it impacts the afflicted. The bad news is that the medical community know how it impacts the afflicted and what that might mean for a president of the United States.

President-elect Donald J. Trump regularly boasts he’s the biggest winner, makes the biggest deals, and appoints the best people, and recently he claimed he’ll be the biggest job creator god ever created. He also brags that he does all these amazing things on next to no sleep. This 70-year-old pre-adolescent made numerous boasts on the campaign trail last year about his sleeping habits, saying he sometimes gets as little as an hour’s sleep a night. Most nights, Trump says he gets by on just three or four hours of sleep, which is half of the amount sleep experts recommend. “I have a great temperament for success,” he told the Chicago Tribune at an event in Illinois last November. “You know, I’m not a big sleeper, I like three hours, four hours, I toss, I turn, I beep-de-beep, I want to find out what’s going on.” 
Some evidence of the rare truth of this particular brag is evident in the tweets he churns out, many with time signatures in the wee hours. In one case, after a GOP election debate moderated by Megyn Kelly, he tweeted out 30 messages between 2:30 and 4:30am, according to the Washington Post. Daniel Barron, a Yale University neurologist, even gives Trump’s nocturnal habit a name: Trump syndrome. The symptoms are, “a ravenous late-night craving for stimulation that results in a sometimes sporadic, often slender sleep schedule.”
How does this sort of sleep deprivation manifest in others?
Sleep-deprived individuals, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, are impulsive, have difficulty adapting to new situations, are snappish, exhibit poor judgment, have trouble listening to and processing information, experience a lack of concentration and focus, are prone to imagining things, and get distracted easily. The sleep-deprived’s ability to learn new information can drop by up to 40 percent. Moreover, the lack of sufficient REM sleep can lead to the inability to recognize happiness or sadness in others—in other words, a lack of empathy. Sound familiar? 
The article goes on to list six major disasters where lack of sleep played a significant role: the Exxon Valdez grounding; Three Mile Island nuclear accident; Chernobyl; the Challenger disaster; Air France 447; and Britain's Great Heck rail crash.


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