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Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - 2 hours 3 min ago
Assorted content to end your week.

- Paul Krugman writes that the ultra-wealthy's contempt for anybody short of their own class is becoming more and more explicit around the globe - even when it comes to basic rights like the ability to vote:
It’s always good when leaders tell the truth, especially if that wasn’t their intention. So we should be grateful to Leung Chun-ying, the Beijing-backed leader of Hong Kong, for blurting out the real reason pro-democracy demonstrators can’t get what they want: With open voting, “You would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month. Then you would end up with that kind of politics and policies” — policies, presumably, that would make the rich less rich and provide more aid to those with lower incomes.
...
(T)he political right has always been uncomfortable with democracy. No matter how well conservatives do in elections, no matter how thoroughly free-market ideology dominates discourse, there is always an undercurrent of fear that the great unwashed will vote in left-wingers who will tax the rich, hand out largess to the poor, and destroy the economy.
...
(T)hese strategies for protecting plutocrats from the mob are indirect and imperfect. The obvious answer is Mr. Leung’s: Don’t let the bottom half, or maybe even the bottom 90 percent, vote.

And now you understand why there’s so much furor on the right over the alleged but actually almost nonexistent problem of voter fraud, and so much support for voter ID laws that make it hard for the poor and even the working class to cast ballots. American politicians don’t dare say outright that only the wealthy should have political rights — at least not yet. But if you follow the currents of thought now prevalent on the political right to their logical conclusion, that’s where you end up.- Meanwhile, Heather Digby Parton discusses the latest in Republican anti-voting hysteria. And Don Davies points out that a free trade agreement with Honduras represents yet another blow for business against democratic governance and human rights.

- But on the bright side, Poverty Costs highlights the fact that Saskatchewan has finally (if belatedly) joined its provincial counterparts in announcing an outline of a poverty reduction plan.

- Finally, Andrew Coyne notes that this week's tragic shootings in Ottawa resulted in a brief moment of the type of measured political discussion we should expect more often. But Thomas Walkom and Linda McQuaig are rightly concerned about the Cons' easily-anticipated pivot toward fomenting panic for their own partisan gain. And Alison reminds us just how many important causes figure to fall within the Cons' selective definition of dissent to be suppressed.

And Thus It Begins

Politics and its Discontents - 2 hours 37 min ago
One of the misgivings I expressed in yesterday's post seems to be a little closer to reality today.

The National Post headline reads:

Conservatives mulling legislation making it illegal to condone terrorist acts online.

Says John Ivison,
The Conservatives are understood to be considering new legislation that would make it an offence to condone terrorist acts online.

There is frustration in government, and among law enforcement agencies, that the authorities can’t detain or arrest people who express sympathy for atrocities committed overseas and who may pose a threat to public safety, one Conservative MP said. “Do we need new offences? If so which?”

Sources suggest the government is likely to bring in new hate speech legislation that would make it illegal to claim terrorist acts are justified online.

The Prime Minister told the House of Commons on Thursday that Canada’s law and policing powers need to be strengthened in the areas of surveillance, detention and arrest. He said work is already under way to provide law enforcement agencies with “additional tools” and that work will now be expedited.
Hopefully, even the naive and guileless will want to ask themselves, after reading the article, if it is wise to let government decide what constitutes unacceptable speech?

I assume no further comment on my part is needed.

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On opportunism

accidentaldeliberations - 3 hours 27 min ago
Shorter Harper Cons:
In our language, the word for "crisis" is the same as the word for "opportunity to trash civil rights".

The Day Stephen Harper Was Forced to Hide in a Closet

Montreal Simon - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 23:18


It was a remarkable scene in the House of Commons. Stephen Harper hugging Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau. 

And I must admit I was impressed, because I've never seen Harper look so human.

But then there's nothing like having to cower in a broom closet, while the Con caucus prepares to defend you with spears.

Stephen Harper spent about 15 minutes hidden in a Parliament Hill closet after a gunman stormed Centre Block where he and the rest of the Conservative caucus were guarded by MPs who’d fashioned sharp spears from flagpoles, sources say.

To make a Great Warrior Leader more humble...
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Some Much-Needed Perspective

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 16:31


Although this will probably get lost in the jingoistic rhetoric sure to follow yesterday's tragedy, this story from the Vancouver Sun is well-worth reading:
"His behaviour was not normal," said David Ali, vice-president of the Masjid Al-Salaam mosque, adding Zehaf-Bibeau used to trip the mosque's fire alarms by trying to enter through the wrong doors. "We try to be open to everyone. But people on drugs don't behave normally."
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Hornets and guns

Creekside - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 14:43

I used to argue that however unattractive their other attributes, and some of these other attributes are exceedingly unattractive, the conservative libertarian right has an important sentry watchdog role to play in our society that benefits the rest of us - their eyes constantly scanning the distant horizon for any sign of the slightest infringement on what it pleases them to call their rights. 
Lately I've come to realize that to many of them, those precious rights are just gun rights. They really really like their guns. Guns in a good way, guns in a bad way - doesn't much matter - they get really excited about guns either way. 
Liberty minus the guns - not so much. Guns instead of liberty is pretty much ok with them as long as the people taking it away have even bigger guns and don't touch their guns. It's a fetish.

One afternoon on my deck in the sunshine, some neighbours were having a beer and the conversation turned to security vs freedom because we were about to get our first police detachment on the island.
"We don't need police," said one young guy, "if something goes wrong we handle it ourselves. Whoever is best suited to deal with it at the time deals with it."
I nodded.
"Okay," responded another to my nod. "Supposing a really big guy with a really big gun walks into your house and says 'I live here now'  - what are you going to do about it?"
"I'll run out into the street and yell a really big guy has taken over my house," I said.

This is where we are now. Harper walked into our House in the winter of 2005/6 and, with the added twist of assistance from our national police in the middle of an election, he has taken it over. He lives there now and we don't. Somehow we don't run out into the street much over it.

This is also the position the Mideast found itself in after WWI when western powers divided up the Arab world into nation states and installed tyrants beholden to their interests to run them. When people ran out into the streets three decades later to protest it, we crushed them.  We're still doing it and now we're dealing with the blowback..

On Monday, a fucked up Canadian with mental health issues waited around for two hours for his chance to run over two Canadian soldiers with a car, killing Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.
On Tuesday Canada sent six C-18 Hornets to bomb Iraq.
Yesterday another fucked up Canadian with mental health issues and a long gun shot and killed a Canadian soldier, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, at the war memorial in Ottawa before somehow breaching House security and being shot in turn himself by the sergeant-at-arms. One guy with a gun shot another guy with a gun. Are these three events in any way related? We don't know yet but ...

Minus the CBC, whose coverage was mostly admirable, a lot of the media predictably played along with ramping up the terror meme to laughable extremes. 






They're happy now because they will be in charge of managing a magical news cycle combining their love of gun stories with assuring Canadians of the absolute necessity of predictable further clawing back of our civil liberties. Now is never the time ...

Steve is already talking about cracking down on terror threats and a new act with increased police surveillance powers - powers that will undoubtedly be used on Canadians with :
“grievances – real or perceived – revolving around the promotion of various causes such as animal rights, white supremacy, environmentalism and anti-capitalism.”Or as the RCMP put it in 2010 when they included First Nations in that grouping :
"grievances based upon notions/expectations regarding the environment, animal rights, First nations' resource-based grievances, gender/racial equality, and distribution of wealth etc."Harper says Canada will not be intimidated by the actions of this week. Neither should we stand for being intimidated by the actions of the guy who took over our House.

Trapped in a Whirlpool : Now is not the time ...

Disaffected Lib : It's what fascists do.

Politics and its Discontents : Something we should all keep in mind.
.

Oh Pallister ...

The Winnipeg RAG Review - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 14:05
Brian Pallister, leader of the Official
Opposition in Manitoba.

Image Source: Screen capture/Youtube/Natalie Pollock
Reading through the Freep website I found this interesting nugget:

Opposition Leader Brian Pallister said Wednesday night's outcome was a message of how dissatisfied voters are of the ruling NDP government, in light of the collapse of support for former NDP MP and MLA Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

Pallister said Bowman's successful campaign signalled Manitobans want positive change and for politicians to work together at all levels.

"This election campaign was about many things, but it did send a message that the same old ways are not acceptable to Winnipeggers or Manitobans anymore," Pallister said.

("Selinger says he and Bowman share several priorities". Winnipeg Free Press. Oct. 23, 2014)
So in this statement provincial Conservative leader "Positive" Pallister attacks the NDP while lauding the need for politicians to work together. Bit of a mixed message, eh?

Also somewhat ironic is a man with last century's values talking about how unacceptable the "old ways" are to Winnipeg. This is doubly so as Pallister's CONs acclaimed as a candidate for Kirkfield Park Scott Fielding, who stands for the old sprawling ways urbanist Bowman rejected.

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Russell Brand Calls Out Stephen Harper

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 13:49
h/t reader Ron Wilton

A Very Impressive Lady

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 13:44
Every time I hear Elizabeth May speak, I am struck by the balance and wisdom of her words. A very impressive lady, she clearly has real leadership qualities:

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It's What Fascists Do. Harper Comes Gunning for Our Rights and Freedoms.

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 11:41
Just as the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were exploited to transform the United States into a place ruled by fear and suspicion, the ultimate surveillance state where even indefinite and secret detention without trial would be permitted, so too will yesterday's shooting in Ottawa provide Stephen Harper the pretext to whittle down the rights and freedoms of Canadians in the name of fighting terrorism.

This would be disturbing even if it wasn't the handiwork of an utterly fascist bastard like Harper.  Coming from him, however, there's no excuse for naivete.

"Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper pledged more surveillance and detention powers for security forces in Canada on Thursday after a gunman killed a soldier and rampaged through parliament before being shot dead.

"Addressing the House of Commons just metres away from where the gunman, a reported convert to Islam, was shot dead on Wednesday, Harper said lawmakers would expedite new powers to counter the threat of radicals." 

In Harperland, dissent is extremism and all those opposed to this government's unprincipled and disastrous policies are radicals.

Like the Bush/Cheney thugs, Harper wants to act before anyone gets too close a look at the screw-ups that contributed to the attacks on our soldiers.  There'll be no discussion about existing powers of surveillance and detention much less whether, properly exercised, these existing laws might have prevented these deaths.

That's the answer to gross negligence, including leaving a young corporal with an unloaded weapon to stand Target Duty at the war memorial; just say the laws aren't good enough and exploit those deaths to gain more powers in your question to transform Canada into an increasingly illiberal democracy.

With a man as patently unscrupulous as our prime minister, these new laws are aimed to reinforce the surveillance state that Canada has become under his rule and he'll use those powers as freely against ordinary, law-abiding Canadians who resist his wishes as he will against anyone else.

It's time the leaders of our opposition parties stood up for Canada.  Demand an inquiry into what went wrong and how these deaths happened.  Challenge the government in the Commons about leaving that corporal on Target Duty at the war memorial just after another soldier had been targeted and killed outside the base at St. Jean, Quebec.  Demand safeguards to ensure that these supposed new powers won't be abused by this government that routinely abuses power even in defiance of the rule of law.  Harper is counting on his ability and track record of cowing the opposition and it's an impressive record to be sure.


This, From Elizabeth May, On the Week's Murderous Events

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 11:15

Green party leader Elizabeth May wrote a helpful e-mail to party members while she and her staff were still in lockdown yesterday.  Here is the conclusion of her missive:

...while it is too early to jump to conclusions, I intend to hold fast to the following: we must ensure that this appalling act of violence is not used to justify a disproportionate response. We must not resort to hyperbolic rhetoric. We need to determine if these actions are coordinated to any larger group or are the actions of one or two deranged individuals. If it is the latter we must develop tools and a systematic approach to dissuade our youth from being attracted to violent extremist groups of any kind. We need to protect our rights and liberties in a democracy.

We do know that through history these kinds of events open the door to a loss of democracy. Naomi Klein details the elements of seizing the opportunity created by tragedy or tumult in Shock Doctrine. The title of her new and important book on climate, This Changes Everything, is correct – the threat of the climate crisis changes everything. The shootings on Parliament Hill do not change everything. It is up to all of us to ensure that, to the extent we encounter demands for change, we keep in the forefront of our minds that once we surrender any rights it is very difficult to restore them. Let’s demand answers, sensible policies and proportionate responses.



Why Does Stephen Harper Hate Renewable Energy?

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 10:52

Born into an oil company family, Stephen Harper's rise to petro-politics has been uninterrupted from his days in the Calgary mailroom of Imperial Oil all the way to his arrival at Sussex Drive.

Harper doesn't like to talk about climate change and he's even less disposed to doing anything about it.  That's hardly surprising given that he's Canada's top fossil fueler.

We know that Harper is a bitumen booster but how many of us realize that he's deeply, ideologically predisposed against renewable energy?  It's something Naomi Klein explores in her new book, "This Changes Everything."

Klein contends that clean, renewable energy and the private sector simply don't mix.  The focus of fossil fuels in profit, first and foremost.  The focus of renewables is clean energy.  Renewable energy can be competitive with fossil energy for the consumer but it's more of a break-even proposition for the producer.  Break-even is not the desired outcome for the private sector but it's just fine for the public sector.

Renewable energy, therefore, threatens the neoliberal mantra of 'the private sector does everything best'.  Renewables, in effect, transfer a sizeable segment of the economy out of the private sector and back into the public sector.  This directly clashes with Harper's free market prime directive.  It offends his worldview.  He'll have no part in revealing just how much the public sector can do far better than the private sector.  He seeks to dismember government, not to make it work for the people.

And so the world will be held hostage to the fossil fuel fetish of people like Stephen Harper and his Aussie boy toy, Tony Abbott.  Unfortunately both sides of the aisle in the House of Commons are awash in fossil fuelers.  Still it's a good and ample reason to finally purge neoliberalism from the ranks of the Liberals and New Democrats.


A Glimmer of Hope

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 10:11


It's not much and it's not nearly enough but there's a rare glimmer of hope in the report that China's coal consumption has fallen for the first time this century.

It's not much, somewhere between 1-2% is all, but it sure beats the 5-10% annual increases that preceded it.

“The significance is that if the coal consumption growth we have seen in China in the last 10 years went on, we would lose any hope of bringing climate change under control,” said Lauri Myllyvirta at Greenpeace East Asia. “The turnaround now gives a window of opportunity.”

Such a turnaround would potentially have a large impact on the biggest coal exporting countries such as Indonesia and Australia, which have profited from China’s demand for the fuel.
 
Myllyvirta said the greatest significance of the current drop in coal use was that economic growth had continued at 7.4% at the same time, although that is a lower rate than in recent years. “The Chinese economy is divorcing coal,” he said. By contrast, the tripling of the Chinese economy since 2002 was accompanied by a doubling of coal use.




Morphing Tragedy into Terror: the Harper Agenda

Left Over - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 09:50
Canada won’t be cowed by terrorism, or by a draconian response to its threat The Ottawa shooting requires a measured reaction. We won’t let this society be divided into ‘us and them’

You that never done nothin’
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly.

-from “Masters of War”   by Bob Dylan

 

I found Harper’s speech after the Ottawa incident revolting, not to mention the fact that it was plagiarizing Bush’s 911 speech to a great extent..
No matter all the international chatter, this was not jihad come to Ottawa, this was the lunatic action of a troubled man who had obviously sent out lots of signals that he was prepared to do something suicidal..since so many Canadian politicians, after the fact, are stating that they were ‘briefed’ that something would happen…that something, in my mind, was a reaction to Canada granting Malala honourary citizenship status, as they had for Mandela and the Dalai Lama..
Harper expropriated the rhetoric of other war mongers and seemed to almost preen with satisfaction at the events, since he thinks they bolster his fear-mongering, which in turn plays to his fewer and fewer supporters…
This was not Canada’s 911, but it was an example of what can happen in any country that agrees to aid and abet the Western mythologizing of war as a valid response to their corporate supporters’ fears.  And sadly, a young man had to die….and three more in Quebec…never mind the so-called terrorists, don’t let Harper win.


The People of Canada Will Not Be Intimidated by Terrorists. Only the Government Gets to Do That.

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 09:42

Sideshow Steve Harper, his hairdo blessedly intact following yesterday's shooting in Ottawa, has vowed that the Canadian people will not be intimidated by the killings of two Canadian soldiers this week.

They will, however, continue to be intimidated by the CRA Tax Stasi and by the Canadian Petroleum Security and Control Agency.

Mr. Harper stressed that, while he's not pointing fingers, yesterday's events were a clear warning of the dangers posed to Canadians by First Nations and environmentalists lurking in muted opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline. Harper vowed that Canada would redouble its efforts to identify, monitor and track these terrorists in waiting.  He added that, while he doesn't have concrete proof, he's pretty sure these eco-terrorists are in fact radical Muslims.

Later in the afternoon Mr. Harper's hairdresser spoke with reporters.  She revealed a chilling account of how, at the outbreak of shooting, the prime minister's security detail had to whisk him to safety without the requisite 15-minutes needed to erect the "dome of invincibility" that protects Mr. Harper from flyaway split ends. Ms. Denise "Dolly" LaForest said she only spoke out because the Canadian people might otherwise have no idea what a close call it was for the prime ministerial hairdo and the bravery Mr. Harper exhibited in putting his hairdo at risk in this moment of national crisis.  That it was accomplished without gunplay, maintained Ms. LaForest, is a tribute to the prime minister's incredible bravery.


Now is not the time....

Trapped In a Whirlpool - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 09:15
That is the constant refrain those of us who are asking questions and raising red flags over government policy....
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"these acts were drive by hatred, but also designed to drive us to hate. they will not."

we move to canada - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 09:00
We woke up this morning in a country blessed by love, diversity and peace, and tomorrow we will do the same. These acts were driven by hatred, but also designed to drive us to hate. They will not.

Thomas Mulcair
I offer my sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of Nathan Cirillo, on the tragic and senseless loss of their loved one.

I offer condolences to the family and friends of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. He, too, is gone, and leaves both sorrow and bewilderment behind.

I offer my sympathies and condolences to all the survivors in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, and everywhere lives have been lost from terrorism perpetrated by the powerful armies of powerful states.

And I offer my energies and whatever abilities I have to help stop Western nations from making war and breeding terrorists.

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