Posts from our progressive community

Stephen Harper and the Never Ending War on Women

Montreal Simon - 4 hours 20 min ago


I always knew Stephen Harper was going to be a terrible Prime Minister, when somebody who knew him well told me he thought he owned the truth.

But I only realized how dangerous he was when the very first thing he did when he was elected was declare war on women.

By ordering his minions to erase the words "women's equality" from every document on the Status of Women.

And now he's done it again.
Read more »

It Wasn't Hamas - And Israel Knew That From the Get-Go.

Politics and its Discontents - 6 hours 42 min ago


We all know that Israel used the kidnapping/murder of three Israeli teens, that it blamed squarely on Hamas, to whip up support for its brutal invasion of Gaza. It's been claimed that Israeli intelligence knew the teens had been killed shortly after they were kidnapped but withheld the information to stoke anti-Hamas sentiment.

Now, with over 1,000 Palestinians dead at Israeli hands, word is out that Israel knew Hamas had nothing to do with those three murders. An Israeli police spokesman is said to have confirmed to BBC reporter, Jon Donnison, that the killings were not the work of Hamas but a "lone cell."

This suggests that the west, especially our own Harper and Baird, were duped by Netanyahu. No need going at length into what this does to Justin's praise of Israel for its "commitment to peace."

MoS, the Disaffected LibRecommend this Post

things i heard at the library: an occasional series: #15! one that makes me very happy!

we move to canada - 10 hours 13 min ago
The conversation was simple enough.

Teenage girl: "Where is the nonfiction?"

Me: "Nonfiction is upstairs, but it's organized according to subject. There should be some nonfiction books on the Bingo display."

Teen: "I think they're all gone."

Me: "OK, we'll find you something. What would you like to read about?"

Teen: "So far I've read one nonfiction book. It was about a man who left the war in Iraq. It was called The Deserter's Tale. I loved it."

!!!!!!!!!!!

Why did this make me so unreasonably happy?

1. War resisters! Teens reading about moral choices! Teens reading about conscientious objection to war! I always include Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale in my youth nonfiction displays. But I've never gotten feedback on it before! And she didn't just read it, she loved it!

2. One of my missions at the library is to offer nonfiction to teen readers. There is no special youth nonfiction section, and I'm trying to informally create one. This is a sign that it's working!

3. No one likes to re-fill the nonfiction on the Summer Reading Bingo display because it means going upstairs and hunting for books. It's not that library staff is lazy; it's that we're all so pressed for time, and a trip to a different floor to find books feels too burdensome for most people (given most staff don't have a strong motivation to get teens reading nonfiction). So I refill the nonfiction on the Bingo display pretty much by myself. And it was all gone from the display! It was only five or six books, but they were all gone! All! Gone!

4. And a teen asked for more!

If you're curious about Summer Reading Bingo: teens read books in different categories, write short (1-2 sentence) reviews, and win prizes - which are usually donated books or advanced reading copies from publishers. It's a great way to keep teens reading all summer. You can see it here.





But Then Again ...

Politics and its Discontents - 11 hours 42 min ago
S.E Cupp does not agree with the New York Times recommendation that the federal ban on marijuana be ended:

Recommend this Post

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - 13 hours 1 min ago
Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Pierre Beaulne discusses the inequality-related problems and solutions brought into the spotlight by Thomas Piketty, and notes that they can't simply be swept under the rug:
When all is said and done, the capitalist globalization has boosted economic growth for a certain time, but has by the same token greatly increased income inequalities and exacerbated wealth concentration. Tax breaks for the highest incomes and social spending cuts have intensified the trend. In Canada, for instance, the top marginal income tax rate at the federal level has gone down from 43% in 1981 to 29% in 2010, leaving more room for high-income individuals to accumulate wealth. Worldwide, the situation is so alarming that the World Economic Forum, which can certainly not be suspected of entertaining pinko tendencies, has recognized severe income inequalities to be the main social risk in its 2011 annual report Global Risks.

Thomas Piketty’s theories are obviously subject to debate, but the conclusions which he draws throughout his work and that of his associates don’t come out of left field. On the contrary, they support and enrich our understanding of numerous previous observations. His book’s success might be due to the fact that people are looking for explanations: they are unable to reconcile news of economic performance with their own financial situation, which has never before involved so much debt. For the common good, the trends identified must lead to changes in regulation and in the direction taken by governments in their economic and tax policies. Denial is not a sustainable option.- Which isn't to say some governments won't prefer denial as a temporary option on all kinds of issues. And in a prime example, the CP reports on the Cons' refusal to include fracking chemicals on a list of pollutants (since that might serve as the basis to measure and regulate their effect on the environment).

- Marc Spooner writes that it's entirely legitimate to maintain pride in one's home while recognizing that there's room to improve - and highlights how greater focus on eliminating all kinds of inequalities would create a better Regina. And Susan Delacourt notes that we should expect politicians too to tell us the truth, rather than simply saying what's most politically convenient at a particular moment:
A couple of months ago, I spent an afternoon walking through Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood with NDP candidate Joe Cressy and municipal councillor Mike Layton, campaigning in the Trinity-Spadina byelection.

Along the way, Layton was encountering shop owners or other citizens venting their concerns and complaints about local affairs. I was pleasantly surprised to see that he didn’t just tell them they were right — he pushed back, politely and respectfully, when he thought their views or facts were off-base.

It was a demonstration of the difference between simple, “retail politics” and authentic political dialogue.

Sometimes the customers — let’s call them citizens — aren’t always right. Sometimes, when they’re really wrong, the best reply is a little less oxygen or a little more sunlight. - Meanwhile, one of Stephen Harper's long-departed spinmeisters makes it absolutely clear that the Cons aren't interested in anything of the sort - preferring being crooked as part of their jobs to dealing honestly with the public:
But the worst part of my job was having to promote and defend policies I didn’t agree with personally. When that happened, you had to do your job and toe the party line.

Don’t shed a tear, because it didn’t happen much, at least not on issues that were core to the agenda, but consider yourself fortunate if you never have to look at a camera and argue with all of your heart for something you don’t believe in. Especially when, as happens in politics, you are standing on some thin intellectual ice.

Oh, how journalists loved it when they had you in that position. “Andrew,” they’d say, “surely you don’t believe that.”

Maybe not, but it didn’t matter what I believed. I wasn’t elected. The government had an agenda and it was my job to talk about it.
...
Parties — and leaders — are imperfect. And so that means as a spokesperson you’ll have to go out there and occasionally fire crooked arrows, sometimes at targets you don’t believe in or care about. - Finally, Rachel Malena-Chan argues that rather than forcing families to allocate a single leave period between two parents, a separate paid leave should be available to a secondary parent.

End Prohibition - The New York Times

Politics and its Discontents - 13 hours 42 min ago


The editorial board of America's "newspaper of record" has called for Washington to repeal federal laws prohibiting marijuana. The New York Times says it's time to end America's second prohibition:

It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.

There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.


MoS, the Disaffected LibRecommend this Post

the decision "you'll regret for the rest of your life": the reality gap in fictional abortions

we move to canada - 14 hours 43 min ago
The conversation around the movie "Obvious Child" has prompted me to re-visit a long-standing interest of mine, one I share with many other reproductive rights activists: the portrayal of abortion in the mainstream media.

I haven't seen "Obvious Child" (I wait for DVD or Netflix, as always), but I've heard that it includes a rarity: an honest and positive portrayal of the choice to terminate a pregnancy. Considering how many women do have abortions - and considering that the choice is usually met with relief and happiness - this shouldn't be exceptional. Yet it is.

On fictional TV shows and movies, when women are faced with unwanted pregnancies, certain outcomes are almost predictable. Sometimes abortion is never mentioned as an option, as if it simply does not exist. More often, abortion is mentioned briefly, contemplated with horror, and cast aside.

In soaps, a spontaneous abortion (usually known by the antiquated term miscarriage) often settles the question. Horseback riding is good for this, as is a fall down a flight of steps. Somehow no bones are broken but the pregnancy disappears. In movies, women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant often contemplate abortion, can't go through with it, and are converted into happy motherhood. "Save the Date" is a good recent example of this, although the ambiguous ending leaves the happy outcome to the viewer's imagination.

And there's the question of what happens after abortion is chosen. Depression, and death by either murder or suicide, or general psychotic outbursts, are not uncommon.

Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health - a project of the University of California, San Francisco - looked at every single instance of abortion in fictional movies and TV shows, and compared them to reality. They're still working on the project, but you can click here to see an infographic of their results so far. Such as this.



I don't know if most producers and screenwriters know this is twaddle but fear the reprisals of anti-choice activism, or if living in a world of media fiction has misled them to actually believe this stuff. Or perhaps they are simply creating drama, the way TV detective mysteries have practically invented the psychotic female murderer. (Yes, they exist, but they're relatively rare. Except on TV.) Either way, abortions in movies and TV often end up tinged with anti-abortion propaganda.

In reality, the most common feeling for women to experience post-abortion is relief. It's over, and she can move on with her life.

This is not to say there isn't, for some women, sadness or wistfulness or some measure of regret. Sometimes no choice is really what you want. I've known women - and perhaps you have, too, or perhaps this has been your experience - who would have liked to have another child, but knew that in good conscience they could not. Either she couldn't afford another child, or her life was too unstable, or her marriage was breaking up, or what have you. She thought it would be wonderful to have another baby, but not now, not given her current circumstances. So she chose abortion, all the while wishing she didn't have to. So there's a measure of regret, but the choice is freely made.

Often, though, there is only relief, pure and simple. An unwanted pregnancy is a horrific experience. The bottom drops out of your world until it's taken care of.

But don't take my word for it. How can we be sure that an exception like "Obvious Child" is actually a more honest portrayal? From every study that's ever been done.

The Guttmacher Institute compared women's emotions one week after terminating a pregnancy to the emotions of women who were denied abortions.
Context: The notion that abortion causes poor mental health has gained traction, even though it is not supported by research. Few studies have comprehensively investigated women's postabortion emotions.

Methods: Baseline data from a longitudinal study of women seeking abortion at 30 U.S. facilities between 2008 and 2010 were used to examine emotions among 843 women who received an abortion just prior to the facility's gestational age limit, were denied an abortion because they presented just beyond the gestational limit or obtained a first-trimester abortion. ...

Results: Compared with women who obtained a near-limit abortion, those denied the abortion felt more regret and anger ... and less relief and happiness. ... Among women who had obtained the abortion, the greater the extent to which they had planned the pregnancy or had difficulty deciding to seek abortion, the more likely they were to feel primarily negative emotions.... Most (95%) women who had obtained the abortion felt it was the right decision, as did 89% of those who expressed regret.

Conclusions: Difficulty with the abortion decision and the degree to which the pregnancy had been planned were most important for women's postabortion emotional state. Experiencing negative emotions postabortion is different from believing that abortion was not the right decision. (This research is incorrectly credited to the University of California San Francisco, in many online stories.)

A similar study by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges in the UK reviewed all studies about the emotional effects of abortion that had been published in English between 1990 and 2011.
- Unwanted pregnancy increases a woman’s risk of problems with her mental health.

- A woman with an unwanted pregnancy is as likely to have mental health problems from abortion as she is from giving birth.

- A woman with a history of mental health problems before abortion is more likely to have mental health problems after abortion.

- Circumstances, conditions, behaviors, and other factors associated with mental health problems are similar for women following abortion and women following childbirth.

- Pressure from a partner to terminate a pregnancy, negative attitudes about abortion, and negative attitudes about a woman’s experience of abortion may increase a woman’s risk of mental health problems after abortion.Of course, in terms of reproductive and human rights, it doesn't matter if a woman regrets having an abortion. Human beings must own their own bodies, and must be free to make their own decisions about if and when to bear children. Like all life decisions, reproductive decisions come with a risk of regret. As free people, that's our risk and our potential consequence to bear. When it comes to bringing a life into the world, I know I'd rather regret not having a baby than regret having one. Most of all, though, I insist on having the choice.









Our Monochromatic Political Leadership

Politics and its Discontents - 16 hours 18 min ago


The images are graphic and heartbreaking - buildings reduced to rubble, maimed and dead children strewn among that rubble, families fractured, lives broken beyond repair. Were it not for the distancing effect that television news inevitably brings, the pictures would be overwhelming, leaving room for nothing but despair.

Thus is the reality of the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza, a seemingly insoluble situation aided and abetted by a West that offers nothing but the staunch bromide of Israeli's 'right to defend itself,' an assertion with which few would disagree.

And therein lies the problem. That reflexive cliche whenever Israeli 'excesses' make the news relies on an uninformed and unsophisticated mode of thinking that sees the world only in terms of absolutes, where things are right or wrong, where you either stand with Israel wholeheartedly and unequivocally, or you are an anti-Semite who stands with the terrorists.

This is certainly the position of the Harper regime, and it is one held by Thomas Mulcair as far back as 2008, and by Justin Trudeau as well, as noted by The Mound of Sound on this blog.

Taking, as they say, a more 'nuanced' public position takes courage for the political risk it entails, and all three leaders of the major parties have shown themselves extraordinarily risk-averse. Unfortunately, their decision to play a safe and defensive game carries with it stakes far greater than their own political ambitions.

It is that cowardice that invites a withering assessment by Haroon Siddiqui in this morning's Toronto Star:

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and, to a lesser extent, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair have fallen in line with Stephen Harper’s support of the Israeli onslaught on Gaza.

None question the Israeli killing and maiming of hundreds of civilians, including women and children.

All echo the formulation that, given the barrage of (ineffective) Hamas rockets, Israel has a right to retaliate (bombing by air, shelling from the sea, mounting a ground invasion, levelling houses, hitting hospitals, mosques and schools run by the United Nations, and disrupting electricity, water and sewage systems).

Siddiqui suggests there is great room for a genuine discussion that all three 'leaders' have no interest in initiating:

Our federal leaders do not ask whether there could have been a less lethal response to the rockets than a wholesale war on Gaza, the third in six years.

Indeed, they hew closely to the official narrative, refusing to allow facts to interfere with expediency:

They studiously avoid mentioning the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, now in its 47th year. They never mention the Israeli blockade of Gaza that entered its eighth year last month, leaving its 1.7 million inhabitants destitute.

Nor is the writer impressed by their blanket absolution of Israel for the mass destruction its actions have wrought:

All three suggest that Israel bears little or no responsibility for what’s happening. It’s all the fault of Hamas, the terrorist entity. They ignore a parallel narrative that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provoked this war in order to derail a recent unity agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, an accord that he saw as a threat to the status quo that he prefers.

Siddiqui disabuses those who hold out hope for change under young Justin Trudeau:

Trudeau issued a statement July 15 that “Israel has the right to defend itself and its people. Hamas is a terrorist organization and must cease its rocket attacks immediately.” He made no commensurate call for Israel to show restraint.

He condemned Hamas for rejecting an Egyptian ceasefire proposal and commended Israel for accepting it “and demonstrating its commitment to peace.” He did not say that the Egyptian military junta is not a neutral party, that it considers Hamas an extension of the banned Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood whose elected president Mohammed Morsi the army toppled in a coup last year. Hamas’ conditions for a ceasefire were rejected. It wanted, among other things, an end to the siege of Gaza.

There is much more in Siddiqui's column that merits reading, including the pushback from 500 prominent Canadians condemning the Harper regime for its uncritical stance on Israel, and condemnation by Canadians For Justice And Peace In The Middle East of all three federal parties because they have betrayed Canadian values.

All in all, much to disturb our Sunday equanimity.



Recommend this Post

He Must Be Laughing

Northern Reflections - 16 hours 40 min ago


An op-ed  appeared in yesterday's Globe and Mail under Stephen Harper's name. Whoever wrote the piece claims that,"Our duty is to stand firm in the face of Russian aggression." On the same day, in The Tyee, Tom Henheffer also wrote an op-ed, on the subject of the CRA's audits of Canadian non-profits, like PEN:

In effect, our government is censoring an anti-censorship organization. It makes me wonder, is this really Canada? If so, it’s a country I'm having a hard time recognizing.

So what is the justification for creating this clear chill on free speech?

Well, no one really knows. These audits overwhelmingly target environmental groups opposed to oilsands development. Many of these are the same organizations former Natural Resources and current Finance Minister Joe Oliver called out as being "radical groups" trying to undermine Canadian development. Yet the government maintains it has no control over who the CRA investigates.
Lawrence Martin was stationed in Moscow during the Cold War. He has noted that Harper's information control is reminiscent of what went on in Russia before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Certainly there was no such thing as free speech.

Yet Mr Harper presents himself as a Crusader for Individual Liberty. Vladimir Putin must be laughing.

We will be in  Montreal for the next couple of days. But I plan to be back at this keyboard on Wednesday.

Russia should NOT be allowed to host…

Trashy's World - 18 hours 24 min ago
…the 2018 World Cup. As Clegg asserts in this article FIFA is unlikely to strip Putinland of the tourney, however. Responding this week after some German politicians called for Russia to be boycotted, Fifa said the 2018 tournament could be a “force for good”. Putin is an international criminal and the head of a rogue […]

Rob Ford's Totally Disgusting Bigot Fest

Montreal Simon - 19 hours 36 min ago


He is in addition to all his other flaws, a ghastly anti-gay bigot. 

And so it seems are many members of the Ford Nation.

For when six gay activists turned up at the so-called Ford Fest to protest against his vicious homophobia.

This is what happened...
Read more »

Israel's Weapons of Mass Deception

Creekside - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 17:56

Three days ago, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs replaced their usual map of the Gaza Strip with one featuring a Christo-like pink skirt inside Gaza.

The printing inside the accompanying tiny info box reads :

"The Israeli military has declared an area 3 kms from the fence separating Israel and Gaza as a "no go" zone, sending evacuation warnings to many communities located there.This area covers 162 km sq. (44% of the Gaza Strip)Around 250,000 people were residing in this area prior to its declaration."
44% of the Gaza Strip 
The IDF's ostensible purpose for annexing and occupying and bombing an additional 44% of the Gaza Strip is to destroy rocket sites and underground tunnels. 
On the map inside the pink "no go" pink zone near the top is the village of Beit Hanoun, where as you can see here, the IDF searched for rockets and tunnels and human shields by shelling the second floor pediatric ward of Beit Hanoun hospital :
“It’s now chaos, the military is shelling directly at us. There are two patients on the second floor and we think they’re okay, but we can’t move them easily as they’re bed-bound. I’m bleeding from a head wound and there’s another person injured. People are very frightened.”

IDF shells also searched inside an ambulance and a paramedic; neither survived.




This same approach didn't really work out well for the entire border town of Shejaiya either, as people return today during the ceasefire to collect what they can and bodies are pulled from the rubble  :

So what kicked off this collective punishment again, as the number of Palestinian dead reaches 1,000?
On June 12, three Israeli teens were kidnapped from an Israeli settlement.That same day Israeli authorities received a 911 phone call from one of the boys that ended with gunfire and Palestinian security forces reported to Israel that two suspects had disappeared from Hebron within 24 hours of the abduction.
Mondoweiss  [italics mine]:The supposition that the boys were dead was advanced when Israeli authorities found the car in which the abduction had taken place, with DNA evidence they’d been shot.The information about the gunshots on that desperate last phone call was widely known in the media, but as we reported, the Israeli government issued a gag order against these facts being published. And over the last two-and-a-half weeks of June, the Israelis launched extensive raids across the West Bank, locking down Hebron, supposedly to find the boys. But the major focus of the raids was rooting out Hamas affiliates and arresting them. In fact, the purpose of the raids seemed to be to break up the recent unity government between Hamas and Fatah, which Israel has vigorously opposed. The boys’ bodies were found on June 30, in a shallow grave in the West Bank; and again the deaths were exploited to punish Hamas.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said : “Hamas is responsible… Hamas will pay.”There were a lot of holes in the story. Sheera Frenkel was never convinced it was Hamas; neither was Max Blumenthal; and in response to the question a month ago as to whether Hamas leadership or some rogue cell was to blame, an IDF source responded : "I don't think that we know enough to say anything conclusively as of yet." 
And that was because their main suspects were from the Qawasmeh clan, a Hebron family that has previously blown up Hamas' attempts to come to terms with Israel.

Schlomi Eldar, Israel Pulse :"Each time Hamas had reached an understanding with Israel about a cease-fire, at least one member of the family has been responsible for planning or initiating a suicide attack, and any understandings with Israel, achieved after considerable effort, were suddenly laid waste. If there is a single family throughout the PA territories whose actions can be blamed for Israel’s assassination of the political leadership of Hamas, it is the Qawasmeh family of Hebron.On Aug. 19, 2003, after a tahadiyeh was reached between Israel and all of the Palestinian factions, with the support of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, two suicide bombers blew themselves up on the No. 2 bus in Jerusalem. Some 23 Israelis were killed in the attack, including seven children. All of the passengers on the bus were on their way back from prayers at the Western Wall to mark the end of the Sabbath. Most of them were yeshiva students. The attack put an abrupt end to the tahadiyeh just 52 days after it was announced ... The Qawasmeh family planned and implemented the attack during a cease-fire, which was supposed to have ended the second intifada, a cease-fire that had the support of Yasser Arafat, then-PA chairman, his Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and, of course, Yassin, the leader of Hamas.Possible that while both Hamas and Netanyahu have been driven to this most recent carnage by their more extreme affiliates, both are still hoping to gain an edge thereby.

So today we are all looking at this man : Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld and his 
tweets yesterday with BBC reporter Jon Donnison :"Israeli police Mickey Rosenfeld tells me men who killed 3 Israeli teens definitely lone cell, Hamas affiliated but not operating under leadership."
Operation Protective Edge Yellowcake has levelled cities and murdered over a thousand people to date over what they at least suspected as far back as June 12 had nothing to do with Gaza or Hamas. .h/t Canadian Cynic for a better photo of Beit Hanoun hospital.

Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 10:05
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Deirdre Fulton discusses the UN's 2014 Human Development Report, featuring recognition that precarious jobs and vulnerable workers are all too often the norm regardless of a country's level of development or high-end wealth. And as Dylan Matthews points out (h/t to David Atkins), the lack of worker benefits from increased corporate wealth figures to make a guaranteed annual income into a logical solution:
So here's my takeaway: a negative income tax or basic income of sufficient size would, by definition, eliminate poverty. We still don't know if there'd be much of a cost in terms of people working and earning less. If there is, the effect is almost certainly small enough that a negative income tax can offset the lost earnings and remain affordable. The worst case scenario is that we eliminate poverty but see a modest decline in employment. The best case scenario is we eliminate poverty at even lower cost and don't see much of an effect on employment. That's a gamble I'm willing to take. - Meanwhile, Andrew Jackson points out that the supposed job recovery following the 2008 recession has been far less than advertised. And Angella MacEwen writes that we should see the steady flow of funds from EI premiums into general revenue as an indication that too many people are being denied benefits - particularly when a strong majority of unemployed Canadians aren't benefiting from a program they helped to fund.

- Tom Henheffer questions why the Canada Revenue Agency is being pushed by the Cons to attack progressive charities, particularly when it's being starved of resources to do its job of actually collecting revenue. Heather Mallick takes a closer look at the CRA's intrusion on Oxfam in particular. And Lana Payne sees the crackdown on charities as part of the Cons' general pattern of silencing any dissenting voices:
Binders full of enemies? Let’s try libraries.

The government has, for all intents and purposes, successfully defunded Canada’s advocacy movement — well, those advocates that disagree with them anyway, like women’s rights and child-care activists, environmental and scientific researchers. They have eliminated funding for roundtable consensus-building initiatives as well as non-governmental organizations dedicated to promoting human rights and equality for women around the globe.

The list is long and depressing.

The government has used, or rather abused, its power in so many ways that Canadians have perhaps grown immune to the attacks on democracy and civil society.
...
Sadly, we have a government that relishes divisions abroad and at home. Divisions create opportunities.

Consider its aggressive attack on anyone and everyone who disagrees with their ideology or policy — charities, unions, feminists, environmentalists, scientists and academics.

And yet when Harper was in opposition, he had an entirely different view of dissent and democracy: “When a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid dissent is when it’s rapidly losing its moral authority to govern,” he said.

That time is now for his government.- But Scott Feschuk suggests we should be a bit more understanding of a figurehead who's so plainly at the mercy of his minions (at least until he's thrown them under various large vehicles).

- Finally, Ryan Meili explains why we shouldn't accept simplistic arguments to the effect that we should run our health care system more like a veterinary clinic (or indeed a European system facing different challenges).

Wealth and polity

Dawg's Blawg - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 09:44
It’s not quite true that you can make statistics say anything, but it’s close enough. A standard argument from the economism contingent in response to complaints of rising inequality is to claim that that actually, inequality is decreasing. This... Mandos http://politblogo.typepad.com/

Gaza: some revised history

Dawg's Blawg - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 09:20
Suppose that the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, generally considered to have triggered World War I, turned out to have happened differently? Say it was discovered he had been shot by some unaffiliated passerby rather than by a member... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

How To Stop Stephen Harper's Use of The CRA As An Instrument Of Terror: The Beginnings Of A Plan

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 09:11


Lately I have been writing some posts on Stephen Harper's reign of terror, his relentless attacks on charities that oppose his agenda. Groups as diverse as the United Church of Canada, Oxfam, and PEN Canada have fallen victim to this vindictive miscreant, undergoing audits thanks to the Prime Minister's misuse of the CRA as his chief weapon. The more I read and learn about this egregious and contemptible misuse of power, the more upset and angry I become, given that this strikes at the heart of one of our most treasured freedoms, the right of free speech. I have been thinking about ways to try to combat this reign, but that is perhaps the subject of another post.

For now, let me direct you to a piece written by Professor Edward Jackson of Carleton University. Entitled Why The CRA Is No Longer An Effective Instrument of Public, the essay offers an effective overview of the arrant hypocrisy of the regime that claims to be ensuring the sanctity of taxpayer dollars through its zealous mission of ferreting out 'abuse' by nonprofits holding charitable status:

Its campaign of vexatious audits of the political activities of progressive charities has created a chill in political dissent, and is a new low even for the Conservative regime.

At the same time, CRA's Minister is musing about requiring charities to provide lists of their donors (in fact, this information is already available in the system, but you get the drift of the political messaging here). And there are even reports that, under the cover of the courts, the CRA can't qualify poverty reduction as a charitable objective. At a time of high unemployment in many parts of the country, rising income inequality and more, what could be more preposterous than disqualifying poverty reduction?


But that's not all.

Around the time of the ramping up of the campaign against the NGOs, the CRA actually cut hundreds of auditors who had been working on criminal investigations, special enforcement and voluntary disclosure programs.


What encourages me about Professor Jackson's article is that he goes on to suggest some specific measures we can all participate in before this hateful and vindictive regime is ousted:

1) Express solidarity with the charities that are targeted for political audits by taking out memberships and making donations.

2) Support the building of a coalition against the political audits and for a court challenge to the government.

3) Prepare questions for the Minister and leadership of the CRA as to who made the critical decisions over the past few years, and why -- on the charities issue, and also on the criminal investigations issue.

4) Develop a plan for completely overhauling the unit that deals with charities.

5) And work with the opposition parties on a detailed, post-2015 plan for rebuilding Canada's tax agency into an institution of which Canadians, including its own staff, will once again be proud.


As he says, at least it is a start, and we can well imagine that with the participation of enough Canadians of goodwill and passion, it could well gain momentum just in time for Harper's rendezvous with the electorate next year.Recommend this Post

Solar Flare Almost Sent Earth Back to the Dark Ages in 2012

LeDaro - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 08:51
"Two years ago, we were blissfully unaware that our planet almost plunged into a widespread blackout due to a solar flare"

Please watch the video here.

Globe and Mail Letter

Song of the Watermelon - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 07:38

letter to the editorPlease, dear readers, take a gander at today’s Globe and Mail for a letter I wrote urging the establishment of recall at the municipal level of government. For the record, I also favour such a mechanism at the provincial and federal levels, but in this particular case, I was responding to an op-ed by Preston Manning that argued for municipal “responsible government,” which I consider to be the wrong approach.

My letter is fourth from the top.


Filed under: Democracy, Letters to the Editor, Municipal Politics Tagged: Globe and Mail, Preston Manning, recall

The Cons are already lining up their hate campaign in Ottawa South…

Trashy's World - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 07:35
…in advance of next year’s Federal election. I was just cruising through Twitter and found this: Looking through the followers of this anonymous account, there is a veritable who’s-who of the Ottawa conservative Twitter attack dawg crew. Same ol’, same ol’…. David is and has been a very effective and responsive MP. And as the […]

A fly in the ointment

Trapped In a Whirlpool - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 07:25
The CBC is reporting of news out of Germany that the Germans are prepared to reject Harper's precious trade deal with the EU
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