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August 2015 Bits and Bites: Horribly Belated Edition

Anti-Racist Canada - 33 min 25 sec ago
I know, I know.

This writer just got out of the bush a few days ago after several weeks of camping. Unfortunately, I forgot to let our friend who fills in when I'm (a) on vacation, (b) sick, (c) burnt out, or (d) hung over. But as he was gone as well as it turns out, it wouldn't have mattered anyways.

Soooo, what's happened since our last update?

First, we are working on gathering details for an upcoming article. Won't tip our hand too much yet, but I will mention that it involves a person based in Toronto we've discussed with some frequency in the past and some rather interesting associations that individual turns out to have. Stay tuned.

Second, we have two good news stories and one not-so-good story we would like to share, though even the latter doesn't put it's subject in a particularly positive light.

We start with the good news.

At the beginning of July, the New Brunswick Court of Appeals reserved judgement in the case of Robert McCorkill, who's will leaving his estate to the American-based hate group the National Alliance was challenged by his estranged sister, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, and the government of New Brunswick. Paulie suggested that, "experienced court observers predicted a six month wait for the decision."

In the end, it didn't even take a single month:

Read more »

How long till Harper is unemployed, you ask?

Trashy's World - 1 hour 28 min ago
(0) Trashy, Ottawa, Ontario

The Main Reason Stephen Harper Must Be Defeated

Montreal Simon - 4 hours 17 min ago

This photo was released today by the Con Ministry of Propaganda, and is apparently designed to portray Stephen Harper as a leader bearing the burden of governing this country as only he can.

The man with the lonely job of steering this country through a dark and perilous time.

But to me it represents something completely different.

It's the portrait of a monster, who is threatening to destroy this country.

The sinister representation of a man The Tyee calls a serial abuser of power. 
Read more »

Joy Taylor Has A Mission

Politics and its Discontents - 4 hours 22 min ago
Ninety-two years old and still fighting the good fight.

H/t Operation MapleRecommend this Post

The Harper Con tradition to bribe us with our own money

Cathie from Canada - 6 hours 10 min ago
Quel suprise! The Harper Cons have announced another tax credit, this time for home renovations:

The tax credit would apply to renovation costs between $1,000 and $5,000, allowing a taxpayer to get back up to $750 a year.
“The home renovation tax credit helps every homeowner regardless of income,” said HarperYeah sure, except that people making lower salaries don't usually have even a thousand dollars to spend upgrading their houses, and don't benefit much from the plethora of Harper Con tax credits anyway.
But bribing us with our own money is a Harper Con tradition.

Hat Tip to Politics and its Discontents for this great cartoon.

Robert Reich: Trump + Sanders = Looming Revolt.

The Disaffected Lib - 6 hours 44 min ago
Berkley prof, political economist, pundit and served presidents Ford, Carter and Clinton, Robert Reich sees revolt looming in America.

"He can't possibly win the nomination," is the phrase heard most often when Washington insiders mention either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders.

Yet as enthusiasm for the bombastic billionaire and the socialist senior continues to build within each party, the political establishment is mystified.

They don't understand that the biggest political phenomenon in America today is a revolt against the "ruling class" of insiders that have dominated Washington for more than three decades.

In two very different ways, Trump and Sanders are agents of this revolt. 

What's new is the degree of anger now focused on those who have had power over our economic and political system since the start of the 1980s.

Included are presidents and congressional leaders from both parties, along with their retinues of policy advisors, political strategists, and spin-doctors.

Most have remained in Washington even when not in power, as lobbyists, campaign consultants, go-to lawyers, financial bundlers, and power brokers.

The other half of the ruling class comprises the corporate executives, Wall Street chiefs, and multi-millionaires who have assisted and enabled these political leaders -- and for whom the politicians have provided political favors in return.

 ...We've witnessed self-dealing on a monumental scale -- starting with the junk-bond takeovers of the 1980s, followed by the Savings and Loan crisis, the corporate scandals of the early 2000s (Enron, Adelphia, Global Crossing, Tyco, Worldcom), and culminating in the near meltdown of Wall Street in 2008 and the taxpayer-financed bailout.

Along the way, millions of Americans lost their jobs their savings, and their homes.

...The game seems rigged -- riddled with abuses of power, crony capitalism, and corporate welfare.

...The resulting fury at ruling class has taken two quite different forms.

On the right are the wreckers. The Tea Party, which emerged soon after the Wall Street bailout, has been intent on stopping government in its tracks and overthrowing a ruling class it sees as rotten to the core.

Its Republican protégés in Congress and state legislatures have attacked the Republican establishment. And they've wielded the wrecking balls of government shutdowns, threats to default on public debt, gerrymandering, voter suppression through strict ID laws, and outright appeals to racism.

Donald Trump is their human wrecking ball. The more outrageous his rants and putdowns of other politicians, the more popular he becomes among this segment of the public that's thrilled by a bombastic, racist, billionaire who sticks it to the ruling class.

On the left are the rebuilders. The Occupy movement, which also emerged from the Wall Street bailout, was intent on displacing the ruling class and rebuilding our political-economic system from the ground up.

Occupy didn't last but it put inequality on map. And the sentiments that fueled Occupy are still boiling.

Bernie Sanders personifies them. The more he advocates a fundamental retooling of our economy and democracy in favor of average working people, the more popular he becomes among those who no longer trust the ruling class to bring about necessary change.

Yet despite the growing revolt against the ruling class, it seems likely that the nominees in 2016 will be Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. After all, the ruling class still controls America.

But the revolt against the ruling class won't end with the 2016 election, regardless.

I expect former pres. Jimmy Carter would agree that revolt might be the last best chance to recover America's democracy. Carter recently denounced the incestuous relationship between corporatism and America's political caste as subverting democracy.
"It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it's just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members. So, now we've just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over. ... At the present time the incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody that is already in Congress has a great deal more to sell."
  The good news is that America's descent into oligarchy is marked by the rise of a transactional government that closely parallels the decline of the Roman Senate in the years prior to the collapse of their empire.

Stephen Harper sings his favourite song

LeDaro - 7 hours 53 min ago
Campaign for October election has started. Harper's way of appealing to voters to vote for him.

On Bullets Dodged - For Now

The Disaffected Lib - 9 hours 8 min ago
Just back from a motorcycle tour of the island from Gold River to Port Renfrew in the southwest and back to my place on the east side.  You don't have to get too far off the beaten path to get a clear understanding of what's going on.  The most striking observation was how perilously dry this rainforest has become - everywhere.

Dried up reservoirs, lakes with that "climate change ring" along the shorelines, creek beds down to remarkably clean but bare rocks that were once washed with cold, crystal clear waters.  You don't have to get more than fifteen to twenty miles in from the ocean before temperatures soar.  You look around and it's all a giant forest fire waiting to break out.  Even on the highest peaks not a trace of snow remains.

It now looks certain that we're in for a very powerful El Nino later this year. That brings coastal BC a mild, dry winter - the very last thing we need.

The island has dodged a bullet - so far - but the odds aren't on our side.  Then, on my return, I read an article from TomDispatch.  This line struck an awful chord:

When fire can eat a rainforest in a relatively cool climate,you know the Earth is beginning to burn.
The article concerns forest fires in Washington's Olympic Peninsula, south of Victoria.
The wettest rainforest in the continental United States had gone up in flames and the smoke was so thick, so blanketing, that you could see it miles away. Deep in Washington’s Olympic National Park, the aptly named Paradise Fire, undaunted by the dampness of it all, was eating the forest alive and destroying an ecological Eden. In this season of drought across the West, there have been far bigger blazes but none quite so symbolic or offering quite such grim news. It isn’t the size of the fire (though it is the largest in the park’s history), nor its intensity. It’s something else entirely -- the fact that it shouldn’t have been burning at all.

We're no strangers to drought. Dry conditions are normal from July through the end of September. The forests are usually well soaked during the rest of the year and we normally have snowpack on our mountains well into July, some higher peaks into August if not year round.  We didn't get the heavy winter rains this year, nor the vital snowpack they bring.
Towns, their officials unprepared for climate change, are running out of water. No one has been willing to invest in infrastructure (reservoirs) to capture the runoff during heavy rain events when we do get them. Yet they're still willing to issue building permits to developers even as they cannot provide water security to existing residents.
Growing up in central Canada, people would say, "it's not the heat, it's the humidity."  People in the Great Lakes region don't need that explained to them. I'm not sure if the term is still used but it used to be called the "humidex" factor. It could make a 30C day feel like it was 36C.
How does 73 degrees Celsius strike you?  
In the Iranian city Bandar Mahshahr, the mercury soared to 46 C on Friday as an unprecedented heat wave enveloped much of the Middle East. With humidity, however, the air felt more like 73 C, according to AccuWeather.

A port city located in Khuzestan province in southwestern Iran, Bandar Mahshahr has its proximity to the Persian Gulf to blame for the incredible temperature readings, AccuWeather meteorologist Anthony Sagliani said.

"Around the Persian Gulf, where water temperatures are in the lower to middle 90s [30s C], the extreme heat combines with incredibly high humidity to produce astounding apparent temperatures," he said.

Did you get that? Water temperatures in the Persian Gulf in the 30s (Celsius). Normal body temperature is only 37C. You might also want to steer clear of Baghdad.
To the west, temperatures also reached above 50 C this week in Iraq, with a reading of 52 C in Baghdad on Thursday.

The relentless heat prompted the Iraqi government to implement a mandatory four-day holiday starting on Thursday. Residents were also urged to stay out of the sun and drink plenty of water.

Unlike other countries in the region, Iraq lacks beaches, and travel restrictions make it difficult for people to escape the sweltering heat, leaving many — even those fortunate enough to live in their homes — with limited options for cooling off. Some swim in rivers and irrigation canals, while others spend the days in air-conditioned shopping malls.

Climate change is here, kids, and it's here to stay.  From heat waves to sea level rise, from droughts to heavy floods, we've moved to a new climate that is going to be immensely destructive, disruptive and dislocative.  This is no longer a threat of something that might happen in the future. It's happening. It's here and it's worsening. And we're not doing a damned thing about it. Not a thing.
We're acting as though we're still in the 80s, pretending that we've got thirty years to deal with this.  We don't. We don't have thirty years. We don't have ten years.
We know what comes out of these crises. It's called "disaster capitalism" and we know what creates the conditions that disaster capitalists need to thrive - government indifference and a refusal to act.  Right now the doors are wide open, waiting for the disaster capitalists to drive straight in.
So who is prepared to act - Justin? Tom? What have you been hearing?  The usual bullshit about carbon taxes, is that it?  What's that strange noise? Why it's the sound of them jerking your chain.

Update: I went out yesterday late afternoon to refuel the Great Yellow Beast and as I rode out of my garage I heard an unmistakable sound overhead, our last remaining Martin Mars water bomber immediately overhead.  The thing is so huge it can appear to be crawling through the air.  On the island that plane is associated with our salvation from these damned fires.

Oh Dear. One of the Last Credible Justifications for Big Game Hunting... Well, Maybe We Shouldn't Go There.

The Disaffected Lib - 9 hours 16 min ago
One of the strongest arguments big game hunters can raise is when they're killing animals as necessary for population control. Sometimes natural predators can't keep prey species in balance, usually after trophy hunters have killed off the predators. Then we may need to "cull the herd" to keep burgeoning populations under control before their sheer numbers devastate many other species.

Wait just a second. What species is the biggest predator of them all, the planet's one true Apex predator?  Why, of course, that would be us - mankind. We're already devastating many species at a voracious rate, enough that we've pretty much killed off half of the life on Earth over just the past three to four decades.

We're the biggest, perhaps only, genuine threat that imperils our planet's biodiversity leading to the collapse of many species as we near a critical loss of biodiversity that could doom us all to a very miserable way of life. We're the species that seems to have triggered a genuine, mass-extermination event. Aren't we the herd that most needs culling?

We could begin with a pilot project.  We'll put tracking collars around the necks of trophy hunters and set them loose on special ranches where they can be "taken" by those willing to shell out, say, $50,000 for the privilege. Permit holders will be able to "take" their trophy by rifle, bow and arrow, or even just the tires of a giant 4X4.

Then, maybe after we've disposed of the Walter Palmers of this world, we'll realize that culling the human herd isn't such a good idea after all especially when there are other ways to solve our overpopulation problem in just a couple of generations.

It's Come to This

The Disaffected Lib - 9 hours 43 min ago
I guess "666" was taken.

Of Israelis and Palestinians and Our Fairy Tales

The Disaffected Lib - 10 hours 3 min ago
Sure, it's just a cartoon, but it goes to the heart of why we're all so screwed up about Israel and Palestine. We've been fed a biblical fairy tale and we've made it our very own.

This Land is mine from Religioten und Co. on Vimeo.
Grandioser Abriss der Geschichte eines leidenden Landes!

To The Left, To The Left…Second-Guessing The Youth Vote

Left Over - 10 hours 23 min ago
Free to dream, I’d be left of Jeremy Corbyn. But we can’t gamble the future on him



Here is a comment  I made  re an opinion piece in the  Guardian by Polly  Toynbee…

This is an oddly similar discussion to one happening in Canada today..but we are just beginning the election campaign to try (please…) to unseat the recalcitrant Tories…

We have a Blair-like “Liberal” running, a son of the former PM Trudeau..very cute and a decent enough speaker, but such a centrist as to frighten the more progressive portion of his paty, and we have the Official Leader of the Opposition, a former member of the Liberal Party who is now running for the PM position with the (arguably Labour version) NDP…

We are having the same navel-gazing discussions re the soft progressive versus old Left philosophy, and, like Toynbee, I would, if I could go much farther than the NDP ever would or could..but…

Currently the youth vote is what is news here in Canada, at a time when they are just beginning to get their voting boots on..and this might be the Corbyn lesson, despite all the bodice-ripping nonsense about the certain demise of the Labour Party if Corbyn is elected..from the sounds of it, it is the youth who are being politically energized…the same thing is happening here and where once there were reams of articles bemoaning the lack of voting in young people, now the articles are dire warnings against their choices..make up your silly minds.  This reminds me of nothing so much as  the so-called Egyptian Spring, where a “party’ was democratically elected, but suddenly Egypt’s much -touted  democracy was called into question..and now look at the mess they are in…

Unlike Egypt, however, when the youth of a  Western country are feeling left out economically, when they see no hope for the future, they generally do become active, they generally do vote to the  Left…deal with it, use it to create a power base, and go from there…

Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - 12 hours 49 min ago
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Robert Reich describes how U.S. voters are rejecting the concept of a ruling class from both the left and the right - while noting that it's vital to get the answer right as to which alternative is worth pursuing. And Owen Jones sees Jeremy Corbyn's rise as an inevitable response to the emptiness of New Labour in the UK:
Corbyn’s campaign has been unique in the Labour leadership campaign in actually offering coherent policies and a fleshed-out economic strategy: a radical housing programme; tax justice; democratic public ownership of utilities and services; a public investment bank to transform the economy; quantitative easing to invest in desperately needed infrastructure; a £10 minimum wage; a National Education Service; a costed abolition of tuition fees; women’s rights; and so on. His campaign is making astounding headway – against the odds – because it offers a coherent, inspiring and, crucially, a hopeful vision. His rivals offer little of any substance. What’s left for them?
If those in the self-described “centre-left” offered a coherent, inspiring vision, the Corbyn phenomenon would never have happened. They have failed to develop one. If they want to regain momentum within their own party – let alone win over the country – they should sideline the voices of negativity and learn how to inspire people. And however much they resort to cod psychology or sneering about the Corbyn phenomenon, the truth remains: they made it possible. - Andrew Nikiforuk reminds us that the storm currently swamping Canada's economy was entirely predictable - and indeed predicted by those who didn't buy the Cons' belief in a narrow resource economy. And Louis-Philippe Rochon duly slams the Cons for now making matters worse with gratuitous austerity as another recession forms on their watch:
There may be a time and place to balance the books but now is not the time. Every economist today will tell you that Harper's pursuit of balancing the federal budget in times of crisis and indeed, in times of recession, is simply a bull-headed and wrong idea.

It does not help the economy; in fact, it hurts it — and hurts it deeply. At the very least, it is preventing the economy from taking flight and keeps it well anchored in a depressed state.

What we need now is more fiscal stimulus.
We are well aware of the absence of empirical support in favour of austerity, yet austerians like Harper insist on claiming that their approach is somehow superior, that contractions in fiscal stimulus will somehow, magically, be expansionary.

Imagine geocentrists being shown proof that the earth actually revolved around the sun, and dismissing the new science as fuddleduddlery. This is the world in which austerians like Harper live: first, deny fiscal stimulus can make any positive contribution to economic growth, despite the mountain of scientific evidence. Next, deny the mountain exists.

In the face of the lack of evidence and empirical support for their views and policies, one can only conclude that ideology and powerful interests are what keep these ideas afloat.

This is where Harper's policies come in: adopt policies that bring rewards to those who support you to the detriment of the rest, since they will contribute to your party that will get your elected and perpetuate those failed policies.

In this world, austerity and balanced budgets have nothing to do with economics. It's all politics.- Michael Plaxton explains the "caretaker convention" which should limit how much more the Cons' ongoing power is used now that the campaign is officially underway.

- Finally, Ian Welsh offers a useful summary of what's at stake in October's election, while kev takes a first look at some of the policy choices on offer. Karl Nerenberg sets out the record that each party will have to defend. Greg Lyle examines the current party standings and paths to victory. Luke Savage rightly laments the state of election coverage which seems bent on focusing more and more on the trivial at the expense of the substantive. And Warren Bell writes about how the election may serve as a decision point for the CBC in particular, as the Cons have taken several steps to suggest it won't last in its current form if they have any say in the matter.

He Keeps Throwing Stones

Northern Reflections - 13 hours 10 min ago

You have to wonder what planet Stephen Harper lives on. Yesterday, in Laval, he accused the entire NDP caucus of being a bunch of duds:

"That group of NDP MPs in the last four years is the most inefficient, ineffective group we’ve ever seen," he said in French. "There is not one star among those members of the Quebec NDP caucus," he told his audience. 
Never mind that the majority of Quebec seats belong to the NDP. Scott Piatkowski, at writes:

By "inefficient and ineffective," he presumably meant that they consistently voted against his government on behalf of their constituents. But, the reality is that almost every one of these incumbents, including the much maligned Ruth Ellen Brosseau, has done great work in Ottawa and in their constituency and therefore stand to be re-elected. They could be joined by at least five new NDP MPs. Clearly, someone thinks that they are efficient and effective, and that someone is the people who elected them (the people for whom Harper has such apparent contempt).
What's more to the point, Harper's eye for duds is pretty obvious:

Harper thinks he knows what a star looks like, but his record suggests otherwise. He's hand-picked Dean Del Mastro, Paul Calandra and Pierre Polievre to be his Parliamentary Secretaries (or professional standins). He appointed Patrick Brazeau, Don Meredith, Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy to the Senate. He made Vic Toews a judge and Peter Penashue a cabinet minister. He chose the late Arthur Porter to oversee Canada's spy agencies. With a record of such impeccable judgment, he's obviously well qualified to tell Quebec voters how they should vote.
And, yesterday, he accused Rachel Notley of not being able to present a budget:

“The new NDP government … they can’t present a budget, but what was the first thing they did? They raised taxes and that’s a disaster,” Harper said.

Notley, whose province is dealing with the impact of a steep drop in oil prices, has delayed the release of a provincial budget until this fall. She has also moved to increase income taxes on anyone making more than $125,000 a year effective Oct. 1.
He did not mention that his government delayed its budget. If he had raised taxes, it might have been a balanced budget, instead of the lie he is currently peddling. But Harper got to where he is by throwing stones at his opponents, not by telling the truth.

He obviously believes that, if he keeps throwing stones, he'll win.

Sometimes, Few Words Are Needed.

Politics and its Discontents - 13 hours 50 min ago
Many thanks to my sister-in-law, Vicki, for alerting me to this.

The saddest thing for Canada is the fact that from the second panel on, everything is true.Recommend this Post

Stephen Harper and the Lies That Will Destroy Him

Montreal Simon - 16 hours 9 min ago

After only two days of this marathon election campaign, Stephen Harper's strategy seems only too obvious.

Repeat a Big Lie over and over again, magnify it with his propaganda machine.

And hope that he can brainwash Canadians into believing that he really is a Great Economist Leader.
Read more »

The Best Consolation Prize - EVER

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 08/03/2015 - 19:05

When it comes to the three clown princes vying to form Canada's next government I'm a "none of the above" voter.  That said, it would give me considerable comfort on election eve to see Beelzebub, the Prince of Darkness, Sideshow Steve Harper become the first Conservative prime minister to screw it all up so badly that he lost to the first New Democrat prime minister (even if he is a closet liberal - and, Dippers, you all know he is).  It would also give me pleasure to see the Liberals, having abandoned the centre-left, to be parked in the wilderness - exiled from Sussex Drive, banished from Stornoway - forced to seek refuge in some dank backroom at the Motel 6 out on the Gloucester highway. That, for them, is no misfortune. It's a place well earned and entirely deserved.

I will begrudge the NDP their win for it will consolidate their abandonment of the Left at a time when Canada most needs a strong voice for labour and working class Canadians.  That alone can restore the measure of social cohesion so critical to meet the challenges of this century. Mulcair will claim that turf because he remains slightly left of today's conservative-lite Liberals but he's a consummate liar and a pathological snake oil salesman whose type those old enough have seen too often before.


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