Posts from our progressive community

Canada's Elmer Gantry

Northern Reflections - 56 min 10 sec ago


There was a time in this country when those charged with enforcing the law broke it in the name of national security. Tom Walkom  reminds his readers why CSIS was created:

In 1984, CSIS was created specifically to get Canadian spooks out of the dirty-tricks business.
Before that time, security had been the purview of the RCMP which, as a 1981 royal commission found, routinely broke the law in its war against those it deemed dangerous radicals.In one famous incident, the Mounties burned down a barn in order to prevent a planned meeting of Quebec separatists. In another, they circulated bogus medical information about a member of a small Toronto leftist group that they were trying to discredit.

The royal commission recommended that Canada’s spies stop trying to disrupt the activities of alleged subversives and concentrate instead on gathering and analyzing intelligence.

But Stephen Harper -- who looks at the world through a rear view mirror -- wants to return to those days of yesteryear. His new anti terror legislation, Bill  C51:

explicitly gives CSIS the right to contravene both the law and the Constitution’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The only requirement faced by the agency is that it obtain judicial warrants before acting — a condition that shouldn’t be too onerous.

The government would criminalize the communication of statements that promote and advocate terrorism. This section seems to be aimed primarily at the Internet and, subject to a judge’s warrant, would allow police to seize printed or electronic material that they believe to be terrorist propaganda.

The definition of propaganda in the bill includes any writing or “sign” that promotes terrorism.

The question we should be asking ourselves is whether or not this legislation is needed:

But on first reading, it’s hard to see the point of Bill C-51. In Canada, it’s already a crime to plan or support terrorist activity. The RCMP already uses legal methods to disrupt planned terror attacks. That’s what it did with the Toronto 18. 
Or is this all about getting re-elected? The economy shrunk by .02 percent in November and the Loonie is below 80 cents. The man who planned to be re-elected on his economic record needs something else to sing about. Before long, instead of reedy versions of old Beetles songs, he'll be leading lusty choruses of "Onward Christian Soldiers."

He's become Canada's Elmer Gantry -- who, at the opportune moment, gave up selling vacuum cleaners and started peddling Bibles.

Herr Harper, Who Is Your Goebbels?

Politics and its Discontents - 2 hours 23 min ago
Having returned from our Cuban sojourn last evening, I have not yet had time to get caught up on the Canadian political scene, but this item by Heather Mallick deconstructing one of Herr Harper's recent 24/Seven productions caught my eye.

Its martial music, military imagery and depiction of Dear leader's steady hand on the tiller of state, standing strong against those who "hate our freedoms," left me with only one question: Are Herr Goebbels' descendants now gainfully employed by Prop Can?

P.S. I noticed that the closed captions were turned on when playing the video. I guess that is so the true believers don't miss even one word. If you are not thus enamored of the prime minister, you might want to turn them off.Recommend this Post

The Terror Laws and the Madness of Stephen Harper

Montreal Simon - 4 hours 53 min ago

When I saw Stephen Harper delivering his deranged speech on terrorism at a campaign-style event in a Toronto suburb yesterday, at first I almost felt sorry for him.

Because that's not the face of a well man. That's the face of desperate leader cracking up before our eyes. 

But my sympathy didn't last long. Because this is INSANITY.
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Pretty much every time I hear Canadian Prime Minister Stephen...

The Ranting Canadian - 7 hours 11 min ago

Pretty much every time I hear Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper or one of his Conservative minions speak, I think of this song: “Propaganda” by the defunct punk/Oi! band Blitz. The same goes for when I hear Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne or one of her provincial Liberal hacks spew BS talking points. Even though the crooked politicians and partisan bureaucrats are obviously lying and spinning the facts, I realize that a large percentage of the population takes what they say at face value. It is scary and demoralizing to contemplate.

Here’s my suggestion for an updated version of one of the verses, reworded for the current dubious and inconsistent “War on Terror”©.

I can`t see ISIS terrorists underneath my bed
But the fascists (Conservatives) in the media are messing up my head
You tell me I`ve got rights, the same for rich and poor
But you`re behind the police when they`re knocking down my door

The rest of the original lyrics stand the test of time (although I am quite certain that some of the words that are listed in various lyrics websites are incorrect).

Canadian and American right-wing politicians going on about...

The Ranting Canadian - 7 hours 43 min ago

Canadian and American right-wing politicians going on about Islamic terrorism has a sickening stench of hypocrisy, considering the fact that the American government and other Western governments helped fund, arm and train Muslim extremists during the Cold War, which has contributed to many of the problems in the Middle East (and beyond) today. It looks like the American military-industrial-spy complex backed the wrong “enemy of my enemy is my friend” in that one. They made their bed, and now they are lying to us.

One of the main reasons there isn’t a strong secular, democratic alternative in most Middle Eastern countries today is that the American government helped to brutally wipe it out. Bad guys such as Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were considered allies of Western capitalist governments until some backroom deals went sour and the alliances were broken. Even today, the Canadian and American governments consider the murderous, terrorism-sponsoring Saudi Arabian dictatorship to be a friend. The Canadian government even recently helped broker a multi-million dollar deal to sell weapons to Saudi regime.

This latest war-that-isn’t-officially-a-war in Iraq is mainly a distraction from the non-stop political scandals and economic disasters at home, and will not make the world safer nor more secure. Even if ISIS/ISIL is disrupted and degraded, another gang that is just as dangerous will move in to fill the vacuum. It’s like a game of Whac-a-Mole. Who will be the “good guys” and “bad guys” tomorrow? Why the focus on one set of “bad guys” when there are other “bad guys” who are even worse elsewhere?

It’s pathetic that so many Canadians are falling for this obvious scam and are considering voting Conservative because of it.

The coward Stephen Harper and his crew of quislings are pretending that his new big-government, anti-freedom legislation is meant to crack down on actual terrorists and keep us safe, but the reality is that Harper’s main domestic targets will continue to be the same as before: environmentalists, native activists and anyone else who gets in the way of his global corporate agenda.

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 17:59
Fuel - Bittersweet

Not Sure How Jeb Gets Past This

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 11:56
It's looking like former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, intends to seek the Republican presidential nomination.  There's a big slate of aspirants this year and plenty remaining even after Mitt Romney stood down.

I'm guessing here but I expect some of Jeb's rivals might just suggest he take his mother Barbara's advice.  (Go to 2:20)

Could "Rapidly Proliferating Threats" Derail the F-35?

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 09:11

(Remember, this is the plane that the Harper government wants to saddle our aircrews with for half-a-century, fifty years.  But, I digress.)

Trying to keep tabs on the development of Lockheed's F=35 requires no end of reading between the lines.

One thing that comes through, admittedly in snippets and from different angles, is that the Americans are starting to conclude that their wunder-plane is less wunderful than they had hoped.

Months ago the journal of the US Naval Institute fretted that the F-35 was operationally flawed because it lacked "all-aspect stealth."  Its stealth cloaking is mainly frontal aspect which means the F-35 remains detectable from the sides, above, below and behind.

The head of the US Air Force air combat command, General Hostage, has said the F-35 isn't a stand alone warplane but requires fighter cover, that is to say the F-22 Raptor, to survive.

Word has leaked out that the F-35 has to steer clear of thunder storms and night flying is out, for now.  More recently it got out that the F-35 has a "heat management" problem that prevents it from flying fast at low altitude, the very place an airplane like this has to operate.  The proposed solution is to re-engine the already over-priced warplane in a few years as a new, adaptive engine is developed.  Keep those cheque books open, fellas.

One thing that has emerged in snippets is that both the US Air Force and US Navy are pressing hard for a new warplane to replace the F-35 ASAP.  They're not sure that its limited stealth cloaking can stand up to rapidly proliferating threats.

There is a saying in Washington defense circles: The threat always gets a vote. It means that a valid strategic threat can influence decision-makers to derail or accelerate a weapons program. In the case of the most expensive aircraft program in history, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), senior Pentagon officials have begun considering what might happen if the still-developmental F-35 were compromised by the proliferation of ever-more-capable air defenses.

...There is a “growing concern” among senior officials in the Office of the Secretary of Defense about the proliferation of advanced air defense radars and anti-aircraft weapons, says an industry official familiar with these discussions. “We took a long time on this. The threat is taking some turns on us.” Senior officials are loath to cause alarm and jeopardize the coalition behind the F-35 and are thus tight-lipped about it.

The situation is not at a crisis point yet, one industry source says. Obsolescence is inevitable for any weapon system; the discussion now is about when that could happen for the F-35 and how to address it if it is sooner than hoped. “We are starting to see the emergence of some stressing capabilities to our conventional forces,” Al Shaffer, acting assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering, told Aviation Week during an interview last March. He was referring to the emergence of radars operating in very-high-frequency bands that can detect stealthy aircraft at long range. The concern is that these VHF radars could eventually pass targeting data to fire control elements for air defense systems.

Bear in mind that killing off the F-35 would be about as simple as dismembering Goldman Sachs. It's the biggest military aquisition programme in American history and there is a consensus in military, industrial and political circles that it's simply too big to kill.  There are too many people with too much at stake to shut it down as Obama did when he killed off F-22 production.  This isn't a 'white elephant.'  It's a diamond-encrusted elephant and, right now, everybody's still prepared to double down.

My guess is that the military types see the way out from under the F-35 is to move on to a newer-technology plane, manned or unmanned, that, put up against the F-35, will be irresistible.  Keep the F-35 as a bomb truck while deploying a "6th generation" successor to the F-22 that will have full-aspect state of the art stealth and a genuine multi-role capability.  This is the scenario predicted by Pierre Sprey, one of America's "fighter mafia" types responsible for the highly successful F-16 and A-10, who expects the US to wind up cutting the build of F-35s from the roughly 2,500 figure common today to around 500, no more.

"I do predict that they will have that much trouble within the next few years, and that we will never see them build more than 500 of these airplanes. That the airplane will become technically such an embarrassment that they'll pretend they did not really need it anyhow, and that 'it’s alright we have a better idea, we are working on a new airplane and forget about the F-35.'"
Foreign customers will have to realize their "F-150" is the Ford pickup variety, not the Ferrari of the same designation.  But, so?  The only Ferrari part will be the price tag.

Abandon all hope

Trapped In a Whirlpool - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 07:59
Through me you pass into the city of woe: Through me you pass into eternal pain: Through me among the people lost for aye.
Read more »

The First Casualty

Northern Reflections - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 06:58

Truth is always the first casualty of war. And no one should be surprised that it is the first casualty of Stephen Harper's War. Michael Harris writes:

The resolution on the Iraq mission that passed the House of Commons explicitly ruled out ground-based combat operations. Now, Mr. Harper has deployed Canadian special forces in such a way that they have become involved in what the parliamentary resolution expressly forbade: ground combat.
The government’s defence against this egregious contempt of Parliament is fantasy fact-ball, a game in which the PM excels. Mr. Harper says that Canadians agree that our ground forces in Iraq should return fire if fired upon. That may or may not be true, but according to the latest Nanos poll, a majority of Canadians oppose involving ground troops in the fight against Islamic State.
Canada supposedly entered the war to support the United States. But American troops are not involved in firefights:

The Pentagon has expressly forbidden U.S. soldiers from doing what Canadian special forces are doing — because that would be a “combat” role, rather than “advise and assist”. In fact, Canada is the only coalition member whose ground forces have militarily engaged with IS — three times.

Not only are U.S. military personnel forbidden from any role that goes beyond the air campaign, planning ground operations and intelligence-sharing, their movements are carefully arranged to make sure that they are not even inadvertently put into combat situations. As Pentagon official Elissa Smith told the CBC, “We’ve been very clear that U.S. advisers are removed from actual or expected combat situations as part of our advise and assist mission in Iraq.”

Harper's response is that the mission has "evolved." If that is true, it's because Mr. Harper has approved of that evolution. It's the kind of decision an armchair general -- who has no experience of combat -- would make.

But that decision is entirely in keeping with Mr. Harper's character. Truth has always been the first casualty of any mission which Mr. Harper undertakes.

NationBuilder - And you thought CIMS was scary

Creekside - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 06:25

Ten years ago the Cons bought CIMS, their Constituent Information Management System, and began stuffing it with our phone numbers and adding smiley/frowny faces beside our names and whatever other info they could glean about us. The other parties had their own lesser versions. Most of us first took notice of CIMS when we learned it had been used to perpetrate election fiddling in the last election. 

Now all the parties, although perhaps not all the members, use the newer and snazzier US import NationBuilder instead. Touted as more peer-to-peer grassroots organizing than traditional top-down voter ID programs, NationBuilder "builds social-media matching into voter files so that simply knowing an email address will let the software connect a voter’s picture, bio, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn."

Perhaps we should have paid more attention to its actual name.

Here Mike Moschella, a VP at the US company, explains the five keys for its success :

  • Full social media integration means going beyond adding a Facebook icon next to a voter’s name in the file. Field staff need to be alerted when voters engage on their websites or social media platforms
  • Campaigns need to share more than address and phone data with their grassroots leaders. Precinct captains need bios, photos and other information gained from online interactions.
  • Training is needed to understand this shift in how campaigns talk with voters. A neighborhood leader will need to do more than cut a walk list - we’re moving from riding horses to driving cars.
  • Campaigns must shift focus toward capturing mobile numbers. Having an event? Text to RSVP. Petition? Text to sign. Survey? Text to reply.
  • The party infrastructure and campaign need to be in sync and must engage in the same efforts year round. Finding this data won’t occur overnight.
In March 2014, Moschella spoke at the Manning Centre. Here's a story he told [37 minute mark]:"For the last five years before coming to NationBuilder I worked in foreign policy in National Security so I worked with efforts around the world...You do a whole lot of work on that global police thing ... So I did a lot of work on re-imagining what an American foreign policy - a really pro-democratic, pro-democracy platform - would look like in a changing world because all these things with social media started to, despite people not wanting them, seep into what other countries were doing.  ... In Venezuela we ran an opposition race for a guy named Capriles against Hugo Chavez's hand-picked dictator, and they took 8-million twitter records, targeted 2-million of those people, directly talked to them on twitter with their friends -People, one friend connected to another person, and asked them to consider the pro-democracy candidate and 500,000 of those people got involved in that campaign. They probably won but the dictatorship called it 49%. But now there's a real opposition movement that's fighting for freedom in a major country called Venezuela.In Malaysia for the first time ever, people used geo-targeting from social media to figure out where supporters of an opposition movement were and hold rallies in those slums to ask people to fight for their freedom and they created actually the first field campaign ever using a thing called NationBuilder."It's a very interesting lecture from a believer in "social media as the personal touch of community on a grand scale" because as he insisted : "people do what their friends do".

I can't do it justice because it reminded me of Amway and the first year people sell insurance : You sell it to your friends and it only works if they in turn sell it to their friends and the product is always you. So listen to it yourself.

After his presentation, he took questions from the floor.
Con MP Stella Ambler wanted to know how she could find out how many of her 1389 Facebook followers were actually in her small suburban riding - "Is there a way to do that?" - while noting that "our privacy laws are different in this country". 

Moschella : 
"So here's the thing about Facebook. Any time anyone takes an action, FB has three types of actions - you can share something, you can comment on something, or you can like something. And actually the terms of service of FB dictates that when you take an action on FB, that's actually a public thing. Cool, huh? What that allows us to do is connect those actions into your NationBuilder database. So if your FB page is connected to your site which is connected to your backend database, then we can show you how to do this - it's like a two, three minute process to get going - literally all you need is a password. Then anytime somebody shares, comments, or likes a post, it will either a)create a profile for that person in your NationBuilder database so now you own that relationship, or b) find their existing profile if they're already in there and record that they have taken that action. When you know all the actions that people take, then you can do the next thing which is really key to your engagement which is actually quantifying that engagement. So what you would do in your campaign, is say, sharing something on FB is worth one point, commenting is worth two points, making a donation is worth 10 points. And when you have all this together, then you'll actually see that Edward is worth 20 points and Mike is worth 50 points. So then you can sort how valuable people are in your community and really smartly target them."                                                                                     [snip] 

Ambler : 
"So .. texting. How do you ... you don't have their cell phone numbers. Their addresses aren't on there on their FB profiles. Sorry to get into the weeds like this..."
Answer from either Moschella or Mike Martens, director of the Manning Centre’s School of Practical Politics - I couldn't tell : 
"You create a data capture system that grabs their cell phones. It's not that hard to do. You have to get organizing to get more data and it's like a cycle - it's like a snowball effect - you have to start somewhere but if you do data capture well, you'll be able to get their cellphone. Mike is going to shut me up.""Stella, you're a member of Parliament? So you use CIMS. CIMS has all the phone numbers. So the question is whether or not CIMS and NationBuilder can integrate and once the Party starts working with the Manning Centre, and we're working with them to do that, Manning Centre is working with NationBuilder to do training and we can start training on how CIMS and NationBuilder work in a legal way regarding the privacy thing. So somebody needs to figure that out. There are legal ways - I know some of them - but we're getting into some really fine- some of these things were answered in the morning. My point is not that we can't talk about them here except-"Ambler :  "No, I'm just so pleased to know somebody is having that conversation."

Mike ... or perhaps Mike : "We're thinking about this, we're working on it. NationBuilder has some reallly neat - one thing that NationBuilder is really exciting is its text capability based on being in an event like this, telling everybody text me. Well as soon as they do that, guess what - you've got their cell phone number. So then you've got to think of creative events where then that kind of conversation can occur and that's a different kind of campaign than emailing. I guess my point is, Stella, that we are thinking that NationBuilder has solutions. We just need to figure out how the NationBuilder and CIMS systems, which currently the CIMS system is kind of closed, but you can export data out of CIMS, load it into NationBuilder, interact with people, and then load that data back into CIMS. So that's just very superficially how these things can work but there's probably even more open ways - things called APIs that interact two systems in a live manner that might be discovered but we'll have to work with NationBuilder to figure it out."Mike Martens : "Folks, 30 seconds before Mark Steyn's session begins ..."

h/t to Port Moody/Coquitlam Election 2015, who wrote a post on Newclear's young Con contenders that I riffed on on Tuesday, and then he added a look at the NewClear/NationBuilder nexus to his post which has set me off again....

Last chance to weigh in

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 06:06
While there's always reason to be skeptical of the Wall government's consultation processes, there's also plenty of risk in not participating - as a lack of expressed opposition will all too likely be taken as agreement with the Saskatchewan Party's plans.

Which is to say that I'll strongly encourage Saskatchewan readers to participate in the province's consultation on liquor retailing before today's deadline passes.

If you're looking for a strong general message to send as to the importance of preserving our current system, you'll find one at Keep Liquor Public. I've chosen instead to focus on the opportunity to build on what we already have in the public sector; you can draft your own message either through the province's survey form or by e-mail.

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 05:34
Assorted content to end your week.

- PressProgress notes that the Cons' economic track record is one of eliminating well-paying jobs in favour of lower-wage, more-precarious work. And Jim Stanford follows up on why we shouldn't believe the Cons' spin about deficits:
I think that a more fruitful and principled line of attack on the government’s approach would focus on these obvious fiscal and economic errors by the government:
  • The October tax cuts were premature; it is tax cuts, not oil prices, which have jeopardized the attainment of a balanced budget.  The Conservatives broke their own promise in implementing tax cuts before the budget was even balanced.  (Breaking their promise, not running a small deficit per se, is their key point of vulnerability.)  In fact, as I show in the Globe and Mail column, the federal budget would be balanced right now, even with lower oil prices, were it not for the accelerated first-year tax cuts which the government was so anxious to rush out the door before the election.
  • The October tax cuts are socially and economically damaging.  The CCPA’s fabulous analysis of the perverse distributional effects of income splitting (here and here) is already making this case in spades.
  • The government’s response to falling oil prices has revealed confusion and internal division.  Joe Oliver delayed his budget to some unspecified future date (April or even later); perhaps he will actually “table”the budget on the hustings .  Oliver has said that there will be no further spending cuts to offset the loss in revenue, and that the government can use its (phony) $3 billion contingency fund to protect the balanced budget.  Employment Minister Jason Kenney, in contrast, said the exact opposite in public: suggesting that incremental spending cuts might be required, and that the $3 billion cushion would not be drawn down (since it is intended, he argued, for true “emergencies”).  Treasury Board President Tony Clement, meanwhile, also hinted at surprise reductions in spending — channeling Pierre Trudeau in saying “Just watch us” reduce spending.  Clement’s record in consistently underspending authorized operational budgets (part of the government’s “austerity by stealth” strategy).  These mixed messages indicate a breakdown of discipline within Conservative ranks, and send confusing signals to consumers and investors alike.
  • Most fundamentally, the government’s macroeconomic and industrial emphasis on making Canada an “energy superpower,” investing so much fiscal and political capital to facilitate energy megaprojects (including fruitless pipeline proposals), vilifying critical voices, and inadequately responding to the negative side-effects of the oil boom on other sectors, has left Canada’s economy unduly vulnerable to an oil price decline that was always inevitable.
My response, therefore, to the question “Will low oil prices push Ottawa into a deficit,” is therefore: “Who cares? The real issue is the government’s failure to use its fiscal and other tools to strengthen the recovery and create jobs. That’s the real mismanagement.- Jordan Press exposes the Cons' waste of tens of millions of dollars to suppress information from the Canadian public. And Paul Withers reports that while the National Energy Board has stopped allowing citizens to participate in actual assessment hearings in the name of efficiency, it has no qualms about using public money to cheerlead for the pipelines it's supposed to be regulating.

- Meanwhile, Charlie Samuda discusses the need to crack down on tax evasion to ensure the privileged few pay their fair share. And Matt Taibbi writes that the financial sector is back to its old habit of exploiting the public, while fighting the suggestion that advisers face an obligation to put clients' interests first.

- Jeffrey Simpson rightly wonders why our political debates involve little discussion about people living in poverty who have the most to gain or lose from government policy choices. And Natasha Pel comments on how Canada's wealthiest province is doing little to deal with poverty.

- Finally, Rick Salutin points to Syriza's victory in Greece as an example of how the public can overcome the supposedly-inevitable prioritization of profits over people:
Why Syriza won. The short answer is: they put people first. I know all parties say that but (a) they only say it and (b) they only say it at elections. Syriza said and did it. Because they're not just a party but a coalition of parties, groups and movements, they naturally extended into communities and helped people with real needs. This in turn proved they weren't like other parties, just in it for power. That near cliché translated into real policies.

The EU/Germany clearly put numbers (of euros owed) first, as Greece's new finance minister says. So the debate was over priorities. If people prevail, austerity fails. It turns out austerity wasn't inevitable, like a law of nature; it was a question of values.

Stephen Harper and the Whispering Way to War

Montreal Simon - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 04:16

Golly. What a difference a day makes. On Wednesday Stephen Harper was loudly taunting the opposition.

And all but inviting the terrorists to attack us.

But yesterday he was suddenly more subdued, as if realizing what might happen if they did attack us. And Canadians blamed him.

So he was barely whispering as he met with security officials, and prepared to turn Canada into a police state. 
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Stephen Harper: The Not So Great Economist Leader

Montreal Simon - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 23:05

Well as you know, Stephen Harper is desperately trying to convince us, and our falling loonie, that everything is under control.

And that he is STILL a Great Economist Leader.

But I'm sorry to report failing miserably. 

The Canadian dollar is sinking ever deeper, hitting its lowest in almost six years, amid the ongoing rout in the oil market and increasingly “dovish” central banks.

Because now the poor loonie is the Harper Peso. And we're all a little poorer. 

But then why should we be surprised eh?

When all his claims that he knows what he's doing, are turning out to be FRAUDULENT.
Read more »

A Costly Fix for One of the F-35's Achilles' Heels?

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 15:27

Two big drawbacks to the F-35 are its limited range and mediocre speed.  It doesn't go very far in stealth mode on its internal fuel and it is incapable of the modern fighter sine qua non, supercruise.  Those are enormous shortcomings, especially for an uber-expensive warplane.

Good news.  It seems the Americans have noted the problems and have come up with a partial answer - a new engine.  Think of it as a cross between your kid's Transformer toy and a modern, high-powered jet engine.

The future fighter will be required to not only fly farther than today’s aircraft, but will also need more speed and power when engaging the enemy. But from a propulsion perspective, up until now these objectives have been mutually exclusive. Longer range and subsonic loiter require lower fuel burn and good cruise efficiency, while higher thrust for supersonic dash demands larger cores and much higher operating temperatures, neither of which is good for fuel burn or stealth.

To solve this conundrum and combine both capabilities in one propulsion system, engine makers are working under the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Adaptive Engine Technology Development (AETD) program to test technology for a new generation of engines that can be reconfigured in flight. Although AETD is set to end with a flight-weight core demonstration in 2016, the Air Force is planning a follow-on initiative called the Adaptive Engine Transfer Program (AETP). This will pave the way for an adaptive, 45,000-lb.-thrust-class combat powerplant for sixth-generation combat aircraft as well as the possible reengining of the Lockheed Martin F-35 in the 2020s.

Adaptable engines use an array of variable geometry devices to dynamically alter the fan pressure ratio and overall bypass ratio—the two key factors influencing specific fuel consumption and thrust. Fan pressure ratio is changed by using an adaptive, multistage fan. This increases the fan pressure ratio to fighter-engine performance levels during takeoff and acceleration, and in cruise lowers it to airliner-like levels for improved fuel efficiency.
The AETP-based engine design “is more aggressive than today’s standard F-35 requirements but not to the level of [powering] directed energy weapons,” comments McCormick. Instead, the potential benefits of the third stream would be aimed at opening up the low-altitude/high-speed corner of the F-35’s flight envelope to enable extended operation at Mach 0.8/0.9 and 500 ft. “Today, the F-35 has flight restrictions at lower altitudes because of thermal management. You just can’t get heat off the airplane,” he adds. “The program we have laid out says you could be in the F-35 before mid-2020s. It depends on funding profiles and how big AETP is, but it’s early in the 2022-24.”
The F135 engine currently equipping the F-35 costs about $16-million a copy. Given its advanced and more complex engineering it's a safe bet that the AETP engine will cost at least as much, probably a good deal more.
As a light, first-strike bomber, the F-35 needs to be able to go very low and very fast to defeat a sophisticated enemy's air defences.  With the existing engine's heat problems, it can't do that.  This raises the question of whether customers should buy now and be prepared to take a big hit to re-engine the fighter with the AETP engine or be content to remain with an over-cost, under-performer.  Or, they could play it safe and just look elsewhere.

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 07:48
Here, on how Saskatchewan residents should be able to count on secure housing, rather than being shunted into stopgap social housing by the Wall government.

For further reading...
- The provincial government's announcement that affordable housing in Saskatchewan is no more can be found here. And the NDP's response is here.
- For information on the temporary nature of the social housing program that's left, see here (PDF):
For families, social housing is intended to be short-term until a family is able to afford to buy or rent a home in the private housing market.- The background to the Saskatchewan Party's sell-off of provincial housing unit is found here - which also refers in glowing terms to the Deveraux Homes development which was then handed over to the developer for use as for-profit housing.
- Finally, the study referenced in the column as to the relationship between financial security and reduced individual stress is discussed here

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 07:40
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jim Stanford reminds us that any drama as to whether Canada's budget will be balanced this year is entirely of the Cons' own making through pointless tax slashing:
Running spending cuts since 2011 now total more than $14-billion a year. Canadians experience real consequences from those cuts every day: shuttered veterans’ offices, deteriorating statistical data, questionable railway and food safety, ridiculous waits for statutory benefits and more. Federal government employment has plunged by 47,000 jobs since 2011 – explaining much of Canada’s lousy job-market performance. These sacrifices were not necessary. Worse yet, the government is throwing away the savings with its tax-cut agenda.

Indeed, if the government truly believed that balancing the books was the most important priority, we could be back in the black right now, never mind next year. Before opening the cookie jar in October for income-splitting and other giveaways, Ottawa was headed for a $3.3-billion surplus for the fiscal year ending March 31. Falling oil prices knocked $1.2 billion off that balance, according to the PBO, leaving a $2.1-billion surplus. But the government spent $3.2-billion on the immediate first-year cost of the tax cuts – pushing itself back, incredibly, into deficit. Without the tax cuts, the budget would already be balanced, even with low oil prices.

It’s not prudent to count your chickens before they hatch. The Conservatives were so anxious to lock in tax cuts and corner the opposition that they consciously pushed the budget back into the red. Now, with plunging oil, that deficit looks bigger. No wonder Finance Minister Joe Oliver is delaying his budget.- Tavia Grant reports on how the shredding of the long-form census has created serious data quality issues for. But the Cons may not have noticed in light of their propensity for ignoring any evidence which doesn't fit their political plans.

- Jennifer Ditchburn reports that Canada's independent offices of Parliament want nothing to do with the Cons' plans to disqualify anybody with an interest in government from seeking to improve it. And Doug Howat notes how the bill fits into the Cons' wider pattern of trying to attack messengers rather than defending policy choices.

- Charles Blow calls for the U.S. to take much-needed action to reduce child poverty. But Bryce Covert notes once again that any economic growth is being funnelled into the pockets of the 1% rather than benefiting the general public.

- Finally, Helena Smith reports on Syriza's first days in office and Greece, and notes that we now have confirmation that a government can deliver on transformative promises.

An Unmitigated Disaster

Northern Reflections - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 07:32


Jim Stanford writes that the sound a fury about a balanced budget is about politics, not economics:

Running spending cuts since 2011 now total more than $14-billion a year. Canadians experience real consequences from those cuts every day: shuttered veterans’ offices, deteriorating statistical data, questionable railway and food safety, ridiculous waits for statutory benefits and more. Federal government employment has plunged by 47,000 jobs since 2011 – explaining much of Canada’s lousy job-market performance. These sacrifices were not necessary. Worse yet, the government is throwing away the savings with its tax-cut agenda.
Indeed, if the government truly believed that balancing the books was the most important priority, we could be back in the black right now, never mind next year. Before opening the cookie jar in October for income-splitting and other giveaways, Ottawa was headed for a $3.3-billion surplus for the fiscal year ending March 31. Falling oil prices knocked $1.2 billion off that balance, according to the PBO, leaving a $2.1-billion surplus. But the government spent $3.2-billion on the immediate first-year cost of the tax cuts – pushing itself back, incredibly, into deficit. Without the tax cuts, the budget would already be balanced, even with low oil prices.
Harper's claim that only he could provide prudent fiscal management of the nation's finances was -- and is -- just election hoopla. And it distracts the public from the real problem:
The bigger issue is how much was needlessly sacrificed in pursuit of that balanced budget – and how quickly the Conservatives squandered the results of those sacrifices when it politically suited them.
The government’s focus on eliminating the deficit at all costs was misguided and destructive, and undermined the economic recovery. We should stop worrying whether next year brings a small surplus or a small deficit. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is why so much was sacrificed in the single-minded pursuit of a supposedly overarching goal – that the government quickly threw away for short-term political benefit.
The Harper years have been an unmitigated disaster. Mr. Harper is doing everything he can to distract voters from reaching that conclusion.

The Day Stephen Harper Went Off the Deep End

Montreal Simon - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 01:44

I always knew he was dangerous. And that madness ran in his family.

I knew the first Harper to arrive in Canada had to removed from office for "violent and oppressive measures vindictive beyond all reason."

I knew one of his grandfathers committed suicide, and that he was prone to violent rages, and frightening bouts of depression.

But today Stephen Harper finally went over the deep end.
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