Posts from our progressive community

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

accidentaldeliberations - mar, 07/22/2014 - 19:37
Expressive cats.



No Shame, No Shame At All

Politics and its Discontents - mar, 07/22/2014 - 16:46
There is no situation, however tragic, that Harper and his regime won't exploit for political advantage. I guess that comes as no surprise to anyone:



Be sure to check out the Conservative Party website for more evidence, as well as Alison's caricature at Creekside.Recommend this Post

Harper's Reign Of Terror - Part 2

Politics and its Discontents - mar, 07/22/2014 - 10:40

Yesterday I wrote a post on the war being conducted by Stephen Harper and his cadre against dissent in Canada. Specifically, the Prime Minister is diverting CRA resources and taxpayer monies to investigate those non-profits not on board with his agenda. Environmental groups have been especially hard hit.

Today comes word that the scope of Harper repression is expanding. As reported in The Toronto Star, the knock at the door has happened at PEN Canada.

The Canada Revenue Agency has launched a political-activities audit of PEN Canada, a small charity promoting freedom of expression that has criticized the Harper government in the past.

Two tax auditors showed up Monday morning at the tiny Toronto offices of PEN Canada, asking to see a wide range of internal documents.


If you visit their website, you will see the following principles advocated by PEN:

PEN Canada envisions a world where
writers are free to write,
readers are free to read,
and freedom of expression prevails


That the organization advocates for freedoms that are synonymous with healthy societies, of course, makes them the perfect target for Harper retribution, given Dear Leader's demonstrated disdain for such principles.

And a visit to the news section of PEN's website will make abundantly clear why the Harper cabal has sicced the CRA on them:

Privacy Could Vanish if Cyber-Bullying Act Became Law

Groups Seek Human Rights Protections in Canada-Honduras Free Trade Agreement

How Transparent are Canada’s ISPs?

Stephen Harper Must Address Online Surveillance in Canada, says PEN Canada

One can only hope that Pen International will take up the cause. Presumably it is beyond the reach of the cowardly intimidation tactics of our national government.Recommend this Post

Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - mar, 07/22/2014 - 08:16
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Sarah Jaffe examines the "bad business fee" proposal which would require employers who pay wages below public assistance levels - receiving work while forcing the public to subsidize their employees' livelihood - to at least make up the difference:
As inequality has become a hot-button issue, the solutions on offer tend to focus either on taxing the extremely wealthy or on raising workers’ wages. What makes the bad business fee particularly attractive is that it does both of those things. It makes the connection conceptually between the low wages at the bottom of the work chain and the outsized incomes at the top, and sets out both to punish companies that keep wages low, and to create value out of that punishment for the people struggling on low incomes.

In that way, the fee is win-win. If companies seek to avoid it, they end up doing something just as good for their employees, or even better. Martin says, “For me in particular, the better part is my boss may be thinking, ‘Well, I should just pay my employees better. I should just pay a living wage. I should just give Cliff some benefits.’”

To Liz Ryan Murray, policy director at NPA, the bad business fee bridges the issues of workers’ rights and taxpayers’ rights. Often conversations around public benefits get mired down in arguments about deficits and the cost to the taxpayer, ignoring the value of the programs to the people who depend on them and rarely conceiving of “the taxpayer” as a low-wage worker herself. But, Murray notes, on this issue there’s no way to split them apart — the taxpayer and the worker have the same interest in seeing big companies pay their fair share.- And Truthout notes that corporate bureaucracy tends to be far more harmful than anything found in the public sector - as a similar tendency toward complexity is paired with both a lack of accountability, and a profit motive which can be at odds with any attempt to actually meet the the needs of customers:
If I had had a problem with a government bureaucracy, like the Veterans Administration or the Social Security Administration, I could have called my senator or my congressman and they would have given hell to those agencies on behalf of me. I could lobby Congress to change the way they do things, the way vets are today successfully lobbying for changes in the VA.

But if I had stood outside of my cell phone company's headquarters and protested, they could have had me arrested for trespassing.

That's the difference between government bureaucracies and corporate bureaucracies.

Government bureaucracies are ultimately answerable to "We the People" and our elected representatives. It's called "the American system of government."

Corporate bureaucracies, on the other hand, are ultimately only answerable to their shareholders, who don't give a rat's patootie if the company they own screws their customers because that means more money in their pockets.- Adrien Schless-Meier points out that grocery stores are among the worst offenders both in paying poverty-level wages, and relying on public subsidies for employees. 

- Meanwhile, Jonathan Timm writes that employer orders not to talk about salaries tend to serve only to drive them down (while also preserving historical inequalities in the workplace). And that fits all too well with the apparent link between CEO pay disclosure and soaring executive salaries.

- Dr. Dawg discusses how the Cons are treating the CRA - like the bully pulpit that comes with power - as a tool to attack charities which dare to speak about issues which don't fit their political agenda. And the CP's list of charities facing audits seems to confirm that only progressive voices are being singled out for scrutiny.

- Finally, Daniel Tencer highlights the age-based wealth gap in Canada - as younger Canadians won't see the benefit of past increases in stock and housing values, but will instead face higher prices to try to save anything at all.

More And Worse Conflict

Northern Reflections - mar, 07/22/2014 - 05:47
                                                                          http://en.wikipedia.org/

Michael den Tandt writes that Stephen Harper's foreign policy will outlive Harper:

It is axiomatic for Harper’s critics, certainly for those who churn out talking points for the Dippers, Grits and Greens, that this prime minister is a ham-fisted and embarrassingly unsubtle foreign-policy actor. The prima facie evidence is his notorious letter to the Wall Street Journal in 2003, penned with Stockwell Day, lamenting Canada’s refusal to participate in George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
Never mind that mistake, writes den Tandt:

But here’s the thing: Harper and Baird’s basic positions have been borne out by events — both in the conflict with Hamas, and in Ukraine, since the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 by a rocket attack, killing all 298 people aboard.
Really? Could it be that his minor error on Iraq has helped destabilise the entire Middle East? And could Harper's support of Israel -- while completely ignoring its occupation of Gaza  -- not have something to do with the increased rocket technology which Hamas has now aimed at Israel?

Jonathan Kay wrote a short time ago that the Harper regime is populated by punitive moral absolutists. They have tried to legislate their values into Canadian law. And they are convinced that, by exporting their philosophy to the rest of the world, they will make it a safer place.

We are approaching the one hundredth anniversary of the Guns of August. If Harper knew anything about history -- and the treaty which ended World War I -- he'd know that punitive moral absolutism simply guarantees more -- and worse -- conflict.


israel slaughters palestinians, pays for online propaganda, and north americans gobble up the bait

we move to canada - mar, 07/22/2014 - 05:00
I've been trying to write about Israel's latest slaughter of Palestinian people ever since the hideous spectacle began, without results. I post little bits of horror and disgust on Facebook, but can't sustain anything worth posting here. Because... what is there to say?

A mighty military power unleashes deadly force against a civilian population. Some people within that population have dared to use violence to resist their own oppression. Therefore the entire population must be terrorized, hundreds murdered, thousands maimed, lives destroyed.

Another great military power and a second-tier military wannabe* rush to the defense of the military power, and anyone who speaks out against it is accused of bigotry. People who normally would recoil at such warmongering are silent, or, incredibly, call the slaughter defense.

It's a topsy-turvy world.

In the US, if you don't blindly support, without question, every single military action perpetrated by the government, you are accused of being unpatriotic, not "supporting the troops", even of siding with "the enemy". If you don't do the same about Israel's military actions, you are accused of being anti-Semitic.

The parallels are not surprising. What I do find astonishing is how many normally progressive American Jews fall for this bullshit. "Both sides are wrong," they whine. "Hamas used rockets." Rockets?? You see an equivalence between a hand-fired rocket and the force of the second-largest military on the planet? When black South Africans threw rocks at the riot-shielded apartheid army, did you say "both sides are wrong"?

"Israel has a right to defend itself," they say. "It cannot tolerate terrorism." I wonder, do you support retaliation for all victims of terrorism? If the Iraqi people, if the Afghan people, could somehow launch air strikes against your town, would you shrug your shoulders and say, "Well, the US started it. Iraq has a right to defend itself."?

Or are you still hiding behind accusations of anti-Semitism? You've heard anti-Semitic statements! Oh my! Keep defending the slaughter of civilians. That will help.

I don't see or hear anti-Semitism in anti-Israeli activism. But if there is anti-Semitic rhetoric coming from some pro-Palestinian people, can you rightly tell me that such words justify slaughter? Will you continue to support the murder of civilians, because someone has said words that offend you?

My friend David C, who used to blog here, tells me that online comment sections have been deluged by wildly over-the-top accusations of anti-Semitism.
What is going on is just insane. Doctors without Borders had a Facebook post that simply called for Israel to show restraint and gets flooded with angry comments accusing the organization of politicizing the tragedy. Amnesty International calls both sides to calm down on its Facebook page and again got deluged with angry comments. The reason even though it was calling out both sides? Amnesty used a photo of a Palestinian woman wailing, not an Israeli. That apparently is tantamount to anti-Semitism.That flood of commentary is not coincidental, nor indicative of public opinion: it is organized propaganda.
Israel has announced it will pay university students to circulate pro-Israeli information on social media networks, without having to identify themselves as working for the government.

The move was publicised in a statement from Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, the Associated Press reported. Students will receive scholarships to "engage international audiences online" and combat anti-Semitism and calls to boycott Israel, it was alleged.

In 2012, a Palestinian-run blog reported similar arrangements between the National Union of Israeli Students and the Israeli government. Students would be paid $2,000 to post pro-Israel messages online for five hours a week.

According to Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, the most recent proposition is being spearheaded by Danny Seaman, who was slammed by the media for writing anti-Muslim messages on Facebook.

Students will be organised into units at each university, with a chief co-ordinator who receives a full scholarship, three desk co-ordinators for language, graphics and research who receive lesser scholarships and students termed “activists” who will receive a “minimal scholarship”, the Independent reported.See also: "Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda" (The Independent), and "Prime Minister's Office recruiting students to wage online hasbara battles; PMO and national student union to create covert units at universities to engage in diplomacy via social media; unit heads to receive full scholarships" (Haaretz). (Again, thanks to David C; I would have missed this.)

The latest war on Gaza has led me back to some old wmtc posts, and the interesting discussions that followed.

From 2013:

my journey to palestinian solidarity and the myth of the self-hating jew, part 1

my journey to palestinian solidarity and the myth of the self-hating jew, part 2

my journey to palestinian solidarity and the myth of the self-hating jew, part 3 and final

From 2010:

a simple lesson: how to tell the difference between hatred of a people and criticism of a nation's policies




* That's Canada, by the way.

When Israel Says It Isn't Out To Punish Innocent Palestinians, It's Lying - And We Don't Care

Politics and its Discontents - mar, 07/22/2014 - 04:56


Actions speak so much louder than words, especially when it comes to Israel attacking Palestinians.

The current invasion of Gaza demonstrates that Israel’s claims to be targeting Hamas but not the Gaza Palestinian population is an outright lie. That much is blatant from the weapons used.

What weapons? Try water. When you’re targeting the civilian population of an already water-stressed locale the simplest way to turn the screws is to attack their water and sewage infrastructure. Once you deprive them of fresh water and compound that with a collapse of their sewage system, nature will take care of the rest. Every bloodthirsty bastard who laid siege to a medieval castle or town knew that.

Gaza is a lot like one of those medieval towns. Its land borders are sealed by Israel and Egypt. At sea, the Israeli navy maintains an effective blockade. With the exception of a few tunnels, if you’re in Gaza you’re not going anywhere. You might as well be trapped behind stone walls and a portcullis.

But what about the water? Years ago Israel constructed what are known as "trap wells" along the border with Gaza. These wells intercepted the natural flow of groundwater that Gazans relied upon. Worse yet, without that fresh water flow, sea water entered the Gazans groundwater supply leaving it heavily contaminated. As more sea water continues to enter the Gazan water resource it’s only a matter of time.

In the preliminary air strikes that preceded Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza, Israeli air force jets bombed Gaza’s water and sewage plants. That has rendered about 90% of Gaza’s already dwindling water supply unfit for human consumption.

Israel understands the power of the water weapon and its punitive effect on civilian populations. During its ill-fated invasion of southern Lebanon to attack Hezbollah, Israeli jets took out the water and sewage pumping plants of Beiruit, far removed from Hezbollah territory. That wasn’t targeted at Hezbollah. It was targeted at the Lebanese civilian population in a city largely opposed to Hezbollah. Israel likewise attacked and destroyed three Lebanese hospitals and on its way out of the country instituted a 72-hour cluster bomb barrage of the south ensuring a massive supply of bomblets for cattle and farmers and kids to stumble across for years to come.

If there was ever any doubt that Trudeau the Lesser is all Margaret and no Pierre, the proof came through in the Liberals’ stomach-churning praise of Israel for its “commitment to peace.” I really don’t know how you Liberals live with yourselves and that party or the pandering opportunist who trades on what once was a great name.

In a place like Gaza, taking down the water and sewage plants is a form of biological warfare. It’s just a matter of time until cholera sets in. Yeah, Justin, that’s some commitment to peace all right.

MoS, the Disaffected LibRecommend this Post

Stephen Harper and the Perfect Storm that Will Defeat Him

Montreal Simon - mar, 07/22/2014 - 02:40


He has yet to comment on the latest twist in the Duffy scandal. But in his shadowy bunker Stephen Harper must be feeling the heat.

For by now even he must realize that the writing is on the wall.

And that he could soon be sweating in a witness box.

Trying to explain under oath what Nigel Wright meant when he said that Harper had told him the deal to pay off Duffy was "good to go."

The leader of a tired, increasingly unpopular government with nowhere to go but down. 
Read more »

My tweets about Duffy

Cathie from Canada - lun, 07/21/2014 - 23:15
Today's Duffy news about the personal trainer and the makeup artist etc is just a gift to Twitter. Here's my contribution:
I guess Duffy needed a fitness instructor because he wasn't fit to be in office! #duffyrimshot #cdnpoli
— Cathie from Canada (@CathieCanada) July 22, 2014
Being Duffy's fitness instructor is like being appointed to the Senate. You have a job for life! #duffyrimshot #cdnpoli
— Cathie from Canada (@CathieCanada) July 22, 2014
Laundering money for ineligible expenses through a phoney contract? SOP #duffyrimshot #cdnpoli
— Cathie from Canada (@CathieCanada) July 22, 2014

The Con Regime Goes After Pen Canada

Montreal Simon - lun, 07/21/2014 - 21:35


We always knew he was the most disgusting bully this country has ever seen.

We knew that he was using Revenue Canada to try to intimidate his political opponents.

Or anyone who disagreed with the foul policies of his depraved regime.

And now that monstrous political thug is going after Pen Canada.
Read more »

Canada Revenue Agency becomes an arm of the PMO

Dawg's Blawg - lun, 07/21/2014 - 18:22
There is a salty expression that seems apt at the moment: “Don’t p*ss on me and tell me it’s raining.” A number of charities that have failed to support the current Harper administration might well echo the sentiment expressed in... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

Thugs try to terrorize Fringe actress

The Winnipeg RAG Review - lun, 07/21/2014 - 17:59
Vandalized Fringe Festival poster for Lies of a
Promiscuous Woman
.

Image Source: Courtesy of actress
Theresa Thompson to CBC,  obtained
off of CBC website.
It's that time of year in Winnipeg: Fringe Festival time!

 Various venues across the city are holding the weird, quirky and off beat plays that make the Festival. Everything from The Big Fat Drag Queen to Boomer Love is on display.

 Sadly, one Fringe play has rubbed some (thuggish) folks the wrong way: Lies of a Promiscuous Woman.



Lies of a Promiscuous Woman is a play written by Audrey Lesosky. It offers a unique take and story surrounding the Biblical character of Mary, namely what if she took some liberty with the facts and hence the story in the New Testament ain't quite right.

Seems like perfectly reasonable direction to take a theatrical script in, eh? One would think especially so for a Festival that's based on unconventional and off-beat storytelling.

Sadly, it looks like there's some unreasonable folks in Winnipeg.

Some fellows, in fact, are very mad about this performance. So mad that they've decided to take it out on the staring actress, perhaps hoping through fear and intimidation to silence the play. A classic attempt, it seems, to choke free expression with thuggery.
Vandal etch a slur into the car of the
lead actress for Lies of a Promiscuous
Woman.

Image Source: Courtesy of actress
Theresa Thompson to CBC,  obtained
off of CBC website.

Folks have yelled at lead actress Thersea Thompson on the street with slurs like "slut" and "blasphemer". Those words have been written on posters for the play. There's two men who demanded the play be shut down and, when their ridiculous request was rightly rejected, reportedly promised to take matters into their own hands.

Worse still, someone decided that vandalizing Thompson's car was a bright idea. "Slut" was etched
into her car with permanent market.

These extremists are trying to terrorize the actress and, perhaps, theatrical staff into submission and silence. These thuggish actions appear directed at stopping Thompson and the Fringe Festival from exercising what the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms notes is the Fundamental Freedom of Expression.

The lead actress, out of need for safety following the thuggish backlash to her performances, now walks with a fellow performer to and from plays. She also planed on filing a police report as of this morning, which she's likely done by now.

We, the people of Winnipeg, need to send a clear message that we won't tolerate extremist thugs who attempt to stifle free expression. We're a city full of decent, reasonable and sane people.

This year, for the first time in a while, I'll probably actually attend the Fringe Festival. My cheap-assery has to come second to showing support to performance facing backlash from thugs. 

You, too, can show your support. Click here to see the showtimes for Lies of a Promiscuous Woman and here for details on buying tickets.

Gaza Protests Around the World - July 2014

Creekside - lun, 07/21/2014 - 15:36

.
Sixty or so pix of Free Gaza protests from all over the world including Israel. There's a lot more of course but here's rather more than I'm seeing from our nervous media who continue to nervously cling to the fiction that the occupied and the occupier are somehow equal combatants in "cutting the grass".

Meanwhile, Steve is now standing around up to his armpits in fire and water with Netanyahu and the Israeli rightwingnuts in his coalition, who have just today shelled a Gazan hospital for the third time in a week, thus ensuring that even more enraged and dispossessed Gazan youngsters will grow up hating and ultimately targeting Israel.  

And so it goes ...
.

Update on the Save the Clinic Campaign

Dammit Janet - lun, 07/21/2014 - 10:47
All along, the fundraising campaign by Reproductive Justice New Brunswick was nothing more than a stop-gap, intended to ensure the continuing possibility of an abortion clinic that accepted self-referring patients.

Having hit the initial goal of $100,000 last week, yesterday they announced they're raising their sights in order to buy necessary equipment.
The words "Thank you" don't feel big enough to express the gratitude that we at Reproductive Justice New Brunswick are feeling right now. To surpass our original goal in the first 2 weeks of our campaign? There are no words! Thank you, thank you all, for your support.

We are still a long way from our final goals, however. Negotiations continue with the owner of the former Morgentaler Clinic to secure an agreement to manage the building. Now we are asking for your support and enthusiasm to move forward with Phase 2 of our goals. For a further $85,000 we can potentially buy all the equipment currently located at the clinic; equipment that is required to provide a full range of reproductive health services.  It’s a bargain we don’t want to miss but we need your help. 

RJNB will also continue to lobby the New Brunswick government to change Regulation 84/20 that requires a woman to have the procedure deemed "medically necessary" in writing by an OB-GYN and another doctor, in order to obtain a publicly funded abortion in one of 2 hospitals.

The government still refuses to even meet with us to discuss a change. Until the people of New Brunswick have the same right as other Canadians to the reproductive health care of their choice, where and when they want it, we will never have true equality in New Brunswick. RJNB, with your help, pledges to continue the fight until the people of the Maritimes have access to a full range of publicly funded reproductive health services.That the Conservative government won't even meet with them is hardly a surprise, but given an upcoming provincial election that the Liberals seem poised to win, this is a little harder to stomach.

Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s pro-choice stand is reverberating through New Brunswick, where abortion-rights activists are vowing to make the closing of the Fredericton Morgentaler clinic an election issue – and the provincial Liberal leader is offering little support.
Justin and Brian look pretty cozy here, don't they?



Maybe chicken-shit Gallant is scared of people like this.
Some New Brunswickers, such as Kelly Seale, want less access to abortions, not more.

"Soon as I walk by there, I feel a very strong feeling of the devil. Yeah," said Seale, who works at an anti-abortion centre next door to the clinic.Well, OK then. The anti-Satan voting block must be MASSIVE in Brunswick.

Here's a good round-up on the state of abortion access in Canada by Press Progress. Graphic is from Canadians for Choice.



If you were thinking of donating but didn't get around to it, then thought "Great, they've hit their goal," please think again.

Something else you could do is simply tell someone about the situation in NB and PEI. From the comments at the fundraising site, on various media stories, and blogs like Trashy's World, it's clear that there are a shit-ton of Canadians who have no idea what Maritime women are up against.

Most Canadians consider abortion a non-issue, a done deal -- and are shocked to find out that that's a big fat lie for thousands of us.

On Harper's Reign of Terror

Politics and its Discontents - lun, 07/21/2014 - 08:20


Last week, Owen wrote a post he entitled Corrupting Civil Society, a reflection on the Harper war on non-profits that stand in opposition to any of his regime's agenda. I recommend reading it for a good overview of the situation.

In yesterday's Star, three letters articulated three excellent perspectives on this shameful war:

Tories intimidate charities into silence. Who's next? Opinion July 16

One way to deal with the Harperites’ bullying of charities might be for all charitable organizations to renounce their charitable status. Personally, I make most of my donations to non-charities. I figure they are doing the most-needed advocacy work. The deduction I get on my income tax for charitable donations is hardly enough to bother.

Of course, for multi-millionaire Stephen Harper supporters, this would be anathema. They like donating a chunk of money, getting a massive tax rebate from you and me, and having their names in lights on some university or hospital.

It’s time this type of selfish “philanthropy” is stopped. It costs taxpayers huge sums of money, while allowing the 1 per cent to dictate how that money is spent. Let’s end this distortion, and return to real charity. And let’s make the 1 per cent pay their fair share of taxes, while we’re at it.

Kate Chung, Toronto

The Harper government suddenly detects rampant subversion of the charitable tax exemption. Oddly, the concern appears to be less about the extravagant lifestyle of religious charlatans or about politicians siphoning tax free dollars into their campaign chests than about organizations whose good works are not aligned with the government’s agenda. This, according to the government, is illegal political activity.

Wake up Stephen Harper! All charity is 100 per cent political. Charity is voluntary action by citizens to correct the failings of our society. Charities support the needy and disabled at home, fight disease and starvation abroad and work to free political prisoners precisely because government policy is not to act on these urgent social problems.

It is time to acknowledge that charities provide an immeasurable service by patching the policy holes in our social safety net which the government so cheerfully cuts.


Paul Collier, Toronto

Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay trots out the old warhorse of “good stewardship over taxpayer dollars” to excuse the government’s latest crackdown on advocacy by charitable groups. “The CRA has a legal responsibility to ensure that charitable dollars, donated by charitable Canadians, are used for charitable purposes,” she says.

Whether we identify as “taxpayers” or “charitable Canadians” — and probably most of us are both — we can all figure out that it makes more economic sense to address the causes of poverty and injustice than to try to remedy the effects.

Susan Warden, Scarborough

As well, a Star editorial applauds the fact that the NDP is finally speaking up about this misuse of the CRA:

The New Democratic Party, worried that voluntary agencies are being silenced, sent a sharply-worded letter to Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay this past week. “This program has the appearance of blatantly abusing CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) resources to target those who do not agree with government and compromises the very integrity of CRA,” wrote NDP revenue critic Murray Rankin and environment critic Megan Leslie.

They called for an independent, external review to determine whether the government is using the muscle of the tax department to crack down on human rights advocates, environmentalists and anti-poverty activists.


While this demand is likely to be met with the Harper cabal's usual disdainful disregard of opposing views, it is at least heartening that with both the press and some politicians speaking up, more of the general public will learn of the profoundly anti-democratic and cowardly nature of their national government.Recommend this Post

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - lun, 07/21/2014 - 07:45
Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Paul Krugman calls out the U.S.' deficit scolds for continuing to invent a crisis to distract from the real problems with middling growth and high unemployment. And Bruce Johnstone singles out a few of the Cons' talking points which have somehow become conventional wisdom without having an iota of truth to them. But in case there was any doubt why the Cons aren't being exposed to their own patent wrongness, William Watson's (hardly people-friendly) column explains why - as Jack Mintz manages to qualify as the least corporate-biased member of a hand-picked budget advisory group.

- David Cay Johnston discusses how California is thoroughly disproving the claim that high-end tax increases have any negative impact on growth, as the state is actually thriving after passing significant tax increases through a referendum. And David Climenhaga points to the astroturf groups lobbying for increased exploitation of temporary foreign workers as a prime example of how zombie lies are kept undead:
(I)t cannot be mere coincidence that in almost every case the main groups calling for more TFWs turn out to have a long history of anti-union advocacy. In some cases, before the TFW issue came along, their sole purpose was attacking the right of working people to bargain collectively.

This web of anti-union advocacy groups includes the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Restaurants Canada, the Workplace Democracy Institute of Canada, the Merit Contractors Association, “Working Canadians,” and the Canadian Labour Watch Association.

Even the mysterious National Citizens Coalition, the granddaddy of all Canadian far-right AstroTurf groups, once headed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, puts in a cameo appearance in this convoluted tale!

Each of these groups is not forthcoming about its finances and, it is reasonable to conclude given their purported mandates to represent to represent a different segment of the Canadian economy from “taxpayers,” to restaurant owners, to ordinary working stiffs who just want a little “freedom” in their workplace, is deceptive about its true objectives.
...
The links among this well-established network of anti-union agitators have been obvious for many years.

That the same players who hold the most virulently anti-union views and the most offensive opinions about the supposed shortcomings of Canadian workers should turn out to be the loudest advocates, and in some places the only advocates, for the TFW Program suggests the true agenda behind the vociferous TFW lobby.

It is quite apparent the goals of the Canadian Taxpayers Association, the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, and the various trade associations involved are to weaken the bargaining power of Canadian families (including many of their own naïve members), keep wages low, keep all workers vulnerable and re-elect the Harper Government.- Meanwhile, Bill Tieleman discusses how the B.C. Liberals are using their latest deliberately-provoked confrontation with teachers to try to push a for-profit education model.

- Abrahm Lustgarten reports that after being told that there are no risks whatsoever to fracking, U.S. residents are learning otherwise the hard way:
Over the past several decades, U.S. industries have injected more than 30 trillion gallons of toxic liquid deep into the earth, using broad expanses of the nation's geology as an invisible dumping ground.

No company would be allowed to pour such dangerous chemicals into the rivers or onto the soil. But until recently, scientists and environmental officials have assumed that deep layers of rock beneath the earth would safely entomb the waste for millennia.

There are growing signs they were mistaken.
....
The boom in oil and natural gas drilling is deepening the uncertainties, geologists acknowledge. Drilling produces copious amounts of waste, burdening regulators and demanding hundreds of additional disposal wells. Those wells — more holes punched in the ground — are changing the earth's geology, adding man-made fractures that allow water and waste to flow more freely.
...
A ProPublica review of well records, case histories and government summaries of more than 220,000 well inspections found that structural failures inside injection wells are routine. From late 2007 to late 2010, one well integrity violation was issued for every six deep injection wells examined — more than 17,000 violations nationally. More than 7,000 wells showed signs that their walls were leaking. Records also show wells are frequently operated in violation of safety regulations and under conditions that greatly increase the risk of fluid leakage and the threat of water contamination.

Structurally, a disposal well is the same as an oil or gas well. Tubes of concrete and steel extend anywhere from a few hundred feet to two miles into the earth. At the bottom, the well opens into a natural rock formation. There is no container. Waste simply seeps out, filling tiny spaces left between the grains in the rock like the gaps between stacked marbles.- Finally, USA Today rightly questions why we allow big pharma to name its price for needed medications (even as we set up byzantine legal structures to protect the resulting profits).

Sabotaging Responsible Government

Northern Reflections - lun, 07/21/2014 - 06:16
                                                                                 www.nationalpost.com/

Over at ipolitics, Andrew Mitrovica asks,"Is Mulcair just another Harper with a beard?"  It's an important question, given the evolution -- some would say devolution -- of the New Democratic  Party. There is a nomination battle unfolding in British Columbia. Officials at party headquarters have banned Paul Manly from seeking the party nomination in Nanaimo-Ladysmith:

This fracas is instructive for a number of reasons. The prickly issue, however, at the core of the dispute – that is fraying so-called party unity and triggering hard questions about Mulcair’s leadership – are the vague, carefully coded reasons NDP brass have proffered to Manly, his parents and supporters for why the accomplished environmentalist, filmmaker and musician has been barred from the party’s nomination in traditionally NDP-friendly British Columbia.
NDP headquarters, Mitrovica writes, is beginning to look and sound like Harper's PMO. Not only that, Mulcair's stand on Gaza is alienating traditional NDP constituencies:

Just read this pointed letter of protest written and signed by nine long-standing Jewish NDP supporters in Toronto to Mulcair in which they demand that he not only finally speak out against “the repression of Palestinians,” but also “rescind” Manly’s ban.

They’re not alone. Among the many other disenchanted party members is a “deeply dismayed” Vancouver rabbi and a “long-time and dedicated NDP member” who has also recently written Muclair, urging him to “reverse [The federal NDP leadership’s] action preventing Mr. Manly from standing to be the candidate from Nanaimo-Ladysmith and its attempt to distance the party from meaningful and forthright action regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict.”
All three party leaders have recently assumed a presidential style of leadership, which asserts that MP's serve at the leader's pleasure.Their constituents have no say in the matter.

That may be Stephen Harper's real legacy -- sabotaging the parliamentary form of responsible government



Richard Dawkins Says "Mild Pedophilia" Does No Harm

Politics and its Discontents - lun, 07/21/2014 - 05:06


Scientist and atheist campaigner, Richard Dawkins, says it was “no harm, no foul” when a school master pulled young Dawkins onto his lap, shoved his hands down the boy’s pants and fondled him.

“Richard Dawkins attempted to defend what he called ‘mild pedophilia,’ which, he says, he personally experienced as a young child and does not believe causes ‘lasting harm.’

“Dawkins went on to say that one of his former school masters ‘pulled me on his knee and put his hand inside my shorts,’ and that to condemn this ‘mild touching up’ as sexual abuse today would somehow be unfair.

“’I am very conscious that you can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours. Just as we don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism. I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild pedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today,’ he said.

“Plus, he added, though his other classmates also experienced abuse at the hands of this teacher, ‘I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.’”



MoS, the Disaffected Lib
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A True Critical Thinker

Politics and its Discontents - dim, 07/20/2014 - 14:08
For many decades Noam Chomsky has been fearlessly fighting for truth. His capacity for incisive critical thinking and unwillingness to submit to the bluster of the right is much in evidence in this excerpt from a 1969 edition of William Buckley's Firing Line. Would that today's progressives were as tenacious.

Enjoy:



h/t The Knowledge MovementRecommend this Post

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