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Fort McMurray fires

Trashy's World - il y a 1 heure 50 min
I don’t know about you, but I am blown away by the images I am seeing out of northern Alberta. Keep in mind that Fort Mac is a city of about 90,000 and much of it could go up in flames. If you are able, please donate to the Red Cross relief effort or the […]

We'll Know The Answer

Northern Reflections - il y a 3 heures 15 min

When news broke that John Ridsdel had been beheaded by terrorists, Justin Trudeau sounded like William Tecumseh Sherman: “I do want to make one thing perfectly, crystal clear,” Trudeau said, his ministers standing behind him. “Canada does not – and will not – pay ransom to terrorists, directly or indirectly.”

Andrew Cohen writes that, at that moment, Justin also sounded like his father:

It was a bold, bald refusal. What was striking about his declaration and the subsequent explanation was his tone and delivery. It was largely free of the hesitation – the verbal tick of ums and ahs – that sometimes punctuate Trudeau’s speech.

His statement on ransom felt instinctive, even guttural. It flowed from him like his defence of citizens’ rights (“a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian”) in the election campaign. Or when he invoked the memory of his father (“I’m incredibly proud to be Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s son and I’m incredibly lucky to be raised with those values.”)

In talking about hostages, he exuded a confidence shorn of doubt. More than ever, he was his father.
The jury is still out on whether or not Justin is his father's son. And, responses in these situations are more difficult than they at first appear. Trudeau the Elder said he would not bargain with James Cross's kidnappers. However,

Morality is messy. Six weeks after the kidnappings in Quebec in 1970, Trudeau’s government negotiated with the kidnappers who held Cross. In exchange for his release, the kidnappers were allowed safe passage to Cuba.

Ultimately, then, Pierre Trudeau did what was necessary to save a life. In a similar situation, his rhetoric notwithstanding, would Justin Trudeau not do the same?
That's a difficult question. Chances are that Justin will be tested on this file yet again. And we'll know the answer.


what i'm reading: the deserters, a hidden history of world war 2

we move to canada - il y a 4 heures 30 min
No one knows exactly how many US soldiers deserted from the Vietnam War, nor how many young men resisted conscription by going either to jail or to another country. The most conservative account puts the number at about 50,000, the highest at about double that. The majority of those went to Canada, where - after a people's movement organized to support them - they were allowed to live and eventually become citizens. Because of this, resistance to the war in Southeast Asia is part of American and Canadian history, no matter who tells the story.

Resistance to other US wars, however, is mentioned less frequently, if at all. There was massive resistance to conscription to (what was then known as) the Great War or the War in Europe. Ireland and Quebec went into full-scale rebellion, and thousands in both Britain and the US spent time in jail after they refused to fight. I'm somewhat familiar with this history through my ongoing exploration of World War I from a progressive and peace-activism perspective. I certainly didn't learn about it in school.

Still, it's relatively easy to talk about resistance to World War I, at least for Americans. It's the war that no one understands, the war where the name of every battle is a shorthand for massive slaughter, the war of mustard gas and horses vs. machine guns. It's the war that ushered in the modern world. We can understand why people didn't want to die in the mud in Belgium or France.

Resistance to World War II, however, is entirely different. This is the supposedly good war, the war to crush the Nazis, the war to punish the people who attacked Pearl Harbor. This is the war that supposedly every able-bodied boy and man wanted to fight.

Well, not quite. As Charles Glass shows in The Deserters: A Hidden History of World War II, no matter what the political motivations of war, the reality on the ground is largely the same. Troops face appalling conditions and constant deprivation. They are forced to remain in combat past the point of mental and physical endurance. Their stress is ignored, ridiculed, and punished. And thousands - tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands - refuse to continue.

The book, unfortunately, is not a very good read. It's incredibly well researched, but literary nonfiction needs more than research. No lively narrative pulls the reader through the stories. Glass offers a tremendous amount of detail without synthesis or explanation. At times I felt as if I were reading a pile of facts, rather than a story.

The book's saving grace, and what makes it worth reading, is the introduction. In 10 pages, the author gives us an overview of war resistance and society's responses to it. He blends the political, social, physical and psychological views into a miniature masterpiece.

Readers with a special interest in World War II and hidden histories in general may enjoy The Deserters. For me it was a tough slog. But in my continuing education about war resistance, Charles Glass' introduction has a place on the bookshelf.

Can Donald Trump Defeat Hillary Clinton?

Montreal Simon - il y a 4 heures 34 min

It was a strange scene. Donald Trump had just won the Indiana primary, and all but sewn up the Republican nomination. But instead of crowing in his usual manner, he was unusually subdued.

No doubt trying to look "presidential." Which couldn't have been easy, only hours after suggesting that Ted Cruz's father was involved in the Kennedy assassination. 

But also as Olivia Nuzzi suggests, because he was probably sobered by the implications of his victory.
Read more »

As Long As We're Looking at Putting Statues on Parliament Hill

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 05/03/2016 - 23:54
Here's a few that might be just dandy. They venerate legendary whistleblowers Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and former US soldier, Chelsea Manning. I wouldn't mind seeing these three honoured on Parliament Hill.

Taking On Sarah Palin's Idiocy

Politics and its Discontents - mar, 05/03/2016 - 14:01
I would say Jimmy Kimmel does a pretty good job:

“I have a theory,” Kimmel said. “I think maybe Sarah Palin wants global warming. It’s cold in Alaska. It would be welcome up there. But, the idea that she knows more than 97 percent of scientists is offensive and dangerous. No matter what Sarah Palin and these geniuses she surrounds herself with try to tell you, climate change is not a liberal-versus-conservative thing.”

If anyone needs more convincing, well, there are always scenes like this:

Recommend this Post

Trump Goes Wiggy

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 05/03/2016 - 12:58

Has Donald Trump finally jumped the shark? Today he tried to link Ted Cruz' father to Lee Harvey Oswald and the Kennedy assassination.

KPMG's Mea Culpa

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 05/03/2016 - 12:52

Guess who's no longer in the tax shelter business? Yes, that's right, KPMG. It seems the accounting giant has done a little of the old "duck and cover" after getting caught red-handed conniving a little evasive tax shelter for the fabulously rich in the Isle of Man. One might suspect that the Panama Papers scandal was the straw that broke KPMG's tax dodging back. Apparently the boys in the grey suits don't have much appetite for doing a stretch in the Greybar Hotel.

The executive didn't exactly say just when KPMG stopped selling tax shelters but we'll probably find out more about that and other dodgy deals as the recently leaked documents are analyzed and, with any luck, other firms are hacked.

Yeah But How Do You Really Feel About Donald Trump?

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 05/03/2016 - 12:42

For years he was senator John McCain's chief aide.  Now Mark Salter says Hillary would get his vote over Donald Trump because - because - wait for it - she's the better conservative. Really, who knew?

Mark Salter was for years McCain’s closest aide, serving as strategist, speechwriter, Senate chief of staff and biographer to the 2008 Republican presidential nominee. But now, Salter says he’ll break with the Republican Party if it nominates Trump and vote for Clinton instead.

“Basically, I think she’s the more conservative choice and the least reckless one,” Salter told MSNBC in an email. “[Trump’s] policy views are like some drunk’s rant. If he tried to do anything like he says he will, we’d have no allies, a lot more enemies, and more of them with nukes. Finally, he’s unfit for the office, too, temperamentally and morally, a narcissistic bigot.”

Salter is hardly alone among Republican operatives and policy hands expressing disgust with Trump. But he may the highest profile one yet to say he’d support the likely Democratic nominee instead.

“[T]he GOP is going to nominate for President a guy who reads the National Enquirer and thinks it’s on the level,” Salter tweeted Tuesday, adding Clinton’s slogan: “I’m with her.”

National Observer Calls Bullshit on Trudeau, Again.

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 05/03/2016 - 12:29

When it comes to climate change and Canada we're awash in talk but marooned when it comes to meaningful action. Cap'n Sunny Ways seems to be focused on blowing smoke up our arses claiming that we can win the struggle to curb climate change by peddling ever more dilbit, the world's highest-cost/highest-carbon ersatz petroleum.

The folks over at the National Observer cut through all the petro-state bullcrap with a dandy comparison of carbon emissions in Canada versus those in the United Kingdom. Hint: one of these nations is sharply reducing its greenhouse gas emissions while the other is sharply increasing its total emissions.

For starters, let's deal with the apples and oranges issues. Canada is a nation of 35 million people. The UK isn't quite double that, 64 million.  We have a huge country with our population concentrated in a thin band along the American border stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The UK is, by comparison, minuscule which translates into certain advantages on things such as transportation and fuel consumption. Okay, on with the show.

Although Britain has by far the larger economy, $2.5 trillion versus our $1.5 trillion, their emissions have fallen by 35% since 1990 while Canada's have risen by 20% (and we're just getting going). As shown above, around 1998 our growing total emissions passed Britain's declining total emissions. And we've never looked back either.

For Mr. Trudeau and Canadians, the UK provides a real-world example of a wealthy, top-tier economy, in a northern region, that has managed to significantly reduce their emissions and meet their climate promises.

As a bonus to the UK, their falling emissions are priming their economy for the coming tectonic shift to a post-carbon world. Today the UK economy produces $4,800 in GDP from each tonne of climate pollution (tCO2). Canada makes less than half as much, at $2,200. As we will see below, as soon as it become imperative to reduce climate pollution then continuing to expand the lowest-GDP emissions in your economy become a serious problem.

Canada's up-coming climate target for 2020 was made by former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper in Copenhagen. ... we are currently more than a hundred million tonnes above where we promised to be.  
The article goes on to blame Canada's dismal showing on two factors - motor vehicle emissions and, of course, the Tar Sands.
Back in 1990, Canada and the UK emitted similar levels of climate pollution from their nation's cars and trucks.

Since then, however, Canada's vehicle emissions surged 44 per cent, while the UK's declined slightly.

What did the UK do differently?


For one thing, starting back in the early 1990s, the Conservative government of Prime Minister John Major decided that the UK would be better off if it was less dependent on gasoline. So they implemented a "Fuel Duty Escalator" that increased gasoline taxes an average of around seven cents per litre, per year, for a decade.

...To put that gas tax increase in a climate perspective, it's exactly the same as increasing a carbon tax by $30 per year, for ten straight years. A G8 reportlabelled this UK policy a “best practice” for addressing climate change. In Canada, British Columbia's Climate Leadership Team recently recommended a similar, though much less ambitious, proposal to increase its official Carbon Tax by $10 per year.

...As Mr. Trudeau plans carbon pricing he might want to keep in mind that he would need to add a $500 carbon tax on gasoline to match what the UK does already. BC's proposal to increase its Carbon Tax by $10 per year would require fifty years (!) before it matches what the UK has already done.

Then, of course, there's the Athabasca Tar Sands problem. What to do, what to do? Here's what it looks like based on the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers numbers:

First take a look at the orange line -- CAPP's "slower growth" scenario. Tar sands pollution surges to 17 per cent of our national emissions budget by 2030. Amazingly, this is what happens if we don't build more pipelines.

Now check out the red line showing CAPP's "faster growth" scenario. That's what we get with one or two more big pipelines. Mr. Trudeau is pushing hard for this scenario. Tar sands emissions leap to around a quarter our nation's climate budget by 2030. And they are heading steeply upwards from there.

Problem number two is that Alberta's tar sands industry produces very little wealth and very few jobs, per tonne of climate pollution they release. This is called carbon efficiency and it is measured in $GDP produced per tCO2.
Today, Canada's economy averages$2,200 in GDP per tCO2. That has to jump to around $4,000 for us to meet our 2030 climate commitment while also maintaining our standard of living (per-capita GDP).

The Alberta tar sands industry produces only around $400 in GDP per tCO2. Ten time less than what we need.

The same holds true with Canadian employment. The tar sands produce ten times less employment per tCO2 than the national average.

Canada has never created any plan, which if followed, would meet any of our targets. Mr. Trudeau promised to deliver a 2030 plan by the end of his in first 90 days in office. But he didn't. Instead he pivoted to pushing a "faster growth" expansion of tar sands without first having a plan to handle the resulting flood of emissions. Sound familiar?
Once again Junior sounds eerily like the guy we just ditched. He talks a good game but it's pure bullshit.

Arctic Climate Connections - Where is Rube Goldberg Now That We Need Him?

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 05/03/2016 - 10:16

The rapidly warming Arctic region is the perfect proving ground to show how climate change impacts have a synergy that is amplified by human activity, primarily greenhouse gas emissions.

A new study finds that the rate of Arctic sea ice loss is influenced by warming far south in the Pacific. It links the effects of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) to events across the Arctic Ocean. What troubles scientists is that the PDO is currently in its negative phase which should, but hasn't, brought cooler waters to the eastern Pacific. The positive phase will see warmer waters along the west coast of North America which will increase the impact on sea ice loss.

Another study explores a geological feature found across the permafrost, ice wedges. These ice spikes can span up to 30 metres at the surface. As they melt, the surrounding permafrost is no longer supported an collapses. In some places the surface subsidence has been recorded at 10 cms. or 4 inches per year. Much of the territory in the far north is already low lying and hence the subsidence makes these regions vulnerable to inundation from the sea.

Finally, from The Washington Post, "Dominoes Fall: Vanishing Arctic ice shifts jet stream, which melts Greenland glaciers." The warmer Arctic atmosphere has changed the Polar Jet Stream and given rise to blocking events that take the form of stationary waves (Rossby waves) that can plunge far south and simply stay there. This often takes the form of the dreaded "polar vortex" events that hit eastern North America. These blocking events were instrumental in the last severe flooding event in Calgary where a massive rainstorm was left parked over the area for several days.

Now it turns out that this newly energized Polar Jet is accelerating the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

A recent set of scientific papers have proposed a critical connection between sharp declines in Arctic sea ice and changes in the atmosphere, which they say are not only affecting ice melt in Greenland, but also weather patterns all over the North Atlantic.

The new studies center on an atmospheric phenomenon known as “blocking” — this is when high pressure systems remain stationary in one place for long periods of time (days or even weeks), causing weather conditions to stay relatively stable for as long as the block remains in place. They can occur when there’s a change or disturbance in the jet stream, causing the flow of air in the atmosphere to form a kind of eddy, said Jennifer Francis, a research professor and climate expert at Rutgers University.

Now, two new studies have suggested that there’s been a recent increase in the frequency of melt-triggering blocking events over Greenland — and that it’s likely been fueled by climate change-driven losses of Arctic sea ice.

A paper set to be published Monday in the International Journal of Climatology reveals an uptick in the frequency of these blocking events over Greenland since the 1980s.

Last week scientists reported that the ice melt season had arrived in Greenland a month ahead of normal. The season kicked off with one day that took researchers by surprise on which the ice sheet lost a cubic kilometre of water, a gigatonne.
What is emerging is clear proof that, when it comes to climate change impacts, everything has "knock on" effects. It's all inter-related, causally linked. It's something out of the mind of Rube Goldberg.

New Frontiers In Journalism

Dawg's Blawg - mar, 05/03/2016 - 10:09
Sept, 1 2016 - Comedian and oil company lobbyist Ezra Levant today unveiled his latest media coup at a downtown intersection in Chapleau, Ontario. While the sudden shift from failed online video and podcast-recyling website to a Magic Marker and... Balbulican

It's the Day of Reckoning for Ted Cruz. Stephen Colbert Explains.

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 05/03/2016 - 09:07
Republican weirdo presidential candidate, Ted Cruz, a.k.a. "Lucifer in the flesh," is facing his Waterloo - or he would be if Indiana had a town named Waterloo. Dammit, I just checked, it does. Waterloo, Indiana, population 2,242 or 666 of something like that.

Okay, back on track (and, yes, Waterloo boasts that Amtrak stops there several times every day). No, not that sort of track. Ted Cruz track. It seems that Indiana may be the end of the line (sorry) for Ted's presidential aspirations. He appears poised to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory virtually yielding the Republican nomination to Donald "Juice" Trump.

Last night Stephen Colbert explained that, "To know Cruz is to wish you didn't."

Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - mar, 05/03/2016 - 07:32
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Tom Parkin writes about the growing divide between the lucky few who are siphoning wealth out of Canada, and the mass of people facing a precarious economic future.

- PressProgress highlights much the same distinction by examining the types of workers who make less in a year than Christy Clark's donor-funded car allowance. Andrew MacLeod reports on the connection between the B.C. Libs' donations and real estate developers. And Derrick O'Keefe points out that Clark (and her corporate-funded peers) are counting on the public not paying attention to who's pulling the strings.

- Roderick Benns talks to Daniel Blaikie about the prospect of a basic income. And Murray Mandryk takes a look a Saskatchewan's budget which shows relatively large amounts of money toward education, social services and policing producing lamentable results.

- Mike De Souza exposes Enbridge's direct role in dictating what the National Energy Board reported about its pipeline safety failings. 

- Finally, Alex Boutilier reports on the Communications Security Establishment's attempts to avoid providing an honest account of its breaches of privacy. And Jim Bronskill and Dean Beeby offer some useful suggestions to modernize Canada's access to information laws.

C225: Dead as a Doornail

Dammit Janet - mar, 05/03/2016 - 05:56
Yesterday, private member's bill C225, or the Exploiting Grief to Attack Abortion Rights bill, got its first hour of debate in Parliament.

I live-tweeted it, sort of.

After sponsor Cathay Wagantall blathered on about how carefully her bill was written to ensure it had zero zip nada effect on abortion -- choking up theatrically in the process -- Bill (The Liar) Blair, former top cop in Toronto and now MP and parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice, spoke.

Bill Blair using "fetus." Oh lord, I loathe Blair, but he might be speaking against #c225. #conflicted

— Fern Hill (@fernhilldammit) May 2, 2016

Blair pointed out that judges have, and have used, discretion in applying Canada's sensible notion of "aggravating factors" in sentencing people who assault or kill pregnant people. In other words, this bill is not necessary.

Blair: focus on domestic violence. (I'm hating this. Why couldn't some other Lib be saying this stuff.) #c225

— Fern Hill (@fernhilldammit) May 2, 2016

After Blair, Murray Rankin (NDP), David Graham (LPC), and Sheila Malcolmson (NDP) stated their opposition to the bill. All pointed to the need for more focus on domestic violence.

Fetus freaks and CPC MPs, Michael Cooper and Garnett Genius (love the name) spoke in favour, mainly whingeing about "justice," which we know means "vengeance" in these people's mouths.

So, with the Liberals and NDP opposed, there is no chance C225 will pass.


On Twitter, I tried to engage supporters (who were using the hashtag #MollyMatters) to answer my question: How exactly does adding a charge for harming or killing a fetus "protect" anyone?

More blathering about justice, but the nearest I got to a coherent answer was "deterrence."

Problem with that is deterrence doesn't work to prevent crime.

Underlying #C225 is the nonsensical notion that person contemplating violence says to self: "Whoa, extra charge for pregnancy! Better not!"

— Fern Hill (@fernhilldammit) May 2, 2016

There will be more debate and a vote, but C225 is dead as a doornail.

Previous posts on C225:

Exploiting Grief to Attack Abortion Rights

Vengeance--and More--Drives "Unborn Victims" Law

It's Baaaack

Nope, This "Preborn Victims" Law Won't Pass Either.

Owning A Cottage Is Not Enough

Northern Reflections - mar, 05/03/2016 - 05:32

In the wake of the Duffy affair, Errol Mendes writes, the Senate has begun reforming itself:

The Senate to which Mr. Duffy returns is, in a multitude of ways, much different from the chamber from which he was suspended. The Senate leadership, in particular those on the powerful internal economy committee, has greatly tightened expenditure and travel rules. In the wake of the damning Auditor-General’s report, the Senate leadership, along with most senators, will also endorse a forthcoming independent oversight mechanism that they promise will be far more rigorous than anything seen in the House of Commons in terms of financial transparency and accountability.
The Duffy Affair  began with Stephen Harper's claim that Mr. Duffy was a resident of Prince Edward Island -- a claim that Duffy himself had a hard time swallowing. And, when Harper referred his plans for reform to the Supreme Court, the Court informed him that reform would have to be done with the consent of the provinces -- because the Senate had to reflect the regions of the country.

So, as the Senate gets back to work, one of the first items on its agenda should be clarifying what residency means:

For this reason, the very loose rules of primary residence undermines the architecture of the modernized Senate. So, too, do the so-called strengthened rules that say senators only have to show that their driver’s licence and health card comes from their province of appointment, and that their taxes are filed in the same province.
To improve the Senate’s credibility, and build Canadians’ trust in the revamped chamber, every senator must prove that the actual length of time they spend in their province reflects how they can be legitimately representing the interests of their constituents. Their physical assets, including property, should reflect and reinforce that representation.
Owning a cottage in a province should not be enough to make you a senator.


awful library books and why we remove them from our shelves

we move to canada - mar, 05/03/2016 - 04:00
A while back, I blogged about weeding, every library's not-so-dirty little not-so-secret. Daniel Gross, writing in The New Yorker, looks at weeding, too - from a library-users' revolt in Berkeley, California to the hilarious Awful Library Books blog: Weeding the Worst Library Books. It's a sweet story about a necessary evil that is really a very positive - although painful - practice.

What I want to know is how did the Berkeley public know about the weeding? Why was it even announced? I can guarantee the Mississauga public doesn't know about ours.

In any case, it's a really nice piece: Weeding the Worst Library Books by Daniel Gross.

Con Apocalypse: The Con's Rabid Base is Shrinking

Montreal Simon - mar, 05/03/2016 - 03:36

Pity poor Rona Ambrose, it's all going so horribly wrong.

The Con leadership race has only attracted two mediocre candidates so far. And so desperate is the situation that some Con MPs are trying to get Ambrose to throw her cap or her turkey crown into the ring. 

A Draft Rona Ambrose movement has been launched by a group of Conservative MPs who are attempting to amend the party’s constitution to allow the interim leader to seek the permanent leadership.

And while Ambrose still claims she's not interested, the ghastly Con clown Tony Clement isn't taking any chances.
Read more »


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