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PEGIDA Canada and PEGIDA Quebec: Splitters!

Anti-Racist Canada - il y a 55 min 28 sec
Funny thing about extreme forms of nationalism. Sometimes people find they are nationalistic about different nationalities:

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Oh Dear. Putin Orders S-400 to Syria

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 6 heures 42 min

This is rapidly becoming an international knife fight in a phone booth. In reaction to yesterday's downing by Turkish fighters of a Russian Su-24 light bomber and the subsequent shootdown of a Russian search and rescue helicopter, president Vladimir Putin has ordered batteries of S-400 advanced surface to air missiles deployed in range of the Syrian border with Turkey.

The S-400 is widely considered to be the best missile of its kind, better than anything the West fields. The system can detect aircraft at 600 km. and engage them at 400 km. or less. In other words, parking S-400 batteries about 50 km. from Turkey's border gives the Russians heavy anti-aircraft coverage deep into Turkish territory.

It's unknown just yet whether the S-400s will be deployed within threat range of coalition strike aircraft operating against ISIS.

Talented Putin

LeDaro - il y a 7 heures 14 min

Turkey downing Russian jet

LeDaro - il y a 7 heures 53 min

Europe is distancing itself from Turkey, it looks a reckless action by Turkey in shooting down the Russian plane. It has potential implications because Turkey is a NATO country.

Vladimir Putin is a ruthless dictator, but he is very clever and crafty. That was clear in a Fifth Estate documentary on his career. One can view Putin as a successful dictator.

Putin will push the envelope, on Ukraine for example, but is careful not to go too far. He is cautious. It is hoped that he will be cautious regarding Turkey. It is expected that he be careful and will avoid the outbreak of a wider conflict over this.

Mulcair, you loser, get the hell out of Dodge

Metaneos - il y a 7 heures 59 min
Tom Mulcair vows he will stay on as leader of NDP
It's probably fair to call Mulcair out as possibly the second worst leader in the NDP's history. And there's been some pretty bad leaders since McLaughlin, arguably the NDP's worst.
To be fair, the NDP's probably dead. The ideals of yesterday are buried, and the leadership group is filled with career pols and exiled neo-libs.
It's time to kick these fuckers out of the party. Start with Mulcair, and work our way down the list. Get some backbone into the party. Get some real heart.
Neo-liberalism is dead. It's a failed idealogy. It's ruined lives, worldwide, and enriches none but those already rich and powerful.
And of the two dead entities, I trust the NDP could rise again. But it's time to stop buying the snake oil hucksters like Mulcair have been selling.
Power is only important if you have heart. Power for its own sake is corrupting. This has been known for millennia, and still we allowed ourselves to be led astray.
Get the hell out of Dodge, Mulcair.

And Speaking Of Perspective

Politics and its Discontents - il y a 8 heures 15 min
...along with xenophobia, bigotry and demagoguery, the folks at Fox News would seem to be quite ignorant about their country's own history.

Here is a timely festive reminder of that history for those soon to be celebrating American Thanksgiving:
Thanksgiving is a refugee’s narrative. The first Thanksgiving (or at least, the event we now remember as Thanksgiving) was celebrated in 1621 at the Plymouth Plantation colony in modern-day Massachusetts. It was attended by both native inhabitants and newcomers—the latter having fled England, by way of the Low Countries, due to religious persecution.

Syrian refugees today are fleeing warfare and the political oppression of both a secular dictatorship and an extremist theocracy. But in attempting to find safe haven in the United States—a country that owes a great deal of its success to immigrants, from all over the world—they are now being met with persecution in another form.What is that special persecution? This clip from Fox says it all:

Although the above commentators might be viewed as egregious examples of a failed U.S. education system, they are at least providing reassurance to their special audience, who no doubt take great solace knowing that such giants are on the job and protecting Americans' interests.

My favourite line from the clip?
“It is always interesting to listen to a condescending British person tell you about colonialism,” co-host Dana Perino said. “The British were so much better at colonialism than the Pilgrims.”Recommend this Post

Thorough Corruption

Northern Reflections - il y a 9 heures 30 min

Like Junior, Red Skelton's mean little kid, Stephen Harper's avowed purpose in life has been to throw a wrench into the workings of government. He remained true to form -- even as he was leaving -- making 49 re-appointments and future appointments, whose purpose was to hamstring the incoming government. Alan Freeman writes:

The 49 appointments, including renewals and new appointments, have effectively blocked the newly-elected government from determining the future course of key agencies like the National Energy Board. In one remarkable case of chutzpah, the government renewed in advance the term of Canada Post’s CEO, Deepak Chopra, until 2021 — even though Chopra was the architect of the Crown corporation’s decision to kill door-to-door mail delivery, a policy opposed by both the Liberals and the NDP. (In this case, the Liberals may be able to undo the appointment because it was made “at pleasure”. Others won’t be so easy.)

Several of the future appointments were made just before the government's mandate ended:

What’s particularly curious about the future appointments is that several of them came down just days before Harper called the federal election in early August, at which point the so-called “caretaker convention” came into effect. That convention calls on the outgoing government to show restraint in its exercise of power during an election campaign, and to not do anything controversial. Knowing that the convention was about to come into effect, the government rushed ahead regardless with its future appointments — surely knowing that it could do it with a wink and a nod from its top bureaucrats.
Harper showed no respect whatever for parliamentary conventions. But he couldn't have accomplished what he did without the clear collaboration of senior public servants:

It’s clear that many deputy ministers, each holding their jobs at the pleasure of the PM and reporting to a Privy Council clerk equally beholden to Harper, have spent a decade conveniently ignoring their duty to serve the government and people of Canada. Many have known no other government and may now suddenly find themselves a loss when actually asked for real advice, let alone being forced to speak “truth to power”.
Harper's parting appointments are a reminder of how thoroughly he corrupted the civil service.

Putting Things Into Perspective

Politics and its Discontents - il y a 10 heures 21 min
The bigoted backlash against Muslims in light of the recent ISIS attacks is given short shrift by This Hour Has 22 Minutes:

Should the time come when we no longer have a sense of humour, we will know that the terrorists have won.Recommend this Post

Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - il y a 11 heures 21 min
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- David Ball talks to Joseph Stiglitz about inequality and its causes - including the spread of corporate control through trade agreements:
What would you say is the dominant cause [of growing inequality]?

The weak economy, partly associated with austerity, has led to a weak labour market. The official unemployment rates don't indicate the real weaknesses. In the U.S. there's a huge amount of disguised unemployment -- people who have dropped out of the labour force or are working part time. That's why wages have stagnated.

You saw that so vividly in the three years at the beginning of our so-called "recovery," from 2009 to 2012, when 91 per cent of all the gains went to the top one per cent. That's obviously a huge increase in inequality... African-Americans, Hispanics, low-income Americans, and high school graduates have not recovered. You might say it's been a lopsided recovery.

The recession was really bad for the poor. They lost their jobs and lost their homes. But even before that, you saw really significant increases in inequality in an economy that was supposedly performing very well. So [the cause of inequality] is beyond just austerity.
A number of trade deals passed by Canada -- the TPP and the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) with China that we're locked into for 31 years, for example -- are seen in traditional economics as the gold standard.

The TPP is a very bad agreement that will increase inequality. Inequality isn't just about income -- it's also about standards of living. There are several [worrying] provisions. The worst is the investment agreement provision, which effectively restricts the ability [of states] to regulate and protect health, safety, the environment, even economic regulations important for stability. These are things that are particularly important to ordinary citizens. The regulations are meant to protect our society. - And Blayne Haggart notes that the intellectual property provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership represent a new - and particularly dangerous - form of protectionism in favour of the businesses who already have the most.

- Marc Lee offers his twelve-point plan for a federal government wanting to get serious about climate change.

- Craig Scott discusses both the opportunity we have to push for meaningful electoral reform, and the danger that the Libs will see fit to gum up the works to protect the system which led to their own false majority. And Elizabeth Thompson reports on just one more of the many absurdities of handing over unfettered executive power based on a modest minority of votes, as the Cons were able to lock in a large number of long-term patronage appointments which will last for multiple terms of government to come.

- Finally, Susana Mas reports on the NDP's work to make sure the Libs don't turn away refugees in the name of political convenience and a false claim to security concerns. But unfortunately, the Libs haven't taken long in backtracking from even their core promises.

How To Blow Up Stephen Harper's Patronage Appointments

Montreal Simon - il y a 12 heures 15 min

In the last desperate weeks before he was crushed and humiliated, Stephen Harper,  must have thought it was a brilliant move. 

One that would ensure his insane policies of Total Oily Domination would continue even if he was defeated.

He would stack the board of directors of the National Energy Board with patronage appointments, and make sure they could not be replaced until after the next election.

And since he knew that NEB directors can only be removed after a vote in the Commons and the Con Senate, he must have thought that Justin Trudeau wouldn't be able to do anything about it.

But sadly for Harper he's wrong.
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Because I Stumbled upon This Just Before BedTime

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 15 heures 47 min

And, because, as today's events in Syria gave us a glimpse into how easily this all could unravel, it's just a tad therapeutic. It gets your mind off Sarajevo.

Topham: A Brief Reprieve

Anti-Racist Canada - mar, 11/24/2015 - 19:34
We learned today that, despite Arthur Topham's hate crimes conviction, his website will remain available online and that he can continue publishing his screeds at least until sentencing takes place in the new year.

Paulie is pleased as punch:

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We're all People Under the Same Sky

Fat and Not Afraid - mar, 11/24/2015 - 12:13

Generally if I'm going to be political it's for body or feminist reasons, things that hit close to home for me. Since this summer, however, when I started reading about how many refugees are in the world, especially from Syria, home has become a bit bigger. My activist home is larger to make room for the millions of displaced people in the world.

I've moved a LOT in the last few years. Not having a home to call my own, having to leave one that I loved, again and again, was painful. It's not as painful as this, of leaving home because it's dangerous; leaving filled with desperation. Few things are, except maybe the loss of a child. And then there was that photo of the little boy on the beach in Greece, face towards the waves in the way no living person's would be. His mother and brother are dead too, but his photo will live on in infamy of what we do to each other in the name of power, greed and hate. I can see him in my mind's eye, clear as day, and I hope I do for the rest of my life. I hope everyone who saw his photos remembers him and tries to do better, to BE better, to their fellow humans. We're all in this together on our little blue dot. Try not to forget that in face of irrational fear of people who are different from you. They're not, really. They just want a home again.

"HOME," by Somali poet Warsan Shire:

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbours running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won't let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it's not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn't be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hunger
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i've become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here.

by Somali poet, Warsan Shire

Breaking News: Canadians are not stupid

Cathie from Canada - mar, 11/24/2015 - 10:17
It will be amazing news to our news pundits, but Canadians are not stupid knee-jerk war-mongering pearl-clutching conservatives.
After all the news stories of the last week about how the Paris attacks made Canadians question Trudeau's decision on withdrawal from air attacks in Syria, and after all the blithe assertions I heard that Canadians wouldn't have voted for Trudeau if the attacks had happened before the election, today we find out that Trudeau is more popular than ever.
As of Friday, a week after the Paris attacks, Trudeau is the preferred prime minister for 53 per cent of Canadians. This is his highest level ever, and an increase of three percent since before the attacks. He is way ahead of the other party leaders, and the gap is widening. We also found out today that almost three quarters of Canadians think Trudeau is a good leader, while only a third think this highly of the Harper Cons.

What Brad Wall Would Prefer You Ignore

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 11/24/2015 - 10:04
Alberta's Rachel Notley has vowed to shut down her province's coal-fired power plants and implement meaty carbon pricing levies. Her colleague next door, Saskatchewan's Brad Wall, is already squealing like a pig, whinging about how slashing his province's greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to a clean energy regime will ruin Saskatchewan's economy.

Here, courtesy of the National Observer, is a graphic that tells you all you need to know about the provinces' electrical energy generation. Dirtier even than Chins? You betcha.

Turkey, Russia, Syria

Metaneos - mar, 11/24/2015 - 09:53
We've reached a new tipping point. Whether this will be localized to merely Turkey, or if it will involve numerous states (i.e., WWIII), is probably up to NATO's response to whatever Russia decides to do about Turkey.
The nation of Turkey's been acting as a spoiler these past few years. A dangerous, and stupid, wildcard. It's been flooding Europe with refugees, and continually allowing radical Syrian militants safe haven within their borders.
Russia probably won't attack Turkey, militarily, but instead economically. A not insignificant amount of Turkey's energy needs are met by Russian suppliers.
NATO needs to find a way of appearing to have Turkey's back, while also burning Turkey's fingertips. If NATO backs Turkey unconditionally, then we're probably in for a cold and dark winter.

New Media Celebrates the Passing of Old (as in "Post") Media

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 11/24/2015 - 09:43
The National Observer, outshoot of the Vancouver Observer, is making a name for itself as an up and coming new media outlet carrying real news, conducting real investigations, doing the very sorts of things that Canada's corporate mass media cartel jettisoned long ago.

And so it is fitting that the National Observer observe "the Tawdry fall of the PostMedia newspaper empire."

Postmedia is ...a ship taking on water, due to both self-inflicted and industry-wide wounds.

Of the self-inflicted variety, Postmedia was pilloried last month in the run-up to the federal election after its Toronto executives ordered 16 of its major daily newspapers to run editorials endorsing Stephen Harper. (Postmedia did the same thing last spring during Alberta’s provincial election, forcing its papers there to back Jim Prentice’s Tories).

In a surprising move, John Honderich, chair of Torstar Corp., which publishes Canada’s largest daily paper, The Toronto Star, devoted an entire op-ed pagearticle two weeks ago heaping scorn on Postmedia’s decision, decrying “the negative impact this affair is having on the newspaper industry in general. At a time when the relevance and impact of newspapers are under attack, this doesn’t help.”

Then there was the stunning resignation of Andrew Coyne as the National Post’seditorials and comments editor. Coyne quit on the eve of the election – although he remains a columnist with the paper – when his superiors told him he was not allowed to publish a column dissenting with their endorsement of Harper. Coyne, who declines to discuss the matter, tweeted his disapproval of the censoring, saying “I don’t see public disagreement as confusing. I see it as honest.”

“[Postmedia’s] handling of the Andrew Coyne affair was disgraceful,” says Ken Whyte, the founding editor-in-chief of the National Post, former publisher ofMaclean’s magazine and currently senior vice-president of public policy with Rogers Communications Inc. Whyte said that the former owners of the Post, the Asper family, “even in their worst moments would still have allowed Andrew to write a column stating his own views and the Aspers had some pretty bad moments.”

Meanwhile, last week, the editorial board of the Ottawa Citizen suddenly resigned without citing a reason.

The silencing of Coyne was not an isolated incident either. In August, acclaimed novelist Margaret Atwood watched as a column she wrote for the National Postcriticizing Harper was posted on-line, then removed, and then edited before being reposted with some of her criticisms deleted. “Um, did I just get censored?” Atwood asked afterwards.

Three days before the election, Postmedia also permitted the Conservative Party to buy yellow ads that covered the entire front pages of most of the company’s major daily newspapers, direly warning about voting for the Liberals. This action, says Marc Edge, a Richmond, B.C.-based journalism professor and author of the 2014 book Greatly Exaggerated: The Myth of the Death of Newspapers, suggests Postmedia is “poisoning their brand.”

...Postmedia’s reputational hits are stacking up. Last winter, two of its top business columnists, Terence Corcoran and Peter Foster, and the National Post, lost a defamation lawsuit brought by Andrew Weaver, an esteemed climatologist at the University of Victoria and a Green Party MLA in the BC legislature. Corcoran and Foster wrote false information about Weaver, suggesting he exaggerated the dangers of climate change. The judge awarded Weaver $50,000 in damages. The decision is being appealed and Weaver will not discuss the matter.

...Since being founded in 2010, Postmedia seems to have bled copious amounts of red ink. In its most recent financial statement, it posted net losses of $263-million for this year alone, on revenues of $750-million, while weighed down with $646-million in long-term debt.

Before it bought the Sun Media chain of newspapers this past year, Postmedia’s revenues had fallen from $899-million in 2011 to $674-million in fiscal 2014 – a plunge of 25 per cent in just three years. Meanwhile, its shares, which rose to $17 in 2011, are now penny stock and no longer actively trading.

...Ironically, though, the most serious threat Postmedia faces might be from its owners and debt-holders. The company is controlled primarily by two American hedge funds – GoldenTree Asset Management LP and Silver Point Capital LP. Hedge funds are pools of capital that hunt for investment opportunities, but also have a reputation for being destructive and remorseless sharks within the financial industry.

Indeed, the hedge funds controlling Postmedia specialize in buying so-called distressed-debt companies. For them to profit from faltering businesses, however, often means slashing costs to the bone, sucking out cash flow and selling off assets for scrap to recoup their investment. “Basically that's what they do,” says Martin Langeveld, a former American newspaper publisher and industry expert with Harvard University’s Nieman Journalism Lab. “They take a company, they have different ways of getting their money out even if they don't really fix it… You are cannibalizing, you’re consolidating.”

...Postmedia’s roots go back to the Southam Inc. newspaper chain that was founded more than a century ago. In 1996, Black bought the Southam papers and soon created the National Post as its flagship paper. His term as boss would be short-lived, however: pressed by his bankers to chop debt, Black sold the papers to the Asper family’s CanWest Global Communications Corp. in 2000.

Seven years later, the New York-based hedge fund GoldenTree—co-founded by Steven Shapiro, a former manager with CIBC World Markets—began buying up CanWest’s debt issues. As CanWest floundered, GoldenTree acquired more of its debt. Poorly managed by the Aspers, weighed down by $4-billion in debt and pummeled by the credit crisis, CanWest declared bankruptcy in 2009.

A year later, GoldenTree and 19 other foreign and domestic lenders, mostly hedge funds, paid $1.1-billion for the CanWest papers, created Postmedia and made Paul Godfrey its CEO.

...At Postmedia, as revenue and circulation declined, it has downsized staff, sold off assets, consolidated and outsourced operations, cut Sunday editions and shuttered bureaus. Now all of its dailies are copy-edited and laid out, and even stories selected, in offices located in a strip mall in Hamilton, Ontario.

Despite these cuts, Postmedia has never earned any net profit, suffering combined net losses of $624-million since 2010. For the hedge funds who control it, on the other hand, Postmedia is a profitable investment. Because the company’s debt is owed to them, they receive interest payments at rates ranging from 8.25 per cent to 12.5 per cent.

...As long as Postmedia is paying interest on its debts and generating cash flow, the hedge funds will remain happy. The problem, though, is that Postmedia’s revenues keep falling. “It’s very difficult to stay healthy when you have less money every year,” insists Toughill. “Last year alone print advertising dropped 18 percent. That's a huge amount of money to have disappear out of the budget in a single year.”

Thus, in order to keep interest payments flowing to their American owners, the chain must continue cutting costs. But at a certain point, that’s no longer an option either. “If they continue to record net losses they will ultimately consume themselves in order to pay down the debt – unless they can turn themselves around,” says Mitchell Weiss, a former American financial services executive. “So they are in a race against time.”

...So what’s the long-term prognosis for Postmedia? According to Doctor, the hedge funds have likely figured out how they can get their money back by “managing [Postmedia’s] decline profitably.” Which might mean returning it to receivership and selling off its assets, with the hedge funds first in line as creditors to collect.

...One victim of the fall of Postmedia has been its journalism.

A former National Post journalist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, recalls that by last year, reporters were being asked to produce more and shorter stories, with less in-depth coverage. Another former Post reporter said “they would look for a regional CBC stories, get that and put a Post spin on it. That's how they found stories.”
(Back in the day, the CBC poached a lot of its evening news stories out of the morning papers. Times, it seems, do change.)

...Another victim of Postmedia’s crisis is the Chinese wall separating advertisers from editorial content.

Once upon a time, newspapers could afford to alienate the odd advertiser because there were so many others to pay the bills. No longer. Former National Post editor Ken Whyte says it’s now commonplace for advertisers to demand favourable editorial content in return for their money. “Before, [newspapers] might've stood up and said we will let that million dollars go, we won't prostitute ourselves,” he remarks. “Now they'll see they will be way short on their budget and need the money.”

Last year, Greenpeace stumbled across a Powerpoint presentation that someone had leaked on-line. Produced by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) for Postmedia’s board of directors in 2013, the presentation proposed a close alliance between the media company and the oil industry’s main lobby group. “We will work with CAPP to amplify our energy mandate and to be a part of the solution to keep Canada competitive in the global marketplace,” it said. “Postmedia will undertake to leverage all means editorially, technically and creatively – through the Financial Post, Postmedia market newspapers and affiliated media partners – to further this critical conversation.” It’s unclear if this alliance ever materialized, although Postmedia said it would never surrender editorial control.
...Indeed, with a declining and aging readership, taking political and social positions that seem out of step with the majority of Canadians doesn’t appear to be a recipe for attracting new readers and a broad audience. In short, not a smart business plan. Yet the recent actions of Paul Godfrey and his American bosses suggest they are oblivious.
From a century as Southam the once great newspaper chain fell into the hands of the likes of Black, the Aspers of CanWest and then the vulture capitalists and their PostMedia. It's like one long, drawn out wasting disease first contracted in 1996 that metastasized in 2000 and went terminal in 2009, taking its credibility and reputation down with it. Good riddance.


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