Posts from our progressive community

Taking notes 48: America’s new brutalism: the death of Sandra Bland

Posted by Sol Chrom - il y a 1 heure 47 min

Sol:

I’ve got nothing to add. #BlackLivesMatter

Originally posted on Philosophers for Change:

sand0

by Henry A. Giroux

On July 9, soon after Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American woman, moved to Texas from Naperville, Illinois to take a new job as a college outreach officer at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M, she was pulled over by the police for failing to signal while making a lane change. What followed has become all too common and illustrates the ever increasing rise in domestic terrorism in the United States. She was pulled out of the car by a police officer for allegedly becoming combative and pinned to the ground by two officers. A video obtained by ABC 7 of Bland’s arrest “doesn’t appear to show Bland being combative with officers but does show two officers on top of Bland.”[1]

In a second video released by the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas state trooper Brian Encinia becomes increasingly hostile toward Bland and very shortly the…

View original 3,183 more words


We "Conquered" What? When?

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 2 heures 13 min
I was taken aback when I saw next month's cover of Scientific American.  The lead story apparently explores how we (mankind) conquered the planet.

When I read it I immediately thought, wait a minute, nature hasn't yielded - not yet, not really.  In fact, it's about to kick our collective ass from pillar to post.

Maybe "how we infested the planet" would have been better or "how we infected the planet," something along those lines. Surely there's a huge difference between conquering and simply running amok.

Nature hasn't been conquered. It is only just beginning to respond to our depredations in ways utterly lethal to us and the other lifeforms with which we share the planet.  Nature has been known to do this in the ancient past.  It evicts the current tenants, pauses for a few hundred thousand years to let the place tidy itself up, and then welcomes new occupants to its bounty.

If our species had lasted at least a few million years, in harmony with nature, we might be entitled to some sort of bragging rights.  But we haven't and, to all appearances, we never shall.  In fact our dominance has been astonishingly brief on any planetary time scale, the flaring of a match.

Imagine If the NDP Were Running in this Election?

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 2 heures 33 min
When NDP Meant Something More than "Opportunism"
For me, the "old days" of the New Democratic Party were slightly post-Douglas, back when the party was led by firebrands such as David Lewis and Ed Broadbent.  I didn't support the NDP back then.  I was firmly in the camp of Pierre Elliott Trudeau.  However I respected that NDP with something nearing reverence for their enlightened, uncompromising principle.  They were indeed the "Conscience of Parliament."

I had some eye-opening (for me) conversations with Lewis while we endured the endless droning of the party's Convair 440 criss-crossing the country.  The PCs and the Libs had 600 mph jets.  We had an old ex-Scandinavian Airlines - hand-me-down to Great Shakes Airways of Sarnia, Ontario, prop job that guaranteed the flock of journos aboard less than half the local appearances to cover and twice as much time to drink. For that sort of assignment, it was as good as it gets.

At one point Lewis turned to me and said, "I think you're slightly left... slightly left of Attila the Hun."  He said it yet I knew that he knew that I had actually absorbed some of his views. I wasn't remotely as leery of him when I stepped off that twin-engine beater as I had been when I first boarded weeks earlier.

It was a time when, just to survive in politics, the NDP had to be tightly anchored to some powerful social message; what they stood for and all the "red lines" they would never cross for compromise.  The rest would shift along the political spectrum, elbow wrestling for advantage, but you always knew the NDP were rock solid.  If something was wrong, it was wrong.  Damn near Calvinist. For Red Liberals you knew you couldn't quite support them but you knew, deep inside, that you might not shun them always.  You knew there might be that day, when the Right grew so powerful and ominous that you might need the NDP defending a bastion on the Left.

All that starch, that "sand," is now gone.  Everything the true believers once condemned in the Liberals is now their own.  There's no fierceness any more, save perhaps in Mulcair's dead, serial killer eyes or his angry beard.  And that's not the fierceness we saw in Douglas, Lewis or Broadbent, the almost monastic dedication that left none, no matter their political alignment, in the slightest doubt of their sincerity and determination.

It's a bitch for me.  Just when we need the NDP of Douglas, Lewis and Broadbent on the ramparts to repel the assault from the Right, their spirit which crossed generations has been ditched for blatant opportunism.  The party no longer defends principle, it answers market interests not significantly distinguishable from the Libs and the Tories.

As a Green a lot of commenters rail on me for some Beau Geste romantic support of my party.  "Throw in with us," they write, "for we alone can defeat Harper."  What they should but won't say is, "Don't hold out lest our own people realize they're being hustled."

And you are being hustled.  The shameful part of it is that you refuse to open your eyes lest you see it. I can't fault them for taking their lawful prey.  It really is, ultimately, all on us.  We don't have much or any choice that will have the slightest effect on the Conservatives.  We do, however, have a powerful voice and real choice about change within our own parties and yet we've demanded next to nothing from them.

We know why droves of blue and white-collar Canadians become disaffected, leave politics and fail to vote for their interest at the polls.  The parties used to blame these no-show voters as parasites on democracy, free-loaders. They refuse, to this very day, to acknowledge that the disaffection surfaces from their own disinclination to respond to the intense concerns of those people, i.e. young parents suddenly fear-stricken by how little this regime and that parties that would succeed it, will do to safeguard their kids and their grandkids, some of whom might not be conceived until around 2080.

There's a reason why Harper, despite all his abuses of power and his affronts to Canadian democracy, remains competitive and, according to some, likely to prevail in the upcoming election.  In fact there are two reasons.  I call them Mulcair and Trudeau.


What Now? What If the US Senate Scuttles the Iran Nuclear Deal?

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 3 heures 7 min


All 54 Republicans in the US Senate will vote against ratification of the Iran nuclear pact negotiated between Tehran and the P6 nations.  They'll need 13 Democrats to vote with them and the deal is effectively stillborn.  Democratic senator Chuck Schumer could deliver the Republicans the votes they need.

Israeli prime minister Netanyahu has shamelessly lobbied Congress to reject the deal, arguing it leaves Israel in peril.  No surprise there. But what if Netanyahu gets his way and his US minions sabotage the deal?  James Traub from the Center for International Cooperation says failure at this point could wreck relations between Israel and the Democrats for a generation to come.

Netanyahu threw down the gauntlet with the Obama administration a long time ago; perhaps he thinks he has nothing left to lose. But that’s almost certainly not true. If 13 Democrats heed the Israeli siren song and the nuclear deal collapses, only a fantasist can believe that Iran will come back for a new and harsher deal or that the United Nations and the European Union will hang tough on sanctions. Instead, Iranian centrifuges will start spinning once again, while Pakistani scientists carrying nuclear blueprints will make clandestine visits to Saudi Arabia. Netanyahu will then take the game one step further by calling for airstrikes against Iranian facilities. If he succeeds — which I doubt — Americans will never forgive Israel for its role in a catastrophic decision.

Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear that he is perfectly prepared to pay that price. Can Chuck Schumer say the same? I would suggest that his higher obligation would be to protect Israel from its own worst instincts.


Traub believes the relationship between Israel and the Democrats wouldn't survive a veto override.
...if Congress overrides Obama’s veto — thus destroying the signal foreign-policy achievement of his tenure, humiliating the president before the world, and triggering a race for nuclear weapons capacity in Iran and across the Middle East — ...Democrats will blame Netanyahu and Israel. And it won’t just be the American left, which already regards Israel as an occupying power. The fraying relationship between Israel and the Democratic Party will come apart altogether. Pro-Israel Democrats like Hillary Clinton will have to begin calculating how high a price they’re prepared to pay for their continued support.
Consider the geopolitical math. Until recently, critics of the proposed nuclear deal could claim that “our allies in the region” believed that it threatened their security. But last week, the Saudi foreign minister blessed the deal, if rather halfheartedly. The president of the United Arab Emirates and the emir of Kuwait sent congratulatory notes to Iran, though that still falls short of an endorsement. “Our allies” will not continue to lobby against the deal; only Israel will.



A Terrible Barrier, Too Lightly Crossed

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 3 heures 39 min


It's a debate that has gone on for a decade and more largely unnoticed by the public.  It's the ethical debate about robotic killing on the battlefield and just about anywhere else.  Killing by automatons with the human element - conscience, afterthought, humanitarian instinct - removed from the equation.

Now three of the top names in science and technology - Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak and a thousand others - are warning of the outbreak of an artificial intelligence arms race, one that could become unstoppable.


In an open letter published Monday, the group calls for a ban on offensive autonomous weapons.

"If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable, and the end point of this technological trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow," the letter says.

It also warns of a potential black market, which could put AI weaponry in the hands of terrorists, dictators and warlords.


We have been conditioned to accept high-tech, supposedly "bloodless" war delivered via precision guided munitions since George H.W. Bush regaled the West with "shock and awe" warfare during Operation Desert Storm, the one-sided campaign to drive Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait.  Saddam's forces never had a chance. There was no one for them to hit back at. 
Bush Sr.'s quick victory influenced his diminished-capacity son's subsequent adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq which achieved quick military victories followed by quagmire and ultimate defeat.  Foreign Policy's Thomas Ricks let an American general sum up the Pentagon's folly:
Lt. Gen. James Dubik, U.S. Army (retired) writes in the December issue of ARMY magazine that, “America is too focused on winning battles. This is a tactical focus. No one wants to lose battles, but winning them while losing the war is far more odious.”

The fact is that the American military, which truly has "all the king's horses and all the king's men" persistently fails to deliver meaningful results which leads to low intensity wars without and conclusive end that wind up abandoned when the folks at home get fed up and demand their soldiers be brought home.
It's the human factor that ends these wars. People don't want their kids on endless deployment for no apparent good end.  The attraction of substituting automatons for live soldiers is obvious.  You don't have to pay them, or feed them. They don't get pensions or life long medical care. Best of all, when they do kill somebody, chances are no one will ever be held accountable for it because the public probably will never know.
This being the 21st century, we'll probably never have that fundamental debate.  Even truly serious issues these days almost never get any traction and, in the span of a week, whoosh - they're down the memory hole.
Hawking, Musk and Wozniak et al are right, though.  An autonomous weapons arms race is inevitable.  The US Navy is already field testing an autonomous submarine intended to prowl the seas in search of foreign subs and surface warships.  All they're doing is militarizing autonomous underwater vehicle technology that has been in use in the civilian (scientifiec) sector for decades. The USN is expected to go into operational testing of underwater drones before the end of this year.
The vehicles - terrestrial, airborne, submarine - already exist. All that remains is to integrate onboard control systems allowing them to identify, track, target and attack humans.

Police charge alleged cupcake enforcer with assault.

Dammit Janet - il y a 5 heures 17 min



Ottawa police have laid additional charges against a 75-year-old woman who is accused of approaching men and forcing them to eat cupcakes.

Gwen Landbrauchen was initially charged after police investigated several complaints about a woman approaching men during daytime hours in Orleans.

Police said that on July 8 and 9, a woman had approached three different men in incidents around the transit station at Place d'Orleans.

Police said that the woman would offer a cupcake from a Rubbermaid™ container she carried. If the victim refused, she would put the tasty treat against the man's face and threaten to make him eat it for his own good. 

Sometimes she would shout "Lebensmittel!" at them.  If the woman was confronted about her actions by the men she was attempting to feed, she would speak in a foreign language.

According to police, new victims have come forward, prompting additional charges.

Landbrauchen is facing four counts of assault. She appeared briefly in court by video Monday to face new charges.

One of the victims interviewed on condition of anonymity said that, had the cupcake enforcer been a MILF like Catherine Deneuve in a black leather jumpsuit yelling at him in French, he thinks he might have enjoyed the experience.

Since the alleged assailant is a wizened, cranky old lady muttering in German, he didn't like it so much. He added: "I think that it was a just a crummy Loblaws bran muffin with stale icing from a can."

Another victim, also requesting anonymity, said that his colleagues at work taunted him about filing a complaint.

"They kept mocking me, asking why I didn't punch her in the face or shove the cupcake down her throat. I don't engage in violence unless my life is threatened.  But I had to report her to the police. Even if she's someone's granny who's suffering from dementia.  She can't be allowed to force people to eat cupcakes. What if somebody choked on it and died?"


- * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - *

This is the news item that inspired the above spoof.  Think about the misogynist messages that media reinforce when they trivialize unwanted physical or sexual actions directed at women.

If you think that media narratives using half-truths and prejudices don't create and cement false perceptions, read this powerful deconstruction of the NYT coverage of the infamous Kitty Genovese femicide.

Climate Change You'll Be Able to Wade In.

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 5 heures 25 min
There's a term for it, "compound flooding." It describes the perfect storm of flood events when sea level rise is compounded by severe storm events bringing storm surges and heavy rains and it's expected to increase in frequency and severity along the eastern seaboard of North America.

A research paper published in the journal, Nature Climate Change, finds New York City, Boston, Houston, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco are vulnerable to repeated inundation.


“Call it a triple threat,” said Steven Meyers, a scientist at the University of South Florida and one of the authors. “What this shows is that there is an increasing risk of compound flooding, from storm surge and rainfall at the same time.”

About 40% of the US population lives in coastal cities – where flooding in the wake of storms is already proving increasingly costly in built-up areas, swamping subway lines and electricity stations.

But the Nature study was among the first to explore the combined risks under climate change of sea-level rise, heavy rainfall and storm surges over broad stretches of the US coast.


Think of it as climate change you can believe wade in.  Most of you reading this post can expect to live long enough to see sea level rise hammer North America's major coastal cities.  While the report is limited to the United States, there are plenty of problem spots for Canada also.  Vancouver and neighbouring Richmond are in the crosshairs.  Victoria's beautiful waterfront is similarly exposed.  Halifax, Quebec City, Montreal are all vulnerable in low-lying areas.

Here's what the greater Vancouver area would look like with 4 metres of sea level rise.


35 Bill Cosby Accusers Tell Their Stories : New York Magazine

LeDaro - il y a 5 heures 34 min
What a jerk he turned out to be.

He raped these women.He drugged each woman to a state of semi-consciousness and raped her. What a jerk he turned out to be.


Bill Cosby

It May Be Dry Out West, But It's Raining Pork In Alberta

Politics and its Discontents - il y a 7 heures 45 min


Desperate times require desperate measures, and there is definitely a whiff of desperation coming from the Conservative camp these days. With the majority of polls showing their fortunes in decline, it would seem that Pierre Poilievre's giddy and fatuous Christmas in July's bribe stunt was but the opening salvo in preventing voters from falling into apostasy.

Targeting those whose vote can be easily bought may pick up some extra support going into the October election, but the Harper regime still knows that its base is its real strength, and one not to be taken lightly lest some choose not to vote, a real possibility given that their man has proven to have betrayed almost all the principles upon which he had campaigned when first vying for power: Senate reform, transparency, accountability, etc. etc.

Take the regime's efforts during its latest western foray.
In Calgary, Defence Minister Jason Kenney announced that the federal government would be funding Calgary’s light rail transit expansion to the tune of $1.53 billion. Yes … that’s billion.

Kenney, MP for Calgary Southeast, made sure to point out that the money was “the single largest federal infrastructure investment” in the history of Calgary.Disavowing any connection with the impending election, Kenney described the timing as 'coincidental.'
But Kent Hehr the Liberal candidate in Calgary Centre who according to some polls is running well ahead of Conservative MP Joan Crockatt, said the notion that the timing is a coincidence is “absurd” given how long Calgary has been asking for federal support for public transit.But wait! There's more! With citizen tax revenue at their disposal, money is no object:
The Conservatives were also showering money on local community groups. According to The Calgary Herald, qualifying associations had only a month to apply for a funding program that was part of a $46-million Western Diversification initiative.

And even though the money — such as the $45,000 given to the Lake Bonavista Community Association in Calgary for upgrading its suburban facility — won’t arrive until next year, Conservative MPs are busy making the announcements this summer.Lest those who live west of Alberta feel they were not worthy of the Tory touch, there was this moral support to the beleaguered and brave fighters of forest fires:


Infonews reported the following with this headline: Man in blue suit thanks firefighters
For a second straight day, firefighting efforts at the Westside Road fire were the backdrop for political photo ops.

Today, several federal politicians stood around waiting, occasionally wiping dirt from their clothing while sweaty, ash-covered, exhausted-looking firefighters surrounded them for the tightly controlled photo opportunity. Helicopters carrying empty buckets buzzed overhead and a steady stream of wildfire fighting aircraft circled prior to the event.

Provinces fund their own firefighting. It’s not a federal responsibility.

After more than an hour wait, the press conference was over after less than five minutes. The Prime Minister would not take questions about why he was there, how much time the photo opportunity took from firefighters or what resources were used in the photo effort.

A federal election is less than three months away.And it was with withering derision that the satirical site THE LAPINE treated the Harper entourage:



The selected firefighters were so tired and annoyed that they just silently watched Harper as he waved his arms around like a conductor and tried to get them to sing along with him in a rousing chorus of O Canada.

None of the group sang or even hummed along.

And none of them accepted the “Canada’s Better With Harper” t-shirts that the PM’s bodyguards were handing out.Said one fatigued smoke jumper with an honesty that rarely finds its way into print:
“Shit man, we’d all been out there for 12 hours or so and suddenly we’re hauled out, lined up in a parking lot, left standing for an hour, and then expected to sing O Canada so Harper can get a picture?” front-line firefighter Ted McKinley told local radio station AM 1150.

“That’s complete bullshit. Harper just wanted a picture as quickly as he could get one…he still smelled like garlic from whatever he had for lunch,” said the 37-year-old father of two.Yet the man in the blue suit proved indefatigable in his lyrical leanings:
Immediately following receiving the silent treatment from the firefighters, Harper over-compensated for the snub by waving wildly for the cameras and singing ‘The Maple Leaf Forever’ as he boarded a helicopter with Premier Clark to return to Kelowna for a scheduled beach-side fundraiser event.Contemptuous mockery. That is all Harper and his gang deserve until they meet their day of reckoning in October.
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Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - il y a 8 heures 13 min
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz discusses how Greece has been turned into a sacrificial lamb at the altar of austerian economics:
Austerity is largely to blame for Greece’s current depression — a decline of gross domestic product of 25 percent since 2008, an unemployment rate of 25 percent and a youth unemployment rate twice that. But this new program ratchets the pressure up still further: a target of 3.5 percent primary budget surplus by 2018 (up from around 1 percent this year). Now, if the targets are not met, as they almost surely won’t be because of the design of the program itself, additional doses of austerity become automatic. It’s a built-in destabilizer. The high unemployment rate will drive down wages, but the troika does not seem satisfied by the pace of the lowering of Greeks’ standard of living. The third memorandum also demands the “modernization” of collective bargaining, which means weakening unions by replacing industry-level bargaining.
None of this makes sense even from the perspective of the creditors. It’s like a 19th-century debtors’ prison. Just as imprisoned debtors could not make the income to repay, the deepening depression in Greece will make it less and less able to repay....(W)e understand that this is not just an academic debate between the left and the right. Some on the right focus on the political battle: the harsh conditions imposed on the left-wing Syriza government should be a warning to any in Europe about what might happen to them should they push back. Some focus on the economic battle: the opportunity to impose on Greece an economic framework that could not have been adopted any other way.
I believe strongly that the policies being imposed will not work, that they will result in depression without end, unacceptable levels of unemployment and ever growing inequality. But I also believe strongly in democratic processes — that the way to achieve whatever framework one thinks is good for the economy is through persuasion, not compulsion. The force of ideas is so much against what is being inflicted on and demanded of Greece. Austerity is contractionary; inclusive capitalism — the antithesis of what the troika is creating — is the only way to create shared and sustainable prosperity.- Pedro Antunes writes that rather than giving in to the siren song of austerity, Alberta should be taking advantage of an economic downturn to build needed infrastructure when it's more affordable. And Michal Rozworski comments on the need for far more pushback against austerity politics at the federal level.

- Tula Connell follows up on the IMF's findings that unions play an essential role in fighting inequality. And Lydia DePillis discusses the success of the U.S.' labour movement in making the minimum wage into a winning issue - though Jennifer Medina reminds us that better laws ultimately only help to the extent they're obeyed and enforced.

- Roderick Benns interviews Maggie Olscamp about the difference a basic income could have made in her life.

- Finally, Frances Ryan observes that France is outlawing discrimination on the basis of poverty, and asks why that step hasn't been taken elsewhere.

You've Got To Be Kidding

Northern Reflections - il y a 8 heures 48 min
                                                            http://wn.com/

Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau are criss-crossing the country, trying to articulate the central question behind the upcoming election. For Gerry Caplan, the question is simple and straightforward: Can Stephen Harper be trusted with another term in office?

For Caplan,  trust is the bedrock issue:

In a real sense, the entire history of Mr. Harper’s almost 10 years in office has revolved explicitly around trust. Time after time, his government pushed initiatives that were harshly criticized by experts in the field. Each time, we had to ask ourselves: Do I believe what the government is telling me or do I go with the scientists, academics, health experts, constitutional maven and all the other specialists who have attacked so many of the government’s initiatives?
From the perspective of trust, Harper's record shouts back at voters:

The Parliamentary Budget Officer Jean-Denis Frechette reported that the government will run a billion-dollar budget deficit this year, despite explicit assurances from the Prime Minister and Finance Minister Joe Oliver that the budget will be balanced.

What should us poor citizens do in the face of such a disagreement? How can we know what’s true? Since most of us can hardly be experts in all areas of governance, we really have no choice but to accept one side or the other. The answer, as so often in the past nine years, boils down to this: We can only believe the government’s blanket assurances if we disregard the evidence of the experts.
And Harper has nothing but contempt for the evidence of experts:

When the Harper government tells us that certain forms of asbestos are not necessarily toxic, yet virtually all scientists agree that all asbestos kills, there is no middle ground. We need to decide which side has the most credibility. This is not a hard one.
When the overwhelming number of scientists believe climate change is a clear and present danger but our government refuses to take the issue seriously, implicitly denying the scientific findings, whom do we believe? Another no-brainer, I’d say.
When the government actively pursues its law ‘n’ order agenda while Statistics Canada reports that violent crimes in Canada have generally fallen for the eighth straight year, what should we believe about how dangerous our streets are? And why does this issue remain a Harper government priority when the facts tell a different story? Are we talking about ideology and political opportunism, or evidence-based public policy?
Or when a large variety of experts warned against the excesses and dangers of the anti-terrorist bill C-51, while the government turned a completely deaf ear? There was no middle ground: You had to trust either the government or its authoritative critics. Again, not a particularly hard choice.
And the examples multiply still. When the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada publicly disagree, who do we believe? When armed forces veterans and the government bitterly disagree, what do we think? When the Prime Minister insists he had nothing to do with Mike Duffy being paid $90,000 by the PM’s own chief of staff, can we believe Mr. Harper? Wouldn’t that depend on how credible he’s been on other matters?
Can we trust Mr. Harper? You've got to be kidding.

Harper is at the post, and there goes the starter’s pistol!!

Trashy's World - il y a 8 heures 48 min
Lots of speculation in the MSM and social media about when Stevie is going to visit the GG. The conventional wisdom is that he will make the walk (naw, he’ll be driven) sometime in August in order to make a long campaign a reality; a campaign where the CPC can spend, spend, spend their way […]

35 survivors of cosby assaults speak out in new york magazine

we move to canada - il y a 10 heures 14 min
In a powerful show of courage, strength, and feminist solidarity, 35 women (of the 46 total) who have officially accused Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting them share their stories in New York magazine.

Read, watch, listen.

The Day Stephen Harper Lost His Economic Crown

Montreal Simon - il y a 10 heures 33 min


The other day I ran a video of Joe Oliver literally running for cover, so he didn't have to answer questions from reporters about the state of the economy. 

And explain why the Parliamentary Budget Officer says he has a billion dollar DEFICIT instead of a billion dollar SURPLUS as he has been claiming.

And now I'm sorry to report that Oily Joe is STILL running, so is Stephen Harper.

And the Cons are trying their best to make sure they never have to answer that burning question.
Read more »

How Stephen Harper Is Stealthily Changing Canada Into a Theocracy

Montreal Simon - il y a 13 heures 56 min


The other day I wrote about how Stephen Harper is remaking the judiciary in his own ghastly image.

In his never-ending attempt to bend the Supreme Court to his will, and destroy the Charter of Rights.

Well today he took another step by appointing another uber right-wing judge. 
Read more »

On know-nothings

accidentaldeliberations - lun, 07/27/2015 - 16:31
Shorter Lisa Raitt:
Now that I think about it, somebody should probably be responsible for regulating vehicle safety. (aide whispers in ear) Wait, that's me? Why is this the first I've heard of it?

Flora MacDonald: Remembering a Decent Conservative

Montreal Simon - lun, 07/27/2015 - 14:17


I don't believe I've ever written a tribute to a Conservative in this country. For obvious reasons.

But yesterday I retweeted this message from this decent Conservative...



To announce the death of his friend and great Canadian Flora MacDonald. 
Read more »

"No Toronto Olympics" Say 10 People on Twitter

Dammit Janet - lun, 07/27/2015 - 12:32
They did it. Ten people on Twitter got the Boston 2024 Olympic bid pulled.

Olympic officials hate an argy-bargy and the good people of Boston put up a heckuva rumpus.

So, they took their ball and went elsewhere. Probably Los Angeles.

Toronto, chuffed from pulling off a second-rank sporting event -- for which the costs and overruns will not be revealed for months -- at which Canadians won the second-most medals after the US's less-than-star athletes, is again contemplating an bid for the 2024 Olympic Games.

To which we say, NO FUCKING WAY.

A few points to start.

First, it's expensive.
But the Olympics are a much bigger event. This summer, more than 7,000 athletes from 41 delegations travelled to compete in Toronto. That's at least 3,000 athletes and 164 delegations fewer than what London managed during the 2012 Summer Olympics.

The city would need to galvanize public support to spend taxpayer dollars this way. The bid process could run the city between $50 million and $60 million, while a successful bid could cost up to $6.9 billion, according to a 2014 feasibility report.

"They're always looking to open up new markets for the games," says Janice Forsyth, former director of Western University's International Centre for Olympic Studies. That could explain why many recent host cities have never staged the Olympics before.Got that? It costs at least $50 million to buy a lottery ticket to this bunfest and if we win, we get to spend up to $7 BILLION more.

Second, the cost overruns. Since 1976, cost overruns have averaged more than 200%.

This is largely a factor of estimated costs being pulled out of various assholes to begin with.

Next, Toronto already said no thanks. At that committee meeting in January 2014, not one person showed up to support a bid.

Not. One. Person.

What's changed?

Mainly the mayor, who wants the Games, but who is playing it cozy so far saying people would have to be "reasonably interested" for Toronto to bid.

Now this is the really clever bit. If we want to mortgage our city for 30 years, we must act fast. A letter of intent has to go to the IOC by September 15.

Classic huckersism. Buy now! These prices won't last long! Deal of a lifetime!

No.

Let's strangle this notion in its cradle.

I have more to say about the brilliant, hard-working people of Boston, but their advice is: get to the councillors.

Here are their Twitter accounts.

@cllrainslie

@JustinDiCiano

@PamMcConnell28

@MariaAugimeri

@FDiGiorgio12

@mary_margaret32

@Ward18AnaBailao

@DoucetteWard13

@joemihevc

@CouncillorMB

@JohnFilion23

@DenzilMW

@jon_burnside

@PaulaFletcher30

@ron_moeser

@TorontoRobFord

@shelleyCarroll

@Mark_Grimes

@JamesPasternak

@rcho42

@stephenholyday

@gordperks

@JoshColle

@jimkarygiannis

@PeruzzaTO

@CllrCrawford

@norm

@JayeRobinson

@joe_cressy

@m_layton

@vcrisanti

@CncllrChinLee

@Thompson_37

@Janet_Davis

@kristynwongtam

@JoshMatlow

John Campbell, David Shiner, Glenn De Baeremaeker, and Giorgio Mammoliti seem not to have Twitter accounts.

Other contact info here.

On Twitter, use the hashtag #NoTO2024.

Just to forestall any accusations that I'm a Negative Nellie, I want to go on record as in total, ethusiastic support of Matt Elliott's Fakelympics.

Let's get this done.

Quack remedies, economic blood letting & smears from Manitoba Forward director

The Winnipeg RAG Review - lun, 07/27/2015 - 08:30


Top: 2.6 million more Greek children entered
poverty following the recession, according
to 2014 Unicef report. 


Bottom: Dave Shorr full of suggestions
for helping Greek kids.

Image Source: themanews.com (top)


Image Source: Dave Shorr (bottom)
Dave Shorr is best known for his stint as communications assistant to the Manitoba Liberals' ex-leader Jon Gerrard. In that role Shorr honorably served, taking a clearly anti-smoking line from Manitoba NDP MLA Jennifer Howard and twisting it into "seemingly endorsing smoking as a family tradition".
 
Here’s what Shorr wrote to me, with selected — and selective — quotes from Hansard: Shorr: A day after Nancy Allan sent her deputy minister to a high school in Steinbach, to close a shack for teenaged smokers,  Jennifer Howard is reminded of her comments from a house debate in 2008 seemingly endorsing smoking as a family tradition.
[...]
 Shorr again: Howard’s views are at odds with Allan’s efforts (to) reduce teen smoking in Manitoba high schools. Since the NDP have taken power, Manitoba has the highest rates in Canada for teen smoking.

 Shorr: Perhaps most shocking of all is that she seems to be remiss that young adults will never get to  experience smoking in bars.
[...]
 Mr. Shorr, do you think me such an idiot that I would print this without reading Hansard and putting this in context? [emphasis added]

[...]


Let’s see what else Howard had to say in that debate, this time after reading her entire speech. I haven’t quoted it all here, I’ve been selective too. You can read the whole thing here.  Howard, on May 13, 2008: "I would like to talk for a moment about some of the things that we have done and how I think those things have been successful. Certainly, one of those is the ban on smoking in public places. I think it’s hard to overestimate what a tremendous change in culture that has been.  "When I speak now to friends of mine who have kids who are turning 18 and starting to go out to bars for the first time, it strikes me that this generation will never know a smoke-filled bar; that will never be part of their experience. I think that is a tremendously positive change in the culture."  Oh, that’s a little different, isn’t it? "Gerrard's spin doctor blows smoke" Nick Martin, Winnipeg Free Press (January 20, 2011)
 The former Liberal staffer went on to greater things, such as executive directorship of the rightwing lobby group Manitoba Forward. As director Shorr stated Manitoba Forward would bring forth "smart policy solutions". A big part of "smart policy solutions" for the lobby group is enacting stark, hard right economic reforms. So the gentleman and scholar that is Mr. Shorr must have much to say about one of the most high stakes economic case studies in the news: the Greek Crisis.


What learned opinions does economic sage Dave Shorr have? Does he have a solution to the intractable political stalemate or an innovative package of economic reforms to end human misery in Greece.

Well, not really.



Dave Shorr attacks Greek speaking MLA Steve Ashton for daring to side with the Greek
people in their vote choice to reject austerity measures (left), while IMF notes that
austerity won't solve the Greek debt crisis (right). 


Image Sources: Twitter/Dave Shorr (left) and Twitter (right)
It looks like his main takeaway from the economic crisis in Greece was that it represented an opportunity to smear a Manitoba NDP politician ... which Shorr has an impressive track record of. As a matter of fact, smearing the Manitoba NDP seems to be a major reason for Manitoba Forward's existence.

But let's take a step back and look at just what Dave is saying. Celebrating the no victory in the Greek referendum, the rejection of a particular set of austerity policies, is celebrating Greece defaulting on it's debts?! That is a weird reading of the situation, especially since several or so days after these tweets it became apparent that a different (and harsher) austerity package was in store following Greek-EU renegotiations.

Furthermore, what Dave Shorr's bizarre trolling seems to imply is that Nobel Prizewinning economists like Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, who also opposed the austerity package, are "proud of Greeks for defaulting on debt".

Dave Shorr, incidentally, had harsh words for Nobel Laurette Krugman and his "anti-austerity absolutism"
.



Dave Shorr discussion his disregard for Nobel Prize winning economist
Paul Krugman's thoughts on crisis in Greece.


Image Source: Twitter/Dave Shorr/Stephen Gordon


Now, it should be clear that Paul Krugman knows there's a time and place for austerity and that that time and place is not during severe downturns.

“The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity at the Treasury.” So declared John Maynard Keynes in 1937, even as F.D.R. was about to prove him right by trying to balance the budget too soon, sending the United States economy — which had been steadily recovering up to that point — into a severe recession. Slashing government spending in a depressed economy depresses the economy further; austerity should wait until a strong recovery is well under way.

"Keynes Was Right". Paul Krugman. New York Times (December 29, 2011) And ...
Some readers ask whether Keynes believed that the government should always run deficits — and whether I believe that too. The answer is no on both counts.

[..]

 If you go back to the debate over the Bush tax cuts back in 2001, Bush and Greenspan were saying that we needed to reduce revenue to get rid of the surplus; I was furiously opposed to that view, and wanted to maintain a surplus as long as times were good.

[...]

So if you’re a serious Keynesian, you’re for maintaining and even increasing spending when the economy is depressed, even though revenue has plunged; but you’re for fiscal restraint when the economy is booming, even though revenue has increased.  

(Hard Keynesianism. Paul Krugman. New York Times: The Conscience of a Liberal (May 2, 2011)
So Dave Shorr is clueless on the views of a major economist and yet feels entitled to spew out his opinion on the matter. I wonder what other matters Shorr will give ill informed opinions on. Perhaps Manitoba economic policy? 

It cannot be understated how resoundingly expert consensus is against the sham remedy of austerity for Greece. The International Monetary Fund's own research division notes how fool-hearty, counterproductive, job killing and growth destroying austerity against Greece is. Major economists predict austerity will shrink the Greek economy and increase its debt burden. The main folks who seem to actually think austerity policies will do any good is an out to lunch, ordo-monetarist intellectual cult in Germany.

So Dave Shorr has waded into the Greek crisis and seems partial to insane, growth killing and job killing policies. He's also clueless about a major economists view and seems partial to the hard right, economic blood letting that is spending cuts in a deep recession.

One wonders if the brain trust of Manitoba Forward will conclude that cutting and cutting and cutting, even in deeply recessionary periods and even to highly stimulative spending, is an effective way to reduce debt burdens. If the brain trust shares what appear to be the esteemed Mr. Shorr's views, provincial policymakers pay heed to these views and a deep recession hits Canada, Manitoba workers are in for a world of hurt.

Listening to these economic quacks is not worth the risk.
  
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The Sunday Scrum

Politics and its Discontents - lun, 07/27/2015 - 06:53
Harper's moratorium on Senate appointments (the program's start). The likelihood of a federal deficit (10 minute mark). The increased universal child-care benefit (13 minute mark). A possible NDP-Liberal coalition (15 minute mark). Maclean's Magazine's Martin Patriquin and The Chronicle Herald's Dan Leger discuss these issues on yesterday's Sunday Scrum. You can access each topic at the respective time marks indicated above in parentheses.

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