Posts from our progressive community

The Man Who Would Be King

Northern Reflections - il y a 1 heure 6 min
                                                  http://www.theguardian.com/

Yesterday, the broadcast consortium announced that all the party leaders -- except Stephen Harper -- had agreed to attend a debate in French and a debate in English. Harper, you see, only plays by the rules he makes. And sometimes he breaks those. Think of his fixed election dates.

Such "imperial vanity," Michael Harris writes, may eventually sink Harper:

A politician can get away with a lot — until he starts rubbing the public’s face in his indifference to the rules mere mortals must obey. With Harper, we’re getting pretty close to that point.

So here’s another question: Can Stephen Harper — by the simple act of stamping his foot, taking his bat and going home — derail the national leaders’ debates? Will this decision turn into another yawner, as was the contempt of Parliament finding against Harper, or a step too far for a man infamously averse to playing fair?
The prime minister does not intend to -- you'll excuse the expression -- "reform." His recently announced infrastructure program again shows his obsession with making the rules:

An even more dangerous course of action for a party already known for partisan cheating is the government’s new Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program. A better name would have been the Canada 150 Elect Conservatives Program; the deadlines for tapping into the fund are ridiculously tight, and the Opposition is accusing the government of gerrymandering the program for blatant political gain. The man who might be Canada’s next prime minister, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, didn’t mince words. To him, the program is a “slush fund” underwritten by the public for the benefit of Conservative MPs.
The man who would be king assumes that Canadians will accept anything he does. A better student of history might recall all the kings who were deposed -- starting with mad King George III.

Chicken Harper and the Great Con Debate Scam

Montreal Simon - il y a 2 heures 4 min


Well now it's official. The Con fluffer Kory Teneycke and his chicken leader Stephen Harper really don't want any serious political leader's debates.

They want to hold their own mini-debates, and prevent as many Canadians as possible from watching them.

So they won't take part in any organized by the country's major broadcasters. 

The Conservatives have rebuffed the latest offer from Canada's major broadcasters to host two nationally televised leaders' debates at the height of the federal election campaign. 

Even though only they can deliver a massive audience, and provide French Canadians with the country-wide coverage they deserve.

And the fluffer and failed TV executive Teneycke, couldn't be more brutish.

"We're going to pick the five that we think are going to be the best five, and the consortium didn't make the cut, unfortunately for them," he said. "The prime minister is the prime minister, he's leading in the polls right now, and if the opposition leaders want to debate the prime minister, they know where he is," he said.

Or more ABSURD.

"If they don't, because they're scared, then they won't."

When nobody is more scared to have his ghastly record attacked on TV in front of millions of Canadians, than Chicken Harper himself...



Because he is a Great Chicken Leader, as well as a Great Closet Leader, and this is just the latest example of his ghastly cowardice.

It really is beyond belief what those Cons are doing to our country and our democracy.

But the good news is this latest outrage will only reinforce the impression left by his not to heroic ordeal in that closet.

And he can forget about trying to portray himself as a Great Strong Leader from now on. For nobody will believe him. And we WILL use that against him.

We can ridicule him on social media. We can put up posters in our neighbourhoods, or turn up at his rallies dressed as chickens, or make clucking sounds wherever he goes. 

And if you're up to it, and I am eh?

Even greet him all over the country with a little chicken dance...


Yup. Let's make him pay the price for being such a coward.

Let's brand him as a chicken. Let's embarrass him beyond recognition.

Let's have a little fun, and laugh him out of office...



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Will Stephen Harper Really Get Away With Rewriting History?

Montreal Simon - il y a 3 heures 36 min


It couldn't be a more Orwellian move, or a greater threat to our democracy.

Stephen Harper's outrageous decision to protect the RCMP by rewriting history. 

But this is Harperland, he is drunk with power, he really does believe the truth is what he says it is, and he is out of control.

So it seems there is nothing we can do to stop our Big Brother from bending the law to suit his sinister purposes. 
Read more »

Experimental science

Cathie from Canada - jeu, 05/21/2015 - 22:20
xkcd: Placebo Blocker:

Placebo Blocker



I recall talking to a psychologist once about how people reacted to getting a diagnosis of a life-threatening disease.  So we thought perhaps we could do an experiment where we gave half the group a case of the flu, and the other half a life-threatening disease, and then we could evaluate which group behaved with more nobility and grace.  But this was in the days before ethics boards...

this year's garden-ette

we move to canada - jeu, 05/21/2015 - 16:00

This year's crop: two tomato plants, basil, beans, and strawberries. Beans and strawberries are both new for us. 
I love that we're still planting our little garden, with no thought to expansion, just trying a couple of new things each year. And since we should all be boycotting Driscoll's, we are growing resistance berries. ¡Si, Se Puede!
Plus, bonus Tala, with her favourite Orbee.

why are ontario public school teachers on strike?

we move to canada - jeu, 05/21/2015 - 14:00
Public school teachers in our area are on strike, part of a series of rolling strikes hitting different regions throughout Ontario. If the province doesn't back down before the beginning of the school year in September, we can expect all Ontario public school teachers to strike.

The roots of this struggle stretch back to 2012, when the provincial government stripped teachers of their right to collective bargaining, unilaterally imposed a contract, then repealed the law taking away their union rights.

My partner and I spoke with some striking teachers last week, and this is what they told us.
...Before we went on strike, we weren’t allowed to negotiate. Our contract finished in August of 2014, and before we announced we were going on strike, the Boards actually met with our union for four days. And they were short meetings. Nothing much was accomplished. As soon as we announced that we were going on strike, and we gave our legal notice, they were negotiating every day.

We still didn’t accomplish as much as we had hoped, we are still on very different sides in terms of reaching an agreement, but striking at least brought us to the table and convinced the Board to actually talk with us. That’s a big deal. In 2012, our contract was imposed on us. There was no negotiation, there was no care or thought for what is best for the students, what is best for the teachers. That was under the McGuinty government.

Kathleen Wynne has said she is not going to take those measures, but at the same time, the open communication and negotiation just hasn’t been happening throughout the year. So our Peel OSSTF felt that this was the only way to actually move forward. And it has been positive in terms of bringing out our issues, and getting bargaining days.

There are also lots local issues that we are concerned about. Things like the amount of support for our special ed students. Control over the school day – right now, the board is proposing that principals have the authority to dictate every minute of the teacher’s day, what they do during their prep periods, what they do after school. That’s really hard for teachers. We’ve always worked really hard to provide the best that we can for our students, giving help during lunch, giving help after school, managing our own days around the students' needs. To have that taken away, or to have that even questioned - that we’re not using our time effectively - it’s really hurtful.

[What would they impose on you?]

It could be mandatory professional days. It could be something like, 'Everyone who has fourth period lunch today, you’re going to the library and you’re going to learn about some new assessment policy that we want to put into place.' And so now teachers don’t have time to prep their lessons, to do their marking, to do all the stuff they need to do to be good teachers. So many of us are involved in so many voluntary things throughout the school. We’re coaching teams, we’re running clubs, we’re sitting on committees for assessment evaluation or safe-school policy. We’re doing so much in our time that we need to have it available to us. And we need the respect that we can make our own decisions with our time. We need to feel that we’re valued and respected and I don’t think that message is coming across in the negotiations right now.

[What other issues are there, such class size?]

Class size is a provincial issue. We have two-tiered bargaining. We bargain on the provincial level with three parties - the government, the School Board of Ontario, and OSSTF provincial board. So the three of them are bargaining some major issues – pay, class sizes, the bigger issues that affect everyone. The local unions bargain issues that are local to teachers in our constituency - which for us is Peel Region, meaning Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon.

Teachers in Durham Region are individually bargaining with their own School Board for the issues that affect the Durham schools. Things like how many periods are given for special ed. Teachers are released from teaching in the class room so that they can monitor and support special ed students. how many Educational Assistants are assigned to schools with special needs students. These are things that are decided locally.

So right now we are at an impasse at a provincial level. There are big discrepancies in terms of pay, the salary grid, the amount of time it takes to reach the maximum salary for teachers, when movements up the pay grade happen.

[Where does class size fit in?]

The province sets the standard. Right now for academic high school classes, it’s 30 students – and for applied level/college level students, it’s 18 students, which is more manageable in terms of the number of people, bodies in the class room, but in terms of the trying to be a great teacher and reach students and support them, even 18 special needs students is a challenge.

So what’s on the table now is to remove that guideline altogether and make it open to the needs of the school, as determined by the principal. That means a principal could say, this class now meets in the cafeteria, period 1, and there are 200 students in it.

That’s an extreme example and I hope it would never come to that, but there are no rules, no guidelines. They want the rule to be removed. And maybe the rule is removed this year and then slowly, slowly, the numbers just creep up.

Right now high school teachers teach three periods a day and then they can have up to half a period each day of extra duties, such as covering the lunch room or the hallways during a lunch period, or covering another teacher’s class; if another teacher is away, they might cover half of that class. So teachers would be actively teaching 3½ periods a day. And that’s the same for occasional teachers; supply [i.e. substitute] teachers would do the same.

The government is suggesting making occasional teachers teach four periods a day, so they would teach the entire day, their only break would be at lunch. And as you can imagine, as an occasional teacher or supply teacher, it’s a stressful day, you’re on the ball, you’re on those kids, you’re not sitting back at your desk while they work quietly, that doesn’t work. It wouldn’t work for a group of adults. You’re engaging them, you’re encouraging them, you’re sitting with them and working with them, so to do that for the whole day straight without a break... It’s unfair to suggest this change. But again, that’s a provincial issue that’s being negotiated at the provincial table. We’re striking in response to local issues and our right to bargain.

Our bosses do not respect the front line staff anymore. It seems like everyone is replaceable. The only thing that matters is the bottom line. It’s not efficient. You’re not going to work hard if you don’t feel respected. Morale becomes low, and then people really start just phoning it in because they are not respected. And ninety percent of teachers get into this because they really love the job. We do so much on our own time, and they just want to push it so we do more and more.From another striking teacher:
We’ve been without a contract since August 2014 – and that contract wasn't negotiated fairly, it was imposed on us. It was passed by government legislation against our approval and despite our objections. That’s no way to negotiate any sort of agreement.

There are issues dealing with class sizes. They want to remove the cap on class size. There have been numerous studies proving that an increase in overall class size has resulted in a direct loss of quality of education. Students in large classes get much less one-to-one time, much less progressive assessment throughout the year. And as a result, they’re not getting the quality standard of education that they and parents expect.

In addition to that, the government wants to pass legislation regarding prep time. What teachers can do with prep time. They are trying to set it up so that administrators can assign duties to teachers during prep time, duties which may have nothing to do with their course or their lessons or may not even have anything to do with teaching.

[So when are you supposed to do your prep time then?]

Well, that’s it. That time is time we need. We’re not just sitting around doing nothing. We’re marking, we’re doing lesson plans, we’re preparing activities, we’re even meeting students for one-to-one assistance, for extra help that they may need.

So again, this results in a loss of quality for the students’ education and for their individual lessons. As a result, they are getting a watered down quality, with lowered expectation, for their education. And we have a real serious problem with that.

WARNING! Underground Fetuses! Call Before You Dig!

Dammit Janet - jeu, 05/21/2015 - 13:33
Flags warning of possible underground fetuses are popping up all over.
If you drive along Springfield Road today, you may notice a swath of blue and pink flags along the side of the road.

The 10,000 flags are a silent protest by the Kelowna Right to Life Society, to ask for an abortion law in Canada.

Each one of the pink and blue flags is meant to represent 10 unborn children, matching the group's estimate of 100,000 abortions each year in Canada.This amused me. I googled and found that underground fetus flags can be had for as little as 29¢ each, which means that the Dominionist astroturf gang, We Need a Law, deems each tragically lost blob of tissue to be worth 2.9¢ as a publicity stunt.

Because, really, fluorescent pink and blue plastic underground gasline markers are just so evocative of abortion, aren't they?

A spokesperson eloquently explains the subtle symbolism of it all.
“We are doing this to show to our community just how massive the numbers [though we were too cheap to show the much larger number we pulled out of our asses] really are,” says event organizer Marietta Egan.

“Although our political leaders claim that abortion should be safe, legal and rare, these flags show that it is happening an astonishing 100,000 times every year in Canada.”
(Fetus freaks really need to work on assembling words in an order that resembles logic. Actually, all those flags show is that a bunch of people in Kelowna really need a hobby.)

On Twitter, I asked what this image makes people think of.


And soon we got a winner!

@fernhilldammit Memorial for all morans who refused to "call before they dig"/blew selves up real good http://t.co/CpyuSm1Usd

— k'in (@k_in_) May 21, 2015

So, all is not a stupid waste of time lost. The field of underground fetus flags reminds us to Call Before You Dig!

Or, who knows what might happen, eh?



Previous reports on dangerous underground fetuses.

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - jeu, 05/21/2015 - 09:08
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Heather Stewart writes about the OECD's study showing the connection between increasingly precarious work and worsening inequality. 

- Tara Deschamps reports on a few of the challenges facing poor Torontonians, while Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Laurie Monsebraaten cover the United Way's report card showing that most workers are now stuck in precarious work. And Star offers a few policy suggestions to improve that situation, while Ella Bedard points out how Andrew Cash is pushing for solutions at the federal level.

- Edward Keenan writes that it's long past time to stop relying on charity to ensure that basic needs are met. Cara Feinberg discusses (PDF) the effect of scarcity in limiting individual capacity to achieve goals of any kind. And David Wheeler takes a look at the growing movement for a basic income:
Those skeptical of basic income might ask: If you give people enough to live on, won’t they stop working? Won’t they get lazy? Evidence from pilot studies by Guy Standing, a professor of development studies at the University of London and a co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network, points the other way.“When people stop working out of fear, they become more productive,” Standing says.

Karl Widerquist, a leader of the worldwide basic income movement, applauds Santens’ project, but says the goal of the movement is not to create privately financed basic income. “We need a publicly financed basic income for everyone; private charities can’t—and shouldn’t have to—do that,” says Widerquist, a philosophy professor at SFS-Qatar, Georgetown University, and the author of several books and papers about basic income. Widerquist also organized the most recent North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress in New York in March. “The point of a private basic income is to show how well it works, draw attention to the issue, and further the movement for a truly universal basic income,” Widerquist says.- Meanwhile, the Guardian reports on the IMF's study showing that the fossil fuel sector is subsidized to the tune of $5.3 trillion each year - offering a strong indication that there's plenty of money available to fund a basic income if governments were more interested in citizens than resource extraction. But Nelson Bennett highlights how Christy Clark is determined to lock in long-term subsidies to the gas sector no matter how thoroughly the public might want to change direction.

- Finally, Martin Regg Cohn writes that the Ontario Libs' Hydro One selloff represents little more than an utter failure of leadership, as Kathleen Wynne is willing to harm her province in the long term to avoid making the case for better revenue sources while in office. And Brent Patterson rightly slams the Cons for trying to force First Nations to privatize their water services

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - jeu, 05/21/2015 - 08:44
Here, expanding on this post about the new challenges the Cons are facing heading into this fall's election.

For further reading...
- Geoffrey Stevens offers his own take on the Cons' weaknesses.
- Meanwhile, Nik Nanos (as reported by Theophilos Argitis) focuses on the possibility of vote splitting working to the Cons' benefit. But that analysis seems to miss the point that no amount of vote-splitting between two competitors can get the Cons into majority territory if their own support levels remain stuck in the low 30s.
- And on a more interesting note, Robin Sears wonders whether the leader's tour model of campaign coverage will soon be a thing of the past - which might offer some reason to expect different influences to affect election results. But it doesn't seem that either the parties or the media are headed for a drastically different model this time out - nor is it clear that a shift would do anything but play to the strengths of more popular leaders.

Canadians Would Be Indeed Foolish To Shrug Their Shoulders At This News

Politics and its Discontents - jeu, 05/21/2015 - 07:38
Given the invasive and likely unconstitutional provisions of Bill C-51, and the prime minster's general contempt for democracy and privacy issues, Canadians would be beyond naive to believe that the Harper regime would not use this against us:
Canada and its spying partners exploited weaknesses in one of the world's most popular mobile browsers and planned to hack into smartphones via links to Google and Samsung app stores, a top secret document obtained by CBC News shows.

You can read the full story here.Recommend this Post

Always Rigging The Game

Northern Reflections - jeu, 05/21/2015 - 05:19
                                                  http://www.opednews.com/

From the beginning, everything Stephen Harper has done has had one objective: to rig the game in his favour. His latest foray is his attempt to legislatively re-write history. Steve Sullivan writes:

So far, Harper has limited himself to offending democracy and the law. Now he’s re-writing history. Buried in his government’s latest omnibus budget bill is an amendment to the Access to Information Act which denies people the opportunity to make access to information requests for data from the defunct long gun registry.

Big deal, right? The data was destroyed months ago, when the Harper government repealed it. But this amendment is backdated to the day the government introduced the bill to kill the registry — not the day the bill became law. It also would protect the RCMP and other government officials from any lawsuits or prosecutions linked to the destruction of the registry data — retroactively.

Time and again, Harper has sought to place himself above the law. And, time and again, the Supreme Court has told him the the law takes precedent over his wishes:

Stephen Harper is not a good loser — and he’s been losing a lot lately. The Supreme Court justices barely gave themselves time for a bathroom break last week before they came back and shot down the government’s argument that Omar Khadr deserved more time in a federal penitentiary — the third humiliating court defeat for the government on the Khadr file, if anyone’s counting.
But, if he can re-write the law on the gun registry, why not re-write the law on Khadr?

Will Harper amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act to say that all teenagers who went to Afghanistan in 2005 and killed a U.S. soldier cannot be sentenced, even in another country, as a young offender? Could he amend his Life Means Life Act — which is not even close to being law yet — to retroactively apply to anyone named Omar Ahmed Khadr so he can never be released from prison unless Stephen Harper personally says it’s okay?
Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault recently pointed out that had the Martin government taken Harper's tack, there would have been no investigation of Adscam and no Gomery Commission:

Legault herself speculated about what the Liberals could have done a decade ago in order to eliminate the threat of the sponsorship scandal, had they been in a position to do what Harper is doing right now. “Because this could have been done, you know, to erase the authority of the auditor general in 2005 when she was investigating the sponsorship scandal,” she said.
So the man who rode to power on the sponsorship scandal is trying to make certain that Paul Martin's fate is not his own.

It's always about rigging the game.


Will the Con's Porky Behaviour Cost Them the Next Election?

Montreal Simon - jeu, 05/21/2015 - 03:07


As you probably know Stephen Harper's Cons have been in a feverish, grunting frenzy recently.

Running wildly all over the country,  spewing our tax dollars out of every orifice, in a blatant attempt to bribe voters, and try to buy the next election.

But although Canadians have seen this disgusting spectacle before, in the lead-up to an election it looks even worse.

And as John Ivison points out, this porky act just might cost Stephen Harper the next election. 
Read more »

Jason Kenney, Stephen Harper, and the Absurd Chicken Hawk Cons

Montreal Simon - jeu, 05/21/2015 - 00:29


In retrospect it could only be called a triumph of bad timing. For there was Jason Kenney at the Canadian Club in Toronto, puffing out his chest like a chicken hawk, and claiming that the Great War in Iraq was going according to plan.

Despite the setback in Ramadi. 

The seizure of Ramadi by ISIS is a regrettable setback, Defence Minister Jason Kenney says, but no indication that coalition forces are losing the battle in Iraq against the militant organization.

"Just imagine if we weren't there, how much more territory they would have claimed," Kenney told reporters following a speech to the Canadian Club of Toronto

Even as the Syrian city of Palmyra was falling to the ISIS crazies.
Read more »

Walmart's Shameless Anti-Union Propaganda

Politics and its Discontents - mer, 05/20/2015 - 11:24


This epitomizes why I don't shop at Walmart. A training film was released yesterday showing the shameless propaganda the corporate giant uses to discourage those entertaining the seditious thought of starting a union drive at one of their stores. Originally located on You Tube, the video has been taken down, but another site offers it. Since I cannot embed the video on my blog, you will have to click on this link to view it.

Here are a few of the highlights:
"The thing I remember most about the union is, that they took dues money out of my paycheck before I ever saw it... just like taxes."

"I don't think Walmart associates should have to have someone to speak for them. It's just not that kind of place."

"We also know that most union members shop in our stores and clubs nationwide. I talk to them all the time and I hear them complain about their jobs and their union representatives."

"I'll tell ya, every job has its ups and downs...and a union can't change that.”

"In today's world, your signature means a lot. To be honest, I don't like handing my signature over to anyone... much less to unions who seem to be spending so much time trying to hurt my company."
Walmart's low tactics are something to think about the next time you are tempted by their 'low' prices.






Recommend this Post

Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - mer, 05/20/2015 - 07:17
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Toby Sanger takes a look at Canada's balance sheets and finds that both households and governments are piling up debt while the corporate sector hoards cash:
(A)ll the recent handwringing over rising household and debt levels ignores one critical point: any one person’s financial liability is someone else's financial asset. Across all the sectors in the economy (households, corporations, governments and non-residents) in the national balance sheet, net borrowing and lending all balance out to zero.

The rising income share of the top one percent has been startling (and also echoed in increasing imbalances in debt and wealth by income and generation) the shift in net borrowing and lending between the household and corporate sector is just as dramatic, and reflect almost perfect mirror images of each other.

For decades until the mid-1990s, Canadian households were net lenders to corporations and to governments. Since then, with low wage increases and rising house prices, households have increasingly gone into financial debt, borrowing an additional $706 billion since 1997 -- an increase in net borrowing to the tune of about $50,000 per household. Meanwhile, with high profits, low taxes and low rates of investment, Canadian corporations have built up ever larger surpluses. They’ve become net lenders to the tune of $730 billion since 1997, with non-financial corporations accumulating $675 billion in cash.

...
The solution is clear: we need to rebalance our national balance sheet. The imbalance in our national balance sheet won’t be fixed until corporations are pushed to do something with their surpluses: invest in the economy, distribute to shareholders and/or pay workers more. If they don't, our governments should increase corporate taxes and used the increased revenues to invest in the economy, improve public services and reduce the financial pressures households are dealing with -- and help alleviate our real debt problem.- Meanwhile, Neal Irwin points out that Wall Street's return to gross excess as usual since it crashed the global economy in 2008 demonstrates that we can't trust businesses to even notice the public interest. Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks question why Canada offers special tax breaks to the wealthy few who enjoy stock options. And Ezra Klein highlights Paul Krugman's theory as to how CEOs are claiming ever-larger salaries while denying gains to anybody else.

- At the same time, BBC reports on the large number of employers failing to offer living wages in Scotland. Sara Mojtehedzadeh comments on the bizarre set of exemptions and loopholes in Ontario employment standards. And while there's some good news in CBC's report about temporary foreign workers being granted a reprieve while testifying against employers who have threatened them with deportation, it's obviously a problem that the threat was plausible in the first place.

- Michael Harris discusses how Stephen Harper's debate cowardice reflects his general unwillingness to answer for his actions. And in a similar vein, Glen McGregor crunches the numbers on Harper's fear of question period in the House of Commons.

- Finally, Ian Welsh offers a useful strategy for activists who want to make sure that their values and ideas are reflected in our broader political choices.

One Or Two Loose Screws

Northern Reflections - mer, 05/20/2015 - 05:52
                                                 http://www.examiner.com/

Public Safety Minister Stephen Blaney announced that the Harper government will show "zero tolerance" for groups advocating a boycott of Israel as a protest  against that government's treatment of Palestinians. Those who now openly criticize Israel include former president Jimmy Carter and Pope Francis. And their criticism is based on recent events. Murray Dobbins writes:

Indeed, during the recent Israeli election, Netanyahu declared towards the end of the campaign that there would never be a Palestinian state so long as he was prime minister. For most observers, this was at once shocking and simply a statement of what Netanyahu had always made clear by his actions: his continued building of settlements throughout the West Bank, his refusal to consider (even in negotiations) East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, his stunningly brutal bombing of Gaza and his repeated insults directed at U.S. President Barack Obama regarding Israel's responsibilities in reaching a peace settlement.
Netanyahu's new Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked -- who, incidentally, does not possess a law degree -- recently declared on Facebook:

"What's so horrifying about understanding that the entire Palestinian people is the enemy? … in wars the enemy is usually an entire people, including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure." In the same post she declared war on Palestinian mothers: "They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there."  Under Article 3 of the UN's Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, this kind of statement ("Direct and public incitement to commit genocide") is listed as an act that is "punishable" under the Convention.

Clearly, there are some loose screws in Netanyahu's cabinet.  But Harper's threat to punish people like Carter and the Pope -- as well as his obsessive pursuit of Omar Khadr -- suggest that there are one or two loose screws banging around in the heads of the Harper cabinet.


More On Government Muzzling

Politics and its Discontents - mer, 05/20/2015 - 05:36


Yesterday, I posted a video of recently retired Fisheries and Oceans Canada biologist Steve Campana speaking about the sad state of morale within bureaucratic ranks. The Harper regime's obsession with control and secrecy means that government scientists are forbidden to speak about their research without going through a labyrinthine series of communications protocols that often still result in denial of permission to speak to 'outsiders,' i.e., the public.

Here is how one government scientist responded to the post, anonymously:
I speak as a government scientist who knows of what Dr. Campana speaks. The squeeze comes from a couple of directions - benign budgetary neglect and active silencing. The budgetary issues are shared by most other government departments:

- attrition of critical personnel as scientific staff are lost to the private sector or retirement and are rarely if ever replaced,

- the similar loss of administrative staff and the downloading of their jobs onto scientific and technical personnel (it is shameful how much time some of us spend doing travel requests and administration)

- loss of program funding which results in decreased opportunity for data collection or equipment purchases

- loss of critical infrastructure - technical library closures, loss of oceanographic vessels, etc...

- loss of travel budgets that have essentially cut many scientists out of the conference loop. This might seem to the outsider like a perk, and in some ways it is, however conferences provide more opportunities to begin important collaborations than any other way I know.

As for the communications issues, I think Dr. Campana summed it up perfectly. As employees, we are generally allowed to publish scientific journals (with some restrictions to more sensitive projects, I presume), but we are basically not allowed to ever speak with the media, even on the most benign of subjects. This has been brought about by the establishment of the Orwellian-named "Communication" branches within each department whose jobs seem to be the restriction of communication at all costs, and through the establishment of a hush-hush environment that is established from the top down. Also, local regional directors are more and more frequently hired outside of their areas of expertise, as if management is a thing in and of itself and knowledge of the department being managed is of secondary importance.

I could go on, but you probably get the point.Meanwhile, yesterday on Power and Politics, Biologist Katie Gibbs, founder of Evidence for Democracy, addressed the issue with Power and Politics' Evan Solomon:


Finally, today's Star weighs in with a hard-hitting editorial on the issue, observing how this government repression has not gone unnoticed both domestically and internationally:
In the past couple of years the New York Times, Nature magazine, the Guardian and The Economist have all written critical articles pleading for our scientists to be set free.

Federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault is investigating complaints that federal scientists have been muzzled by the government.

A survey from Environics Research last year found that 91 per cent of government scientists feel they cannot share their expertise with the media without facing censure from their bosses.Our democracy continues to wither; it will take collective concern and strong electoral action from the wider public to reverse this sad state of affairs.Recommend this Post

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