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what i'm reading: indian horse by richard wagamese, a must-read, especially for canadians

we move to canada - il y a 1 heure 6 min
Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese, is a hauntingly beautiful novel about an Ojibway boy's journey into manhood. It was the Readers' Choice winner of the 2013 Canada Reads, CBC Radio's book promotion program. But if you're like me and don't listen to the radio, you may have missed it. Don't miss it. Indian Horse should be widely read - by everyone, but especially by Canadians.

In a slim, spare volume, drawing vivid pictures with very few words, Wagamese brings you into the Ojibway family. They are struggling to hold onto their culture - and indeed, to keep their family physically together, as children are being abducted and forced into the so-called residential schools.

Saul Indian Horse, the hero and narrator of the novel, survives the residential school by finding solace and joy in an unlikely place: hockey. Hockey is an integral part of Indian Horse, and Wagamese has written some of the best description of sport I've read in a novel, seamlessly knitting the poetry of game into the narrative.

It's that seamlessness that makes Indian Horse so special. As the reader journeys through the different times of Saul's life - his original family, the residential school, the rink, a Native hockey team, anti-Native bigotry, and so on - the writing is never didactic, the information is never grafted on. We are always in the flow of the story, reading more with our hearts than our minds.

For non-Canadian wmtc readers, residential schools are a euphemism for the government and church-administered programs that attempted the forced assimilation of Native children. These "schools" are more properly thought of as forced labour and indoctrination camps. They were places of horrific cruelty and abuse. For many Canadians, they have become a symbol of a shameful past that continues to echo into the present. But when something becomes symbolic, in can lose its specific reality. Wagamese brings us into the reality as it was lived.

If you're someone who cringes at the idea of reading about the cruelty to children, I encourage you to read Indian Horse all the more. What you know of residential schools is likely gleaned from news reports, perhaps when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was holding hearings. I strongly encourage you to read a First Nations writer's account. It's stark and honest, without being graphic or sensationalist. It's an important exercise in empathy, in bearing witness. It's an important piece of history.

But I assure you, reading Indian Horse does not feel like reading important history. It's one boy's journey, and it will move you.

Stephen Harper, Vladimir Putin, and the Arctic Follies

Montreal Simon - il y a 3 heures 34 min


I must admit that when I first  heard that Vladimir Putin had replied to Stephen Harper's stirring Arctic Challenge.

The one that went basically like this: "Hey Putin, the Arctic and the North Pole are MINE, and so is Ukraine. And I'm a Great Strong Leader, so THERE. You Nazi !!!"

By calling Harper and his friends Nazis, and threatening to invade the place. 
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#MacKayTees

accidentaldeliberations - dim, 08/31/2014 - 10:58
I won't claim to match Stephen Lautens' collection of #MacKayTees. But I will add a couple to the mix.

First, making using of a picture which fortuitously made its way around the Internets yesterday:


And second, encapsulating conservatism in four small words:

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - dim, 08/31/2014 - 09:02
Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Eric Reguly examines Apple as a prime example of how supposed market successes actually reflect the private capture of public investments - and suggests the public should benefit financially from its investments which facilitate corporate growth:
Apple is such a runaway success that its profits pile up like snowdrifts in the Rockies. At last count, Apple was sitting on $165-billion (U.S.) in cash and securities. That’s more than the GDP of Hungary.

What to do with the windfall?
...
Here’s another idea: Give the surplus cash back to the taxpayer.

It will never happen, but if you believe that the stakeholders who are responsible for Apple’s success should be rewarded, taxpayers would certainly take precedence over the hedgies. Greenlight and its ilk had absolutely nothing to do with Apple’s journey from garage start-up in 1976 to the world’s most valuable tech company. They did not provide any of the capital. Apple has tapped the public markets only once, in 1980, when its initial public offering raised $97-million (U.S.). In fact, taxpayers provided the lion’s share of the funding for many of the key inventions that are built into every Apple device.
...
(W)hat powers the iPad, iPhone and iPod? Lithium-ion batteries developed by the U.S. Department of Energy. How about the devices’ liquid-crystal display? That came from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense. The Internet, GPS, SIRI (the intelligent personal assistant used in Apple's operating system) and DRAM cache did not start life as Jobs’s back-of-the-envelope doodles. They came out of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and other government bodies.

Governments also supplied much of Apple’s brainpower. Thousands of its engineers and technicians have been recruited from the finest U.S. (and Canadian and British) universities. “Operating in the United States, Apple should recognize that the knowledge base on which its success has been built can be traced back to government investments,” said academics William Lazonick, Mariana Mazzucato and Öner Tulum in a 2013 paper titled “Apple’s Changing Business Model: What Should the World’s Richest Company Do with All Those Profits?”

The concept of imposing a special fat-profits tax on a single company is legally absurd and morally dubious, but the concept of imposing taxes on the supernormal profits of companies that benefit the most from government spending (such as those in the technology and defence industries) is not. - Kev points out how employers see even their own employees as disposable tools rather than people worthy of human dignity. And Yvonne Roberts discusses what economy built on that assumption means for far too many workers:
Entrepreneurship is the pulse of a thriving economy but, according to the thinktank the Resolution Foundation, one in four who, like Almond, became self-employed in the last five years would rather work for a boss; their situation is involuntary. As employers use ever more aggressive tactics to reduce labour costs and restrict  collective action, productivity is suffering and patterns of employment initially viewed as temporary are becoming permanent. The gap between the richest and the rest widens. This is not unique to the UK.
...
This story of wage stagflation and the working poor is just as applicable in Britain. Beyond chancellor George Osborne's talk of economic recovery, the stories are legion of families and communities across the whole of Britain who are only just managing to keep afloat.  No matter how often Osborne says it, it doesn't make it true. Large numbers of Britons are not in recovery. The gulf between those getting by and those getting on grows each month.

In the UK, as elsewhere, underemployment, a lack of investment in training and low pay are rife. Forty per cent of part-timers, mainly women, would like longer hours, according to one survey. At the same time, for many on low pay the last several years have seen the cost of living soar as their wage packet has shrunk.
...
 Huge income disparities and increased casualisation of the workforce also means higher costs for the taxpayer subsidising low wages. Research last year by Landman Economics showed that the cost to the exchequer of millions of workers paid less than the living wage – "wage dodging", as the GMB calls it – is £3.23bn a year in social security spending and lower tax receipts. In a paper published last month, academics Dr Lydia Hayes and Professor Tonia Novitz considered how the cake could be sliced more fairly. They say economic inequality was at its lowest when 58% of workers were in trade unions and 82% of wages were set by collective bargaining. By 2012, 26% of the workforce was in trade unions and only 23% covered by collective bargaining, while the gap between top earners and the lowest is higher than at any time since records began.

Among the recommendations Hayes and Novitz make is sectoral bargaining to set terms and conditions across particular industries, and the right for employees to join a union without repercussions. Other proposals from the High Pay Centre include worker representation on company boards, remuneration committees, a maximum pay ratio and a legally binding target for the reduction of inequality.- In a similar vein, Elise Gould and Frances O'Grady make the case for wage growth (and political and economic environments which put workers in a position to demand it) in the U.S. and the U.K. respectively.

- Nicholas Kristof discusses the appalling link between race and wealth inequality in the U.S. Josh Fullan and Josh Lorinc report on a program encouraging Toronto students to see how different their city looks at varying income levels. And the AP reports that 40 per cent of Michigan's households lack enough income to meet basic needs. (Which most of us see as a problem to be solved, with the notable exception of the Fraser Institute which claims that Michigan's anti-worker policies and consequent impoverishment of its citizens make for a goal to be pursued.)

- Finally, Jeffrey Simpson highlights the absurdity of Stephen Harper making yet another publicity tour of Canada's North while refusing to so much as acknowledge climate change which is radically altering the region.

Christy Clark's Liberals sacrifice BC children to protect Christy Clark's Liberals

Rusty Idols - dim, 08/31/2014 - 08:47
School will start late in BC because the BC government wont agree to any deal with its teachers that doesn't give the government immunity from the Supreme Court for any consequences of its failure to bargain in good faith.

This government is sacrificing BC kids on the altar of protecting the BC Liberals from the consequences of their own misdeeds. Their blatant bad faith bargaining is going to end up costing millions of taxpayer dollars once the grievances finish winding through the arbitration process and they don't want to explain that to the voters.

When Fassbender proposed leaving grievances out of bargaining, and allowing the courts to settle the matter, he argued it would allow negotiations to focus on the key issues. Iker, however, dismissed that proposal after Saturday’s talks.
“Does the government really expect that teachers would bargain away everything the B.C. Supreme Court has already awarded us?” he wrote in a release. “And what future decisions might bring?”
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Disposable

Trapped In a Whirlpool - dim, 08/31/2014 - 08:33
As I enjoy this Labour Day weekend I find my self reflecting on why I've become so strongly pro union.
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The Coldest-Ever Cold War?

The Disaffected Lib - dim, 08/31/2014 - 08:31
When I stumbled across a report yesterday about NATO raising a 10,000 strong, standing "expeditionary force" and that Canada was interested in contributing soldiers, I thought, "oh Jeebus, not again."

The exped force is pretty obviously being created to respond to Russia.  That much is clear from its membership.  The countries providing the troops include Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia along with Norway, Denmark and Holland all under the command of Britain.  At the same time, Finland and Sweden are preparing to sign "host" agreements to permit NATO forces to operate in their countries. Finland is expected to join NATO and so too may Sweden, ditching the Swedes' historic neutrality.

This has got to be irresistible to the current management.  A standing army of the northern latitudes.  Air, land and sea units - perfect for an ice-free Arctic.  Let the coldest ever Cold War begin.

CEF(S)
Then again, we have done this sort of deal before.  In the cemetery in Vladivostok are 14 Canadian war graves marking a long-forgotten military blunder Stephen Harper won't be rejoicing in celebrating.  It was called the Canadian Expeditionary Force (Siberia) and it too operated under overall British Command during the Siberian Intervention of 1918-1922.

Canada's 4-thousand troops, almost half of them conscripts, mainly stayed in Vladivostok and spent less than a year before being withdrawn.  Most of our allies - the UK, US, China, Japan, and Czechoslovakia - were gone a year later as it became clear the White Russians were finished.

Canada's first expeditionary force to Russia was something of a flop.  Perhaps the most notable event was a mutiny - on the streets of Victoria.  French-Canadian conscripts didn't quite get why they were being marched off to war in Russia but they were duly herded back into formation at bayonet point and loaded aboard their transport.  The errant soldiers were going to be charged with mutiny until the Canadian brass realized they probably lacked the authority to send conscripts to fight for Russia.



While the CEF(S) cost the lives of 14-Canadian soldiers in Siberia, almost all of them to disease, it claimed over 100 civilian lives in Victoria, B.C.   Research has discovered that the Siberia-bound troop trains brought the Spanish Flu to the west coast.



"humility is the foundation of all learning"

we move to canada - dim, 08/31/2014 - 08:30
My grandmother had always referred to the universe as the Great Mystery.

"What does it mean?" I asked her once.

"It means all things."

"I don't understand."

She took my hand and sat me down on a rock at the water's edge. "We need mystery," she said, "Creator in her wisdom knew this. Mystery fills us with awe and wonder. They are the foundations of humility, and humility, grandson, is the foundation of all learning. So we do not seek to unravel this. We honour it by letting it be that way forever."

Richard Wagamese, Indian Horse (2013)

The Harper Tipping-point, Hope or Fear ?

kirbycairo - dim, 08/31/2014 - 08:23
I tend to agree with Heather Mallick in her recent interesting (and surprisingly forthright) article on why people like Trudeau over Harper. And I agree with what many commentators (and most of the polls) suggest, that we have finally reached the tipping point of Harper's political currency. Outside of conditions of extreme nationalism and social turmoil, it is very difficult for any politician to maintain power and popularity with a political persona of anger, hate, fear, and extreme secretiveness. Harper's zenith was inevitable and we now have a confluence of events which are dragging the Con's political machine ever downward. This confluence consists of typical voter weariness, growing evidence that economic and social inequality is drastically increasing, clear signs that Harper and his cabal are not simply strategic in their negative/secretive political style but that their nastiness is at the very core of their political identity, the rise of a very likeable opponent in the person of Trudeau (and let's face it, regardless of one's political stripes Trudeau is a likeable public persona), ominous signs that an over-emphasis on oil extraction is not only environmentally dangerous but economically short-sighted, and (perhaps most importantly) a slowly percolating mood in the country that we have been sleep-walking through a kind of collective nightmare of a government that is actually trying to destroy the positive aspects of democracy, good-will, hope, and peacefulness, that many once thought defined our country.

But even as we teeter at the tipping-point, there are stormy clouds ahead. For one thing it appears that, in the face of political disaster, Harper is intent of dragging this country further into the dark waters of hate, fear, and violence. Deep inside, I believe that Harper is desperately courting war in any arena, as a strategy to stay in power. In what we might call the Falkland Island gambit, Harper is increasingly ramping up his war rhetoric in every part of his foreign policy and, I believe, really hopes that the nationalism and rhetoric of a war will do for him what the Falkland Islands did for Thatcher.

Another disturbing political development is found in the fact that Harper has created a classic political vacuum around him. Harper has surrounded himself with yes-men, flunkies, and Ministers who he knows cannot pose any kind of national competition to his power. Men like Baird, Kenney, and James Moore, Oliver, and Fantino, are all (for different reasons) probably unelectable as party leaders. Not only is Harper's growing unpopularity potentially fatal political baggage for anyone who was part of his cabinet, I believe that Harper has consciously chosen ministers with their own kinds of political baggage so that they cannot challenge him in the way that, say, Martin did with Chretien. This kind of political vacuum may only be bad news for the Conservative Party, but such vacuums often create political chaos that can engulf entire nations. I would never put it past Harper and his flunkies attempting a coup in the face of an electoral defeat and with nothing but yes-men around him, people whose political careers essentially depend upon Harper himself, there may be no dissenting voices among his own.

Any kind of tipping point creates interesting events. But the curse of living in interesting times is a very real possibility now. The question is will the Harper years end with a bang or a whimper??

Burger King Causes Indigestion

Politics and its Discontents - dim, 08/31/2014 - 07:09


At least among the substantial numbers of Americans who appear to be taking grave exception to the burger emporium's tax dodge by merging with Tim Hortons. While Finance Minister Joe Oliver may crow about the success of our low corporate tax rates, American consumers are not nearly as sanguine about what many see as a corporate betrayal of the United States.

A sampling of the comments on Burger King's Facebook page is instructive of prevailing sentiments:

burger king crowned king of the tax dodgers! boycott!!!!!

As a veteran I encourage you to sponsor a bill that shuts down every single Burger King located on an American military installation in the U.S. And around the world and on other Govt property. I feel only companies that are headquartered in the U.S. Deserve to be able to conduct business on govt facilities. I find it very up unpatriotic that our service members who risk there lives would have these tax dodging companies located on their bases. I am very interested in your position on this matter Senator Nelson.

Say "NO" to tax dodgers!

I will Not eat any Cookies sold by any US Tax Cheats - Burger King will not get my fast food dollars - By not paying your fair share of U.S. tax - you will cost the Middle Class more in federal taxes every year - BoyCott BK!!!!!

And this, my personal favourite:

If the King flees to Canada, let's hope he gets his just deserts. Off with his traitorous tax-dodging head! If corporations are really people, this is a good time to execute one. Boycott the tax dodgers.Recommend this Post

The Petro Goose Is Getting Cooked

Northern Reflections - dim, 08/31/2014 - 06:04

                                                            http://eatocracy.cnn.com/

The oil industry has stopped laying golden eggs. Its profits are being squeezed. That news has not been widely reported. But, Andrew Nikiforuk writes, it has been hiding in plain sight on the U.S. Energy Administration website:

Last July the government agency, which has collected mundane statistics on energy matters for decades, quietly revealed that 127 of the world's largest oil and gas companies are running out of cash.

They are now spending more than they are earning. Profits have lagged as expenditures have risen. Overburdened by debt, these firms are selling assets.

The math is simple. The 127 firms generated $568 billion in cash from their operations during 2013-2014 while their expenses totalled $677 billion. To cover the difference of $110 billion, the energy giants increased their debt load or sold off assets.
The reason for the cash squeeze is that oil is harder to find and harder to get at:

Most companies are now investing in high-cost and high-risk projects to mine difficult hydrocarbons such as bitumen or shale oil, according to Carbon Tracker. Hydraulic fracturing, the land equivalent of ocean bottom trawling, adds to the cost of oil, too.

It's not only the firms deploying fracking that are racking up high debt loads. Chinese state-owned corporations, for example, plopped down $30 billion to develop junk crude in the oilsands over the last decade.
And the oil companies are making these investments as demand for oil is flattening:

But given that oil demand in places like Europe, the United States and Japan is flattening or declining, many analysts don't think that high-carbon, high-risk projects (which all need a $75 to $95 market price for oil to break even) make much economic sense in a carbon-constrained world.
Yet our present government has put all its eggs in the bitumen basket. This is a not government known for its foresight. Mr. Harper gave his full throated support to the American invasion of Iraq. That didn't work out so well. And he also didn't see the 2008 recession around the bend.

Others, however, saw this price squeeze -- and its economic consequences -- coming long ago:

Marion King Hubbert, a Shell geologist, predicted this development decades ago and presented the cultural conundrum clearly: "During the last two centuries we have known nothing but an exponential growth culture, a culture so dependent upon the continuance of exponential growth for its stability that is incapable of reckoning with problems of non-growth."
The petro goose is getting cooked.

Stephen Harper and the Monstrous Climate of Fear

Montreal Simon - dim, 08/31/2014 - 04:02


As the Ukraine crisis continues to escalate, and so does the warlike rhetoric in Europe.

"It is the fact that Russia is in a war state against Ukraine. That means it is in a state of war against a country which would like to be closely integrated with the EU. Practically Russia is in a state of war against Europe."

I'm glad to see that Obama and others in the U.S. are pointing out, that if you want to avoid escalating the situation further, and avoid a potentially catastrophic superpower confrontation.

It's vitally important that you measure your words. 
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things i heard at the library: an occasional series: #16: my least favourite library customers

we move to canada - sam, 08/30/2014 - 17:00
I must preface this post with a happy disclaimer: I love library customers. I love helping them. I love giving them a good feeling about the library. I value great customer service and I love to provide it. At least 90% of our customers are polite and appreciative. Perhaps another 5% are developmentally or socially disabled, and may or may not be conventionally polite. No problem. The other five percent is not a big deal.

Another preface: I am always very patient and polite. Some of you know about an incident when I lost my temper with a customer - with good reason! a dangerously neglected baby! - but I used that experience as a learning opportunity, and I've never come close to doing that again. I've perfected the facial expression and body language that doesn't agree but doesn't challenge: the tight semi-smile, the slight shrug, the noncommittal head-tilt, the raised eyebrows. A kind of "whatever you say, you won't get a rise out of me" kind of face.

So when I tell you these are my least favourite customers, you can be sure of two things: one, they are a very minor part of my job, and two, I keep my feelings well hidden. But I do need to vent!

Least Favourite Customer #1: The Unbeliever

Unbeliever: I'm here to pick up a recreation pass for my father.

L: I'm afraid we don't have recreation passes here. What kind of pass is it, maybe I can help you find the correct place to get it.

Un: No, it is here. The email said I can pick it up at any community centre.

L: I see. This is not a community centre. There is the Recreation & Parks department across the way, but they close at 4:30. [It is now 8:45, 15 minutes before closing.] Can I get the name of the pass so I can check for you?

Un: No! It said any community centre! It said I could pick one up here!

L: I'm sorry, sir, but this is not a community centre. It's a library. We don't have recreation passes here. I'd be happy to--

Un: I am here to pick up a pass! Just give me the pass!

L: Sir, I would be happy to help you if I could. If I had the pass you need, I would certainly give it to you. Could you please tell me--

Un: This! [Pointing frantically at a printed-out email.] This! This!

L: Let me check online and see what I can find. [I Google the name of the pass, find the page immediately, and turn my monitor so Un can see it.] Here is the list of community centres where you can pick up the pass. Do you live nearby? The closest one--

Un: Right here! [Frantically stabbing the screen with his finger.] Right here, it says I can come here! Right here!

L: That's the Burnhamthorpe Recreation Centre. That's on Burnhamthorpe near Dixie.

Un: No, not that, not that! Scroll down! Scroll down!

L: These are all the community centres in Mississauga. It looks like you can pick up that pass at any of those, or at the Recreation and Parks department across the way [I show him where that is], but they do close at 4:30.

Un: [Muttering] Oh. OK. [Walks away.]

[Internal only: Don't you think if I had the pass I would freaking give it to you???]

Least Favourite Customer #2: The Ranter

I saw a Ranter just this morning, moments after we opened for the day.

L: Good morning, how may I help you?

Ranter: I don't have a question, just a general comment. Did you see the article in the paper about the decline of math scores?

L: [External facial composure, noncommittal look and slight shrug. Internal eye-rolling. I recognize a Ranter and I know my goal is to get rid of him as soon as possible. If he baits me into discussion, I'm sunk.]

Ranter: What do you think of that? What do you make of a society that doesn't teach kids the basics? I mean, we have 9, 10, 11 year old kids using calculators, punching buttons! That doesn't teach you anything! No one learns the basics anymore!

L: [Quietly] I wouldn't really know what is taught. [Internal: Why are you telling me this????]

R: Let me ask you, do you have any kids in the school system anymore? [Whole lotta assumptions going on there!]

L: [slightest shrug] I've been seeing stories about declining test scores all my life. I don't put too much stock in it.

R: Right, right. Around here, we have all the Asian families, they send their kids to Kumon, where they drill, drill, drill, and they get the high math scores.

L: [External: smile gone, replaced by slight look of inquiry and waiting] [Internal: Where are we going with this? How loud is this guy going to be, and what will he say about "the Asians"?]

R: Do you see the names of the kids who win the math and science prizes? They're all Asian. You don't see one Canadian kid on that list.

L: [slight smile] Those children are Canadian, too.

R: Yes, of course, of course they are Canadian. But you get my point, right? You know what I'm saying?

L: [tight lipped, nod] I believe I do.

R: All right then.

Ranter is not always racist. But Ranter comes to the desk only to rant, to announce, to declaim.

Should I feel sorry for him because he has no one who will listen and he must resort to Ranting to strangers? Maybe, maybe not. But really, all I think at the time is, Why are you telling me this????


Triage

The Galloping Beaver - sam, 08/30/2014 - 13:38

NATO's New Legion - Is Canada In?

The Disaffected Lib - sam, 08/30/2014 - 12:34
NATO is organizing a 10,000 strong "expeditionary force" with an eye clearly on the Ukraine.

The aim is to create a fully functioning, division-sized force for rapid deployment and regular, frequent exercises. Officials involved in the planning say it will have the capacity to increase significantly in size.

The force will incorporate air and naval units as well as ground troops and will be led by British commanders, with other participating nations contributing a range of specialist troops and units. Countries involved at present include Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway and the Netherlands. Canada has also expressed an interest in taking part.

The Financial Times also reports that Sweden and Finland may soon enter the NATO alliance.
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Banging the War Drum - Washington Post

The Disaffected Lib - sam, 08/30/2014 - 10:59


It was earlier this month that the German financial newspaper, Handelsblatt, warned of the dangerous spread of war fever throughout Europe.  The paper found that Europeans were being "mentally mobilized" for war.

Something eerily similar is happening in America.  In today's Washington Post, columnist Anne Applebaum questions whether the European people today are all that different from the complacent, care free Polish population in the summer of 1939.

Instead of celebrating weddings, they [the Poles] should have dropped everything, mobilized, prepared for total war while it was still possible. And now I have to ask: Should Ukrainians, in the summer of 2014, do the same? Should central Europeans join them?

I realize that this question sounds hysterical, and foolishly apocalyptic, to U.S. or Western European readers. But hear me out, if only because this is a conversation many people in the eastern half of Europe are having right now. In the past few days, Russian troops bearing the flag of a previously unknown country, Novorossiya, have marched across the border of southeastern Ukraine. The Russian Academy of Sciences recently announced it will publish a history of Novorossiya this autumn, presumably tracing its origins back to Catherine the Great. Various maps of Novorossiya are said to be circulating in Moscow. Some include Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk, cities that are still hundreds of miles away from the fighting. Some place Novorossiya along the coast, so that it connects Russia to Crimea and eventually to Transnistria, the Russian-occupied province of Moldova. Even if it starts out as an unrecognized rump state — Abkhazia and South Ossetia, “states” that Russia carved out of Georgia, are the models here — Novorossiya can grow larger over time.

Applebaum foresees not merely a Russian invasion and conquest of Ukraine but outright genocide of the sort visited on Jews by the Nazis.

Russian soldiers will have to create this state — how many of them depends upon how hard Ukraine fights, and who helps them — but eventually Russia will need more than soldiers to hold this territory. Novorossiya will not be stable as long as it is inhabited by Ukrainians who want it to stay Ukrainian. There is a familiar solution to this, too. A few days ago, Alexander Dugin, an extreme nationalist whose views have helped shape those of the Russian president, issued an extraordinarystatement. “Ukraine must be cleansed of idiots,” he wrote — and then called for the “genocide” of the “race of bastards.”

Applebaum even warns of a sinister plot whereby Putin will rain nuclear weapons on Eastern Europe.

...the dissident Russian analyst Andrei Piontkovsky, has recently published an article arguing, along lines that echo Zhirinovsky’s threats, that Putin really is weighing the possibility of limited nuclear strikes — perhaps against one of the Baltic capitals, perhaps a Polish city — to prove that NATO is a hollow, meaningless entity that won’t dare strike back for fear of a greater catastrophe. Indeed, in military exercises in 2009 and 2013, the Russian army openly “practiced” a nuclear attack on Warsaw.Is all of this nothing more than the raving of lunatics? Maybe. And maybe Putin is too weak to do any of this, and maybe it’s just scare tactics, and maybe his oligarchs will stop him. But “Mein Kampf” also seemed hysterical to Western and German audiences in 1933. Stalin’s orders to “liquidate” whole classes and social groups within the Soviet Union would have seemed equally insane to us at the time, if we had been able to hear them.But Stalin kept to his word and carried out the threats, not because he was crazy but because he followed his own logic to its ultimate conclusions with such intense dedication — and because nobody stopped him. Right now, nobody is able to stop Putin, either. So is it hysterical to prepare for total war? Or is it naive not to do so?Wow from conquest to genocide to nuclear war, Applebaum beats that war drum to death.  Hers is a self-fulfilling prophesy.


Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - sam, 08/30/2014 - 09:06
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Gerald Caplan suggests that Rogers and Bell might be ripe for nationalization - though it's also worth pointing out that we don't have to guess what happens when a Crown delivers telecommunications services:
The British Labour Party has begun to make the case that market fundamentalism, or neoliberalism, is not necessarily the best way for society to operate. Specifically, it’s been trying to show that private enterprise is not always superior to public enterprise.

Beginning with Margaret Thatcher, British governments have denuded the UK of almost all public enterprises, from British Airways to the Royal Mail. The Labour Party Opposition wants to remind Brits that some entities actually make more sense under public auspices. Fortunately for them, I am in a position to offer my Labour comrades foolproof evidence for their gambit. Two words: Rogers and Bell.
...
Long ago, when I was co-chairing the federal task force on Canadian Broadcasting, a few creative Canadians advocated that the telecommunications oligopolies be put under public ownership. It made perfect sense and was even arguably the Canadian way, like the CBC. But it was a political non-starter. No government has been prepared to consider it. The Harper government has tried to make easy political points by calling for a another major national player to join the game, as if that would force the existing predators to shape up. It’s a bad joke on us poor suckers.

But maybe it’s not too late for a real solution. Hey, Tom Mulcair: bringing Bell and Rogers and Telus and Shaw under public ownership? Now that’s a cause worth marching for. You’d unite suffering Canadians in their tens of millions from coast to coast to coast, getting them out onto the streets at last. Occupy Rogers! Occupy Bell! Everyone’s mad as hell at these guys, so why do we still have to take it?- The Vancouver Sun is right to highlight the importance of the labour movement in advance of the Labour Day weekend. Meanwhile, B.C.'s provincial government has repeatedly attacked workers with unconstitutional legislation before shifting to a strategy of trying to bankrupt teachers rather than funding a functional education system - which apparently doesn't rate a mention.

- Robyn Benson discusses how the Cons are further restriction workers' access to employment insurance, as well as what unions and workers can do to fight back:
Under restrictive new rules introduced by the Harper government, working people who have paid into the EI fund for years receive no assistance when they find themselves jobless. Sure, they can always appeal, and then wait more than a year for a hearing. There used to be 1,000+ part-time referees to hear their cases: that’s now down to fewer than 70 people, trying to handle a backlog of 10,000 appeals. And after a lengthy delay, more than 80% of claimants lose their appeals anyway. Small wonder, we might think: the new EI appeals tribunal members are Conservative appointees, and several have donated money to the Conservative party.

New EI policies, designed to hurt rather than help; new appeal mechanisms, rigged against claimants; and employee cuts everywhere, made without rhyme or reason across the public service, as the Parliamentary Budget Office has just reported. And those cuts are far from over.

This is obviously a recipe for disaster from an unemployed person’s point of view. But it’s no picnic for our front-line workers in charge of the EI programs, either. All too frequently they get blamed for the bad policies they are required to administer. Yet it is government-created backlogs and delays and tight new rules that are the problem here, even if that very government has pointed the finger at its own employees on occasion to cover up its poor decision-making, and gone after conscientious whistle-blowers who object to being ordered to treat EI claimants unfairly.
...
It’s pretty easy to see how common cause can be made here. This Labour Day, we should re-commit ourselves to forging these natural alliances between ourselves and the general public. We’re in for a challenging few months with the current round of collective bargaining—maybe the toughest period we’ve ever experienced as a union. But we’re not facing this government alone. Countless Canadians have their own reasons to want the Harper government gone, and can’t wait until the federal election next year. Time to join forces, folks. We’re going to need each other.  - Andrew Duffy reports that in the absence of a functional census, Statistics Canada is now looking for alternatives which will involve amalgamating far more information about Canadians through a bevy of government databases in the hope of assembling the information which can no longer be collected directly.

- Meanwhile, Susan Delacourt wonders whether mandatory voting may be the best way to ensure broad public participation in the political decisions which affect us all.

- Finally, Jane Taber and Shawn McCarthy report on the agreement of Canada's premiers as to the outline (PDF) of a national energy strategy. But one point in particular stands out:
A Canadian Energy Strategy should:
...
  • Maintain the highest degree of environmental safeguards and protection, including by addressing climate change, climate resilience and reducing greenhouse gas emissions globally.
Which is to say that even Canada's oil-producing provinces are able to agree that a federal energy strategy should take into account the need for global emission reductions - leaving no justification at all for the Cons' habit of cheerleading for fossil fuels without accounting for the environmental damage done by their use elsewhere.

Stephen Harper, Nobel Peace Prize nominee

Creekside - sam, 08/30/2014 - 07:34

Not content with awarding Stephen Harper their Gold Medallion human rights award and pledging to create a Stephen Harper Centre for Human RightsB’nai Brith Canada announced yesterday they will be nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Frank Dimant from their statement :
“Moral clarity has been lost across much of the world, with terror, hatred and antisemitism filling the void,” said Frank Dimant, CEO, B’nai Brith Canada. “Throughout, there has been one leader which has demonstrated international leadership and a clear understanding of the differences between those who would seek to do evil, and their victims." Yeah, about victims ... one minute of aerial footage of Al-Shejaiya in Gaza



Back to Frank : 
“In accordance with the rules of the Nobel Foundation it gives me great pleasure to nominate in my capacity as Professor of Modern Israel Studies at Canada Christian College, Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the Nobel Peace Prize in honour of the outstanding moral leadership he has demonstrated.”Frank Dimant is a professor at Charles McVety's Canada Christian College because Charles McVety awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2004 at a ceremony attended by Jason Kenney.
Texas millionaire televangelist and Christian Zionist Pastor John Hagee and his Christians United For Israel rents office space from McVety for his Canadian operations at Canada Christian College.

Dimant : "We [Jews] and Israel are not alone because of you and the tremendous leadership of Dr. McVety and Dr. Hagee.” Go on, click that last link.

Three years ago in this Christian College video, Dimant, Jason Kenney (far left), and McVety (behind Dimant) shared the podium as Dimant courted his presumably mostly Christian audience. He praised Harper and the Cons as friends of Israel and called on God to protect Israel from the United Nations "as we await the messianic times which are just around the corner."

In March 2014, in a more intimate setting in a synagogue, Dimant spoke about his relationship to Harper
" I happen to know Mr.Harper from the days he was in the opposition and the truth is we were on first name basis because the Jewish community was not in favor of Conservatives  - at that time they were called the Alliance Party and before that the Reform Party.  The Jewish community was traditionally liberals and the Jewish community was very much onside with the Liberal Party of the day.  When Mr. Harper and before him Mr. Stockwell Day wanted to get their message out to our community, all the doors were closed in their face.  It's very difficult to believe when today you see the world's premier friend of Israel - that when he wanted to speak about his attitude towards Israel, that door was shut. Only one organization at that time - and I was B'nai Brith and our publication The Jewish Tribune - gave them a forum, gave him a platform, gave them an opportunity to say : 'This is how we really stand on Israel; this is where we stand on anti-Semitism; and this is where we stand on the values that we share with you.'  I've had the good fortune in my lifetime to work with many governments.  I've gone to Auschwitz with Prime Minister Chretien,  I've gone to Israel with Art Egglington, I've gone to Israel with Jean Chretien, and I went now with our Prime Minister again. [Note : Harper's visit this past January]  And I saw the difference, saw the difference.  And the difference was that here you had a man like Harper who you can feel - FEEL - the love that he has for the State of Israel, the affection that he feels for the Jewish people. So you may ask why. Why? Good question. Mr. Harper is a religious Christian.  He believes. He believes when it says "Blessed are those who bless the Jewish people."  And he says Canada is blessed because we bless the Jewish people. He really deeply believes that. As does Jason Kenney, as do some of the other ministers - they are religious people. So they feel it."
As to the Nobel Peace Prize nomination, I'm blaming Michael Byers. 
Six weeks ago in The Harper Plan for unilateral Canadian disarmament , Byers suggested that despite all his tough military world stage talk, Harper might be eligible for one because he has "reduced defence spending to just 1% of GDP — the lowest level in Canadian history".  

Yeah, I know - you're still stuck back there at the idea of a Stephen Harper Centre for Human Rights.
.

Time To Revisit The Question Of Mandatory Voting?

Politics and its Discontents - sam, 08/30/2014 - 07:04
In her column today, Susan Delacourt suggests that it is. While my own opposition to mandatory voting, the reasons for which I outlined in an earlier post, remains unchanged, she does offer a rather tantalizing reason for its consideration:

Some of the dumbing-down of discourse, in particular, has taken place because political campaigns have become preoccupied with simply getting out the vote (often with shiny baubles) rather than a debate of ideas.

If it would mean the end of the notorious Conservative 'narrowcasting' to its base, with their repugnant and divisive appeals to the basest instincts of voters, there might indeed be some merit to the concept. I have had my fill of this sort of thing:







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