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accidentaldeliberations - 3 hours 6 min ago
Black Box - Everybody Everybody

Stephen Harper's Sinister Plan to Suppress Our Freedoms

Montreal Simon - 4 hours 8 min ago


I knew Stephen Harper wouldn't waste any time exploiting the senseless tragedy on Parliament Hill.

I knew he'd strike when many people were still in shock, emotions were still raw, the MSM in Ottawa was still making it sound like it was Canada's 911. 

And he could still scare some Canadians into believing that our country, and its values, were under attack.

And that only he can save us... 
Read more »

Keep Calm and Carry On, Canada

The Disaffected Lib - 7 hours 47 min ago
Harvard prof Stephen Walt says Canada's MPs are delusional if they think doubling down on counterterrorism will make the country one bit safer.  In a Foreign Policy op-ed, "Keep Calm and Carry On, Stephen Harper", Dr. Walt sums up our situation succinctly: "the blowback powerful states experience needs to be understood as part of the price they pay for an active, interventionist foreign policy."

This basic reality also undercuts the illusion that the United States and its allies could run an ambitious but cost-free foreign policy: that it could use military force to shape the internal politics of various foreign countries without suffering any real harm. After 9/11, Americans were told they were attacked because terrorists "hate our freedoms," as if the history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East had nothing whatsoever to do with al Qaeda's motivations.

Given the related assumption that foreign intervention will be welcomed by the entire local population of whichever country we happen to be bombing, we still tend to be shocked when some local elements rebel or when sympathizers elsewhere rally to our opponents' banner and try to enact some form of revenge. We shouldn't be surprised at all: No state can attack or occupy another country without pissing off a lot of people, even if the disaffected remain a minority. And a few of those people will try to hit us back here at home. Most who try will fail, either because they are incompetent or unlucky, or because our law enforcement and intelligence agencies work pretty well. But as the Ottawa attack reminds us, a handful of our opponents will occasionally succeed. 

...Even when the loss of life or damage is small -- thankfully -- each new terrorist incident tends to magnify public concern and is used to justify increasingly stringent counterterrorism measures.

...Whenever there is some kind of terrorist incident (including failed plots), politicians seem compelled to enact more extensive surveillance regimes and promise more assertive efforts to go after the bad guys, in order to show that they can't be cowed. But unlike security measures enacted during conventional wars, which are normally lifted once the war is over, the various measures imposed since 9/11 remain firmly in place, even after years go by without another incident. Over time, these measures keep ratcheting up, because every now and then another incident will occur and whoever is then in power will feel they have to "do something," too. It also reinforces the rhetoric of terrorismthat increasingly dominates our public discourse and makes it harder to develop a coherent set of strategic priorities.


If Prime Minister Harper wanted to show real leadership and do his fellow citizens a real favor, therefore, he would have begun by simultaneously mourning the dead soldier's sacrifice and by putting that loss in perspective. It is perfectly OK to say that Canada "won't be intimidated," but he should have gone on to explain why. The real reason is that the actual threat Canada faces is far too small to intimidate a wealthy, powerful, and cohesive country. The occasional isolated gunman (or even a whole flock of them) isn't a truly mortal threat to the overwhelming majority of Canadians.If Harper cares to be more than just an opportunistic politician, he might ask himself if following America's lead in the Middle East was such a smart idea. The six F-18 aircraft that Canada has assigned to the war on the Islamic State (IS) aren't going to tip the balance in that fight; the challenge we face isn't a shortage of tactical aircraft.Canada's contribution is a purely symbolic gesture of alliance solidarity rather than a meaningful military contribution, and it is far from obvious that bombing IS militants is the right approach to defeating them anyway. No matter how awful we think this movement is, killing more Muslims just plays into the extremists' narrative about Western violence and oppression. It may actually strengthen their political appeal. If you want to defeat extremism over the longer term, you need to defeat and discredit their ideas. Needless to say, F-18s are not designed for that particular job.If Prime Minister Harper is genuinely interested in helping make Canada more secure, a bit of reflection on the efficacy of Canada's response is in order. The issue isn't about whether our leaders are being "intimidated"; it is simply about the efficacy of their reflexive response. A responsible leader ought to consider whether intervening in the turbulent and far-reaching convulsions now roiling the Arab and Islamic world is going to improve that situation -- and make his or her fellow citizens safer. Or is military intervention likely to make those convulsions worse and increase the very slight risk that his or her country now faces?Unfortunately, sensible considerations such as these tend to get lost in the patriotic bluster that typically follows violent and dramatic events, and the overly muscular responses that we're already seeing in Ottawa make it more likely they will happen again.

It isn't "terrorism", its mental illness

Cathie from Canada - 9 hours 21 min ago
What Canada should always remember about Wednesday was the courage of our politicians -- hearing a fusillade of gunfire right outside their meeting room, they armed themselves with flagpoles and prepared to defend Parliament and their colleagues against what they must have believed at the time to be an invading force.
But to me, it inflates the importance and significance of Wednesday's attack in Ottawa to continue to call it "terrorism" or even "micro-terrorism".
It actually appears to be an almost-random outburst by a mentally ill man.
While Michael Zehaf-Bibeau may well have thought of himself as an "ISIS terrorist", the attack he made was apparently not planned out in any particular fashion nor was it pointed towards any real goal -- according to the Globe and Mail, he first shot an unarmed soldier who was out in the open, standing still, then he ran crazily down the street, hijacked a car, drove to the Centre Block, and ran inside the Parliament Building. If he was thinking to shoot up the caucus meetings or kill politicians, he didn't even seem to know exactly where they were, apparently running right past the caucus meeting rooms before he was shot down.
Even if he was wearing a ghutra, this doesn't make it terrorism; its mental illness.
Rather than worrying too much about terrorism in Canada, we would do better to make sure a person this delusional doesn't have access to a rifle.
Oh, wait...
As Montreal Simon says about both this attack and the running down of two soldiers in Quebec:
For the day we allow some deranged gunman, or some ISIS wannabe from small town Quebec, or just two pathetic losers like these...To scare us, and change our Canadian way of life, is the day we lose our last shred of self respect.
It's the day the crazies WIN.

Ottawa City Council candidates worth voting for!

Trashy's World - 10 hours 16 min ago
I have already endorsed some of these candidates in past posts, but being that it is only a few days till E Day, I thought I’d go over some of them again. Jean Cloutier will be a fine representative for Alta Vista on Council. Jean and I have worked together at the Canterbury Community Association for […]

1984 Has Come and Gone . . . .

Moved to Vancouver - 10 hours 22 min ago
or has it ? ? ? ?

A Divided World that Pits Fact Against Fantasy

The Disaffected Lib - 12 hours 3 min ago
It's the battle line between conservatives and everyone else.  It's incredibly divisive and it is powerfully corrosive of social cohesion.  It's a war to control the national narrative between those who embrace fact and those who prefer fiction.

Pew Research set out to find what’s behind what it considers the increasing political polarization of the United States; why the country is moving away from political moderation and becoming more and more divided between liberals and conservatives. Its first report on the phenomenon, which examines where people are hearing news and opinion in both regular and social media, shows that this is happening for very different reasons among people moving to the right than for people moving to the left.Or that’s the charitable way to put it. The less charitable way is to say Pew discovered that conservatives are consuming a right-wing media full of lies and misinformation, whereas liberals are more interested in media that puts facts before ideology. It’s very much not a “both sides do it” situation. Conservatives are becoming more conservative because of propaganda, whereas liberals are becoming more liberal while staying very much checked into reality....Enter right-wing media, which has a nifty trick of convincing audiences it’s the other guys who are the liars, all while actually being much less trustworthy in reality. From conservative screaming about the “media elite” to Fox News’s old slogan “Fair and Balanced,” conservative media is rife with the message that everyone is out to get you, conservative viewer, and only in the warm blanket of right-wing propaganda will you be safe....Pew researchers gave respondents a list of 36 popular media sources and asked how much they trusted each one. Some were liberal, like The Daily Show or ThinkProgress. Some were conservative, like Rush Limbaugh or Fox News. Most of them are fairly straightforward news organizations with no overt political agenda, like NPR, various network news, CNN, and the New York Times.The findings were astounding. Out of the 36 news sources, consistent liberals trusted 28, a mix of liberal and mainstream news sources. Mostly, liberal respondents generally agreed, holding out a little more skepticism for overtly ideological sources like Daily Kos or ThinkProgress, but not actually distrusting them, either. The only news sources liberals didn’t trust, generally, are overtly right-wing ones, such as Fox News, the Blaze, Breitbart, or Rush Limbaugh’s show.Conservatives, on the other hand, saw betrayers and liars around every corner. Consistent conservatives distrusted a whopping 24 out of 36 outlets and mostly conservative respondents distrusted 15 and were skeptical of quite a few more. The hostility wasn’t just to well-known liberal sources like MSNBC. Strong conservatives hated all the network news, CNN, NPR, and the major national outlets, except the Wall Street Journal.  Respondents who are mostly conservative fared better, but were still hostile to the New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as skeptical of mainstream organizations like CBS and NBC News.The fact that conservatives are this paranoid should be alarming enough, but it becomes even more frightening when you consider who conservatives do trust in the media. Consistent conservatives only trusted 8 media sources–compared to the 28 liberals trusted–and of the eight, only one has anything approaching respectable reporting or reliable information. And that one, the Wall Street Journal, has good straight reporting but has an op-ed page that is a train wreck of right-wing distortions and misinformation. Most conservative people were a little more open-minded, trusting USA Today and ABC News, but still were supportive of openly distorting sources like Fox News or the Drudge Report.Once a media source is liberated from fact-based reality, it defaults from news to a more proprietary and lucrative product - messaging.  This is the stock in trade of today's corporate media in Canada and elsewhere.  It is a plague on democracy, societal ebola, for nothing benefits the corporate state more than a divided, and hence weakened, public.  We have to dismantle the corporate media cartel.  This begins by recognizing that concentration of ownership and excessive media cross-ownership are antithetical to healthy democracy.  The only solution is forced divestiture in order to return the mass media to the broadest possible ownership and the broadest possible range of opinion from across the political spectrum.  We're coming into very dangerous times that demand a well-informed public capable of making very tough decisions.

Another Glimmer of Hope, This Time From the European Union.

The Disaffected Lib - 12 hours 43 min ago


Whilst I, by looking on praise of them,see riot and dishonourstain the brow of my own country.
Sincere apologies to William Shakespeare and Kings Henry IV and V.
Just days after learning that coal consumption seems to be declining in China, the European Union has announced agreement on emissions reductions that will put Harperland to ever more shame.
The agreement calls for emissions cuts of 40% from 1990 levels by 2030 but also targets increases of 27% in both renewable energy and energy efficiency by that same date.
It's good news if it actually happens.  The Poles, for example, love their coal. While it has to be taken as good news, nobody can tell if it'll be even remotely good enough. Yet that doesn't really matter.  The EU is taking the lead and that challenges every other nation to respond in kind.  Canada won't, we know that. Ours is a parliament packed with petro-pols on both sides of the aisle.  It will take a collapse of world oil prices and divestment of high-carbon fossil fuel investments before Canada ever does the right thing.

An Unlikely War Pits the Pentagon Against the GOP

The Disaffected Lib - 13 hours 6 min ago

Over the past decade, America's military has raised the climate change threat level until today it stands at a screaming, howlin' red.  The Pentagon's position inflicts a certain degree of cognitive dissonance on those worshipers of military muscle, the Republican Party.

The Pentagon says there's a shit storm looming.  The GOP responds, ignore it. The Republicans control the House of Representatives where, in May, they amended "the annual National Defense Authorization Act forbidding the Defense Department from spending money on any climate-related initiatives, including planning programs."


The Republican congressmen contended they merely wanted to maximize America's military might by preventing funds from being diverted to a "politically motivated agenda."  

Pentagon planners have sounded alarms about their climate concerns for at least a decade. In 2004, Fortune reported the existence of a secret document that warned climate change could push powers such as China, India, and Pakistan into nuclear war over fresh water supplies. Until now the military has been relatively quiet about its climate concerns, partly “because the Department of Defense gets its money from Congress, and we know where the House is on this issue,” says David Titley, a retired rear admiral and member of CNA’s military advisory board. Hagel’s personal involvement in releasing the 2014 road map suggests the Pentagon has decided it can’t wait any longer.

Not all Republicans are as wedded to climate-change denial as their public statements suggest, according to retired military officials and Republican Hill staff. “If you talk with them privately, without any media around, the vast majority of congressional Republicans know perfectly well that climate change is real,” Titley says. “But they won’t say so publicly because they don’t want to end up like Bob Inglis.”Inglis, a Republican, represented South Carolina’s 4th congressional district for six terms, amassing a perfect voting record in the eyes of the National Rifle Association and other conservative groups. In 2010, a Tea Party challenger ousted him after seizing on what Inglis has half-jokingly referred to in the press as his “heresy”: insisting that climate change is real. He’s now executive director of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, a nonprofit based at George Mason University that advocates a free-market approach to addressing climate change. “A lot of people on Capitol Hill are down in their foxholes” on the climate issue, Inglis says. “They’re afraid of getting their heads blown off if they head up the hill.”Hagel's cadre of retired general and admirals are moving to outflank the GOP recalcitrants, travelling around America to take the message of the danger their country faces from climate change directly to the public and officials at state and local levels.

Will the Opposition Capitulate to Harper's Police State?

The Disaffected Lib - 13 hours 47 min ago

Steve Harper is taking a page, maybe a chapter, out of Dick Cheney's neocon playbook to exploit a couple of relatively minor incidents to plunge Canada into a deeper form of surveillance state.

A report in Foreign Policy magazine warns that Canada - the Canadian public, you and me - could be headed for NSA-style surveillance sooner than anyone imagined.

When Harper proclaimed that Canadians would not be intimidated by this week's killings he was lying through his teeth.  He's counting on Canadians being fearful and intimidated enough to let him shred our rights and freedoms in the name of national security.

The measures that Harper wants enacted aren't strictly targeting terrorists, domestic and foreign.  They're multi-purpose powers that could as easily be used by the unscrupulous against opponents and dissenters.

You need to ask yourself whether you want these powers vested in Stephen Harper.  You've only had 8+ years to observe how deceitful, manipulative, how secretive this lowlife can be and is.  You know that he rejects all notions of accountability and transparency, the bait he used to lure voters into trusting him to govern.  This is a man less principled than any we've had in Sussex Drive.  He even considers himself and his government above the law, a law unto himself.


"This may be just the start of souped-up spy legislation, not the finish," said Colin Freeze, a reporter with the Globe and Mail who has written extensively about Canada's shadowy signals intelligence agency, the Communications Security Establishment Canada, which is the counterpart to the American NSA.

...But in light of the shooting, as well as another attack this week in which a suspected Islamic radical drove his car into two Canadian soldiers, killing one, the proposals look to fall on more receptive ears in parliament. The members who may soon be voting on expanding the powers were among those hiding in their offices as the gunman ran through the halls of Canada's lawmaking body.

As the Globe's reporter, Freeze, puts it, this may be just the start of Harper's designs.  He'd like nothing better than to roll Canada back to the days of 9/11 and reinstate the panic-fueled measures, including secret trials, that we succumbed to back then.  The tragic killings of this week may be Harper's Reichstag Fire.

Unless our opposition MPs drag themselves out from under their desks, unlock their office doors and stand up for Canada on this one, you have very little to hope for from Ottawa.  If they roll over now chances are they'll roll over the next time Harper comes knocking, demanding new powers.

It's time that progressive Canadians listen to Elizabeth May.




Aftermath

Dawg's Blawg - 14 hours 10 min ago
This past week, there have been two lethal attacks on Canadian soldiers right here at home, the two perpetrators are dead, and we’re drowning in words. The shootings in Ottawa, taking place as they did in areas so familiar to... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

Verdict on the Bowman Victory

The Winnipeg RAG Review - 14 hours 46 min ago
Outcomes of a Bowman mayoralty remain
uncertain.

Image Source: DraemsTime
Brian Bowman, in many ways an old school Chamber of Commerce conservative, won a landslide victory in the Winnipeg Mayoral Election. Winnipeg City Council has taken a less conservative turn, with quite a few wildcards and unknowns, on the new council.
One of Bowman's major campaign planks was to create, in effect, a two-tiered pension system to the detriment of new (generally young) city workers. This is a troubling development when it comes to fairness and seeing how council responds to any Bowman pension plans will be important.

The new mayor, however, ran a Tory platform much redder than Steeve's with many bold urbanist promises, such as completing all legs of the Bus Rapid Transit system by 2030. These are important initiatives for the future of our city and I hope the mayor can work together with city council to bring these much needed public investments forward.

Overall, however, I am cautiously pessimistic about the prospects for Winnipeg over the next 4 years. Only time will tell whether the urbanist or the Chamber conservative side dominates Bowman's term as he faces our city's big challenges.

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Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - 16 hours 16 min ago
Assorted content to end your week.

- Paul Krugman writes that the ultra-wealthy's contempt for anybody short of their own class is becoming more and more explicit around the globe - even when it comes to basic rights like the ability to vote:
It’s always good when leaders tell the truth, especially if that wasn’t their intention. So we should be grateful to Leung Chun-ying, the Beijing-backed leader of Hong Kong, for blurting out the real reason pro-democracy demonstrators can’t get what they want: With open voting, “You would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month. Then you would end up with that kind of politics and policies” — policies, presumably, that would make the rich less rich and provide more aid to those with lower incomes.
...
(T)he political right has always been uncomfortable with democracy. No matter how well conservatives do in elections, no matter how thoroughly free-market ideology dominates discourse, there is always an undercurrent of fear that the great unwashed will vote in left-wingers who will tax the rich, hand out largess to the poor, and destroy the economy.
...
(T)hese strategies for protecting plutocrats from the mob are indirect and imperfect. The obvious answer is Mr. Leung’s: Don’t let the bottom half, or maybe even the bottom 90 percent, vote.

And now you understand why there’s so much furor on the right over the alleged but actually almost nonexistent problem of voter fraud, and so much support for voter ID laws that make it hard for the poor and even the working class to cast ballots. American politicians don’t dare say outright that only the wealthy should have political rights — at least not yet. But if you follow the currents of thought now prevalent on the political right to their logical conclusion, that’s where you end up.- Meanwhile, Heather Digby Parton discusses the latest in Republican anti-voting hysteria. And Don Davies points out that a free trade agreement with Honduras represents yet another blow for business against democratic governance and human rights.

- But on the bright side, Poverty Costs highlights the fact that Saskatchewan has finally (if belatedly) joined its provincial counterparts in announcing an outline of a poverty reduction plan.

- Finally, Andrew Coyne notes that this week's tragic shootings in Ottawa resulted in a brief moment of the type of measured political discussion we should expect more often. But Thomas Walkom and Linda McQuaig are rightly concerned about the Cons' easily-anticipated pivot toward fomenting panic for their own partisan gain. And Alison reminds us just how many important causes figure to fall within the Cons' selective definition of dissent to be suppressed.

And Thus It Begins

Politics and its Discontents - 16 hours 50 min ago
One of the misgivings I expressed in yesterday's post seems to be a little closer to reality today.

The National Post headline reads:

Conservatives mulling legislation making it illegal to condone terrorist acts online.

Says John Ivison,
The Conservatives are understood to be considering new legislation that would make it an offence to condone terrorist acts online.

There is frustration in government, and among law enforcement agencies, that the authorities can’t detain or arrest people who express sympathy for atrocities committed overseas and who may pose a threat to public safety, one Conservative MP said. “Do we need new offences? If so which?”

Sources suggest the government is likely to bring in new hate speech legislation that would make it illegal to claim terrorist acts are justified online.

The Prime Minister told the House of Commons on Thursday that Canada’s law and policing powers need to be strengthened in the areas of surveillance, detention and arrest. He said work is already under way to provide law enforcement agencies with “additional tools” and that work will now be expedited.
Hopefully, even the naive and guileless will want to ask themselves, after reading the article, if it is wise to let government decide what constitutes unacceptable speech?

I assume no further comment on my part is needed.

Recommend this Post

On opportunism

accidentaldeliberations - 17 hours 40 min ago
Shorter Harper Cons:
In our language, the word for "crisis" is the same as the word for "opportunity to trash civil rights".

The Day Stephen Harper Was Forced to Hide in a Closet

Montreal Simon - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 23:18


It was a remarkable scene in the House of Commons. Stephen Harper hugging Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau. 

And I must admit I was impressed, because I've never seen Harper look so human.

But then there's nothing like having to cower in a broom closet, while the Con caucus prepares to defend you with spears.

Stephen Harper spent about 15 minutes hidden in a Parliament Hill closet after a gunman stormed Centre Block where he and the rest of the Conservative caucus were guarded by MPs who’d fashioned sharp spears from flagpoles, sources say.

To make a Great Warrior Leader more humble...
Read more »

Some Much-Needed Perspective

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 16:31


Although this will probably get lost in the jingoistic rhetoric sure to follow yesterday's tragedy, this story from the Vancouver Sun is well-worth reading:
"His behaviour was not normal," said David Ali, vice-president of the Masjid Al-Salaam mosque, adding Zehaf-Bibeau used to trip the mosque's fire alarms by trying to enter through the wrong doors. "We try to be open to everyone. But people on drugs don't behave normally."
Recommend this Post

Hornets and guns

Creekside - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 14:43

I used to argue that however unattractive their other attributes, and some of these other attributes are exceedingly unattractive, the conservative libertarian right has an important sentry watchdog role to play in our society that benefits the rest of us - their eyes constantly scanning the distant horizon for any sign of the slightest infringement on what it pleases them to call their rights. 
Lately I've come to realize that to many of them, those precious rights are just gun rights. They really really like their guns. Guns in a good way, guns in a bad way - doesn't much matter - they get really excited about guns either way. 
Liberty minus the guns - not so much. Guns instead of liberty is pretty much ok with them as long as the people taking it away have even bigger guns and don't touch their guns. It's a fetish.

One afternoon on my deck in the sunshine, some neighbours were having a beer and the conversation turned to security vs freedom because we were about to get our first police detachment on the island.
"We don't need police," said one young guy, "if something goes wrong we handle it ourselves. Whoever is best suited to deal with it at the time deals with it."
I nodded.
"Okay," responded another to my nod. "Supposing a really big guy with a really big gun walks into your house and says 'I live here now'  - what are you going to do about it?"
"I'll run out into the street and yell a really big guy has taken over my house," I said.

This is where we are now. Harper walked into our House in the winter of 2005/6 and, with the added twist of assistance from our national police in the middle of an election, he has taken it over. He lives there now and we don't. Somehow we don't run out into the street much over it.

This is also the position the Mideast found itself in after WWI when western powers divided up the Arab world into nation states and installed tyrants beholden to their interests to run them. When people ran out into the streets three decades later to protest it, we crushed them.  We're still doing it and now we're dealing with the blowback..

On Monday, a fucked up Canadian with mental health issues waited around for two hours for his chance to run over two Canadian soldiers with a car, killing Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.
On Tuesday Canada sent six C-18 Hornets to bomb Iraq.
Yesterday another fucked up Canadian with mental health issues and a long gun shot and killed a Canadian soldier, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, at the war memorial in Ottawa before somehow breaching House security and being shot in turn himself by the sergeant-at-arms. One guy with a gun shot another guy with a gun. Are these three events in any way related? We don't know yet but ...

Minus the CBC, whose coverage was mostly admirable, a lot of the media predictably played along with ramping up the terror meme to laughable extremes. 






They're happy now because they will be in charge of managing a magical news cycle combining their love of gun stories with assuring Canadians of the absolute necessity of predictable further clawing back of our civil liberties. Now is never the time ...

Steve is already talking about cracking down on terror threats and a new act with increased police surveillance powers - powers that will undoubtedly be used on Canadians with :
“grievances – real or perceived – revolving around the promotion of various causes such as animal rights, white supremacy, environmentalism and anti-capitalism.”Or as the RCMP put it in 2010 when they included First Nations in that grouping :
"grievances based upon notions/expectations regarding the environment, animal rights, First nations' resource-based grievances, gender/racial equality, and distribution of wealth etc."Harper says Canada will not be intimidated by the actions of this week. Neither should we stand for being intimidated by the actions of the guy who took over our House.

Trapped in a Whirlpool : Now is not the time ...

Disaffected Lib : It's what fascists do.

Politics and its Discontents : Something we should all keep in mind.
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