Posts from our progressive community

Did Targetting Town for Refusing Anti-Choice Ad Result in Defunding Fake Clinic?

Dammit Janet - 4 min 42 sec ago
Oh, dear. The town of Hinton, Alberta, is having some troubles.

We reported on the funding of its fake clinic, doing business as West YellowHead Pregnancy Care Centre, back in November 2014.

The Hinton fake clinic was getting dough not only from from the Alberta Lottery Fund, but also from the town's photo radar scam, which turns traffic ticket fees into "community grants."

The fake clinic was doing pretty nicely with annual revenues of over $100K, which is not bad considering the population of Hinton is under 10,000. By contrast, the fake clinic in Medicine Hat, with a population six times that of Hinton, scrapes by on about $60K a year.

HInton's fake clinic has received nearly $30K in the last three years from the photo radar scam.

But not this year. They applied for $17K and were turned down (PDF, page 9) in April.

And Hinton has other troubles. Like several other small centres, it is being sued by the fetal gore porn gang, aka Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform (CCBR), over its refusal to run said fetal gore on its buses.

Here's a story mainly about Grande Prairie, AB on the stunt.
A pro-life group is suing the City of Grande Prairie because it feels its rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms were violated.The story mentions that Hinton is also being targetted by CCBR.

"The city's [Grande Prairie] position on this is that we really don't want to take a position. We don't want to be involved in this debate. We don't think it's appropriate for the city to really take a side," said city lawyer Robert McVey*.Nope. Nothing to do with us. We're completely neutral on the topic.

Well, maybe Grande Prairie can say that but Hinton's record of handing out significant amounts of dough to a fake clinic says otherwise. Maybe that's why the fetal gore gang picked them out?

Let's look at the dates. In January, the town reported that it is reviewing its transit ad policy (PDF, page 2), citing this as the reason.
The Town is currently being challenged by an outside agency that has had their request to advertise on our transit bus, refused by the Town. Having a policy in place will help to avoid being in a similar situation with other groups in the future.In April, the town declines the fake clinic's request for dough.

Hmmm. Is it trying to distance itself from its own fetus freaks? Trying to position itself -- like Grande Prairie -- as having no, none, nada, zip dog in this race?

Sadly, the fake clinic seemed to be counting on that dough. It is now downsizing.
The West Yellowhead Pregnancy Care Centre in Hinton is going to look a lot different as of next month.

Starting June 15, the facility will only operate as a satellite centre. According to a press release, there will be one volunteer counsellor at the centre which clients can access by appointment only.

The centre is downsizing due to a “significant decrease in funding and change in client numbers” the press release reads.Boo-hoo.

But consider: did the fetal gore gang's aggressive move have the unintended consequence of forcing the town to distance itself from the fake clinic, and thus cutting off desperately needed funding?

Rather delicious, isn't it?

* Sidebar for those who are interested in arguments around this so-called free speech issue.

In June, LieShite reported on the situation in Grande Prairie.
In court this week, however, the northern Alberta city’s lawyers argued that the ad constituted “hate propaganda.” Stated the city’s brief: “The ad with its graphic images and strong language effectively equates women who have had abortions with murderers. Such a pointed accusation is not only legally incorrect, it exposes such women to hatred.”

Further into the brief, the city goes further, contending the ad was not intended, as CCBR contended, to educate the public about abortion but “was actually designed to promote hatred against an identifiable class.” The city called the CCBR’s position, based on the use of words such as “slaughter” and “evil” on its website, an “extreme religious” viewpoint.Hate propaganda. Targetting an identifiable group. What we've been saying.

If you agree and haven't yet, please sign the anti-gore e-petition. It needs only 500 signatures to be presented to Parliament and now stands at 3872, but more would be better. We blogged about the petition here.

h/t to Kathy Dawson, (@blueskies366) for critical links. Also eagle eye. :)

Pathetic Political Posturing

Politics and its Discontents - 1 hour 49 min ago
Yesterday, I posted about the outrageous pillaging of our groundwater made possible by a government that seems oblivious to anything but its corporate clientele. It is a sad situation which I and many others have known about for a long time; it is the same knowledge that Premier Wynne has long been in possession of, since it is the system of permits her government grants that makes this kind of aquatic depredation possible. Yet to hear her political posturing, it is almost as if it is a revelation to her:
There is a difference between taking water for agricultural or industrial use and taking it to sell bottled water, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Wednesday. Some of the conditions of the permits for bottled water use are outdated, she said.

"There's the issue of the quantity of water that's taken, there's the issue of the cost of that water," Wynne said.Actually, that is not the issue for a lot of people, Ms. Wynne. The real issue, which you are studiously ignoring, is why your government issues such permits in the first place, given that it is yet another sop to your corporate friends and, as the saying goes, a licence to print money.
Environmental group Wellington Water Watchers is urging Ontario not to renew a permit for Nestle Waters in Aberfoyle, Ont., that expired on July 31. It's upset that the company has been allowed to keep extracting water from a local well in the midst of a severe drought in the province.

A water-taking permit remains in force if a renewal application is made at least 90 days before it expires.Wynne continued with her pathetic political posturing:
"Thirty years ago, we wouldn't have envisioned an industry that took water and put it in plastic bottles so that people could carry it around," Wynne said.

"I mean, we didn't drink water from plastic bottles 30 years ago. We turned on the tap and the fact is our tap water in Ontario is among the best in the world."If you have the stomach for it, you can watch the following news report that only underscores the political prostitution taking place at Queen's Park.

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Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - 2 hours 46 min ago
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Owen Jones discusses the UK's experience with privatized rail as yet another example of how vital services become more costly and worse-run when put in corporate hands.

- Sean McElwee highlights still more research showing that right-wing government tends to fail even on its own terms, with Republican governments producing less economic growth than Democratic ones. But PressProgress offers one answer to McElwee's question as to why people believe otherwise by pointing to the complete lack of media pushback against the Fraser Institute's usual pattern of anti-tax misdirection.

- Hardian Mertins-Kirkwood comments on a Russian oligarch's extraction of over a billion dollars from an impoverished Venezuela (with the help of a Canadian trade agreement) as just the latest example as to how "free trade" serves mostly to enrich the wealthy at everybody else's expense. Cory Doctorow notes that real-world experience strongly supports Thomas Piketty's argument that extreme wealth tends primarily to be self-perpetuating, rather than arising or growing out of personal merit. And Ben Popken writes about EpiPen price-gouging as the latest - and perhaps the most egregious - example of rent-seeking by the pharmaceutical sector at the expense of public health.

- Eric Holthaus observes that some of the feared long-term effects of climate change are already materializing. And Elizabeth McSheffrey points out that Husky's post-spill spin campaign looks to be just the latest example of the oil industry trying to cover up the direct consequences of its choices.

- Finally, Rank and File points out the need for Ontario to move past Harris-era attacks on workers.

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - 3 hours 2 min ago
Here (via PressReader), on how Brad Wall is preaching neglect and delay as a response to violent racism (even as he's fully prepared to use as much political capital as he can muster pitching the idea of a SaskTel selloff).

For further reading...
- Wall's comments which try to minimize Saskatchewan's racism are here. And Donna Harpauer's statement of the Saskatchewan Party's plan to do nothing is here.
- Statistics Canada's latest information on the proportion of aboriginal people by province is here, while its fact sheet on aboriginal people in Saskatchewan is here. And the social indicators in the article are drawn from here and here (on incarceration rates), here (on child poverty), and here (on unemployment).
- For those looking for more direct evidence as to attitudes toward indigenous people rather than their consequences, Environics' polling confirms that Saskatchewan has the most negative perceptions of relations between aboriginal people and other Canadians as well as the highest proportion of respondents blaming aboriginal people for inequality.
- Brenda MacDougall argues for an honest discussion of racism in Saskatchewan, while the Star-Phoenix reports on some of the aboriginal leaders pointing out we can't sweep discrimination and prejudice under the rug.
- And finally, I'll point again to Nancy Macdonald's review of the gross disparities in race and power in Saskatchewan.

The TFW Program

Northern Reflections - 4 hours 25 min ago

The Liberals have vowed to reform the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. John McCallum is making noises about developing a pathway to citizenship for them. But the program is a minefield because it was developed as a sop to business. Its raison d'etre was to keep labour costs low across the country. Tom Walkom writes:

The problem the Trudeau government faces is that the temporary foreign workers program in any guise is a low-wage strategy.
When businesses say they can’t find qualified labour what they usually mean is that they can’t find anyone at the wage they are willing — or able — to pay.
Appearing before the Commons human resources committee this spring, representatives of the meat packing industry said they must bring in foreign workers because native-born Canadians just aren’t interested in such tough jobs.
What they didn’t dwell on was the fact that native-born Canadians are quite willing to work in other tough manual jobs — such as the oil rigs — that pay more.
Christopher Smillie of the Canadian Building Trades Unions put the problem succinctly. “If employers can’t entice Canadians to take certain jobs (they should) raise wages,” he told the committee.
After all, that is supposed to be how the free market operates. But the Conservatives -- who proclaimed their faith in free markets -- never really believed in them. What the Liberals believe is not entirely clear. And it's not entirely clear what they will do:
At one level, their problem is a practical one. Even if they are opposed to using temporary migration as a wage suppressant, they live in a world where this is the norm. That’s why, in an attempt to pander to East Coast fish plants, they lifted the ceiling this year on the number of temporary foreign workers seasonal employers may bring in.
Stay tuned. 

The Con Media's Disgusting Attack on the Trudeau Government

Montreal Simon - 5 hours 39 min ago

Yesterday I wrote about how Rona Ambrose and her Cons were going after the decent Health Minister Jane Philpott for having rented a limo Lexus to travel around the Greater Toronto Area.

Instead of taking a taxi or a bus.

As well as going after the equally decent Environment Minister Katherine McKenna, for the "crime" of having spent about $6,000 on photographs at the Paris climate summit.

Even though the Harper regime spent millions doing the same thing.

But what makes this grotesque assault even more disgusting is the way the Con media are trying to make it look like a major scandal.
Read more »

Trump: an emotional voyage

Dawg's Blawg - 6 hours 45 min ago
While France enjoys its burkini summer, you may have noticed the USA is having a little bit of an election thingy. Anyway, I just wanted to pass on this wonderful Mother Jones article giving a humanised look at the... Mandos

Wednesday Evening Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 08/24/2016 - 19:24
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- David Dayen wonders whether the Obama administration's decision to end the use of private prisons might represent the needed start of a movement away from relying on poor corporate services as a substitute for public action:
Private prisons experienced more safety and security incidents. They had higher rates of assaults, inadequate medical checkups and compliance, eight times as many incidents of contraband cell-phone smuggling, and often housed new inmates in solitary confinement units, seemingly for lack of space. The report also detailed several grisly incidents since 2008: three riots in one Reeves County, Texas facility in two months; the death of a corrections officer in a riot in Natchez, Mississippi; and the closure of the Willacy County (Texas) Correctional Center, after inmates burned it to the ground.

It’s not hard to figure out why this happens. Private companies win contracts to manage federal prisons by undercutting the Bureau of Prisons’ operational costs. Unlike the government, private prison companies must also take their profit margins out of their budgets. The only way to make that work is to massively drop labor costs, corresponding to a severe degradation of the quality of prison management.
That reflects the problem with privatization as a whole. Private companies must carry out a government function—be it water, parking meters, mass transit, or K-12 schools—at a lower cost than the government can provide it, while taking their profit off the top. Time and again, the results reveal that to be impossible, at least if you want to provide the same quality of service. Yet we keep privatizing. Whether it’s Republicans expanding Medicaid or cash-strapped cities handing over bus service to Uber and Lyft, eventually costs shift from taxpayers to the users of the services, oversight becomes impotent as officials grow reliant on outsourcing contracts, and attempts to maximize profits lead to service breakdowns.- But CBC reports that the worst is yet to come in Saskatchewan as Brad Wall has publicly put SaskTel up for corporate raiding.

- Jacki Andre discusses the hidden costs of living with a disability - which make it particularly unconscionable for Wall's Saskatchewan Party to be trying to squeeze pennies out of people who rely on already-inadequate disability benefits.

- Floyd Perras highlights the multiple factors that contribute to (and exacerbate) homelessness. And Rocca Perla comments on the need to include social determinants of health within medical treatment of patients.

- Pat Rich describes the Canadian Medical Association's rude awakening in finding out that Lib Health Minister Jane Philpott has no interest in its key priorities for improved care. And Alison points out how the Libs are conspicuously trying to wriggle out of their promise to end the unfairness of first-past-the-post politics.

- Finally, Anna MacDonald makes the case for stronger transparency as a means of limiting the harm of global arms dealing. But if there was any doubt that the Trudeau Libs are firmly on the side of weapons proliferation, Helene Laverdiere points out their inexplicable decision to stand against nuclear disarmament.

Why the F-35 Is a Lousy Idea - For Everyone

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 08/24/2016 - 09:16

Not for nothing has Lockheed's "joint strike fighter" been called America's "kick in the front door" weapon.  That's what it is designed to do, penetrate hostile airspace with sophisticated air defences and take down that air defence network.

That narrows the F-35's intended adversaries to Russia or China or key satellite states they're willing to go to war to defend. For the sake of this discussion let's leave it at Russia and China.

When you bleed your treasury to buy the F-35 what you're really after is the sizzle, not the steak. The stealth sizzle or whatever remains of it. Because, while it does have some intriguing electronic wizardry, stripped of the stealth factor its really a pretty mediocre light bomber. It gets about a C+/B- on standard strike fighter attributes such as range, speed, payload, agility, that sort of thing.

Let's not debate whether this warplane's stealth remains viable after its intended adversaries have had two decades to develop and refine countermeasures (and they have). Let's pretend it works as advertised. Let's pretend Russia and China are somehow stuck technologically in the 1990s.

Now let's create a scenario where the United States and its obedient allies, its aerial Foreign Legion, decide to attack China. Fortunately we have America's roadmap to such an attack in the 2012 dress rehearsal known as "Operation Chimichanga." Even though they had to use F-16s reprising the role of the then unavailable F-35s it was a roaring success. The F-35 force with F-22 Raptors flying cover went in and obliterated the critical air defence infrastructure, clearing the way for an armada of stealth and then conventional bombers to work their magic. Look at that, they're invincible.

Only this scenario leaves out what the other side might be doing at the same time. You see here's the problem. You can't mobilize an effort of this magnitude without attracting a lot of attention. That gives the other side time to assess the gathering threat and prepare both defences and possibly pre-emptive strategies.

If you want to attack China, you'll first have to deploy squadrons, perhaps even wings, of warplanes for the attack. They carry a lot of baggage - refueling tankers, electronic warfare aircraft (AWACS), electronic surveillance aircraft, and all the people and stuff they need on the ground for an air campaign.

You can't deploy these damned things without analysts being able to discern what you're about to do with them. To use them you have to place your entire military on high alert and that's all but impossible to conceal. You must prepare for everything from a pre-emptive strike against your forward bases by jittery defenders to a nuclear launch on detection of the 35's essential support aircraft nearing your airspace. They're not stealthy. You can't hide them.

For defenders it can trigger the "use'em or lose'em" mentality. Do you simply wait until the stealth attackers take down your air defences and leave your strategic weaponry vulnerable to destruction or do you prepare to launch your missiles, both land based and on your subs?

This reminds me of nothing so much as the strategic destabilization of the Cold War, first when the Americans toyed with the idea of adding the neutron bomb to their arsenal and then when both sides got into the Dr. Strangelove scenario of "launch on detect" nuclear tipped short and intermediate range missiles - one faulty circuit and the robots end the world.

There are still nuclear tripwires. You trigger one of them and we finally get to find out which of those theories of nuclear escalation is the most accurate. Only we may not survive for the debate afterwards.

Nuclear warfare is a confidence game. The more confidence you have that your adversary is not planning an attack the less bellicose you too become. That was the magic gift of so much of the espionage of the Cold War, building confidence between the Soviet Union and the U.S. They knew what we were up to, we knew what they were up to and it was pretty much, "okay, that's cool."

The F-35 undermines that essential confidence. The Americans don't talk about it much but the Lightning II is also a nuclear strike bomber. So when you see squadrons of those things massing in Kadena you might wonder if any of those will be coming your way with tactical nuclear weapons to take out your entire command and control system. A nuclear first-strike. Wouldn't you want to eliminate that threat preemptively? I sure would if I was responsible for the air defence of the People's Republic.

For so many good reasons, the F-35 is designed to fight battles we don't fight any more. For the air wars we do wage, we get by just fine with cheaper, more rudimentary and robust multi-role fighters. Using the F-35 to whack insurgents is like leaving the pickup in the garage and taking the Lamborghini to Home Depot to get a load of plywood. Now that might make a lot of sense to your 16-year old son with his raging hormones just as the F-35 makes a lot of sense to certain generals with their own raging martial hormones. Yet it's not difficult to figure out which one you would take.

Does it strike you as odd that we haven't begun to discuss these issues - not in Canada, not in Britain, not even in the United States. Nobody in line to arm themselves with the F-35 is discussing what it would mean to use them for their intended purpose. That strikes me as more than a little curious.

For me, the F-35 is a lousy idea - for everyone.

Where Is The Outrage?

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 08/24/2016 - 06:51
Buy land, they're not making it anymore.
-Mark Twain

The above quote, attributed to Mark Twain, is self-evident. What doesn't appear to be self-evident is that the same applies to all the water that exists in the world. Water is not, as some seem to believe, a self-replenishing resource; it is merely one that gets shifted about, due to increasingly volatile storms, droughts, evaporation, etc. And yet the government of Ontario operates as if it were ignorant of these facts.

Consider its disdainful treatment of this precious resource.
In the middle of a severe drought in southern Ontario, the bottled water giant Nestle is buying up more groundwater sources and now has permits from the Ontario government to remove a total of over 20 million litres of water per day!To compound the ignominy of this flagrant commercialization of something that all citizens have a right to,
Ontario charges companies $3.71 for every million litres of water they extract- a total of less than $75 per day for their total permits of 20,000,000 litres of groundwater.That Nestle feels emboldened to continue with its depredations is not really the fault of the company. After all, it is doing what companies always do: maximizing its profits, consequences be damned. This imperative, of course, is made possible by the fact that governments do little to protect this resource, even in drought-stricken California.

And yet, as you will see in the following report from Global News, Nestle considers itself a responsible steward of the environment and a sterling corporate entity:

What bothers me about the above report is the insistence that, if governments charged more for the water, it could be classed as a commodity under NAFTA. While I am not a lawyer or trade specialist, my question would be that even in charging the paltry sums that governments currently do, isn't water already being treated as a commodity?

As well, despite the comparative statistic showing that Nestle only takes 1% of the water, its commercialization is distinct from the fact that almost all other permit holders in Ontario are municipalities drawing water for their citizens to drink. Hardly equivalent to what Nestle is doing.

In the best of all possible worlds, we could stop companies from taking our water by not purchasing their bottled water. Since that is never going to happen, the only thing concerned citizens (and we should all be concerned) can do is make their displeasure known to the provincial government. Kathleen Wynne already has her eye on the next election, and if this issue incites public discontent, as it well should, she is far less likely to take direction from our corporate overlords and start listening to those who ultimately hold her electoral fate in their hands.

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Today's France

Dawg's Blawg - Wed, 08/24/2016 - 06:46
There was, of course, a sub-text to the Paris murders of Charlie Hebdo staff and Jewish shoppers in a kosher supermarket all along. Vile crimes by any standard, these were the work of ISIS-supporting Islamists, and so the murders... Dr.Dawg

God Help Us

Northern Reflections - Wed, 08/24/2016 - 04:50

In the wake of 911, it's increasingly clear that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is seminal to Canadian democracy. The latest example of the Charter's importance is illustrated by a request from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. Nadar R.Hassan and Stephen Aylward write:

Last week, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police adopted a startling resolution calling for legislation that, on judicial authorization, would “compel the holder of an encryption key or password to reveal it to law enforcement.” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale invited public debate on the proposal.

Police are responding to new challenges wrought by modern technology. Encryption renders data unintelligible without the user’s password. Even with a warrant to seize and search a cellphone or computer, police cannot gain access to the valuable information stored on those devices unless they can guess the password (or hack into the device, as the FBI recently did with a locked iPhone in the San Bernardino case).
Police worry criminals are “going dark”— i.e., using encryption to evade detection and prosecution. Compelling suspects to surrender their cellphone and computer passwords is an enticing solution to this problem. But it is one that ought to be unacceptable in a free and democratic society.
What is at stake is a basic principle of British Common Law:
The police chiefs’ proposal would lead to a radical erosion of our constitutional rights protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. When the state accuses us of a crime, we are entitled to say, “prove it.” The Supreme Court of Canada has said this right — the right against self-incrimination — is the organizing principle of our criminal justice system. An accused person is under no obligation to assist the state in her or his own prosecution, whether by answering questions about where she was the previous night or by revealing passcodes.
Canadian law jealously protects the right against self-incrimination for reasons that are both historical and principled. The right against self-incrimination has its roots in the revulsion towards the 17th century courts of the Star Chamber, which would detain supposed enemies of the state on mere suspicion, compel them to swear an oath, and then require them on pain of punishment to answer questions.
Our constitutional law protects the right against self-incrimination because we recognize there is a power imbalance in criminal prosecutions, which frequently pit a single (often marginalized) individual against the overwhelming power of the state. The right against self-incrimination is the great equalizer. It ensures an individual is put through the criminal process only once police have built a case. It also protects the dignity of the accused and limits the risk that state officials will abuse their power.
Since the 1970's, economic power has been concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. Since 911, there has been a push to concentrate judicial power in fewer and fewer hands. We've seen the effects of the so called economic revolution. God help us if a similar judicial revolution takes hold.

Libs falling off electoral reform bandwagon

Creekside - Wed, 08/24/2016 - 04:47

Electoral Reform Committee member Liberal Sherry Romanado floated the idea of implementing "federal solutions" "without changing the voting system itself" at ERRE meeting #16 yesterday. She was pitching how to achieve at least some of the committee's mandate set in motion by Justin Trudeau's campaign promise to make 2015 the last election under FPtP.

This is one step further along from her more usual complaint that any version of proportional representation multi-member ridings would mean people would be confused as to who their MP is.

Liberal John Aldag asked “Is FPtP the only solution for Canada?”, while Liberal Ruby Sahota recommended giving voters the simplest voting system possible, presumably if not FPtP then its even worse majoritarian cousin, Alternative Vote. 

Liberal Chair Scarpaleggia wrapped up meeting #15 earlier with a nice paeon to the status quo, opining that a government's majority power under FPtP is not absolute - no, it is kept in check by "the courts, provinces, the media, and unions". 
You'll notice that other parties did not make his list. 
Scarpaleggia :
"Our system doesn't give absolute power to a party that has less than 50% of the vote, it just gives a stronger hand to one party to negotiate the obstacles in its way in trying to exercise national purpose."National purpose that does not include obstacles like proportional representation.

Between Libs falling off the electoral reform bandwagon, the Cons and Bloc still banging on about referendums and moving the whole issue forward to be voted on in the 2019 election, and the inordinate amount of time wasted discussing internet voting - which Elections Canada has said we will definitely not be getting for the next election - it really is not looking good for electoral reform at the Electoral Reform Committee at this point. 

Fun fact : From the e-voting proponent witness : "Estonia is the only country to deploy internet voting in a national election." 
I wonder why that is.

Rona Ambrose and the Attempted Lynching of Jane Philpott

Montreal Simon - Wed, 08/24/2016 - 03:05

It's not a pretty sight, but Rona Ambrose and her Con bullies are in a high state of excitation.

They think they've found another helpless target, and a massive scandal that will destroy the Liberal government.

And no, this time it isn't the nannies and the Trudeau children they are going after.

It's the Health Minister Jane Philpott.

Read more »

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 08/23/2016 - 19:00
Feline affection.

Will the Real Donald Trump Please Stand Up

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 08/23/2016 - 14:42

By now everyone is familiar with Donald Trump's use of Twitter to communicate with his supporters. Trumps tweets are a regular source of outrage among his opponents. They're a vehicle for spreading anger, bombast, threats, even racism.

But what if only some of those tweets were really Trump's? According to a report in Scientific American, Trump has been using ghost-tweeters. An analysis has been able to distinguish the tweets that Trump has sent from those written by others using his account. The creepy part is that the really nasty tweets, the worst of the lot - they're Donald Trump's.

Earlier this month visual effects artist Todd Vaziri put forth the idea that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump likely shares his Twitter account with campaign ghostwriters. The assumption was based on the curious differences in tone and message of @realDonaldTrump on the social media platform. According to Vaziri, Trump most likely used his Samsung Galaxy Android smartphone to tap out the most inflammatory microblog messages whereas the more toned-down tweets came from his staff using their iPhones. Now a quantitative analysis has proved him correct.

Data scientist David Robinson saw Vaziri’s speculation, which was neither new nor terribly shocking, as the perfect opportunity to test new tools he had developed to analyze the emotions behind social media posts. After mining nearly 1,400 messages from @realDonaldTrump, Robinson confirmed that the account’s Android and iPhone tweets were from different people who posted at different times of the day and used hashtags, links and retweets in distinct ways. He also found that Trump’s Android tweets were for the most part angrier and more negative than his staff’s iPhone messages, which generally featured benign announcements and images. “My goal was to determine the difference between the iPhone and Android tweets—and to see whether the suspicion of Todd Vaziri and others could be backed up quantitatively,” says Robinson, who last year earned a PhD in quantitative and computational biology from Princeton University and now works for Stack Overflow, a question and answer site for computer programmers.

Robinson found that Trump himself uses nearly double the number of words related to disgust, sadness, fear, anger and other negative sentiments than tweets posted to his feed via iPhone. In addition, the iPhone tweets were 38 times more likely to contain either a picture or a link, which Robinson attributes to the campaign’s interest in calling attention to significant events and projecting some semblance of diplomacy, such as wishing the U.S. Olympic team good luck.

Our Federal Government is "Missing the Boat" on Climate Change

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 08/23/2016 - 10:37

It's fair to say that successive Canadian federal governments, Trudeau's included, and most of our provincial governments, Christy Clark's included, have failed their people on climate change. We're still a petro-state ruled by petro-pimps who show no sign of turning the page to usher in alternative, renewable, clean energy. You'll know when they do. That'll be the day they finally cut off support, estimated by the IMF at $34 billion a year, to Canada's fossil fuel producers.

Now the Canadian Medical Association is warning that our governments' lack of action on climate change is putting Canadians' health in jeopardy.

At the CMA's annual general counsel meeting, keynote speaker, Dr. James Orbinski spoke of climate change as "the greatest global threat to health of the 21st century." He said Canada "has missed the boat" on climate change.

“There are direct impacts of the effects of climate change on health,” said Dr. Orbinski, past president of Medécins sans Frontièrs and a leading scholar in global health, referencing the catastrophic impact of forest fires, flooding and drought, the increase in certain infectious diseases and the effects of air pollution.

You Can See It From Space

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 08/23/2016 - 09:56

The inland waters separating Vancouver Island from the mainland are beset by a massive algae bloom.  The image above was captured by a NASA satellite.

So far the bloom is not considered dangerous to human or marine life.

The scientist behind Vancouver Island University's harmful algae monitoring program, says coccolithophorids are the cause.

Haig says coccolithophorids bloom near B.C. during the summertime are normal but where it's blossomed this year, is notable.

"It's a group that blooms quite often off the west coast of [Vancouver] Island in June or July of most years, but we don't usually see it in the Strait of Georgia."

She says she doesn't think warmer ocean temperatures are the cause, but it could be related to increasing ocean acidification which signals climate change.

With the bloom ongoing, she says more time and research is needed to truly understand what is going on in the water.

"It could be a climate change story, but it could also be a once in 20 year or 50-year event," she said. "We're still trying to figure that out."

For those familiar with the dark emerald green waters of majestic Desolation Sound, here's what the place looks like today:

The Problem We Won't Admit Even Exists

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 08/23/2016 - 09:32

There's a security scandal underway concerning the French manufacturer of the stealth submarine, Scorpene. The Australians, who recently ordered similar boats, are particularly vexed. From The Australian:

There is almost no breach of ­national security more serious than the disclosure of the stealth secrets of a country’s submarine fleet.

A submarine is only as effective as the secrets it keeps. If an enemy knows those secrets, the game is over. As the old wartime saying goes, “loose lips sink ships.”

That is why Australia should be deeply concerned by the Snowden-style leak of 22,400 secret documents written by the same French shipbuilder, DCNS, that will design Australia’s future submarine fleet.

The leaked DCNS documents describe in excruciating detail — line by line and bolt by bolt — the entire combat abilities of India’s new six-boat Scorpene submarine fleet. It has dealt a hammer blow to India’s national security and it begs the question; if it has happened to India, why couldn’t it happen to us?

Australia cannot afford to spend $50 billion on the biggest defence project in the nation’s history only to have it potentially compromised by sloppy security about confidential information.

Hmmm, sloppy security. Serious business. But not when it comes to another amazing bit of stealth warfighting gear, the Lockheed F-35 joint strike fighter.
Someone (everybody knows it's China) had a field day hacking Lockheed and British Aerospace computers downloading (stealing) massive amounts of data (secrets) and millions of lines of computer code (stealth operating system) of the F-35. Then Iran managed to hack a Lockheed RQ-170 super secret stealth drone, bringing it in for a crash landing. Chinese aerospace types didn't waste any time getting to Tehran. They scoured the drone for Lockheed's stealth secrets - shaping, materials, coatings and such and they went home with plenty of parting gifts, mainly the drone's electronic wizardry.
The hacks and the RQ-170 capture caused a big kerfuffle for a while but then the noise went silent and nobody has had much to say about it since. It's as though a blanket was thrown over it. After all the F-35, like American banks, is too big to fail.
The Australians are grappling with a legitimate security concern in the French sub leaks. It's a good thing, F-35 customers don't seem to care.

News Many Would Prefer Not To Know

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 08/23/2016 - 06:31

For anyone who knows anything about climate change, the news is not good. There is a large and growing crack in the fourth-largest Antarctic ice shelf, known as the Larsen C.
Larsen C, according to the British Antarctic Survey, is “slightly smaller than Scotland.” It’s called an ice “shelf” because the entirety of this country-sized area is covered by 350-meter-thick ice that is floating on top of deep ocean waters.

The crack in Larsen C grew around 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) in length between 2011 and 2015. And as it grew, also became wider — by 2015, yawning some 200 meters in length. Since then, growth has only continued — and now, a team of researchers monitoring Larsen C say that with the intense winter polar night over Antarctica coming to an end, they’ve been able to catch of glimpse of what happened to the crack during the time when it could not be observed by satellite.What they found is deeply disturbing:
The rift had grown another 22 kilometers (13.67 miles) since it was last observed in March 2016, and has widened to about 350 meters, ... The full length of the rift is now 130 km, or over 80 miles.This means that at some time, likely in the next few years, another major chunk of ice will be lost, and ultimately that will be bad news for rising sea levels:
Researchers have estimated that the loss of all the ice that the Larsen C ice shelf currently holds back would raise global sea levels by 10 centimeters, or just under 4 inches.At least equal in consequence is the loss of reflective surface area, meaning that more and more heat will be absorbed by the ocean, adding to an already warming planet, the release of methane, etc. An ugly feedback loop.

Closer to home, there are these worrisome images of a world in the grips of dangerous, if not yet runaway, climate change:

Why do I continue to post such material? In many ways, considering who reads my blog, I am preaching to the converted. But on the other hand, perhaps someone will send a link to a skeptic, at least causing him or her a moment or two of introspection. If that is too far-fetched an aspiration, it at least provides, I hope, a little bit more information for those keen to understand how our world is being destroyed while our 'leaders' mouth platitudes and we blithely continue our indulgent, self-destructive and heedless ways.Recommend this Post


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