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By popular demand, this open thread. “Popular” can, of course, mean just about anything these days, eh, Craig? So, what have people read? What are they planning to read? What should we read? Floor is yours. I’m reading a sci-fi...
That seems to be the opinion of Donald Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord, who offers this view: I honestly don’t think this ‘fact-checking’ business ... is anything more than one more out of touch, elitist media-type thing.
- Noah Zon points out that while it's impossible to avoid rhetoric about eliminating "red tape" for businesses, we've seen gratuitous barriers put in place to prevent people from accessing needed public support: It’s a good principle to make interacting with government as easy as possible. For example the Ontario government has ensured that businesses only have to call one number to get business information — whether about buried utilities or regulations more generally. The federal government has implemented service standards for when businesses need to deal with regulators, and they are reporting on performance. Without the red tape slogan, you might just call these efforts good policy, good governance, or good service delivery.
Despite these efforts, some of the most problematic and unnecessary hurdles have been left untouched: the ones that affect individual people, most notably people living with low incomes. The maze of requirements and departments that low-income individuals have to navigate to access the benefits and services that they need and are entitled to is often more complex than those faced by businesses. This red tape burden exacerbates problems for vulnerable people and runs counter to the point of the policies and programs — which is to help people.
The compliance cost of getting and keeping the support that people are entitled to can be overwhelming. It takes away time and money from things that would improve people’s lives and help them move out of poverty, such as joining a community group or taking a course. Accessing and keeping social assistance can require extensive paperwork, starting from participation forms through monthly reporting, that take up the time of people in need, caseworkers and non-profit agencies. An individual needing support because of a disability could face multiple assessments to prove his or her need in different ways for different programs. To get the tax credits that people are entitled to and rely on, vulnerable people may have to rely on tax preparation services or miss out altogether if they don’t file taxes.
Researchers have found that excessive time spent navigating red tape can exacerbate poverty. Our poverty reduction policies are making things worse at the same time that they are supposed to be making things better. Making it easier to navigate the systems that are meant to help those living in poverty is essential to making it easier for people to improve their lives.- Daron Acemoglu, Jacob Moscona, and James A Robinson highlight the vital role technological investment by governments has made in past economic development. And Brendan Haley writes that a successful transition to a green economy will need to involve a combination of broad carbon pricing and targeted measures for polluting sectors.
- Marco Chown Oved reports on the Canada Revenue Agency's willingness to allow large-scale tax evaders to avoid being publicly named.
- The Star's editorial board writes that the Libs' plan for after-the-fact review by MPs sworn to secrecy falls far short of addressing the problems raised by an obtrusive security state. And Thomas Walkom is duly skeptical that the Libs will bother to address the real issue.
- Finally, Maxwell Cameron discusses the political incentives created by false majorities, and suggests that a more proportional system should lead to far better behaviour from our leaders.
Well it's now five days since Boris Johnson and his merry band of Brexiteers won their referendum to haul Britain out of the EU. And now the situation couldn't be more disastrous. The pound is still sliding, the country has lost its triple-A credit rating. The stock market and the banks are reeling. And the UK is in danger of falling apart, with both Scotland and Northern Ireland threatening to separate. But don't tell the Con clown Boris Johnson that, because he wants people to believe that everything is under control. Read more »
Everywhere in the English speaking world, Lawrence Martin writes, conservatism is in trouble:
In Britain, party hardliners pushed David Cameron into calling a referendum on the European Union. With the Brexit result, they are now in control. The consequences for Britain and well beyond Britain, as the great wealth of analysts agree, could be dire. In the United States, the Republican Party fell under the sway of Dick Cheney and his ilk. They brought on the Iraq war, the consequences of which have been dire and still are. The Republican Party then fell into the grip of the radical-right Tea Party. Now they are under the control of demagogue Donald Trump. His appeal has similarities to that of the rebels in the British Conservative Party. It is driven by aging, angry-man populism. If you like Brexit, if you liked the Iraq war, if you favour the retrograde prejudices of Donald Trump, you will like the direction of modern-day conservatism. And that's the point. Increasingly, modern day conservatism has shown itself to be retrograde, morally bankrupt and incapable of meeting the demands of the new century. However, Canadian conservatives haven't figured that out yet: They don’t see Brexit as a step backward. They don’t see the new conservatism as a sure bet to lose the battle of the generations. In Britain, surveys showed the youth were most opposed to Brexit, seniors most in favour. In the correctly named Grand Old Party, the appeal under Mr. Trump is primarily to aging, less-educated voters. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives played mostly to the old-age demographic as well. Millennials being the voice of the future, what are these parties thinking? It would appear that conservatives -- Canadian conservatives particularly -- preach selfishness and are incapable of complex thought. Image: quotesgram.com
A community torn apart by LNG and pipeline politics. A mayor who sent a letter to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency confirming opposition to the PacificNorthWest LNG plant on Lelu Island in accordance with a community vote. He then sent another letter eight days later retracting the first letter and replacing it with one of conditional support.The mayor and his brother are VP and CEO of Eagle Spirit Energy FN pipeline company backed by Aquilini Group, donors of $1.2 million to the BC Liberal Party. Aquilini has pledged financing to Eagle Spirit on condition of securing First Nations consent to a pipeline route to nearby Grassy Point, future LNG site. On June 3 2016 Christy Clark announced an FN vote supporting the LNG project. Discourse Media : Divide and Conquer June 2016 Last year, members of the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation, whose traditional territory includes Lelu Island, overwhelmingly rejected the proposed development on the island — and almost $1.2 billion in promised benefits.
A 2014 report by PNW LNG suggests initial contact with Lax Kw’alaams occurred in December 2012. But at least six months prior, Petronas had already earmarked Lelu Island for its plant and signed a feasibility agreement with the Prince Rupert Port Authority. Despite this mounting pressure, elected and hereditary leaders remained relatively united in their opposition to LNG development on Lelu Island — until a new mayor and council were elected in November 2015.At first, the newly elected leaders maintained the community’s position. Mayor John Helin even submitted a letter to the CEAA reiterating the band’s rejection of the benefit deal on March 7, 2016.But eight days later, in a move that hereditary leaders call a betrayal, Helin submitted a second letter to the CEAA that contradicted his earlier letter and offered conditional support for a project. The letter was dated March 15, when several elected councillors were away on an annual kelp-gathering trip on Digby Island.Community members in Lax Kw’alaams were shocked. According to Smith, “the last time we had a band meeting was in a previous administration,” before Helin’s November election.The Letter:Ottawa Citizen : Lax Kw’alaams band council offers conditional support for Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal March 2016 The Lax Kw’alaams letter of March 15, incorrectly dated 2015, was filed with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency four days after the March 11 deadline for comments on a draft report on the terminal that found the project would increase greenhouse gases significantly and harm porpoise, but not harm salmon.The letter, signed by elected mayor John Helin, retracts an initial letter to CEAA dated March 7, in which Helin had said the Lax Kw’alaams “continue to oppose the project in its current form,” in particular locating a liquefied natural gas facility on Lelu Island adjacent to Flora Bank over concerns of harm it could cause to fish habitatThe new letter replaces a lengthy series of concerns, questions and recommendations in the first letter with two “legally-binding” provisions that Helin said will be needed to gain support of the Lax Kw’alaams for the project.The Canadian Environment Assessment Agency also removed the March 7 letter from their documents website.Mayor John Helin is vice president and his brother Calvin is president of Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings, founded in 2012 to establish a First Nations Energy Corridor across northern British Columbia.
Canada’s Most Powerful Business People 2016: #39 — Calvin Helin Nov 2015 Calvin Helin’s Eagle Spirit Energy confirmed that it has something rival oil pipeline projects do not: consent from all the First Nations chiefs along the route of an energy corridor from Alberta to the Pacific Coast. Buzzfeed : In Spite Of What B.C.’s Premier Says, There’s No Evidence This First Nation Voted In Favour Of A Major Pipeline June 24 2016At a June 3 press conference, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said a major hurdle had been cleared for the proposed $36 billion Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas pipeline and plant.“The Lax Kw’alaams voted massively in favour of supporting LNG, with some conditions,” Clark said.However, an investigation by Discourse Media, which sent two reporters to Lax Kw’alaams, suggests that no vote in favour of the project ever occurred. The Tyee, June 24 2016 But it is the federal government that now holds the pen on whether or not to let Petronas, the state-owed Malaysian oil company that is the key investor in PNW LNG, build its project on Lelu Island. If the Discourse Media investigation isn't proof negative of the corrosive, divisive, opaque and utterly bankrupt nature of how resource development gets done in Canada's so-called Reconciliation age, I don't know what else is.Yet on Monday, when six federal cabinet ministers announced a wholesale review of the rules for approving major resource projects, they stuck to the Trudeau government's line that pipeline proposals already in process when the Liberals were elected will not be sent back to the drawing board, but will be reviewed according to the rules set by the Harper regime. This is a confounding decision, because part of the reason Trudeau & Co got elected in the first place is because Harper's major project review process was -- and remains -- rotten to the core..
Victor Jara was a well known Chilean folk singer who sang songs about poverty and injustice. And for that when Augusto Pinochet and his fascists overthrew the government of Salvador Allende, he was one of their first victims. And was tortured and murdered in a soccer stadium where the military were holding thousands of prisoners. Read more »
Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is a beat down of Texas’ anti-abortion law HB 2. Justice Stephen Breyer’s majority opinion piles facts upon evidence upon statistics to demolish Texas’ supposed justification for the law. At one point, Breyer even damns the law with words uttered by Texas’ own attorney. By the end of the opinion, it is surprising that Breyer did not finish with the two words “HULK SMASH!”
Even more significantly, Whole Woman’s Health leaves the right to an abortion on much stronger footing than it stood on before this decision was handed down. It’s difficult to exaggerate just how awesomely anti-abortion advocates erred in urging Texas to pass HB 2 in the first place. This law was supposed to provide those advocates with a vehicle to drain what life remains in Roe v. Wade. Instead, reproductive freedom is stronger today than it has been at any point in nearly a decade. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a separate concurrence, in which she called out the sham. It gave birth to several variants of this meme:
But let's be clear. This won't solve Texas's abortion access problem immediately, if at all. While no more clinics will close, this report points out that in order to reopen, clinics will have to restaff, re-equip, and maybe most problematic, get relicensed. The government of Texas, having just had its panties pulled down for a MASSIVE spanking, may be a tad vindictive, and make the relicensing as protracted and petty as possible.
And a little set-back like this is not going to stop fetus freaks from continuing to pass more bullshit laws.
But it is exhilarating when facts and evidence win. And when anti-choice hypocrisy is named and held up for all to see.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in north London in the wake of resignations from his shadow cabinet. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Sunday 26 June 2016 20.12 BST
Frankly, I don’t see why all the panic is being created..it’s terrible that immigrants feel unsafe, and that the bigots are on holiday, assuming that they have ‘won ‘ something, but really, there are lots of positives in Brexit that no one seems to be talking about..could that be because the Right chose to support it to destabilize a surging Progressive tide? All over the world, conventional politics are being questioned, if not derided, and all over the world, the young are questioning the very validity of so called ‘democratic’ principles , of politics by committee, and the obviously corrupt and costly situation that is the EU…Farage may think that he’s ‘won’ something, but in fact, the bigots were always with him, but they are a minority..
The problems are with the media, as always a tool of the elites..
Once things settle down – and Blairites quit exploiting the ‘chaos’ by trying, yet again, to unseat the only decent leader that UK Labor has had for a long while – it might be seen as obviously a good thing that Corbyn didn’t get too involved in the process…why is it that Brits continue to believe that leaders are there to brainwash the electorate..they are there to carry out the will of the people, not to force the people to their will…
Now the BritCons are faced with explaining to the Leave voters that in fact all the promises they made might have been hyperbole..overstated, at best…and Corbyn had nothing to do with that…the bigots who crawl out from their sewers and spread filth and fear are always with us, and they may feel vindicated, but they will soon find out that their stupidity (how many of them actually voted?) will be answered with pushback…the young of the UK are vindicated, they want a one world system to level the playing field and this sort of thing will cause them to vote in vast numbers, like never before, for progressive candidates who share their values…you can see something similar in the States happening with Clinton looking less and less like the progressive she tries to convince voters that she is, and more like the corrupt Dem/Rep inseparable from her supposed rivals …
The fact that Corbyn didn’t bite is a positive for me, and shows foresight…let them hang themselves Jeremy, watch and wait and strike at election timed..those who appreciate your stance will be with you, and I believe, like Bernie Sanders, you will prevail..
One needn't be an historian or an academic to understand that hate and racism often lurks in the shadow waiting for an opportunity to come out in the light of day. That opportunity is often offered by a process of public legitimation.
We saw this process of legitimation in Canada last year when the flailing Harper government began a concerted effort to use race hatred to bolster their election chances. They attempted to make the wearing of a niqab a major political issue because they knew that it would whip up their base and even garner support from those how are not so openly bigoted. Then they promised to establish a so-called "barbaric act tip line" so people could report on their neighbours for supposed culturally driven acts of an illegal nature. It is not difficult to see how such an effort was motivated by racism. Since people are already expected to report any illegal act to their local police force anyway, it remains entirely unclear how this tip line was supposed to contribute anything except the fanning of racist flames.
It was because the Conservative government opened up the public space and legitimized racist discourse that Canada saw a startling uptick in racist outbursts in the months around the Election.
We now see a similar phenomenon in Britain where the victory of the "leave" campaign in the Brexit vote seems to have opened up public space for racist hatred.
People have begun to document the outbursts of racism that are emerging now in Briton and the situation is not very pretty. Images such as these have popped up.
Meanwhile Twitter users are telling the world about the sudden rise of racism in their everyday lives. They talk about racists comments being yelled at people in public places, immigrants being told to "pack up and leave," and neo-Nazi posters and leaflets suddenly appearing. Now I am sure that most of these are relatively isolated incidents, and we obviously shouldn't suggest that all of those who supported the "leave" side in the Brexit vote were racists. However, it is the space that such events open up for racists to feel that their opinions are a legitimate part of the discourse that we really need to be concerned about. We all know that the far-right is on the move again in Europe and the Brexit campaign was a major focus for them because it afforded them the opportunity to demonize immigrants, refuges, and racialized people in general. And this space, now opened wide, is quickly spreading. In France and the Netherlands the far right is already talking about organizing their own EU referenda, and there can be little doubt that race hatred will be a major part of those campaigns if they come to fruition. In the past, when capitalism falls into a perceived crisis, certain political similarities between the far-right and the left in general emerge. This is because only those who are willing to significantly question the status quo are willing to admit and address the crises. But the similarities between the opposition are wildly different in motivation and goal, and the issue of race is one which demonstrates the important differences. The right is quick to blame "outsiders" and "foreigners" for the crises of capitalism. And where the rightwing talks about "sovereignty" and uses nationalist rhetoric, the left talks about democracy and the need for the economy to serve the needs of all people. The rightwing has always had an easier job; whip up fear, hatred, blame, and difference. The left has to assuage fears, build bridges, and encourage cooperation. It is, unfortunately, always easier to destroy than to build. And when a space opens up for the far-right to get its foot in the door of public discourse, our job just becomes that much more challenging.
- Jeremy Smith argues that the Brexit vote result should serve as a compelling reminder of the dangers of neoliberalism. John Hood focuses on inequality in particular as a driving force behind the willingness of voters to leave the European Union, while Mike Carter points out the connection between economic and industrial decay and the vote.
- The Economist highlights the value of pre-school funding in ensuring that children from all economic backgrounds are able to fulfill their potential.
- Reema Patel discusses the need to give citizens a direct role in setting economic policy - as well as one project designed to achieve that goal.
- Tom Parkin points out the vital role the labour movement played in fighting to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan. And Lana Payne comments that younger workers will gain the most from the CPP expansion.
- Bruce Campbell writes that rail safety is still in desperate need of improvement three years after the Lac-Mégantic disaster.
- Finally, John Anderson questions why Netflix, YouTube and other online media platforms are being exempted from the obligations of other media entities operating in Canada.
A Star letter-writer has an insight on sustainability well-worth sharing: Re: Canada a model for sustainable forestry, Letter June 19
Reading the response to Thomas Walkom’s editorial from Forest Products Association of Canada and Ontario Forest Industries Association, I was once again encouraged by how much progress has been made reducing, reusing and recycling the language of environmental activism for corporate messaging.
Terms like green, environmentally friendly, and eco-everything were always so vague it is not surprising how easily they were co-opted by advertisers to hawk products that are nothing of the sort. But sustainability has a simple, clear, specific definition. Sustainability is the capacity to endure.
What apologists such as letter writers Derek Nighbor and Jamie Lim are peddling should properly be referred to as Sustainability(TM) as this term is also becoming nothing more than happy-sounding marketing for demonstrably unsustainable activities.
By the end of today, there will be fewer trees and less forest wilderness in Canada and on Earth. What remains of these complex ecosystems will be more fractured, less diverse, less resilient, less healthy.
Even if that were the whole of it, the destruction of these ecosystems – and, ultimately, the resources and services they provide – is simply not sustainable. And, of course, that is nowhere near the whole of it.
Among other impacts, the replanting that Nighbor and Lim laud, when it happens at all, is usually a genetic monoculture of non-native species, all at the same stage of growth. These are not regenerating forests. These are plantations; deserts of wood compared to the vital forest ecosystems they have supplanted.
By the end of today, there also will be fewer species, less water, less soil, more carbon in the atmosphere and oceans, and more persistent toxic pollution in everything – including our bodies. Nothing about our presence on Earth is currently sustainable.
I am often at a loss for words to describe the scale and pace of our pathological destruction of the natural world. I am compelled to fight against losing the meaning of the very word that describes the crisis.
What cannot endure, will not endure. Unsustainable activities will come to an end whether we like it or not. We should get actual sustainability before it gets us. Kevin Farmer, TorontoIf you need further evidence of the havoc being wrought thanks to our collective heedlessness, look no further than this:
The ripples from Britain's decision to leave the EU keep spreading. The most immediate shocks, of course, are being felt in the UK. Michael Harris writes:
David Cameron and his government, gone; Britain’s senior EU official, Jonathon Hill, gone. Aflame with divorce anger, European leaders wanting the UK out of the marital home tout de suite. More than a million Europeans living in London potentially gone. The opposition Labour Party in chaos with half the shadow cabinet resigning after millions of voters rejected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s injunction to stay in the EU. And the unthinkable prospect of a Donald Trump/Boris Johnson transatlantic political axis.
On the economic side, Moody’s lowered the UK’s “outlook” from stable to negative. Overnight, Britain slipped from the fifth-largest economy in the world to sixth, leap-frogged by France. The pound dropped like a stone. There are reports that Brexit wiped out $2-trillion in wealth, though it is far from certain whether those assets were made of anything more substantial than paper.
And then there is Scotland. Scots recently voted against independence largely because they were told that if they split with the UK, they would also be splitting with the EU. Now that Scotland has apparently lost the highly valued EU connection, there has been an immediate call for a second vote on independence. In fact, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is threatening to veto the Brexit vote, and directly lobby EU member states to allow Edinburgh to remain inside the pan-European trading bloc.
The United Kingdom may soon be a thing of the past. And, likewise, the EU -- at least as it is presently constituted -- may soon be assigned to the dustbin of history:
The whole European shooting match is now in play. What is to stop hard-right nationalists in places like France and the Netherlands from demanding a referendum of their own on their futures in the EU? There is already the same anti-immigrant sentiment in those countries waiting to be exploited by native populists cut from the same cloth as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.
Both countries will be facing elections next year and it’s a safe bet that leaving the EU will be front and centre on the political agendas, pushed by National Front vice-president Florian Philippot in France, and the Freedom Party in the Netherlands. And they are not the only countries that might be thrown into chaos by the euroskeptics taking heart from the Brexit vote.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the political opposition in Sweden has been inspired by Britain bailing out of Europe. Opposition leader Mattias Karlsson told the WSJ the British vote was inspiring and that, “We will start campaigning for a Swexit.” Likewise with Italy’s Northern League and its leader Matteo Salvini. He said that it’s time Italians had the chance to pass their own judgement on EU membership. Salvini, who is an unabashed Trump supporter, is known for his vitriolic attacks on migrants, and his praise for the “good works” of fascist Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini. Trump in turn has expressed his hope that the Northern League leader will be the next prime minister of Italy.
The world is being remade -- and whether or not it will be for the better is entirely uncertain.
As Britain tries to recover from the shock of the Brexit referendum result. With its economy and its political scene in a turmoil. And its racist bigots on a rampage. I'm sure many of its REMAIN supporters were glad to hear Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, vow to try to block Britain from divorcing the European Union. Read more »
"The Hamptons is not a defensible position." Mark Blyth, professor of Political Economy at Brown University, author of "Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea" on Trumpism and Brexit The above is an excerpt. Full 23 minute interview here.
As you may remember the ghastly uber right-wing Con Jason Kenney couldn't wait to trumpet his joy at the Brexit result.
Calling it a triumph of hope over fear, even though it was exactly the opposite. As well as a triumph of bigotry over decency. So now I'd like him to try to explain this monstrous horror show. Read more »
Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, says the UK can't leave the EU without the consent of the Scotland's parliament. Sturgeon added that the odds are slim to none of the Scottish parliament approving such a legislative consent motion.
p.s. I'm still on hiatus. Just spotted this and thought you might want to see it.
Unless you have taken a strong slug of a particular Kool-Aid, I suspect you will be suitably appalled by the following. Indeed, the responses of the folks who were asked what it would take for Donald Trump to lose their vote reminds me of an old tune sung by Tammy Wynette.
Brexit is one of those historical phenomena that is a mosaic of sub-phenomena; or, if you prefer, a forest with a number of diverting trees. Step back. We’re watching a civil war within ruling classes unfold before our eyes. Look...