Posts from our progressive community

Saturday Afternoon Links

accidentaldeliberations - 10 hours 12 min ago
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Kaylie Tiessen offers some important lessons from Ontario's child poverty strategy - with the most important one being the importance of following through. And Christian Ledwell encourages Prince Edward Island's MPs to lead a push toward a basic income, while PressProgress calls out the Fraser Institute for trying to badger the new federal government into ignoring inequality and poverty altogether.

- Lisa Sachs and Lise Johnson write that the TPP is designed to entrench rules which favour wealthy investors while ruling out the public interest altogether in most government decision-making. Christopher Smillie notes that Canadian trades workers in particular look to lose out as a result of the TPP's open door to temporary foreign workers. Mark Dearn writes that the latest round of agreements involving Europe is designed to give disproportionate power to the oil sector in particular. And David Dayen points to a case where even dolphin-safe labelling was held to violate WTO rules as an example of the corporate intrusion into basic regulations.

- Meanwhile, Rick Salutin writes that ill-advised trade deals which undermine the livelihood of citizens only play into the hands of xenophobes and the politicians who encourage them. And Omer Aziz questions Justin Trudeau's decision to discriminate arbitrarily against male Syrian refugees.

- Michael Harris points out the RCMP's demand for unlimited online surveillance and makes the case for wariness in response.

- Finally, Lana Payne discusses the potentially dangerous effect of polls, with particular reference to Newfoundland and Labrador's election where policy seems to have been thoroughly wiped off the map.

call me lucky: a hilarious, heartbreaking, and inspiring movie

we move to canada - 11 hours 55 min ago
Barry Crimmins might be the most famous person you've never heard of.

In "Call Me Lucky," a documentary tribute to Crimmins created by Bobcat Goldthwait, an A-list of comics talk about the influence Crimmins had on them and their community: Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Margaret Cho, Marc Maron, Steven Wright, among others. Crimmins toured with Billy Bragg. He won a peace award, handed to him by Howard Zinn; the other recipient sharing the stage: Maya Angelou.

In his younger and wilder days, Crimmins was hugely influential in the rising stand-up comedy scene, although the word influential doesn't quite describe it. In Boston, he was comedy's midwife, and his club was its incubator.

Allan and I met Barry through a baseball discussion list in the 90s, quickly bonding over our politics and, for me, a shared identity as survivors of sexual abuse or assault. We stayed at Barry's place on the Cleveland stop of our 1999 rust-belt baseball tour, and went to a few games together in New York. We lost touch until re-connecting on Facebook. Barry is the master of the political one-liner, and his feed keeps me laughing about the things that anger me the most.

Call Me Lucky is a tribute to Crimmins, and a revelation of his personal journey, a glimpse at where his anger comes from, and how he has used his righteous anger to help others. For many people, Crimmins may seem like a paradox, raging at injustice - raging at almost anything! - but simultaneously overflowing with empathy and compassion. But Barry and I are kindred spirits, so I know there's nothing paradoxical about it. Barry is angry in a way I wish more people - especially more Americans - were.

At one point in Call Me Lucky, Barry says:
I feel like there's entire nations that feel like I do. There's entire nations. And you know what? That's why I don't give a shit about American dreams. That's who I am. That's the country I am. I'm of the country of the raped little kids. I'm of the country of the heartbroken. And the screwed over. And the desperate with no chance to be heard. That's what country I'm from. This made me weep with recognition. A similar idea had been at the heart of my personal development, a key understanding of my self and my values. I realized that I had no patriotism, and I didn't want any. I realized "my people" were not others who happened to be born on the same land mass as I happened to be born on, or who people whose mothers had been born into the same religion as my mother. My people were the people fighting for justice. In the fields, in the mines, in the malls, in the factories, in the streets, in the prisons. People working with others to advance the cause of justice, if only the tiniest bit. That is my country. I'm lucky to have found Barry Crimmins living there, too.

There's a lot of humour in this film. And there's a lot of pain, too. Don't be afraid of the pain. As Barry says, to paraphrase, if people can survive this, surely you can hear about it. You can witness.

It's a great film. Don't miss it. Call Me Lucky: website, Facebooktrailer, Netflix.


LeDaro - 13 hours 37 min ago

It is great to see Canada playing a productive role on the World stage.
The Trudeau government’s pledge of $2.65 billion dollars to help developing countries with sustainability is important. It shows Canada takes climate change seriously. It is important for these countries to build a green economy and take advantage of the opportunities therein. Thus it is important for wealthier countries to provide assistance to this goal. It is an important step to helping the poor and vulnerable most affected by climate change.

As quoted in this Huffington Post article, As quoted in this Huffington Post article, UNICEF Canada’s president states that:" We know that children, particularly the poorest, are disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, a fundamental threat to their most basic rights, including access to food, water, education and survival.”
Great to see Canada playing a productive role here.

Burning questions

accidentaldeliberations - 13 hours 53 min ago
Does anybody actually believe for a second that a Republican-dominated Congress will be more willing to ratify a climate change treaty simply because it doesn't contain binding targets?

And if not, doesn't a deliberate failure to include binding targets mean primarily that even if countries can agree on a treaty which could be ratified in a different political environment, it will never have any meaningful effect?

Silicon Valley's Acid Trip

The Disaffected Lib - 14 hours 22 min ago
To some of Silicon Valley's best and brightest, micro-dose LSD has become a popular, performance enhancing drug.

Young professionals in the technological hub are microdosing on lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and magic mushrooms to help them to concentrate, increase productivity and enhance creativity, according to Rolling Stone.

By routinely taking a minuscule amount – about 10 micrograms of LSD, or 0.2-0.5 grams of mushrooms, a tenth of a normal dose – users are said to benefit from the illegal drugs' "subperceptual" effects.

Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies told the magazine that the dose, usually taken in the morning before starting work, is enough "to feel a little bit of energy lift, a little bit of insight, but not so much that you are tripping."

"It's like the coffee to wake up the mind-body connection. When I notice it is working, depending on the dosage, time seems to be slowing down a bit, everything seems covered with a layer of extra significance," said Amsterdam-based Martijn Schirp, adding that the experience gave him the positives of using hallucinogens (magic mushrooms are legal to purchase in Amsterdam) without feeling overwhelmed.

Erdogan in the Limelight. He Doesn't Like It.

The Disaffected Lib - 14 hours 32 min ago
Just a day after boasting that he personally gave the order for Turkish fighter jets to down a Russian bomber, Turkish president Recep Erdogan seems to be having the political equivalent of "buyer's remorse."

Erdogan has dropped the bellicose rhetoric a good couple of octaves and now says he regrets the shootdown. He's also put out word that he's hoping for a one on one, "kiss and make up" with Putin at the Paris climate summit.

Putin, meanwhile, isn't showing any inclination to let bygones be bygones. If anything he seems intent on ratcheting up the pressure on his Turkish counterpart. Putin aides are again raising the claim that Erdogan's son is running a conduit to get ISIS oil out of Syria and onto world markets.

Putin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, says Putin is busy grinding his axe.

Peskov said the crisis had prompted Putin, whose ministers are preparing retaliatory economic measures against Turkey, to “mobilize” in the way an army does in tense times.

“The president is mobilized, fully mobilized, mobilized to the extent that circumstances demand,” said Peskov.

“The circumstances are unprecedented. The gauntlet thrown down to Russia is unprecedented. So naturally the reaction is in line with this threat.”

Peskov, according to the TASS news agency, also spoke of how Erdogan’s son had a “certain interest” in the oil industry. Putin has said oil from Syrian territory controlled by Islamic State militants is finding its way to Turkey.

Erdogan has spoken of slander and asked anyone making such accusations to back up their words with evidence.

Peskov said he “noted” that Turkey’s newly-appointed energy minister, Berat Albayrak, was Erdogan’s son-in-law.

Perhaps to demonstrate Moscow's fist in a velvet glove, Peskov reminded reporters that there are currently about 200,000 Turkish citizens on Russian soil.

Erdogan seems to be squirming. He's been told by NATO leaders that, if Turkey does decide to ring the Article 5 doorbell, it shouldn't expect NATO countries to be coming to the door.

what i'm reading: ghettoside: a true story of murder in america

we move to canada - 14 hours 55 min ago
When we think of gun violence in the United States, chances are we think of mass shootings. These horrific events which occur with such regularity seem, to much of the world, mostly preventable. The public nature of the shootings, and the often tragically young age of the victims, capture headlines and a good portion of the 24-hour news cycle.

Yet murders occur every day in the US, and no one hears about them, except the grief-stricken loved ones and those who fear they may be next. Jill Leovy's Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America is about those murders - both one specific tragedy and what Leovy calls "the plague" itself.

Part sociology and part detective story, Ghettoside is a triumph of reporting, of analysis, and of compassion. This book is disturbing and extremely compelling, and it may change forever how you view both violence and the criminal justice system's response to it.

Leovy is a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, and the plague she investigates is the murder of mostly African-American men mostly by African American men. It is this "black on black" violence that the media ignores, that the public never hears about, and of which thousands of people live in fear. It's a subject that's difficult to talk about, ignored for reasons both admirable (not wanting to be racist) and abhorrent (actual racism). The racism that often underlies any discussion of this epidemic draws two conclusions: one, that black people are inherently violent and cannot be controlled, and two, that the victims are not important. Leovy demonstrates how this pattern has been repeated throughout American history.

The murder of African American men is justly called an epidemic. African Americans make up just 6% of the US population, but are nearly 40% of all homicide victims. Homicide is the number one cause of death of African-­American males ages 15 to 34. And that statistic doesn't count the victims left paralyzed, or with traumatic brain injury, the cases known in this world as "almocides".

In a time when attention is finally being focused on police violence against African Americans, Leovy makes a bold assertion: African Americans suffer from too little criminal-justice resources. And what resources are devoted to their homicides are the wrong kind, with the wrong focus.
This is a book about a very simple idea: where the criminal justice system fails to respond vigorously to violent injury and death, homicide becomes endemic.

African Americans have suffered from just such a lack of effective criminal justice, and this, more than anything, is the reason for the nation's long-standing plague of black homicides. . . . The failure of the law to stand up for black people when they are hurt or killed by others has been masked by a whole universe of ruthless, relatively cheap and easy 'preventive' strategies. . . . This is not an easy argument to make in these times. Many critics today complain that the criminal justice system is heavy-handed and unfair to minorities. . . . So to assert that black Americans suffer from too little application of the law, not too much, seems at odds with common perception. But the perceived harshness of American criminal justice and its fundamental weakness are in reality two sides of a coin. Like the schoolyard bully, our criminal justice system harasses people on small pretexts but is exposed as a coward before murder. It hauls masses of black men through its machinery but fails to protect them from bodily injury and death. It is at once oppressive and inadequate.Leovy guides the reader on a journey through a culture sure to be foreign to most readers, by following the solving and prosecuting of one murder, a murder that struck the heart of the L.A. police community: a homicide detective's son.

Along the way we witness the unending and almost unbearable grief of families who have lost loved ones to the plague. Their pain is compounded by the near-total absence of media attention, the reflexive victim-blaming that labels these deaths "gang-related violence", and the useless platitudes that surround this epidemic.
People often assert that the solution to homicide is for the so-called community to "step up". It is a pernicious distortion. People like [a key witness] cannot be expected to stand up to killers. They need safety, not stronger moral conviction. They need some powerful outside force to sweep in and take their tormentors away. That's what the criminal justice system is for.In Ghettoside, the potential of this "powerful outside force" is personified by a few homicide detectives for whom the words dedicated and hard working are grossly inadequate. They are obsessive and heroic. The book's central hero is a detective named John Skaggs.
Skaggs bucked an age-old injustice. Forty years after the civil rights movement, impunity for the murder of black men remained America's great, though mostly invisible, race problem. The institutions of criminal justice, so remorseless in other ways in an era of get-tough sentencing and "preventive" policing, remained feeble when it came to answering for the lives of black murder victims. [Detective Skaggs'] whole working life was devoted to one end: making black lives expensive. Expensive, and worth answering for, with all the force and persistence the state could muster. Skaggs had treated the murder of [one young black man] like the hottest celebrity crime in town. Seeing these men at work, it becomes obvious that if their vigor and determination were replicated at all levels of the criminal justice system, the plague would wither and die. Yet so few resources are devoted to this endeavour that the detectives are forced to buy their own office equipment.

One persistent and eye-opening theme of Ghettoside is how many homicides cannot be solved because of widespread witness intimidation. Witnesses fear for their own lives, and very rightly so, but fear more for the lives of their parents and children. Retaliation killings are commonplace. Again, the lack of resources devoted to African American homicides, as the legal/judicial system utterly fails the courageous witnesses who do testify. So unsolved murders give rise to more unsolved murders, and on it goes.

Another poignant theme are the scores of young men who desperately want out of the gangs, but who - literally - cannot get out alive. Many of them never wanted to join gangs in the first place, but were forced to choose an identity for survival. This way, Leovy shows us that every murder victim is an innocent victim - every single one. As a detective, standing over the body of a murdered sex worker, says: "She ain't a whore no more. She's some daddy's baby."

A Very Dark Place

Northern Reflections - 16 hours 3 min ago


Things are starting to get crazy. Mohamad Jebara writes:

Recent suggestions by some American and European officials that mosques should be closed, and Muslims rounded up and placed in camps, are not merely troubling. They’re reminiscent of past injustices which the civilized world vowed never to repeat.
People do crazy things when they get scared. History provides us with plenty of examples:

Due to the frenzy aroused in the indoctrinated, many innocent and law-abiding Canadian and American citizens of German and Japanese descent were unjustly persecuted; their properties were confiscated, they were gathered into internment camps and their basic human rights were limited and abused.

Many injustices have been, and continue to be, perpetrated against our First Nations people, who were subjected to ethnic cleansing through residential schools, forced to convert to Christianity and denied the basic rights of citizenship until 1960. Their ancestral lands were confiscated, their lives treated with disregard.
Looking back, we are ashamed at what others have done in our names. But, when we look forward, we tend to forget the past:

The demonization of peoples and religions is an insidious process that infects entire cultures. Shakespeare vilified European Jews when he wrote The Merchant of Venice, as Charles Dickens did when he made his child-slaver Fagin a Jew in Oliver Twist. For centuries, Jews were portrayed in Western media as sly, deceitful, evil and merciless — a portrayal that allowed the ‘civilized’ world to stand by in silence — and in some cases even rejoice — as the Nazis worked to annihilate European Jewry.

The enemy is the Islamic State. It is not Islam. If we fail to see that distinction, we will end up in a very dark place.

Learning How to Live in the New and Harperless Canada

Montreal Simon - 17 hours 21 min ago

It's a strange feeling. I want to celebrate the end of Stephen Harper's ghastly Con regime. I want to think that the monster has disappeared into his own darkness.

But I still can't quite believe it. 

And what with the state of the world, and the sound of the Cons grinding their teeth like cicadas, and violence and insanity everywhere.

I'm having a hard time getting into the spirit of the season... 

But luckily a lot of good things really are happening in the New Canada, and this has got to be one of the best.
Read more »

Vancouver Canucks at Dallas Stars, Final Score: Vancouver 2 - Dallas 3 SO, November 27, 2015

Metaneos - Fri, 11/27/2015 - 21:49
Good game for the 'Nucks. They lost in a shootout, but they could've won. Should've won, if not for noted Canucks killer, Antti Niemi. No Canucks' players had a bad game, tonight. Everyone was at their best. What beat the Canucks was their inability to finish on the power play early in the game, and their inability to kill penalties early in the game.
Don't let anyone tell you different. The best Canucks players played at their best, and the role players did their jobs. Can't ask for much more, except possibly for the second Dallas goal back. Then again, Miller just couldn't react to that blistering slapshot. He was beaten cleanly. Stretched out, and treated like a drum, then.
Some notes,
The Sedins impressed, once again. Sometimes they score against the flow of play, sometimes they dominate play. Tonight, they cleanly beat their matchups.
Alex Edler, he can dominate a hockey game, but he's very reserved on the ice. I'd like to see him demand the puck more. He's mobile enough, and strong on the puck, and difficult to knock off of it. Shame about his bad back, though, which is probably the reason why he's reserved on the ice. He doesn't quite have full mobility, anymore.
Chris Tanev. Smooth. When he's knocked down, he can flail like Bambi, but otherwise, he's cool and composed. Had some trouble, tonight, receiving cross ice passes on the blue line. Had no trouble, whatsoever, exiting his own zone.
Hamhuis, underestimated and under-appreciated, this season. Much better than fans are giving him credit for.
Weber, he's really benefited playing aside Hamhuis this season. However, the team'd probably be better off finding a more capable second pairing right side d-man, and shifting him down to the third pairing. Was adequate to good on the power play, all night.
Ryan Miller, he gave the Canucks a chance to win.
Next Canucks game is on Monday, at Anaheim Ducks. That could be a very interesting game. The Ducks are just below the Nucks in the Pacific. Only three teams from the Pacific will probably make the playoffs this year. If things continue on as they are, then the Nucks and Ducks will be dog-fighting it for the third Pacific playoff spot all season long.

1 officer, 2 civilians dead in Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting

Metaneos - Fri, 11/27/2015 - 20:52
CBC News
This is, simply put, a terrorist attack. It won't be treated as such, however. The suspect probably won't face terrorism charges. His crimes will be whitewashed as being an isolated incident. You know, much like the other dozens upon dozens of isolated incidents resulting in hundreds and hundreds of murders that've occurred over the years.

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 11/27/2015 - 15:22
Roger Sanchez - Another Chance

If You Have Trouble Making Sense of this Fiasco Now, You'll Want to See This.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 11/27/2015 - 12:17

Now that ISIS is still running all over the Caliphate (borderland of Iraq and Syria) and the blood feud is underway between the Hatfields (Russia) and McCoys (Turkey), you might want to have a look at this heavily-redacted American intelligence summary from 2012.

In the overview section, it describes the Western supported "opposition" to the Syrian Assad regime as comprising the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda Iraq operating as al Nusra.

In paragraph D it notes that the Syrian opposition is fighting because of what it claims is Assad's war on the Sunnis and its support of Infidel regimes (Shiites) such as Hezbollah, Iraq and Iran that it collectively labels "dissenters."

Paragraph 7B outlines the protagonists of a larger, proxy war with Russia, China and Iran aligned in support of Assad while the United States, the Gulf States (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, etc.) and Turkey are backing the opposition - already defined as the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda in Iraq (al Nusra).

Then there's paragraph 8C which discusses the establishment of a Salafist principality, the very thing we now call with dread the "Caliphate" in eastern Syria. It goes on to say, "this is exactly what the supporting powers to the Opposition want." The 'supporting powers' - that's us, Saudis and the Turks. Why do we want it? It's all about containment - of the Shiites. Gotta contain those Shiites even if it means handing over a vast swathe of Syria and Iraq to Salafist Islamist dominion.

It's all wrapped up in paragraph 8D where it's acknowledged that, for the Salafist radicals, this is all about "unifying the Jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world, against what it considers one enemy, the dissenters."

In other words, as far back as 2012, our head office (Washington) was backing what would emerge as ISIS in the launching of a Muslim holy war pitting the Sunni Muslim (Islamist) states against the smaller and weaker Shiite Muslim states.

And that, kids is what this f__ked up air war of ours has been all about. Only now we're going to supposedly lay into the Islamists, sort of. Only we won't attack their oil tanker convoys until Putin puts us under the spotlight and we won't admit our allegiance to the state sponsors of Islamist terrorism, our allies.

We're up to our necks in this murderous mess.

Hollande's Turn to do the Terrorists' Bidding.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 11/27/2015 - 11:14

In the wake of the Paris attacks, president Hollande ordered a French bombing campaign against the Islamic State's 'headquarters' in Raqqa, Syria. In The Guardian, Jurgen Todenhofer writes that Hollande is playing straight into the terrorists' hands.

The Syrian city of Raqqa, which is now populated by only 200,000 citizens, has become one of the favourite targets of the French president, François Hollande. American, Jordanian, Russian and Syrian military jets have been reinforced by French bombers. British ones could soon be joining them, dropping their deadly load on what remains of the city’s foundations – even though out of 20,000 Isis fighters who used to hide in the city, only a couple of thousand remain at most. The majority have long ago fled to Mosul, in Iraq, or to Deir Ezzor, also in Syria.

France is currently bombing everything that looks like camps or barracks: small factories, communal buildings, hospitals. The majority of the Arab world has seen photos of dead children in Raqqa – Isis is doing everything it can to spread them. And for every murdered child, there will be new terrorists. War is a boomerang, and it will come to hit us back in the form of terrorism.

Of course, Hollande has to react. But no one is stopping him from reacting with a bit of brains. As a head of state he should know that urban guerrillas cannot be defeated with bombs. He should know that Isis fighters only march in tight orderly lines or drive in convoys in their propaganda videos. Off camera, they avoid hanging around in large groups and spend their time among the local population, preferably in apartment blocks that house families. That’s the very first chapter in the dummies’ guide to terrorism.

In October 2014 I was the first western journalist to spend time with Isis and return safely. During my stay, we were repeatedly targeted by American fighter jets and drones. It’s hard to overemphasise how quickly our Isis escorts managed each time to disappear among the local population. While driving through the territory of the “Islamic State” with three cars – one of which was usually a decoy for the drones – there was always a 10km distance between the vehicles. We frequently switched positions. The mantra of the Isis fighters was: never be a target.

A bombing strategy employed by France – which, potentially, will now be joined by Britain – will above all hit Syria’s population. This will fill Isis fighters with joy. Hollande could only make them happier if he were to send in ground troops as well: western boots on the ground in Syria is the ultimate Isis dream. Instead of mainly killing Muslims, they are desperate to live out their imaginary apocalyptic showdown between good and evil, in which they can at last fight against the US, the UK and France – on the ground.

Todenhofer suggests a few things that might actually undermine ISIS.
America has to stop Gulf states delivering weapons [and funding] to the terrorists in Syria and Iraq

...Isis can only exist because it has managed to ally itself with the suppressed Sunni population of Iraq and Syria. They are the water that carries the Isis project. If the west managed to bring about a national reconciliation in Iraq and Syria, and integrate Sunnis (which in Iraq would have to include former Ba’athists) into political life, Isis would be finished, like a fish out of water.

Is it really so hard to see that the attempt to defeat terrorism with wars has failed? That we have to rethink the war on terror? That we have to finally start treating the Muslim world as true partners, and not as a cheap petrol station we can raid when we feel like it? Bombing civilians will recruit new terrorists. Again and again.

We need to focus on what has radicalized so many young Muslims in the Sunni population. What has taken their hope? Could it be our support of vicious, despotic, pro-Western regimes that brutally suppress their own people - the very outfits we call our allies? There's a reason Israel also backs the Saudi princes and Emirs and the generals of Egypt and it's not to advance the welfare and aspirations of those Arab populations.
We kept those slugs in power, let's end that. The best part is, it's easier to take them down than it is to defeat radical Islam.

Poking the Russian Bear with a Sharp Stick Might Not Turn Out Well

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 11/27/2015 - 10:48
Turkish president Recep Erdogan has thrown fuel on the fire by claiming he personally ordered Turkish jets to shoot down the Russian Su-24 bomber on Tuesday.

The facts strongly suggest this was a setup.  Even by Turkey's account the Russian warplane was in Turkish airspace just 17-seconds. The profile it was flying left no doubt it was not hostile, to the Turks at least.

The Turks - make that president Erdogan - set this up to ambush the Russian bomber.

It's no simple matter to make a fighter intercept in these circumstances. It takes time, positioning, geometry. You pretty much have to be in a firing position, your missiles armed and ready, as soon as the target plane enters your airspace if you've only got 17-seconds to destroy it.  That means you have to get set up well before the target reaches your airspace.

It speaks volumes that the Russian warplane crashed well inside Syrian territory. It could not have been very far inside Turkish airspace when Erdogan's fighters fired on it.

In 2012, the Syrians shot down a Turkish jet which had entered its airspace, and Erdogan’s furious response at the time was that “a short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack”.

(At the time, Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen called it “another example of the Syrian authorities’ disregard for international norms”. There hasn’t been a similar critique of Ankara.)

While the overt clashes may be headed off by the usual machinery of diplomacy, both countries – with large, extensive, secretive and brutal intelligence apparatuses and a history of working with both gangsters and terrorists – may well instead simply transfer these tensions to the covert arena.

In Syria itself, the Russians are likely to put greater emphasis on attacking those groups under Ankara’s patronage. A strike on a Turkish aid convoy may be the first manifestation of this.

Meanwhile, the Turks will presumably arm and encourage those groups most able to give the Russians a bloody nose.

In this way, what wasn’t really a proxy war before is likely to become one.

This is a conflict that Ankara triggered and while it is being managed it is not going to go away. Nor is it just going to become another chapter in the histories of Russo-Ottoman rivalry. Expect to see this play out in snide, deniable, but nonetheless bitter actions for months to come.

Well the Russians do have a thing for revenge well chilled. Some day you may read about something untoward befalling a former Turkish president as the old man sat sipping sweet tea in a beautiful olive garden.R

The Depravity of the Far Right. Surviving the Age of Fear.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 11/27/2015 - 10:14
What gives terrorist leaders sleepless nights? It's not us. It's not their enemies. What they fear most is becoming invisible, boring - losing the support of their base, rich and poor alike. They need headlines, they need to stay in the public eye and they need to provoke over-the-top outrage and hyperbolic threats from the big bad Infidels, that's us. There's nothing better to keep those kids signing up and those cash stuffed envelopes pouring in.

Terrorists were tailor made for the far right. The 2001 World Trade Center/Pentagon attacks were perfectly timed for the arrival of America's first rabidly neo-conservative government, the Bush/Cheney regime. And so began the Age of Fear. It suited radical Islam and neo-conservative hawks perfectly, played straight into their respective hands. For both sides it was the answer to their dreams.

According to Foreign Policy CEO and editor, David Rothkopf, the Age of Fear has now given us its inevitable love child, Donald Trump.

"Trump has undergone a metamorphosis as a candidate from being a joke to a curiosity to a phenomenon to a full-fledged force with a chance to win. That he now seems to be unwittingly playing directly into the hands of terrorists by producing just the kind of rhetoric that is certain to stir outrage across the Islamic world and drive recruitment efforts upward — as he clearly has not concerned himself with either the lessons of past attacks or the moral implications of his proposed plans — is maybe the most disturbing development of this distended, perverse campaign so far.

"Nonetheless, Trump’s actions are even more unsettling because they are symptomatic of a broader, deeper, and much more profound problem. Terrorism has, since 9/11, mushroomed into a greater global threat than it has ever been before — and it has been a problem in one form or another since the dawn of history. But as bad as terrorism is, our reactions to it have triggered a kind of worsening risk spiral that has made the world a much more dangerous place. Not only are we playing into the terrorists’ hands, and thus giving them needed momentum, the countries of the world are reacting in such an uncoordinated and even conflicting fashion that new geopolitical fissures are emerging that are far more worrisome than any strike or campaign extremists could orchestrate.

"In 2002, the year after 9/11, there were fewer than 1,000 deaths from terrorist attacks worldwide, according to the U.S. State Department. This past year, that number was more than 30,000. Al Qaeda delivered a shocking blow to the United States in 2001, but it was a small organization, incapable of repeating such an attack. Today, the terrorists of the Islamic State have changed the game, controlling territory in Iraq and Syria, recruiting fighters globally, and essentially offering the world’s first open-source terrorist organization. Download a flag, embrace the name, and you are basically in. As open-source enterprises in other sectors have found, this is a great force multiplier. Suddenly, we are confronted with a “group” capable of brutality across many countries, and the threat posed by them and other terrorist groups that align with them or seek to rival them (see the recentNew York Times article on the competition between al Qaeda and the Islamic State) only seems to be growing.

"...since [the ill-conceived conquest of Hussein's Iraq] we have seen a stunning lack of strategy, coordination, or even coherent thinking about how to deal with the threat. We have had the “Obama doctrine”; a “light footprint”; the employment of a surgical approach when force was needed; massive overreach on the surveillance front; rhetoric about restraint; confusion about red lines; tactical half-measures; and strategic incoherence. In the Middle East, we continue to see a wide variety of approaches linked to some variation on the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” doctrine and a kind of national hierarchy of hatreds and fears. This is complicated by the proliferation of terrorist groups with conflicting agendas. So, in Syria, we have the real possibility that Bashar al-Assad’s regime helped stoke the fires of the Islamic State through prisoner releases, etc., to justify its cause — which seemed to have worked to some degree as we now have the world’s leading powers being more patient with the Syrian strongman if he will help fight the Islamic State. We might even see, after a political deal in Damascus (which will likely create an “Assad-lite” regime after a transition period and provide amnesty for the brutal dictator currently in power), an alliance between that regime and major powers and an al Qaeda spinoff, al-Nusra Front, to work to defeat the Islamic State.

"The problem stems not from the terrorists directly but from the conflicts and instability that are being left in the wake of our responses to their attacks. Invading Iraq was step one. Pulling out too quickly compounded it. Failure to address the issues of Sunni representation in that country compounded it and led to the rise of the Islamic State. Failure to address the problems in Syria when they were early enough to contain compounded it. Belated, uncoordinated halfway measures against the Islamic State were another problem. Failure to stand up to allies funding extremists compounded it. Conflicted policies in Afghanistan did too. Conflicting policies among allies on issues like Mohamed Morsi’s government, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Iran nuclear deal, the future of the Assad regime, the situation in Libya, the situation in Yemen, inaction in the face of spreading threats in Africa, and a host of other related problems now have us in a grave situation. In the Middle East, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya are in chaos. Lebanon and Jordan are bending under the weight of the refugee burden. Refugee flows are posing a major political challenge in the EU. Nationalists and political opportunists are inflaming the situation and further weakening alliances with their rhetoric. There is very little alignment and very serious conflict among a wide-ranging group of powers that are allegedly in some areas working together. This list of collaborators at risk of coming to blows with one another includes the United States, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Israel, France, Iraq, and others."

And so we, the West, stand as a house divided - reactionary, incoherent and dangerously ineffective. We're losing this asinine War on Terror because it is creating fissures among us, divisions that can grow into chasms.  Europe is charting its own path that is often divergent from ours on this side of the Atlantic. They're increasingly fed up with Israel and its turn to the far right while Canada and the United States kowtow to Netanyahu and turn a blind eye to the Palestinians. These divisions create welcome maneuvering space for Russia and China to exploit.

Our political and military leadership have badly failed us with their embrace of "whack a mole" warfare, oblivious to the dangers that inflicts on us. They want to play "old war" or military war with jets and helos, tanks and artillery against enemies who know they don't need any of that stuff to win. Our leaders are too vain, too arrogant, too stupid to realize that even as they're winning all the battles they're decisively losing the wars. As T.E. Lawrence put it, we're 'trying to eat peas with a knife.' 
Still, whack-a-mole warfare has fueled the far right's Age of Fear. It's a convenient response to an engineered threat you really don't want to simply go away. There's no risk of victory in it. No one is even looking for some sort of victory which is why we just don't put any effort or resources into preparing for such a conclusion. It's so much easier to send a handful of fighters here and a shipload or two of bombs right after them. To revive a term I coined a while back, it's the "war of gesture."
Only it's worked out far better for the other side than it has for us. They're much better at fighting their wars, the wars that matter and determine outcomes. As the article notes, they've got this thing franchised now and it's growing even as we're pinned down in Afghanistan or in the skies over Iraq and Syria.

This article supports my earlier argument that we must stop getting into wars that we have neither the ability nor will to win, whack-a-mole wars that transform into wars without end that only nurture and expand those we seek to confront. This is beginning to resemble the movie, "Groundhog Day." That's not a good thing. Enough. Let's put the Age of Fear where it belongs. Bury it.

We're losing unwinnable wars and we're losing by our own hand. It's beginning to divide us and could soon tear us apart.

Spikes Don't Prevent Jumper From Whitehouse Lawn

LeDaro - Fri, 11/27/2015 - 08:27
Secret Service is investigating the first White House fence scaler since spikes were installed last summer. The first family was at home celebrating Thanksgiving when the incident happened.

Erdoğan's goose is cooked

Metaneos - Fri, 11/27/2015 - 06:59
Fittingly, a day after the US' Thanksgiving holiday, we're starting to smell roasted bird. That would probably be Erdoğan. He's well done, as of now. Cooked to perfection.
Now, it's a matter of time. Waiting for him to be finished, entirely.
For the time being, NATO's hung him out to dry. They've denounced Russia's retaliations, but have actually done nothing else. Article 5's not even in play. It's been skirted around, and all but dismissed entirely.
At this point in time, Turkey's only a member of NATO in name only.
This is especially important, knowing Russia's not interested in attacking Turkey, but has made it known they'll retaliate to any attack on their forces, going all out. They've basically triple-dog-dared Turkey to attack them, too, brushing aggressively close to Turkey's border, and doubling down on attacks on the people Turkey had demanded Russia not attack, the Turkmen. And now Syria finally has access to Russia's best weapons, which is something Turkey had been dreading for years.
And Turkey's declared they'll suspend all flights over Syria. At this point in time, it might as well be construed Turkey's retreated so far from its former position they're metaphorically up against their backs leaning against their border with Bulgaria with nowhere else to go.
Erdoğan's been sidling back up to Putin, too, trying to beg him, without appearing to do so, to speak with him at Paris. It's as though he's sobered up, realizing he's become overnight a lame duck on the international stage.
It stinks like Erdoğan got played. This is simply too convenient for all other players involved in the region. The US has been annoyed by Turkey's attacking the Kurds, whereas Russia's been annoyed at Turkey funding ISIS.
Russia has given Turkey an out of this mess. Apologize for the attack. Erdoğan's refused to do so, thus far. But that could probably save his career if the kingmakers in Turkey decide to appease Russia.
Ah, now that I think about it, perhaps my imagination is too vivid. This is all conjecture, and I'm following a line of thought that might not have much basis in fact.
At any rate, perhaps the West and Russia are done with Erdoğan. Maybe they've decided they don't need a strongman in Turkey, but someone more pliant to outside interests?
Ah, whatever. At the very least, the threat of war seems to be gone. We can probably all breath again.

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 11/27/2015 - 06:56
Assorted content to end your week.

- Mariana Mazzucato discusses the futility of slashing government without paying attention to what it's intended to accomplish. And Sheila Block and Kaylie Tiessen are particularly critical of Ontario's short-term sell-offs which figure to harm public services and revenues alike in the long run:
The sale of Hydro One isn’t the only longer-term pain that is being inflicted by today’s economic update. The Finance Minister has recommitted the government to medium program expenditure growth of less than 1 per cent.

A continuation of the government’s deficit elimination plan means that government spending on public services will continue to fall far behind both inflation and population growth...

In 2015-16, government spending is 5.7% below what it would have been if real, per capita spending simply stayed at 2010 levels.

That’s a $6.9 billion gouge in public services that makes itself known through the affordable housing waitlist, the missed targets in the Ontario poverty reduction strategy, and the growing class sizes students and teachers find themselves facing.

Once again, we find ourselves calling for an adult conversation, but this time it is about both taxes and deficits.- Nora Loreto looks to Quebec's anti-austerity strikes as an important example of what workers can do when they join together. And Susan Berfield details Wal-Mart's efforts to stop social progress through security state-style surveillance of its employees (and anybody who might seek to improve their wages and working conditions).

- Greg Quinn reports on Mike Moffatt's observation that tax revenue collected at the federal level is far less easily avoided than that based on a single province's system. And Canadians for Tax Fairness highlight a few of the worst offenders amount Canada's corporate tax avoiders. 

- George Monbiot comments on a public environmental survey which actually revised participants' answers to suit business interests - while noting that the technological glitch responsible was all too consistent with the conservative pattern of subverting the idea of public consultation.

- Finally, Marc Lee takes a look at Alberta's new climate change plan. And Martin Lukacs rightly recognizes that it should represent only the start of a shift away from the dominance of the oil sector.

The Day Justin Trudeau Left Stephen Harper in the Dust

Montreal Simon - Fri, 11/27/2015 - 06:40

For years Stephen Harper attacked Justin Trudeau as only a bully and a political pervert could.

Smearing him in every possible way, distorting his words, questioning his masculinity, and trying to brainwash us into believing that he was just not ready.

And for years Justin just shrugged those attacks off, much to my dismay. Because I believe that bullies should be taught a lesson, put down, and humiliated.

But in London yesterday, at last, Trudeau finally rang Harper's bell.

Read more »


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