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Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 19:12
Markus Schulz - Perception

Score Another One For Rick

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 16:39
Another acerbic commentary from Canada's conscience.

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But Hey

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 09:41
...their sacrifices are helping Harper seduce voters with more tax cuts.

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Top British Tories Slam Tony Abbott. Carol Goar Gnaws on Harper.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 09:21
Who better to give Australian prime minister Tony Abbott a real hiding but a number of prominent Tories.  Real Tories, not what passes for conservative under the Harper regime.  Real Tories, as in the Brits.

The attitude of Prime Minister Tony Abbott to the global challenges of climate change is "eccentric", "baffling" and "flat earther", according to a group of senior British Conservatives.
The group, including Prime Minister David Cameron's Minister for Energy and a former Thatcher Minister and chairman of the Conservative Party, says Mr Abbot's position on climate change represents a betrayal of the fundamental ideals of Conservatism and those of his political heroine, Margaret Thatcher.
In a series of wide-ranging, separate interviews on UK climate change policy with The Age, they warn that Australia is taking enormous risks investing in coal and will come under increasing market and political pressure to play its part in the global battle against climate change. 
They could as easily be speaking of our own "flat earther" prime minister and all the other flat earthers who populate both sides of the aisle in the House of Commons.
A  former chairman of the British Conservative Party, Lord Deben said Mr Abbott has betrayed the fundamental tenets of conservatism itself.
 "I have no doubt that people like David Cameron will be saying to Tony Abbott 'look conservatives are supposed to conserve, they are supposed to hand on to the next generation something better than they received themselves'."
Tim Yeo, chairman of the UK's parliamentary select committee on energy and climate change and a former environment minister under John Major, likened those who question the existence and the science of climate change as "the flat earthers of the 16th century".
"Some of us are very perplexed. I was last in Australia at the beginning of last year, before the election and had conversations with people on both sides of the political divide. I was amazed at some of the views.
 "If I was Australian, I'd be concerned if my country's economic future and prosperity became dependent on continued coal export."  

Meanwhile, TorStar's Carol Goar observes that Stephen Harper is also fast running out of places to hide.

Harper still has a few allies. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott shares his view that it would be economic folly on impose “a job-killing carbon tax” on energy producers. He can make common cause with the remaining climate change holdouts: Libya, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran and Egypt.But he has become increasingly isolated and Canada’s relations with its allies and trading partners are showing the strain. French President François Hollande made a vain plea to Harper to act on climate change during his visit to Ottawa last month. The 120 heads of state who attended September’s United Nations Climate Summit in New York noted his absence. His aggressive lobbying for the Keystone XL pipeline alienated Obama.On his latest foreign trip, the prime minister paid lip service to the environment. When the U.S. and China announced their game-changing deal to slash greenhouse gas emissions, he grudgingly welcomed the breakthrough. “For some time we have been saying we favour an international agreement that would include all the major emitters,” he said. But he made no move to cut or cap Canada’s fossil fuel emissions. ...Skeptics discount these vague promises. Harper will procrastinate, shift the focus, then move into election mode. His deft political footwork at last weekend’s G20 summit in Brisbane suggests they’re right. He succeeded in eclipsing Canada’s poor environmental record by boldly confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin over his incursions into Ukraine.  ...Harper is a master strategist. He knows how to get around obstacles, divide his opponents and silence his critics. He has navigated his way through trickier junctures than this.But the moment Canadians decide they don’t want to be on the wrong side of the climate change issue, his last bulwark will buckle.

Vice Asks, "Who's Afraid of the Surveillance State?"

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 09:01
Those who hold their freedom cheaply must surely lose it.

Since the turn of this century, many Western countries have become true surveillance states.  Governments, allied with the commercial sector, are relentless on keeping tabs on us, monitoring and analyzing our activities and views, flagging us even for our dissent.  Add foreign state and non-state, criminal hackers to that and it can be really hard to find a place where your privacy is inviolate.

With the complicit silence of the opposition, the Canadian government has established at least one secret police agency - the network of government police, intelligence and surveillance agencies charged with the duty to aid and abet the pipeline industry.  Don't think there aren't others.

I was brought up to understand that we have not one right or freedom that had not been paid for, often more than once, in blood.  There is not one right or freedom that will not be taken from us if we fail to exercise or defend it.  There is not one right or freedom that doesn't have an enormous value to those persons or entities that would deprive us of it.  And, once lost, you can expect to have to fight to recover it - yet again.

So why do we tolerate the Surveillance State?  An report from Vice suggests that today's operatives have achieved such technological prowess that we don't even realize when they're standing behind us.

Fictional surveillance states are thrilling and almost never subtle. Dictators are ubiquitously projected on vast public monitors, "thought criminals" are dragged away screaming from city squares, automaton armies visibly stand watch, and protagonists are tortured according to their deepest fears. Dystopian narratives of totalized surveillance bring its horror to the fore.Our very real surveillance state contains no fewer dark elements. There is torture, targeting of dissidents, and armed enforcement aplenty. But the supposedly compelling story — that we are inescapably watched by a powerful corporate-government nexus — is, as a lived reality, kinda boring. ...for all the initial furor [of the Edward Snowden revelations], the rest of us have accepted disclosures of the NSA's unbounded data hoarding as an everyday matter of fact. Outside of a dedicated cadre of appalled privacy advocates, activists, and journalists, life has seemingly carried on as normal. Faced with a very real surveillance state, most of us have not cast ourselves as protagonists, or even minor characters, in the story of a struggle against it....I agree entirely with Greenwald that "the last place one should look to impose limits on the powers of the US government is… the US government." He rightly points out that significant reform will not come through legislative efforts, but through widespread shifts in our individual online behavior and the use of tools that make the work of spies more difficult, ideally to the point where they're simply not worth the effort. "Governments don't walk around trying to figure out how to limit their own power," Greenwald writes, "and that's particularly true of empires."...Of course, the surveillance state does not reside entirely in intelligence office parks. It lives in the online networks and cell phone towers through which our every communication passes, it has purchase in the back doors written into the code of our email services, it lurks in our unencrypted messages. It is everywhere and nearly everywhere unseen — and therein lies the threat of insidious and totalized systems of governmental control.The importance of privacy cannot be overstated. Subjects who know that they are the targets of state observation are controlled and managed by this knowledge; dissent and creativity are foreclosed by the effect of being observed. Yet this is a creeping control and one that latches, perversely, onto the very freedoms ostensibly provided by contemporary networked communications.In a democracy, government is supposed to fear the public.  Or maybe that was just a time now long past.

What Do We Do When the Warnings Stop?

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 07:56
It's hard to tell what's going on in our minds but the cognitive dissonance displayed by our political leaders on climate change has apparently taken hold among the rest of us as well.

It's as though we're trying not to make a decision out of fear of the decision and what it might mean, the changes it might require.  Yet, by avoiding it, we are making a decision.  We are opting for an outcome, a very dangerous result.

Those of us in the ripening years may escape the worst of it but our kids won't and our grandkids will bear the full brunt of this very decision we're taking by looking the other way.

Anyway, here's the Associated Press report that was incorrectly formatted in the previous post.


The world still isn't close to preventing what leaders call a dangerous level of man-made warming, a new United Nations report says. That's despite some nations' recent pledges to cut back on carbon dioxide emissions... "The time window (for reaching that goal) is closing, closing," said United Nations undersecretary for environment Achim Steiner. And the cost of getting to that goal "is increasing, increasing."To meet that goal, the world has to hit a peak of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases before 2030, said the report's chief scientific editor, Joseph Alcamo. But the study says carbon emissions will continue to soar until 2050 and by then it will be too lateIf the U.S. and China follow through with their promises, they may shave a few billions of tons off the total, said former U.S. Sen. Tim Wirth, vice chairman of the United Nations Foundation. Those pledges and an earlier one by Europe, while narrowing the gap, aren't large enough to close it, Alcamo said.In his forward to the report, Steiner wrote that the "analysis reveals a worrisome worsening trend. Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will lead to an even warmer climate and exacerbate the devastating effect of climate change."Outside scientists praised the numbers in the study, but Granger Morgan at Carnegie Mellon University raised a question that scientists have been debating more frequently: Is it time to abandon the two-degree goal as unrealistic?"Today a two-degree target is akin to a 60-year-old man who resolves to be 25 years old next year," Morgan said in an email. "It ain't gonna happen, but it's time to get really serious about achieving what we can."Steiner said because of the dangers of a warmer world, it is unthinkable to abandon the two-degree goal.When the scientific community is prepared to throw in the towel on the 2C target, that's about as blunt a warning as you can get.  That's what they used to say in private, over a couple of beers.  
  ___

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 06:39
Assorted content to end your week.

- Dennis Raphael and Toba Bryant write about the devastating health effects of income inequality in Canada:
Imagine the response, from industry, government and the public, if a plane was crashing every day. If there were something that killed as many people in a day as this kind of disaster, you’d expect it to provoke a similarly concentrated response.

A recent report by Statistics Canada highlights a preventable cause of premature death that is having exactly that kind of impact. This study demonstrates that income inequality is associated with the premature death of 40,000 Canadians a year. That’s equal to 110 Canadians dying prematurely each day. To put that into context, imagine a Bombardier CS-100 jet airplane full of passengers falling out of the sky every day for a year.
...
The Statistics Canada report also makes clear that these differences in health outcomes are primarily due to the material living circumstances and the associated psychosocial stresses associated with not being as well off as the wealthiest 20% of Canadians: “Income influences health most directly through access to material resources such as better quality food and shelter.” Income inequality is not only bad for our quality of life and economic productivity, it is directly related to the deaths of Canadians on an almost unimaginable scale.

Canadians are increasingly concerned about growing income inequality and are becoming more aware of its health effects. It’s time for a serious response from policy-makers, media and the public. Otherwise we’ll simply continue to watch 110 Canadians falling out of the sky every day, each day, 365 days a year.- Meanwhile, Seumas Milne notes that the UK Cons are continuing to push pointless austerity even as its damage to the economy becomes inescapable.

- And we shouldn't be suckered into believing that austerity happens only through relatively transparent budgeting processes. In fact, recent reports show that the Cons have simply chosen not to bother with approved funding both for veterans at home, and for the world's poorest people abroad - imposing massive cuts from the amounts approved by our elected representatives without any debate.

- Carol Goar discusses how Canada is losing allies around the world due to the Cons' obstinate refusal to do anything - or even allow anything to be done - to meaningfully fight climate change.

- And finally, Michael Den Tandt comments on the Cons' disreputable politics - with Michael Sona's sentence (and the Cons' refusal to acknowledge jail-worthy wrongdoing within their own ranks) serving as just the latest example.

Putting Us In Our Place

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 06:23
Pit the arrogance of humanity against the power of nature, and nature prevails every time. A pity that those who are determining earth's fate refuse to acknowledge that simple truth.

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The Meaning Of Silence

Northern Reflections - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 05:33
                                             http://markcoakley.wordpress.com/

There has been nary a word from the Conservative Party since Michael Sona's sentencing. What are we to make of that? Michael den Tandt writes:

Keep in mind, key questions that emerged on the very first day the story broke in 2012, courtesy of Postmedia’s Stephen Maher and the Ottawa Citizen’s Glen McGregor, are still outstanding. Does it make any sense at all to think that a 22-year-old planned and executed this scheme, which required access to the party’s Constituent Information Management System (CIMS) database, on his own? And would he have participated had he thought such actions were antithetical to the values of his party and his bosses?
The Conservatives have made no attempt to answer those questions. Harperites don't like to answer questions. After Joe Oliver's budget speech the other day, there were no questions. That's why the speech was given outside the House of Commons, where questions are inevitable. Questions might lead to an attack of humility:

We’re long past the moment when anyone could reasonably expect humility or remorse from this prime minister. “Never apologize, never explain,” appears to be among Stephen Harper’s guiding principles. It’s always worked for him before.
But, really, a little humility is in order:

There’s Dean Del Mastro, the former Peterborough, Ont., MP and parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister convicted of over-spending and filing a false document to cover that up, who is now awaiting sentencing. And there’s the Ol’ Duff, arguably still the greatest single threat to the Conservative legacy, whose 41-day trial is set to begin in early April.

Beyond all that, there’s the miasma of tawdriness that hangs over so much of this Conservative party’s political tool kit; personal attacks on the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; tactics that, since the in-and-out affair in the 2006 election, have skirted the edge of legality and sometimes crossed over; and an advertising strategy that, though legal, routinely, deliberately quotes Conservative opponents out of context.
For this prime minister, humility is a sign of weakness. Eventually voters will reach a different conclusion.


When the Harper Cons Don't Listen to Canada's Doctors

Montreal Simon - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 03:13


In the aftermath of the SARS crisis of 2003, the government created the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the position of Chief Public Health Officer to strengthen this country's medical defences.

After they were shown to be almost catastrophically inadequate.

But now Stephen Harper and his Cons are slashing the Public Health Agency's budget, and neutering the country's top doctor.

And to make matters even worse, they're not even listening to them. They're all but burying their reports.
Read more »

Stephen Harper and the Great War on the Internet

Montreal Simon - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 00:09


He rules by fear. He tries to muzzle his opponents. He is terrorizing the civil service, and politicizing the police.

So when the Privacy Commissioner warns that Stephen Harper is trying to control the only thing he can't control, the internet. 

Canadians should be alarmed.
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Justin, Tommy - Please, Please Wake Up!

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 21:16
This Associated Press report from the Houston Chronicle, lays it out about as well as it could be said.

The world still isn't close to preventing what leaders call a dangerous level of man-made warming, a new United Nations report says. That's despite some nations' recent pledges to cut back on carbon dioxide emissions.

"The time window (for reaching that goal) is closing, closing," said United Nations undersecretary for environment Achim Steiner. And the cost of getting to that goal "is increasing, increasing."
To meet that goal, the world has to hit a peak of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases before 2030, said the report's chief scientific editor, Joseph Alcamo. But the study says carbon emissions will continue to soar until 2050 and by then it will be too late.
 If the U.S. and China follow through with their promises, they may shave a few billions of tons off the total, said former U.S. Sen. Tim Wirth, vice chairman of the United Nations Foundation. Those pledges and an earlier one by Europe, while narrowing the gap, aren't large enough to close it, Alcamo said.
 In his forward to the report, Steiner wrote that the "analysis reveals a worrisome worsening trend. Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will lead to an even warmer climate and exacerbate the devastating effect of climate change."
 Outside scientists praised the numbers in the study, but Granger Morgan at Carnegie Mellon University raised a question that scientists have been debating more frequently: Is it time to abandon the two-degree goal as unrealistic?
 "Today a two-degree target is akin to a 60-year-old man who resolves to be 25 years old next year," Morgan said in an email. "It ain't gonna happen, but it's time to get really serious about achieving what we can."
 Steiner said because of the dangers of a warmer world, it is unthinkable to abandon the two-degree goal.
We either have to find a way to live on this Earth, right now, or we have to find a place to die on this Earth.  It's that simple.  It really is.

Alberta Fake Clinics Sponging Public Money, Part 2, Medicine Hat

Dammit Janet - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:02
To continue our investigation into Alberta fake clinics sucking off the public tit (Part 1 on Central Alberta Fake Clinic here), let's look at the Medicine Hat Pregnancy Support Society.

It doesn't seem to have its own website and does not belong to Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services, the organization that the Ontario Trillium Foundation had a problem with.

It does have a Facebook page, which consists mainly of announcements of holidays on which they'll be unavailable to help any crisis pregnancies. For fun, here's its very goddy newsletter.

Things get interesting however, when we look at its finances. A site named CHIMP gets its information from the same place we do, the CRA.

This pie chart is fascinating, though. WTF does that mean?


But Chimp reports the 2013 data correctly. In 2013, Medicine Hat Haters spent 90% of their dough on management and administration, with 3% going to the "charitable program."



Note that they report 0% "government funding."

Now have a look at their filing for 2012. Then, they spent 95% on the charitable program and 5% on management, again reporting no government funding.


In 2011, again 95% went to the charitable program with no government funding.

Now, go back to the Alberta Lottery Fund and nose around a bit, you'll find that Medicine Hat scored government/pubic money as follows:

2012/13: $4500
2011/12: $6300
2010/11: $9300
2009/10: 0
2008/09: $4500
(figures are rounded to nearest hundred)

Two questions here:
1. Why are they not reporting government funding?

2. How the hell did they go from spending 5% on admin to spending 90%?

Honest mistake?

No flags were raised?

We will continue to ask questions.




h/t to Niles in the comments for the FB, CHIMP, and newsletter links.

Grandmas on Weed

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 12:38
Hilarious.  In Washington State, 3 grandmothers hit the bong for the very first time.  They're so precious.  Now, pass the chocolate chips.

Police impunity: not just Ferguson

Dawg's Blawg - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 11:17
Road conditions: fine. Residential neighbourhood. Speeding 122K in a 50K zone. Kills a five-year old child. Breathalyzer test? We’ll never know. But no charges will be laid. The driver was a cop. He’s still out there, serving and protecting.... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

Well, That's a Plan!

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 10:27


We don't need to let the Ukraine plunge us back into cold war.  There is a way out.  A duel.

The head of east Ukraine’s separatist People’s Republic of Luhansk (LNR) has challenged Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to a duel to bring a decisive end to the conflict between government loyal forces and pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine’s east.“Let’s follow the example of the ancient Slav and Cossack chieftains and face each other in a duel,” said Igor Plotnitsky, head of the self-proclaimed LNR, told Russian state news agency TASS on Wednesday.“Whoever is declared winner dictates the rules the loser’s country has to follow,” Plotnitsky added, before putting himself forward to represent both his own separatists and those in neighbouring Donetsk in a duel with Poroshenko to “put an end to the war”.And, while we're on the subject, wouldn't this be a dandy way for Harper and Putin to sort out their differences?

Now This Is an Eye-Opener. Greenland Goes Black.

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 10:20
Glaciologist Jason Box of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland is trying to wake up the world to just what's actually happening to the Greenland ice sheet.  He's crowd-sourced a venture to bring these photos to the public. They reveal the extent of dust and soot contamination of the ice fields and how they're accelerating the melt, the water digging crevasses before racing to the sea.







The Royal Canadian Rent-a-Navy

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 09:06


Mr. Harper.  It's probably not a brilliant idea to get into Vlad Putin's face when you've left Canada with as navy so neglected that it can't defend one coast much less three.  Our essential supply ships beaten and battered, our air defence destroyers rotted out - it takes a Heart of Oak to sail on under the conditions you've created for Canada's navy.

Algonquin is gone, along with the Iroquois.  Our two supply ships, Protecteur and Provider, - same story.

Without those supply ships we can't send a fighting formation, a task force, to sea.  The best we can do at the moment is hope an ally's replenishment ship can help out.

The worst part is that, with the by now standard incompetence of the Harper government, the replacement ships are years away.

New joint support ships were initially proposed to the Chretien government in 1994, but it wasn't until Paul Martin became prime minister that the vessels were finally ordered.The Conservatives, however, cancelled and then restarted the program in 2008 when the initial cost estimates exceeded the government's budget envelope. The program has struggled to get back on track ever since.The parliamentary budget office put out a report last year that said, had the government stuck with the original plan, the navy would already have their ships and they would be cheaper and more capable than what is being proposed now.So Harper has left Canada essentially defenceless - again.  It's a hell of a jam to be in now that we've plunged into Cold War II.  We know the Russian navy has plenty of ships and plenty of reach.  They showed that by sailing into waters north of Australia during last week's G20 summit.  If there's one thing Putin has shown the world it's that, when you push him, he pushes back.Still, prime minister Thumb-up-his-Ass does have a few options.  The US Navy has a number of "like new" replenishment ships in mothballs.  They're just ten years old or, in other words, 30-years newer than HMCS Protecteur.  We could rent or, if necessary, even buy a couple of those.  Likewise we might be able to get the Americans to lend or sell us two or three of their substantial fleet of air defence destroyers - just to plug the holes in the RCN's bottom while we still can.

Must Be A Form Of Tough Love

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 08:32


For a government that frequently and loudly proclaims its veneration of our military, the Harper regime has a strange way of showing the love:
Veterans Affairs Canada has returned $1.13 billion to the federal treasury in unspent funds since the Conservatives came to power in 2006 — cash that critics say should have gone toward improved benefits and services.In what I'm sure is a mere 'coincidence,
Data tabled in the House in response to a written question shows roughly one-third of the so-called lapsed funds were handed back between the 2011 and 2013 budget years when the government was engaged in a massive deficit-cutting drive.Asked by NDP MP Peter Stoffer about the unspent funds, Veteran Affairs minister Julian Fantino, drawing upon a talent undoubtedly honed through his various career incarnations, responded with a non-answer, saying that the government has spent a total of $30 billion for vets since 2006:
“It means improved rehabilitation for Canadian veterans,” Fantino said. “It means more counselling for veterans’ families. It means more money for veterans’ higher education and retraining. It means we care deeply about our veterans.”If I know the law from watching television, one could characterize the minister as being non-responsive, which allowed Stoffer to offer his own interpretation of the withheld funds:
“The deputy ministers . . . have obviously been told by the higher-ups that, ‘This money has to come back to us in order for us to have our books balanced, and that way we can use that money for other purposes, like income-splitting.’”Not to be outdone, Liberal veterans critic Frank Valeriote offered a trenchant assessment, saying that
ex-soldiers who’ve been denied benefits will look at the unspent funds and feel “hoodwinked, completely abandoned” and wonder why they’ve made sacrifices for their country.

“It is reprehensible and unconscionable what they’re doing so that the government can create an image of fiscal responsibility”.Perhaps in light of what many would describe as a betrayal of veterans, the Kenora Legion might like to rethink the punitive measures it took against Rev. Sandra Tankard for speaking out on their behalf on Remembrance Day. They have clearly misidentified the true enemy here.
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You May Know a Man By the Company He Keeps

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 07:32

There's much to be learned by exploring the type of persons our prime minister seeks out; the gaggle of fixers, hustlers, punks, pocket liners, bullies and reprobates who surround him.


Here, in no particular order, are but a few.  The Sullied.

Fantino
Ford
Jacobsen
Abbott
Anders
Porter
Redford
Zaccardelli
Brazeau
Wright
Del Mastro
Duffy
Wallin
Flanagan
Oda
Netanyahu
Tkachuk
Sona
Carson
Jaffer



 And, by the company Stephen Harper keeps, it's pretty easy to take the measure of the man.

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