Posts from our progressive community

Stephen Harper and the Scandal that Will Destroy Him

Montreal Simon - dim, 07/20/2014 - 02:48


Well there I was today in the north of Scotland, when I thought I saw a mysterious creature in this little bay.

At first I thought it was another kind of Nessie. Or a big fat dolphin.

But then I realized it wasn't eh?

It was only Moby Duff...



Getting ready to dive dive dive !!!!  And take down  Stephen Harper. 
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The Iron Dome is a Scam

Rusty Idols - sam, 07/19/2014 - 17:57
The Iron Dome is a scam according to experts inside and outside of Israel.

According to defence experts - plural - its a public relations exercise and it follows that both Israel and Hamas play along with it with because it suits both their interests for Hamas to seem more dangerous and effective than it actually is.

If the Iron Dome is actually stopping NOTHING and  if the 10% of sputtering rockets barely better than those you could buy from a roadside stand across the border before the fourth of July, that land randomly and have so far killed only one Israeli bringing supplies to the front line, if those pitiful few are actually the ENTIRETY of what is fired and each one is magnified automatically into multiple attacks....

Then you've got a combination appropriations scam, propaganda psyop and false or at least inflated justification for an attack that has taken hundreds of civilian lives including scores of children.

sdnxry5z7g

More On Duffy

Politics and its Discontents - sam, 07/19/2014 - 11:33
Like many others, I have been trying to fathom how Nigel Wright has escaped without charges for the cheque he wrote to Mike Duffy, while the latter has been charged with accepting a bribe. I have also been attempting to get video of two programs, Power and Politics and last Thursday's At Issue Panel, which discuss this mystery in some detail. Unfortunately, CBC no long seems to offer the embed code for their shows, but you can watch the P&P show by clicking here. I was able to find the second show on You Tube, and you can view it below.

Perhaps, like me, you will find the proffered explanations for Wright's 'get-out-of-jail-free card' less than edifying.

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Don't tell me how to behave

Feminist Christian - sam, 07/19/2014 - 11:14
The news of last couple of weeks has been astoundingly bad. Israel invading Gaza. A plane carrying almost 300 people is shot down, likely by Russia, and now rebels won't let investigators near it. Another girl was roofied, raped, and mocked on social media for it.

And I've been happy. I know, according to the internet quiz I took on a whim, this makes me a terrible person. Only being utterly miserable in the face of others misery is acceptable. Especially for a woman.

But you know what? No. I can be happy while still saying none of these things is okay. While still recognising the tragedy and pain that others are experiencing. And in fact, I think I can do it better, because I'm not caught up in my own pain about it.

TOOT TOOT. Sorry. That was my horn. I was blowing it.

I believe in happiness. I think it's the only way to make the world a better place. I also believe that many people use anger as a motivator, and think they need to. More power to you if it works for you! No judgments here. I was an angry person for a lot of years, and I'm not judging myself for it either. Nor for the times when I still get angry! I've just decided I'm done with it, and if others want to be done with it too, that would be lovely. If not, cool. Go about your business. :)

It just seems to me that angry people make mistakes when they act in anger, not quiet determination. Of course, I could be projecting. I have made a number of truly spectacular fuckups when acting out of anger. The kind that I suspect people might still be talking about 20 years later when they have those "What's the weirdest thing that ever happened to you..." conversations. "Well, this one time, this crazy lady stomped past my secretary into my office while I was in a meeting with the university president and the board of directors, and yelled at me over a parking pass problem. She started throwing things at me, and I had to remove her, without making it look to the board like I couldn't handle a 19 year old woman without violence. She was CRAZY." -- University Director of Security

It seems to me that the vast majority of the shit that happens in the world happens because people are scared or angry (and I still think anger comes from fear). Russia shot down the plane out of fear that it was a Ukrainian jet coming to kill them. Or because they needed to assert their power and dominance. And now the rebels are blocking access, to do the same. Because any opportunity for a warring faction to show power and dominance is taken. To do anything but is to appear weak.

Those boys raped that girl not so much out of anger or fear, but out of an inability to see her as a human. That's a different kettle of fish. That's patriarchy, and the societal need to hold on to it. The system is designed to give power to men, and one of the best ways to do that is to make women so utterly invaluable as to be worthless as a human, but rather a thing to play with, a toy. They weren't consciously thinking that when they did it (I assume!) They'd just been taught via our society that women have no worth. That's societal fear. Patriarchal fear that if women are treated fairly, equitably, or even as human, that they might take some of the male power. And that fear is bred into boys without there ever being any real feeling of fear or anger on the boys' part. It's incredibly insidious.

Israel invaded Gaza... I don't know why. I don't know what in the hell they could be afraid of. Not having all the land in the region? I have no idea. But it's certainly happening because they're angry. Look at the rhetoric floating around. They hate the people of Gaza. And why? They can't be particularly afraid of the rocket attacks. They've got them so blockaded they won't ever manage to build power. So what the hell? I don't know.

What I do know is I refuse to hate them for hating. They're a bunch of angry people doing angry shitty things. And while I'm a wee bit afraid of the world devolving into another world war over this, with my ridiculous Prime Minister choosing what I think is the wrong side, I refuse to be miserable. I refuse to add to the misery of the planet with my own.

And you know what? I'm tired of being told how I "should" behave or react to things. We women get this more than men, but men get it too. We're told by both men and women to be "classy" (see @lindywest's Twitter feed last night). We're told that we should smile more. That we should swear less. That we shouldn't talk so much. Should talk more. Shouldn't interrupt. Should interrupt more. Should be nice when we say no. Should be more forceful when we say no. That we should mourn differently than we do. That we should joke differently than we do. (Women comedians aren't funny, you know! Pfft.) That we should lighten up. That we shouldn't lighten up.

To hell with it all. I will swear when I want. I will fart when I want. I will eat what I want. I will wear what I want. I will brag when I do something awesome. And I will joke about my shortcomings when I don't. I will believe whatever I want to believe, rational or not, because if it makes me happy, I don't give a shit if it's true. And especially, I will feel how I want to feel and I will make no apologies for it. I will be happy even if the world is going to hell around me. Or I will rail and scream and stomp into the office of ... okay, maybe not that one unless it's significantly more important than a parking pass clusterfuck. But I will rail and scream and swear if I fucking feel like it. And fuck decorum. Fuck classy. Fuck patriarchy. Fuck the so-called feminists who want to tell me how to behave. I will laugh at that sexist joke if I find it funny. I will tell someone I found their joke disgusting if I find it disgusting.

I guess I'm just not that nice. Or so Buzzfeed tells me.

Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - sam, 07/19/2014 - 08:44
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz writes that while we should expect natural resources to result in broad-based prosperity, Australia (much like Canada) is now turning toward the U.S. model of instead directing as much shared wealth as possible toward the privileged few:
There is something deeply ironic about Abbott’s reverence for the American model in defending many of his government’s proposed “reforms.” After all, America’s economic model has not been working for most Americans. Median income in the US is lower today than it was a quarter-century ago – not because productivity has been stagnating, but because wages have.
The Australian model has performed far better. Indeed, Australia is one of the few commodity-based economies that has not suffered from the natural-resource curse. Prosperity has been relatively widely shared. Median household income has grown at an average annual rate above 3% in the last decades – almost twice the OECD average.
To be sure, given its abundance of natural resources, Australia should have far greater equality than it does. After all, a country’s natural resources should belong to all of its people, and the “rents” that they generate provide a source of revenue that could be used to reduce inequality. And taxing natural-resource rents at high rates does not cause the adverse consequences that follow from taxing savings or work (reserves of iron ore and natural gas cannot move to another country to avoid taxation). But Australia’s Gini coefficient, a standard measure of inequality, is one-third higher than that of Norway, a resource-rich country that has done a particularly good job of managing its wealth for the benefit of all citizens....Australia should be proud of its successes, from which the rest of the world can learn a great deal. It would be a shame if a misunderstanding of what has happened in the US, combined with a strong dose of ideology, caused its leaders to fix what is not broken.    - Meanwhile, Julian Beltrame reports that Canada's combination of corporate tax giveaways and gutting regulations has done nothing to change stagnant business investment. (Though as Armine Yalnizyan notes, that's sadly accompanied by the C.D. Howe Institute insisting on more of the same failed corporatist policies.) Don Pittis writes that stagnant wages are leaving Canadian workers with nothing to show for economic growth. And Dennis Howlett's mild optimism about Ontario's single-year budget is more than outweighed by his recognition that Ontarians are far worse off for decades of austerity and tax slashing:
For years now, Ontario governments (both Liberal and Progressive Conservative) have been inflicting austerity policies while failing to comprehensively collect revenue from large corporations and the wealthy. This sloppy fiscal management persisted - long after it was obvious that it just doesn't work.

Cuts to public services have caused a lot of pain and not much gain in terms of reducing deficits. Those cuts also boosted unemployment, slowed economic recovery and reduced tax revenue.

We can no longer afford the steep price tag that comes with avoiding revenue side solutions. Governments need to be clear about the real costs of tax cuts and loopholes.
...
After so much tax cutting, Ontario kick starting a $1 billion reversal is a pretty small step. But it is a step in the right direction. But further steps in this direction are needed in the next budget, including possibly some modest but broader income tax increases.

There's a caveat though.

Boosting taxes on the rich and on corporations will not result in more revenue if governments don't close tax loopholes and take stronger measures to go after tax cheats. On this front too, though there were some encouraging words in the Ontario budget:

"Reducing corporate tax avoidance and closing tax loopholes is a priority for the Ontario government. The government supports the principle that everyone should pay their fair share of taxes, including corporations."

Word is that Ontario government will be pushing the federal government and the Canada Revenue Agency to step up their efforts. This is welcome news. Each and every Canadian province loses revenue from corporate tax avoidance schemes that take advantage of tax loopholes and offshore tax havens. It is time for a strong stand by all provinces at the premiers meeting scheduled for August. They can no longer avoid tackling what has become a chronic problem. - Stephan Lefebvre points out how yet another set of free-trade spin is based on flat-out lies about the effect of NAFTA.

- Ethel Tungohan highlights the absurdity of the Cons' temporary foreign worker tinkering which does nothing at all to help actual workers of any kind:
If Kenney and Alexander truly want to protect temporary foreign workers from abuse, they would include robust measures that take into account the reality of these workers’ lives.

Workplace audits should be accompanied by a guarantee that abused temporary foreign workers will not be deported and will be given jobs in other companies for the duration of their stay in Canada.

Temporary foreign workers should be given open work permits that tie them to a specific industry, but not to a specific employer to mitigate abuse.

And, most importantly, the Canadian government should recognize that temporary foreign workers provide important economic contributions to Canada. Like other immigrants, they come to provide for themselves and their families. They should be provided pathways to Canadian citizenship.

If they are good enough to work, they are good enough to stay.- Finally, today is another NDP Day of Action - this time focusing on climate change to celebrate Jack Layton's birthday. You can search for an event here - and I'll point out my home riding's canvass and barbecue in particular for anybody in Regina interested in getting involved.

Holding Our 'Leaders' To Account

Politics and its Discontents - sam, 07/19/2014 - 06:00


It is almost impossible, I think, to feel anything but a dark impotence when it comes to world events today. Wherever we look, be it the Ukraine, Africa, the Middle East or our own backyards, death, despoliation and injustice prevail. At times, it seems assuming the fetal position is the only reasonable response to a world out of control.

Yet, even when there seems little we can do to ameliorate the world's suffering, there is something all of us can do - refuse to be silent and passive in the face of atrocity - refuse to make it easier for those with power to have their way - refuse to allow them to commit their atrocities in our name.

Clearly, that spirit of defiance is at work in today's letters to The Star, a few of which I reproduce below:

Re: ‘Hamas has no interest in peace,' Baird says, July 16

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s condemnation of Hamas and his unconditional support of Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of Gaza ought to be appalling for anyone with a modicum of consciousness. What happened to the Canada known internationally known as a soft-power participating in peaceful resolutions for world conflict?

Would Mr. Baird and his boss, Stephen Harper, be as critical of the victims’ struggle for nationhood if they were the ones helplessly watching their hopes for a homeland on just over 20 per cent of what Palestine was before 1948 being progressively confiscated by Israel while living in a concentration camp called Gaza?
Should they, instead, not be working toward brokering ideas for a two-state solution so that Israelis can leave in peace and without collective guilt for the genocide taking place and the Palestinians can once again be a sovereign people as they rightly deserve?


Carmelinda Scian, Islington

One wonders how Baird can walk through the front doors at Foreign Affairs each morning knowing the whole building is laughing at him behind his back. The pantheon of poorly educated cretins appointed by Harper to cabinet has destroyed 105 years of solid partnership and respect with the world.
Now that Canada advocates (and demands others advocate) state murder in Palestine of women and children, are we any different from Vladmir Putin who presides over the deaths of thousands in Syria purely for the purpose of arms dealing.

Surely we’ve murdered enough Arabs for our selfish want of oil and our kook obsession with Israel.


Bryan Charlebois, Toronto

How dare our prime minister give Canada’s pledge of “unequivocal” support to a nation that has in recent days killed over 150 civilians. Israel claims to be defending itself from rocket attacks that have amounted to one civilian death.

Stephen Harper, you do not speak for all Canadians in giving unconditional support to a nation that is okay with home demolitions, bombing residential areas, destroying schools and hospitals, killing children and unarmed civilians. We cannot give unequivocal support to anybody, let alone a nation known for its human rights violations.

Harper represents the citizens of Canada, not his personal political affiliations. He must not put the blood of innocents on the hands of Canadians through unconditional support of this nation.


Arsheen Devjee, Edmonton

Harper and Baird abandoned any pretense of objectivity on the Israel/Palestinians file when they allowed themselves to be feted as Negev Dinner honorees. Their motives in doing so were to keep the generous donations coming to the Conservative Party of Canada from many Canadian Jews who have come to take for granted their knee-jerk praise of Israel, right or wrong.

Ron Charach, TorontoRecommend this Post

Depraved Policy

Northern Reflections - sam, 07/19/2014 - 05:47


                                                                                  http://www.ctpost.com/

Israeli tanks rolled into Gaza this week -- a move that is loudly supported by the Harper government. And it illustrates, Linda McQuaig writes, the moral disconnect at the heart of Harper's policy towards Israel:

Certain minimal standards are expected of a national leader in what is known as the ‘civilized world’.

One of those standards would seem to be that, when massive numbers of defenceless civilians are being killed, a national leader should call for the killing to stop.

Questions about responsibility, blame, punishment, repercussions, etc., can always follow. But surely the first order of business — the one with moral urgency — is to halt the killing of innocent people.

Harper's simple answer -- there's always a simple answer for him -- is that Hamas is using civilians as human shields. So don't blame the Israelis:

But Paul Heinbecker, a former Canadian ambassador, noted on CBC TV’s Power and Politics on Tuesday that international law prohibits Israel from, for instance, attacking a military target if it is located in a densely populated building.
Anyone who knows anything thing about the Israeli-Palestinian relationship knows that it's fraught with complications:

What is striking about Harper’s intensely one-sided approach is the way he resolutely avoids dealing with the central fact of this decades-old conflict: that millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have been living under Israeli military occupation for more than forty-five years, and that Israel has effectively annexed what used to be their land, building settlements on it that now accommodate more than 600,000 Israelis.

Harper’s refusal to take any of this into consideration flies in the face of Canada’s long-standing position on the Mideast conflict — a position that still appears on the Canadian government’s website.
Harper has always been comfortable in his ignorance. Moreover, he has the arrogance to think he's the smartest guy in the room. The result is depraved policy.



The catfight meme

Cathie from Canada - ven, 07/18/2014 - 21:00


Digby wants Elizabeth Warren to run against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president because she wants to see:
two intelligent, accomplished women stand for president and debate the issues Unfortunately, I think the rest of the Washington pundits want Warren to run just to so they can create a "catfight" meme to chatter about endlessley.
The thing is, they all seem to think that Clinton is a secret right-winger. In terms of foreign policy, maybe. But in terms of domestic policy, I think Clinton will prove to be more progressive than just about everybody.
When she ran for president seven years ago, Clinton knew she would have to fight Republicans tooth and nail to get anything progressive done, but she was committed to fighting them. It took Obama years to realize that Republicans were never going to let him be the kind of bipartisan president he had wanted to be.
Personally, I can hardly wait to see what Hillary will accomplish as president.

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - ven, 07/18/2014 - 19:18
Watchmen - All Uncovered

A Little Something For Your Friday Evening Enjoyment

Politics and its Discontents - ven, 07/18/2014 - 16:34
When it comes to Mike Duffy, the hits keep on coming. Enjoy:









Recommend this Post

Putin will be the loser

Cathie from Canada - ven, 07/18/2014 - 13:12
Yesterday Josh Marshall called the Malaysia Airlines disaster a game changer for Vladimir Putin:
For months Putin has been playing with fire, making trouble and having it work mainly to his advantage. Certainly in the context of Russian history and nationalist aspiration reclaiming the Crimea is a vast accomplishment. But the whole thing blew up in his face today in a way, and with repercussions I don't think - even with all wall to wall coverage - we can quite grasp.
Find extremists and hot-heads of the lowest common denominator variety, seed them with weaponry only a few militaries in the world possess - and, well, just see what happens. What could go wrong?Today the same gang of idiots are shooting at the investigators who are trying to reach the plane crash site.
Andrew Sullivan writes:
If Russia is directly involved in this way, it seems to me that Putin has now over-reached in such a way that all but destroys what’s left of his foreign policy.
And Josh Marshall’s right that the spectacle of Russian cluelessness, amateurism and recklessness could be the worst news of all for Putin. If there’s one thing a neofascist Tsar cannot afford it’s the appearance of incompetence and chaos.

Eighteen killed Friday before dawn in Israeli ground invasion of Gaza

LeDaro - ven, 07/18/2014 - 12:48
It is a heart-breaking situation and too many atrocities. It is about time that rest of the world takes notice and do something to stop this massacre.


Read more here

About That Invasion Of Gaza

Politics and its Discontents - ven, 07/18/2014 - 11:01



To hear our political leaders tell it – the sorry lot of them – Israel is right to yet again invade Gaza. The Palestinians have it coming. It’s all the doing of Hamas.

It’s a convenient and cowardly political posture. Harper probably believes it. Trudeau and Mulcair? Expedience, sheer craven expedience.

Nathan Thrall, senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, has an op-ed in The New York Times, entitled, “How the West Chose War in Gaza. Gaza and Israel: the Road to War, Paved by the West.” The Palestinians, he writes, were on the road to forming a “consensus government” until Israel, with the tacit backing of the west, derailed it.

In the new political Canada we choose the good guys and, by default, the bad guys. The good guys (usually the powerful side) can do no wrong, the bad guys deserve whatever they get.

And when the good guys do bad things, we just look the other way. Harper, Trudeau, Mulcair – if you think one of them is fit to run this country, you’ve got a damned poor regard for this country.

MoS, the Disaffected Lib

UPDATE: Of course Canada’s political weasels will proclaim that Israel is only rampaging through Gaza to get at Hamas. That’s why the Israelis have destroyed Gaza’s water and sewage plants.

The eight-day assault has caused massive damage to infrastructure and destroyed at least 560 homes, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) said. “Within days, the entire population of the Strip may be desperately short of water,” Jacques de Maio, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Israel and the occupied territories, said in a statement. If hostilities continue, just as temperatures soar in the region, “the question is not if but when an already beleaguered population will face an acute water crisis”, he said. “Water is becoming contaminated and sewage is overflowing, bringing a serious risk of disease,” de Maio added.Recommend this Post

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - ven, 07/18/2014 - 07:52
Assorted content to end your week.

- Robert Reich discusses the rise of the non-working rich as an indicator that extreme wealth has less and less to do with merit - as well as the simple policy steps which can reverse the trend:
In reality, most of America’s poor work hard, often in two or more jobs.

The real non-workers are the wealthy who inherit their fortunes. And their ranks are growing.

In fact, we’re on the cusp of the largest inter-generational wealth transfer in history.

The wealth is coming from those who over the last three decades earned huge amounts on Wall Street, in corporate boardrooms, or as high-tech entrepreneurs.

It’s going to their children, who did nothing except be born into the right family.
...
What to do? First, restore the estate tax in full.

Second, eliminate the “stepped-up-basis on death” rule. This obscure tax provision allows heirs to avoid paying capital gains taxes on the increased value of assets accumulated during the life of the deceased. Such untaxed gains account for more than half of the value of estates worth more than $100 million, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Third, institute a wealth tax. We already have an annual wealth tax on homes, the major asset of the middle class. It’s called the property tax. Why not a small annual tax on the value of stocks and bonds, the major assets of the wealthy?

We don’t have to sit by and watch our meritocracy be replaced by a permanent aristocracy, and our democracy be undermined by dynastic wealth. We can and must take action — before it’s too late. - Meanwhile, Tim Stacey offers his own prescriptions to deal with income inequality. And the Economist looks at the relationship between wealth inequality, income inequality and consumption inequality - and the fact that all three are on the rise, refuting the claim that we shouldn't worry about wealth or income as long as consumer goods are distributed more fairly. 

- James Bloodworth points out that the few gains we've made against corporate greed were won by a strong labour movement. Brian Jones discusses the stagnation of the minimum wage in recent decades when labour has been under attack. And the Mowat Centre reminds us that the precarious federal government has siphoned tens of billions of dollars in EI premiums into general revenues - turning a program intended to benefit workers when they need help most into an excuse to slash taxes for the wealthy.

- Claire Markham sees a U.S. Congressional hearing as a prime example of how not to listen to people living in poverty. (Though not listening to the poor seems to be a widely-held skill on the right.) And Robin Whitaker reminds us why charity isn't enough to deal with social exclusion.

- Finally, Rick Salutin is right to decry the place of bond ratings agencies in trying to wrest control over public policy away from democratically-elected governments. But surely the subprime meltdown in which so many AAA-rated securities turned out to be junk should prevent us from believing for a second that "their sole criterion is the math" - meaning there's reason to doubt that statements about public budgets have anything to do with actual default risks rather than appealing to the financial sector's prejudices.

Harper's Perfect Storm

Northern Reflections - ven, 07/18/2014 - 06:38
                                                                           http://www.huffingtonpost.ca

Now that the RCMP has thrown the book at Mike Duffy, Stephen Harper finds himself at the centre of a perfect storm. It's a storm entirely of his own making. And, at last, Andrew Coyne writes, we will get some answers:

The biggest question to be answered remains: why? Not only why did Mr. Wright make the payment — which, remember, was not to “the taxpayer” but to Mr. Duffy, in secret and on condition that he remain silent about it — but why were so many other senior people in and around the government, as we learned from the trove of emails unearthed by the RCMP, so utterly transfixed with the task of paying Mr. Duffy’s falsely claimed expenses? Why not just leave him to face the consequences of his own actions?
The answer to that question may turn out to be sheer stupidity. But, given who Duffy claims to be -- someone who knows where the bodies are buried -- there are other questions which need to be answered -- questions that involve Stephen Harper:

What involvement or knowledge did the prime minister have, particularly with regard to the $90,000? In a sense, it does not matter: that so many people close to him were so ready to act in such an unethical fashion is damning enough in itself. But in a sense it is all that matters: partly because the prime minister has been so vehement in his denials of any foreknowledge, and partly because the set of circumstances required for this to be true seem so implausible.

Among other things, it requires us to believe not only that Mr. Wright and everyone else around the prime minister lied to him for months on end about how Mr. Duffy’s expenses were repaid, but that Mr. Wright lied to the others: that having told him at a meeting in February of 2013 that Mr. Duffy would repay his own expenses, he then told his fellow conspirators the prime minister was “good to go” with an earlier plan for the party to pay them; and that when Mr. Wright later told the prime minister’s former communications director, Andrew MacDougall, that “the PM knows, in broad terms only, that I personally assisted Duffy” he was lying then, too.
Unlike others who Mr. Harper has thrown under the bus, Duffy will not go quietly.  If he goes down, he may just take the prime minister with him. If that were to happen, justice would truly be done.


While Harper Fiddles, Canada Burns

Politics and its Discontents - ven, 07/18/2014 - 05:17


There have been so many developments on the climate front of late that, collectively, give us a pretty stark warning and yet the media, the public and our political leadership are tuning out. We seem to be culturally embracing a sort of Andean fatalism that seems to precede abrupt civilizational decline. Perhaps we’re hampered by the fact that it’s a moving target that repeatedly exceeds our ‘worst case scenarios’. Far from being pessimists we constantly underestimate the onset of climate change even as severe events increase in frequency, intensity and duration. Maybe that’s why Harper (and his rivals) aren’t coming forward with any meaningful responses. They’re all avowed fossil fuelers and, having staked out that turf, any significant reduction in Canada’s GHG emissions would have to be borne by every other sector of the economy and the Canadian people. Who would risk the public wrath when pretending to act and doing nothing remains an option? There’s a rank and dangerous cowardice that runs through the Conservatives, the Liberals and the New Democrats alike. God save the Queen. The Canadian people can fend for themselves.


The other day came news of a mysterious crater in Siberia that Russian scientists determined was caused, not by a meteorite, but by an eruption of subsurface gas released by thawing permafrost – a global warming event. We’ve known for several years that the ancient permafrost that girds the high north was “perma” no more. The tundra was drying out, catching fire, and exposing the permafrost below that it once shielded. The permafrost was a sink for massive quantities of the potent greenhouse gas, methane, or, as the energy industry calls it, natural gas.

On the heels of the Russian crater story comes a report from Climate Central about fires spreading unchecked across the Northwest Territories.

“The amount of acres burned in the Northwest Territories is six times greater than the 25-year average to-date according to data from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center.

“Boreal forests like those in the Northwest Territories are burning at rates "unprecedented" in the past 10,000 years according to the authors of a study put out last year. The northern reaches of the globe are warming at twice the rate as areas closer to the equator, and those hotter conditions are contributing to more widespread burns.

“The combined boreal forests of Canada, Europe, Russia and Alaska, account for 30 percent of the world’s carbon stored in land, carbon that's taken up to centuries to store. Forest fires like those currently raging in the Northwest Territories, as well as ones in 2012 and 2013 in Russia, can release that stored carbon into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. Warmer temperatures can in turn create a feedback loop, priming forests for wildfires that release more carbon into the atmosphere and cause more warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's landmark climate report released earlier this year indicates that for every 1.8°F rise in temperatures, wildfire activity is expected to double.”

The Climate Central report indicates that the massive amounts of airborne soot from these forest and tundra fires could accelerate the melting of the Greenland ice sheet far faster than we had ever imagined, perhaps by the end of this century. Ice, being white, reflects most solar energy back into space. Soot, being black, absorbs the solar energy and it passes into the ice beneath, causing melting. The melt run-off should wash away the soot except that these fires just keep adding more soot. And, of course, the fires that generate the soot also release ever more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Forest fires release the CO2 from the trees. Tundra fires release CO2 and expose the permafrost below that releases methane.

As for the Greenland ice sheet and the prospect of losing all or most of it by the end of this century, here’s what you need to bear in mind. When that ice sheet is gone, and it will eventually, it will create 23-feet of sea level rise. You’ve probably seen plenty of graphics of what three or four feet of sea level rise will mean around the world. The reality is that we tend to build our major cities where there’s navigable water. In Canada that’s Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. With Lake Ontario at 75 metres above sea level, Toronto should be safe from inundation but Montreal, on the St. Lawrence and at 6 metres is vulnerable and, as for Vancouver, well let’s just say that False Creek, Coal Harbour and Burrard Inlet will be a whole lot bigger and the Lower Mainland an awful lot smaller.

So, with the prospect of runaway climate change steadily worsening, with major population centres and critical infrastructure at increasing risk, surely this must be at the very top of our Lord and Master’s priority list, right? What’s that, no? His priority is flogging as much of the world’s highest-carbon oil as quickly as he can push through the pipelines and supertanker ports to carry it, really? Surely the opposition parties are going to shut this down as soon as the voting public gives Harper the boot, right? Wrong? Oh dear. Maybe it’s time to caulk the dinghy.


MoS, the Disaffected Lib.

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Thursday Afternoon Links

accidentaldeliberations - jeu, 07/17/2014 - 16:23
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Marc Lee looks in detail at the risks involved in relying on tar sands development as an economic model:
The UK outfit Carbon Tracker was the first to point out this means we are seeing a “carbon bubble” in our financial markets – that  fossil fuel companies, whose business model is the extraction of carbon, are over-valued on the stock markets of the world. This analysis was subsequently picked up by Bill McKibben in his now-famous article, “Global Warming’s Terrifying Math,” which launched the fossil fuel divestment movement, plus some local content by yours truly in a CCPA report called Canada’s Carbon Liabilities.

The latest from Carbon Tracker looks at planned capital investments in oil production around the world (future reports will look at coal and natural gas). These have different costs of extraction, leading to a “carbon supply cost curve” for oil production. Carbon Tracker argues that in a world of constrained carbon, it only makes economic sense that it will be the high cost suppliers that get cut out of the action.

This logic is bad news for Alberta’s tar sands, which are among the highest cost reserves. Using an oil and gas industry database, Carbon Tracker looks at a potential $1.1 trillion of capital expenditure on oil projects between 2014 and 2025 that require a price of at least US$95 per barrel market price ($80 break-even) – i.e. those projects most likely to not go ahead in a carbon-constrained world. They find that a very large share of these projects (nearly 40%) are tar sands projects in Alberta (see Figure 7 in particular).
...
For the most part, however, the underlying assumption of Canadian financial markets, including most Canadian pension funds, is that governments of the world will not get their act together, so there is no reason to pull out from fossil fuel investments. Some skepticism that governments will be able to reach a new deal is warranted, but the probability of them doing so is not zero either. But even in the absence of a global treaty, unilateral actions by Canada’s trading partners could impose de facto carbon constraints. Examples include the Keystone XL pipeline and European Fuel Quality directives.

There is a strong possibility that, sooner or later, Canada will be living in a carbon-constrained world, a development that would have significant (and, to date, widely ignored) economic implications. In this context, “responsible resource development” implies strategic management of fossil fuel reserves in order to maximize shared prosperity, within the context of a carbon budget. The good news is that Canadians have been bombarded with several decades of budget talk about “living within our means”  – now we just have to apply that to carbon. - But Sheila Pratt highlights some more examples of the oil industry trying to buy the public's silence when it comes to questioning unfettered oil exploitation. And the Council of Canadians notes that for now, Canada is instead trying to bully the EU and other international allies into delaying any steps to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

- Meanwhile, Justin Ling writes that yet another trade agreement side-effect - this time arising out of the TPP - looks to be far more intrusive surveillance by the U.S. and other foreign states.

- Joseph Stead reports that the corporate sector is laughing at the UK's honour-system plan to improve corporate accountability. And Julian Beltrame finds that the Cons' tall tales about mythical trade barriers have far more value as entertainment than as policy analysis.

- Finally, Steven Greenhouse writes that the U.S. is finally seeing some legislative efforts to give part-time workers some security and control over their time - including a few ideas along the lines of what I'd proposed for Saskatchewan here.

Media (mis)management of the Gaza conflict

Dawg's Blawg - jeu, 07/17/2014 - 16:20
With the abrupt removal of NBC’s key reporter on the ground in Gaza, Ayman Mohyeldin, who witnessed and reported on the killing of four Palestinian kids playing football on a beach, it becomes that much clearer that we in North... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

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