Posts from our progressive community

Pastor David Berzins Is A Disappointed Man

Politics and its Discontents - mer, 04/15/2015 - 14:08
It seems that one of Berzins' fellow pastors does not hold with putting LGBT people to death, a fate another right-wing crazed evangelical named Steve Anderson enthusiastically advocates.
The pastor in question asked to have his congregation’s listing removed from Anderson’s church directory, a decision which Pastor David Berzins of Word of Truth Baptist Church condemned as the act of a traitor to his faith, even though the offending clergyman is a personal friend of his.
Here is Berzins in full rhetorical fury:


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And Speaking Of Fanatics

Politics and its Discontents - mer, 04/15/2015 - 10:00
While right-wing religious zealots like Pat Robertson and Gordon Klingenschmitt are the two crazed evangelicals I most frequently highlight in my blog, we would all be very naive to believe we lack home grown examples of the corrupting influence the bully pulpit can bestow. Here in Ontario, for example, the 'Rev.' Charles McVety is a leading exemplar of such madness.

Yesterday, McVety was in his glory at a rally held outside of the Ontario legislature to protest the revamped Ontario sex-ed curriculum which, despite widespread consultation, doesn't sit well with some.

Many of the protesters were new Canadians, some obviously from very conservative societies in which sex is not openly discussed nor countenanced. While they have every right to protest, of course, they and everyone else have to understand that living in a society such as ours entails ongoing compromises; there is always a tension between individual sentiments and the state's laws, but that is one of the things that makes a healthy democracy dynamic.

Parenthetically I must confess, however, that when some of the protesters aver that they will remove their kids from school over the issue, I don't know where they will go other than to be schooled at home. Some said they would send them to private schools, but they seem unaware of the fact that private schools are not exempted from fulfilling curriculum requirements either.

Against this background, there are the self-aggrandizers like McVety who only add fuel to the fire in order to promote their peculiar religious doctrines of hatred, exclusion and condemnation. Deeply homophobic, the crazed evangelical sees dark motives behind the new curriculum, given that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is gay. In a thinly veiled allusion to Wynne, he talks, as you will see, of her not having aright to 'force [her] idea of sexuality' on two million children.

Fortunately, enjoying a majority, the Ontario government has no intention of caving in to such extremisits.

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Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - mer, 04/15/2015 - 09:33
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Eric Morath points out that a job (or even multiple jobs) can't be taken as an assurance that a person can avoid relying on income supports and other social programs. PressProgress offers some important takeaways from the Canadian Labour Congress' study of the low-wage workers. Angella MacEwen writes about the spread of the $15 minimum wage movement in Canada.

- Meanwhile, Carol Goar writes that while we should be looking to improve our social safety net, we need to do so while taking into account the real experience of the people relying upon it.

- Jason Warick reports on Eric Howe's findings that Saskatchewan is severely limiting its own future by failing to boost aboriginal participation in our economy. And Mitchell Anderson reminds us that Alberta (among other Canadian jurisdictions) has turned resource development into little long-term gain:
Which place is doing a better job of capturing public value from a public resource? Dividing resource revenues by production reveals some shocking figures. Norway realized revenues of $87.69 per barrel in 2013. Alaska managed $38.54. And Alberta? Just $4.38 -- one-twentieth what our Norwegian cousins managed to rake in.
...
Alberta has already produced 15 per cent more conventional oil and gas than Norway, and didn't have to go 200 kilometres out in the North Sea to get it. Even at current depressed prices, Alberta oil, gas and bitumen production to 2013 would have a combined market value of $1.7 trillion. So where did the money go?

The answer is not economic nor political. It is cultural. Albertans have accepted a consistent and repeated message from a number of vested interests that taxation is bad, government is inept, and public resources should be privatized. Once voters believe that, effective government oversight is politically impossible and industry gets to keep a larger portion of Canada's resource pie -- estimated to be worth some $33 trillion based only on our inventory of petroleum and timber.
...
So what does Norway do to ensure their private sector partners don't walk away with most of the resource wealth?

• Norway acts like an owner. Companies doing business in Norway are under no illusions about who is in charge. Misleading or lying to Norwegian authorities can lead to forfeited tenures or even jail time.

• Norway taxes to the max and makes no apologies about it. Taxation on oil profits is currently close to 80 per cent. One former energy minister even chewed out his bureaucrats in full view of enraged oil executives when they threatened to pull out of the country after taxes were raised. Noting that none had actually walked away, he told his underlings "we should have taken more!"

• Norway taxes profits, not extraction. Alberta instead sells oil and bitumen by the barrel, creating virtually zero incentives for efficiencies or value added. The Norwegian government wants companies to make money because for every dollar they make, Norway makes four. With such clearly aligned interests, companies are lining up to do business there.

• Norway captures and distributes wealth. Petroleum helps finance some of the most generous social programs in the world and every Norwegian knows it. With public buy-in like that, companies have certainty their investments are welcome and their product can get to market. Companies spending billions in the oilsands have no such assurance given the pitched battles around resource policy here in Canada. No public buy-in, no certainty. Sorry fellas, there's no free lunch on that one.

• Norway stashed the cash. All petroleum revenues go into a stand-alone oil fund administered by the Norwegian Central Bank -- not their government. This firewall prevents elected officials from getting lazy about budgeting since they can only access four per cent each fiscal year. This now-massive pot of money is also only invested outside of the country to avoid inflating the currency.

• Norway put public players on the field. One of the first things Norway did was start Statoil, the first of their two state-owned oil companies. They now own about 40 per cent of its production and 50 per cent of its reserves. These investments and risks have richly paid off and typically now bring in as much revenue as taxation. What stake does Alberta own in its production? Zero, and the balance sheet shows it. - Finally, L. Ian MacDonald writes that the Cons' environmental irresponsibility looms as a leading cause of the death of pipeline expansions. And Barbara Yaffe slams the ineffective response to the English Bay oil spill by multiple levels of government.

Steve Hits One Straight Out Of the Park

The Disaffected Lib - mer, 04/15/2015 - 08:32
Confused about the NDP's real position on combating climate change?  I've never been able to figure them out, especially since Layton and Mulcair put their party on the path to Blairification.

Which is why I heartily recommend that you check out Sudbury Steve's essay on the New Democrats and climate change.  When it comes to climate change and the Canada your grandkids will have to live in, the NDP are just another bunch of neoliberal con artists.

Living In An Alternate Universe

Northern Reflections - mer, 04/15/2015 - 06:02

                                                       http://www.wired.com/

Yesterday, the provincial premiers met in Quebec City to map out a strategy to combat climate change. The federal government was invited to the conference but declined the invitation:

Tuesday's meeting ended with renewed calls for the federal government to show greater initiative in addressing the issue.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said the time for action is now, especially with an upcoming get-together of environment ministers leading up to an international conference on climate change in Paris in December.

"It has to be prepared, so we call upon the federal government right now to start working with us, first technically, then with the ministers, in order to work together in establishing our targets for Paris and the way we're going to present our situation, our plans in the future," Couillard told a closing news conference."There's no way it can be done in isolation. One order of government cannot ask the other to do the job. It has to be done together."

Yet, on that very same day, Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford claimed that his government had an "already exemplary record on environmental performance."

Tuesday was also the day that the Supreme Court found that Harperian legislation to impose mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes contravened the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Harperites continue to act as if the Charter didn't exist. In their anti terrorism legislation -- Bill  C-51 -- they specifically mandate courts to ignore the Charter. And, in another court, Senator Mike Duffy stands accused of 31 offences which the Harperites claim have no connection to them.

These folks live in an alternate universe. Asylums are full of such people. But, in Canada, we've given them to keys to the kingdom.



today! fight for fifteen on 4-15

we move to canada - mer, 04/15/2015 - 04:30
Today, working people across North America - and the world - will rally, demonstrate, and go on strike for two demands: fifteen and fairness.

In the US, fast-food workers are joined by childcare workers, contract (adjunct) teachers, and other low-wage earners, as this movement continues to grow. They will demonstrate in more than 50 cities. They are demanding 15 and a union: a $15/hour minimum wage and the right to organize without fear of reprisal.

In Ontario, workers will demonstrate outside the Ministry of Labour in Toronto, demanding Fifteen and Fairness: a $15/hour minimum wage, decent hours for decent jobs, paid sick days, and labour laws that protect every worker.

There have been significant victories. Seattle and San Francisco raised the minimum wage in those cities to $15/hour; Oakland raised it to $12.25. Poverty-pay giants like Walmart and McDonald's have been forced to concede major pay raises, with more to follow.

Massive movements in New York, Chicago, and L.A. are getting huge media attention. Organized fast-food workers have succeed in bringing labour issues to the forefront, in a way we have not seen in decades. Public pressure is building.

In Ontario, labour activism set the standard a decade ago when they won a $10/hour minimum wage. Last year organized workers won a minimum wage indexed to inflation, an important victory. I have no doubt that the fight for 15 and Fairness will have similar results.

Learn how you can fight for better working conditions and support others who do: here and here. On Twitter: #15andFairness and #FightFor15.





The Supreme Court Beats Up Stephen Harper Again

Montreal Simon - mer, 04/15/2015 - 03:54


Uh oh. Somebody call an ambulance, or his make-up artist, or the guy who fixes his hair helmet.

Because it seems the Supreme Court has just given Stephen Harper, our Dark Lord of the Flies, another massive slap in the face.

The Supreme Court has delivered a major blow to the Conservative government’s crime agenda, striking down a mandatory minimum sentence for illegal gun possession in a way that suggests other laws could also fall.

Ouch. 

Or *KAPOW !#@!!! as Batty Harper's faithful Robin, Ray Novak, might say...
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Faith, religion and politics

Feminist Christian - mar, 04/14/2015 - 20:08
I've got two ideas for posts rumbling around in my brain right now, and they're kind of connected, but I'm not entirely sure how. Bear with me. Or don't. I don't care. :)

As you likely know, churches are tax exempt. This is ostensibly because income that churches make is from their congregation and is meant to serve the community, so taxing it doesn't make sense. Why would you tax something whose sole purpose is to benefit the community. That said, there aren't any regulations on the spending of that money, and the church itself gets to decide what is a benefit to the community. Are anti-abortion protests a benefit to the community? Of course not, I say. Of course yes, say the Catholics. And what about the American mega-churches whose pastors can be paid hundreds of thousands per year, and their outreach is negligible? What of the churches who pretty clearly preach a political ideology? Do any not?

I've heard people saying religion needs to stay the fuck out of politics. Not possible. Literally impossible. Because religion doesn't exist in a vacuum. Our religious beliefs inform our politics. And they should. If my interpretation of my religious scriptures tell me that I must feed the hungry and heal the sick, my only option to make that happen outside my own personal sphere is political. I must vote for those who would do that. If my religious beliefs include a love of all people, I must vote for those who would not legalize or keep legal discrimination against those people. If my religion teaches a profound love and respect for the planet, I can't very well go voting for the party who would destroy the land for profit. And furthermore, if I were the minister, preaching the sermon each week, making the scripture relevant to what is going on today is going to be inherently political.

I have never, ever, heard a minister overtly tell me which party to vote for. I have heard "vote with your heart, not your wallet", "remember when you vote that the planet was God's gift to us, to live in harmony with, but not destroy", "God loves. Just loves. No exceptions. EVER. Remember that when you vote".

Yes, I know that some do get more overt than that. A clergy member who is a neighbour of mine sent me an email saying "Our Prime Minister needs our help", asking me (and the rest of his email list) to help out Stevil on something. I fired back a retort about how we need HIS help, and if we ever got it, he wouldn't need ours. I'm off the mass-email list. And yeah, I think that's crossing the line. Big time. I'm not sure how to crack down on that.

Churches are charities. They are bound to the same rules as charities. I'm good with that, except that I think there should be tighter rules on spending. Churches and other charities should be required to spend a certain amount of their income on actual outreach, helping people in some way. And there should be a salary cap on each paid employee. Most decent churches would not have a problem. The ones who would are the ones who are barely afloat. Two things could mitigate their situation: 1) Volunteer work in lieu; 2) lower the percentage on churches/charities with incomes under a certain amount.

Trying to cut politics out of religion just isn't possible. I can't even imagine what a sermon would be, if there were no politics. Bible study? A dubious "history" lesson? Church is where I learned about the solar energy project at the T'sou-ke First Nation and about the Ancient Forest Alliance. Sure, I could have learned about it anywhere, but I got a theological perspective on the preservation of the earth out of it that I wouldn't have gotten elsewhere.

And that was the second thing. A theological perspective of environmentalism. The minister talked about the creation stories (and made very clear that they were stories, not history) and what they meant to him as a Christian. Myth can hold a lot of truth without having a lot of facts. He taught that God gave us the earth as a gift, a living gift to love and treasure, not to have dominion over. I'm not entirely sure I agree with that. I'm more of a panetheist than that. I'd say that God permeates the earth. When we destroy the earth, we disrespect God. Destroy God? I don't know. But I do truly believe that we do not own the earth, we are part of it. And that as Christians, we are bound to preserve it.

And our ministers, our pastors, our preachers? Their job is to teach us, lead us, and set an example for us. They must preach conservation. Kindness. That the poor deserve respect. That all people deserve food, water, medicine, shelter, clothing, regardless of their incomes. That all human life has value. That the death penalty is immoral. All those things are political statements.

Paraphrasing a sermon I once heard: If politics and faith don't mix, there is something seriously anemic about our faith, or something seriously suspect about our politics.  Vote for the candidate or party who can do the most for your neighbour. Jesus told us to love our neighbour as ourselves. So think about your neighbour when you vote.


p.s. Just read that the minister at my church said of Crusty Clark: Forgive her Lord, for she knows not what she tweets. LOL.

Why Do I Mock Pat Robertson And His Kindred Brethren?

Politics and its Discontents - mar, 04/14/2015 - 18:30
This is why. I have to say, I've never seen the old fella go on such a protracted tear before:


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Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

accidentaldeliberations - mar, 04/14/2015 - 17:31
Cornered cats.





The petulant son

accidentaldeliberations - mar, 04/14/2015 - 16:03
Shorter Justin Trudeau:
When I say I plan to do politics differently, what I mean is that I'm willing to leave Stephen Harper in power based on the most petty and frivolous excuses anybody's ever heard. No longer is there any pretense that a flat "no" to a coalition with the NDP is based on policy differences (however implausible). Instead, Trudeau is ruling out the possibility of cooperation based on personal hostility toward Thomas Mulcair - which of course couldn't be further from matching the public's perception of the NDP's leader, particularly among people with whom Trudeau supposedly shares the goal of ousting the Harper Cons.

And in related news, Leadnow's commitment to bringing down the Cons is once again reflected by its willingness to back a party which places Trudeau's personal hangups over the good of the country.

Update: Josee Legault has more

The NDP's Brilliant Response to the Con Clown Joe Oliver

Montreal Simon - mar, 04/14/2015 - 15:05


As you know, the thought that the old oil pimp Joe Oliver is Canada's Minister of Finance keeps me awake at night, with my wallet under my mattress.

Because I don't think he knows what he's doing, or even what year it is.

And his balanced budget proposal couldn't be more absurd. 

Joe Oliver won't table his next budget for two more weeks, but the federal finance minister announced today that he'll table a second bill this month — one to force future governments to keep their books in the black.

Especially this part:
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Exploitation of Parents' Fear Is Despicable

Dammit Janet - mar, 04/14/2015 - 14:27
I was going to snark about today's sex-ed curriculum protest.

(Co-blogger dBO covered the previous hissy fit.)

An estimated 2,000 people gathered on the front lawn of the Ontario legislature on Tuesday morning to protest the Liberal government's proposed changes to the sex education curriculum.
I found this very funny:

This sign protesting against Ontario's #SexEd curriculum is a thing of majestic beauty. via @LadySnarksalot pic.twitter.com/pnAHwxSZ82

— Lyndsay Kirkham (@HisFeministMama) April 14, 2015

Also, questions about who's funding this astroturf bunfest.

I count 25 buses arriving to pick up protestors from anti sex-ed demonstration. #onpoli #cbcTO pic.twitter.com/sTX0JFr6uY

— Mike Crawley (@CBCQueensPark) April 14, 2015

But then I saw this and now I just feel sad and sorry for these poor people whose ignorance and gullibility is being so cruelly exploited to further the anti-choice and Conservative political agendas.

Global reporter talks to protesting parents.

Whipping up these parents' fears is NOT funny. It's just disgusting.

Here, by the way, is what the new curriculum actually contains.

Well, I'll Be Damned. No, I'm Serious - Damned.

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 04/14/2015 - 13:14
From The Washington Post, a map depicting the world's least-religious countries.


Well we're not as bad as those Pagan Swedes or the Chinese but we're batting above 50% as either not religious or atheist.

With its high numbers of atheist citizens, China and Hong Kong appear to be outliers in Asia. Western Europe and Oceania are the only regions where about 50 percent of the population or more either consider themselves to be atheists or not religious, as well.

In Western Europe, the U.K. and the Netherlands top the ranking, followed by Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Austria. In France, about half of the population is not religious or atheist — despite the fact that it is generally considered to be the birthplace of Western secularism.

With 65 percent, Israel has surprisingly many citizens who consider themselves not religious or to be atheists. According to Israeli newspaperHaaretz, atheism is deeply entrenched in the country's society. Many Jews furthermore practice some religious acts, but consider themselves as secular. In the West Bank and Gaza, only 19 percent of all respondents said that they were not religious.

It seems that Canada is in good company with Australia, most of Europe and Japan.


Jody Thomas is to the Coast Guard what Bill Elliott was to the RCMP.

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 04/14/2015 - 12:59


Jody Thomas sits in Ottawa as the Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard. She brings with her a lifetime of political hackery, none of it remotely related to her current post.  From the government of Canada web site:

Jody began her federal public service career in 1988 as Chief, Business Planning and Administration with Public Works Canada in the Atlantic Region. Ms Thomas then became the Atlantic Regional Business Manager, Architectural and Engineering Services and Business Manager of the Esquimalt Graving Dock in Vancouver, British Columbia. 
Jody joined the Passport Canada in 1995 as the Manager of the Victoria Passport Office and since then, has taken on many roles within the Passport Office including, Project Director, Manager, Case Management and Foreign Operations, Manager, Security Operations, She then became Director, Security Operations and Director General of Security. In 2007, Jody held the position of Chief Operating Officer of Passport Canada managing service delivery at 35 locations and with 3000 employees across Canada.
If you wonder why "Jody" sounds like such a shill for the Harper government, effusive in her praise of her own failures, just look at her background.  Christ, are we in trouble.

Former Coast Guard Commander Calls "Bullshit" on Harper

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 04/14/2015 - 12:47


Retired Coast Guard Commander, Fred Moxey, believes the federal government's claims to have recovered 80% of the English Bay oil spill are nonsense.

“I’ve been in hundreds of spills and never seen an 80 per cent recovery," Moxey said. "Usually you recover 30 per cent at most, more like 10, and that’s with an immediate response and a trained crew with sponges and straw pulling the oil out by hand.”

The "80 per cent" figure was repeated at a press conference by the coordinated response team today at Canada Place.

Moxey, a 35-year Coast Guard veteran and former commander of the now-closed Kitsilano Coast Guard station, said the numbers reported by government are likely based on observation and aerial photography which fails to show the full reality in the water.

“They need to send cameras to the bottom of the bay to see what made it down there.”

...Moxey said that under the Harper government,coastal and marine response services has been amalgamated.

He called this "a horrible practice," meant to cut costs and push capacity away from the Coast Guard and onto partnered private enterprises.

The 2013 closure of the Kitsilano station has been under scrutiny since the spill. Moxey said before the closure the station was the busiest on the west coast, responding to over 300 calls per year.

Moxey said this spill was small – less than 2,900 litres of fuel, likely dumped from the ship’s bilge. He was visibly disturbed as he spoke about his lack of confidence in the cash-strapped Coast Guard's ability to deal with a larger incident.

"You can't remove the possibility of human error. They are in no way prepared for a catastrophe," he said. "It'd be years to clean it up."

The Vancouver Observer published the photo above showing the now shuttered Kitsilano Coast Guard station (in blue) overlooking English Bay where the oil spill occurred. 
Honestly, I feel like my coast is being assaulted by my own government.  Harper & Co. have done everything in their power to leave the coast vulnerable and essentially defenceless even as they have massively increased the risks of an environmental catastrophe.  The greatest threat to my coast is not ISIS, it's Ottawa.

How the Fearsome Become the Fearful

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 04/14/2015 - 10:08
A Weapon of Weakness?

How did we become indentured to a culture of fear?  Fear-mongering has become a modus operandi in today's morally corrupt, visionless politics.  It is the stock in trade of authoritarians like our own Stephen Harper and it's effective.

The thing is democracy cannot thrive in the presence of a culture of fear.  It may not even be sustainable in that toxic milieu.

The culture of fear quickly comes to dominate aspects of how we are governed, how the nation state operates.  It even extends into national security structures and how we wage wars.  Until recently war was an interval of conflict between periods of peace.  In case you haven't noticed, peace is gone.  We've descended into a state of permawar, low-intensity conflict fought not to win a peace but out of fear to strike at groups we deem, often incorrectly, as a threat to our society.

I'm doing an online course on remote-control warfare.  It's an awkward term that incorporates drone or autonomous warfare, special operations warfare and for-profit wars waged by corporate entities, the modern version of mercenaries.  It's a 21st century type of warfare that can be dangerously corrosive of democracy.

In better times states jealously guarded their monopoly on violence so integral to the state's ability to meet its cardinal responsibility to protect the citizenry. Now wars have become more complicated engaging state actors with a confusing and shifting mix of non-state actors that run the gamut from militias to rebels to insurgents to organized crime, even banditry.  States have likewise lost their monopoly on lethal, war-waging weaponry and technology.

Some speculate that this dystopian era will end the classic 'nation state' that has evolved in the Westphalian interval.  State sovereignty, borders, the use of lethal force pretty much wherever and whenever, demands a different political reality.

I was struck in reading the transcript of a lecture by prof. Bill Durodie, University of Bath, by a passage that resonates with some central themes I've been canvassing on this blog for several years.  Here are some excerpts.

Since the end of the Cold War not only have we become disenchanted with science, but some suggest that our social networks have become much more fragile or eroded. People no longer participate in the political democratic process in the same numbers as they used to. We've become disengaged from the decision-making processes of our own society. And at the same time, many of the informal social networks that provide a social glue and identity to people, whether they are families, neighbourhoods, communities, trade unions, out of hours clubs, teams, and associations all of those have seen a steady decrease in membership too. 

So what we're now seeing is a world in which we've become disenchanted with the benefits of science, disengaged from the decision-making process, and disconnected from one another. Put together, these make up what some people are describing as a culture of fear, but lends itself towards a politics of fear, whereby people always imagine and project the worst in relationship to any new development. And it's within that broad context that we need to understand the discussions occurring about science and technology and its application to warfare today. Drones and remote technologies are used in a very dystopian, negative way some will accuse.

In summary, if we ask the question, is technology a demon in the contemporary period or the saviour in terms of protecting real lives in the combat space, I think the correct answer is neither. There's a lot of hype about technology from both sides of the spectrum. Risk management, we should remind ourselves, is a means to achieving an end not an end in itself. And the danger is to view technology as the solution to problems or the problem itself. What we need is a clearer sense of purpose and direction for anything that we are doing in society, including the conduct of war

If we look at recent missions in Afghanistan or Iraq, what is strikingly obvious is that the purpose of the mission itself has being confused. Was fighting in Iraq to get rid of Saddam? Was it to bring democracy to the region? Was it to liberate women? All of these aims were thrown into the pot together. And the consequence is that there is a confusion as to what it is that we are fighting for. 

If we look historically, it's quite clear that when a society is very clear as to its aims and objectives, it is actually able to put up with remarkable acts of barbarism. The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki must rank as some of the most devastating and barbaric acts of human history. But set within a context of the Second World War, where a narrative had been framed and people bought in to the notion that we were in a civilizational struggle, these events went, if not unnoticed, certainly uncriticised for a remarkable period of time. 

Today, far less dramatic incidents, such as drone strikes in Pakistan, bring forward much more criticism. And that's because we live in a period in which we're unclear as to what the purpose and objective is in the first place. If technology is really going to be used to a positive benefit, rather than simply feeding into dystopian narratives, we need to clarify our purpose as a society and engage a much greater layer of the population in a discussion as to what it is that we're trying to achieve.

As we get into these low-intensity permawars, it's increasingly difficult to maintain effective civilian control over our armed forces.  Wars are now fought increasingly in the shadows, remotely.  It becomes harder and more complex to ensure effective oversight and there are political leaders who very much like it that way.  Outsource it to the commercial sector and oversight becomes almost meaningless.

Another Hot Year, Even Hotter for 2016

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 04/14/2015 - 09:04
Word from Australia that this year and next will probably see record-breaking temperatures.

Sea temperatures around Australia are posting "amazing" records that climate specialists say signal global records set in 2014 may be broken this year and next.

March sea-surface temperatures in the Coral Sea region off Queensland broke the previous high by 0.12 degrees – a big jump for oceans that are typically more thermally stable than land. Temperatures for the entire Australian ocean region also set new highs for the month, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

The unusual warmth off Australia comes as the Pacific Ocean remains primed for an El Nino event, as the bureau reported last month.

If such an event occurs, the underlying warming from climate change will get a further boost from natural variability, making 2014's ranking as the hottest year on records going back to the 1880s likely to be short-lived, according to Andy Pitman, head of climate research at the University of NSW.

"If we do get an intense El Nino, it will blitz the records," Professor Pitman said. "The climate is on a performance-enhancing drug and that drug is carbon dioxide."

As Flat as Piss on a Platter

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 04/14/2015 - 08:40
As oil spills go, Harper's "world class" oil spill response team couldn't have asked for better conditions than they faced last Wednesday in Vancouver's English Bay.

There was nothing to obstruct crews getting at the spill and deploying their booms and equipment.  The waters were calm.  It was day time.  It happened not all that far away from the Sea Island Coast Guard station.  The best part is that it was a small spill, what should have been a piece of cake for our world class guardians.

And still they screwed it up.

It could have been so much worse.  Imagine a heavily loaded tanker floundering on the rocks overnight in the midst of the sort of West Coast winter storms that fell giant trees in coastal forests.  Imagine that heavily loaded tanker breaking up in the Douglas Channel or Hecate Strait.  That is to imagine catastrophe of an incalculable scale on a multi-generational time span.

Do you realize that those world class oil spill recovery vessels can't leave the pier in our winter storms and their booms are useless in those conditions?

That oil spill in English Bay should have been like a kindergarten field day. Everybody should have come away with a shiny blue ribbon.  Only they screwed it all up.

Environment Minister Mary Polak told the B.C. legislature on Monday that in the event of a marine spill “we are led in a unified command structure by the federal government through the Canadian Coast Guard.”

However, the minister said the province and other emergency response agencies were forced to act outside their usual roles due to the Coast Guard’s inaction.

“As a result of our repeated requests for an improvement in that situation, I can tell the members that the Coast Guard certainly stepped up their involvement, took back over the leadership of incident command as of Friday morning,” Ms. Polak said.



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