Posts from our progressive community

A Very Dark Place

Northern Reflections - sam, 11/28/2015 - 06:52


Things are starting to get crazy. Mohamad Jebara writes:

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

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

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

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

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

Learning How to Live in the New and Harperless Canada

Montreal Simon - sam, 11/28/2015 - 05:34

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

But I still can't quite believe it. 

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

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

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

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

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

1 officer, 2 civilians dead in Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting

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

Musical interlude

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hollande's Turn to do the Terrorists' Bidding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spikes Don't Prevent Jumper From Whitehouse Lawn

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

Erdoğan's goose is cooked

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

Friday Morning Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Day Justin Trudeau Left Stephen Harper in the Dust

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »

Another Challenge

Northern Reflections - ven, 11/27/2015 - 05:41


Stephen Harper used to talk about the virtue of individual responsibility. But, when it came to defending an individual's civil liberties, all of that rhetoric went up in smoke. RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson  believes -- as Harper did -- that civil liberties get in the way of good police work. Michael Harris writes:

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson wants warrantless access to online subscriber information. That, in itself, is not remarkable. Police always want fewer obstacles between their work and the people they pursue — more John Wayne, less Perry Mason. It’s the old argument: It’s plenty hard enough to catch the bad guys, we’re told, without bureaucrats putting roadblocks in the way of the good guys.

It wouldn’t surprise me to find small graven images of Stephen Harper and Vic Toews on Commissioner Paulson’s desk, given how much he sounds like them. Harper and Toews both saw the world the way Paulson does, in binary black and white: Give the police the power they ask for and forget about the implications for civil liberties.

Harper simply didn’t give a hoot about privacy issues from the point of view of the individual. This is the man who gave us Bill C-51, after all. Harper’s approach to privacy law always came down to reduced protection for individuals online and far more power for police and other security services. Bill C-13 (the so called ‘cyberbullying’ law) and Bill S-4 (the Digital Privacy Act) were all about invasion of privacy without consequences for the invaders.
To Harper and Paulson it doesn't matter that the Supreme Court upheld the right of internet privacy in R v Spencer.  The police, the court ruled, need a warrant to search internet subscriber information:

And it wasn’t just a matter of names and addresses, as the old Harperites and the police always insisted in their zeal to pursue a bad idea. It was high-tech snooping without due process or independent oversight. The high court saw far greater values to protect than the right of police to snoop.
But, unlike Harper, Paulson hasn't gone away. He represents another challenge which the Trudeau government faces.

Some Downtime

Politics and its Discontents - ven, 11/27/2015 - 05:37

We are heading off for an inexpensive week in Cuba. It really pays to travel before high season kicks in. I'll be back at the computer in about a week.

See you then.Recommend this Post

Why the Canada Revenue Agency Needs to be Investigated

Montreal Simon - ven, 11/27/2015 - 00:44

It's the burning question that remains to be answered about Stephen Harper 's monstrous years in power. The one that could make him Canada's Richard Nixon. The one that could send him to prison.

Did he or did he not order or pressure the Canada Revenue Agency to go after his political opponents, and audit and harass one left-wing charity after the other?

And because it's the kind of question that could shatter the confidence citizens should have in their government, I believe it demands an answer.

So I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who wants the Trudeau government to set up a Commission of Inquiry. 
Read more »

I'm Just Not Sure Anyone Who Matters Really Believes It.

The Disaffected Lib - jeu, 11/26/2015 - 10:31

We should all defer to the science types and their powerful consensus when it comes to us, the laity, having to make decisions on complex issues such as climate change. I have no scientific background in these things but I do follow these issues, take a course every now and then and read what can seem to be a river of 'executive summaries' of new research studies and reports.

We live in a world that has become managed by administrators following belief-based ideologies, often little more than dogma. It's the confusion, the inconsistencies and contradictions that give it away. When something doesn't seem to be working you can usually find some sort of belief-based thinking at the root of the problem. It's a world of fundamentalism fueling ever more fundamentalism. That is why evidence-based information is so refreshing, even reassuring. It means the guy behind the wheel actually has his eyes on the road ahead. That's a good thing.

It can also be a source of great worry. For example, next week's global climate summit, COP21, in Paris.  COP21, that's a lot of COPs, too many. The number reflects, in no small way, the obstructive power of belief-based thinking of the sort we experienced from our man, Harper, Australia's Harper clone, Abbott, and the neo-conservative Bush administration. There was a bag of fundamentalists and, thanks to their handiwork, any chance at an effective agreement on forestalling the worst impacts of climate change was kicked down the road, again and again and again. Which is why we're at #21.

The important thing is what the science types are telling us is the unique significance of COP21 that distinguishes it from, say, COP7 or COP16 or any previous COP.  What a lot of them are saying is that this one, COP21, being held next week in Paris, is our "last best chance" to find a solution that could fend off catastrophic, runaway global warming. Scientific American has labeled COP21 a "do or die" summit. SA has loads of articles on what we need to do in Paris next week.

"We have entered what might be called the Anthropocene thermal maximum, an era of global warming driven by one species penchant for burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests. Right now in 2015 may be the last time anyone breathes air with average CO2 concentrations below 400 ppm, as this number marches seemingly inexorably upward. But we don't have to keep adding to that number forever."
Over at, COP21 is heralded as the "last best chance for the world to save itself."

"We are out of time to start swiftly cutting emissions and regrowing our forests and grasslands. There may be ways in which climate change isn’t as dangerous as nukes, but one way in which it is even more so is its irreversibility. If you fail to strike a nuclear non-proliferation deal with Iran in 2014, you can make one in 2015. As long as they don’t yet have nukes, the crisis has been averted for the time being. Climate change doesn’t work like that. If you fail to strike a climate deal and coal plants and tankers and cars keep spewing carbon pollution, you cannot undo those emissions. The failures of Kyoto and Copenhagen and the years that followed have left us up against a wall. The countries of the world must come together now or they will suffer together later."

Our current prime minister is promising a new and invigorated approach to fighting anthropogenic global warming and, with the possible exception of Saskatchewan, he seems to have the premiers onside. What is unclear is whether any of our leaders, federal or provincial, really believe this is our last best chance, our do or die moment. Can they somehow wrench this issue from the gaping maw of partisan politics? Will they do what the crisis demands or settle for as much and as little as they think they can get away with? If, when they return to Canada you begin hearing weasel words and the sound of cans being kicked down the road you'll have a pretty good indication.

Oh, I Get It. This Is How You Try to Spin War Crimes Into Human Error.

The Disaffected Lib - jeu, 11/26/2015 - 08:25

The establishing point:  the U.S. military command has issued such a string of inconsistent explanations and excuses, effortlessly shifting from one to another as they were disproven that it doesn't get the benefit of the doubt this time around.

The issue: the devastating attack on a hospital operated by Medecins san Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) in Kunduz, Afghanistan  that appears to have been aimed at exterminating Taliban wounded being treated inside.

Now it's "Shucks, gosh - it was human error. Now, for the first time, we'll explain it away by convincing you that we were really trying to destroy the building beside the hospital. We missed. Sorry. These things happen."

Sorry but when you make a firing run on a building with an aerial Death Machine like the AC-130 Hercules, "oopsie" is no defence. The attack went on and on while MSF was on the phone to 'allied' headquarters pleading (to no avail) to call off the airstrikes.

If you want us to believe it was all a mistake, it's on you to prove that. Explain how that happens in your AC-130 with all its electronics and communications gear. Maybe this is your worst possible defence which is why you left it to last.

A Couple of Historic Insights to Help You Make Sense of the Fiasco in Syria

The Disaffected Lib - jeu, 11/26/2015 - 08:23

Some Russians have described [Wednesday's] shoot-down in larger historical terms: it is the first time that there has been a real, military conflict between Russia and NATO, wrote the liberal Russian officialdom, however, is framing this squarely as a conflict between Russia and the hotheaded, trigger-happy Turks. Wednesday’s evening news, dedicated almost exclusively to the incident, made much hay out of the fact that Washington and Europe, even NATO, spent all of Tuesday chastising Turkey and throwing cold water on the idea that one plane and one territorial incursion would lead to a wider conflict.

If anything, NATO and the Europeans are the good guys in this interpretation of events — certainly a first in recent Russian history. Why? Because Turkey, the villain in this story, is trying to derail a grand, historic coalition against terrorism, one that has Russia as its main axis. The de-escalation facilitated by Western powers, the evening news report noted, “is needed so that this conflict doesn’t harm the fight against terrorism in general and against ISIS specifically.” That is, Russia sees itself as doing the work necessary to protect the civilized world against the threat of terrorism, work that benefits France, Britain, and the United States as much as it benefits Russia. (Left unstated is the assumption that it doesn’t benefit Turkey, or its Islamist-sympathizing government.) It is analogous to the way Russia has portrayed its role in World War II, especially recently: Russia fought back the menace of fascism for the good of the ungrateful West, which would have drowned if not for Moscow’s help.

This is why, beneath the propaganda and cynical geopolitical maneuvering, Moscow finds Western critiques about its role in Syria so deeply frustrating, insulting even. To Russia, such complaints are as old as time, centuries-old efforts to block Russian imperial ambitions at every possible turn for no apparent reason — even to the point of lining up with the Muslim Ottomans against Christian Rus in the mid-19th century. 


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