Posts from our progressive community

That Salman Guy, the Saudi King Whose Ass We're Lining Up to Kiss? Brace Yourself.

The Disaffected Lib - mer, 01/28/2015 - 17:38


Maybe we should just paint the ISIS logo on those armoured fighting vehicles we're supplying to the Saudis.

An eye-opener in Foreign Policy magazine notes that, far from being the "moderate reformer" as our governments and media portray newly minted Saudi king Salman, he's actually steeped in Sunni extremism.


Salman was appointed by his full brother and close political ally King Fahd to direct the Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia and Herzegovina (SHC) upon its founding in 1992. Through the SHC, Salman gathered donations from the royal family for Balkan relief, supervising the commission until its until its recent closurein 2011. By 2001, the organization had collected around $600 million — nominally for relief and religious purposes, but money that allegedly also went to facilitating arms shipments, despite a U.N. arms embargo on Bosnia and other Yugoslav successor states from 1991 to 1996.

And what kind of supervision did Salman exercise over this international commission? In 2001, NATO forces raided the SHC’s Sarajevo offices, discovering a treasure trove of terrorist materials: before-and-after photographs of al Qaeda attacks, instructions on how to fake U.S. State Department badges, and maps marked to highlight government buildings across Washington.

The Sarajevo raid was not the first piece of evidence that the SHC’s work went far beyond humanitarian aid. Between 1992 and 1995, European officials tracked roughly $120 million in donations from Salman’s personal bank accounts and from the SHC to a Vienna-based Bosnian aid organization named the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA). Although the organization claimed to be focused on providing humanitarian relief, Western intelligence agencies estimated that the TWRA actually spent a majority of its funds arming fighters aligned with the Bosnian government.

...The SHC’s connection to terrorist groups has long been scrutinized by U.S. intelligence officials as well. The U.S. government’s Joint Task Force Guantanamo once included the Saudi High Commission on its list of suspected “terrorist and terrorist support entities.” The Defense Intelligence Agency also once accused the Saudi High Commission of shipping both aid and weapons to Mohamed Farrah Aidid, the al Qaeda-linked Somali warlord depicted as a villain in the movie Black Hawk Down. Somalia was subject to a United Nations arms embargo starting in January 1992.

...Many in the West wish for a Saudi king who will pass meaningful reforms and push back against incitement by local extremists. Sadly, Salman does not look to be that man.

For a better insight into Saudi's shady king, read the entire article here.


Let's talk ... about corporate greed.

Dammit Janet - mer, 01/28/2015 - 12:32
The Talking Heads:



Today is the day that one big business has chosen to make itself look good and to brand its corporate image with the glow of a Very Important social / health issue.

Yes, today is Bell _Let's Talk™_ Day.

My co-blogger fern hill wrote about it two years ago.

I agree with her.

Yesterday there was a number of people waiting with me at a Bank Street bus stop, including a mother and her young adult daughter who kept whispering loudly to her mother about the spirits she saw who were telling her *things*.  The older woman was painfully aware that people were looking at them, some in kindness, others not so much as she tried to guide her daughter away from the group.

They travelled briefly on the same bus with me then disembarked to transfer on to a different route. I wondered and worried about them.  My daughter's childhood friend developed schizophrenia in her late adolescence.  Many of her (her partner's, too) peers and contemporaries are beset with a wide range of mental health issues that are aggravated by precarious employment conditions and dwindling mental health resources.

Yet:



Indeed.  For every tweet, Bell will donate 5¢ per.  The corporation claims that funds they've dedicated to mental health programs are distributed according to funding requests awarded.

You want more numbers crunching? This blogger does an excellent job of breaking down the figures.

[...]in reality one of the things that is actually happening is that for $4.26 per hour Bell are paying you to act as a PR representative for their brand – part of that branding is the image of a “responsible corporate citizen.”

Bell could just pay the same corporate income tax in 2013 that corporations paid in 1960 (or really any point since then) and contribute vastly more to the treatment of mental health in Canada than the money they are contributing as part of a corporate PR campaign. Bell Canada’s 2011 net profits were $2,160,000,000 and its total revenue was 19,500,000,000 – so whatever they end up donating for mental health treatment/awareness could be replaced with stable, annual funding by increasing corporate income tax by less than a sliver of a fraction of a percentage point.

So Bell demands more and more corporate welfare and tax relief from the federal government.  This leads to shortfalls in revenues which governments at the federal, provincial and municipal level must absorb by cutting mental health programs.

At which point Bell swoops in like a white knight in shining armour and can point to where it takes credit for patching up the healthcare infrastructures disintegration that its own corporate greed and gluttony for profits has caused.

Toxic capitalism. 

It also seems a good time to note, as communications flunkeys who toil for the Harper government furiously tweet up a storm on behalf of its CPC Ministers and MPs, that the CRA is directed to investigate charities that do not comply with his government policies, and that millions of dollars in advertising are dedicated to promoting his *Party of One* on the ordinary Canadian taxpayer's dime.

Let's Talk

Feminist Christian - mer, 01/28/2015 - 11:53
About corporate welfare and greed that preys on the charitable values of humans.

Today, one of the wealthiest corporations in Canada is "sponsoring" an event, where they will donate money (that they can then write-off as a tax deduction) to a mental health charity if you advertise for them for free.

And I'm the asshole for pointing this out.

There is no question whatsoever that there needs to be a national conversation about mental illness and the stigmatization that comes along with it. There is no question that doctors are ignorant about it and corporations even moreso. Do you know what Bell does for its employees who have mental illness? Nothing. NOTHING. And about 7 years ago, they cut health benefits for their retirees. Oh, the champion of mental health care, Bell. Fuck Bell. Corporate toads.

What kills me, is that if big corporate entities just paid their fucking taxes, we wouldn't need charities for what should be basic health care. Why in the name of all things holy doesn't the government step up and pay for mental health care the way they should? Oh, because they "don't have the money". Right. So make the fucking corporations pay their fucking taxes. Bell spends a fortune trying to get out of their taxes. Fuck Bell.

You know what's worse? Any money we donate to this shit, the company gets a tax break. They're literally making money off this. And because people are dying to do something, we let them get away with this shit. Seriously? We allow Bell to profit while pretending to do something, because we feel so powerless. And then when people like me point this out, we're called cynical assholes and told, "Well at least they're doing something". GAH. No, they aren't. A tiny drop in the bucket when they could actually do something? It's like Mr. Burns giving the employees their precious tartar sauce. It's like giving a cosmetics company money so that they'll give part of it to cancer research for you. Oh. People do that too? *headdesk*

You want to do something? Here's what you can do: You know someone with mental health issues. Yes, you do. Phone them. Reach out. Let them know they're not alone. And if you truly can't think of anyone to call, donate some money to a homeless shelter. Hand out food and socks in the street. Because chances are, you'll be directly helping some mentally ill people there.

Then write your MLA. Write your MP. We need to demand a national conversation. We need to refuse the status quo.

Because youth are dying at a higher rate than ever before. A few years ago, a young man lit himself on fire (and died) outside of the hospital, while on the waitlist for help. The situation for youth is grim. There are long waits for service, crappy service when you get it, cut-offs when they're stable 'enough', no help transitioning to adult services. Parents quit their jobs to look after their mentally ill kids. And let's face it, poverty isn't going to help the situation any. And where is Bell on that? No where. Do they give their employees leave to look after mentally ill kids? Fuck no. Fuck Bell.

And then there's the problem of what services exist for the mentally ill who cannot work but aren't sick enough for inpatient services. Sweet. Bugger. All. Where's Bell on that? Oh yeah, no where. They're supporting the Cons, who would even cut what meagre services they already have. Fuck Bell. You know how much a person in BC gets for disability per month? $907. Nine hundred and seven dollars. The extra seven just seems cruel. For a Christmas bonus, they get $25. It's insulting. How the fuck do you live on $907? I've yet to see a bachelor suite for under $625 where I live. And so fucking help me, anyone who wants to tell me that they should move to cheaper markets (I have honestly been told that. Several times. By stupid conservative voting dickbags who don't know that people can't just move away from their support services when they're mentally ill. Not to mention they truly might not be able to afford to move.

So here's the situation for an average mentally ill person:
Can't work or need accommodations to work. Job doesn't care.
Go to doctor for help. Doctor throws prozac at you or tells you to just cheer up (or stop worrying. Or stop being so flighty. Or stop looking for attention.) If you're "crazy" enough, they'll get you on a waitlist for help.
Go to government for help. They've got nothin'. No money, they claim. Then they spend billions on sports and give tax breaks to oil companies, telecoms, banks, and other extremely profitable corporations.
Try to distract yourself with some mindless TV. Oh, they're demonizing the mentally ill on TV again. Great.
Talk to a friend. Friend tells you to take a vacation. Get some time for yourself. Just cheer up. Fake it 'til you make it.
Still waiting.
Lose friends.
Lose job.
Try to get by on $907/mo while the government and media call you a lying moocher.
Start to wonder if you're a lying moocher, because you're not thinking straight because HELLO MENTAL ILLNESS.
Talk to another friend. She recommends the church. They recommend praying.
Still waiting.
Getting sicker. Body getting sick now too, because can't eat well on $907/mo.
Losing hope.
See well-meaning people tweeting about mental illness like they know something about it, and seeing Bell, the company that fired you for being mentally ill, sponsor this bullshit.

FUCK BELL.

Major h/t to @torquilcampbell on Twitter, whose tweets I missed very much. But if I find out that he for one second knew what his radio coworker (he whose name I will not speak) was up to, I'll cut him. From my Twitter feed. Yeah, that's what I meant...

The Hypocrisy is Blinding

The Disaffected Lib - mer, 01/28/2015 - 10:35
One of these people is Not Happy to Be Here
Barack Obama cuts short his state visit to India, after lecturing his hosts on tolerance and women's rights, so that he can kiss the slippers of the new Saudi king, Salman.

So, Barack, how do you explain that one?  “Sometimes we need to balance our need to speak to them about human rights issues with immediate concerns we have in terms of counter-terrorism or dealing with regional stability.”

Okay, I get it.  The state that has had its sticky fingers in every major terrorist outfit from al Qaeda to ISIS is vital to counter-terrorism and regional stability so we'll just look the other way at their lethal religious intolerance and their oppression of their women folk.

Of course in Harperland we're falling over ourselves to deliver $15-billion worth of armoured democracy-suppression combat vehicles to the same herd of swine. Who knows, maybe we can win the contract to sharpen their headsman's swords?

But this Gal is All Smiles

Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - mer, 01/28/2015 - 09:41
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Kate McInturff and David Macdonald address the need for an adult discussion about how federal policies affect Canadian families. And Kevin Campbell writes about the importance of child care as a social investment. 

- Vincenzo Bove and Georgios Efthyvoulou study how public policy is shaped by political budget cycles - with more popular social spending getting emphasized around election time, only to face a threat as soon as the vote is held. And Scott Clark and Peter DeVries identify a distinct increase in the smoke and mirrors being used by the Cons to hide Canada's true budget picture in an election year:
Since the fall — when the prime minister promised tax cuts he hadn’t paid for — everything on the fiscal front has changed, except this: The budget remains the key document in the run-up to the election. Except now, the budget won’t be saying what Harper wanted it to. He wanted it to tell the story of his steady management of the economy since the 2008 recession. Instead, it’ll be about convincing Canadians the government had a plan B all along. Since the furor over Kenney’s comments strongly suggests a government at war with itself, that could turn out to be a tall order.

The PM has never liked budgets. He never saw them as a means to articulate a vision of the economy and the country. To Harper, a budget is a PR document — and a Trojan horse for pushing through legislative changes that have nothing at all to do with the budget.
...
It’s this kind of economic outlook that makes Canadians nervous — and they’re right to be. They need facts, not slogans. They need a budget that provides an honest, realistic assessment of our economic and fiscal prospects. They need to know that the government is taking a serious look at its fiscal policy and asking how it can be adjusted now to strengthen growth and job creation, while maintaining a sustainable fiscal structure over the medium term.

That’s what they need. Here’s what they’re likely to get: More slogans, more shallow optics and the spectacle of a Department of Finance tying itself in knots to at least show a balanced budget in 2015-16.- Desmond Cole examines the Cons' dismal treatment of immigrant detainees. And the CP reports on their disregard for court rulings finding refugee health funding cuts to be unconstitutional.

- At the same time, Barrie McKenna writes that the Cons are once again going out of their way to support corporate corruption - this time by relaxing rules for businesses which have committed crimes abroad. 

- Finally, Ralph Surette discusses why it's time to end the Cons' reign - while suggesting #ThrowTheRascalsOut as an appropriate campaign hashtag.

On blissful ignorance

accidentaldeliberations - mer, 01/28/2015 - 07:16
Shorter Lawrence Herman:
Just because Newfoundland and Labrador learned the hard way that Stephen Harper can't be trusted doesn't mean it has any right to warn anybody else that Stephen Harper can't be trusted. (For a more reasonable take on how we should expect countries to react to the Cons' duplicitous negotiations and undue preference for corporate power, see the Telegram's editorial.)

When They Cower In Abject Fear

Northern Reflections - mer, 01/28/2015 - 06:25

                                               http://www.mirror.co.uk/

Tomorrow, we're told, the Harper government will introduce its new anti-terror legislation. Recent events have proved to be the undoing of the Harperian economy. So a diversion is in order. If they won't vote on your economic record, perhaps they'll vote for you out of fear. And if the do that, Clive Doucet and Joe Ingram write, the terrorists will have won:

The terrorists understand the power of the front page and are using it with apparent success – forcing their anger, rejection and violence to the top of the news, week after week, month after month. They want to provoke a “clash of civilizations.”

And Mr. Harper and his supporters appear to be walking right into their trap.While no one disputes the need to deal effectively with terrorism and its causes, how we do so and the public resources we spend on them need to be proportional to their real importance for Canadians and for the world at large. The term “war on terror” was coined during the George W. Bush administration; his Presidency is long gone, his “mission accomplished” in Iraq. And terrorist actions have been multiplying ever since.
The "war on terror" response has only made things worse. But it focuses voters on the enemy without -- not the enemy within. And then enemy within is focused on destroying the state at home:

The glaring weakness of Mr. Harper’s decade of oil-first economic policies has been vividly exposed. Despite the warnings of some of the globe’s leading economists about the perils of the so-called “resource curse” (ie. an excessive reliance on a single commodity) the Harper government has failed to strategically diversify the structure of Canada’s economy. It has been as if we are blind to the longer term trends and to the particular threat reliance on fossil fuels has for the planet and to our economy. It’s only taken a few months for Alberta’s robust extraction economy to collapse and suddenly a national ‘balanced’ budget – even after years of unprecedented cuts to all public services – is receding into the distance.

Democracies depend on coherent, sustained and remembered public debate around complex issues such as – is there an alternative to oil? What is the best science telling us about climate change? And how can we best react to it? The Germans, for example, have just moved their economy into being powered 50 per cent by non-fossil fuels.

Last we checked, Germany had the strongest economy in Europe and they have no domestically produced oil. And the Danes are not far behind.
But the last thing the Harperites want is a debate about the wisdom of transforming Canada into an energy super power. So cue the alarm bells. Scare the hell out of them. And, when they cower in abject fear, you can get away with anything.


Stephen Harper's Disastrous Return to Parliament

Montreal Simon - mer, 01/28/2015 - 04:39


As I'm sure you know, Stephen Harper has been under a lot of stress recently. 

The economy is tanking, he blew the surplus before he had one, only the dumb and the crazy believe that he is still a Great Economist Leader.

And that's driving him CRAAAAAAZY.

So when the time came for him to return to Parliament yesterday, his faithful fanatics in the PMO prepared this little Twitter video to cheer him up.

Pleased to be back on the hill for the new Parliamentary session. #cdnpoli #QP @TwitterCanadahttps://t.co/BTAHBKmyMr
— Stephen Harper (@pmharper) January 27, 2015

But sadly for him, and them, his day couldn't have been more DISASTROUS.
Read more »

Dean Del Mastro and the Barbarity of the Cons

Montreal Simon - mer, 01/28/2015 - 00:52


Well I'm sure it's just a coincidence that on the day Dean Del Mastro appeared in court for his sentencing hearing. 

And demanded a mistrial. 

Former MP Dean Del Mastro is asking the Ontario Court of Justice to dismiss his Oct. 31 guilty verdicts related to overspending in the 2008 federal election campaign and declare a mistrial.

After having told the judge that her guilty verdict was just a matter of opinion:

The Cons would choose this day to let it be known that they're all for harsh sentences. 

Read more »

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

accidentaldeliberations - mar, 01/27/2015 - 18:05
Cradled cats.



Stephen Harper and the Scandalous War on Marijuana

Montreal Simon - mar, 01/27/2015 - 16:10


Well I'm sure you remember how last fall Stephen Harper and his Cons launched a massive advertising blitz aimed at the parents of teenagers who use marijuana.

Whose exaggerated claims resembled the 1936 movie Reefer Madness.

And had worried parents wondering whether they should consult a brain surgeon or a plumber...
Read more »

Weak Economy? 'They' Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way.

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 01/27/2015 - 15:54
Take it from Joe.  Nobel laureate economist Joe Stiglitz to be precise.

The near-global stagnation witnessed in 2014 is man-made. It is the result of politics and policies in several major economies -- politics and policies that choked off demand. In the absence of demand, investment and jobs will fail to materialize. It is that simple.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the Eurozone, which has officially adopted a policy of austerity -- cuts in government spending that augment weaknesses in private spending. The Eurozone's structure is partly to blame for impeding adjustment to the shock generated by the crisis; in the absence of a banking union, it was no surprise that money fled the hardest hit countries, weakening their financial systems and constraining lending and investment.

In Japan, one of the three "arrows" of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's program for economic revival was launched in the wrong direction. The fall in GDP that followed the increase in the consumption tax in April provided further evidence in support of Keynesian economics -- as if there was not enough already.

...For the past six years, the West has believed that monetary policy can save the day. The crisis led to huge budget deficits and rising debt, and the need for de-leveraging, the thinking goes, means that fiscal policy must be shunted aside.
The problem is that low interest rates will not motivate firms to invest if there is no demand for their products. Nor will low rates inspire individuals to borrow to consume if they are anxious about their future (which they should be). What monetary policy can do is create asset-price bubbles. It might even prop up the price of government bonds in Europe, thereby forestalling a sovereign-debt crisis. But it is important to be clear: the likelihood that loose monetary policies will restore global prosperity is nil.

This brings us back to politics and policies. Demand is what the world needs most. The private sector -- even with the generous support of monetary authorities -- will not supply it. But fiscal policy can. We have an ample choice of public investments that would yield high returns -- far higher than the real cost of capital -- and that would strengthen the balance sheets of the countries undertaking them.

The big problem facing the world in 2015 is not economic. We know how to escape our current malaise. The problem is our stupid politics.

In other words, just like that other great economic plague, inequality, is the bastard child of our political elite, so too is the global stagnation besetting every nation's economy.  It's the waste product of neoliberal ideology in practice.  If only a change of government would free Canada of that curse.

"American Sniper" - to Chris Hedges, It's America's "Triumph of the Will"

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 01/27/2015 - 13:07
What does the Eastwood hit movie, American Sniper, say about America in the 21st century?  To Chris Hedges it says a lot, none of it good.

"American Sniper" lionizes the most despicable aspects of U.S. society—the gun culture, the blind adoration of the military, the belief that we have an innate right as a “Christian” nation to exterminate the “lesser breeds” of the earth, a grotesque hypermasculinity that banishes compassion and pity, a denial of inconvenient facts and historical truth, and a belittling of critical thinking and artistic expression. Many Americans, especially white Americans trapped in a stagnant economy and a dysfunctional political system, yearn for the supposed moral renewal and rigid, militarized control the movie venerates. These passions, if realized, will extinguish what is left of our now-anemic open society.

...There is no shortage of simpletons whose minds are warped by this belief system. We elected one of them, George W. Bush, as president. They populate the armed forces and the Christian right. They watch Fox News and believe it. They have little understanding or curiosity about the world outside their insular communities. They are proud of their ignorance and anti-intellectualism. They prefer drinking beer and watching football to reading a book. And when they get into power—they already control the Congress, the corporate world, most of the media and the war machine—their binary vision of good and evil and their myopic self-adulation cause severe trouble for their country. “American Sniper,” like the big-budget feature films pumped out in Germany during the Nazi era to exalt deformed values of militarism, racial self-glorification and state violence, is a piece of propaganda, a tawdry commercial for the crimes of empire. That it made a record-breaking $105.3 million over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday long weekend is a symptom of the United States’ dark malaise.

...Kyle’s first kill is a boy who is handed an anti-tank grenade by a young woman in a black chador. The woman, who expresses no emotion over the boy’s death, picks up the grenade after the boy is shot and moves toward U.S. Marines on patrol. Kyle kills her too. And here we have the template for the film and Kyle’s best-selling autobiography, “American Sniper.” Mothers and sisters in Iraq don’t love their sons or their brothers. Iraqi women breed to make little suicide bombers. Children are miniature Osama bin Ladens. Not one of the Muslim evildoers can be trusted—man, woman or child. They are beasts. They are shown in the film identifying U.S. positions to insurgents on their cellphones, hiding weapons under trapdoors in their floors, planting improvised explosive devices in roads or strapping explosives onto themselves in order to be suicide bombers. They are devoid of human qualities.

...The culture of war banishes the capacity for pity. It glorifies self-sacrifice and death. It sees pain, ritual humiliation and violence as part of an initiation into manhood. Brutal hazing, as Kyle noted in his book, was an integral part of becoming a Navy SEAL. New SEALs would be held down and choked by senior members of the platoon until they passed out. The culture of war idealizes only the warrior. It belittles those who do not exhibit the warrior’s “manly” virtues. It places a premium on obedience and loyalty. It punishes those who engage in independent thought and demands total conformity. It elevates cruelty and killing to a virtue. This culture, once it infects wider society, destroys all that makes the heights of human civilization and democracy possible. The capacity for empathy, the cultivation of wisdom and understanding, the tolerance and respect for difference and even love are ruthlessly crushed. The innate barbarity that war and violence breed is justified by a saccharine sentimentality about the nation, the flag and a perverted Christianity that blesses its armed crusaders. This sentimentality, as Baldwin wrote, masks a terrifying numbness. It fosters an unchecked narcissism. Facts and historical truths, when they do not fit into the mythic vision of the nation and the tribe, are discarded. Dissent becomes treason. All opponents are godless and subhuman. “American Sniper” caters to a deep sickness rippling through our society. It holds up the dangerous belief that we can recover our equilibrium and our lost glory by embracing an American fascism.


Will sado-politics win another term for Harper?

Dawg's Blawg - mar, 01/27/2015 - 12:11
The Harper government’s latest foray into sado-politics, that is, a politics that uses the vicarious joy of punishment to attract voters, may be unconstitutional—but in an election year it’s the thought that counts. Pleasure derived from the infliction of pain—sadism—is... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

Tennis, anyone?

Cathie from Canada - mar, 01/27/2015 - 10:41
One of the great things about being retired is that I can stay up til 3 am watching the Australian Open, on TV or just tracking scores on my tablet -- the "big name" matchew are televised, but few of the doubles matches are broadcast on TSN, even with their extra channels now.
In fact, TSN kept saying they couldn't get any television coverage of Pospisil's earlier single and doubles matches, even though later they did show some highlights. His last match, which was televised, was far from his best, unfortunately.
But finally I don't have to care whether some sporting event is going on half a world away.
Now that we have a larger TV, and I have learned how the games are scored, I find tennis fascinating to watch.
Next, if only I could understand soccer....

Learning to Live With ENSO

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 01/27/2015 - 10:31
The bad news is that ENSO is expected to get a helluva lot worse.  The worse news is that nobody really cares.

ENSO, the El Nino Southern Oscillation, is a little something that happens every few years in the southern Pacific Ocean. It manifests in cooling waters on one side and warming waters on the other.  It comes in two forms:  El Nino, the boy (commonly thought of as the Christ Child because it usually shows up around Christmas); and La Nina, the girl, El Nino's nasty step-sister.

ENSO changes weather patterns around the world - Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America, Australia, pretty much the lot.  El Nino, for example, brings scorching heatwaves and drought to Australia.  It can also bring the relief of rain to the American southwest.



As mentioned, ENSO is second only to the changing of seasons in impact on global weather conditions.  A new report forecasts that, not only are ENSO events going to get a lot more severe this century, but we may see La Nina events double in frequency.  That could greatly exacerbate the drought conditions currently besetting Central America and the US southwest.

Con candidates Go Newclear

Creekside - mar, 01/27/2015 - 09:40

Remember three years ago when charts like this one mapped the links between the various Ethical Oil players in the Con regime spanning cabinet ministers, media personalities, and political contractors and web designers?

The connections were based on research by Emma Pullman at DeSmogBlog and the website Deep Climate : Conservatives Go Newclear . They each discovered that Hamish Marshall, former Manager of Strategic Planning in the Office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and then principal at pollster/strategist Abingdon Research, had created and hosted some 50 Con-connected websites at his Go Newclear Productions :  “experienced in the development of both conventional and unconventional online weaponry” to “blow away your competition".

Well, funny thing ...

The Port Moody/Coquitlam Election 2015 blog was having a look at some of new young Con contenders hoping to be nominated to run in the next federal election and discovered that their very similar election websites were also hosted by Go Newclear - home to Jason Kenney, Joe Oliver, Ethical Oil, Abingdon, and the Wildrose Party. Even before they bagged their nominations, notes PM/C-E 2015, some of them had already pulled some heavyweight Con endorsements.

So ... having a quick look at a couple of them for myself in two newly created ridings ...



Garnett Genuis is running in the newly created federal riding of Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan. Vice President at Abingdon under Hamish Marshall and like him also a former PMO staffer, Genuis had the public endorsements of Jason Kenney, Joan Crockett, Chris Warkenton, Michelle Rempel, Ken Epp, Ric McIver - Alberta's Minister of Jobs, Stockwell Day, and Mike Martens in the bag even before he was nominated. 

Wait - Mike Martens? Who dat? Former CPC Regional Organizer for BC and current Director of the School of Practical Politics, Manning Centre for Building Democracy. One might say Mertens' job at the Manning Centre is building short pantsers/Con staffers into credible candidates and campaigners. Genuis is a former provincial Wildrose candidate. In 2010 he went to work for the think tank Canadian Centre for Policy Studies, which advocates defunding the CBC entirely and hosts tribute dinners for Mark Steyn and Ezra.


Tom Kmiec, former aide to Jason Kenney, was endorsed in his nomination to the new riding of Calgary Shepard by Jason Kenney, Ted Morton, Stephen Blaney, and Calgary lawyer and Republican booster Gerry Chipeur.
Tom Kmiec, Calgary Chamber of Commerce :
In his most recent role, Tom was an advisor to the federal Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, and led the regional communications outreach. Tom has also served as a political aide to the Minister of National Defence. At the provincial level, Tom served as the policy advisor to the Minister of Sustainable Resource Development and the Minister of Finance and Enterprise. Tom has a BA from Concordia University in Montreal, a Certificate of Graduate Studies from Regent University in Terrorism and Homeland Defence, and is currently completing an MA in Government Studies at Regent.*blink*  *blink*  Pat Robertson's Regent University in Virginia, formerly known as the Christian Broadcasting Network University?  "Christian Leadership to Change the World"?   That one?  The one Bush got so many staffers from?


Seems so - Tom is featured in Regent's Aug 2014 newsletter as "full-time Canadian Ministry of Defense employee Tom Kmiec". Excerpted :"Kmiec explained that he always wanted to expand his knowledge of the American system of government and learned about Regent University from a flyer at a Youth Republican National Convention with the Conservative Party of Canada. "Once I looked at the RSG faculty profiles and courses offered, I knew Regent was for me," says Kmiec Kmiec wanted to learn more about how a Christian worldview connects to public policy and government.Kmiec says he is inspired like former United Kingdom Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, to be a passionate promoter of conservative principles and tireless defender of doing what is right in public life. "As flawed as our world is, there is so much good that we can do as Christians held to the highest standards of integrity, character and morality." But here's a puzzle. Mr Kmiec's election website addy, also featured as a link from his twitter site, is provenconservative.ca, . If you click it, you get Kmiec. 
An odd choice. Provenconservative.com is a US Tea Party site and movement. Sarah Palin uses it, as does Ted Kruz here in his 2011 senate bid endorsed by the Koch brothers' FreedomWorks.

Garnett Genuis, I just noticed, also refers to himself as a "proven Conservative", although more casually.

Can't say I'm happy to hear this old teabagger branding and dog-whistling up here from former short pantsers turned candidates in ridings newly minted for the next federal election.

And as Port Moody/Coquitlam Election blog asks : Don't Con riding associations get to pick their own candidates anymore? Here's Jason Kenney :



I'll be adding more candidates to this post a bit later.

Meantime you could be adding your name to the petition requesting UN election observers for Canada. 

h/t to Jennifer McMackon for her link to the Port Moody/Coquitlam Election blogpost on Go Newclear & the Cons' Youth Strategy for the Upcoming Election. Good in depth overview of the Cons' new target candidates and audience now they've presumably maxed out the ethnic vote. 
.

Only in Harperland is a Verdict a "Matter of Opinion"

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 01/27/2015 - 09:34
Nice House of Commons You Got Here
It'd Be a Shame if Something Happened to It

Dean del Mastro wants a do-over.  Presumably it has something to do with being on the wrong side of the verdict in the four charges brought against him for campaign spending violations in the 2008 election.

His lawyers want the judge to backpeddle and declare a mistrial instead of going ahead and sentencing their client to the fines and possible jail time he deserves.

As far as Harper's former parliamentary secretary is concerned the court's ruling wasn't a verdict, just a matter of opinion.

Judge Lisa Cameron's ruling "was not a final decision," he said. "I've in no way broken any of the laws governing elections."

"I know what the truth is. That's her opinion. My opinion is quite different."

Will Ted Cruz Become the First Canadian to Run For President?

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 01/27/2015 - 09:12


Something's up.  Ted Cruz, the Republican poster boy for all things far right, has still not ditched his Canadian citizenship.

It's a relatively easy process.  He could probably go into the nearest Service Canada office and get help filling out the forms.  Instead he's had lawyers on this and yet, a year or more later, he's still a citizen of the country of his birth, Canada.  So, what's the hold up?

There is one section, however, that could cause Cruz some trouble, and perhaps that is the reason for his delay. Question 5 instructs the applicant to “attach proof” that he is (or will become) a citizen of a country other than Canada. That may seem like it is none of Canada’s business, but in fact the requirement follows from important principles of international law – including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – which call upon governments to protect individuals from becoming stateless. Of course, Canada’s requirement of proof was not established with U.S. senators in mind, but it does reflect an admirable intention to ensure that all individuals have national rights in at least one country. And in any event, it is up to Canada to decide how and in what manner its citizenship may be annulled – the U.S. has similar rules – and Cruz has no choice but to follow the necessary protocol.

In order to fulfill his promise to the voters, Cruz must therefore submit proof that he is a U.S. citizen, which will be trickier for him than for most people. Cruz has thus far released only his Canadian birth certificate, which confirms that he was born in Calgary, Alberta, in 1970, and additionally states that his mother was born in Wilmington, Dela. The second part is crucial – Cruz’s only claim to U.S. citizenship through his mother – but it is also hearsay. The birth certificate is primary evidence of Cruz’s own birth, but the entry about his mother merely records her assertion to the Alberta Division of Vital Statistics. Even though I don’t personally dispute what he says, “My mother said so” is not what is usually meant by “proof.”

How, then, can Ted Cruz prove his U.S. citizenship to the satisfaction of the Canadian authorities? He could submit his passport, or perhaps the document called a Consular Certificate of Birth Abroad (if his parents obtained one), but those would have the same hearsay problems as his birth certificate. The only sure-fire evidence, therefore, would be his mother’s birth certificate, presumably issued when she was born in Delaware.

But even that presents a problem. Only one of Ted’s parents was a citizen when he was born (his father is a Cuban émigré who did not take U.S. citizenship until 2005), and he therefore falls under a special section of the Immigration and Nationality Act that applies to “Birth Abroad to One Citizen and One Alien Parent.” Under that provision, Cruz only qualifies for American citizenship if his mother was “physically present” in the United States for 10 years prior to his birth, five of which had to be after she reached the age of 14. The only definitive way to prove Eleanor Cruz’s 10 years of physical presence would be with documents such as leases, school registration, utility bills or tax records.


So, Terrible Tempered Ted can only get rid of his Canadian citizenship if he can prove he's entitled to American citizenship and applying to renounce his Canadian citizenship puts the validity of his American citizenship in question, if not in peril.  Which suggests that the team of lawyers Ted has working on this must be having problem getting the documentary evidence that Ted's mom was indeed physically present in the US for 10-years prior to his birth.
I expect that Harper has been approached to waive this technicality and I assume that a guy like Harper would if he could.  Somehow that doesn't seem to be happening and I'm pretty sure Ted's rivals for the Republican nomination won't let this slip through their fingers.

Let the conspiracy theories begin.

Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - mar, 01/27/2015 - 07:20
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Will Hutton writes about the connection between inequality and the loss of any moral or social purpose in public life:
Britain is beset by a crisis of purpose. We don’t know who we are any longer, where we are going or even if there is a “we”. The country is so passionately attached to past glories because there are so few to celebrate in the present. The crisis is compounded since we have been told for 30 years that the route to universal wellbeing is to abandon the expense of justice and equity and so allow the judgments of the market to go unobstructed. Private decisions in markets supposedly are morally and economically better than any public or collective action. As a result the sense of the “we” that binds a society together and gives us reason to belong is being lost. We take refuge in looking after number one, because there is no sense in, nor reason for, doing anything else.

The inevitable consequence is a decline in public integrity and a new carelessness about others. This amoral deficit of integrity takes many guises. It is sky-high executive pay, out of proportion to effort or contribution. It is the phone-hacking scandal. It is the too frequent lack of duty of care to workforces and customers alike. It is the careless, indiscriminate sale of so many of our public and private assets. It is the unwillingness to find ways of investing in ourselves, while we look so regularly to foreigners to revive our industries or build our infrastructure. It is the crisis of trust in our politicians. It is the uncontested acceptance that our children confront a worse world than we faced ourselves – from the size of mortgage they will need to buy a house to lower pensions.
...

The principal obstacle to the recreation of a sense of we – and along with it the shared vision, ambition and purpose for the country which is the necessary precondition for the extensive reforms that are needed – is inequality. Inequality is like a slow-growing but untreated cancer; it can grow with little apparent effect for a long time while the sufferer lives in happy ignorance. Occasionally there may be unexplained physical weaknesses and complaints that suggest something is awry, but other, less alarming explanations than cancer seem both more likely and comforting. Then suddenly the cancer begins to metastasise with catastrophic effects, but it is too late to stop its now obvious spread, and the implications are often fatal.

Societies, unlike individuals, do not die. But the cancer of inequality produces results that are equally catastrophic. - From that starting point, it makes sense that the very people who have secured their positions by exploiting amorality might have trouble seeing how to address it. But Paul Mason sees Greece's election as an example of how citizens can peacefully and democratically revolt against the mindset that people must be sacrificed to economic gods.

- David Macdonald studies how Canada's economic picture would look if First Nations weren't deliberately cut out of it. And Jason Warick reports on Ken Coates' call to share resource revenue with First Nations.

- Edward Keenan highlights the CRA's selective crackdown against charities whose causes don't fit the Cons' politics.

- And finally, Michael Harris discusses how the Harper Cons' distaste for any accurate portrayal of their government is all too consistent with how truth-tellers are being treated around the globe:
The next prime minister of Canada has either got to let Canadians in on what is really happening in this country and this world, or see the profession of politics fall into permanent disgrace. It won’t be lousy voter turn-out we’ll be talking about then — it will voter turn-off and the extinction of democracy, Alberta-style.
...
What is happening in Stephen Harper’s Canada — the hoarding and choking-off of information, the outright lying — is going on in many of the aging, decrepit democracies in the West. The establishments of several countries have effectively decided that they are above the law — and often cite national security threats to justify anti-democratic and, in some cases, thoroughly illegal behaviours.

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