Posts from our progressive community

Is it an epidemic?

The Regina Mom - lun, 11/24/2014 - 21:45

thereginamom has continued to read the Twitter hashtag, , and so much more.  She remains deeply moved by the outpouring of experiences shared and the conversations that are happening within various local communities, in the mainstream media, and online.  Though the number of tweets has decreased, the sharing continues.  Never has trm ever been involved in such a powerful online action — and she’s been involved in many, as some of you dear Readers know.

sex assault stats ywcaThis infographic from YWCA Canada startled trm.  It clearly demonstrates the urgent, immediate need for change.  From what trm has read on Twitter we need to change the way reports of rape are handled by police and the justice system.  In order to do that, we need to change the way our culture looks at rape.  We need to end rape culture.

Rape culture was not a term familiar to trm until her daughter went away to university and shared posts about it on Facebook.  trm has learned how her experience of rape is a result of a culture that not so subtly condones rape.

How do we change this, dear Reader, and quickly?


Joe Oliver, CFIB, and the Fraser Institute

Creekside - lun, 11/24/2014 - 16:17

FinMin Joe Oliver admitted last week that his department had outsourced government policy to the lobby group Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and further, had not done their own analysis of CFIB's work even though the lobby group represents the businesses the new policy was intended to benefit. The new CFIB/FinMin policy takes $500M from the EI fund and gives it to small businesses - ostensibly to create jobs.

CFIB wasted no time taking credit for this piece of government policy.

On their webpage CFIB shows this photo of CFIB President Dan Kelly at the government's "Jobs and Opportunities" dedecked lectern, with FinMin Joe standing demurely off to the side. 
A sidebar on the main page headlined "We Make a DifferenceVictories" boasts :
"Big breakthrough on payroll taxes: CFIB joined federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver to announce the creation of the Small Business Job Credit".

CFIB certainly has the right to flaunt their influence over Con policy. 
Two and a half years ago, they announced their success in lobbying the government "to make the Temporary Foreign Worker Program more responsive to the needs of employers", including a 10-day response time to LMOs, "a simplified online application process", and "a new more flexible wage structure". And lo, Human Resources Minister Diane FInley made it so.
In fact, over the past four years from Nov 2010 to Nov 2014, Con MPs have quoted the CFIB more than 280 times in the House and in committee on everything from the Wheat Board to Canada Post to the temporary foreign workers program to federal budgets.
Here's a few from one week this past October :

With CEO Dan Kelly sitting on the Advisory Committee to the Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the CFIB currently have 46 lobbyists listed to lobby 39 separate government institutions on 28 matters of policy for the year 2014, including "fair access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program" and "support for Bill C525 (An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code) that secret ballot voting should be mandatory prior to union certification."

At left, also from Press Progress, is the short version of the apparently joint $550M CFIB/FinMin EI policy. 
Estimated to create 25,000 person-years of employment over the next several years, this figure was later corrected by the parliamentary budget officer to 800 jobs at a cost of $687,500 per job.


However CFIB President Dan Kelly explains the whole jobs jobs jobs thing wasn't even the point :
"The job-creation benefit of it is essentially secondary to the fact that this is essentially an EI cut because employers and employees should not have to pay higher EI premiums than is needed to pay for the cost of the program. So this is essentially returning EI rates back to their break-even level."No fault to the CFIB here - they're just doing their job for their guys, 109,000 small and medium Canadian businesses and franchises.
Perhaps notable though is that according to their Contact page, the CFIB Exec Vice President was formerly Director of Environment and Regulatory Studies at the Koch-funded Fraser Institute while the VP of Communications interned there..

Citizenship That Speaks Loudly

Politics and its Discontents - lun, 11/24/2014 - 14:35
Although we live during a time when the term 'citizen' has been largely supplanted by corporate misnomers like 'stakeholders' and 'customers' and 'taxpayers,' the concept of citizenship still lives in the hearts of many. And while we hear all the time about the 'rights' of stakeholders, not often are we reminded of the 'responsibilities' of citizenship.

A recent post of a speech given by Tamo Campos, the grandson of David Suzuki, was one such reminder, as is this one by Simon Fraser University molecular biologist Lynne Quarmby, arrested at the same place as was Camos, Burnaby Mountain, for exercising her right of protest against the activities of Kinder Morgan:



Earlier, David Suzuki himself gave an impassioned speech:




All who see the world solely through the lens of 'market values' should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
Recommend this Post

But Are His Pants On Fire?

Politics and its Discontents - lun, 11/24/2014 - 11:21
That is a question only Bill O'Reilly can answer, but given his veracity-challenged career, I would not his response at face value.

The fun begins at about the 2:40 mark below as Keith Olbermann pierces some O'Reilly-concocted mythology:

Recommend this Post

Shocker! Responsible Abortion Reporting from National Post!

Dammit Janet - lun, 11/24/2014 - 10:40
Crazy busy, but a quick post because I want to encourage responsible reporting about abortion. Here is the National Post's story on a report about abortion access in Canada. [Spoiler: Access needs a lot of improvement.]

Because people either don't know or forget from one abortion story to the next, the NP piece includes this de rigueur statement.
There is currently no federal law governing abortion in Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country’s previous abortion law as unconstitutional in 1988.Clear on that, are we?

Here's the new and admirable bit.
Abortion is governed by guidelines adopted by professional associations. The vast majority of elective abortions happen before 12 weeks, according to data collated by the Canadian Institute for Health Information. It’s virtually impossible for women to access the procedure past 24 weeks without a compelling medical reason.
Note the change from this piece of bullshit from new Walrus editor Jonathan Kay in February 2013.

The fact is that Canada is the only nation in the Western world without any abortion law. It is perfectly legal in Canada to have or perform an abortion — for any reason, or no reason at all — at 20, 25, 30 or 35 weeks gestation. This is a disturbing state of affairs.
What's disturbing is that a self-proclaimed "national" newspaper continued for so long to try to stir up Da Base on the settled matter of legal abortion. (Access, as the links above show, is another issue altogether.)

Maybe, just maybe, the powers that be are wising up to the notion that demonizing abortion is in direct conflict with the views of the majority of Canadians who are decidedly pro-choice.

So, provisional "yay" to Natty Po! We'll be watching to see that you keep up the good work.

Bonus: Graphic accompanying the NP story. Useful information.

Washington's Quagmire Mentality

The Disaffected Lib - lun, 11/24/2014 - 09:40

When it comes to Iraq, or the rest of the Middle East for that matter, America is operating on a number of assumptions rooted in fantasy.  These false assumptions ensure that America will keep getting itself trapped in quagmire.

Andrew Bacevich, former US Army commander turned academic, knows a good deal about Iraq.  The Columbia professor commanded US troops in Operation Desert Storm and his son was lost to an IED during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Inside the Beltway, policymakers, politicians, and pundits take Iraq’s existence for granted.  Many can even locate it on a map.  They also take for granted the proposition that it is incumbent upon the United States to preserve that existence.  To paraphrase Chris Hedges, for a certain group of Americans, Iraq is the cause that gives life meaning. For the military-industrial complex, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Considered from this perspective, the “Iraqi government” actually governs, the “Iraqi army” is a nationally representative fighting force, and the “Iraqi people” genuinely see themselves as constituting a community with a shared past and an imaginable future.Arguably, each of these propositions once contained a modicum of truth.  But when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 and, as then-Secretary of State Colin Powell predicted, broke the place, any merit they previously possessed quickly dissipated.  Years of effort by American occupiers intent on creating a new Iraq out of the ruins of the old produced little of value and next to nothing that has lasted.  Yet even today, in Washington the conviction persists that trying harder might somehow turn things around.  Certainly, that conviction informs the renewed U.S. military intervention prompted by the rise of IS....otherwise intelligent people purporting to believe in things that don’t exist -- can be applied well beyond American assumptions about Iraq.  A similar inclination to fantasize permeates, and thereby warps, U.S. policies throughout much of the Greater Middle East.  Consider the following claims, each of which in Washington circles has attained quasi-canonical status.* The presence of U.S. forces in the Islamic world contributes to regional stability and enhances American influence.* The Persian Gulf constitutes a vital U.S. national security interest.* Egypt and Saudi Arabia are valued and valuable American allies.* The interests of the United States and Israel align.* Terrorism poses an existential threat that the United States must defeat.For decades now, the first four of these assertions have formed the foundation of U.S. policy in the Middle East. The events of 9/11 added the fifth, without in any way prompting a reconsideration of the first four. On each of these matters, no senior U.S. official (or anyone aspiring to a position of influence) will dare say otherwise, at least not on the record.Yet subjected to even casual scrutiny, none of the five will stand up.  To take them at face value is the equivalent of believing in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy -- or that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell really, really hope that the Obama administration and the upcoming Republican-controlled Congress can find grounds to cooperate.As for the stabilizing effect of US troops, Bacevich points out that this has seldom occurred.  To the contrary, it has often destabilized countries where American troops have been based.  Iraq and Afghanistan provide mournful examples. The new book “Why We Lost” by retired Lieutenant General Daniel Bolger finally makes it permissible in official circles to declare those wars the failures that they have been.  Even granting, for the sake of argument, that U.S. nation-building efforts were as pure and honorable as successive presidents portrayed them, the results have been more corrosive than constructive.  The IS militants plaguing Iraq find their counterpart in the soaring production of opium that plagues Afghanistan. This qualifies as stability?  The Middle East is no longer strategically vital to the United States.  The energy dependence the US once had on the ME has been superceded by events. Access to Gulf oil remains critically important to some countries, but surely not to the United States.  When it comes to propping up the wasteful and profligate American way of life, Texas and North Dakota outrank Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in terms of importance.  Rather than worrying about Iraqi oil production, Washington would be better served ensuring the safety and well-being of Canada, with its bountiful supplies of shale oil.  And if militarists ever find the itch to increase U.S. oil reserves becoming irresistible, they would be better advised to invade Venezuela than to pick a fight with Iran.Does the Persian Gulf require policing from the outside? Maybe. But if so, let’s volunteer China for the job. It will keep them out of mischief.As for America's supposed Arab allies:For decades, Saudi Arabia, Planet Earth’s closest equivalent to an absolute monarchy, has promoted anti-Western radical jihadism -- and not without effect. The relevant numbers here are two that most New Yorkers will remember: 15 out of 19.  If a conspiracy consisting almost entirely of Russians had succeeded in killing several thousand Americans, would U.S. authorities give the Kremlin a pass? Would U.S.-Russian relations remain unaffected?  The questions answer themselves.Meanwhile, after a brief dalliance with democracy, Egypt has once again become what it was before: a corrupt, oppressive military dictatorship unworthy of the billions of dollars of military assistance that Washington provides from one year to the next.Bacevich says it's long past time that the United States had a realistic assessment of its supposed ally, Israel:For the government of Israel, viewing security concerns as paramount, an acceptable Palestinian state will be the equivalent of an Arab Bantustan, basically defenseless, enjoying limited sovereignty, and possessing limited minimum economical potential. Continuing Israeli encroachments on the occupied territories, undertaken in the teeth of American objections, make this self-evident.It is, of course, entirely the prerogative -- and indeed the obligation -- of the Israeli government to advance the well being of its citizens.  U.S. officials have a similar obligation: they are called upon to act on behalf of Americans. And that means refusing to serve as Israel’s enablers when that country takes actions that are contrary to U.S. interests.The “peace process” is a fiction. Why should the United States persist in pretending otherwise? It’s demeaning.The quest to defeat terrorism is Quixotic at best:Like crime and communicable diseases, terrorism will always be with us.  In the face of an outbreak of it, prompt, effective action to reduce the danger permits normal life to continue. Wisdom lies in striking a balance between the actually existing threat and exertions undertaken to deal with that threat. Grown-ups understand this. They don’t expect a crime rate of zero in American cities. They don’t expect all people to enjoy perfect health all of the time.  The standard they seek is “tolerable.”...aspirations to eliminate terrorism belong in the same category as campaigns to end illiteracy or homelessness: it’s okay to aim high, but don’t be surprised when the results achieved fall short.Eliminating terrorism is a chimera. It’s not going to happen. U.S. civilian and military leaders should summon the honesty to acknowledge this.What would be the scariest thing Washington could do to its Middle East client rulers?  Leave.  Tell them they're on their own, Israel included.  Just stop supporting them.  No troops, no cash, no weapons unless they serve America's interests.  Eventually America must tire of being bled out by enemies and supposed friends alike in the Middle East.And if Washington is going to persist and continues to implement a foreign policy based on fantasies, why should Canada enroll in America's Foreign Legion?  With our belief-based government that persistently follows gut instinct instead of fact, appearance over substance, we're highly susceptible when America goes bonkers.



Respectability vs RESPECT: Part Three

Dammit Janet - lun, 11/24/2014 - 07:54
So.  Sex work.

I shared some personal history in that regard, but not everything.

On the street where I grew up, there were few stay-at-home mothers.  It was a working poor neighbourhood. Franco-Ontarians. Lebanese and Portuguese immigrants. Everyone worked. Dads. Moms. Kids too, when we turned 14.

A lovely and very elegant lady moved into a small 3 et 1/2  in the building next door to our rented house.  She was a widow with her daughter. They lived in a small one bedroom apartment in the building next to our rented house.  Francine* and I were 12 years old; we became fast friends.

Unlike my Mom who worked at several part-time retail jobs, Madame L.  had her hair done every week and wore beautiful new dresses.

Madame L. was a "kept" woman. She had fixed appointments with different men friends who would take her out to dinner then on to a hotel. Although she didn't bring her clients back home, my Mom would never let me spend the night in Francine's home.

One day Madame L. asked my Mom if Francine could stay with us while she went away for a week in Florida with her "boyfriend".  (My father had seen this man arrive in his car, wait for Madame L. while she finished getting ready then drive away with her.  He knew that this man was a married police officer.)  My mother was aghast.  She told me that Francine's mother was immoral and that I couldn't be friends with her.  I disobeyed of course.  Francine and I stayed friends, but secretly.  Soon after that, she and her mother moved to Montréal.

My parents, in fact the whole neighbourhood where everyone knew everybody's business, did not consider Madame L. to be respectable.  She had a child.  She wasn't married.  She had sex with different men.  They "gave" her money; in reality they paid her for sex but nobody expressed it thus.  If only she had exclusively "entertained" one man and advanced the illusion that she was his mistress. But she was a call girl, a profession that was in the news of the era because of George Hees, Pierre Sévigny and Gerda Munsinger.

I have no idea if Francine also became a sex worker.

Many, many girls grew up in families where women, consensually or grudgingly, explicitly or implicitly, had sex with men - husbands, other family members, neighbours, landlords, storekeepers, employers - for benefit.  It's a wonder we're not all sex workers - or perhaps we are, and should recognize to what degree we might be, in order to obliterate the stigma attached, as it is with abortion.  Patriarchy certainly games the system to encourage girls and women to engage with men in such manner.

As I pointed out to a jerk on Twitter grousing about women _using_ men, if you're NOT trying to attract women who see you as a wallet attached to a penis, don't act like a prick with cash to burn on a pretty woman ... if she's _nice_ to you.

And, don't forget to send your letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne, with regard to the vile sexwork re-criminalizing law the Harper government passed.  If you need inspiration, here's @kwetoday's own letter.

*Francine is not her real name. 

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - lun, 11/24/2014 - 06:48
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Ed Broadbent laments Canada's failure to meet its commitment to end child poverty - and notes that the Harper Cons in particular are headed in exactly the wrong direction:
This child poverty rate is a national disgrace. It jumped from 15.8 per cent in 1989 to 19.2 per cent in 2012, according to a Statistics Canada custom tabulation for Campaign 2000.

The Harper Conservatives have continued to let down the country’s poor children and their parents. They have not increased targeted income supports for low-income families. Instead, they are expanding flat rate benefits, similar to the old family allowance program abolished as regressive by Mr. Mulroney’s government. These taxable payments are too low to have a real impact on poverty. They don’t come close to paying the costs of child care; they don’t create a single child-care space.

While failing the poor, the Conservatives are proposing new measures that disproportionately favour affluent families. Income-splitting will cost $2-billion a year and deliver no benefit at all to single parents or to two-parent families with both earners in the lowest tax bracket.

The maximum benefit of $2,000 will go mainly to very high-income traditional families with a single earner. The late Jim Flaherty appropriately rejected such unfairness while serving as minister of finance.

The growing gap between the poor and the middle-class, let alone the top 1 per cent, flies in the face of the democratic ideal that all children should have equal opportunities to develop their talents and capacities to the full.- David Climenhaga discusses how the Cons' obsession with income-splitting is based on their desire to preserve gender inequality. James Fitz-Morris reports that the Cons have long been aware of the obvious regressive effects of tax-free savings accounts - particularly since they may allow a special class of wealthy retirees to take in money from means-tested programs because their investment income isn't counted.

- Tavia Grant writes about a new report confirming that we need our tax system to actively combat inequality in order to avoid having it get worse by default. And Michael Babad points out that the ranks and wealth of the uber-rich are growing faster in Canada than in other comparable countries.

- Meanwhile, Robert Devet highlights how arbitrary benefit cutoffs can be disastrous for people actually living in poverty. And Jesse Ferreras finds that a lopsided market (coupled with a lack of public policy action) is leaving single women and mothers in particular without adequate housing.

- Finally, Michael Harris notes that a culture of fear seems to be about the only factor the Cons still have in their favour among an otherwise unfriendly Canadian public - and that Stephen Harper has been highly selective in deciding which supposed threats to emphasize for political benefit.

For The Record

Politics and its Discontents - lun, 11/24/2014 - 06:45


About the undercarriage of that busy Tory bus, Star readers have much to say:

Ex-Tory staffer jailed nine months for robocalls, Nov. 20

My sympathies go out to Michael Sona and his family, the latest addition of those people used by the Harper government and then thrown under the bus for getting overly enthusiastic about being a Canservative “short pants.”

This episode should be taught in political science courses the world over as a precautionary tale of how a draconian oligarchy works and how to avoid getting hyped into criminal activity.

At 22, Mr. Sona was a virgin in politics and its black arts, not much different than the ideological youth of his age that want to fall for the recruiting methods of the jihadist murders and go to their deaths in foreign wars. I am disgusted with the trail of maligned and discredited lives left in the wake of Secret Steven.

Next in the Harper government guillotine, Mike Duffy and Nigel Wright.

Stay tuned.

Gord Deane, Mississauga

Democracy has sunk to a new low. Now a lowly cog in the wheels has accepted the blame for one of the greatest failures in Canadian democracy — subjecting an established electoral vote to subterfuge.

To read Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s press release and Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s verbal statement that there was no foul play on behalf of the Conservative Party in the robocall trial brings disbelief. So says me, the trial judge and millions of other Canadians. This is not what I want from the political leaders of my country.
Combine this with muzzling scientists, hiding environmental relaxations in omnibus budget bills and promoting the devaluation of the Canadian dollar adds up to selling out the Canadian future.

Rather than competing on value, our manufacturers would rather compete on a cheap dollar. Instead on investing in labour, equipment and value-added services to increase productivity, a cheap dollar does the trick for our CEOs. All the while taking home huge pay packets and outsourcing labour wherever they can (read banks).

As for the Conservative Party of Canada, I am ashamed to see Mr. Harper show up at G20 meetings full of bluster but without any substance behind him. As for his commitments to provide a solid foundation for the future growth and prosperity of Canada, he now sees the political advantage of disbursing our surplus to the most advantaged rather than building and/or supporting one of these priorities:

A national child-care program to support the real needs of Canadians; environmental policies that address climate change; infrastructure investment across the country that deal with problems experienced by Canadians on an everyday basis – transit, housing, health care and education; a so-called commitment to investing in the health of women and children around the world while at the same time decreasing our aid levels and ignoring the needs of these same groups in our own country; icebreakers and support ships that will be required in the near future to safeguard the Arctic Ocean; and once and for all a commitment to examine crime and abuse, especially toward to aboriginal women.

As for the esteemed economist Mr. Harper, he has bet the country’s future on oil extraction and export at the expense of every other industrial sector and region, despite the government’s abundant advertisements of their Economic Action Plan – such blatant spending with our dollars! Perhaps a more balanced action plan would be more beneficial for all Canadians rather than betting it all like it was Vegas craps.

Man up or turn tail and resign.

John Berry, Toronto

As a voter, I am outraged that Michael Sona is getting away with only nine months in jail for an “affront to the electoral process.” My rights as a voter have been violated and I would have liked a stiffer penalty — and further probe into who might have abetted Mr. Sona in this very grave crime.

Mimi Khan, ScarboroughRecommend this Post

Taking His Cue From Goering

Northern Reflections - lun, 11/24/2014 - 05:50


Naomi Klein coined the phrase "disaster capitalism." Taking his cue from Klein, Michael Harris writes that "disaster democracy" is alive and well in Canada. It's not a new phenomenon. Herman Goering explained how it worked when he was on trial at Nuremberg:

“Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger…it works the same in any country.”

And Harper has taken his cue from Goering:

When Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was gunned down at the national war memorial on Oct. 22, Prime Minister Stephen Harper immediately connected his killer to radical Islam and terrorism. Long before any facts were in, Harper claimed that all Canadians had been attacked by the actions of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. There was never any talk from the PM about Zehaf-Bibeau’s mental instability or addiction to crack cocaine. His mother and Cpl. Cirillo’s girlfriend were left to develop that side of the debate on the fringes of the alternative media.

In the wake of the terrible events in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa, the prime minister’s stagnation in the polls came to a sudden end. Almost instantly, disaster democracy gave his popularity a five-per-cent boost in the polls. That is approximately what political parties can expect after a full-fledged leadership convention. It also boosted public support for Harper’s war in Iraq, which shows every sign of leading to boots on the ground there – and now perhaps also engagement in Syria.
Now -- if the polls are to be believed -- the Conservatives and the Liberals are neck and neck. Mr. Harper proved long ago that he isn't the smartest guy in the room. But he does know how to take advantage of events over which he has no control.

Ultimately, control belongs to we the people. But there has never been a guarantee that we the people will make wise decisions.


Stephen Harper, Stephen Lewis, and the Con Neanderthals

Montreal Simon - lun, 11/24/2014 - 04:37


Somewhere in his grim bunker, or his dank closet, Stephen Harper must be celebrating madly.

I'm sure he can't quite believe his good fortune. Or the way the bony hand of fate has saved him from almost certain defeat.

But war has been good for Great Leader, and after trailing Justin Trudeau for a year and a half, he has finally caught him.  
Read more »

Okay you Liberal Bastards, What Now?

The Disaffected Lib - dim, 11/23/2014 - 19:24
Trudeau the Lesser's Liberals did backflips to support Israel's brutal outrage against Gaza's civilian population this summer.  It was as though no one had ever heard the Israeli military's term, Dahiyeh.  Of course you didn't need any fancy terms to see that Israel was brutally - and quite illegally - targeting Gaza's Palestinian population completely in flagrant violation of human rights laws and the laws of war.  That much is obvious when the side with strike jets takes down the public's water and sewage plants and then moves on to hit schools and hospitals, even clearly designated UN refuge sites.  I was never so disgusted with the Liberal Party, not even under Ignatieff.

The Dippers worked off the same page until Mulcair woke up and realized he was bound to piss off some old school progressives in the NDP ranks.  Then he hemmed and hawed and - waffled.

Well now your boy - and he is your boy - Benny Netanyahu has let his other fascist shoe drop.  This time it's not Palestinians under Israeli occupation but Arab and Christian Israelis who are Netanyahu's target.  The Israeli prime minister and his cabinet by a 2-1 margin have passed a bill that defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

Critics, including cabinet opponents, say the new law reserved "national rights" for Jews only and also delisted Arabic as Israel's second official language.

So Justin - and Tommy - now you're backing a country that's both fascist and racist.  Is there any principle you won't compromise in your bootlicking pursuit of votes?

The Sad Saga of Vikingwarlord14: Part II

Anti-Racist Canada - dim, 11/23/2014 - 15:44
We always enjoy when our fans send us feedback:

Oh you sweet talker you!
It looks like "Unit14"/"Jay Stone"/"Jay Smith"/"proudcracker420" might not have appreciated the article in which he was mentioned. We understand. In the article we dismissed him as an irrelevant carnival sideshow not worthy of anyone's time and attention.... and then proceeded to write about a loan misanthrope with delusions of grandeur living in Winnipeg who if we are to be honest isn't worth anyone's time or attention either.
That sort of cognitive dissonance  might scramble the brains of the average bonehead.
So on that note we will continue our profile of Jonathan Kotyk, a man who's name shines as brightly as such "White Nationalist" luminaries as Kevin Goudreau and Tomasz Winnicki:
You don't say, eh Jonathan? ;)We once again introduce our readers to Jonathan "vikingwarrior14" Kotyk on Stormfront. Kotyk often attempts to present himself as a "White Nationalist" man of action, philosopher, and intellectual:

Well then! We're sure someone who advocates for the adoption of a benign dictatorship rules by a philosopher king must have some brilliant ideas on how to govern a nation-state, particularly when he suggests that he himself already has most of the solutions to Canada's "problems" (it seems to us that he might like to be considered a future candidate for the philosopher king role he advocates). 
Okay Jonathan! We await your wisdom with baited breath!Read more »

One Nation Under the Fascists’ Heel

Left Over - dim, 11/23/2014 - 13:22
Israeli cabinet approves legislation defining nation-state of Jewish people

Opponents say proposed law would reserve ‘national rights’ for Jews and not for minorities that make up 20% of population

  • The Guardian, Sunday 23 November 2014 19.08 GM

Could anything else be more fascist – inspired than this  hateful legislation?

I am officially ashamed that I have any Jewish relatives in Israel, that I ever supported Israel in my innocence in the ’60′s…for this is the Third Reich personified, suggesting that somehow Jews are a superior culture or religion…this is beyond disgusting.

How can any other  country support Israel now?  It was a sad joke before now, but this  racist, ethnocentric force must be fought and stopped…and any Jew anywhere of conscience has to see this for what it is…a further rationale for not only discriminating against every non-Jew within the boundaries of Israel but a perfect argument for continuing to steal Palestinian land for Jewish settlements..after all, are  any Arabs even considered human by Israel anymore?

This is a human rights scandal to match with anything we’ve seen in the last century or this…and is already perpetrating violence against non-Jews in the area…

What’s next?  All non-Jews must wear armbands with the  crescent symbol? Forced out of  any teaching positions, and  only allowed the meanest manual labour jobs within the confines of the country? And land ownership, a private business?

Will they be herded onto trains?  Once you are denied the rights of citizenship, it’s a short trip to the ‘reservation’  or camp….do you think I’m being sarcastic or ironic, or even melodramatic? Think about it…

These things were said about anyone opposed to the German ‘solution’  from it’s earliest incarnations…


Fantino "explains" government budgeting

Cathie from Canada - dim, 11/23/2014 - 12:04
So it has been revealed that Veterans Affairs had $1.1 billion dollars in unused funding over seven years. Now Veterans Affairs minister Julian Fantino is claiming that the Harper Con's "balanced" budgets where not achieved at the expense of our veterans. He is minister-splaining the government budget to us ignorant plebs:
Fantino said claims that the unused funds were a strategy to balance the budget are false.
"The funding is allocated and if it's not spent it's recycled back into continuing programs and services for veterans. It's not lost money," said Fantino.
He called it a technical budget process that does not hamper services and programs for veterans.
"If I can put it bluntly, this is a technical kind of to and fro in the budgeting process of government," he said.Oh, sure, that makes sense.  And those flying pigs over there are actually F-35s.

Whether You Support Pipelines or Not, Here's Something We Can Surely Agree On.

The Disaffected Lib - dim, 11/23/2014 - 11:28

No secret I'm opposed to both Kinder Morgan and Northern Gateway.  A sizeable majority of British Columbians are of the same mind but a significant minority supports the pipeline initiatives.  In situations like this it can be helpful to seek out areas of agreement, common ground.

Here's an idea we should all be able to endorse.  If you insist on shipping Athabasca oil to Asia, why not ship oil?  That may sound facetious but it's not.

Bad as these pipelines are, they're made far worse by what Ottawa and Alberta want to push through them - dilbit.  Dilbit is bitumen mixed with a light oil condensate called a diluent.  Bitumen is just too sludgy to push through a pipeline.  It's full of acids, toxins, heavy metals and, of course, petroleum coke or "petcoke," a granular and very high carbon form of coal.  To get it through a pipeline you have to dilute it with condensate.  Even then you have to heat the mixture and propel it with powerful pumps to get it moving through the pipeline.

Pipeline opponents have plenty of reason to object to dilbit pipelines.  You're taking a product that is full of corrosives and forcing it through a pipeline under high pressure.  If you want to know what that pressurized corrosive does to a pipeline you might ask the authorities in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  Yes, and that was an Enbridge pipeline.

British Columbians have ample reason for concern because a Kalamazoo-type spill here would likely happen in the mountainous wilderness where Enbridge intends to run Northern Gateway.  That would make it more difficult to detect and extremely difficult to get crews and equipment in to attempt clean up.  A spill into a fast-moving mountain stream would spread rapidly, confounding clean up efforts and endangering the ecology for great distances.  Enbridge repeatedly balked at cleaning up Kalamazoo.  How would the company respond to a far more difficult and enormously more costly clean up in British Columbia?

Another cause for concern is the prospect of a supertanker catastrophe. Navigating those northern coastal waters with their currents and tides is challenging on a good day and, up there, good days are not abundant.  When you're tasked with moving the volumes of dilbit Enbridge is planning for Northern Gateway, you have to keep tankers sailing in and out no matter the conditions and that is a formula for disaster.

Dilbit, because of all the sludge in it, sinks.  The condensate separates out and floats to the surface where it dissipates.  The bitumen component congeals and heads for the bottom which, in a lot of places up there, can be 600-feet down and neither the governments nor Enbridge has anything that can clean up a deepwater spill like that.

So, where is this elusive common ground?  I think both sides should be able to rule out the dilbit option/problem.  How can that be done?  Refine the product on site in Athabasca.  Do it there, at the source.  Then, once you have refined out all the garbage, all you'll be transporting is conventional crude oil.  The product you send to market won't be bitumen or diluted bitumen.  The acids, the abrasives, the toxins and heavy metals, the carcinogens and the petcoke will be removed and dealt with on site in Alberta where they belong.

That doesn't mean we'd be okay with it.  The 1989 Exxon Valdez catastrophe, after all, was a conventional oil spill and Prince William Sound still isn't cleaned up. However refined oil that floats is vastly preferable to hazmat oil that sinks and coats the bottom for generations, poisoning the entire marine habitat.

Another major factor is that transporting fully refined conventional crude oil significantly cuts the volume of product shipped.  The condensate isn't in there. The crud isn't in there.  All of that is removed and left behind in Alberta.  That refining process would allow a major reduction of up to 40% in the number of supertanker trips required to get the product to overseas markets.  The more tanker trips you have the more groundings or sinkings you'll have.  It's that simple.  Even pipeline supporters can understand that.

Bear in mind that the stuff Big Oil and its governmental minions want to ship, dilbit, still has to be refined somewhere.  That somewhere will be in Asia where they'll have to refine out not only the condensate but also all the crud, including the pet coke, out of the bitumen.  So what could be the objection to refining the goop in Athabasca?

What we're usually told is that it would be uneconomical to refine bitumen in Alberta.  Overseas markets, we're told, have unused refining capacity.  So what? We could not only address the hazmat issue but also create a lot of jobs and revenue by refining Athabasca bitumen on site.

I suspect the on-site refining option would be refused because it would add an unbearable burden to the sleight-of-hand trick used to portray the Tar Sands as a huge money maker.  It would also leave Alberta responsible for the energy requirements and emissions related to the refining process.

So you can see how, to a British Columbian, this smacks of a set up.  We have to accept the risk of a potentially catastrophic hazmat spill to bolster the bottom line of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.  They're externalizing the risks, offloading them on the province and people of British Columbia, and we're being told they're doing it as of right.

That they're dealing us cards from a stacked deck is obvious.  One by one, Harper has stripped us of our safeguards.  He moved the West Coast oil spill emergency centre to Quebec.  He shut down entire sections of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans responsible for monitoring our coastal marine habitat.  He closed essential Coast Guard installations.  He gutted the navigation regulations to accommodate the supertanker armada.  He set up an utterly fraudulent environmental review process, plainly sculpted to deliver a scripted result.  He's engaged the state security apparatus to spy on environmentalists.  Now you tell me this federal government isn't already at war with us.

When taken in the context of this litany of skulduggery, the refusal to refine this bitumen on site in Alberta can be seen in a plain light for what it is - a deliberate choice to expose British Columbia to enormous risks by transporting hazmat - hazardous materials - through highly risky conditions while simultaneously stripping us of every means we ever had to respond to catastrophe.




what i'm reading: swamplandia! by karen russell

we move to canada - dim, 11/23/2014 - 09:00
Swamplandia! caught me by surprise. At first, Karen Russell's debut novel seemed like a quirky family story, a strange and somewhat sad tale told with great wit and humour.

Then it deepened, became (possibly) supernatural - or is that just the fantasy of a troubled girl? Then it quickened, and became suspenseful, and dangerous, and a bit heartbreaking. Step by strange step, I was hooked. Swamplandia! is not an easy book to describe, but more importantly, it's not an easy book to put down.

The Bigtree family lives in Swamplandia!, an old-fashioned roadside-attraction theme park deep in the Florida Everglades. In this case, the road is a swamp, tourists and any connection with the mainland world arrives by ferry.

Hilola Bigtree, matriarch of the strange brood, mother of the teenaged narrator, has died. (Not a spoiler.) Thirteen-year-old Ava Bigtree thought her mother's death was the bottom, the end. But the demise of famed alligator wrestler and main attraction of Swamplandia! was only the first link in a chain of events that would take Ava and each member of her family much farther down, into separate hells, and finally, to redemption.

If that sounds spooky or melodramatic, it is. But it's also very funny, and strange, and utterly credible, even when it's not remotely possible. The novel's quirkiness is reminiscent of John Irving at his best; the gallows humour not unlike Frank McCourt or Roddy Doyle. But the story and the language are deeply original.

Russell's language is as quirky as her story. "A brownish-orange algae that...could draw its pumpkin lace across the entire Pit overnight"; a tiny red alligator whose "skull was the exact shape and shining hue of a large halved strawberry". A poor boy's pennies are "a lintlike currency, value that collected in corners"; a chubby boy's jeans on her slim brother "fit him like a puddle"; the white jaw of an alligator "fell open like a suitcase". In Stiltsville, an abandoned swamp community, Ava awakens to "dawn light screaming through the doorways that hung on their hinges, the broken windows that birds could fly through, the plank lace, the cheesed metals".

The voice of Ava Bigtree, the narrator, is a stylistic triumph. Russell doesn't try to mimic the speech of a 13-year-old who has been raised in social isolation. Instead, she gives us a young girls' thoughts and mindset delivered in rich, adult language. It works.

The portion of the book that follows Kiwi Bigtree, Ava's brother - working in a Hell-themed tourist attraction, and his own private hell - is told in the third person. The switch is a bit jarring at first, but as Ava's story darkens, Kiwi's story becomes funnier and more hopeful. Alternating between the two threads builds suspense: the reader wonders how it will all come together, and how bad things will get before it does.

There are also stories within the story (John Irving-esque again). These are told with such precision of emotion and empathy, that, although impossible, they blur the distinction between reality and fantasy. The reader grapples with that issue along with Ava.

And throughout: the swamp. The untamed and untameable water-land, its wild beauty, its mysteries, its dangers, coexisting with the mundane world of bored mainland teenagers and tourists. The alligators, so vital to the Bigtree family's survival, are death machines lurking beneath every surface. But neither the Bigtrees nor the alligators are the most dangerous beasts on the swamp.

For more, I recommend this review of Swamplandia! in the New York Times Book Review from February, 2011. Better still, read the book.

It's Called "Blowback"

The Disaffected Lib - dim, 11/23/2014 - 08:51


Our confused, incoherent, even knee-jerk response to ISIS appears to be backfiring on us, at least in Syria.  There, it's reported, US air strikes are driving anti-Assad groups - outfits we've supported like the Free Syrian Army - into the arms of ISIS

US air strikes in Syria are encouraging anti-regime fighters to forge alliances with or even defect to Islamic State (Isis), according to a series of interviews conducted by the Guardian.

Fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Islamic military groups are joining forces with Isis, which has gained control of swaths of Syria and Iraq and has beheaded six western hostages in the past few months.

Some brigades have transferred their allegiance, while others are forming tactical alliances or truces. Support among civilians also appears to be growing in some areas as a result of resentment over US-led military action.

Isis now is like a magnet that attracts large numbers of Muslims,” said Abu Talha, who defected from the FSA a few months ago and is now in negotiations with other fighters from groups such as the al-Nusra Front to follow suit.

Assam Murad, a fighter from a 600-strong dissident FSA brigade near Homs said: “There’s no way we would fight Isis after the US military campaign against them.”

Some Syrian resistance fighters find the American policies more than hypocritical:

Omar Waleed, an FSA fighter in Hama, north of Damascus, said: “I’m really scared that eventually most of the people will join Isis out of their disappointment with the US administration. Just have a look on social media websites, and you can see lots of people and leaders are turning to the side of Isis.

We did not get any weapons from the US to fight the regime for the last three years. Only now US weapons arrived for fighting Isis.”

Once again, All the King's Horses and All the King's Men, aren't really getting the job done.  We've become accustomed to this "just add water and stir" sort of warfare where we send six warplanes here and six warplanes there without much regard for what they can accomplish or how.  Consider it warfare by gesture.

Oh well, ISIS or FSA, they're all Arabs.  I suppose we were bound to get around to bombing them sooner or later anyway. 

Deniers Pretend to be Skeptics. They're Not.

The Disaffected Lib - dim, 11/23/2014 - 08:24
A lot of climate change deniers present themselves as skeptics.  There's a huge difference that is often overlooked.

A denialist is someone who says, "No, the Earth is flat and that's all there is to it."  A skeptic, however, is someone who has done a bit of homework.  A skeptic goes through the process of testing a hypothesis against the evidence.

Earlier this year, physicist David Robert Grimes, offered this in The Guardian:

The nay-sayers insist loudly that they're "climate sceptics", but this is a calculated misnomer – scientific scepticism is the method of investigating whether a particular hypothesis is supported by the evidence. Climate sceptics, by contrast, persist in ignoring empirical evidence that renders their position untenable. This isn't scepticism, it's unadulterated denialism, the very antithesis of critical thought.Were climate change denialism confined solely to the foaming comment threads of the internet it would be bad enough, but this is not the case – publications such as the Daily Mail, Wall Street Journal and other Murdoch publications give editorial support to this view. Worse still, a depressingly large number of denialists hold office around the world. Australia's Tony Abbot decreed climate change to be "a load of crap", and a sizable chunk of the US Republican Party declare it a fiction. Even in the UK, spending on climate change countermeasures has halved under the environment secretary Owen Paterson, who doubts the reality of anthropogenic climate change, despite the fact the vast majority of scientists say unequivocally that the smoking gun is in our hands.We've developed an unhealthy tolerance for the denialists, even when they hold high office.  We really don't have time any more for indulging their nonsense.  We have to start treating them as what they are, a malignancy that imperils our future.On The Daily Show and elsewhere we're treated to montages of the leadership of the new Republican Congress spewing the same talking points: 1. "I'm not a scientist," and, 2. "I'm not sure" or "I don't know" or some other dodge.  No one ever seems to ask a follow up like "Yes, we know you're not a scientist but there are thousands of scientists working for the government you can consult so why don't you know? It's your job to find out.  You're duty bound to know." 
We have to shed our tolerance of denialists in high office.  

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - dim, 11/23/2014 - 08:09
This and that for your Sunday reading.

 - Lynn Stuart Parramore writes about our increasingly traumatic social and political culture, along with the response which can help to overcome it:
A 2012 study of hospital patients in Atlanta’s inner-city communities showed that rates of post-traumatic stress are now on par with those of veterans returning from war zones. At least 1 out of 3 surveyed said they had experienced stress responses like flashbacks, persistent fear, a sense of alienation, and aggressive behavior. All across the country, in Detroit, New Orleans, and in what historian Louis Ferleger describes as economic “dead zones” — places where people have simply given up and sunk into “involuntary idleness” — the pain is written on slumped bodies and faces that have become masks of despair.

We are starting to break down.

When our alarm systems are set off too often, they start to malfunction, and we can end up in a state of hyper-vigilance, unable to properly assess the threats. It’s easy for the powerful to manipulate this tense condition and present an array of bogeymen to distract our attention, from immigrants to the unemployed, so that we focus our energy on the wrong enemy.
...
Unfortunately, the cycle doesn’t end with you: trauma comes with a very high rate of interest. The children of traumatized people carry the legacy of pain forward in their brains and bodies, becoming more vulnerable to disease, mental breakdown, addiction, and violence. Psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, an expert on trauma, emphasizes that it’s not just personal. Trauma occupies a space much bigger than our individual neurons: it’s political. If your parents lost their jobs, their home or their sense of security in the wake of the financial crisis, you will carry those wounds with you, even if conditions improve. Budget cuts to education and the social safety net produce trauma. Falling income produces trauma. Job insecurity produces trauma.
...
When I do something as simple as nurture a friend in need, or let myself be drawn in by an artistic creation, or meet the eyes of a stranger with kindness, or plant a living tree, I’m intervening in the trauma and rewriting its trajectory — perhaps only a paragraph, but many paragraphs can make a page, and many pages, a volume.

The etymology of the word “trauma” is associated with the Greek word “wound.” To be human is to be wounded, and the ability to cope with our wounds is the essence of life’s journey. Without wounds, we can’t know our own strength and competence, and we can’t develop empathy for our fellow creatures. Moving from the static place of trauma to something fluid and transformative is the key. The trauma doesn’t go away, but it’s possible to bring it along in a way that helps us witness each other, hear each other, and help each other.- And Monica Pohlmann interviews Armine Yalnizyan about the need to move past self-defeating policies:
Pohlmann: What keeps you up at night?

Yalnizyan: The way we are transforming our views about immigration in Canada. In the coming decades, nation states will be competing to attract people, not just capital. Population aging is occurring in all advanced industrialized nations. Without newcomers, the Canadian labour force would start to shrink in the next year or two. An unsettling trend has emerged in Canada. Public policy now favours a rise in temporary foreign workers over permanent economic immigrants. When companies say they face a skills shortage, all too often the solution is bringing in a foreign worker temporarily for what is often not a temporary shortage. These workers are tied to their employer, and can get deported if they complain about anything.

In such a workplace environment, it’s hard for any worker to ask for anything better. People are constantly looking over their shoulder, wondering, “Will they find a cheaper me?” It’s a recipe for growing friction between “us” and “them.”

The problem arises from a common view that low wages and low taxes are “good for business.” What may be good for an individual business is a dead-end path for society and the economy as a whole. Wages and taxes are never low enough for businesses. Their job is to maximize profits. But the continuous drive to lower wages and taxes erodes the economic heft of a country. The message to workers is “expect less,” even when companies grow and profits rise. The idea that labour is simply a cost, rather than the essential building block of performance, is destructive nonsense.

Middle-class jobs are being cut, replaced by more low-paid and some higher-paid work. Wages aren’t keeping up with costs for most people, and savings rates are falling. A rising proportion of Canadian households don’t have enough funds to last a month should they lose their pay cheques. We pay tribute to a large and resilient middle class as the mark of a flourishing economy around the world, but our own middle class is being squeezed in every way, ironically in the name of economic growth.- In a similar vein, Robert Reich reminds us where jobs and economic development come from - and that funneling ever more wealth to the privileged few does nothing to help:



- Alison examines the "rejectionist" model of politics which has done plenty to eliminate the belief that it's possible to accomplish anything positive through our elected governments. And Jim Day discusses Stephen Lewis' sharp - but entirely justified - criticism of Canada's social breakdown.

- Finally, Carol Linnitt examines the Burnaby Mountain pipeline protest as an all-too-clear example of petro-politics taking precedence over all else.

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