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Remembrance Day 2014

Northern Reflections - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 05:08

We have become mesmerized by bad behaviour. Michael den Tandt writes that honour is is short supply these days:

Honour is AWOL, missing without leave, in the case of the famous Toronto radio host now accused of serially assaulting at least nine women. Jian Ghomeshi has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime. The allegations against him have not been tested in court. But setting aside the outcome of the police investigation, it is clear from multiple accounts that Ghomeshi ran CBC Radio’s flagship culture show, Q, as his private, undisputed fiefdom. Medieval, you might say.

Honour was in short supply last week in Ottawa. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau turfed two MPs from his caucus over allegations of “serious personal misconduct.”As far as I have been able to tell, Trudeau went to some lengths to avoid identifying the alleged victims, or indeed the way in which they had been victimized. New Democrats promptly leaked the fact that the allegations concerned sexual harassment of female NDP MPs – and then unloaded on the Liberal leader for making the matter public. The New Democrat deputy leader, Megan Leslie, suggested Saturday on CBC Radio’s The House that a better solution would have been to deal with it all in-house, in other words secretly. 
Den Tandt suggests that, on this Remembrance Day we look to our veterans who have always adhered to a Canadian tradition:

In Afghanistan it was embodied in the Canadian Forces’ “3-d” approach to conflict – defence, diplomacy and development. This was always more than sloganeering. Even the sergeants in the Canadian Forces – especially the sergeants, in my experience – sought to embody strength with compassion. This is not to portray them as delicate do-gooders, but simply to acknowledge that they were very aware they had a purpose over and above that of killing the enemy.

Long before Afghanistan, in Rwanda, or the Medak Pocket in Croatia, the CF ethos lived in a willingness to do the perilous and hard work well, even when the country was uninterested. In Haiti, in 2010, after the earthquake, I remember sitting quietly in the dark, listening to Canadian soldiers speak to one another of the horrors they’d seen that day. There were strength, competence and decency to make any Canadian’s heart swell with pride.
The history of war is the history of folly. But, in the midst of folly, human beings can still be guided by their better angels.

11.11: honour the dead by committing to peace

we move to canada - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 05:00
Robert Fisk, in The Independent:
But as the years passed, old Bill Fisk became very ruminative about the Great War. He learned that Haig had lied, that he himself had fought for a world that betrayed him, that 20,000 British dead on the first day of the Somme – which he mercifully avoided because his first regiment, the Cheshires, sent him to Dublin and Cork to deal with another 1916 "problem" – was a trashing of human life. In hospital and recovering from cancer, I asked him once why the Great War was fought. "All I can tell you, fellah," he said, "was that it was a great waste." And he swept his hand from left to right. Then he stopped wearing his poppy. I asked him why, and he said that he didn't want to see "so many damn fools" wearing it – he was a provocative man and, sadly, I fell out with him in his old age. What he meant was that all kinds of people who had no idea of the suffering of the Great War – or the Second, for that matter – were now ostentatiously wearing a poppy for social or work-related reasons, to look patriotic and British when it suited them, to keep in with their friends and betters and employers. These people, he said to me once, had no idea what the trenches of France were like, what it felt like to have your friends die beside you and then to confront their brothers and wives and lovers and parents. At home, I still have a box of photographs of his mates, all of them killed in 1918.

So like my Dad, I stopped wearing the poppy on the week before Remembrance Day, 11 November, when on the 11th hour of the 11 month of 1918, the armistice ended the war called Great. I didn't feel I deserved to wear it and I didn't think it represented my thoughts. The original idea came, of course, from the Toronto military surgeon and poet John McCrae and was inspired by the death of his friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, killed on 3 May 1915. "In Flanders fields the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row." But it's a propaganda poem, urging readers to "take up the quarrel with the foe". Bill Fisk eventually understood this and turned against it. He was right.Read the whole piece: Do those who flaunt the poppy on their lapels know that they mock the war dead?

I'm the only person in my workplace not wearing a poppy. This is when I appreciate the Canadian quiet live-and-let-live attitude and aversion to potential conflict. I'm sure the absence has been noted, but no one says anything.

No white poppy for me, either. It has no meaning to me.

I just wear my peace button my jacket as always, and wait for the collective brainwashing to blow over. When our masters give the signal, everyone can take off the fake poppy - made with prison labour - and create a bit more landfill. And another annual ritual of war glorification comes to a close.

Meanwhile, in my country of origin...

David Masciotra, in Salon:
Put a man in uniform, preferably a white man, give him a gun, and Americans will worship him. It is a particularly childish trait, of a childlike culture, that insists on anointing all active military members and police officers as “heroes.” The rhetorical sloppiness and intellectual shallowness of affixing such a reverent label to everyone in the military or law enforcement betrays a frightening cultural streak of nationalism, chauvinism, authoritarianism and totalitarianism, but it also makes honest and serious conversations necessary for the maintenance and enhancement of a fragile democracy nearly impossible.

It has become impossible to go a week without reading a story about police brutality, abuse of power and misuse of authority. Michael Brown’s murder represents the tip of a body pile, and in just the past month, several videos have emerged of police assaulting people, including pregnant women, for reasons justifiable only to the insane.

It is equally challenging for anyone reasonable, and not drowning in the syrup of patriotic sentimentality, to stop saluting, and look at the servicemen of the American military with criticism and skepticism. There is a sexual assault epidemic in the military. In 2003, a Department of Defense study found that one-third of women seeking medical care in the VA system reported experiencing rape or sexual violence while in the military. Internal and external studies demonstrate that since the official study, numbers of sexual assaults within the military have only increased, especially with male victims. According to the Pentagon, 38 men are sexually assaulted every single day in the U.S. military. Given that rape and sexual assault are, traditionally, the most underreported crimes, the horrific statistics likely fail to capture the reality of the sexual dungeon that has become the United States military.

Chelsea Manning, now serving time in prison as a whistle-blower, uncovered multiple incidents of fellow soldiers laughing as they murdered civilians. Keith Gentry, a former Navy man, wrote that when he and his division were bored they preferred passing the time with the “entertainment” of YouTube videos capturing air raids of Iraq and Afghanistan, often making jokes and mocking the victims of American violence. If the murder of civilians, the rape of “brothers and sisters” on base, and the relegation of death and torture of strangers as fodder for amusement qualifies as heroism, the world needs better villains.The essay: You don’t protect my freedom: Our childish insistence on calling soldiers heroes deadens real democracy.

Remembrance Day 2014: And My Promise to the Dead

Montreal Simon - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 03:58

It's going to be a very emotional Remembrance Day in Canada, especially at the National War Memorial.

For the reasons we all know, for the blood spilled. 

And at the stroke of eleven I will stop whatever I'm doing, and remember those who gave their lives, and honour our veterans.

But for the first time ever, I won't even try to watch the always moving ceremony at the National War Memorial.

Because at this point in my life, in this broken country, I could not stand to see Stephen Harper exploit such a sacred occasion.
Read more »

Stephen Harper's Great Shabby Trip to China

Montreal Simon - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 02:18

Well it wasn't much of a trip, not the grand photo-op he was expecting.

He never got his pandas.

And as for those two caged Canadians they're still in a Chinese jail. 

China’s second-most powerful leader emerged from a meeting with Stephen Harper to say his country’s courts alone will decide what happens to two Canadians detained by Beijing on allegations of spying.

Because although Stephen Harper claimed he raised the matter of human rights in his private meetings with the Chinese dictators, nobody could prove it, and if he did they ignored him.

But still Great Leader did declare the trip a huge success, and say that he was very very pleased.
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No Surprises Here: The Fraser Institute Shows Its Biased Incompetence

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 17:50
Of course, right-wing groups like the Fraser Institute never let facts and data get in the way of a rabid ideology:

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Tony Clement's Orwellian "Open Government" Plan

Montreal Simon - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 17:22

I suppose we should have known that anything Tony Clement proposes would be hideously flawed, so rotten is his record.

And his so-called "Open Government" plan" is no different.

The Conservative government has rejected calls to reform the Access to Information Act as part of a new openness plan. The final version of the federal blueprint on open government for 2014-16 remains silent on updating the 32-year-old law despite public pleas during several consultations — including a recent round of public feedback on a draft version.

Doing nothing to improve access to government at a time when the situation couldn't be more dire or desperate.
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Lazy journalism

Dawg's Blawg - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 15:19
An object lesson, perhaps, in just what’s wrong with the great, grey, rancid mindset that passes for mainstream Canadian “journalism” these days. First, this clunker: is “promoting” a crazy theory, howls the distinguished new editor of Walrus Magazine.... Dr.Dawg


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