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The Murky Lessons Of History

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 06:43


Blindingly clear for some, obscure and ambiguous for others, the lessons of history need to be given close scrutiny these days, especially by our chickenhawk prime minister. Like so much else that his regime brays and sputters about, Stephen Harper's recent tough talk about the Ukraine and the Middle East conceals, minimizes, dismisses or entirely overlooks some very inconvenient truths.

Perhaps still smarting over having missed out on the first Iraqi war, which he supported, Harper seems to be eagerly embracing the latest opportunities fate has brought him. Fortunately, The Star's Thomas Walkom is there to remind him and us of some things best heeded.

During the last Iraq war, many nations, including Germany, France and Canada, officially chose to stay aloof.

This Iraq war is supported by a large array of Western nations including France, Britain, Italy, Australia, Germany — and Canada.


And, unfortunately, the opposition parties seem to have drunk from the same poisoned well as Harper:

In 2003, Canada’s Liberals and New Democrats vocally opposed going to war in Iraq. Eleven years later, both opposition parties seem onside.

Incited by the recent gruesome and unspeakably barbaric beheadings of two American journalists, historical perspective seems to be lost.

But Walkom points out a salient reminder that not all monsters are or can be dealt with with dispatch:

First, the world contains many monsters. The West studiously avoids direct military involvement in Congo’s brutal civil war for instance, even though the atrocities committed there are equally barbaric.

Second, Islamic State militants are deliberately trying to draw the U.S. and its allies into the quagmire of Syria and Iraq.

And this, of course, has happened before, with disastrous results that should have surprised no one:

Provoking America into overreaction was Osama Bin Laden’s aim in 2001. He succeeded masterfully, provoking not only the West’s ill-fated adventure in Afghanistan but George W. Bush’s subsequent and even more ill-fated invasion of Iraq.

In 2011, NATO’s military attacks on the forces of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi gave Islamic militants another victory.

Not only did NATO warplanes leave Libya in political chaos. They also allowed militants to seize weapons from Gadhafi’s well-stocked armories — weapons that have been used by Islamists throughout North Africa and the Middle East.


Yet a collective amnesia and hysteria seems once more to have taken hold on the world stage, an amnesia exploited by warmongers like Harper. In his Manichean world, the good wear white hats and the bad, black. Suggesting anything more subtle and nuanced would, I suspect, be entirely lost on him.

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All Hat And No Cattle

Northern Reflections - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 05:21

                                                       http://www.windsorstar.com/

Stephen Harper is in Wales today, bellowing at the Russian bear. NATO will discuss the necessity of increasing defence spending to meet the challenge from Russia -- something which Stephen Harper has flatly rejected. He has an election to win and tax cuts to deliver. Jeffrey Simpson writes:

Mr. Harper has cut defence spending hard in the past two years, attempting to balance his budget so that he can offer Canadians tax cuts and targeted spending in next year’s pre-election budget. He’s not going to take on any potential spending commitments, however vague, that might be used against him politically.
By now, the international community knows who Mr. Harper is:

Traditional allies are getting accustomed to Canada being an outlier under Mr. Harper’s leadership. But they are especially frustrated at the gap between the Prime Minister’s rhetoric about countering Russian aggression and Mideast terrorism while his government slashes military spending.
He came to power promising to end a "decade of darkness" for Canada's military. What he didn't say was that he would spend money in praise of Canada's past battles -- like the War of 1812:

To put matters aphoristically, Mr. Harper’s government likes the idea of the military more than it likes the military itself.
The idea of the military means history, monuments, medals, ceremonies, parades and repeated rhetorical praise. The military itself means buying equipment, deploying it, dealing with veterans and wrestling with a budget that always seems to go up unless the political masters get tough.
NATO is discovering what Canada's veterans and First Nations have known for a long time. Mr. Harper takes perverse pleasure in serving up warm rhetoric. But the Cowboy from Etobicoke is all hat and no cattle.

Why Stephen Harper Can't Destroy Justin Trudeau

Montreal Simon - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 04:12


Ever since Justin Trudeau was elected Liberal leader, Stephen Harper has based his entire strategy on trying to destroy him.

But a new Abacus poll is out, and it's not good news for Great Ugly Leader.

For it shows that his depraved attempts to destroy Justin just aren't working.

And that if he hopes to win the next election, and avoid humiliation, he's going to have to change that strategy. 
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fast-food workers are on strike today. you can support their cause.

we move to canada - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 04:00
Fast-food workers all over the US are on strike today, demanding a living wage and the right to form a union without retaliation. Did you know that the majority of fast-food workers are adults trying to support families on those crap wages? Their pay is so low, they qualify for food stamps! So taxpayers are subsidizing McDonald's, as the fast-food industries rakes in billions in profits.

If you're in the US and you pass a fast-food outlet today, especially a McDonald's, please stop by to show support for these courageous workers. They are the cutting edge of the labour movement today, risking so much to create a better world.

We can all support the fast-food workers' cause by visiting this page, signing the petition, and checking back for updates. And sharing with your own networks!

Stephen Harper's Absurd and Humiliating Trip to Europe

Montreal Simon - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 02:55


Well I see Great Chicken Hawk Leader is on his way to the NATO summit. With a strong message for his friends AND enemies.

"NATO I'm a raging bull not a piggybank. !!!!!"

"Putin gimme me the ethnic vote or ELSE. !#@!!! "

And the best one eh?

"ISIS you will not stop me from bribing Canadian voters !!!!!!"
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Meanwhile, here in BC things are REALLY piling up!

A Creative Revolution - Wed, 09/03/2014 - 16:33

Old joke: meanwhile, back at the outhouse, things are REALLY piling up!

To start, I don't have any party affiliations to push. I am a mommy of four. I think I do have an interesting perspective however, as my kids range in age from 22 all the way to the youngest who is now 8. I have seen many changes, and gone through the hoops to get funding for them in the school system. (Most of this is just pretty evil). Labelling a young girl as "moderately mentally handicapped" to get SETA funding? Pure evil. She has seen these reports since she has grown up, and they have all been shown to be entirely wrong from later testing. But the damage? It's already done. The word "Sunnyhill", sets her teeth on edge. I just read an article where the unqualified minister of edumacation in BC, has stated that only 10 percent of kids in BC have special needs. And then the fact comes out that most kids can never get evaluated anyway because of wait lists and cuts to the medical system, courtesy of the Clark party? That's just plain hilarious. Put your fingers in your ears, and your head up your......ahem. If we don't SEE them? They aren't there! VIOLA!

Not a fat lot of good this does any of the kids anyway, even if they do get a designation.
In the old old days, per child funding in schools stayed with the child. All kids are allotted a certain amount each, and then more is added if there is a designated need for classroom supports. IE: physical or mental disability. Now its just of a pool of money that gets distributed to the school- to be used as they see fit, and since there was never enough to begin with? You see how that goes.

I TRULY believe that we need to have integrated schools. Some would like the kids with special needs to be locked away by themselves. But no one learns anything then. The so called "normal" kids do not learn tolerance and acceptance of others and the kids with needs do not have examples to follow.
We tend to warehouse those we do not want to see, and that has not worked out well at any time in history.
The facts also speak for themselves on early childhood education. For every $1 spent, we save $5 dollars down the road.
Small classes? Yes, the facts also speak volumes. If we expect certain standards from kids, we also have to meet some standards.

I read a lot of the items that come through my FB feed, the google news feed, twitter, etc. And lemme tell ya, the smell is getting pretty bad during this school strike. So, lets look at some facts and data for a change, shall we?
To start off, here is a history of how the BC Liberals deal with the BCTF. They break the law even. (It's from the Vancouver Sun, not exactly a nest of festering liberalism.)
Starting from the proven premise that the Government is indeed acting in bad faith, breaking the law, and jeopardizing the education of our kids, this should be a no brainer. Correct?
Not so fast!

 photo theBCliberalmascot_zps80d4e90b.jpg
The court of public opinion is more like a circus. Keep your eye on the clown.

The BC Liberals are using what they call "Digital Influencers" . In a nutshell, freeping. (the original meaning) . Now this is nothing new for governments, it has been used for a few years by the Harper Government as well. It is where they send the flying monkeys (blogging term) out on the WWW to spread misinformation and "opinion" that is to their way of thinking, and skew polls to make it appear that they have the majority voice. At least in this instance, being a flying monkey is party funded.

 photo oz-flying-monkeys1_zps94b79274.jpg
FLY my Pretties!- BC Liberal party
With the Harper Gov, you paid for it. :) Surprise! And this is only one instance, there are many more.

They are also using their own twitter feeds and the media to promote the greedy teachers mantra. Red meat to the masses. It is gobbled up because it seems very plausible to a lot of people who don't look behind all this propaganda. But it's just anecdotal dreck, and we are soaking in it.

 photo madge_zpsdf928f56.jpg
Who gets raises in BC? Are the teachers "greedy"?
 photo salarygraph_zpsc65bc6af.jpg

No, that title is reserved for the last line on that chart. And taxpayer funded Translink CEO's
What are the salaries for teachers across BC? It depends on how long they teach , and how many years of education they pay for.
I don't see any numbers that are out of line. These people are in charge of moulding young minds and helping them to become productive citizens, and if you want to pay them 12 an hour? You will get what you pay for.
Btw, this is happening in the US system? There are teachers living on food stamps, and charter schools can pay whatever they like. Of course their teachers? In some states, they do not even have to be certified.
The US is failing when compared to a country like..... Canada. Personally, I think we should be trying to outdo Finland, wouldn't you? If you happen to look at that link you will see that the US, also ends up spending far more per child on education, but no one is quite sure where? We are in the middle of the pack.

*sigh*

Unions are NO LONGER NEEDED, is another mantra.
There are lots of opinions on this. Unions came to be because of child labour, Long unsafe hours, low pay. Etc. They helped to build the middle class and the economy of the 20th century. This is pretty Unassailable territory.
In the last 30 years, there has been a slide towards inequality, about at the same rate that Union representation has fallen. Worker protections are disappearing, along with the social safety net. The bar shifts lower and lower, a nation of part timers, living under the poverty line. I know this well myself.
There is an ANGER! That there may be someone who is getting paid a liveable wage, and benefits! And how dare they. I don't get that! Must. Make. Sure. They. Get. NOTHING!

An old joke I heard that crystallizes this phenomenon:
A Farmer has one cow, as does his neighbour. The farmer's cow dies. He is very upset, and is walking through his field feeling very sorry for himself- he is also angry about this turn of events. He sees something shiny peeking out of the dirt and stops to pick it up. He opens the cork and a genie comes from the bottle and materializes right in front of him. The Genie says: " OH THANK YOU for releasing me! I will grant you one wish, to repay you for your kindness! ". The farmer thinks for a second......

I want my neighbours cow to be dead!

This attitude is actually causing us harm down the road, financially and morally.

Pensions are another HOT topic.
We can pay a small percentage now, or the whole shot later when people retire. There is no question that all of the public sector workers will have to tap into 100% taxpayer funded pensions if we keep stripping them.

That has been a popular thing/faux concern in the US political arena, that we are passing on debt to our grandchildren. Seems to be an ok idea in conservative circles. As long as it's workers. And that is apparently more applicable to nurses and all those we expect to take care of us. It is a calling or some such nonsense, so they should sacrifice their own families? Think Of the kids/patients they say.....We do not seem to ask the trades and corporate executives to do their jobs for less? Think of the consumers/stakeholders?

Lastly. Get someone on this file who has a real clue about education. Fassbender? Nope. BTW, he's a real back to the basics guy. No art. No PE. All math and tests all the time. Little robots who cannot think and be remotely creative. Math and art, are connected as all things in the universe are.

We would like our children to be functioning adults. Please. And just another little tidbit: Mr Fassbender was also a Promise Keeper. That's ok, as long as he doesn't think we all need to adhere to those misogynist ideas. After reading his history, I think we have that answer.

Me and my three daughters have our own ideas about stuff. Usually we seem to think we have rights.

Failure will be forthcoming at any rate.

Read more. Look at the sources. Make educated decisions that are not just anecdotal dreck. Step one to resolving this mess.

Will BCers have it in them?

And I had to do this post all by hand! Holy Crap I almost had forgotten how to do limited code!!!

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Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 09/03/2014 - 10:49
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Eve-Lyne Couturier discusses the rot in the state of Canadian labour negotiations, as workers outside of the 1% are being systematically denied any of the benefit of economic growth.

- Meanwhile, Dean Baker points out that it's only by choice that the vast majority of jobs have been outsourced around the world for the sake of slashing wages, while executive and high-skilled positions have largely stayed put (with far more generous pay). And Margaret Simms highlights the effects of precarious work on workers and their families.

- Nick Carnes writes that the extremely wealthy have thus far won the U.S.' class war in terms of both representation and policy clout. And Harold Meyerson writes that burgeoning equality can be traced largely to corporations' decisions to enrich shareholders in the short term rather than investing in workers and economic development:
Lazonick looked at the 449 companies listed every year on the S&P 500 from 2003 to 2012. He found that they devoted 54 percent of their net earnings to buying back their stock on the open market — thereby reducing the number of outstanding shares, whose values rose accordingly. They devoted another 37 percent of those earnings to dividends. That’s a total of 91 percent of their profits that America’s leading corporations targeted to their shareholders, leaving a scant 9 percent for investments, research and development, expansions, cash reserves or, God forbid, raises.

As late as 1981, corporations directed a little less than half their profits to shareholders, but the shareholders’ share began rising in 1982, when Ronald Reagan’s Securities and Exchange Commission removed any limits on corporations’ ability to repurchase their own stock and when employers — emboldened by Reagan’s destruction of the federal air traffic controllers’ union — began large-scale union-busting. Buybacks really came into their own during the 1990s, when the pay of corporations’ chief executives became linked to the rise in the value of their company’s shares. From 2003 through 2012, the chief executives of the 10 companies that repurchased the most stock (totaling $859 billion in aggregate) received 58 percent of their pay in stock options or stock awards. For a CEO, getting your company to use its earnings to buy back its shares might reduce its capacity to research or expand, but it’s a sure-fire way to boost your own pay. ...What Lazonick has uncovered is the present-day American validation of Piketty’s central thesis that the rate of return on investment generally exceeds the rate of economic growth. Indeed, Lazonick has documented that wealth in the United States today comes chiefly from retarding businesses’ ability to invest in growth-engendering activity. The purpose of the modern U.S. corporation is to reward large investors and top executives with income that once was spent on expansion, research, training and employees. To restore a more socially beneficial purpose, Lazonick proposes scrapping the SEC rule that permitted rampant stock repurchases and requiring corporations to have employee and public representatives on their boards.
Lazonick’s article does nothing less than decode the Rosetta Stone of America’s economic decline. The reason only luxury and dollar stores are thriving, the reason German companies outcompete ours, the redistribution of income from workers to investors – it’s all here, in Lazonick’s numbers.
The lesson for Labor Day 2014 couldn’t be plainer: Unless we compel changes such as those Lazonick suggests to our model of capitalism, ours will remain a country for investors only, where work is a sucker’s game. - Trish Hennessy looks at the numbers behind the Lac-Mégantic rail explosion. And Jenny Uechl reports that the public will likely be left with much of the bill for the Mount Polley spill.

- Finally, Duncan Cameron reminds us that a combination of core support and low voter turnout might well leave some opportunity for the Cons to cling to power after 2015. But in noting that possibility, it's also worth highlighting the need to counter the former, work on improving the latter, and demand change to the system which allows for false majorities, rather than merely accepting whatever seems like the easiest alternative to put a new face in the PMO.

On active demolition

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 09/03/2014 - 07:29
Shorter Fraser Institute:
It has come to our attention that due to the Canada Pension Plan, the rabble might actually enjoy the benefit of high-return investments normally reserved to our corporate overlords. Clearly this must end.

How Many Friends Does He Have Left?

Northern Reflections - Wed, 09/03/2014 - 06:57
                                                http://postalhistorycorner.blogspot.ca

Jason Fekete reports in this morning's Ottawa Citizen that the Harper government is stepping up its war on the Parliamentary Press Gallery:

The federal Conservative party continues to fire off fundraising emails to its donors attacking the “Ottawa media elite,” as it looks to snare donations from its members.

The latest missive came Tuesday in an email from Jaime Girard, the director of fundraising and membership for the Conservative Party of Canada, which asked members for $25 donations to help fight Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, who are relying on their “big donors.”

The Liberals are looking to “undo everything we’ve worked so hard to achieve,” the email says, arguing Trudeau is getting help from the parliamentary press gallery in Ottawa.

These are the same reporters Stephen Harper used to go to behind Preston Manning's back to voice his dissatisfaction with Mr. Manning. Now those reporters are -- according to the Harperites -- working undercover for Justin Trudeau:

 “The Liberals and their allies in the Ottawa media are trying to build a grand story around Justin Trudeau. They want Canadians to believe he has all the momentum. And they hope that if they repeat it often enough, people will believe it.”
It's all of a piece. So many of Mr. Harper's former allies are now his enemies. You have to wonder just how many friends he has left.



A Prime Minister Hath No Honour In His Own Country

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 09/03/2014 - 06:22


That paraphrase of a famous line from the Bible perhaps sums up the pitiable plight of Stephen Harper, gallant man of the world and fearless foe of evil on the world stage. Despite his indefatigable efforts to denounce the Teutonic tendencies of Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine or stand unreservedly with Israel in its disproportionate responses to Gazan irritants, like the late Rodney Dangerfield, he appears to be unable to secure any respect.

There is, for example, that chronic naysayer at The Toronto Star, Tim Harper, who opines that for all of his tough talk, Mr. Harper has no defining accomplishment on his foreign policy ledger.

But is nothing sacred? Rewarding the prime minister's unyielding support of and service to Israel, B'Nai Brith CEO Frank Dimant has announced his intention to nominate Dear Leader for the Nobel Peace Prize.

He said Mr. Harper has demonstrated international leadership and a clear understanding of the differences between those who “seek to do evil” and their victims.
As a professor of modern Israel studies at Canada Christian College, Dimant qualifies as a nominator under the rules.

Let's just say that the announcement was met with outrage in some Canadian quarters.

But what do the people think about this singular honour possibly being bestowed on Canada's leader? Alas, there is no comfort to be had, apparently, even from one of the perennial cheerleaders of the Harper regime, The Globe and Mail. Here is what two of its readers think:

Re B’nai Brith CEO To Nominate Harper For Nobel Peace Prize (Aug. 30):

Why stop at the Nobel? Let’s nominate Stephen Harper for a Polaris for his music covers; an Emmy for his online TV show and a Governor-General’s award for his hockey book. Make him a trophy – a silver glazed donut on a plinth. It would cost us less than $30.

Clive Robertson, associate professor, art history, Queen’s University, Kingston


I was interested to learn that the CEO is eligible to nominate the PM as a professor at Canada Christian College. As a retired professor previously unaware of this credential, I shall hasten to nominate my miniature schnauzer, Guinness.

Like our PM, Guinness “has consistently spoken out with resolve regarding the safety of people under threat.” I refer to his shrill, predictable barking to defend the Bowd family’s territory from the daily invasion of the postman.


Alan Bowd, professor emeritus of education, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay

Of course, I suppose the Harper crew could simply dismiss such carping as the ranting of 'liberal elites.' Guess they'll have to hope it doesn't spread in 2015.
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Why Are the Harper Cons Stealing Government Land?

Montreal Simon - Wed, 09/03/2014 - 03:44


Its design has not been finalized, but it will be called the Memorial to the Victims of Communism.

It will be built on a choice piece of land in the heart of official Ottawa.

Land a well known architect is now accusing the Harper regime of stealing.
Read more »

Scottish Independence and Some Lessons for Canada

Montreal Simon - Wed, 09/03/2014 - 01:50


With just 15 days to go before the Scottish referendum, a new poll has confirmed the trend that I wrote about yestarday. The YES side is surging, and Scotland could be soon heading for independence. 

The poll by YouGov showed the unionist lead had shrunk to 6 percentage points from 22 a month ago as support for independence jumped to 47 percent in August, suggesting a major shift in opinion ahead of the September 18 referendum.

And although some may be surprised, I'm not. And neither is the English writer George Monbiot, who says voting NO would be an "astonishing act of self-harm."
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Hidey-HO!

A Creative Revolution - Tue, 09/02/2014 - 16:38

So. If you are here, you may have noticed that we have changed to the generic drapes and ACR looks like a pale imitation. (Heh!) The little blue water droplet is there, he kinda bothers me as you cannot see his eyes. Creepy.

But I digress. So. ACR is atm being relocated. But that age old issue of needed upgrades, of course- it reared its ugly head.
So. Ill change this when things change?

For your entertainment, cause there is really not much to see here, here is a bunny with a pancake on its head.

Syrup? photo bunny_pancake_zps3693f2a4.jpg

Followed by a Palin, also with a pancake on her head.

palin photo sarah_palin_pancake_zpsbfbcaa4e.jpg

Back to white black and red soon. Thanks for popping by.

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