Posts from our progressive community

It is Finished. Scotland Stays Put - For Now.

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 21:46
The BBC has called the Scottish independence referendum for the No side.  The pro-independence Yes side did win some notable victories, Glasgow for example, but not enough votes overall to succeed.

Now it falls to David Cameron to face down angry dissent in the Tory caucus and make good his promises to the Scottish people if they supported No.  That's not going to be easy and could lead to a Tory revolt but there'll be absolute hell to pay if the Scots who tipped the vote Cameron's way are given cause to feel they've been had by Whitehall.

Early Results Have Scotland Staying in the Union

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 18:29
From The Scotsman

Clackmannanshire and Orkney, two prime targets for the Yes campaign, have instead gone solidly to the No camp.  83.7% turnout in Orkney, 88.6% in Clackmannanshire.

Prime minister David Cameron is scheduled to make a televised statement around 11 p.m. PDT.  His devolution card, essentially a bribe to secure No votes, is causing a furor in England.  There's some talk about getting the same deal for England, including an English Parliament.

Gee, if the Brits wind up with a Scottish Parliament and an English Parliament and, presumably, a Welsh Parliament, there might not be much left of a United Kingdom at all.

Goddamned right, we need to tax and spend | #TOpoli #ThePublicGood

Posted by Sol Chrom - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 18:04

green-investment-logo

“You’re goddamned right, we need to tax and spend. We’re living with the results of decades of NOT taxing and spending, and what have we got? Buses that don’t arrive. Chunks of the Gardiner falling on our heads. Crumbling infrastructure. Poisonous inequality. Epidemic levels of child poverty. It’s way past time we fixed this, instead of embracing the failed policies advanced by the austerity pimps and other mouthpieces for the far right.”

What I’d love to hear from progressive candidates, not just in the municipal arena, but almost any other context. Stop letting the flimflam artists of the Right use “tax and spend” as a smear. Things cost money. Taxes pay for things. Socialist, left-wing, progressive, whatever. Morans and poo-flingers can call it whatever names they want.

A fella can dream.

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Tagged: citizenship, critical thought, inequality gap, infrastructure, poverty, progressive, reclaiming the discursive turf, taxes, the public good, Toronto politics, winning back the words

Why the F-35 Was DOOMed From Birth

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 15:30


US Air Force Lt. Col. Dan Ward has  an interesting take on just when the F-35 light strike bomber went off the rails - right from the outset.

In February of 2014, Lt. Gen. Charles Davis, the Air Force’s top uniformed acquisition official, said big, audacious programs like the Joint Strike Fighter were “doomed the day the contract was signed.” As the former Program Executive Officer for the JSF, he brings a pretty credible perspective to the situation. Given his first-hand experience and the F-35’s track record of delayscost overrunstechnical problemsoperational limitations, and the recent grounding of the entire fleet due to an engine fire, I am very much inclined to agree with him.The phrasing of Lt. Gen. Davis’ assessment is important: He is not saying the F-35 was recently doomed, or is troubled because of late-breaking developments like sequestration, the Afghan drawdown, recent technical challenges, or the latest Chinese stealth fighter. Not at all. He is saying that America’s most expensive weapon system began its very existence behind the eight ball. It was doomed from the start.The JSF malpractitioners chose to follow what we might call “the path of D.O.O.M.” – Delayed, Over-budget, Over-engineered, Marginally-effective — by establishing a massive bureaucracy, a distant delivery date, an enormous budget, and a highly complex technical architecture. This fostered an expansive culture where rising price tags and receding milestones were seen as inevitable and where the primary problem-solving strategy was to add time, money, and complexity to the project. Data from the GAO and other reliable analysts agree this is a demonstrably ineffective approach. Because it was on the Path of D.O.O.M., the JSF’s Nunn-McCurdy breaches in 2004 and 2010 were simply a matter of time....It didn’t have to be that way. There is an alternative path they could have followed which would have increased the likelihood of delivering an affordable system that is available when needed and effective when used. This better approach goes by many names, but I like to call it the FIRE method.FIRE stands for Fast, Inexpensive, Restrained, and Elegant. Unlike the expansive D.O.O.M. culture, FIRE fosters a restrained approach to problem solving. Those who follow this path eschew large price tags and long timelines, instead placing a premium on speed and thrift as the Navy did with those Virginia-class submarines. Rear Admiral William Hilarides, the program executive officer for submarines, put it this way, “The Virginia-class program… was originally designed with cost effectiveness in mind. In order to reduce costs on this program, we have to change the way we build submarines, and that’s what we’re doing.”...Restraint leads to an entirely different approach to solving problems than that followed by the D.O.O.M. method, and thus leads to different solutions. People who use approaches like FIRE leverage intellectual capital more than financial capital, and apply “reductive thinking methods” to prevent over-engineered solutions and requirements creep. Even before the contract is signed, they set up constraints and implement procedures designed to prevent the types of problems experienced on the JSF.Is it too late to cancel the Joint Strike FighterMaybe, although an article by Col Michael Pietrucha in the May-June 2014 issue of Air & Space Power Journal made a strong case that it is not. But regardless of the future viability of that particular aircraft, it is certainly not too late to set other programs on a better path. Indeed, the Air Force seems interested in doing precisely that. In the same interview where Lt. Gen. Davis called the JSF doomed, he went on to point out that “we are not starting all the new audacious big programs that we were…” Instead, the Air Force is pursuing smaller, more restrained systems. Less D.O.O.M., more FIRE. Time will tell whether the shift towards less audacity and more restraint is permanent or effective, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.



  

Stephen Harper and the Monstrous Spy Machine

Montreal Simon - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 14:19



















We know he loves total control. We know he rules by fear. We know he likes to muzzle his opponents.

But did you know that Stephen Harper has turned his entire government into a massive Spy Machine?

Ottawa has kept tabs on hundreds of demonstrations across Canada and around the world over the last eight years, from peaceful protests to public university lectures to riots. Newly released documents show about 800 public demonstrations and events were observed and reported on by government departments and law enforcement agencies since 2006.

And when you look at the list of those on his surveillance list it couldn't be more outrageous:
Read more »

If You're Going to Get Arrested for Beating Up Your Wife, Then...

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 13:14
Don't be sporting a T-shirt with the word "Obey" emblazoned on it when the cops show up to put you in cuffs.


Alleged NFL Abuser of the Day is Arizona Cardinals' running back Jonathan Dwyer. The cops say Dwyer head butted his wife when she refused his sexual advances and then punched her in the fact the next day for good measure.

Jonathan, everything you wear may and will be used against you in a court of law - you abusive bastard.

Shove Down. We Need to Set a Lot More Places at the Table.

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:43
It seemed like a grim consolation prize in the global overpopulation sweepstakes, the notion that mankind's numbers would peak at somewhere in the vicinity of 9-billion before eventually ebbing to a more sustainable level.

Well, so much for that.

A new study says we're heading for 11-billion by 2100 and it could just keep going up after that.

A ground-breaking analysis released on Thursday shows there is a 70% chance that the number of people on the planet will rise continuously from 7bn today to 11bn in 2100.

The work overturns 20 years of consensus that global population, and the stresses it brings, will peak by 2050 at about 9bn people. “The previous projections said this problem was going to go away so it took the focus off the population issue,” said Prof Adrian Raftery, at the University of Washington, who led the international research team. “There is now a strong argument that population should return to the top of the international agenda. Population is the driver of just about everything else and rapid population growth can exacerbate all kinds of challenges.” Lack of healthcare, poverty, pollution and rising unrest and crime are all problems linked to booming populations, he said.

“Population policy has been abandoned in recent decades. It is barely mentioned in discussions on sustainability or development such as the UN-led sustainable development goals,” said Simon Ross, chief executive of Population Matters, a thinktank supported by naturalist Sir David Attenborough and scientist James Lovelock. “The significance of the new work is that it provides greater certainty. Specifically, it is highly likely that, given current policies, the world population will be between 40-75% larger than today in the lifetime of many of today’s children and will still be growing at that point,” Ross said.

It's no small irony that the UN is hosting summits on climate change and on overpopulation on successive days and yet no one expects either group to focus on the other.   There are several potentially existential challenges facing mankind this century and the odds of getting through them are not on our side.  We either perish or accept that the solution to these threats requires that we solve them all if we're to succeed in solving any of them.  It is really that cut and dried.  Overpopulation, over-consumption, climate change, the freshwater crisis, exhaustion of renewable resources, depletion of non-renewables, the collapse of global fisheries, species extinction and migration, disease and pest migration, inequality global and domestic (of income, wealth and opportunity), the spread of authoritarianism, terrorism, insurgencies and nuclear proliferation - on and on and on.  And yet, even at the UN, we can't acknowledge the obvious ties between overpopulation and climate change.

We're so screwed.

And Speaking of Disappearances...

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:31


It seems like the silence over the disappearing Environment Canada committee discussed in my previous post may have had its precedent set back in 2012, when another strange silence was orchestrated over another disappearance.

Margaret Munro, in The Ottawa Citizen, reports new evidence of the Harper regime suppressing information Canadians have a right to by muzzling our federal scientists. In 2012, the amount of Arctic ice hit its lowest level ever, and Canadian Ice Service scientists wanted to tell us about it, to warn us of its implications.
[Leah] Braithwaite and her colleagues — aware of the national and international interest in the shrinking polar ice — wanted to hold a “strictly factual” technical briefing for the media to inform Canadians how the ice had disappeared from not only the Northwest Passage but many normally ice-choked parts of the Arctic.Having to go through nine approval levels before they could impart the information doomed the effort. Newly-released documents reveal the following:
“Ministerial services” — the sixth layer — cancelled the briefing, the documents say. And the ice service scientists ended up watching as the Canadian media and public got most of their information from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC ), where scientists were quick to give interviews, hold briefings and issue press releases as the ice shattered records as it melted from Baffin Island to the Beaufort Sea.Observers say the case is further evidence of the way the Conservative government is silencing scientists.

“It’s suppression through bureaucracy,” said Katie Gibbs, executive director of Evidence for Democracy (E4D ), an Ottawa-based non-profit pushing for open communication of government science.

“Why is it that we need nine levels of approval for this sort of thing, what’s the justification,” said biologist Scott Findlay, a co-founder of E4D and member of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa.

He said the government’s “Byzantine message control” is not only wasting time, money and resources, but having a “corrosive” effect on the public service.Perhaps naively, Findley also suggested that
federal scientists are professionals and the government should trust them to interact with the media and release information that is in the public interest, such as conditions and changes in the Arctic ice.The development of trust requires a degree of integrity and good mental health on the part of both parties, qualities that, sadly, we have come to discover, Mr. Harper and his minions are deeply deficient in.Recommend this Post

The Union May Survive Intact but Cameron Is Seriously Wounded

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 09:34


According to The Guardian, late polls show Scotland will stay in the United Kingdom.  As Scots went to cast their ballots the No side was up six points, 53 to 47 for the Yes secessionists.

Assuming those numbers hold, the onus is going to fall very heavily on London to come through with its 11th-hour promises of a new deal for the Scottish people.

Already Cameron is facing a rebellion in his caucus over what are seen as giveaways to the north that will have to be paid for by the south.

"Writing in the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald, [Cameron's rail minister, Claire Perry] warned against giving Scotland 'a whole raft of goodies' which would have to be 'paid for by us south of the border to try and appease the yes voters.'

"Perry wrote: 'The funding formula for Scotland, the rather cobbled together Barnett formula, already delivers per capita funding north of the border well in excess of that spent per head in other parts of the union, and if there is a proposal to allow devolution of local taxation, as well as maintaining the current level of funding from the UK parliament, than that can hardly be equitable for those of us in the Devizes constituency and all other areas in the non-Scottish union."

Like it or not, all three party leaders pretty much went along with the bribe and there'll be hell to pay if they renege in the aftermath.  A win for the No side is not going to end London's problems.  They're only just getting started.

Let's Not Get Too Gushy About Rob Ford

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 09:20


I get it, he's got cancer.  With the sludge that guy has pushed down his gullet and snorted up his nose, quelle surprise!

As our friend, The Salamander, pointed out, where's our concern for other cancer victims like the natives in the cancer villages near Fort Mac on the Athabasca river?  Those are people who have contracted terrible cancers and deformities that others, mainly very well to do just like Rob Ford, could get ever richer.

Unlike Rob Ford, those cancer victims of Athabasca are blameless for their plight.  The shit that got into their bodies wasn't of their doing.  Yet we write them off as collateral damage to what Ignatieff called "the beating heart of the Canadian economy."

As a society we are desperately in need of a recalibration of our moral compass.

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