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The Crime of Opposing a Crime

Rusty Idols - Mon, 05/11/2015 - 06:47

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Yes, it's still an occupation when you pull your settlers out but retain full control of a territory.) is illegal under the fourth Geneva convention and constitutes an ongoing war crime.

Even Israel's own courts have ruled that its a belligerent occupation.  The tough on crime Harper government is trying to make protesting and resisting an ongoing crime illegal.

"The Harper government is signalling its intention to use hate crime laws against Canadian advocacy groups that encourage boycotts of Israel.  

Such a move could target a range of civil society organizations, from the United Church of Canada and the Canadian Quakers to campus protest groups and labour unions."

It is absolutely unacceptable to treat the peaceful advocacy of boycotts as hate speech. 

The Harper government knows this could not survive a charter challenge and hope just the expense and stress of a group or individual having to defend themselves till the point it was overturned will be threat enough.


The oppressive market

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 05/11/2015 - 05:51
Shorter Cons:
Talking about not buying goods is officially a punishable offence.

Boycott Israel!

Dawg's Blawg - Mon, 05/11/2015 - 05:47
My title is about to become illegal. So is the illustration. Don’t say you weren’t warned. Remember the Canadian Parliamentary Committee to Combat Anti-Semitism and their silly one-sided Final Report? The other shoe is now about to drop. I’ve long... Dr.Dawg

From The Bottom Up

Northern Reflections - Mon, 05/11/2015 - 05:41


It's no secret that Stephen Harper hates government. For almost a decade, he has worked maniacally to reduce the size and the scope of the federal government. At the same time, he has steadfastly refused to meet with the premiers. Somewhere along the line, he forgot that Canada is a federation. And, in the end, he may well have spawned a reaction he didn't foresee.

Christopher Waddell writes that the NDP victory in Alberta may point the way to a massive shift in how Canada is governed:

So, in reality, the NDP Alberta victory has created an unprecedented situation at a time when the federal government has vacated the field of policy-making. Whether it is in energy, health care, environment and climate change, social services, transportation, infrastructure or pensions (just to name a few), the field is virtually wide open for the three provinces to implement joint policies that can completely undermine or counter whatever the federal government may want to do.
Together, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec collectively are the home of 73 per cent of Canada’s population, produce 74 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product, are responsible for 71 per cent of Canada’s energy exports, 70 per cent of all Canada’s merchandise exports and about 80 per cent of our imports by dollar value.
If the three provinces decide they want to do something together on economic policy, taxation, social policy or anything else, either the rest of the country jumps on board or is left behind. 
Quebec and Ontario have already signaled their intention to establish a cap and trade system:
A broader collective effort by the three on climate change could both make progress on the issue and soften both opposition to the pipeline and some of the damage done by the Harper government’s reputation on climate change.
Equally valuable could be the development of a national energy strategy that looks at what we produce, what we export and how we sell it, designed to ensure all three provinces maximize their returns, particularly in the US market. If Alberta, Ontario and Quebec started down this path, how long would it be before British Columbia and Newfoundland jumped on board, again despite Ottawa’s unwillingness to participate?
If the Harper government continues to block attempts to improve the Canada Pension Plan, the three provinces could respond with their own supplementary system much as Ontario is starting to do.
Not happy with the new prostitution law, mandatory minimum sentences or other changes in the Harper government’s pandering to the “tough on crime” crowd? Collectively the provinces could take the federal government to court to overturn laws they believe are detrimental to the administration of justice and the criminal justice system. On past performance, the federal government is a consistent loser whenever it is challenged this way.
Mr. Harper believes that the world is organized from the top down. Canadians could be staging a coup -- from the bottom up.

Continuing With A Theme

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 05/11/2015 - 05:38
Well, as a new week dawns I find that I am not quite ready to turn to new topics, as Omar Khadr is still very much in the news. For a good roundup of the implications of his release on bail and his short media scrum, be sure to check out Montreal Simon's post today.

Sunday's news panels also devoted considerable time to Khadr. You may enjoy this video from The Sunday Scrum featuring Rosemary Barton, Glen McGregor and David Gray:

Last evening on The National, the discussion continued with Jonathan Kay, Tasha Kheiriddin and John Moore. Advance the following video to about the 16-minute mark to watch it:

Recommend this Post

Stephen Harper and the Great War on Dissent

Montreal Simon - Mon, 05/11/2015 - 05:11

Well his Great War on Terror may have suffered a serious setback, after him and Jason Kenney were caught helping the terrorists.

By painting targets on our troops for the sake of a cheap photo-op.

But Stephen Harper's Great War on Dissent continues unabated.

And the bodies keep piling up. 
Read more »

Elizabeth May and Stephen Harper's Big Omar Problem

Montreal Simon - Mon, 05/11/2015 - 01:42

I'm very sorry to see that Elizabeth May is very sorry about livening up the deadly dull Press Gallery Dinner, with a choice comment about Stephen Harper and his cabinet. 

Green party Leader Elizabeth May says she is "very apologetic" about remarks she made on the weekend that included profanity and insulted the federal cabinet about how it has treated Omar Khadr.

May played a recording of "Welcome back Kotter" -- a theme song from a 1970s sitcom -- and stated that Khadr has "more class than the whole f---ing cabinet."

Because while she does owe everyone an apology for playing the theme song from "Welcome back Kotter." That was a faux pas.

In the matter of Omar Khadr she was only speaking truth to power.
Read more »

U.S. Government Designated Prominent Al Jazeera Journalist as “Member of Al Qaeda”

Metaneos - Sun, 05/10/2015 - 23:13
The Intercept
I feel a sense of worry reading this sort of article. How long before the USA begins undertaking this sort of campaign within its borders? Labeling outspoken activists and overly-inquisitive journalists as enemies of the state on a list that marks them for either harassment or death?
The USA already has many of its own cities under near military control, with police rolling through the streets in military gear, using military vehicles to confront who knows what. Probably drunk naked party goers.
These lists, these watch lists. They're trouble. Not just for whatever enemy the USA has declared war upon, but for the USA, too. This sort of thing corrupts the soul. Because there's no way of contesting them. No court can rule on these lists. Once you're on one, then boom! You're dead.

Michael Harris' Moving Mother's Day Story

Montreal Simon - Sun, 05/10/2015 - 15:59

Well today is Mother's Day which is a good day for florists, and yet another good excuse to tell your Mum you love her.

And I see that Stephen Harper is using the occasion to make us believe that he's on their side.

Today we celebrate all mothers across Canada for their dedication, unconditional love & support for their families.— Stephen Harper (@pmharper) May 10, 2015
But I'd rather think that Mother's Day is every day of the year, and remember all the mothers, especially single mothers, he has done nothing to help.

Or as Michael Harris writes, remember the mothers Harper's Army has betrayed. 
Read more »

Historic clam gardens latest evidence to undermine narrative of First Nations as simple hunter-gatherers

Metaneos - Sun, 05/10/2015 - 15:30
Calgary Herald
This line is classic:
“It’s astounding that it’s taken a whole team of scientists and more than 150 years to figure this out, that our people weren’t standing there with a frying pan in their hand waiting for a sockeye to jump in,” she said.

Harvard Youth Poll Results Out - Brace Yourselves

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 05/10/2015 - 11:51
Twice a year the Harvard Public Opinion Project surveys America's youth on everything ranging from climate change to foreign wars.  The latest numbers show American young people turning anti-science, becoming indifferent or distrustful of climate change, and supporting American military interventionism abroad.

Growing distrust of science, here.

Losing interest in fighting climate change, here.

Increasing support for more U.S. military interventionism, here.

If the Harvard numbers are right, American youth seem to be turning very rightwing.

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 05/10/2015 - 10:29
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- The Vancouver Sun interviews Andrew MacLeod about his new book on inequality in British Columbia. And Tanara Yelland talks to Guy Standing about the need for governments responsive to the needs of the precariat:
One central demand Standing makes is for the establishment of a universal basic income. Having the Canadian government provide all citizens (or all residents regardless of citizenship status, if you want to get really radical) would allow people to live without fear of things like starvation and homelessness, and would actually, according to research done on the subject, lead to low-income people working more. 
The current employment insurance system in Canada, which pays a portion of a person's last salary but ends payments once they've found work paying 20 percent more than their benefits, disincentivizes people from accepting work that might be temporary or with unstable hours. Getting a meager yet reliable amount from the government makes far more sense than taking a job whose hours you can't depend on—especially when you know that should your job end, it will be a month or more before you see any new benefit money coming in.
"In effect," said Standing, "the system for the precariat has a huge disincentive for people taking low-wage jobs and punishes them for doing so. That is thoroughly unfair." - Meanwhile, Sarah Kendzior discusses how payday lenders exploit unstable work and unreliable income.

- Ian Welsh offers an important suggestion as to how the left needs to respond to the UK's election of a Conservative majority, while Gerard Di Trolio sees the NDP's emergence in Alberta as a prime example as to how challenges to corporate orthodoxy can be as politically beneficial as they are socially necessary. And Roderick Benns writes that Naheed Nenshi and Don Iveson are among the emerging group of politicians willing to tackle burgeoning poverty and inequality head-on - while noting that other levels of government will need to participate to develop truly effective policies.

- Peter Beinart proposes a name-and-shame approach to the outsized influence of the filthy rich in U.S. politics.

- And finally, Maude Barlow studies the Harper Cons' concerted effort to stifle citizens' voices in Canada.

But What Did They Expect?

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 05/10/2015 - 08:50
David Cameron is wasting no time hammering rightwing nails in Britain's coffin. He has served notice he'll be making the most of his slim majority win last week and the first thing to go will be Britain's Human Rights Act.

Just as Harper has Poillevre to do his slime work, Cameron has his own poindexter to axe the Human Rights Act, this guy, Michael Gove:

Backpheifengesicht anyone?
Cameron is also preparing his ransom note to the European Union.  His win has unleashed a backbench clamoring for a new deal with the EU whereby Britain could opt out of EU legislation as it saw fit.

It remains to be seen how far Cameron can go before he again ignites the fuze of Scottish independence.

And So It Begins

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 05/10/2015 - 08:41

It's an idea that's been kicked around for quite a while - the use of military force to thwart climate change migration.  To some it's a matter of doing what's necessary to keep the barbarian horde at bay.  Underlying it is this element of self-defence, self-preservation - necessity.

The European Union is now at this point.

The European Union has drawn up plans for military attacks in Libya to try to curb the influx of migrants across the Mediterranean by targeting the trafficking networks. It is to launch a bid on Monday to secure a UN mandate for armed action in Libya’s territorial waters.Britain is drafting the UN security council resolution that would authorise the mission, said senior officials in Brussels. It would come under Italian command, have the participation of around 10 EU countries, including Britain, France, Spain, and Italy, and could also drag in Nato although there are no plans for initial alliance involvement....This would entail having EU vessels in Libyan territorial waters, including the Royal Navy flagship HMS Bulwark – currently in Malta – and deploying helicopter gunships to “neutralise” identified traffickers’ ships used to send tens of thousands of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East on the short but highly risky voyage from the Libyan coast to the shores of southern Italy.Libyan militias, jihadi groups, and Islamic State affiliates believed to be in cahoots with the trafficking networks are said to have heavy artillery and anti-aircraft batteries deployed close to the coast. Attacks on EU vessels and aircraft could trigger an escalation and force Nato to get involved, said policymakers in Brussels.Oh great, we can get into another war in Libya.  That'll show those damned Muslims.  We'll kick hell out of them.  They'll start sending zealots over here to retaliate.  Just like ping-pong only with bombs and guns.Closer to home, the Pentagon is looking at its own options to seal off America's southern borders to climate refugees out of Mexico and Central America.  In his book, "Climate Wars," Gwynne Dyer discusses some of the ideas being considered including the establishment of robotic weapons systems to make the American border an automated killing zone.  That sounds inconceivable except to the people who are conceiving it.

Oh, And Another Thing

Politics and its Discontents - Sun, 05/10/2015 - 06:32

Without doubt, some readers will be wearying of my seeming obsession with Omar Khadr. A good part of my interest in him over the past few years stems from the injustice with which he has been treated, given the flouting by both Canada and the U.S. of International human rights law as it pertains to the child soldier. The other part of my interest stems from the fact that Khadr has been a Rorschach test for the Harper government, revealing the latter's relentless meanspiritedness and willingness to sacrifice people for electoral power.

It is my hope, as stated previously, that the tide will begin to turn against the Harper regime as its mask slips away, given the public's opportunity to see and hear Khadr now that he has been released into his lawyer's custody.

If the following letters from The Globe and Mail are any indication, people are beginning to see beyond the stereotype of the 'terrorist' that Harper et al. have been promoting all these years:

Capacity for reform
Anyone who heard Omar Khadr’s comments to the media after being released on bail cannot help but be struck by the federal government’s doggedly vindictive response (‘Freedom Is Way Better Than I Thought’ – May 8). If the heart and soul of the Canadian penal system is truly rehabilitation, surely he is a good example of the human capacity for reform. Unless, of course, the government is committed to an ideological agenda from which it is unwilling to deviate, however compelling the evidence to the contrary.

Peter Laurie, Peterborough, Ont.


At last, the “convicted terrorist” Omar Khadr speaks. First, Prime Minister Stephen Harper muzzled the child, then he muzzled the man, but on Thursday Canadians were allowed to finally hear him for themselves. I am proud of Canada.

Robin Hannah, TorontoWhether any of this has long-term efficacy will, of course, be put to the test in October.
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Becoming - Mother's Day

Fat and Not Afraid - Sun, 05/10/2015 - 06:00

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, a day rooted in peace activism, but commercialized beyond recognition. Gabe was upset he didn't win me a cake at school on Friday and I told him that was fine, if he never bought me a single thing for Mother's Day, only remembered to come by or phone and say hi, I'd be ok with that. He was relieved. At not even nine years old he's already feeling the pressure of capitalism which pisses me off as you can imagine.

I used to want a lot of recognition on Mother's Day. Motherhood hasn't come easily to me; for a long time I didn't even know if I wanted kids (Gabe was a happy-ish accident) while Ryan knew forever he wanted to be a dad. Gabe and I's relationship got off on the wrong foot, to put it lightly. Flowers and a nice card, a quiet day, a pat on the back, some recognition for all the work I've done, and do, as Mom, isn't unwelcome, it's just not necessary any more. As a parent I'm doing a good job; my kids are happy, well adjusted and for the most part, polite. They know they are loved not just by their parents, but by their grandparents and aunts and uncles as well. Every day isn't ice cream and sprinkles but I keep trying to put into practise all of the things I've learned over the years on how to be the best mom I can, building on the foundation my mom laid for me, Leslie's shored up, and countless internet moms and science have expanded.

From my mom I learned to always tuck your kids in at night no matter how old they are, to take the time to check in and listen, to give them space to talk or just be with you. Leave the light on at night to guide them home. She is a model for knowing how to pick your battles, though there are a few I wish she'd fought a little harder. From her I get my no-nonsense attitude in a crisis and first aid skills, such as they are, and 'keep your head down and mouth shut' tendancies (which I tend to ignore when I probably shouldn't). My mom shows she cares by feeding us, tidying and taking care of my kids, and slipping me money my dad doesn't know about for little things I want or need. She may not always understand me but she's always supported me in the ways she can. It's not her way to make things easy for me or do for me things her mother never did. Both my parents have raised me with a very 'take care of yourself' focus and I think it's served me well in a lot of ways, and hindered me in others. I hope to temper this with my own kids.

Leslie has added her incredible generosity to the mix, showing me over and over there is nothing a parent wouldn't do for their kid. Seriously, the amount she has helped us out over the years would be embarassing to post. Throw in a sometimes overwhelming fierceness in protecting her famlily and you realize that woman is a tiger. Don't mess with her cubs.

Thanks to the internet I've been allowed to follow the journey of a few special moms and dads in intimate detail, from the woman at The Progressive Parent who lost her little boy Patrick to SUDC, to the hilarious dudes who run How to Be A and their growing families. Evolutionary Parenting and The Feminist Breeder keep posting up the articles I need to practise patience, compassion and patience some more with myself and my kids, rooting their pieces in the latest science around child development. It helps me to know that my kid's brains are still building themselves, to remind myself that they're not just little adults in smaller bodies who just need instruction on how to be proper grownups.

I'm working this Mother's Day so here's to all the moms out there who are putting in the time, effort, blood, sweat and tears to do it as well as they can with what they have. For those of you who may be having a hard time with Mother's Day, being estranged from your mom or mourning her passing, I hope you get a chance to practise self-care today. Be kind to you.

Changing The Frame

Northern Reflections - Sun, 05/10/2015 - 04:32
George Lakoff, a Professor of Cognitive Science at UC Berkeley, argues that we all see the world through brain structures he calls frames:

Those brain structures are called “frames.” If the facts don’t fit your frames, the frames stay; the facts are ignored, belittled or attacked. The facts alone won’t set you free.All words are defined relative to largely unconscious cognitive frames. Hearing a word activates and strengthens the frame. If I say “Don’t think of an elephant!” you will think of an elephant. Arguing against, or negating, frames just helps the other side.
Politicians understand  how important it is to sell their frames to voters. And, for the last thirty years, conservatives have managed to effectively frame issues to their advantage. However, the conservative frame is rooted in denial:

Conservatism means denying a central truth: that private life and business depend on public resources. Indeed, it means destroying public resources and maximizing private control and private gain. It means putting public health in private hands, making everyone pay through the nose for maintaining their bodies. It means destroying unions. Unions are about freedom, freedom from corporate servitude and wage slavery, freedom from unsafe working conditions, and the freedom in later life that comes from fair pensions, which are delayed payments for work done earlier in life. It means destroying nature for private gain, not public benefit.
Progressives see the world through a different frame:
[Progressivism] means caring about others as well as taking care of yourself, and it means working through the government to provide public resources for all. Private business and private life depend on public resources — roads, bridges, sewers, an electric grid, satellite communication, public schools and research universities, public health and national health care, public safety, and on and on. The private depends on the public, both in business and private life.
Canada has always been about
kindness, warmth, hospitality, co-operation, community and what goes with all that, including public education, health care for all, a love of nature and care for the environment, a welcoming of immigrants, a respect for native peoples, an aversion to war. As an American, those were the values that I and other Americans associated with Canada. The centre has been empathy – caring and acting on that care.
Canadians have traditionally seen their country through a different frame than the one Mr. Harper  espouses. The next election will be all about changing the frame.

Another Great Canadian Writer Goes After Stephen Harper

Montreal Simon - Sun, 05/10/2015 - 03:08

There are a number of good books out there that document the horror of what Stephen Harper and his monstrous regime have done to Canada.

Books by writers like Lawrence Martin, Michael Harris, Mark Bourrie, Christian Nadeau and others.

And now from a distinguished Canadian who has spent a lifetime standing up for this country and its values, comes another good book. 

And another wake-up call for our battered and bleeding democracy. 
Read more »


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