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Have You Heard the Latest?

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 08/15/2014 - 08:33
Have you heard the latest about last month's Malaysian Airlines MH-17 shootdown over Ukraine?  No? Neither have I.

When the Boeing 777 plunged to the ground killing everyone aboard, Western leaders were quick out of the gate to finger Vlad Putin, directly or indirectly, and Ukraine's pro-Russia separatist militias for downing the jetliner.

America is supposed to have that area under satellite observation.  American technology is supposed to be able to spot and identify the launch of a surface-to-air missile that, we were told, downed MH-17.  Meanwhile the Brits have had the aircraft's intact flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder for more than two weeks.

All of which begs the question why Washington and London have gone silent about this tragedy?  In the past when they had hard evidence of this sort they went public with their findings in short order.  Not this time. Why?

Former congressman, Ron Paul, says America knows more than it's letting on and is "likely hiding the truth."

Ferguson police shoot Brown in the back again

Cathie from Canada - Fri, 08/15/2014 - 08:14
So six days after the shooting, Ferguson police suddenly decide that Michael Brown was a suspect in a robbery? The cynicism of this ploy is incredible.

That Shining Bunker on the Hill

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 08/15/2014 - 07:45


What else is there for a genuine, honest to God-Fearin', Warfare State?  Once you've militarized your economy, militarized your foreign policy, militarized your society with M-16s under every other bed, why would you not militarize your law enforcement agencies?  What is that beyond a sign of progress toward the evolution of illiberal democracy, nascent oligarchy as prescribed by the ascent of corporatist rule? 

Ferguson, Missouri is not an aberration.  It's no fluke. That's what they tell you but it's not true.   It's a calculated atrocity that lies in wait in any number of hot spots across modern America.  There's a reason why America's national security apparatus, in collaboration with the private sector, spies on ordinary citizens, evaluates them via algorithms as either complacent stooges or potential resistors, threats.  It's the same reason why the Pentagon gives IED-resistant armoured vehicles and oodles of combat gear to the country's police departments. This is a nation that has lost its moorings; a country that takes to itself the right to execute its own citizens abroad without due process, a state that believes it has an inherent right to imprison and torture individuals permanently without charge or trial.  With that in mind, how can anyone get all queasy about cops reprising the role of storm troopers, a 21st century Waffen SS for unruly street corners?

I had hoped that Ferguson, Missouri would be the event that pricked America's conscience, that generated an unstoppable reform of the Warfare-Security State. That's not going to happen.  From the execution-style shooting of young Brown to the rampaging iron fist of a small-town Sturmabteilung, it was all a mistake, one giant screw-up.  For a brief moment the world was allowed to see what's lurking in the basement recesses of police stations across America - nests of body-armoured vipers armed with war-fighting weapons and an inclination to unleash them on ordinary Americans.

We got a glimpse at what we were never supposed to see.  The optics were terrible.  The mistake must never be repeated - until the next time.

Americans are brought up believing that United States citizenship is a blessing, a precious gift.  It is - until the day the state turns on its people, monitors their activities for signs of anything unusual, keeps lists.

Roxane Gay, writing in The Guardian, says that Ferguson has been a demonstration of an "occupation ...in plain sight."

An alderman was arrested.  Reporters from the Washington Post and Huffington Post were arrested.  An Al Jazeera America news crew was attacked with tear gas and had their equipment dismantled. Nonviolent protestors were confronted by a police department that is, in fact, an armed militia. The crowd stood before armored personnel carriers and men wearing Swat gear.  There were snipers, aiming their rifles at unarmed, nonviolent citizens. 



And This Is A Good Deal Because?

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 08/15/2014 - 07:12


Despite the best efforts of the ever-secretive Harper cabal, details about the CETA deal are finally emerging thanks to leaked portions of the text. And has been long-predicted, those details are not encouraging when it comes to Canadian sovereignty in general, and local sourcing of construction contracts, goods and services in particular.

While government websites, replete with encomiums from business entities, crow about what this deal will accomplish, more critical sources offer much to suggest the need for grave misgivings.

Take, for example, the matter of investor rights. Chapter 11, the investor-dispute mechanism under NAFTA, has resulted in numerous suits against the government from companies claiming loss of earnings due to legislation or judicial rulings. One such case involved Eli Lily suing Canada for $500 million over patent rights to two of its drugs. Another involved Lone Pine Resources is suing the federal government for $250 million due to Quebec’s moratorium on oil and gas fracking beneath the St. Lawrence River.

Yet the Harper government, in its apparent zeal to cede even more authority to multinational corporations, seems undaunted by these and many other ongoing suits.

With apparently almost identical provisions under CETA, perhaps the direness of the situation is best summed up by Scott Sinclair of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives:

"The outcome of the deal is that corporations win and citizens on both sides of the Atlantic lose."

Equally disturbing is the provision about procurement rights:

The main benefit for Europe is easy to name: Canada opens its public procurements to European corporations. European companies are much stronger when it comes to public tenders because there aren't as many Canadian companies willing to bid in European public procurements.

Today's Star offers more details of the public procurement provisions, and gives this bleak assessment:

The ability of provincial governments and cities like Toronto to boost their economies by favouring local companies on major goods and services contracts will be sharply curtailed under the terms of Canada’s free-trade pact with Europe, leaked details of the agreement confirm.

Specifically, provincial agencies and ministries will have to open up bidding to businesses from EU countries on goods and services contracts worth approximately $300,000 or more.

The threshold is higher for construction contracts: about $7.9 million.

Essentially, the same rules will apply to school boards, [p]ublic agencies or utilities that operate airports, rail or bus transport, marine ports, electricity distribution, drinking water provision or the production of gas and heat.

Once more, Canadian citizens must sit on the sidelines in government-imposed ignorance, thanks in large part to the most secretive government that has ever existed in Canada, Tony Clement's recent hilarious declarations about government transparency notwithstanding.

While it is highly unlikely the CETA deal will be finalized before the next election, given the millimeters of difference that exist between the major parties on most issues, holding an unsanctioned 'faint-hope' clause in our collective psyche may be all we can realistically aspire to.

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Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 08/15/2014 - 06:36
Assorted content to end your week.

- Glen McGregor reports on Michael Sona's conviction as part of the Cons' voter suppression in 2011. But both Michael den Tandt and Sujata Dey emphasize that Sona's conviction was based on his being only one participant in the wider Robocon scheme - and that Stephen Harper and company remain fully responsible for covering up the rest of it.

- Meanwhile, Carol Goar duly mocks Tony Clement's attempt to talk up open government while serving as one of the least accountable ministers in the most secretive Canadian government ever.

- And Justin Ling discusses the myriad of areas in which the Cons are signing away Canadian sovereignty through closed-door trade deals while refusing to admit to what they're doing. 

- David Sirota writes about Los Angeles' attempts to reverse credit swap arrangements which are handing hundreds of millions of dollars from the public to the financial sector - and points out in the process that the city spends more on giveaways to Wall Street than on its own roads.

- Mike de Souza exposes Alberta's sad publicity campaign intended to greenwash the tar sands - or at least muddy the waters in the U.S. But Bob Weber reports that long after that misinformation campaign intended to portray Alberta oil as well-regulated and environmentally responsible, Alberta's government is refusing to regulate pollution based on its assertion that it has no clue how to do so.

- Finally, David Gratzer examines the urgent need for stronger public policy on mental health:
Mental illness is a human tragedy. A patient – off work and sick with depression – recently told me what he missed most from his old life: the ability to laugh. Stuck in darkness, he wished to laugh again. Health-care professionals like me hear such things too often: stories of lost jobs, lost loves, lost years. A recent Danish study suggests that more than a third of the population will have some form of mental illness over their lifetime, with mood and anxiety disorders being the most common.

Mental illness is also a societal tragedy. By one estimate, 500,000 Canadians missed work today because of a mental health problem. The lost productivity and direct health expenses have an economic cost; in a recent analysis for the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the value was pegged at $50-billion a year. Labour economist Richard Layard argues that such estimates are inherently conservative: Mental illness casts a long shadow, over our jails and emergency departments, with total costs of more than 8 per cent of a country’s GDP.

But if mental illness is devastating, common, and costly, there is good news. In many cases, it’s also highly treatable.
...
Yet studies show that people with mental illness routinely fall through the cracks. Only about 1 in 3 will get the health care they need. A pathetic paradox, then: Psychiatry has never been better able to help people yet many don’t get the help they need.

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