Posts from our progressive community

It's a Dam Shame

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 12:54

Get this. More than 4,000 dams in the United States are now rated unsafe because of structural and other problems. It's a safe bet we're in the same boat in Canada.

The more urgent problem is that, old and weary as many of these dams have become, they were never designed to deal with our rapidly changing climate. The recent debacle at California's Oroville dam is a good example. The reservoir behind the dam was nearly dry last year but atmospheric rivers of torrential rain brought it to overflowing this year and, when that extra water was diverted to the dam's concrete spillway, the concrete failed. This triggered the evacuation of several towns downstream of the dam.

The cost of rehabilitating dams has led to some 700 of them simply being removed. This should restore fish habitats but a new study shows it's not that simple.

Now, however, a new study in Biological Conservation takes the science of dam removal in an unexpected direction. Although acknowledging that reopening rivers usually leads to “increased species richness, abundance and biomass,” a team of South African and Australian authors argues that in some cases threatened species may actually benefit from keeping existing dams intact.

The idea for the study arose because both South Africa and Australia are now experiencing “an incredibly dry period,” says co-author Olaf Lawrence Weyl, a specialist in endangered fish with the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity. Many native fish species have been “pushed right back into headwater streams” by competition with alien fishes, typically introduced for sportfishing and by “dewatering of entire rivers” to supply irrigation water for crops, Weyl adds. In some cases, the streams and reservoirs backed up behind dams are the only remaining aquatic refuges for endangered species.

It's "Put Up or Shut Up" Time on Climate Change - and "Shut Up" Has a Big Lead

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 11:57

Is the G-20 about to kick climate change to the curb? Apparently so, at least according to Bloomberg.

Finance ministers for the U.S., China, Germany and other members of the Group of 20 economies may scale back a robust pledge for their governments to combat climate change, ceding efforts to the private sector.

Citing “scarce public resources,” the ministers said they would encourage multilateral development banks to raise private funds to accomplish goals set under the 2015 Paris climate accord, according to a preliminary statement drafted for a meeting that will be held in Germany next week.

The statement, obtained by Bloomberg News, is a significant departure from a communique issued in July, when finance ministers urged governments to quickly implement the Paris Agreement, including a call for wealthy nations to make good on commitments to mobilize $100 billion annually to cut greenhouse gases around the globe.

“It basically says governments are irrelevant. It’s complete faith in the magic of the marketplace,” John Kirton, director of the University of Toronto’s G-20 Research Group, said in an interview. “That is very different from the existing commitments they have repeatedly made.”

 The shift in tone comes as U.S. President Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, prepares for his first G-20 meeting, scheduled for March 17 to 18 in the spa town of Baden-Baden. While European nations including Germany have been at the forefront of combating global warming, Trump has called climate change a hoax.

So that $100 billion a year promise? Yeah, sorry. Don't worry, the private sector wants to gift you that money. Honestly. They do, really.

Oh Dear, About Those Pipelines.

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 11:45

The history of the Athabasca Tar Sands reveals an on-again/off-again project. In the postwar years there was massive support for development of the bitumen basin. The Canadian government even signed off on an idea to use underground nuclear explosions to liquify the sludge that it might be more easily pumped out of the depths.

Then the whole business came to a crashing halt with the discovery of a massive, conventional oil field in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Eventually, however, world oil prices climbed high enough to return to bitumen extraction although profits and lasting prosperity remained elusive. Still the uncertainty and prospects of a carbon bubble haven't deterred the Alberta or the federal government's enthusiasm for pipelines and getting bitumen to tidewater.

Remember Prudhoe Bay (see above)? We may be seeing a replay of the Prudhoe Bay/Athabasca tug of war soon. The Spanish energy company, Repsol, has announced the discovery of a big new field, 1.2-billion barrels of conventional crude oil, beneath Alaska's North Slope. The company expects to bring production to 120,000 barrels a day as soon as 2021. It's America's biggest onshore find in 30 years.

Meanwhile, Trumpy signed an executive order today clearing the way for major pipeline projects, including Keystone XL, but directing that it be a made in America effort. He insists that all the equipment, including the pipe, be American made.

Winter's Coming (apologies to Arcade Fire and their Neighbourhoods #1 (Tunnels)

Tattered Sleeve - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 09:51
And if the snow buries my CH neighbourhood
And if Che is flying
Then he'll saucer a pass
From his stick blade to PatCHes
Yeah, a pass, from his stick blade to PatCHes

KidA has climbed out of the cellar
And skated up the middle
The middle of the ice
And since there's no one but the goalie around
He'll stay in the blue paint long
And forget how how he used to blow
And then his skin gets thicker
From spraying that goalie with snow

You changed all the lead
In that rebuilt hand
As the puck comes in
KidA shovels it right in

Then Julien tried to fix our PK
Cuz Price had forgotten the way to
The way to shut teams down
But somehow, TFS remembered his goalposts
And how to cover his five-hole
And his catlike trapper hand
Then, the D remembered how to skate strong
And how to cover the man

MB changed all the smurfs
Getting knocked around
As the trades came in
King and Thor came thundering
Purify the CHolours, beef up the 4th line
Purify the CHolours, put scorers in the top two lines
And spread the ashes of Arrogant Fuckface
Over this CHeart of mine!


- 30 -

More Reasons To Boycott U.S Travel

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 06:27
I have no regrets about my recent decision to boycott travel to the United States as long as the Trump regime, dominated as it is by paranoid exclusions and hate-mongering policies, continues in office. An item on last night's NBC News amply demonstrates that for some people, border crossings are becoming risks not worth taking.

Two American citizens encountered quite a bit of land turbulence upon returning from visits to Canada:
When Buffalo, New York couple Akram Shibly and Kelly McCormick returned to the U.S. from a trip to Toronto on Jan. 1, 2017, U.S. Customs & Border Protection officers held them for two hours, took their cellphones and demanded their passwords.

"It just felt like a gross violation of our rights," said Shibly, a 23-year-old filmmaker born and raised in New York. But he and McCormick complied, and their phones were searched.But the story doesn't end there:
Three days later, they returned from another trip to Canada and were stopped again by CBP.

"One of the officers calls out to me and says, 'Hey, give me your phone,'" recalled Shibly. "And I said, 'No, because I already went through this.'"

The officer asked a second time..

Within seconds, he was surrounded: one man held his legs, another squeezed his throat from behind. A third reached into his pocket, pulling out his phone. McCormick watched her boyfriend's face turn red as the officer's chokehold tightened.

Then they asked McCormick for her phone.

"I was not about to get tackled," she said. She handed it over.

This kind of racial profiling and 'lawful' seizure of telephones should give all of us pause; any Canadians travelling to the U.S. are its potential victims, although clearly, if you are white and have a non-Arabic name, your chances of passing through unmolested are greater. But I come back to a fundamental question that prompted me to start my personal travel boycott: Do we really want to patronize a country that once welcomed foreigners but now stigmatizes, bullies and excludes them?

Finally, it is worth noting that Girl Guides of Canada has decided to cancel trips to the U.S.
"While the United States is a frequent destination for Guiding trips, the ability of all our members to equally enter this country is currently uncertain," international commissioner Sharron Callahan and director of provincial operations Holly Thompson wrote in a joint advisory issued Monday afternoon.

"This includes both trips that are over or under 72 hours and any travel that includes a connecting flight through an American airport," the advisory says.

The statement does not directly mention — but appears to be a reaction to — the executive orders U. S. President Donald Trump has signed restricting travel to the United States.This decision comes amidst many other groups and Canadian school boards contemplating trip cancellations for the same reason.

The American love of money is well-known. It seems only logical that they should now learn via commercial interdiction the price to be paid for choosing a racist, paranoid demagogue as their president. Many of them may love the Trump message, but worldwide, far more do not.Recommend this Post

They're All Lunatics

Northern Reflections - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 06:04

The Congressional Budget Office has just released its analysis of Trumpcare. It concludes that, by next year, fourteen million of the twenty million Americans who now have healthcare won't have it. Republicans argue that Americans will be able to choose the healthcare they want. Consider what they are really saying: Fourteen million Americans will be free to choose the healthcare they can't get. It's sheer lunacy.

The Washington Post's Catherine Rempel writes that the Trump administration is full of lunatics.  Consider Kellyanne Conway's explanation of how Barack Obama tapped Trump's telephone:

Over the weekend, Bergen Record columnist Mike Kelly asked Conway point blank, “Do you know whether Trump Tower was wiretapped?”

Conway’s response: “What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other now, unfortunately. . . . There was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, through their — certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways. And microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera.”
Trump's budget director Mick Mulvaney has agreed with Trump -- until now -- that  you can't trust the information published by the Bureau of Labour Statistics:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has been calculating the unemployment rate the same way since 1940. But Mulvaney nevertheless supports the theories of his tinfoil-hat-wearing boss, who throughout the presidential campaign called the unemployment rate a “hoax” and “totally fiction.” Most recently Trump relayed through his press secretary that the jobs report “may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.” 
Trump's EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt "suggested that — despite the overwhelming scientific consensus — carbon dioxide may not be a “primary contributor” to climate change." Trump appointee Curtis Ellis, who works in the Labour Department, " previously argued that Democrats were engaged in “ethnic cleansing” of working-class whites." And Sid Bowdidge " the massage therapist with no relevant experience. . . landed a job as a political appointee at the Energy Department, despite tweeting that Muslims ought to be exterminated and Obama was related to radical Islamist terrorists."

Like their boss, The Great Orange Id, they're all lunatics.


Monday Evening Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 19:05
Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Jordon Cooper rightly argues that Brad Wall's plan to slash education will only doom Saskatchewan to be further trapped in boom-and-bust resource cycles. And Toby Sanger discusses (PDF) how Saskatchewan can get back on track without imposing cruel cuts on the people who can least afford them.

- Jason Warick reports on the community-based organizations who stand to see both reduced funding and increased needs as a result of the Wall government's austerity. And Sandro Contenta highlights how poorly-designed social supports can lead to worse results at a higher cost - featuring the sad example of children being placed in a foster home due to unsafe living conditions at a cost far greater than the price of repairing their grandmother's house.

- Nick Purdon and Leonardo Palleja note that in the face of designed precarity, even a university degree doesn't come close to ensuring access to stable employment. And Pamela Cornell identifies both economic uncertainty and health risks as the key reasons to demand a basic income.

- Finally, Jeremy Nuttall and Christo Aivalis offer their takes on the first NDP leadership debate. And Ed Broadbent challenges us to renew Canada's social democratic vision:
Social democracy can be defined as the full application of democratic and social justice principles, not simply to our political institutions, but also to our economy and society.

Social democrats believe in a market-based economy, but not in a market-shaped society. In addition to traditional liberal political rights, individuals have economic and social rights. These must be secured in part by taking some services such as health and education out of the market.

And genuine equality of opportunity requires a high level of substantive economic equality. This can only be achieved by redistributing wealth and income through taxation or by means of universal social programs, which are rights of citizenship.

Social democrats also support a strong government role in the economy to secure economic stability, full employment and decent, well-paid jobs and to counter concentrated corporate power. A more fair and efficient economy is built upon public regulation of the market, a diversity of forms of ownership, including public ownership, and worker representation on boards and other means of participating in economic decision-making through trade unions.
Celebrating past successes is clearly not enough. In a very real sense, social democracy will have to be fundamentally renewed if it is to regain momentum and be fully relevant to today’s challenges. This means, among other things, rebuilding social democracy as a social movement closely linked to other progressive forces in society; articulating an economic agenda that will regulate rather than abandon a globalized economy; and finding effective policy levers to create decent jobs for all, to promote greater equality, and to build an environmentally sustainable economy.

Part Political Theatre and Part Schoolyard Bully

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 17:54
And probably the saddest thing is that far too many people take this kind of clown seriously:

Recommend this Post

About Televisions That May Be Spying on You. John Oliver's Perspective

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 09:46
In domestic spying, perspective is everything. No, you don't have to ditch your Samsung flatscreen.

The Biggest of Big-Tent Moments

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 09:06

Chances are you've read at least a couple of them: Sinclair Lewis' "It Can't Happen Here," George Orwell's "1984," Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World," Hannah Arendt's "The Origin of Totalitarianism," or Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale." John Pfeffer, author of "Splinterlands" and director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies writes that dystopian novels won't pull America out of the Trump crash dive. It's time to win back Trump voters awash in buyer's remorse.

I took a course in college on the rise of Nazism in Germany. At one point, the professor showed us Triumph of the Will, Leni Riefenstahl’s famous 1935 documentary that covered the Nazi Party Congress of the previous year and featured extensive footage of Adolf Hitler addressing the faithful. Triumph of the Will was a blockbuster film, our professor assured us. It spread the name of Hitler worldwide and established Riefenstahl’s reputation as a filmmaker. It was so popular inside Germany that it ran for months on end at movie theaters, and people returned again and again to watch it. Our teacher promised us that we would find it fascinating.

Triumph of the Will was not fascinating. Even for students engrossed in the details of the Nazi surge to power, the nearly two-hour documentary was a tremendous bore. After it was over, we bombarded the teacher with questions and complaints. How could he have imagined that we would find it fascinating?

He smiled. That’s the fascinating part, he said. Here was this extraordinarily popular film, and it’s now nearly impossible for Americans to sit through the whole thing. He wanted us to understand that people in Nazi Germany had an entirely different mindset, that they were participating in a kind of mass frenzy. They didn’t find Nazism abhorrent. They didn’t think they were living in a dystopia. They were true believers.

Many Americans are now having their Triumph of the Will moment. They watch Donald Trump repeatedly without getting bored or disgusted. They believe that history has anointed a new leader to revive the country and restore it to its rightful place in the world. They’ve been convinced that the last eight years were a liberal dystopia and what is happening now is, if not utopian, then the first steps in that direction.

A hard core of those enthralled by Trump cannot be convinced otherwise. They hold liberal elites in contempt. They don’t believe CNN or The New York Times. Many subscribe to outlandish theories about Islam and immigrants and the continuing covert machinations of that most famous “Islamic immigrant” of them all, Barack Obama. For this hard core of Trump supporters, the United States could begin to break down, the economy take a nosedive, the international community hold the leadership in Washington in contempt, and they will continue to believe in Trump and Trumpism. The president could even gun down a few people and his most fervent supporters would say nothing except, “Good shot, Mr. President!” Remember: even after Nazi Germany went down in fiery defeat in 1945, significant numbers of Germans remained in thrall to National Socialism. In 1947, more than half of those surveyed still believed that Nazism was a good idea carried out badly.

But plenty of Trump supporters -- whether they’re disaffected Democrats, Hillary-hating independents, or rock-ribbed Republican conservatives -- don’t fit such a definition. Some have already become deeply disillusioned by the antics of Donald J. and the demolition derby that his advisers are planning to unleash inside the U.S. government, which may, in the end, batter their lives badly. They can be brought over. This is potentially the biggest of big-tent moments for launching the broadest possible resistance under the banner of a patriotism that portrays Trump and Bannon as guilty of un-American activities.

And it’s here in particular that so many dystopian novels provide the wrong kind of guidance. Trump’s end will not come at the hands of a Katniss Everdeen. A belief in an individual savior who successfully challenges a “totalitarian” system got us into this crisis in the first place when Donald Trump sold himself as the crusading outsider against a “deep state” controlled by devious liberals, craven conservatives, and a complicit mainstream media. Nor will it help for Americans to dream about leading their states out of the Union (are you listening, California?) or for individuals to retreat into political purism. Given that the administration’s dystopian vision is based on chaos and fragmentation, the oppositional response should be to unite everyone opposed, or even potentially opposed, to what Washington is now doing.

As readers, we are free to interpret dystopian fiction the way we please. As citizens, we can do something far more subversive. We can rewrite our own dystopian reality. We can change that bleak future ourselves. To do so, however, we would need to put together a better plot, introduce some more interesting and colorful characters, and, before it’s too late, write a much better ending that doesn’t just leave us with explosions, screams, and fade to black.

Donald Trump and the Incredibly Shrinking President

Montreal Simon - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 07:45

As you probably know, Donald Trump has been trying to keep a very low profile ever since he sent out these deranged early morning tweets just over a week ago.

He has turned into the Incredibly Shrinking President, no doubt hoping that Americans will forget all about those tweets, and not question his sanity.

But now he's run out of time.
Read more »

Leadership 2017: First Debate Review

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 06:52
One of the most important renewed challenges facing the federal NDP in the wake of its drop to third in Canada's party standings is that of earning positive public attention. And for the candidates and the party alike, yesterday's inaugural leadership debate served primarily as an important introduction.

Many viewers may have been relatively unfamiliar with the contenders. And they should have been able to develop a fairly strong idea where they're starting from in the leadership campaign.

Niki Ashton was obviously the most comfortable with the format (presumably helped by her having run in the 2012 race as well). And she presented an effective case for movement politics as a response to neoliberal economics, if leaving plenty of room for discussion as to what that will ultimately mean.

Guy Caron's campaign launch has focused on policy (particularly a basic income). But the first debate highlighted how that will fit into a wider campaign: he had a ready answer for many of the economic questions being raised, leaving him ample time to also level pointed criticism at the Trudeau Libs.

In contrast, Charlie Angus elected not to pursue the leader-of-the-opposition position which seemed a natural fit. Instead, he stayed soft-spoken, positive and folksy to good effect - raising the question of whether he may be able to run as the most likeable spokesperson for the values shared by all of the candidates.

And most interestingly, Peter Julian looks to have started the campaign by emphasizing what may be some relatively polarizing issues around pipelines. On paper, Julian looked to have the best chance of winning as everybody's second choice - but his specific criticism of Kinder Morgan and Energy East seems likely to both improve his first-choice support from environmental voters, and limit his voter pool in the case of multiple ballots.

Naturally, we can expect future debates to involve a bit more direct clash between the candidates once their opening themes have had a chance to sink in. And there's certainly ample room for another candidate or two to join the fray.

But for now, members and other viewers were able to see four candidates who check all the boxes for an effective potential leader, while being able to decide among some contrasts in policy and style.

For more, see what Marie-Danielle Smith, John Geddes and Aaron Wherry had to say.

Laughing At Absurdity

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 06:36
I believe that the older we get, the more important it is not only to recognize and acknowledge the tragedies of life, be they social, economic, political or environmental, but also the many absurdities that abound within those realms. Call it dark humour, whistling past the graveyard, or just being politically incorrect, seeing the absurd is a coping mechanism that allows for the release of at least a modicum of the despair that envelops us in the twenty-first century.

I therefore have little sympathy with those who are easily offended. Consider the following political cartoon that appeared recently in the Toronto Star:

As the heading suggests, it is the cartoonist's take on the fact that many are vying to become the next leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, one that looks headed for the Opposition benches after next year's election, in no small part due to the spectacularly unpopular Kathleen Wynne, our current premier.

Yet the cartoon was too much for at least one Star reader, who penned his outrage in the following missive:

Re: Cartoon, March 8

The Star cartoon by Theo Moudakis depicting a plot to assassinate Premier Wynne is obscene and unforgivable. What was the intention here by the Star to its readers?

Showing her cabinet attempting to hide, with knives, suggesting to do away with the premier, is not what you should be preaching to your readers. Truly, there must be another answer on matters of opinion.

Dennis Dineno, OakvilleI've known people like Dennis throughout my life. They are often quite good people, but overly earnest in their pursuit of justice and rectitude. There is little in their lives to leaven the oppression that life regularly metes out. They can be a trial for those around them. Indeed, just reading his umbrage tasks me.

So, from the perspective granted by my years, my advice is to embrace the oddly funny moments life has to offer. To rebuke them prevents what little light there is to shine through and keep us from total darkness.

Recommend this Post

Rae On Diversity

Northern Reflections - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 05:54

Canadians like to think that, as a nation, we value diversity. Bob Rae reminds us that we haven't always felt that way:

Canada’s commitment to diversity and pluralism has become a critical feature of our identity. For many generations we were no such thing — a deputy minister of immigration in the 1930s was asked how many Jews would be admitted that year. His reply was devastatingly simple: “None is too many.” Chinese immigrants paid a head tax. Japanese and others were rounded up and lost all their property and livelihood in the Second World War. The litany of exclusion and discrimination is long — and we lapse into it still today.
A particular kind of brutality was imposed on the indigenous community. Children were rounded up and taken away to boarding schools whose mission was appallingly simple — “to take the Indian out of the child.” This was the policy of the government of Canada from the 1830s to as recently as the early 1990s. The Chief Justice of Canada has called it “cultural genocide.” This is the system a Tory Senator wants to defend and find the “positive parts of this experience.” This mind boggling comment has rightly set off a firestorm.
South of the 49th parallel, there is a rising tide against people who don't look and sound like us. And -- particularly in the Conservative Party -- one hears echoes of Trumpian nationalism. Rae warns that:
The blustering nationalism he now champions runs contrary to everything America has stood for in the world. Other countries will have to counter what he is doing and saying by insisting that pluralism, openness, and embracing the dignity of difference need to lie at the core of international politics. 
“America First” is a dead end, because it will only lead to everyone else insisting on the same protectionism.  
We should learn from our own history. And we certainly should not repeat the American present.
Image: Anne Chia's Grigingles

And So, I Told My American Friends Who Used to Mock Obama. Oh, Here, Just Read the Email.

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 03/12/2017 - 15:52

Hi guys:
Just days away from two months of Trumpland. How’s that going anyway?
It doesn’t seem to be going too well for el presidente himself. The guy’s already looking worn out, like a bag of hammers, and those pre-dawn tweets suggest a mind that’s not firing on all cylinders. People are beginning to suggest that the boss may be a limo ride away from the Laughing Academy. Sad, very sad. Nixon at least was “scare the living shit out of Hanoi” crazy.
For all of that he’s certainly generating plenty of work for Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, Rex Tillerson and James Mattis as they travel far and wide from Asia to Europe telling folks to ignore Trump’s deranged babbling. They – all of ‘em – call the boss a bullshitter AND they keep their jobs. Donald is the best bullshitter you’ve ever known. Nobody is a better bullshitter than the Donald. He’s got all the best bullshit. Do you get the faint whiff of Charlie Sheen on crystal meth?
Apparently ISIS is still around. Maybe they didn’t get the message that Trump was going to rid the world of these murderous swine within 30 days of assuming office. The Iraqis are slowly pushing them back but, like al Qaeda, they’re popping up elsewhere. Let’s hope Trumpy gets on with their extermination pretty soon.
Then there’s that wall on the Mexican border. How’s that going? Do you know that Erwin Rommel built the Atlantic Wall, Festung Europa, in just two years and it stretched all the way from the southern coastline of Norway to the border between France and Spain and it included beach obstacles, minefields, wire, machine gun nests,  trenches  and massive concrete bunkers for coastal artillery emplacements? Two years. The best part is that a lot of it was built by forced labour from the occupied countries so, in effect, Rommel got those territories to pay for it. Festung Amerika doesn’t seem to be getting off the ground.  Sad, very sad.
At this point Hillary was supposed to be in an orange jump suit with a tray in hand lining up for lunch in some prison cafeteria. Remember when Mike Flynn led the “lock her up, lock her up” chant at Trump rallies? Now it’s Flynn, the undisclosed “foreign agent” who’s looking at felony time. 23-days and out as NSA. A record. I never watched Trump’s reality show but I assume most of the contestants must have lasted longer than Flynn held onto his office. Sad, so sad.
Then there’s the failing Jeff Sessions. What’s with that guy?
With this crushing workload it’s a good thing Trumpy was able to hand over the businesses to the kids, ‘Tardo Junior and Ambergris. I’m sure they’ll do fine.
If all that wasn’t enough, now it’s on to scrapping Obamacare and replacing it with Trumpcare. He’s already got the slack-jawed, mouth-breathing Gullibillies who handed Trump the presidency and the Repubs both houses of Congress up in arms now that they figured out that the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare were just two names for the same thing. They’re howling like cut cats now they realize their healthcare is heading straight down Paul Ryan’s shitter. Well at least that’ll free up room for more tax cuts for the rich.
It’s not all bad. Vlad Putin is happy. He’s loving the chaos that’s spreading across the U.S. and Europe. Making Russkie hay while the sun shines. Along with the Chinese, they’re moving in to the Middle East – big time or, as Trumpy would put it, "bigly." Nervous Euros are also looking a bit more kindly on Moscow, not that they’ve got a lot of choice.

Meanwhile the Chinese are beginning to consolidate their sphere of influence across Asia Pacific. The big, unmentioned issue is the dismemberment of the Monroe Doctrine. China’s biggest banks are now the number one and number two lenders to Latin America. America’s influence across the western hemisphere is oh so gradually evaporating. Latin America and, for that matter, the rest of the world – failing, so overrated.
This is like so awesome. All of this in less than two measly months. Just imagine what Trump can do to America in four years? Wowser.

Donald Trump and the Republican Revolt

Montreal Simon - Sun, 03/12/2017 - 08:52

Ever since he accused Barack Obama of tapping his phone, Donald Trump has been trying to behave himself.

He has toned down his compulsive tweeting. He hasn't made any other outrageous statements. 

He's trying to reassure Americans, and the rest of the world, that he's not having a nervous breakdown. And that he can be trusted with the nuclear button.

But sadly for him, this tweet can only have made even more people wonder about his mental state.
Read more »

should we give up our voip phone and only have cell phones? help me decide.

we move to canada - Sun, 03/12/2017 - 08:02
The ancient technology I grew up with,
including the colour.We still have a bit of antiquated technology called a home phone.

We use a VoIP phone -- have done since 2002 -- which is why I say "home phone" rather than "landline". Our home phone is not a landline.

I've blogged about VoIP in the past: it's reliable, very inexpensive, and easier to use than Skype.* I also like the flat-rate monthly fee that includes all the bells and whistles. The only catch is that if your internet connection or power goes down, you have no phone, so it's best to have a cell phone as a backup.

Then we graduated to this.The other relevant fact here is that Allan doesn't use a cell phone. He's had a cell phone at various times, and he hated them, and doesn't want to be bothered. (I actually have several friends who don't use mobile devices.)

And now this. But they suck.This means that if I'm not home and there is a power failure or internet failure, Allan has no phone. This is not safe. A few months ago, Allan was in a minior car accident, and now I am insisting that he have a cell phone.

Recently our phone -- the hardware, not the service -- began to die, yet again. I find that no matter what brand I buy, the hardware (like everything else these days) is cheaply made crap that only last a few years. So, rather than buy yet another portable phone system, I'm thinking of getting rid of our home phone altogether.

I think no one under the age of 30 (or is it 40?) has a home phone or even thinks about the concept of it. But before I cancel Vonage, I want to be sure. Do we still need our home phone? What do you think?

* I also blogged about a crazy ordeal I had moving from Vonage US to Vonage Canada. And I notice in that post I still liked Rogers!


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