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Friday Night Funnies

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 16:54
Mrs. and Mrs. Trump say -

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 16:54
Greg Downey & Bo Bruce - These Hands I Hold

Is Trudeau Being Fed a Load of Pipeline Bunk? Petro-Wolves in Sheep's Clothing.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 14:06

Canada's new prime minister may be swallowing a diet carefully laced with nonsense about our nation's controversial pipelines. Economist and former CEO of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, Robyn Allan, says Trudeau is being misled by the Harper-groomed National Energy Board.

“The Board has resorted to platitudes, false arguments, obfuscated claims and exaggerated statements and I think Mr. Carr should be very careful about the NEB,” Allan said in an interview.

Six pages of the NEB briefing material were dedicated to a four and a half page letter that Allan wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau following last fall’s federal election. In her letter, dated October 24, 2015, she warned Trudeau that the regulator was allegedly violating basic principles of natural justice and procedural fairness in its ongoing review of Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

She also wrote in that letter that the regulator decided to prevent Canadian participants who would be affected by the project from conducting oral cross-examination of testimony from the multinational Texas-based energy company.

Although the NEB still required Kinder Morgan to answer written questions from participants, Allan and other critics had previously noted that the regulator had never previously banned cross examination in other similar pipeline project reviews. She explained that this opened the door for companies to avoid direct answers to inconvenient questions.

Not all harassment victims are viewed or treated as equal.

Dammit Janet - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 12:14
The journalist Ashley Csanady currently has a PostMedia piece that addresses Twitter harassment in general and in particular what happened when Michelle Rempel filed a complaint with the police.

Her excellent article provides a short account of the Rempel case as well as an overview of recent events, viz. the GAE trial.

It is factual and clear.

It doesn't editorialize or misrepresent as Blatchford is wont to do, when the demands of click-bait reporting or sob-sister sensationalizing gives her the cover she needs to champion the MRA cause.

Further to Csanady wrote, there are points that bloggers and op-eds can raise.  This is where DJ! weighs in.

Last week I posted this about the smarmy grease of GAE's triumphant sneer.

The main difference between GAE and Damany Skeene is that the former oozes the slimy CONjob smarm that allow him and Ezra Levant to enjoy notoriety.  Their venal vituperation is widely disseminated and cheered by right wingers,  racists, homophobe and misogynists.  In addition, GAE walks and talks the MRA/PUA philosophy. His entourage enables his narcissism and promotes him within the audiences of gynophobic orcs that slither at the edge of the world wide web.  He scored a point for Rape Culture!  His victims were not really victims because they had the NERVE to fight back against his vile invective!

Skeene, it would appear, is not supported or validated by any group.  In fact most people recoil from him.  One assumes the only compassionate attention he's likely to receive is administered by healthcare professionals.  He had used Twitter promiscuously to vent fury and hatred against a variety of targets.

The difference between Rempel and the women that GAE harassed, threatened, stalked and abused — online and "in real life" — is obvious. She was a Minister in the Con government when Skeene directed vile threats and verbal sexual abuse at her Twitter account.  Her complaint was legitimate and important because she was an elected official.  Police allocated the required resources to investigate, document, and prepare a case for the Crown to prosecute.  Her squadron of RCMP body guards was likely doubled.

But as Csanady points out, the trial unfolded under the media radar.

This gave me pause. Why did the PMO not seize this opportunity to demonstrate how their government was *tough on crime* and violence against women?

I suspect that if the online harasser had been an individual who associated with any left wing or progressive group such as anti-pipeline activism, or had expressed agreement with LPC or NDP policies, the PMO would have gleefully exploited the opportunity to smear the Harper regime's opponents.

But the truth is: deeper down, Harper Reformist Cons never really gave a damn about Canadian women or even those prominent in their party.  PMSHithead was a spiteful opportunist who attacked women who challenged him, and ditched or undermined those who became politically inconvenient: Deborah Gray, Belinda Stronach, Bev Oda, Helena Guergis, Beverley McLachlin, Cindy Blackstock ... a never-ending list, really.

Which is why Rempel was circumspect, and kept a low profile. There was no advantage then in using the criminal harassment trial to score political points for herself.  The PMO, or CPC HQ would have ground her into the dust.  She noted how the party destroyed Eve Adams because she wouldn't stick to the PMO script.

Nothing about Rempel's circumstances could be framed as a narrative that might enhance public sympathy in Harper's favour.  In fact, it was probably flagged as a potential nuisance and diversion from the grand election campaign plan.

But now.. Rempel is jockeying to gain an advance on other putative candidates for CPC leadership.  I predict she will judiciously exploit the Twitter harassment trial, to establish credibility and to leverage whatever is beneficial to the image she is carefully crafting.

What Solidarity Winnipeg is all about, in the words of their spokesperson

The Winnipeg RAG Review - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 08:30
Poster advertising a Solidarity Winnipeg forum.

Image Source: Facebook/Solidarity Winnipeg
Solidarity Winnipeg is a grassroots, leftwing movement in our city mobilizing as a force of independent left opposition. Their prime concern is opposing a potential Pallister CON government should one form after the 2016 provincial election. If that does not happen and the NDP is re-elected, they plan on pressuring the party into a more progressive policy direction. Given the history of any large, vaguely leftish group in the province being fairly direct auxiliaries of the provincial NDP this is certainly an interesting turn of events. A fairly independent, growing leftwing movement not shackled by partisan considerations has great potential for injecting balance and perspective into the "NDP vs NDP are evil socialists" politics of our province.

Centre-right blogger Derick (of Around This Town) asked if the group was the "anti-Manitoba Forward". The assessment sounds fair, as Manitoba Forward was a group organized at the elite level by rightwing folks with their own grievances against the Manitoba NDP. Solidarity Winnipeg, on the other hand, is a deliberative, street-level movement critical of all major Manitoba parties that has just nominated a spokesperson in Geoff Bergen. The group seems to be heavily, if not entirely, dependent on volunteers whereas Manitoba Forward was launched into the media as a fully formed organization with paid staff. This truly is an "anti-Manitoba Forward" in terms of both ideology and their approach to political organizing.

I have emailed Winnipeg Solidarity. They took a bit of time to get back to me - the nascent, grassroots organization had not yet chosen a spokesperson. Once Geoff Bergen was chosen as spokesperson for the organization he agreed to answer some questions I had.

Bold = My Questions
Blue = Solidarity Winnipeg spokesperson Geoff Bergen's answers

1) What was the main motivation for forming? Was there any core group that coalesced to form Winnipeg Solidarity and are there ties to earlier groups?

The main motivation for forming Solidarity Winnipeg was to create some sort of grassroots fight back against the PC's should they form government after the provincial election. Solidarity Winnipeg aims to attract people who do not want to see a PC victory but don't want to be involved in an NDP campaign. Though Solidarity Winnipeg is not campaigning for the NDP we are hoping for an NDP victory. If that should happen Solidarity Winnipeg will shift its grassroots campaign to putting pressure on the provincial NDP to resist austerity and make real progressive changes for Manitobans. Their was no core group that coalesced SolWpg and it has no ties to earlier groups. Some members of SolWpg are members of the NDP, some are not and never will be. Some members have worked together before and some are meeting for the first time. Our membership includes, but is not limited to student activists, environmental activists, anarchists, socialists, feminists, and trade unionists.

2) What, in particular, makes members of Winnipeg Solidarity fear that Brian Pallister would implement an austerity agenda of harsh program cuts? Are there any statements of his or the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba that are particularly concerning? 

The track records of the PC's and Liberals in other provinces is very telling as to what either of those party's may do should they win after April 19th. We only need to look at the Manitoba PC's in the 1990's to see how their party feels about spending on the public service. People shouldn't get caught up in the nice sounding rhetoric coming from Brain Pallister, he has already mentioned numerous times how he will cut "waste" in government. Should the PC's win it is to be expected that they will try to run the province differently then the NDP. This means things the NDP left alone, like the Labour Relations Act may be opened and changed by the PCs. Its extremely likely that if they win they will look at the books and announce that they have less money then they thought (true or not) and will institute austerity measures that will effect social services and workers livelihoods in Manitoba.

3) Based on social media posts, it seems Solidarity Winnipeg members are sceptical of Manitoba Liberal Party Leader Rana Bokhari and the type of administration the Manitoba Liberals would run. What is your main cause for concern? 

The Liberals are in the envious position where they can promise all kinds of things and never actually have to implement any of them nor follow through. At this point they seem to be making grab bag promises; change student loans to grants (good), privatize liquor sales (bad). Because the Manitoba Liberals are not likely to win this election they will likely continue to make campaign promises this way, with no way of being certain of what they will actually follow through on. Again, the Liberal Party's track record in Ontario also creates some skepticism of how the Liberals would actually run the province of Manitoba.

4) Winnipeg Solidarity, based on social media posts, seems to be critical of the Manitoba Liberal Party's pledges to privatize liquor sales. What would your main concerns with liquor sale privatization be?  

By privatizing liquor sales the government would be giving up revenue generated by those sales. That loss of revenue would result in more pressure to cut spending which would hurt Manitoba's social services. Secondly by privatizing the sale of liquor, good paying unionized jobs in the retail sector will be lost.

5) Does Winnipeg Solidarity perceive a role for participating with the labour movement? If so, could you elaborate on the type of relationship you would see? 

We would hope to be partnering with labour movement, however some parts of the mainstream labour movement are rather entrenched with the NDP. Some may not like our critical stance on the party. I personally hope to work with labour movement as I consider myself a labour activist. I was drawn to Solidarity Winnipeg as I had become frustrated with the fact that getting involved with labour initiatives ultimately meant I was going to campaign for the NDP. Its hard to say what this relationship will look like, but possibly partnering on pickets or demonstrations to start while we build a relationship with one another.

6) If the Manitoba PCs win next election, what type of political action - if any - do you see Winnipeg Solidarity partaking in? 

This is a great question. What I would like everyone to know about Solidarity Winnipeg is that the provincial election is just the short aim of the group. Our long aim is to form a solid group of grassroots activists to put pressure on which ever government is in power. We did not form to work for a few months before the election and then disappear. When we formed the group, the feeling was we couldn't wait till after the election to build our fightback. We are using the election period as a time for form our group, get input from different groups and community's and recruit activists who are in this for the long haul. I can't speak to what our political action will look like after the election, I feel that depends on who wins. But what I can say about our political action is to expect it, regardless of who wins on April 19th. 

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IMF Not Finished Screwing with the Greek People

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 07:38
From the "You play ball with me and I'll stick the bat up your... " file. The International Monetary Fund, having brought Greek's Syrzia government to bended knee, has figured out there's more fun to be had before the Greek people are adequately punished, broken if you will.

...the International Monetary Fund, one of the lenders that forced Greece to adopt controversial new cuts over the summer in exchange for emergency loans, is rejecting the agreement and insisting instead that the burden of those cuts fall on ordinary Greeks.

The IMF has indicated it will resist the Greek government’s plans to achieve required pension savings partly through an increase in employer contributions, according to a source close to negotiations between the Greek government and official creditors. Instead, the source said, the IMF believes pension savings targets can only be reached through pension cuts of 15 percent, on average.

The IMF's intransigence is reportedly driven by the Fund’s European director, Poul Thomsen, who has long had a tense relationship with the Greek government. Thomsen is a close ally of Wolfgang Schaüble, Germany's hard-line minister of finance.

“That Thomsen is playing a not-so-constructive role is the least one can say,” the source told The WorldPost. “This position of the IMF is puzzling, and they clearly want to either leave the program or blow the whole thing up.”

Peter Doyle, a former senior manager at the IMF, who worked with Thomsen for many years before resigning from the Fund in protest over its management of the Greek debt crisis in 2012, believes that Thomsen “does not care” that there is no evidence his approach will work. Doyle notes that the pension cuts and labor market reforms already enacted have not prompted Greeks to remain working and thereby expand the economy.

“It is just an article of faith. It comes from his whole career in the Fund,” Doyle said. “His entire career has been spent working in Eastern Europe -- Romania, et cetera -- and most of the politicians there are genuinely corrupt. He gets to Greece and thinks it is just like Romania or other less developed European countries.”

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 06:20
Assorted content to end your week.

- Rachel Bryce, Cristina Blanco Iglesias, Ashley Pullman and Anastasia Rogova examine the effect of inequality on education in Canada. And John McMurtry comments on the increasing hoarding of wealth and the lack of anything left over for the rest of us.

- Emily Badger highlights the "million dollar block" phenomenon showing that incarceration is just as systematically concentrated as extreme wealth (if of course in different places). 

- Dana Milbank traces the poisoning of Flint back to Rick Snyder's corporatist mindset. And Julia Lurie reports that Snyder was well aware of the dangers of the city's water long before publicly admitting anything - resulting in state employees receiving an alternate source of water while residents were left to ingest lead.

- Mychaylo Prystupa points out that the Libs' changes to pipeline review processes are still avoiding the downstream environmental effects of fossil fuels. And Stephen Rees notes that resource-based economic bets being made with large amounts of public money - including the B.C. Libs' push toward fracked liquid natural gas - are themselves doomed by market forces.

- Finally, Mark Hume reports that Environment Canada had effectively shut down enforcement activities under the direction of the Harper Cons. And Bill Curry reveals that much-trumpeted inspection plans to limit the abuse temporary foreign workers never actually got started.

"It Was Very Malicious Of Them To Leave This Town In The Shape It's In" - A Tale Of Walmart's Depredations

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 06:20
The above observation is voiced by a former grocery store owner whose business closed shortly after Walmart moved into her town. But this is not just another story about how the retail behemoth drives out competition through its predatory pricing practices; it is a tale of what happens after it has wrung out all the profits it can and then vamooses from town for the sake of its 'corporate health,' leaving its former patrons with nowhere to shop.

This sad scenario, being played out in 150 small U.S. towns, is a sobering reminder that all too often the term 'corporate responsibility' is but a cruel oxymoron:

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Dracula Harper and the Con Assault On Our Democracy

Montreal Simon - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 05:57

A lot of people in this country seem to believe that when we defeated Stephen Harper we sent the Con vampire to his political coffin, with a wooden stake through his heart.

But they couldn't be more wrong.

The monster may be hiding in the shadows, but he's very much alive, or undead.

And the Cons are still the Harper Party...
Read more »

Devious And Dishonest

Northern Reflections - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 04:51


Stephen Harper kept a lot of things under wraps. Now what he covered up is being uncovered. This week we learned that the Communications Security Establishment has been delving into the private lives of Canadians -- which is specifically forbidden by law. Michael Harris writes:

The real bottom line? It’s not a failure to communicate. It is a grotesque example of overreach by people permitted to operate in almost total secrecy. CSE is only supposed to monitor foreign communications for information of intelligence interest to the federal government. So under what authority had it been collecting the communications of Canadians to the tune of millions of downloads a day? We can thank Edward Snowden for even being able to ask that question. So Canada’s privacy laws were being egregiously broken, Stephen Harper knew it — and yet never released the report documenting the illegality.
Cindy Blackstock knows what it's like to have the spooks looking over her shoulder:

No story exemplifies that better than that of Cindy Blackstock, the Canadian-born Gitxan and First Nations child welfare advocate. Despite warrantless government surveillance involving 189 federal officials “stalking” her, and more than $5 million in federal legal fees spent to derail the social worker’s case in front of the Human Rights Tribunal, this amazing citizen persevered.
This week the Human Rights Tribunal ruled the First Nations child welfare system was discriminatory:

The Conservatives tried to turn her activism into a crime, while talking about an historic reconciliation with native peoples out of the other side of their mouths. The only thing ‘historic’ was the size of the lie.
Mr. Harper told us that the long form census invaded our privacy.  He was devious and dishonest. You can bet that there will be more examples to follow.

Jesus Harper and the End of The Office of Religious Freedom

Montreal Simon - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 02:17

Stephen Harper likes to call himself a Christian, and some of his supporters have been known to call him Jesus Harper.

But both claims couldn't be more absurd or more blasphemous.

Harper is too evil to be a Christian. It is just an act designed to appeal to his monstrous satanic base.

And now it seems that his hollow instrument, the so-called Office of Religious Freedom, is about to be destroyed.
Read more »

The Grotesque Hypocrisy of the Con Clown Candice Bergen

Montreal Simon - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 23:54

Like her leathery leader Rona The Vulture Ambrose, Candice Bergen likes to dress in black. 

And with good reason.

She is one of the nastiest Cons in the House of Commons.
Read more »


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