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This Is Sooo Wrong. The Rise of the "Techno Tot"

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 10/07/2016 - 11:04

Steve Jobs didn't let his own kids have iPads. Plenty of other parents don't have Steve's reservations or his insights.

Psychologist Sue Palmer says that parents are using iPads as babysitters, even pacifiers, and their children are paying the price.

Along with colleagues in the field of child development, I'd seen a rise in prescriptions for Ritalin, a drug for attention deficit and hyperactivity - a four-fold increase in less than a decade. And we'd collected a mass of research showing links between excessive screen-time and obesity, sleep disorders, aggression, poor social skills, depression and academic under-achievement.

It's little wonder, then, that the boom in iPads and smartphones has coincided with further deterioration in the physical and mental health of children of all ages. Sadly, we're seeing the rise of the 'techno-tot' for whom iPads have become the modern-day equivalent of a comfort blanket.

Recent research found 10 per cent of children under four are put to bed with a tablet computer to play with as they fall asleep. One study of families owning them found a third of children under three had their own tablets. Baby shops even sell 'apptivity seats' into which a tablet can be slotted to keep toddlers entertained.

...It's not just what children get up to onscreen that affects their overall development. It's what screens displace - all the activities they're not doing in the real world. Today's children have far fewer opportunities for what I call 'real play'. They are no longer learning through first-hand experiences how to be human and are much less likely to play or socialize outdoors or with others.

...Real play gives children opportunities to learn how to cope with challenges for themselves. Finding how to learn from their mistakes, picking themselves up when they take a tumble and sorting out squabbles with playmates all help develop the self-confidence that makes children more emotionally resilient.

This is vital for mental health, especially in our high-pressure world. So I wasn't surprised when this month Childline warned Britain is producing deeply unhappy youngsters - sad, lonely, with low self-esteem and an increasing predilection to self-harm. The charity painted a bleak portrait of our children's emotional state, blaming their unhappiness on social networking and cyber-bullying.

That's Too Much Dirt to Sweep Under the RCMP Carpet. Who Am I Kidding?

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 10/07/2016 - 10:49

RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson has a bag just full of cash. He's hoping it's enough to make a huge problem just go away.
Paulson has $100-million tax dollars to settle harassment and sexual abuse claims by between 500 and 1,000 female members of the force. Oh yeah, Paulson upped the ante when he got teary and apologized at a press conference, praising the female officers for their bravery and courage.
So, what's missing? Oh yeah, that huge wicker basket full of heads of those who harassed and abused those female members and the top brass who, for so long, looked the other way until their hands were forced.
Then again this is Paulson, the commish who signed off on the 31-count indictment in the "immaculate bribe" case against Mike Duffy only to see each count, all 31, shot down in flames by the trial judge who pointed out the obvious - the RCMP not only didn't get their man, Duffy, but avoided getting the real culprits.
So Commander Cash & Tears appears intent on soldiering on. As for the rest of us, we have another demonstration that there's no limit on the amount of dirt that can be swept underneath the RCMP's carpet.

BREAKING! Fake Clinics Still Lying

Dammit Janet - Fri, 10/07/2016 - 10:03
Oh dear, it seems that fake clinics, aka crisis pregnancy centres, are feeling some heat.

After countless reports, exposés, and sting operations, people are beginning to understand that fake clinics are not benign volunteer granny-run operations handing out free baby clothes.

A US umbrella group called Care Net has just released a definitive report demonstrating. . . well, I'm not sure what it demonstrates. More about that in a minute.

Their motivation for the report though is clear. From the link above (bold mine):
The report comes at a time when unfounded speculation about the work of pregnancy centers has become common from abortion supporters. In contrast to the conjecture provided by critics of pregnancy centers, the information in this report is based on widely collected data, client satisfaction surveys covering thousands of people, analysis of agreed-upon standards and practices, and stories from real clients."Unfounded speculation," "conjecture." Yeah, right.

A quick Google of "crisis pregnancy centres lie" produces hundreds of links.

Like this PDF by NARAL Prochoice America, titled helpfully "Crisis Pregnancy Centers Lie."

How about a Vice News investigation documented in this 19-minute video titled "Misconception" from September 2014?

Or the recent ARCC study of the lies Canadian fake clinics tell?

You get the idea. It is a well-documented fact that fake clinics lie to and manipulate pregnant people in a variety of ways.

Care Net is described by Wikipedia as:
Care Net is an evangelical Christian crisis pregnancy center organization operating primarily in the United States. As an anti-abortion organization its centers seek to persuade a person not to have an abortion. Headquartered in Northern Virginia, it is the nation's largest affiliation network of pregnancy centers.And that, in a nutshell, is what fake clinics do: seek to persuade a person not to exercise a legal, moral right.

Their report is called "The Truth about 'Crisis Pregnancy Centers'" (PDF) and it explains the quotes around "crisis pregnancy centers" thus:

The truth is that the term "crisis pregnancy center" has acquired such a stink around it that fake clinics have been desperately trying to rebrand themselves since at least 2009 when we first noticed it.

Of its 20 pages, eight of them contain "client" testimonials, i.e. glurge. The rest protest that no, they are not deceptive in their advertising or in their "co-location" scheme (setting up shop next-door to real medical clinics) and yes, they do too have "Standards of Affiliation" and a "Commitment of Care and Competence."

And they insist that they've provided more than $56 million a year worth of "free health services" such as drugstore pee-on-a-stick pregnancy tests and unnecessary ultrasounds intended to magically reverse any desire for self-determination in their targets.

The report claims to have "saved" 531,977 lives over the past 8 years.

Think about that.

Over half a million people shamed, guilt-tripped, and manipulated into continuing "crisis" pregnancies.

Or maybe not.

The report claims that "8 out of 10 women who are considering abortion when they visit a Care Net Pregnancy Center CHOOSE LIFE for their unborn children." (caps in the original)

Funny that. Using anti-choices' own data, Rewire concluded in May this year that:
Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are billed as alternatives to abortion clinics, but new data suggests they largely fail at their mission, persuading less than 4 percent of clients to forgo abortion care.That's a pretty wide gap -- 80% or 4%?

Our conclusion after reading the report: Crisis pregnancy centers/centres are lying harder than ever.

Think of Yourself as Collateral Damage

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 10/07/2016 - 08:40

We're all familiar with the reality of collateral damage these days. An Afghan wedding party gets disrupted by an uninvited guest in the form of a thousand pound high explosive bomb dropped on what was mistakenly thought to be a group of terrorists. Or sustained attacks on war zone hospitals run by Medicins sans Frontieres. Something big moves, something small gets flattened.

A lot of Canadians wonder why Canada should be so eager to sign on to the Trans Pacific Partnership, the TPP. What do we get out of it? By the government's own admission, next to nothing. The best argument I've heard for it from our government is that we'll be worse off if we don't. What's that, extortion? "Nice place ya got here. It'd be a shame if somethin happened to it."

Extortion? It just might be. That comes through when you think of the Trans Pacific Partnership as America's geopolitical wet dream. For what is a trans-Pacific deal that deliberately excludes Asia's largest economy, China? Chances are it's a gambit, disguised as a trade deal, that's really intended to target China. And it comes with collateral damage, ordinary people in Canada for starters.

I read an interesting defence of the TPP in Foreign Policy. It wasn't written by some economist. No, it was penned by retired four-star US Navy admiral, Jim Stavridis, now dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts. To Stavridis, the failure of the TPP initiative would be America's Brexit.

The case for the TPP is economically strong, but the geopolitical logic is even more compelling. The deal is one that China will have great difficulty accepting, as it would put Beijing outside a virtuous circle of allies, partners, and friends on both sides of the Pacific. Frankly, that is a good place to keep China from the perspective of the United States, and the treaty thus brings together not only Japan, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and other Asian partners, but also Chile, Mexico, Canada, and Peru. The obvious missing member from Asia is South Korea, but indications are clear that over time South Koreans will want to be part of the agreement. This will be relatively easy to facilitate as South Korea already has a robust bilateral trade agreement with the United States.
...What is particularly compelling about the TPP, however, is the geopolitical argument in its favor. Three key points are especially salient:

China is on the march in Asia. Beijing intends to claim essentially the entire South China Sea as its territorial waters, based on preposterous historical arguments soundly rejected by international courts. It continues to build artificial islands, destroy reefs, and practice hybrid maritime warfare with unmarked sailors in “fishing boats” intruding aggressively into Japanese, Philippine, and Vietnamese waters. China clearly intends to be the dominant actor in East Asia, and absent a strong U.S. presence, it will succeed. An Asia dominated by China does not serve U.S. interests for a host of reasons, especially given the economic vitality of the region.

This is a moment of real vulnerability for many Asian nations. The unpredictable Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is watching this potential U.S. Brexit from Asia and already talking about increasing military ties with China. Vietnam, historically wary of its massive neighbor to the north, frequently discusses its vulnerability with U.S. leaders. Japan is rattled by Chinese activity around the Senkaku Islands, and even South Korea — which maintains strong ties with China — is worried about Beijing’s seeming reluctance to rein in the behavior of its client state, North Korea. A U.S. failure to maintain a strong economic presence in the region — highlighted by the TPP — will have significant negative effects on our political and diplomatic position over time.

Sending U.S. aircraft carriers is not enough. Some would argue that the United States can exert all the influence it needs to by simply sending enough Carrier Strike Groups sailing through the western Pacific. That kind of simplistic “show the flag” argument doesn’t work in the 21st century; we are more than 100 years on from Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet. A nation’s influence is the composition of its military, cultural, political, and — above all — economic influence. As the leader of what would be the largest free-trade zone in the world, the United States would continue to exert real leadership in this crucial region.
...Over 2,500 years ago, during the Zhou dynasty, the philosopher-warrior Sun Tzu wrote the compelling study of conflict The Art of War. There is much wisdom in that slim volume, including this quote: “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” The United States can avoid conflict best in East Asia by using a robust combination of national tools — with the TPP at the top of the list. Looking across the Atlantic to the Brexit debacle, we must avoid repeating the mistake in the Pacific.

The clear winner if the United States rejects the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be China, and an increasingly authoritarian and regionally dominant President Xi Jinping will be cheering the loudest.

Leaving Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen aside, you can hardly go wrong taking geopolitical advice from an American general or, in this case, admiral. Those guys are the pros from Dover.
The line I like best is this: "The United States can avoid conflict best in East Asia by using a robust combination of national tools — with the TPP at the top of the list." I guess admiral Jim has forgotten that America was doing the very same thing he proposes in the runup to December 7, 1941 - Pearl Harbor.
If the TPP isn't going to do much for Canada and the price for so very little is to be herded into America's geopolitical corral for the purpose of isolating and containing China shouldn't we at least be holding out for something a lot better?

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 10/07/2016 - 06:47
Assorted content to end your week.

- Alex Himelfarb and Trish Hennessy offer their take as to what we should expect out of Ontario's basic income experiment:
Critics rightly argue that basic income is no magic bullet, that indeed there are no magic bullets. The history of the idea of basic income shows it’s no passing fad, but translating it into action can easily get mired in the muck of consultations, delays, poor execution or, most likely, inadequate funding.

That said, the Ontario experiment may be just the kind of jolt we need to break the mould; an important opportunity to reimagine the future of social and labour market policy. It gives us a chance to see how income provided unconditionally could give poor Ontarians greater autonomy and the breathing room to find their way out of poverty.

But more than that, it allows us to ask how our tax and transfer system, social services, and labour policies can be made to work together to achieve greater equity and social justice in these changing times.

The basic income experiment forces us to ask the right questions: how do we ensure all Canadians have access to the essentials, that all can live in dignity regardless of job status, that all have sufficient income so none need live in poverty?

Thinking of basic income in those terms, less as a single program and more as a set of objectives for all governments, changes the frame, shifts expectations and gives us a chance to address issues that have been ignored for too long, from the inadequacy and inefficiency of social assistance to how best to ensure a living wage.  - Nick Hanauer points out that decades of experience in the U.S. show there's no truth to the threat that a fair minimum wage will result in a loss of jobs. And Don Pittis writes that a more equal economy is demonstrably producing improved growth in countries who look beyond the interests of shareholders alone.

- S.E. Smith discusses how privatization can increase the cost of delivering public services as social programs have to pick up the slack for exploitative corporate employers.

- Lee Berthiaume evaluates Brad Wall's carbon price posturing and finds it to consist of "a lot of baloney". And Adam Vaughan reports that methane emissions from the fossil fuel industry are far higher than previously assumed, making its contribution to climate change all the worse.

- Finally, John Paul Tasker reports on the Libs' choice not to start closing the funding gap for First Nations education even after being presented with a plan to keep their promise to do so.

The New Cold War

Northern Reflections - Fri, 10/07/2016 - 05:36

We are engaged in a new Cold War. Tom Walkom writes:

In the West, the old Cold War was portrayed as a battle between Communist dictatorship and capitalist freedom. Given that Russia has now embraced capitalism, those categories are no longer quite so neat.
As a result, the new Cold War is a little vaguer. It is portrayed as a battle between thuggery and the rule of law — brutality versus niceness.
In this scenario, the U.S. and its allies are said to be the nice ones. Russia, personified in its president, Vladimir Putin, is said to represent brutality.
Calculated brutality is not a new tactic. It's as old as Sherman's March to the Sea: 
Students of the American Civil War will recall Gen. William T. Sherman’s march to the sea through Georgia in 1864, during which his Union army burned crops, slaughtered livestock and laid waste to the Confederate countryside.
As Sherman said at the time, his aim was to make “a hostile people … old and young, rich and poor feel the hard hand of war.”
As a tactic, sometimes it works. It worked for Sherman. Sometimes it doesn't. Carpet bombing Vietnam didn't work. But we miss the point unless we understand what is behind the sound and fury:
The real reason for Russia’s increasing involvement seems to be that Moscow now sees Assad as the only political figure able to keep Syria from falling into chaos.
Syria is not far from Russia’s Caucasus, a region with its own Islamic insurgencies.
More to the point, the chaos in Libya that followed Western military intervention there — as well as the civil strife in Iraq after Washington’s removal of Saddam Hussein — have served as a reminder: Getting rid of dictators can sometimes make things worse.
From time to time, the U.S. has understood this. That’s why, after a brief fling with the reformers of Egypt’s Arab Spring, President Barack Obama threw his support to the coup plotters who now run that country’s brutal military regime.
But for Obama, Assad has been a step too far. Perhaps his brutality is too blatant. Egyptian strongman Abdel Fattah el-Sisi merely executes his political opponents. He doesn’t barrel-bomb them.
It's hard to predict where and when it will all end. Both sides have huge arsenals -- enough to leave Syria completely in ruins. 

Is Donald Trump's Campaign Going Off the Rails?

Montreal Simon - Fri, 10/07/2016 - 05:25

Watching Donald Trump these days is like watching a mad man riding a roller coaster, and about to fly off the rails.

Because while sometimes he sounds supremely confident, brandishing one small poll after the other to make it sound like it just a matter of time before he turns the White House into the Gold House or the Trump Palace.

At other times he sounds desperate.

Really desperate.

Although not as desperate as Ted Cruz...
Read more »

Why Our Animal Cruelty Laws Must Be Modernized

Montreal Simon - Fri, 10/07/2016 - 05:15

As you know I hate bullies with a passion. Especially those who bully children and seniors, and those who are cruel to animals.

So it troubles me that although Canada likes to think of itself as an enlightened country, our laws on animal cruelty are barbarous, and haven't been updated since 1892.

And a horrible accident in Ontario the other day, only reinforced my belief that it's time those laws were changed.
Read more »


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