Posts from our progressive community

A Little Something For Your Friday Evening Enjoyment

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 16:34
When it comes to Mike Duffy, the hits keep on coming. Enjoy:









Recommend this Post

Putin will be the loser

Cathie from Canada - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 13:12
Yesterday Josh Marshall called the Malaysia Airlines disaster a game changer for Vladimir Putin:
For months Putin has been playing with fire, making trouble and having it work mainly to his advantage. Certainly in the context of Russian history and nationalist aspiration reclaiming the Crimea is a vast accomplishment. But the whole thing blew up in his face today in a way, and with repercussions I don't think - even with all wall to wall coverage - we can quite grasp.
Find extremists and hot-heads of the lowest common denominator variety, seed them with weaponry only a few militaries in the world possess - and, well, just see what happens. What could go wrong?Today the same gang of idiots are shooting at the investigators who are trying to reach the plane crash site.
Andrew Sullivan writes:
If Russia is directly involved in this way, it seems to me that Putin has now over-reached in such a way that all but destroys what’s left of his foreign policy.
And Josh Marshall’s right that the spectacle of Russian cluelessness, amateurism and recklessness could be the worst news of all for Putin. If there’s one thing a neofascist Tsar cannot afford it’s the appearance of incompetence and chaos.

Eighteen killed Friday before dawn in Israeli ground invasion of Gaza

LeDaro - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 12:48
It is a heart-breaking situation and too many atrocities. It is about time that rest of the world takes notice and do something to stop this massacre.


Read more here

About That Invasion Of Gaza

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 11:01



To hear our political leaders tell it – the sorry lot of them – Israel is right to yet again invade Gaza. The Palestinians have it coming. It’s all the doing of Hamas.

It’s a convenient and cowardly political posture. Harper probably believes it. Trudeau and Mulcair? Expedience, sheer craven expedience.

Nathan Thrall, senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, has an op-ed in The New York Times, entitled, “How the West Chose War in Gaza. Gaza and Israel: the Road to War, Paved by the West.” The Palestinians, he writes, were on the road to forming a “consensus government” until Israel, with the tacit backing of the west, derailed it.

In the new political Canada we choose the good guys and, by default, the bad guys. The good guys (usually the powerful side) can do no wrong, the bad guys deserve whatever they get.

And when the good guys do bad things, we just look the other way. Harper, Trudeau, Mulcair – if you think one of them is fit to run this country, you’ve got a damned poor regard for this country.

MoS, the Disaffected Lib

UPDATE: Of course Canada’s political weasels will proclaim that Israel is only rampaging through Gaza to get at Hamas. That’s why the Israelis have destroyed Gaza’s water and sewage plants.

The eight-day assault has caused massive damage to infrastructure and destroyed at least 560 homes, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) said. “Within days, the entire population of the Strip may be desperately short of water,” Jacques de Maio, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Israel and the occupied territories, said in a statement. If hostilities continue, just as temperatures soar in the region, “the question is not if but when an already beleaguered population will face an acute water crisis”, he said. “Water is becoming contaminated and sewage is overflowing, bringing a serious risk of disease,” de Maio added.Recommend this Post

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 07:52
Assorted content to end your week.

- Robert Reich discusses the rise of the non-working rich as an indicator that extreme wealth has less and less to do with merit - as well as the simple policy steps which can reverse the trend:
In reality, most of America’s poor work hard, often in two or more jobs.

The real non-workers are the wealthy who inherit their fortunes. And their ranks are growing.

In fact, we’re on the cusp of the largest inter-generational wealth transfer in history.

The wealth is coming from those who over the last three decades earned huge amounts on Wall Street, in corporate boardrooms, or as high-tech entrepreneurs.

It’s going to their children, who did nothing except be born into the right family.
...
What to do? First, restore the estate tax in full.

Second, eliminate the “stepped-up-basis on death” rule. This obscure tax provision allows heirs to avoid paying capital gains taxes on the increased value of assets accumulated during the life of the deceased. Such untaxed gains account for more than half of the value of estates worth more than $100 million, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Third, institute a wealth tax. We already have an annual wealth tax on homes, the major asset of the middle class. It’s called the property tax. Why not a small annual tax on the value of stocks and bonds, the major assets of the wealthy?

We don’t have to sit by and watch our meritocracy be replaced by a permanent aristocracy, and our democracy be undermined by dynastic wealth. We can and must take action — before it’s too late. - Meanwhile, Tim Stacey offers his own prescriptions to deal with income inequality. And the Economist looks at the relationship between wealth inequality, income inequality and consumption inequality - and the fact that all three are on the rise, refuting the claim that we shouldn't worry about wealth or income as long as consumer goods are distributed more fairly. 

- James Bloodworth points out that the few gains we've made against corporate greed were won by a strong labour movement. Brian Jones discusses the stagnation of the minimum wage in recent decades when labour has been under attack. And the Mowat Centre reminds us that the precarious federal government has siphoned tens of billions of dollars in EI premiums into general revenues - turning a program intended to benefit workers when they need help most into an excuse to slash taxes for the wealthy.

- Claire Markham sees a U.S. Congressional hearing as a prime example of how not to listen to people living in poverty. (Though not listening to the poor seems to be a widely-held skill on the right.) And Robin Whitaker reminds us why charity isn't enough to deal with social exclusion.

- Finally, Rick Salutin is right to decry the place of bond ratings agencies in trying to wrest control over public policy away from democratically-elected governments. But surely the subprime meltdown in which so many AAA-rated securities turned out to be junk should prevent us from believing for a second that "their sole criterion is the math" - meaning there's reason to doubt that statements about public budgets have anything to do with actual default risks rather than appealing to the financial sector's prejudices.

Harper's Perfect Storm

Northern Reflections - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 06:38
                                                                           http://www.huffingtonpost.ca

Now that the RCMP has thrown the book at Mike Duffy, Stephen Harper finds himself at the centre of a perfect storm. It's a storm entirely of his own making. And, at last, Andrew Coyne writes, we will get some answers:

The biggest question to be answered remains: why? Not only why did Mr. Wright make the payment — which, remember, was not to “the taxpayer” but to Mr. Duffy, in secret and on condition that he remain silent about it — but why were so many other senior people in and around the government, as we learned from the trove of emails unearthed by the RCMP, so utterly transfixed with the task of paying Mr. Duffy’s falsely claimed expenses? Why not just leave him to face the consequences of his own actions?
The answer to that question may turn out to be sheer stupidity. But, given who Duffy claims to be -- someone who knows where the bodies are buried -- there are other questions which need to be answered -- questions that involve Stephen Harper:

What involvement or knowledge did the prime minister have, particularly with regard to the $90,000? In a sense, it does not matter: that so many people close to him were so ready to act in such an unethical fashion is damning enough in itself. But in a sense it is all that matters: partly because the prime minister has been so vehement in his denials of any foreknowledge, and partly because the set of circumstances required for this to be true seem so implausible.

Among other things, it requires us to believe not only that Mr. Wright and everyone else around the prime minister lied to him for months on end about how Mr. Duffy’s expenses were repaid, but that Mr. Wright lied to the others: that having told him at a meeting in February of 2013 that Mr. Duffy would repay his own expenses, he then told his fellow conspirators the prime minister was “good to go” with an earlier plan for the party to pay them; and that when Mr. Wright later told the prime minister’s former communications director, Andrew MacDougall, that “the PM knows, in broad terms only, that I personally assisted Duffy” he was lying then, too.
Unlike others who Mr. Harper has thrown under the bus, Duffy will not go quietly.  If he goes down, he may just take the prime minister with him. If that were to happen, justice would truly be done.


While Harper Fiddles, Canada Burns

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 05:17


There have been so many developments on the climate front of late that, collectively, give us a pretty stark warning and yet the media, the public and our political leadership are tuning out. We seem to be culturally embracing a sort of Andean fatalism that seems to precede abrupt civilizational decline. Perhaps we’re hampered by the fact that it’s a moving target that repeatedly exceeds our ‘worst case scenarios’. Far from being pessimists we constantly underestimate the onset of climate change even as severe events increase in frequency, intensity and duration. Maybe that’s why Harper (and his rivals) aren’t coming forward with any meaningful responses. They’re all avowed fossil fuelers and, having staked out that turf, any significant reduction in Canada’s GHG emissions would have to be borne by every other sector of the economy and the Canadian people. Who would risk the public wrath when pretending to act and doing nothing remains an option? There’s a rank and dangerous cowardice that runs through the Conservatives, the Liberals and the New Democrats alike. God save the Queen. The Canadian people can fend for themselves.


The other day came news of a mysterious crater in Siberia that Russian scientists determined was caused, not by a meteorite, but by an eruption of subsurface gas released by thawing permafrost – a global warming event. We’ve known for several years that the ancient permafrost that girds the high north was “perma” no more. The tundra was drying out, catching fire, and exposing the permafrost below that it once shielded. The permafrost was a sink for massive quantities of the potent greenhouse gas, methane, or, as the energy industry calls it, natural gas.

On the heels of the Russian crater story comes a report from Climate Central about fires spreading unchecked across the Northwest Territories.

“The amount of acres burned in the Northwest Territories is six times greater than the 25-year average to-date according to data from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center.

“Boreal forests like those in the Northwest Territories are burning at rates "unprecedented" in the past 10,000 years according to the authors of a study put out last year. The northern reaches of the globe are warming at twice the rate as areas closer to the equator, and those hotter conditions are contributing to more widespread burns.

“The combined boreal forests of Canada, Europe, Russia and Alaska, account for 30 percent of the world’s carbon stored in land, carbon that's taken up to centuries to store. Forest fires like those currently raging in the Northwest Territories, as well as ones in 2012 and 2013 in Russia, can release that stored carbon into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. Warmer temperatures can in turn create a feedback loop, priming forests for wildfires that release more carbon into the atmosphere and cause more warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's landmark climate report released earlier this year indicates that for every 1.8°F rise in temperatures, wildfire activity is expected to double.”

The Climate Central report indicates that the massive amounts of airborne soot from these forest and tundra fires could accelerate the melting of the Greenland ice sheet far faster than we had ever imagined, perhaps by the end of this century. Ice, being white, reflects most solar energy back into space. Soot, being black, absorbs the solar energy and it passes into the ice beneath, causing melting. The melt run-off should wash away the soot except that these fires just keep adding more soot. And, of course, the fires that generate the soot also release ever more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Forest fires release the CO2 from the trees. Tundra fires release CO2 and expose the permafrost below that releases methane.

As for the Greenland ice sheet and the prospect of losing all or most of it by the end of this century, here’s what you need to bear in mind. When that ice sheet is gone, and it will eventually, it will create 23-feet of sea level rise. You’ve probably seen plenty of graphics of what three or four feet of sea level rise will mean around the world. The reality is that we tend to build our major cities where there’s navigable water. In Canada that’s Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. With Lake Ontario at 75 metres above sea level, Toronto should be safe from inundation but Montreal, on the St. Lawrence and at 6 metres is vulnerable and, as for Vancouver, well let’s just say that False Creek, Coal Harbour and Burrard Inlet will be a whole lot bigger and the Lower Mainland an awful lot smaller.

So, with the prospect of runaway climate change steadily worsening, with major population centres and critical infrastructure at increasing risk, surely this must be at the very top of our Lord and Master’s priority list, right? What’s that, no? His priority is flogging as much of the world’s highest-carbon oil as quickly as he can push through the pipelines and supertanker ports to carry it, really? Surely the opposition parties are going to shut this down as soon as the voting public gives Harper the boot, right? Wrong? Oh dear. Maybe it’s time to caulk the dinghy.


MoS, the Disaffected Lib.

Recommend this Post

Pages

Subscribe to canadianprogressives.ca aggregator - Posts from our progressive community