Posts from our progressive community

Pierre Poilievre says he has open mind

LeDaro - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 11:55
And it is full of crap and it stinks.


Read the story here.

You may consider to read this story also here.

Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 07:31
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Timothy Shenk discusses Thomas Piketty's contribution to a critique of unfettered capitalism and gratuitous inequality:
Seen from Piketty’s vantage point, thousands of feet above the rubble, the fragility of this moment becomes clear. Economic growth was a recent invention, major reductions to income inequality more recent still. Yet the aftermath of World War II was filled with prophets forecasting this union into eternity. Kuznets offered the most sophisticated expression of this cheerful projection. Extrapolating from the history of the United States between 1913 and 1948, he concluded that economic growth automatically reduced income inequality. This was the moment when, as Piketty observes with both regret and nostalgia, “the illusion that capitalism had been overcome” secured widespread acceptance.

Time soon deflated this optimism. Although the growth of global GDP has accelerated—billions of people across Asia are now catching up to their rivals, a position analogous to Europe after World War II—the best available evidence suggests that these levels are impossible to sustain at the technological frontier. Europe’s per capita growth dropped to just below 2 percent from 1980 to 2012; the United States’ was even slower, coming in at 1.3 percent. Meanwhile, the link between rising GDP and falling inequality was severed, with the largest gains from diminished growth flowing to the richest of the rich—not even to the 1 percent, but to the one-tenth of 1 percent and higher.

Although the contours of Piketty’s history confirm what economic historians already know, his anatomizing of the 1 percent’s fortunes over centuries is a revelation. When joined to his magisterial command of the source material and his gift for synthesis, they disclose a history not of steady economic expansion but of stops and starts, with room for sudden departures from seemingly unbreakable patterns. In turn, he links this history to economic theory, demonstrating that there is no inherent drive in markets toward income equality. It’s quite the opposite, in fact, given the tendency for the returns on capital to outpace growth.
...
Despite the lengthy historical surveys, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, as its title implies, is as much about the future as it is about the past. Per capita growth for developed economies, Piketty believes, has settled at approximately its maximum sustainable rate, around 1 percent annually. That was enough to make people in the nineteenth century feel they were caught in perpetual revolution, but judged by the best of the twentieth century, or China and India today, it seems positively anemic. With growth reduced, escalating income inequality is all but inevitable without aggressive policy intervention. Piketty’s demand for a global progressive tax on capital has garnered the most attention, usually from commentators eager to dismiss it as utopian. But the global tax is more of a rhetorical gambit than a substantive proposal. It is designed to make Piketty’s real aspiration—the same tax, but confined to the European Union—seem more attainable. When the alternative requires obtaining planetary consent, making one continent sign on to a policy becomes a reasonable reach. Countries as large as the United States, he believes, could go it alone with considerable success.

Progressive taxation of capital is one part of a larger project that Piketty calls building “a social state for the twenty-first century.” This economist is no revolutionary: the major arguments over the structure of government, he believes, have already been settled. The twentieth century bequeathed a vision of government responsible for the education, health and pensions of its citizens, and those obligations will be upheld in the twenty-first. For Piketty, the most urgent task is not raising the general welfare but clawing back the advances of the 1 percent. Much needs to be done, he writes, “to regain control over a financial capitalism that has run amok.”- The Globe and Mail slams the Cons for continuing to push the Unfair Elections Act, while Michael Bolen and Lawrence Martin both see it as a northern expansion of Republican-style vote suppression. Adam Shedletzky worries that it represents the end of reason in our electoral system, while Patti Tamara Lenard discusses its infringement on voting rights. And Bruce Cheadle reports that the federal government defended the Cons' previous ID requirements by pointing to exactly the vouching process which is to be eviscerated under the Unfair Elections Act.

- Meanwhile, Alice Funke notes that the Cons' current MPs are fleeing into seemingly safer new ridings - suggesting they don't think they can win where they did in 2011. And Chantal Hebert points out Stephen Harper's eroding support - offering another indication as to why fighting a fair election in 2015 simply isn't an option for the Cons. 

- Andrew Nikiforuk writes about the combination of minimal safety enforcement and high rates of worker injuries in the tar sands. And PressProgress wonders whether this will be the week that the oil industry's constant spin finally unravels.

- The Globe and Mail argues that we should be encouraging long-term immigration rather than driving down wages through temporary and disposable labour.

- And finally, Gerald Caplan analyzes Quebec's provincial election, and finds that the biggest winner was a party which didn't contest it:
(S)omething significant seems to have changed within Quebec’s political culture. It appears that many young Quebecois, traditionally separatists and social democrats, voted Liberal Monday night to express their weariness with separatism and their disillusionment with the PQ’s embrace of Pierre-Karl Peladeau and neoliberalism. That’s nothing but good news for the NDP. In the 2011 federal election, many young Québécois abandoned the Bloc and joined the Layton orange wave, electing a ginormous contingent of NDP candidates. Under Tom Mulcair, those MPs, many young and inexperienced, have acquitted themselves surprisingly well. If played right – a big “if” for any political party, as Monday’s election reminded us – their appeal to younger Quebecois should be another NDP slam dunk.

PSA: Something You Can Do about Identity Theft

Dammit Janet - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 07:21
I was once the victim of identity theft. It was minor: somebody writing letters to the editor in my name (I was a small-fish local activist). I kicked up a shitstorm, got retractions. All good.

But the revelations about the theft of data from the Canada Revenue Agency are more worrying.

There is a very nasty scam that can be perpetrated completely without your knowledge until it jumps up to bite you on the ass. And it can take years to unscrew.

With some really basic info on you, bad guys can apply for and potentially get credit of various sorts in your name. If they're successful, they run up debt and ruin your credit rating in the process.

And you won't find out until you apply for a credit card or a mortgage or something and get refused.

Luckily, there something you can do and it's FREE.

There are two credit rating agencies that want to sell you all kinds of credit monitoring programs, but that will also (must have been arm-twisted by government) provide some info on your credit rating for FREE.

Their sites manage to hide the FREE service rather well, but I sussed them out this morning and here they are.

TransUnion and Equifax.

Smarty-pantses say you should check on this regularly. I last did it about 10 years ago when I heard of the scam, but I'm on it again now.

You're welcome.


Worshipping Ignorance And Greed

Northern Reflections - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 06:42


Michael Harris writes that Stephen Harper has a future -- in Arizona and several other Republican states:

In that state, voters must now present proof of citizenship before they can cast their ballots. It’s the same in Kansas. Like a lot of Republican states, Arizona claims the legislation is designed to battle massive voter fraud.

Except there has been no massive voter fraud, not in Arizona, not in Texas, not in Kansas, nowhere in the United States. The only fraud is the legislation itself, passed by nine Republican states since 2013 looking ahead to congressional elections, and ultimately to the presidential election of 2016.
It's clear from where and from whom Harper gets his inspiration. Republicans are primarily white and old -- and they are scared to death that their white picket fence America is changing. It's true that the Harperites have reached out to voters of colour. But, if they have one prime directive, it's to shut down people who don't see the world as they do -- even when the evidence is on their opponents' side.

Adam Shedletzky writes in The Tyee that the Conservatives' real opponent is reason:

They are quite literally daring opposition parties, the media and civil society to try and win this battle between rhetoric and reason. The likes of current, past and provincial chief electoral officers, the elections commissioner, the former auditor general, the former chair of the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing, non-partisan civil society organizations and hundreds of respected Canadian and international academics don't scare these guys.

With reason banished from the political landscape, it's much easier to worship the gods of Ignorance and Greed.


A Tale of Intimidation At TransCanada Corporation

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 06:29


Despite the best efforts of the Harper government to make its own addiction to the fossil fuel agenda the Canadian people's as well, increasing numbers are voicing their concern and opposition to the expansion of the Alberta tarsands through new pipelines. And evidence is mounting that those concern are wholly justified and not simply the hysterical reaction of 'lefties, eco-terrorists and the enemies of growth' that the Harper cabal would have us believe.

The 1,047 pipeline incidents in Canada between 2000 and 2011, although only a small part of the tale, provide ample reason for that wariness and suspicion.

Now there is even more reason to worry. As reported in the Toronto Star, there has been an ongoing and concerted effort by TransCanada Corporation, the country's preeminent pipeline company, to silence employees raising safety concerns about the company’s existing and brand new North American pipeline infrastructure:

They include warnings on the original Keystone pipeline, plagued by at least 35 incidents in the U.S. and Canada since it launched commercial operations in June 2010, and they also raise questions about the company’s testing and welding procedures on its infrastructure in Ontario as well as other lines that have reported at least four separate ruptures and four separate leaks to the federal regulator, the National Energy Board, in recent months.

Records released by the Senate energy and environment committee show cases where engineers were told in internal emails to stop searching for potential pipeline defects.

Reminiscent of the O-ring alerts ignored prior to the doomed Challenger shuttle mission, the records tell a sordid but hardly surprising tale of corporate intimidation, suppression and termination. Only one target, engineer Evan Vokes, responded to Star requests for comment:

“Please stop the investigation you seem to be doing on your own,” wrote David Taylor, a TransCanada manager of materials and engineering, in a June 27, 2011, email to Vokes. “This discussion has been going on for over a month, you need to accept where we are and become aligned with where we are going as a company.”

Vokes, a man of obvious integrity, refused to heed the increasingly threatening tone of the emails, and he was ultimately fired in 2012 without cause after he informed the company he would complain to authorities. Before his termination, however, he did what any man of deep conscience would do. He persisted:

... a few months before he lost his job, Vokes sent out a written warning to managers about the dangers of allowing the installation of a pressure vessel — a pipeline component generally used in compressor stations — on a natural gas line serving the oilsands industry near Fort McMurray.

A few weeks earlier, his manager, David Taylor, warned Vokes that there could be consequences if he continued to critique safety oversight weaknesses of TransCanada operations.

Taylor had issued other warnings previously:

“Also there is no need to comment about other projects and infer that they did something wrong,” said Taylor in an email to Vokes on Aug. 10, 2009. “As we chatted on Friday those things can and generally do come back to haunt you down the road!”

You can read the full story of TranCanada's corporate malfeasance and how it thwarted the efforts of some of its other employees to promote greater safety by clicking on the Toronto Star link provided at the start of this post.Recommend this Post

Is Stephen Harper Losing His Grip on Power And His Marbles?

Montreal Simon - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 03:59


As you know, I've been watching Stephen Harper closely for eight long and horrible years, like some people watch birds.

And I can honestly say I've rarely seen him looking worse. Or more deeply disturbed.

I can't get what what Tom Flanagan says about him in his new book out of my mind:

“He can be suspicious, secretive, and vindictive, prone to sudden eruptions of white-hot rage over meaningless trivia, at other times falling into week-long depressions in which he is incapable of making decisions.” 

So the last thing I needed to see him talking about was the Third World War.  
Read more »

Linda Frum, the Unfair Elections Act, and the Senate Farce

Montreal Simon - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 23:43


When I saw Linda Frum had caused a flap on Twitter by trying to defend the indefensible Unfair Elections Act, all kind of thoughts flew into my mind.

How could somebody so dumb be a Senator? Can I be one?

And lucky for her she only made a fool out of herself on Twitter. 



Where everyone forgets what anyone said the day before.

But sadly I see, she couldn't leave dumb alone.
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Alise Mills works for British Columbians for Prosperity

Creekside - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 18:45
Pipelines booster British Columbians for International Prosperity or BC4P, whose website DeSmogBlog noted 4 days ago "bears remarkable similarity to the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity", is "an independent group of concerned citizens looking to promote practical resource development" yadda yadda. They dropped the "International" from their brand name back in February :


They are not for "International Prosperity" any longer apparently. This is possibly due to their new campaign moneytrail.ca, which in turn bears a remarkable similarity to Ethical Oil's "Foreign Special Interests and Their Deep Pocket Puppets" campaign (and it would be entirely churlish of me to mention Ethical Oil founder Ezra Levant's internship with Koch here).BC4P : FOLLOW THE MONEY TRAIL AND EXPLORE THE US FOUNDATION FUNDING HYPOCRISY THAT'S IMPACTING CANADIAN SOVEREIGNTY   "Wealthy American Foundations pump millions of dollars into campaigns to halt Canadian oil sands production and pipelines. The war on pipelines in BC is not about spirit bears and it's not about rain forests or climate change."Not about spirit bears and rain forests. Got it.

Now when BC4IP/BC4P shot one of their pro-pipeline videos near my house last year, I assumed their "independent concerned citizens" consisted entirely of former Conoco and BP exec Bruce Lounds of North Vancouver :


But according to this Feb 25 article in 24 Hours by frequent CBC/CTV/SunNews panellist and commentator Alise Mills (excerpted): US has motive to block Canadian oil :"The war on pipelines in BC is not about spirit bears and rain forests. 
It is about America's economy.   American foundations have spent millions to halt Canadian pipelines and oil production.We need to build pipelines so that we become sovereign architects of our own future. "Alise Mills was on CBC's Power and Politics again this evening.
Honestly, CBC, I really think you might mention she works for BC4P at some point..

On vested interests

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 16:30
Shorter Linda Frum:
As one of Stephen Harper's hand-picked counterweights to the troublesome democratic rabble, I refuse to acknowledge any difference between "encouraging voter turnout" and "abetting electoral fraud". The less people with a voice in how this country is run, the better.

Sometimes, Clicking Your Heels Does Not Send You To Kansas

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 12:08


This thoughtful letter explains why:

Re: Tory MP takes aim at elections watchdog, April 9

When it comes to fairness and objectivity, I have more faith in the former auditor general of Canada, Sheila Fraser, and in the current chief electoral officer, Marc Mayrand, than in Pierre Poilievre, the arrogant Conservative minister of state for democratic reform. Whenever I see or hear the minister denigrating an upstanding Canadian citizen who has had the courage to express a sincere concern about the government’s so-called Fair Elections Act, I can’t help imagining Poilievre clicking his heels together each time he meets with his authoritarian leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

We must not forget or forgive Harper for condoning and encouraging Poilievre’s outrageous partisan behaviour. The grassroots supporters of the Conservative party are allowing Harper to trample on the very fabric of our democracy. He is metaphorically walking over our flag with dirty boots. Harper has shed his professed Conservative-based principles and has shamelessly adopted a new doctrine: “Retain power at any cost.”


Lloyd Atkins, Vernon, B.C.Recommend this Post

Hey, Skippy, this is how it's done.

Creekside - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 09:38
A picture of voters lining up for 6 hours to vote in the 2012 election in Democrat-heavy Miami-Dade Florida is accompanied by the caption :
"New rule prohibits voters in Miami-Dade from using the restroom, no matter how long the line."      h/t Kev

Apparently the decision to close all restrooms was a direct response to a request from a disability rights lawyer regarding the accessibility of polling place bathrooms to those with disabilities. 

So now people with disabilities are not being especially singled out for discrimination and everyone is free to choose between voting and peeing. 

Well it's just crazy old Florida, right?  Couldn't happen here.

The thing I found interesting was - when did people stop being outraged about lining up for six hours to vote?
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P.S. Dear Google : Having typed the terms "Miami-Dade" and "restroom" into your search box, I have now received all the advertising I will ever require for PortaPotty and Depends. Thanks.
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Reading The Signs

Northern Reflections - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 08:13


Over the weekend, voters -- in Calgary and Kitimat -- made two important decisions. Tim Harper writes:

In one, Conservatives in Calgary’s Signal Hill riding finally rid themselves of a six-term embarrassment named Rob Anders, handing the nomination to a former provincial cabinet minister, Ron Liepert, in a family feud for the ages.
In the other, the voters of Kitimat, B.C., who have been promised untold economic riches for their support of the $6.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline project took a look at the gifts offered by energy giant Enbridge and thumbed their nose at the project.
In both cases, they rejected who and what Stephen Harper had on offer. Together they are part of a pattern. And the pattern confirms that the rebellion is underway. Conservative constitutencies are refusing to take direction from the top down. The Supreme Court has rejected Harper's choice to sit on the court. It has found significant elements of his tough on crime agenda unconstitutional. And his Senate appointments keep breaking bad. Mr. Harper is losing his grip.

Wise politicians can read the signs and they know when they have overstayed their welcome. One wonders if Stephen Harper can read signs.


Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 07:32
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Michael Harris observes that the Cons' vote suppression tactics match the worst abuses we'd expect from the Tea Party:
Stephen Harper would make a good governor of Arizona.

In addition to the lies and sleaziness his government has been serving up during its majority, its sickening reliance on marketing over truth, its dishonest use of technology in political matters, and its shameful abuse of language, the prime minister is blighting democracy in the name of political advantage.

When Stephen Harper gave Canada fixed elections dates, no one expected a whole lot more “fixing” was still to come. There was; Bill C-23. By potentially removing hundreds of thousands of voters from the next election, Canada could now have elections with fixed dates and fixed results.- Joseph Heath writes about the need to shift from a political culture grounded entirely in talking points and instant responses to one which allows for substantial consideration of policy choices - while the recognizing the difficulty in trying to shift from one to the other. And Susan Delacourt points out that the assumption that voters won't or can't understand even moderate policy discussion lies at the root of the problem:
Everyone has heard about income inequality — the widening gap between haves and have-nots. It’s the big public-policy challenge of our time.

But there’s another form of inequality that should also be worrying us. Let’s call it information inequality: the widening gap between those in the know and those who know not. When did facts and evidence become the domain of an elite few?

I spent a lot of time the past few years researching a book about how marketing has taken over Canadian political culture and policy-making. Some of this all-marketing, all-the-time approach threatens to make wants more important than needs, the short term more important than the long term and advertising more powerful than journalism. It’s a culture that rewards people who can whip up emotions rather than those who can marshal facts and evidence to make their case; a culture where anecdotes trump statistics.
...
The mark of a healthy economy, we’re told, is one in which everyone has a chance to improve his or her lot in life. A healthy democracy should work the same way — a society in which everyone has a chance to know more, where we don’t write people off as permanently apathetic, any more than we’d write them off as permanently poor.

If we want to close that information gap, we need more “responsibility to inform” and less “people don’t care.” - Meanwhile, Tim Harper notes that voters in Calgary Signal Hill and Kitimat both sent strong messages over the weekend that they won't mindlessly defer to those with money or power in making important political decisions.

- Which isn't to say the Cons will stop trying to hand over as much power to the corporate sector as they can get away with. On that front, Randall Affleck comments on the increased power being handed to big agribusiness to prevent farmers from using seeds; Tara Carman catches the Cons once again enabling employers to hire cheaper foreign workers rather than Canadians looking for jobs; and Michael Geist notes that what's being billed as privacy legislation is also being used to allow businesses to share Canadians' personal information for commercial purposes.

- And in case we needed a reminder as to whether we can expect business to give anything back in exchange for being handed the world on a silver platter, Steve Benen reports on Caterpillar's brazen tax avoidance.

- Finally, Robyn Benson discusses how strong public services serve as a much-needed antidote to inequality.

A Guest Post From The Mound Of Sound

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 05:27


I have missed reading the Mound of Sound since he put his blog, The Disaffected Lib, on hiatus about five weeks ago. A man of wide-ranging interests and passions, his posts on climate change and politics never failed to catch my attention and stimulate my own reading and research.

Yesterday I received an email from Mound; while he is not interested at this point in restarting his own blog, he asked if I would be open to hosting the occasional guest post from him. I responded with both alacrity and pleasure. What follows is the first of what I hope will be a regular guest feature of my blog. Mound's essay might best be described as a unified theory of our collective, global malaise, with corresponding suggested cures.

Enjoy:


For a number of years I posed a challenge to my blog readers. I asked them to think about various woes that afflicted mankind today, among them:

...global warming, including severe storm events of increasing frequency and intensity; droughts (both cyclical and persistent); floods; sea level rise including storm surge inundation, erosion and salination of coastal freshwater resources; ocean acidification; deforestation; desertification; air, soil and water contamination of all varieties; resource depletion, particularly the freshwater crisis; species extinction, especially the collapse of global fisheries; species migration and loss of biodiversity; overpopulation and population migration; pest and disease migration; and a host of entirely man-made security challenges including food insecurity; the collapse of social cohesion resulting in political instability, upheaval and civil war; politically engineered inequality; nuclear proliferation; and both superpower and regional arms races.

Then I challenged my readers to identify the common threads that ran through all of these challenges and existential threats. I asserted that these problems shared a common feature - if we were to solve any of them, we must solve them all and, to have much hope of achieving that, we had to understand how they were connected.

At first I had only the vaguest ideas of what the answers to the questions I posed might be. Yet, gradually and with a great deal of time pondering the puzzle, the common threads and the answers began to emerge. It became evident to me that our society, our global society, was created, run and maintained on dysfunctional organization. We were organized dysfunctionally - socially, politically and economically. In the course of this, to keep the party going, we had taken on the characteristics of addiction, final or late stage addiction at that. We were bloated, covered in our own filth, our organs were failing and yet we remained completely powerless to confront our underlying addiction.

There were three lethal processes underway - over-population, over-consumption, and our obsessive compulsion to pursue infinite, exponential growth. We were constantly expanding all of these processes, trying to find new ways, often gimmicks, by which we could temporarily compress them within the very finite boundaries of our planet, our one and only biosphere.

Peter was not only robbing Paul, he was raping him in the process. Anthropogenic global warming? That's a by-product of these three processes. Without cheap, abundant fossil fuels we could not have grown to 7+ billion people en route to 9-billion or more while, at the same time, steadily increasing our per capita ecological footprint. We could not have plundered the world's resources, easily pillaging even our resource reserves, until we are now dependent - to use the junkie's term "hooked" - on devouring 1.5 times Earth's replenishment rate of natural resources every year, a rate that is steadily increasing to propel us to the inevitable day of reckoning.

Like junkies, we fall victim to the powerful and their predatory brutality. Their growth restrained by the realities of a finite world, America's most privileged turned on their own, their once robust middle class, sucking the life out of them in perhaps the greatest unearned transfer of wealth in western history. To achieve this they subverted and overcame democracy, quietly supplanting that with oligarchy and rule by technocrats.

Between an ill-informed electorate, voter suppression, engineered voter apathy, legislated inequality, mass surveillance, gerrymandering, the corruption of elections by tainted money, a 'bought and paid for' Congress and a corporatist Supreme Court, it is obvious that oligarchy has now decisively routed democracy in the United States.

If you think Canada is far behind, think again. Think the Orwellian named, Fair Elections Act. Think CSIS and CSEC. Think of every rotten incident attendant upon petro-statehood. Think of the rise of corporatism and the corporate state, its path greased by today's corporate media cartel.

Above all else, think 'incrementalism'. Our prime minister's former BFF, Tom Flanagan, years ago described incrementalism as the foundation of Harper's approach to government. Radical transformations can be effected if implemented through baby steps over time, small increments that go unnoticed until they accumulate into a mass too great to be undone. This is the very tactic so instrumental in America's transformation from democracy to oligarchy. Twenty, thirty years is all it takes and the deed is done.

I perceive this subversion of democracy and the associated wholesale transfer of economic and political power to a new oligarchy, a modern feudal-corporatist aristocracy, as an entirely foreseeable, perhaps inevitable end product of over-population, over-consumption and endless, exponential growth.

This is bound to end badly. The plutocrats are themselves slavishly addicted to the conditions that underlie our three lethal processes. When growth becomes restrained, disaster capitalism beckons as a means to continue accumulating the residual wealth, however meager, of others. Water can be transformed into a commodity to be supplied to the highest, often the most desperate bidder. The food supply can likewise be commodified unnaturally by the global agri-business and the monopolizing of the best farmlands throughout the world. They're locking up especially productive swathes of farmland even in countries already plagued by chronic food insecurity such as Somalia. Not for nothing is Goldman Sachs' biggest trading desk that dealing with food futures. Vulture capitalism is drawn to global food insecurity like jackals to a rotting corpse. These people are squarely and quite wilfully at odds with humanity itself. They're gaming the market of survival of the most vulnerable and we tolerate that. What have we allowed ourselves to become?

We stand at the edge of abyss and it would be dishonest to claim with any confidence that we still have time to step back. That's not clear but we may have time to act, even if not much. The path back begins with the first step - restoration of democracy. This, for Canada, means the dissolution of the corporate media cartel through forced divestiture of closely held and clustered media outlets. To nurture an informed electorate we need far more voices in the media offering the widest range of opinion. We need to restore an information-based media to remedy the messaging-based, corporate-dominated media. We need a media that is again the watchdog of government rather than its lapdog.

Our leaders need to address the real consequences to the country and our democracy of petro-statehood. Petro-states exhibit fairly uniform behaviours and they're rarely democratic. We need to pattern ourselves more on Norway and far less on Nigeria. We also need to transition, as quickly as the rest of the world, to a decarbonized society and a decarbonized economy. That entails understanding that "because we can" is not synonymous with "because we should."

We need to rehabilitate the heart and lungs of our once healthy, robust middle class - health care and education. These are not expenses but investments and, like all prudent investments, they deliver their return not in short-term profits but in long-term dividends. We have, for too long, sacrificed the safety and security of our future generations for our short-term benefit and we have amassed a huge debt to them and the country that must be honoured. This is a small price to pay.

We must arrest and reverse the scourge of inequality already becoming established in Canada. That entails recognition that most inequality is engineered, the handiwork of legislatures. Very little of it is either market-driven or merit-based. It is the end result of tax policy, subsidies and grants, deferrals and the transfer of natural capital, resources, belonging to the public at far below market value. It is sometimes the result of corruption but more often it results from the fear of our leaders that failure to prostrate the country at the feet of the powerful will diminish us. Bollocks.

We need laws to defend our democratic process against subversion. Those who practice voter manipulation and voter suppression must be stripped of the freedom they would deny to others. Heavy fines and lengthy prison terms are required to reverse this malignancy being introduced by today's Conservatives. These are the acts of individuals wilfully intent on subverting our democracy.

Yes this is a tall order but mainly because these challenges have grown gradually over an extended period of time while we looked the other way. Malignancies are rarely discovered early. What matters is that they are here now, exposed, and we are nearing the point where we have to either find solutions, remedy these excesses, or submit to them. A 3-pack a day smoker can not restore his health by going on a gluten-free diet. Recommend this Post

The Unfair Elections Act and the Republican Connection

Montreal Simon - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 04:45


He has always been more of an American style politician than a Canadian one.

The closest thing to Richard Nixon and his dirty trick Republicans this country has ever seen.

He brought their disgusting attack ads to Canada.

And his foul Unfair Elections Act is right out of the Republican playbook.
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Stephen Harper and the Great Kitimat Rebellion

Montreal Simon - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 03:01


When historians assess the legacy of Stephen Harper fifty years from now, the many scandals of his corrupt regime will probably merit only a few paragraphs.

But what they will say of him without a doubt, is that at a critical point in human history he failed his country and his planet.

For at a time when scientists were warning that time was running out for climate change action. 

The disconnect couldn't be greater. 
Read more »

Ron Liepert, Conservative Nom For Calgary-Signal Hill, Tells Jason Kenney Where to Go

Sister Sages Musings - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 11:21

Well, boys n girls,  I share Dr. Dawg’s sentiments regarding the end of Robbie Anders career: “Good Riddance”! Rob Anders, a man seen much of the time sleeping his way through Question Period. A man who believes Nelson Mandela is basically a communist terrorist.  Anders, who got himself kicked off the Veterans’ Committee for . . . → Read More: Ron Liepert, Conservative Nom For Calgary-Signal Hill, Tells Jason Kenney Where to Go

Kevin O'Leary made a fool of himself again

LeDaro - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 10:04
This guy is a moron.

military propaganda at sports events reaches new extremes: continuous recruitment ads at baseball games

we move to canada - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 08:30
I've recently returned from a lovely trip to Boston, filled with so many of my favourite things: friends, family, books, and baseball.

I love Fenway Park, and I'm always happy to be there. On this trip, we saw three great games, two of them wins, so I was thrilled. The games were marred by only one thing: nearly constant propaganda for the US military. This is not an exaggeration.

Throughout Fenway Park, as in many sports venues, there are monitors showing a TV feed of the action on the field. Right now, between innings, the Fenway Park monitors show a continuous feed of advertising for the United States Army. During the game, the ads continue on a sidebar beside the action.

Let that sink in a moment. The constant advertising crammed into every moment of the ballgame, and the constant linking of sports and the military, are now joined in this doubly offensive development.

There is something particularly Orwellian about watching a baseball game while a constant stream of silent images of war and military run in your peripheral vision.

I gathered from the brief branding displays that the ad feed is supplied by Access Sports Media. According to its website, Access Sports Media
provides advertisers cross-platform solutions engaging passionate fans in sports venues nationwide through digital out of home, social media, mobile, and in-venue sponsorships. Access Sports reaches more than 110 million viewers annually through a national footprint of 200 sports properties and a digital network of over 20,000 screens across professional, minor league and college sports.Its list of clients includes many major corporations, a few specific products, and - listed first - the US Army.

The Army ads themselves stem from a campaign written about here in The New York Times, called a "reality" theme without a trace of irony. Of course, it bears little resemblance to reality. There are no bombings, no destroyed villages, no torture prisons. No amputations, no traumatic brain injury, no alcoholism, no domestic violence, no suicides.

The ads are built around the slogan "Army Strong": "There's strong, then there's Army Strong". This is a particularly good sell for a Boston-area audience: after the Boston Marathon bombing, the city rallied to a cry of "Boston Strong". The Times article notes that the ads are
an example of what is known on Madison Avenue as a program-length commercial or infomercial. Once the province of gadgets peddled with hard-sales entreaties like, “But wait, there’s more,” such longer spiels have been embraced by well-known brands like AT&T, Bing, Chase and Teleflora, along with a number of automakers.

Program-length commercials are becoming more popular as part of a trend known as content marketing, sponsored content or branded entertainment. The trend is meant to counter the growing habit — particularly among younger consumers, like the target audience for the Army, ages 18 to 24 — of ignoring traditional forms of advertising.The "Army Strong" ads at Fenway are a barrage of quick-cut images emphasizing camaraderie and bonding, toughness and strength, dirt and grit, and stirring patriotism. Men (I saw no female soldiers in the ads, although there might be one somewhere) worked hard and played hard, always together, often dirty, but always serious and strong. In a world where career choices often involve life behind a desk or tethered to a computer, the men in these ads were running across rugby fields, rappelling down snow-covered mountainsides, parachuting out of airplanes, and using lots of exciting-looking equipment.

Only two quick images gave any hint as to why so many men are running, rappelling, shooting, and seeing the world through night-vision goggles. In one image, a woman in a hijab slides a slip of paper in a ballot box. In another, a group of soldiers sit in a circle in a tent, listening to a traditionally-dressed Afghan man (or, I should say, an actor dressed as one). What's the caption here? "How many weddings did we bomb today?" "You take the oil, we'll keep the heroin"? Or maybe just "Me smokem peace pipe."

As both Allan and I have written about before (here, here, and here, for example), there is already a huge amount of military propaganda inappropriately linked to sports events. The Boston Red Sox and the many other teams that contract with Access Sports Media - a list is here - now take the trend to new extremes.

I wrote this to the Boston Red Sox. If you are a sports fan who finds this advertising offensive, I hope you will speak up to your team's management, too.
I am a Red Sox fan who lives out of town. I am able to enjoy games at Fenway about every-other year, at best. I love Fenway Park, and thus, when I attended three games against the Texas Rangers last week, I was extremely disheartened to be subjected to continous military recruitment advertisements.

Many young people, especially those from low-income families, believe what they see in the United States Army's ads and enlist, only to find the reality gravely different. Of course, who would ever sign up if the ads showed the truth? Amputations, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder; rampant alcoholism and domestic violence, skyrocketing suicide rates.

By partnering with Access Sports Media to show these deceptive ads at Fenway Park, the Red Sox are complicit in that deception.

The Red Sox Foundation promotes the "Run to Home Base," which raises money to "provide much needed services to local veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan... with combat stress disorders and/or traumatic brain injuries". At the same time, the Red Sox are helping to ensure that more healthy young men and women will eventually need those services.

The constant showing of military propaganda during a baseball game is inappropriate and offensive. I hope the Boston Red Sox will reconsider the decision to run Access Sports Media's US Army recruitment ads during games.

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