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Pre-Paleolithic Neanderthals

Northern Reflections - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 06:59

                                                 stephenlewisfoundation.org/

That's what Stephen Lewis calls the Harper government. Lewis has always known how to turn a phrase. But he's also always known how to make an argument. And the evidence he offers in support of his case is damning. Tim  Harper writes in the Toronto Star:


  • Canada’s world standing is in free fall.

  • The Harper government’s contempt for Parliament and its traditions has degraded   political life and fostered voter cynicism.

  • Its attitude to aboriginals is not paternalistic, it is racist.

  • Harper’s refusal to join the rest of the world and move toward renewable energy sources is endangering future generations and contributing to a looming planetary meltdown.

  • Civil society and the ideas it fosters have been slapped down and censored, subverting democratic norms.

  • Lewis understands just how far Canada has moved from its moorings:

    "Vitriolic nastiness in debate does not breed respect,” he said. “Nor does adolescent partisanship, nor do pieces of legislation of encyclopedic length that hide contentious issues, nor does the sudden emergence of frenzied TV attack ads, nor does the spectre of a Prime Minister’s Office exercising authoritarian control.”

    "It is as though Canada had decided, like some mindless national curmudgeon, to be a permanent outlier on issues of minority rights and women’s rights,” Lewis said. “It does us damage. It does us shame.”
    He has said that there was a time in Ottawa when his father, Robert Stanfield and Pierre Trudeau led their respective parties. They could disagree and they could do it with wit. He recalls the time his father stood in the House of Commons, pointed at the prime Minister and proclaimed, "There, but for Pierre Trudeau, goes God!"

    But the three men respected each other. Lewis still believes that we can return to that kind of Canada:

    “Somewhere in my soul,” Lewis says, “I cherish the possibility of a return to a vibrant democracy, where equality is the watchword, where people of different ideological conviction have respect for each other, where policy is debated rather than demeaned, where the great issues of the day are given thoughtful consideration, where Canada’s place on the world stage is seen as principled and laudatory, where human rights for all is the emblem of a decent civilized society.”
    Let's hope he's right.


    Tuesday Morning Links

    accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 05:39
    This and that for your Tuesday reading.

    - Daniel Tencer reports on a couple of important recent warnings that Canada is in danger of following the U.S. down the path of extreme corporatism and inequality:
    Speaking at a fundraiser for the left-leaning Broadbent Institute, Reich said Canada is facing the same inequality-growing “structural problems” that the rest of the developed world is facing. Those two structural problems are globalization and automation, he said.

    He noted that businesses in the digital era require far fewer employees, citing the example of WhatsApp, the messaging app bought by Facebook. At the time it was purchased for $19 billion, it had 450 million users and just 55 employees.

    “This is the new economy,” Reich said.

    A new report from TD Bank cites the same two factors as being causes of growing inequality, but also notes that Canada used to do a better job of equalization through taxation.

    “Although Canadians take pride in the country’s more equitable outcomes [than the U.S.], Canada does less income redistribution than many think. Canada’s ranking on income equality falls from 9th place in the OECD on the basis of [income before taxes] to 19th place on the basis of after-tax and transfer income.”- Meanwhile, Tim Harper follows up on Stephen Lewis' blistering criticism of the state of Canadian politics under the Harper Cons. And they've only added to the list of jaw-droppingly callous actions lately by refusing consent on the NDP's renewed motion to end child poverty, as well as by voting against a UN motion against glorifying Nazism and neo-Nazism.

    - Barrie McKenna finds that the Cons' own supposed priorities are once again all spin and no action, as a much-ballyhooed manufacturing fund has funded exactly zero projects since it was introduced a year and a half ago.

    - Diane Cardwell reports on the falling cost of solar and wind energy, as renewables have reached a price level similar to that of dirty fossil fuels. And Geoff Dembick reports on Unifor's work in highlighting the fact that environmentally responsible development and good jobs are entirely compatible goals.

    - Finally, Paul Rosenberg interviews George Lakoff about the lessons progressives still need to learn in framing public policy debates.

    Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney, and the Con Clown Circus

    Montreal Simon - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 04:38


    As you know, I sometimes like to portray the foul Harper regime as a Con clown circus.

    Because although they are the most sinister government in Canadian history, fanatical, brutish, and cruel. 

    They are also hysterically incompetent.

    And today was one of their best shows EVER !!!!
    Read more »

    "Without Going into Details" *snerk*

    Dammit Janet - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 02:26
    We had been wondering why Fetus Freak Media and its running blog lackeys hadn't done its usual shrieky foot-stompy hissy fit routine over the partial rescinding of an Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) grant to a fake pregnancy centre.

    The fake clinic itself responded on its blog in a rather tight-lipped manner citing "philosophical differences" with OTF while accusing an unnamed blogger (ahem).
    One particular blog has been making false allegations regarding our Centre and is taking credit for the rescinding of the OTF grant.  This same group has been making allegations against other Pregnancy Centre’s [sic] in Canada.And that seemed to be it for reaction from the zygote zealots.

    Well, silly us, we were googling terms like "Lambton Crisis Pregnancy Centre" (the defunded Sarnia racket), "Ontario Trillium Foundation," "crisis pregnancy centres" and, we admit, "Dammit Janet!" and even "fern hill."

    Crickets.

    It appears that Fetus Freak Central has decreed that we are to remain "anonymous evil blogger" and the clinic itself is not to be named either. "Crisis Pregnancy Centres" seems now to have fully morphed into pregnancy options centres.

    Quite by accident, we ran across this yesterday by our old pal Mike Schouten, aka Creepy Dominionist Guy. It's a reprise of a blog post at his site, We Need a Law [Like a Hole in the Head].

    Here it is in its full goddy glory (my bold).
    Christians who strive to live by the Scriptures will know that the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord with heart, soul and mind, and to love their neighbours as themselves (Mark 12:30-31). 

    Follows of Jesus desire to live selfless lives and this is characterized by putting others [sic] needs ahead of their own. I bring this up in connection with the work of faith-based pregnancy care centres. These centres are for the most part staffed by volunteers who give up much to come to the aid of those in need. 

    The volunteers provide compassionate help to women experiencing unplanned pregnancies, post abortion grief, domestic violence, and sexual assault. They are on the frontlines of assisting some of the most vulnerable people in society and regularly help women make informed choices that set them on the path to a better life. The care they offer extends well beyond the moment of birth or abortion. In very practical ways they come alongside people in need and so enable them to continue living productive and joy-filled lives as they transition into motherhood. And right now, pregnancy options centres need our support. 

    As we documented* just over a year ago, pregnancy options centres are increasingly under attack by abortion advocates. Yes, there are Canadians who are so excited about the fact that a woman ought to be able to kill her own child that they simply cannot fathom the thought that some women choose life for their pre-born child. 

    Without going into details we want you to know that these attacks have intensified in recent weeks. We ask that you do what you can to support a pregnancy options centre near you. This can be done through donations (see here for a list of centres across Canada). You can also help them by offering words of encouragement and prayer for those on the front lines. They are daily engaged in the culture seeking to show love to those in need. 

    We can do better and we can certainly show those who oppose helping pregnant women that they have a skewed sense of social justice. Let us not be characterized as a country that let's [sic] its citizens flounder in depths of despair.(*That "documentation" goes to a previous protracted hissy fit over Joyce Arthur's exposure of fake clinics in BC, published in 2009 for hevvinsake. [And what is it with these people and apostrophes?])

    Onto their game, we looked some more and found amateur statistician Patricia Maloney's foot-stomper and its follow-up. And while she refers to me as a "fake person," she has at least the good bloggy manners to link to my offensive "potty mouthed" blogposts.

    Things have since escalated. I tweeted at Creepy Dominionist Guy on twitter and got this.

    Hey, genius, @mike_schouten did you actually read my blogposts? No bullying involved. I asked @ONTrillium questions. They reassessed. OOPS.

    — Fern Hill (@fernhilldammit) November 24, 2014

    They're playing the martyr card again and I'm now a bully. In addition to being fake and potty-mouthed.

    Note though they have NOTHING narsty to say about the organization that actually yanked the funding when asked (nicely) to justify the grant. The nice rich foundation that might yet be bullied convinced of the error of its ways.

    Nope. They're attacking a wee blogger.

    In other words, without going into details, they got nuthin'.

    We, on the other hand, have MASSIVE giggles.

    The Ghomeshi Scandal and the CBC Management Cult

    Montreal Simon - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 02:02


    About ten days ago I wrote a post about the CBC and the Ghomeshi scandal, and I blamed its hapless managers for creating a cult of celebrity where such a horrible thing could happen.

    Then came this shabby incident. 

    Which not only reinforced my belief that CBC management treats its "stars" like gods. It also convinced me that some of those managers don't know what they're doing, and should be fired immediately.

    And now from the guy most responsible for exposing the Ghomeshi scandal comes this latest shocking revelation: CBC management isn't just promoting a celebrity cult.

    It's a cult ITSELF!!!!!
    Read more »

    Dean Clifford and Bill Noble: Emails

    Anti-Racist Canada - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 22:48
    This day last November freeman-on-the-land guru, former active Stormfront member, and general nutter Dean Clifford was taken into custody during a seminar he was conducting in Ontario. Since that day, Clifford has been claiming that his release would be imminent as would be his take-down of the political and economic system in this nation. And despite his continued incarceration, which now includes charges that he made threats to directed at the police and court officials while in custody (we have at least one of those recordings saves), Clifford continues in his delusional belief that he has them all right where he wants them and that there will be hell to pay when he gets out. His supporters remain credulous in spite of all available evidence.
    Today those supporters who run the website provided the world with a gift; 9+ hours of Dean Clifford's pseudo-legalistic mumbo jumbo. We here at ARC humbly would suggest being subjected to more than 9 hours of Dean Clifford would be far worse than the torture he claims that he has undergone while a guest of Her Majesty.
    That noted, we thought we too might provide a gift to mark this auspicious occasion.
    A couple of years back, some one or some group hacked a number of racist websites and email addresses. It just so happens that three of those email addresses belonged to Bill Noble, someone our readers are very familiar with. And Noble kept up a fairly extensive correspondence with Clifford from 2007 into at least 2011. Some of those correspondences were related to Noble's own case in which he was ultimately found guilty and sentenced to a term of four months followed by three years probation (which he immediately violated soon after his release with no apparent consequence):

    Oh, perhaps we should have mentioned that Bill Noble once (and maybe still does) uses Adolf Hitler as means of identifying himself.
    The name that Clifford signed as, "Sovereign" is significant in that it is what he used as his online moniker on Stormfront. In some of the emails that will follow Clifford will refer to posts he made on Stormfront. Since some of his acolytes refused to believe that Clifford (who threw quite a temper tantrum when we suggested we would be writing an article about him) was the racist we proved him to be, maybe this provides sufficient proof, however there will be more so stay tuned.
    Anyways, Clifford included an attachment with his email, the content of which follows:Read more »

    #BlackLivesMatter but not in #ferguson

    Cathie from Canada - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 22:09
    The failure to indict Darren Wilson is a travesty.



     By Langston Hughes:
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    Ferguson:
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    Chicago:
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    Seattle:
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    New York:
    Image

    Los Angeles:
    View image on Twitter

    Washington:


    And in Toronto tomorrow

    Is it an epidemic?

    The Regina Mom - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 21:45

    thereginamom has continued to read the Twitter hashtag, , and so much more.  She remains deeply moved by the outpouring of experiences shared and the conversations that are happening within various local communities, in the mainstream media, and online.  Though the number of tweets has decreased, the sharing continues.  Never has trm ever been involved in such a powerful online action — and she’s been involved in many, as some of you dear Readers know.

    sex assault stats ywcaThis infographic from YWCA Canada startled trm.  It clearly demonstrates the urgent, immediate need for change.  From what trm has read on Twitter we need to change the way reports of rape are handled by police and the justice system.  In order to do that, we need to change the way our culture looks at rape.  We need to end rape culture.

    Rape culture was not a term familiar to trm until her daughter went away to university and shared posts about it on Facebook.  trm has learned how her experience of rape is a result of a culture that not so subtly condones rape.

    How do we change this, dear Reader, and quickly?


    Joe Oliver, CFIB, and the Fraser Institute

    Creekside - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 16:17

    FinMin Joe Oliver admitted last week that his department had outsourced government policy to the lobby group Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and further, had not done their own analysis of CFIB's work even though the lobby group represents the businesses the new policy was intended to benefit. The new CFIB/FinMin policy takes $500M from the EI fund and gives it to small businesses - ostensibly to create jobs.

    CFIB wasted no time taking credit for this piece of government policy.

    On their webpage CFIB shows this photo of CFIB President Dan Kelly at the government's "Jobs and Opportunities" dedecked lectern, with FinMin Joe standing demurely off to the side. 
    A sidebar on the main page headlined "We Make a DifferenceVictories" boasts :
    "Big breakthrough on payroll taxes: CFIB joined federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver to announce the creation of the Small Business Job Credit".

    CFIB certainly has the right to flaunt their influence over Con policy. 
    Two and a half years ago, they announced their success in lobbying the government "to make the Temporary Foreign Worker Program more responsive to the needs of employers", including a 10-day response time to LMOs, "a simplified online application process", and "a new more flexible wage structure". And lo, Human Resources Minister Diane FInley made it so.
    In fact, over the past four years from Nov 2010 to Nov 2014, Con MPs have quoted the CFIB more than 280 times in the House and in committee on everything from the Wheat Board to Canada Post to the temporary foreign workers program to federal budgets.
    Here's a few from one week this past October :

    With CEO Dan Kelly sitting on the Advisory Committee to the Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the CFIB currently have 46 lobbyists listed to lobby 39 separate government institutions on 28 matters of policy for the year 2014, including "fair access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program" and "support for Bill C525 (An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code) that secret ballot voting should be mandatory prior to union certification."

    At left, also from Press Progress, is the short version of the apparently joint $550M CFIB/FinMin EI policy. 
    Estimated to create 25,000 person-years of employment over the next several years, this figure was later corrected by the parliamentary budget officer to 800 jobs at a cost of $687,500 per job.


    However CFIB President Dan Kelly explains the whole jobs jobs jobs thing wasn't even the point :
    "The job-creation benefit of it is essentially secondary to the fact that this is essentially an EI cut because employers and employees should not have to pay higher EI premiums than is needed to pay for the cost of the program. So this is essentially returning EI rates back to their break-even level."No fault to the CFIB here - they're just doing their job for their guys, 109,000 small and medium Canadian businesses and franchises.
    Perhaps notable though is that according to their Contact page, the CFIB Exec Vice President was formerly Director of Environment and Regulatory Studies at the Koch-funded Fraser Institute while the VP of Communications interned there..

    Citizenship That Speaks Loudly

    Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 14:35
    Although we live during a time when the term 'citizen' has been largely supplanted by corporate misnomers like 'stakeholders' and 'customers' and 'taxpayers,' the concept of citizenship still lives in the hearts of many. And while we hear all the time about the 'rights' of stakeholders, not often are we reminded of the 'responsibilities' of citizenship.

    A recent post of a speech given by Tamo Campos, the grandson of David Suzuki, was one such reminder, as is this one by Simon Fraser University molecular biologist Lynne Quarmby, arrested at the same place as was Camos, Burnaby Mountain, for exercising her right of protest against the activities of Kinder Morgan:



    Earlier, David Suzuki himself gave an impassioned speech:




    All who see the world solely through the lens of 'market values' should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
    Recommend this Post

    But Are His Pants On Fire?

    Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 11:21
    That is a question only Bill O'Reilly can answer, but given his veracity-challenged career, I would not his response at face value.

    The fun begins at about the 2:40 mark below as Keith Olbermann pierces some O'Reilly-concocted mythology:

    Recommend this Post

    Shocker! Responsible Abortion Reporting from National Post!

    Dammit Janet - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 10:40
    Crazy busy, but a quick post because I want to encourage responsible reporting about abortion. Here is the National Post's story on a report about abortion access in Canada. [Spoiler: Access needs a lot of improvement.]

    Because people either don't know or forget from one abortion story to the next, the NP piece includes this de rigueur statement.
    There is currently no federal law governing abortion in Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country’s previous abortion law as unconstitutional in 1988.Clear on that, are we?

    Here's the new and admirable bit.
    Abortion is governed by guidelines adopted by professional associations. The vast majority of elective abortions happen before 12 weeks, according to data collated by the Canadian Institute for Health Information. It’s virtually impossible for women to access the procedure past 24 weeks without a compelling medical reason.
    Note the change from this piece of bullshit from new Walrus editor Jonathan Kay in February 2013.

    The fact is that Canada is the only nation in the Western world without any abortion law. It is perfectly legal in Canada to have or perform an abortion — for any reason, or no reason at all — at 20, 25, 30 or 35 weeks gestation. This is a disturbing state of affairs.
    What's disturbing is that a self-proclaimed "national" newspaper continued for so long to try to stir up Da Base on the settled matter of legal abortion. (Access, as the links above show, is another issue altogether.)

    Maybe, just maybe, the powers that be are wising up to the notion that demonizing abortion is in direct conflict with the views of the majority of Canadians who are decidedly pro-choice.

    So, provisional "yay" to Natty Po! We'll be watching to see that you keep up the good work.

    Bonus: Graphic accompanying the NP story. Useful information.

    Washington's Quagmire Mentality

    The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 09:40

    When it comes to Iraq, or the rest of the Middle East for that matter, America is operating on a number of assumptions rooted in fantasy.  These false assumptions ensure that America will keep getting itself trapped in quagmire.

    Andrew Bacevich, former US Army commander turned academic, knows a good deal about Iraq.  The Columbia professor commanded US troops in Operation Desert Storm and his son was lost to an IED during Operation Enduring Freedom.

    Inside the Beltway, policymakers, politicians, and pundits take Iraq’s existence for granted.  Many can even locate it on a map.  They also take for granted the proposition that it is incumbent upon the United States to preserve that existence.  To paraphrase Chris Hedges, for a certain group of Americans, Iraq is the cause that gives life meaning. For the military-industrial complex, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

    Considered from this perspective, the “Iraqi government” actually governs, the “Iraqi army” is a nationally representative fighting force, and the “Iraqi people” genuinely see themselves as constituting a community with a shared past and an imaginable future.Arguably, each of these propositions once contained a modicum of truth.  But when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 and, as then-Secretary of State Colin Powell predicted, broke the place, any merit they previously possessed quickly dissipated.  Years of effort by American occupiers intent on creating a new Iraq out of the ruins of the old produced little of value and next to nothing that has lasted.  Yet even today, in Washington the conviction persists that trying harder might somehow turn things around.  Certainly, that conviction informs the renewed U.S. military intervention prompted by the rise of IS....otherwise intelligent people purporting to believe in things that don’t exist -- can be applied well beyond American assumptions about Iraq.  A similar inclination to fantasize permeates, and thereby warps, U.S. policies throughout much of the Greater Middle East.  Consider the following claims, each of which in Washington circles has attained quasi-canonical status.* The presence of U.S. forces in the Islamic world contributes to regional stability and enhances American influence.* The Persian Gulf constitutes a vital U.S. national security interest.* Egypt and Saudi Arabia are valued and valuable American allies.* The interests of the United States and Israel align.* Terrorism poses an existential threat that the United States must defeat.For decades now, the first four of these assertions have formed the foundation of U.S. policy in the Middle East. The events of 9/11 added the fifth, without in any way prompting a reconsideration of the first four. On each of these matters, no senior U.S. official (or anyone aspiring to a position of influence) will dare say otherwise, at least not on the record.Yet subjected to even casual scrutiny, none of the five will stand up.  To take them at face value is the equivalent of believing in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy -- or that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell really, really hope that the Obama administration and the upcoming Republican-controlled Congress can find grounds to cooperate.As for the stabilizing effect of US troops, Bacevich points out that this has seldom occurred.  To the contrary, it has often destabilized countries where American troops have been based.  Iraq and Afghanistan provide mournful examples. The new book “Why We Lost” by retired Lieutenant General Daniel Bolger finally makes it permissible in official circles to declare those wars the failures that they have been.  Even granting, for the sake of argument, that U.S. nation-building efforts were as pure and honorable as successive presidents portrayed them, the results have been more corrosive than constructive.  The IS militants plaguing Iraq find their counterpart in the soaring production of opium that plagues Afghanistan. This qualifies as stability?  The Middle East is no longer strategically vital to the United States.  The energy dependence the US once had on the ME has been superceded by events. Access to Gulf oil remains critically important to some countries, but surely not to the United States.  When it comes to propping up the wasteful and profligate American way of life, Texas and North Dakota outrank Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in terms of importance.  Rather than worrying about Iraqi oil production, Washington would be better served ensuring the safety and well-being of Canada, with its bountiful supplies of shale oil.  And if militarists ever find the itch to increase U.S. oil reserves becoming irresistible, they would be better advised to invade Venezuela than to pick a fight with Iran.Does the Persian Gulf require policing from the outside? Maybe. But if so, let’s volunteer China for the job. It will keep them out of mischief.As for America's supposed Arab allies:For decades, Saudi Arabia, Planet Earth’s closest equivalent to an absolute monarchy, has promoted anti-Western radical jihadism -- and not without effect. The relevant numbers here are two that most New Yorkers will remember: 15 out of 19.  If a conspiracy consisting almost entirely of Russians had succeeded in killing several thousand Americans, would U.S. authorities give the Kremlin a pass? Would U.S.-Russian relations remain unaffected?  The questions answer themselves.Meanwhile, after a brief dalliance with democracy, Egypt has once again become what it was before: a corrupt, oppressive military dictatorship unworthy of the billions of dollars of military assistance that Washington provides from one year to the next.Bacevich says it's long past time that the United States had a realistic assessment of its supposed ally, Israel:For the government of Israel, viewing security concerns as paramount, an acceptable Palestinian state will be the equivalent of an Arab Bantustan, basically defenseless, enjoying limited sovereignty, and possessing limited minimum economical potential. Continuing Israeli encroachments on the occupied territories, undertaken in the teeth of American objections, make this self-evident.It is, of course, entirely the prerogative -- and indeed the obligation -- of the Israeli government to advance the well being of its citizens.  U.S. officials have a similar obligation: they are called upon to act on behalf of Americans. And that means refusing to serve as Israel’s enablers when that country takes actions that are contrary to U.S. interests.The “peace process” is a fiction. Why should the United States persist in pretending otherwise? It’s demeaning.The quest to defeat terrorism is Quixotic at best:Like crime and communicable diseases, terrorism will always be with us.  In the face of an outbreak of it, prompt, effective action to reduce the danger permits normal life to continue. Wisdom lies in striking a balance between the actually existing threat and exertions undertaken to deal with that threat. Grown-ups understand this. They don’t expect a crime rate of zero in American cities. They don’t expect all people to enjoy perfect health all of the time.  The standard they seek is “tolerable.”...aspirations to eliminate terrorism belong in the same category as campaigns to end illiteracy or homelessness: it’s okay to aim high, but don’t be surprised when the results achieved fall short.Eliminating terrorism is a chimera. It’s not going to happen. U.S. civilian and military leaders should summon the honesty to acknowledge this.What would be the scariest thing Washington could do to its Middle East client rulers?  Leave.  Tell them they're on their own, Israel included.  Just stop supporting them.  No troops, no cash, no weapons unless they serve America's interests.  Eventually America must tire of being bled out by enemies and supposed friends alike in the Middle East.And if Washington is going to persist and continues to implement a foreign policy based on fantasies, why should Canada enroll in America's Foreign Legion?  With our belief-based government that persistently follows gut instinct instead of fact, appearance over substance, we're highly susceptible when America goes bonkers.



    Respectability vs RESPECT: Part Three

    Dammit Janet - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 07:54
    So.  Sex work.

    I shared some personal history in that regard, but not everything.

    On the street where I grew up, there were few stay-at-home mothers.  It was a working poor neighbourhood. Franco-Ontarians. Lebanese and Portuguese immigrants. Everyone worked. Dads. Moms. Kids too, when we turned 14.

    A lovely and very elegant lady moved into a small 3 et 1/2  in the building next door to our rented house.  She was a widow with her daughter. They lived in a small one bedroom apartment in the building next to our rented house.  Francine* and I were 12 years old; we became fast friends.

    Unlike my Mom who worked at several part-time retail jobs, Madame L.  had her hair done every week and wore beautiful new dresses.

    Madame L. was a "kept" woman. She had fixed appointments with different men friends who would take her out to dinner then on to a hotel. Although she didn't bring her clients back home, my Mom would never let me spend the night in Francine's home.

    One day Madame L. asked my Mom if Francine could stay with us while she went away for a week in Florida with her "boyfriend".  (My father had seen this man arrive in his car, wait for Madame L. while she finished getting ready then drive away with her.  He knew that this man was a married police officer.)  My mother was aghast.  She told me that Francine's mother was immoral and that I couldn't be friends with her.  I disobeyed of course.  Francine and I stayed friends, but secretly.  Soon after that, she and her mother moved to Montréal.

    My parents, in fact the whole neighbourhood where everyone knew everybody's business, did not consider Madame L. to be respectable.  She had a child.  She wasn't married.  She had sex with different men.  They "gave" her money; in reality they paid her for sex but nobody expressed it thus.  If only she had exclusively "entertained" one man and advanced the illusion that she was his mistress. But she was a call girl, a profession that was in the news of the era because of George Hees, Pierre Sévigny and Gerda Munsinger.

    I have no idea if Francine also became a sex worker.

    Many, many girls grew up in families where women, consensually or grudgingly, explicitly or implicitly, had sex with men - husbands, other family members, neighbours, landlords, storekeepers, employers - for benefit.  It's a wonder we're not all sex workers - or perhaps we are, and should recognize to what degree we might be, in order to obliterate the stigma attached, as it is with abortion.  Patriarchy certainly games the system to encourage girls and women to engage with men in such manner.

    As I pointed out to a jerk on Twitter grousing about women _using_ men, if you're NOT trying to attract women who see you as a wallet attached to a penis, don't act like a prick with cash to burn on a pretty woman ... if she's _nice_ to you.

    And, don't forget to send your letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne, with regard to the vile sexwork re-criminalizing law the Harper government passed.  If you need inspiration, here's @kwetoday's own letter.

    *Francine is not her real name. 

    Monday Morning Links

    accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 06:48
    Miscellaneous material to start your week.

    - Ed Broadbent laments Canada's failure to meet its commitment to end child poverty - and notes that the Harper Cons in particular are headed in exactly the wrong direction:
    This child poverty rate is a national disgrace. It jumped from 15.8 per cent in 1989 to 19.2 per cent in 2012, according to a Statistics Canada custom tabulation for Campaign 2000.

    The Harper Conservatives have continued to let down the country’s poor children and their parents. They have not increased targeted income supports for low-income families. Instead, they are expanding flat rate benefits, similar to the old family allowance program abolished as regressive by Mr. Mulroney’s government. These taxable payments are too low to have a real impact on poverty. They don’t come close to paying the costs of child care; they don’t create a single child-care space.

    While failing the poor, the Conservatives are proposing new measures that disproportionately favour affluent families. Income-splitting will cost $2-billion a year and deliver no benefit at all to single parents or to two-parent families with both earners in the lowest tax bracket.

    The maximum benefit of $2,000 will go mainly to very high-income traditional families with a single earner. The late Jim Flaherty appropriately rejected such unfairness while serving as minister of finance.

    The growing gap between the poor and the middle-class, let alone the top 1 per cent, flies in the face of the democratic ideal that all children should have equal opportunities to develop their talents and capacities to the full.- David Climenhaga discusses how the Cons' obsession with income-splitting is based on their desire to preserve gender inequality. James Fitz-Morris reports that the Cons have long been aware of the obvious regressive effects of tax-free savings accounts - particularly since they may allow a special class of wealthy retirees to take in money from means-tested programs because their investment income isn't counted.

    - Tavia Grant writes about a new report confirming that we need our tax system to actively combat inequality in order to avoid having it get worse by default. And Michael Babad points out that the ranks and wealth of the uber-rich are growing faster in Canada than in other comparable countries.

    - Meanwhile, Robert Devet highlights how arbitrary benefit cutoffs can be disastrous for people actually living in poverty. And Jesse Ferreras finds that a lopsided market (coupled with a lack of public policy action) is leaving single women and mothers in particular without adequate housing.

    - Finally, Michael Harris notes that a culture of fear seems to be about the only factor the Cons still have in their favour among an otherwise unfriendly Canadian public - and that Stephen Harper has been highly selective in deciding which supposed threats to emphasize for political benefit.

    For The Record

    Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 06:45


    About the undercarriage of that busy Tory bus, Star readers have much to say:

    Ex-Tory staffer jailed nine months for robocalls, Nov. 20

    My sympathies go out to Michael Sona and his family, the latest addition of those people used by the Harper government and then thrown under the bus for getting overly enthusiastic about being a Canservative “short pants.”

    This episode should be taught in political science courses the world over as a precautionary tale of how a draconian oligarchy works and how to avoid getting hyped into criminal activity.

    At 22, Mr. Sona was a virgin in politics and its black arts, not much different than the ideological youth of his age that want to fall for the recruiting methods of the jihadist murders and go to their deaths in foreign wars. I am disgusted with the trail of maligned and discredited lives left in the wake of Secret Steven.

    Next in the Harper government guillotine, Mike Duffy and Nigel Wright.

    Stay tuned.

    Gord Deane, Mississauga

    Democracy has sunk to a new low. Now a lowly cog in the wheels has accepted the blame for one of the greatest failures in Canadian democracy — subjecting an established electoral vote to subterfuge.

    To read Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s press release and Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s verbal statement that there was no foul play on behalf of the Conservative Party in the robocall trial brings disbelief. So says me, the trial judge and millions of other Canadians. This is not what I want from the political leaders of my country.
    Combine this with muzzling scientists, hiding environmental relaxations in omnibus budget bills and promoting the devaluation of the Canadian dollar adds up to selling out the Canadian future.

    Rather than competing on value, our manufacturers would rather compete on a cheap dollar. Instead on investing in labour, equipment and value-added services to increase productivity, a cheap dollar does the trick for our CEOs. All the while taking home huge pay packets and outsourcing labour wherever they can (read banks).

    As for the Conservative Party of Canada, I am ashamed to see Mr. Harper show up at G20 meetings full of bluster but without any substance behind him. As for his commitments to provide a solid foundation for the future growth and prosperity of Canada, he now sees the political advantage of disbursing our surplus to the most advantaged rather than building and/or supporting one of these priorities:

    A national child-care program to support the real needs of Canadians; environmental policies that address climate change; infrastructure investment across the country that deal with problems experienced by Canadians on an everyday basis – transit, housing, health care and education; a so-called commitment to investing in the health of women and children around the world while at the same time decreasing our aid levels and ignoring the needs of these same groups in our own country; icebreakers and support ships that will be required in the near future to safeguard the Arctic Ocean; and once and for all a commitment to examine crime and abuse, especially toward to aboriginal women.

    As for the esteemed economist Mr. Harper, he has bet the country’s future on oil extraction and export at the expense of every other industrial sector and region, despite the government’s abundant advertisements of their Economic Action Plan – such blatant spending with our dollars! Perhaps a more balanced action plan would be more beneficial for all Canadians rather than betting it all like it was Vegas craps.

    Man up or turn tail and resign.

    John Berry, Toronto

    As a voter, I am outraged that Michael Sona is getting away with only nine months in jail for an “affront to the electoral process.” My rights as a voter have been violated and I would have liked a stiffer penalty — and further probe into who might have abetted Mr. Sona in this very grave crime.

    Mimi Khan, ScarboroughRecommend this Post

    Taking His Cue From Goering

    Northern Reflections - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 05:50


    Naomi Klein coined the phrase "disaster capitalism." Taking his cue from Klein, Michael Harris writes that "disaster democracy" is alive and well in Canada. It's not a new phenomenon. Herman Goering explained how it worked when he was on trial at Nuremberg:

    “Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger…it works the same in any country.”

    And Harper has taken his cue from Goering:

    When Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was gunned down at the national war memorial on Oct. 22, Prime Minister Stephen Harper immediately connected his killer to radical Islam and terrorism. Long before any facts were in, Harper claimed that all Canadians had been attacked by the actions of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. There was never any talk from the PM about Zehaf-Bibeau’s mental instability or addiction to crack cocaine. His mother and Cpl. Cirillo’s girlfriend were left to develop that side of the debate on the fringes of the alternative media.

    In the wake of the terrible events in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa, the prime minister’s stagnation in the polls came to a sudden end. Almost instantly, disaster democracy gave his popularity a five-per-cent boost in the polls. That is approximately what political parties can expect after a full-fledged leadership convention. It also boosted public support for Harper’s war in Iraq, which shows every sign of leading to boots on the ground there – and now perhaps also engagement in Syria.
    Now -- if the polls are to be believed -- the Conservatives and the Liberals are neck and neck. Mr. Harper proved long ago that he isn't the smartest guy in the room. But he does know how to take advantage of events over which he has no control.

    Ultimately, control belongs to we the people. But there has never been a guarantee that we the people will make wise decisions.


    Stephen Harper, Stephen Lewis, and the Con Neanderthals

    Montreal Simon - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 04:37


    Somewhere in his grim bunker, or his dank closet, Stephen Harper must be celebrating madly.

    I'm sure he can't quite believe his good fortune. Or the way the bony hand of fate has saved him from almost certain defeat.

    But war has been good for Great Leader, and after trailing Justin Trudeau for a year and a half, he has finally caught him.  
    Read more »

    Okay you Liberal Bastards, What Now?

    The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 11/23/2014 - 19:24
    Trudeau the Lesser's Liberals did backflips to support Israel's brutal outrage against Gaza's civilian population this summer.  It was as though no one had ever heard the Israeli military's term, Dahiyeh.  Of course you didn't need any fancy terms to see that Israel was brutally - and quite illegally - targeting Gaza's Palestinian population completely in flagrant violation of human rights laws and the laws of war.  That much is obvious when the side with strike jets takes down the public's water and sewage plants and then moves on to hit schools and hospitals, even clearly designated UN refuge sites.  I was never so disgusted with the Liberal Party, not even under Ignatieff.

    The Dippers worked off the same page until Mulcair woke up and realized he was bound to piss off some old school progressives in the NDP ranks.  Then he hemmed and hawed and - waffled.

    Well now your boy - and he is your boy - Benny Netanyahu has let his other fascist shoe drop.  This time it's not Palestinians under Israeli occupation but Arab and Christian Israelis who are Netanyahu's target.  The Israeli prime minister and his cabinet by a 2-1 margin have passed a bill that defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

    Critics, including cabinet opponents, say the new law reserved "national rights" for Jews only and also delisted Arabic as Israel's second official language.

    So Justin - and Tommy - now you're backing a country that's both fascist and racist.  Is there any principle you won't compromise in your bootlicking pursuit of votes?

    The Sad Saga of Vikingwarlord14: Part II

    Anti-Racist Canada - Sun, 11/23/2014 - 15:44
    We always enjoy when our fans send us feedback:

    Oh you sweet talker you!
    It looks like "Unit14"/"Jay Stone"/"Jay Smith"/"proudcracker420" might not have appreciated the article in which he was mentioned. We understand. In the article we dismissed him as an irrelevant carnival sideshow not worthy of anyone's time and attention.... and then proceeded to write about a loan misanthrope with delusions of grandeur living in Winnipeg who if we are to be honest isn't worth anyone's time or attention either.
    That sort of cognitive dissonance  might scramble the brains of the average bonehead.
    So on that note we will continue our profile of Jonathan Kotyk, a man who's name shines as brightly as such "White Nationalist" luminaries as Kevin Goudreau and Tomasz Winnicki:
    You don't say, eh Jonathan? ;)We once again introduce our readers to Jonathan "vikingwarrior14" Kotyk on Stormfront. Kotyk often attempts to present himself as a "White Nationalist" man of action, philosopher, and intellectual:

    Well then! We're sure someone who advocates for the adoption of a benign dictatorship rules by a philosopher king must have some brilliant ideas on how to govern a nation-state, particularly when he suggests that he himself already has most of the solutions to Canada's "problems" (it seems to us that he might like to be considered a future candidate for the philosopher king role he advocates). 
    Okay Jonathan! We await your wisdom with baited breath!Read more »

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