Posts from our progressive community

Big Brother Harper and the Gentle Birdwatchers

Montreal Simon - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 05:08

First he came for the environmentalists and the activists. Then he came for the scientists.

Then he came for those who fight poverty, and help the poor.

Now he's come for the birdwatchers. 
Read more »

a war resister connects the dots: canada, is this the war you want to fight?

we move to canada - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 03:30
A U.S. war resister in Canada writes in this NOW Magazine.
Very soon you will begin to hear about Canadian planes sending “humanitarian aid” of food and medical supplies to those affected by the fighting. . . .

And now ISIL is touted as the new enemy from the darkness as if their emergence was not foreseeable. In reality, ISIL is just the latest incarnation of a very old xenophobic sect of Islam, the Wahhabi movement, finding new breath in the aftermath of yet another war. Our bombs have only made them stronger, just as they always have.

The Harper Conservatives are hoping you are not engaged enough to notice its hopes of attaining a new casus belli for Canada. But if Harper gets his way, you’ll soon be spending money you don’t have on a war that’s making you less safe, not more.

And what about the long-term costs for the soldiers who do come home? How will Canada be able to take care of them? Large numbers of Canadian veterans from the war in Afghanistan have already become homeless, jobless or committed suicide. They have yet to receive care from a resource-strapped Veterans Affairs Canada. How will VAC be able to meet the needs of even more veterans?

Please understand that I don’t mean to forgive the barbarity that ISIL has clearly committed. As an American soldier, I witnessed first-hand how war makes monsters of us all. Everyone with a gun in a war zone thinks themselves “one of the good guys,” but the idea that anyone in a war acts in accordance with international law is a myth.

Once I realized this, I decided I could not participate in a war of aggression (the Iraq war of 2003) launched against people who had not committed any crime. I found taking part in this war a violation of both international law and basic moral behaviour, to such a degree that I could not have any further part in it.

Many others made the same choice I did, and a good number of us came to Canada seeking refuge. We have experienced first-hand the lasting effects of a war in Iraq started under false pretenses. We would implore you to be thoroughly informed, Canada. If you decide to go forward into this war, you should at least do so with all the facts.

Almost all who desert the U.S. military are simply administratively discharged without jail time. But without exception, every American war resister in Canada deported into U.S. military custody has faced significant jail time when evidence was presented of how we spoke out to people like you. The American government wants to jail me not just for leaving the military, but for having the audacity to shed light on war crimes we were asked to commit.

Is this the kind of war you truly want for Canadians? If you do, I will leave quietly.
A number of resisters living in Canada have seen recent movement in their cases after years of silence from the government. The immigration minister’s personal attention to our cases is made clear by Operational Bulletin 202, directing all our files to his desk for review instead of using normal procedures.

I will go to the cell that awaits me in the U.S. for having spoken loudly about the injustices I was asked to abide. I do not believe I deserve to be punished for speaking out, but perhaps I do for not having spoken out loudly enough. Read the essay here. Then sign a letter to help stop the deportations.

Elisa Hategan's Race Traitor: Now Out In Paperback

Anti-Racist Canada - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 15:31
Those who did not have a KOBO or Kindle and were not able to purchase Elisa Hategan's Race Traitor or those who would rather own a physical copy of the book now have the opportunity to purchase the paperback edition of the book:

Race Traitor: The Story of Canadian Intelligence's Biggest Cover-Up by Elisa Hategan

We wrote about the book in March when Ms. Hategan first published the digital editions for KOBO and Kindle. All the members of the Collective have read it and very highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about the history of the racist movement in Canada during the early 1990s, however more importantly the books is incredibly relevant in an era where the governments in ostensibly free and democratic nations have been caught spying on their own citizens. While set in the 90s, Race Traitor perhaps has as much to tell us about our future as it does the past.

We All have To Stand Against This Blatant Reign Of Intimidation And Tyranny

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 15:00

Although I have written many posts on this topic, each new incident once again evokes in me a visceral reponse bordering upon hatred for this government. The Harper regime is back at it again, using the CRA to intimidate people who are critical of its policies or in any way impede the flow of oil progress.

This time, the victims are birdwatchers, yes, that's right, birdwatchers - The Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists.

CBC reports the following:
The Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists, a registered charity, is apparently at risk of breaking tax agency rules that limit so-called political or partisan activities.

Earlier this year, tax auditors sent a letter to the 300-member group, warning about political material on the group's website.

The stern missive says the group must take appropriate action as necessary "including refraining from undertaking any partisan activities," with the ominous warning that "this letter does not preclude any future audits."It appears that the Harper-directed CRA has accomplished its goal, at least in part, inasmuch as officials of the group, whose revenues amount to a mere $16,000 per annum, are refusing comment, less they attract even more wrath.

But not everyone has succumbed to intimidation:
Longtime member Roger Suffling is speaking up, saying the issue is about democratic freedom and not about arcane tax rules.

Effectively, they've put a gag on us," he said in an interview, noting that the letter arrived just after the club had written directly to two federal cabinet ministers to complain about government-approved chemicals that damage bee colonies.

"You can piece together the timing," said Suffling, an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo. "The two things are very concurrent."The other 'sin' of this group, it would appear, is the fact that it
has also had a guest speaker to talk about the oilsands, and has publicly defended the Endangered Species Act from being watered down.Of course, the usual suspects, who I do not believe for a minute, deny any political direction or purpose:
Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq's office ... denies there's any link, saying the agency operates independently.

Canada Revenue Agency officials say they do not target any one charitable sector, and are choosing groups impartially, without input from the minister's office.

The decision to launch an audit is also not based on any group’s position on the political spectrum, charities directorate chief Cathy Hawara has said.Those denials might work with gullible children, but not thinking adults.

I grow weary of the totalitarian tactics of this regime. I hope my fellow Canadian feel the same.Recommend this Post

E-Day in Canada: When Voter Suppression Comes Calling

Creekside - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 13:49

Tomorrow, lone RoboCon fall-guy Michael Sona may find out whether he goes to jail for his part in the 6,000 illegal robocalls pretending to come from Elections Canada and wrongly telling voters their polling station had been moved.

Yesterday, the Alberta Party candidate in the Calgary-Elbow byelection reported being targeted in a fraudulent robocall campaign that used a fake caller ID purporting to come from the Alberta Party :
“We started getting complaints from people receiving multiple phone calls throughout the day and some suggesting we had called them at 3 a.m. "Sound familiar? It's not like this is going to get better on its own.
As Mulcair notes in the doc clip above, the Fair Elections Act (sic) is about "the Conservatives trying to put into law some of the cheating they'd been doing before."
Did you watch the clip? Wouldn't you like to hear Stephen Maher and Glen McGregor's reflections since their epic McMaher election fraud investigation?
Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Peter Smoczynski : Election Day In Canada: When Voter Suppression Comes Calling is an investigative documentary film which examines the sudden rise of voter suppression in Canada since the 2006 Federal Election to the Federal Election of 2011, its aftermath, Elections Canada investigations, court trials, its affect on Canadians and more recently the Fair Elections Act.He has thousands of hours of footage and is looking for funding to finish editing it. 
So far his site has only received 1700 Canadian visits and 43 funders but as he says : "if every visitor gave $20, within five days this film is back in production"
His first donation was $5 from a 13 year old girl.

Come on, people - and I'm looking at you, you glittering twitterati and facebookies - spread the word and donate. Let's get this doc out there to the public well before the shenanigans begin in the 2015 election.
h/t Saskboy.

Mein Gott, This Actually Got On FOX News?

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 10:13
You gotta give it to Shep Smith.

The Big Question Now is When?

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 09:57
Several years ago a non-governmental organization, the Global Footprint Network, came to my attention.  GFN's purpose was to monitor the state of the biomass around the world on a global, regional and national basis.

GFN published this annual report marking what they called "World Overshoot Day."  This was the date each year by which mankind was calculated to have consumed an entire year's worth of renewable resources.

As the GFN graphic shows, mankind is now consuming renewable resources at roughly 1.5 times the natural replenishment rate.  Some like to say that we're using one and a half Earths resources.  If we keep on our current growth path, by 2050 we're on course to be consuming almost 3 times our planet's renewable resources.

It's almost too much to believe.  How can we, just one out of hundreds of thousands of species, be consuming far more than the total renewable resources of the planet?  Easy, we're diving into the planet's reserves, mining our children's future, eating our seed corn.

The proof is everywhere.  It's observable, it's tangible, it's precisely measurable. It's visible to the naked eye from space.  It comes in many forms.  One is desertification, the exhaustion of once viable farmland and its transformation into barren desert through a variety of bad agricultural practices and the accumulated effects of excessive amounts of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Another is the resumption of mass deforestation - cutting down forests faster than they can renew.  Again, visible to the naked eye from the International Space Station.

And then there's water, the key to all life on Earth.  ISS crew members can also see rivers that no longer flow to the sea and inland lakes, such as the Aral Sea, that are now drying out.  But the loss of surface water is just part of the story of our hydrological overshoot.  It also takes the form of blue-green algae contamination of our lakes, coastal dead zones and surface subsidence caused by draining our groundwater resources, our aquifers.  Subsidence is not apparent to the naked eye but it is measurable by various satellite systems that can determine not only how quickly the surface is sinking but, from that, the volume of groundwater being extracted.

Overshoot comprises not only resources that we consume, either directly or in the production of products, but also the resources we contaminate, pollute, with the waste from our activities.  We rarely, if ever, think of it but our ecosystem does a terrific job of cleaning up after us.  If it didn't you wouldn't be sitting there reading this.  It is an absolutely life-sustaining function.  The atmosphere absorbs greenhouse gases. Plants absorb carbon dioxide as do oceans.  Rivers cleanse contaminants as they flow to the sea. Microbes in the soil likewise eat waste. Let's not forget earthworms either.

Just as the planet is finite so too is the capacity of the planet's ecosystem to process our waste.  Exceed that limit and we wind up with accumulated waste - pollution.  An excess of agricultural runoff can lead to the destruction of aquatic habitats from blue-green algae blooms.  Freshwater resources can become unfit for human consumption.  The acidification of our oceans is another example. There are several others.

When I first became aware of the Global Footprint Network, World Overshoot Day fell in late October.  That meant we were in overshoot for just over two months per year.  With each passing year, overshoot came earlier and earlier. This year we hit overshoot on August 19th.  What that signifies is that, for about four and a half months out of twelve, we're dipping into our planet's reserves and generating more contamination than the ecosystem can cleanse.

As the graphic above illustrates, as we enter overshoot, exceeding the planet's ecological limits, it results in a steadily degraded carrying capacity.  The Earth becomes steadily less able to meet our needs and clean our waste.  The red consumption line begins to plummet which leads us to yet another term, "collapse."  Our march toward collapse is measured in the steady progression of World Overshoot Day.

Most of what you've read so far I've written before.  I'm rehashing it now because of a recent report issued by the WWF, GFN and Zoological Society of London. The Living Planet Report, 2014, is an eye-opener.  You might prefer to begin with the ecological fact sheet.

LPR 2014 contains a wealth of information but the aspect everyone seized upon was the revelation that, over the past forty years, the Earth - our ecosystem or biosphere - has lost half of the planet's wild life.  Half, in just forty years, the blink of an eye in the history of mankind.

The point is not that we've lost half the planet's wild life so much as it is that we're now working our way through the remaining half.  Yet we maintain our slavish obsession with perpetual, exponential economic growth.  We keep questing for more and ever more - more resources, more production, more consumption, more waste.  At the same time mankind's overall numbers continue to burgeon even as our per capita consumption also rises.

Now go back to the first chart.  Find the 1.0 point on the left margin.  Carry that across to the red line and then down.  You'll be at somewhere in the early 70s. Keep that in mind.

When I first found the Global Footprint Network several years ago I spent some time reviewing their considerable research and findings.  Back then I was a bit troubled to read that mankind actually reached the Earth's ecological carrying capacity around 1970 when our population stood at about 3.7-billion.  Thereafter, as our population grew and our individual consumption also grew, we entered Overshoot or ecological deficit.

The dates line up.  Since we ventured into Overshoot, global wild life has declined by half.  Current species extinction rates are said to be a thousand times normal.  From 3.7-billion in 1970, we've almost doubled our numbers to 7+ billion already and we're said to be heading to 9-billion, perhaps as early as mid-century and upwards of 11-billion by 2100.

As part of a recent course in global food security I read a report by three Chinese experts dealing with what their country faced in the decades ahead.  For me, it wasn't their discussion of food that was telling so much as their projections of Chinese GDP.  They foresaw a China which, in 2000, had a per capita GDP of about $1,800 that would see that figure grow to $16,000 by 2030.  In fact the Chinese are just shy of $7,000 already but to more than double that yet again by 2030?

Where would China find the resources to ramp up its production so enormously in such a brief interval?  How would China cope with the contamination or its already distressed environment and degraded water resources?  Take that exponential growth in GDP and multiply it by the 1.5-billion population China is expected to reach by mid-century and then inject it into a world already deeply immersed in Overshoot and you have a formula for global economic and environmental disaster within just a couple of decades.

Going back to the second chart, the Living Planet Report, 2014, reveals, simply from the fact of massive wild life loss alone, that we've already entered the point of significantly degraded ecological carrying capacity.  Spreading deforestation, desertification, the collapse of global fisheries, ocean acidification, etc. merely corroborate this.  Yet, as our biosphere's carrying capacity quite rapidly erodes, we're still increasing our production, consumption and waste, driving our global civilization ever faster toward chaos.

I think I've got a reasonable idea of how this ends.  The far more troubling question is when.

The Folly of Harper's Economic Emphasis

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 09:20

While no reasonable person would suggest that Canada should immediately turn its back on it resources, the folly of self-described economist Stephen Harper is the undue weighting his regime has placed on that sector for fiscal health. Other countries have been looking toward the day when our dependence on fossil fuels will be diminished and are therefore diversifying, and a strong case can be made for the economic benefits of renewable and other green energy projects. However, our Prime Minister has continued in a full-court press as if the Alberta tarsands were the only game in town.

The folly of that approach now becomes evident with the precipitous decline in oil prices, largely due to a slowdown in growth worldwide that, ironically, may very well be the key to curbing climate change. However, even if this a temporary blip, the warning should be heeded.

An analysis by Don Pitt makes for some sobering reading:
About a year ago, I read a report forecasting this would happen. It wasn't exactly top secret, and hardly from a subversive group. Titled, The future of oil: Yesterday's fuel, it was published in the right-of-centre Economist magazine.

The Economist article suggests that this is not going to be just a blip but more of a sea change, as global oil demand plunges permanently. The article quotes a study by Citibank saying that oil use is already falling in rich countries. Most oil is burned to propel vehicles, and increasing fuel efficiency, including conversion to electric and hybrids, means we are using less for that.

It rejects the argument that growth in places like China will push oil use ever higher, saying emerging economies will see the advantage of leap-frogging to new technology and won't pass through the first world's gas-guzzling phase. In the year since that report, an explosion of solar in India, and an analysis by Lazard saying renewables had become as cheap as fossil fuels, only made the case stronger.
The implication for job losses in Canada goes well beyond employment in the oil patch.
“Canada’s economy is now very oil dominated,” economists Rory Johnston and Patricia Mohr at Scotiabank said a few months ago as the Northern Gateway project was being approved by Ottawa.

Businesses based across Canada that feed into the sector, like railroads, engineering firms, construction companies and equipment makers will also be sideswiped if the decline leads energy producers to pull back production. Twenty-five cents of every dollar invested in new business plans goes toward oil and gas projects, Scotia estimates.

If exports and investment in the energy sector take hits, experts suggest the broader economy will feel the chill and begin to slow.It would be nice to think that these hints of things to come would have an impact on the monomania that the Harper regime is seized of. Unfortunately, past ideological performance suggests nothing will change under the current administration.Recommend this Post

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 07:28
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Michal Rozworski responds to idealized views of Canadian equality with the reality that we fall well short of the Scandinavian model:
Canada appears on many accounts much closer to the US than Sweden, the stand-in for a more robust social democratic and redistributive state. Indeed, looking at the three top rows of the table, there is a clear link between the higher share of income going to the top (inequality) and the higher share of taxes paid for by those at the top (redistribution a la Vox authors Martin and Hertel-Fernandez). On both of these measures Canada is roughly in the middle between the US and Sweden and slightly above the OECD-24 average.

Looking lower, however, it is clear that Sweden still easily beats both the US and Canada in terms of tax rates on the highest earners. While Sweden “recycles” more of its income through the state (total tax revenue as percentage of GDP), it does not do it without soaking the rich in the process. Sweden does not lack of high taxes but, rather, it lacks more extreme inequality. Canada, more akin to the US, gets more of its total tax income from the rich only because the rich are richer – indeed despite taxing each individual rich person less. In fact, if we take into account an interesting recent study on how Canada’s wealthiest use private corporations to avoid paying tax, it turns out that our system is even less redistributive: the official data has Canada’s top 10% taking in 32.7% of after-tax income, they are actually getting 36.5% adjusting for the effect of tax-dodging via private corporations.

The final three lines of the table show a common way to measure redistribution and these confirm that Canada is no Sweden. The Gini is a (convenient and imperfect) way to measure inequality in a single number on a scale from 0 to 1, where 0 is perfect equality and 1 is perfect inequality. The difference between the Gini of market incomes and the Gini of after-tax-and-transfer incomes shows how much redistribution is decreasing inequality. While even Sweden has a high inequality of market incomes, it redistributes quite a lot; Canada, on the other hand, is right behind the US and its comparatively paltry level of redistribution.- Eric Reguly points out that we're seeing the inevitable side effects of overreliance on a commodity economy - as predictable price drops can lead to fiscal disaster when public planning is based on nothing but the bare hope that prices and associated revenues will rise in perpetuity. And Jason Fekete confirms that the Cons' destructive environmental choices are based solely on the desire to let Alberta oil operators dictate public policy.

- Meanwhile, Justine Hunter reports that the choice to tie social funding to public approval of controversial resource projects is rather a losing proposition from a political perspective as well.

- Deirdre Fulton writes about the Center for Media and Democracy's study (PDF) into the harm done by ideological privatization of public services. And Jacob Swenson observes that in order to ensure that the public interest is protected, we need to see government as a solution (and indeed a prize) rather than a problem.

- Finally, Frances Russell laments the state of Canada's non-responsible Parliament - and the Prime Minister who's determined to make the problem worse:
The most corrosive and dangerous development in Canada’s fully Americanized parliamentary system is the highly centralized power of the PMO and cabinet with a majority government. Add the now-complete stifling of the rights of ordinary MPs to say or do anything on their own, and Canada has degenerated into a virtual dictatorship.

And that’s without including the ability of the prime minister to prorogue, recess and dissolve parliament at whim.
The dysfunction of the current parliament has its origins in the authoritarian mindset of the prime minister and the 100 or so individuals who staff his office. Rathgeber is merciless when it comes to describing the culture that has sprung up within it.

“The socialization and indoctrination effects of the PMO sub-culture cannot be overstated,” he writes. I have witnessed young, seemingly normal and well-adjusted college graduates enter the PMO and within six months, morph into arrogant, self-absorbed zealots, with an inflated sense of importance and ability.”

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 07:03
Here, on the similarities between the federal political scene now and in the lead up to the 1988 federal election - and how the Liberals may soon face the NDP's hard-learned lesson that personality politics may not go far in a sharp policy debate.

For further reading...
- The NDP unveiled its child care plan here. And the commentators taking a close look at the plan - and its contrast against the Cons' anti-government nihilism - include Karl Nerenberg, Jeffrey Simpson, Chantal Hebert and Linda McQuaig.
- Meanwhile, Les Whittington reports on the Cons' latest tax baubles, while Annie McEwen notes that they represent little benefit for anybody besides a few targeted swing voters. And it's also worth noting how the Cons have seemingly given up on offering all things to all people: instead of promising to create child care spaces through corporate handouts, they're now mocking the idea that anybody would want them (and singing from the Tea Party hymn book in the process).
- Finally, Nik Nanos confirms that the Libs are still ahead of the field for now - but that their non-positions aren't doing them any favours as serious issues come up for debate.

[Edit: added links.]

The Con Regime's Republican Assault on Canadian Children

Montreal Simon - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 06:00

It was one of the first things Stephen Harper did when he came to power. Declare war  children.

By destroying plans for a national childcare program. 

Parents have been paying for that decision ever since, with a lack of daycare spaces, and exorbitant fees. And children have been paying for it with their lives.

But still the Harperite cult is unrepentant.
Read more »

Stephen Harper and the Propaganda War on Canadians

Montreal Simon - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 03:43

Ever since he came to power Stephen Harper has been trying to brainwash Canadians with the greatest barrage of propaganda this country has ever seen.

A barrage of lies and half truths worthy of Big Brother, and almost impossible to avoid.

They're on TV, and on the radio, they jump out at you in newspapers and magazines.

And now you can't even get away from them when you check out the weather.

For all you have to do is scroll down to the bottom of the newly redesigned Environment Canada site to see what I mean. 
Read more »

Anti-Feminst Women.

Feminist Christian - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 19:15
I just do not understand anti-feminist women. What is in it for them? Is it that they have creepy sons that they're trying to protect?

I've noticed more of them lately. There was one odd conversation on FB yesterday in which a man was standing up for feminism and an anti-feminist, horribly misogynist woman. Baffling. And I can't find it again, but do look at this:

@ShelbyKnox @femfreq If I were a feminist, I sure wouldn't be bragging about it. I'd be getting some anger management therapy.
— Desiree Aaron (@DesireeAaron) October 15, 2014
What the everlovin' fuck? Okay, so I responded.
@DesireeAaron Shouldn't you be making sandwiches? And who taught you to read?! @ShelbyKnox @femfreq
— Luna (@Heading_West) October 15, 2014All she had to say about that was that I'm a feminazi, ignorant and arrogant. Okay... I mean, if she's so anti-feminist, shouldn't she be serving her husband somehow? Why is she allowed to read? Where do they draw the line? Does she have a job? If so, how does she wrap her brain around that? Does she get paid as much as the men doing the same job? If so, does she not realize that it was feminism that made that happen? And if not, is she okay with that? Really?

I just can't even. When it comes to that kind of hypocrisy, how can she stand it? How does her brain not collapse in on itself. The disconnect is just astonishing.

Rick's Latest Rant

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 12:52
In his latest, Rick Mercer turns his acerbic wit on the theft of copyright being engineered by the Harper regime to facilitate its campaign of attack ads.

Recommend this Post

Tell Christy Clark: Don’t rush through Societies Act reforms

Terahertz - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 12:47

Please write today to tell the BC government not to press through its reforms to the BC Societies Act. Email before the end of 15 October 2014.

Clark’s Liberal government is looking to overhaul the law that regulates over 27,000 non-profit societies, including almost every active freethought organisation in the province. Many of the reforms are likely good ideas, like allowing societies to be registered and file documents electronically; however, at least one section would potentially allow members of the public to sue non-profits if they feel they are “carrying on activities that are detrimental to the public interest.”

Given that every non-profit is already required by the same law to operate in the public interest, there seems no reason to open non-profits up to the risk of frivolous lawsuits. Vancouver community advocate Sandy Garossino believes this proposal is designed to allow the province’s oil and mining industries to sue environmental NGOs. By the same logic, religious groups could use this same clause to persecute atheist and pro-choice organisations by claiming they are a threat to “traditional values.”

Most frustratingly, the government’s White Paper has been hiding on their website for months with little notification to the thousands of non-profits that are going to be affected by this. Every organisation in the province should have been told about this consultation and given the chance to respond.

The paper is 166 pages. There is simply not enough time to know what other changes will impact non-profits in the province. A quick glance suggests extra reporting requirements and changes to what needs to be in the by-laws.

The government needs to extend the deadline for responses and seek feedback from those who are set to be affected.

Here’s my letter:

As a former member of a BC society’s board of directors and staff member for two societies, I am worried by the quiet nature of this consultation. I only became aware that the government was considering on reforming the Society Act yesterday and in that time have not had a chance to carefully consider the 166-page white paper you have produced.

I don’t think my situation is unique. Every one of the 27,000 BC societies should have been notified that the government is considering re-writing the rules they are governed by. The consultation must be extended until this happens.

While many of the reforms are likely good ideas, such as allowing societies to be registered and file documents electronically, at least one section – 99 – seems to open organisations to frivolous lawsuits from members of the public. The section would allow non-profits to be sued if someone feels they are “carrying on activities that are detrimental to the public interest.”

Given that every non-profit is already required by the same law to operate in the public interest, there seems no rational reason to open non-profits up to this risk. Many non-profits are set to challenge the status quo and push for societal change. These actions inevitably bring about critics who would welcome the ability to sue to protect their positions of privilege rather than defend themselves in the public debate.

Please scrap section 99 and extend the deadline for responses until you are able to seek feedback from those organisations who are set to be affected.

Was Daesh (aka ISIL) a psychop™ ...?

Dammit Janet - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 12:08

My tweeted response to that sincere yet naive statement was that it could also be vile thuggery and violence tactically branded with religious symbols to appeal to a demographic.

Or later, when @jamynott suggested that it might also be a psyop, I agreed and refined the term, noting that given its brutal propaganda strategy, it should be dubbed a psychop™: a shortened version of psychotic operations, thereby highlighting the word 'chop' found therein ...

Some useful reading with regard to Daesh - how I prefer to call this horde of murderous, rapacious, greedy, patriarchal thugs.  The links are posted within the tweets.

This was published in mid-August, from Hassan Hassan: _A portrait of the menace that is sweeping my homeland_.  Andrew Mitrovica wrote about the group's agit-prop value, here.

Many speculate that some bits of Daesh were originally created, and generously funded by wealthy Saudi Arabian meddlers which explains their ability to purchase expensive military equipment from weapons industries based in the US and China.

Its connection with rebel forces that challenged the Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad is also complex, though some have identified various factions.

The horde has been set loose in the Middle East and, like all man-made monsters, may have developed an agenda of its own.

Our Most Worrisome Endangered, Perhaps Already Extinct, Species. World Leaders.

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 08:40
You know it.  I know it.  Even if you haven't really thought about it, you've probably sensed it.  As our world sails into an ever worsening storm, there's nobody at the helm.  Just when we need them most we find ourselves without real leaders.

Foreign Policy's Aaron David Miller contends that the leadership void reaches right into the White House.  He asks whether America has reached "Peak President"?  In a somewhat nihilistic approach, Miller argues that America is a nation that has moved beyond great leadership.

History, to be sure, is driven by the interaction between human agency and circumstance. Based on my own experiences in government and negotiations, individuals count greatly in this mix, particularly in matters of war, peace, and nation-building. Historian John Keegan made the stunning assertion that the story of much of the 20th century was a tale -- the biographies, really -- of six men: Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Churchill, FDR, and Mao. Wherever you stand on the issue of the individual's role in history, its impact must be factored into the equation, particularly when it comes to explaining turning points in a nation's history.

...Today we are consumed with leaders and leadership as the solution, if not the panacea, to just about everything that ails us. We admire the bold, transformational leader who seeks fundamental change, and value less the cautious transactor who negotiates, triangulates, and settles for less dramatic results. And we tend to forget too that great leaders almost always emerge in times of national crisis, trauma, and exigency, a risk we run if we hunger for the return of such leaders. Still, in Holy Grail-like pursuit, we search for some magic formula or key to try to understand what accounts for great leadership. Indeed, we seem nothing short of obsessed with the L-word.

This focus on leaders is understandable, particularly during times of great uncertainty and stress. The psychologists and mythologists tell us that the need to search for the great leader to guide or even rescue us is an ancient -- even primordial -- impulse. But what happens when we reach for something we may no longer be able to have?Indeed, these days, those who favor and align with ...the "Great Man" view of history -- myself included -- have a serious problem.We are now well into the 21st century, a full 70 years after Keegan's six transformers either tried to take over the world or to save it. Look around. Where are the giants of old, the transformers who changed the world and left great legacies? Plenty of very bad leaders have come and gone -- Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, Muammar al-Qaddafi, Slobodan Milosevic -- and some larger-than-life good ones too, like Charles de Gaulle, Konrad Adenauer, Anwar Sadat, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul II, and Nelson Mandela.We face a leadership deficit of global proportions. In fact, we seem to be pretty well along into what you might call the post-heroic leadership era.Today, 193 countries sit in the United Nations, among them 88 free and functioning democracies. The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the so-called great powers -- the United States, Britain, France, China, and Russia -- are not led by great, transformative leaders. Nor do rising states such as Brazil, India, and South Africa boast leaders with strong and accomplished records. We certainly see leaders who are adept at maintaining power and keeping their seats -- some, like Russia's Vladimir Putin and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for many years. Germany's Angela Merkel is certainly a powerful leader and skilled politician.But where are those whom we could honestly describe as potentially great, heroic, or inspirational? And how many are not only great, but good -- with compassion and high moral and ethical standards -- too? Today, if I were pressed to identify a potentially great leader, I might offer up not a traditional head of state at all, but rather a religious figure: Pope Francis I, whose greatness as well as goodness may well be defined by the irony of his anti-greatness, commonness, and humility....great nations are supposed to have great political leaders too, right? And yet today in America we hear very little talk of greatness in our politics. Instead, the focus is on the leadership deficit, on America the ungovernable, and on the sorry state of its dysfunctional politics. One 2013 poll revealed that the public's view of Congress was significantly less positive than its view of root canal operations, NFL replacement refs, colonoscopies, France, and even cockroaches.It should come as no surprise that the concern about the leadership deficit in our political class also extends to the presidency itself, an institution that has become, both for better and worse, the central element in our political system....The presidency has always been an implausible, some might even say an impossible, job. But the following mix of challenges and constraints -- some old, some new -- has made the post-World War II presidency harder still: constitutional and practical constraints on the office itself; the president's expanding reach and responsibilities; the expanding role of a government we trust less, even when we demand more from it; America's global role; and an intrusive, omnipresent, and nonstop media. Miller contends that the United States has had three, truly great presidents - Washington, Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt....Each of the undeniably great presidents overcame a truly nation-wrenching challenge or crisis; each used his crisis moment to fundamentally alter the way we see ourselves as a nation and the way we govern ourselves too, and in doing so changed the nation forever for the better; and each in the process transcended narrow partisanship and in time came to be seen even by critics as an extraordinary national leader.The presidents we judge to be great are very much with us still -- everywhere, really. They are on our money and monuments, stars of our HBO specials and Hollywood movies, and subjects of best-selling presidential biographies. They are everywhere, that is, except in the White House.As we will see, what I describe as "traces of greatness," both real and perceived, have appeared in several of our more contemporary presidents. But those "traces" are not to be confused with the performance of the three undeniables or the handful of other top performers we hold in high esteem. The greatness ...belongs to an America of a different time and place, to a different country really. In the second part of the book, I explain why the history of the post-FDR presidency has been such a challenging tale, and why the times and circumstances have narrowed the prospects, the need, and the opportunity for sustained heroic action in the presidency. ...Like the ghosts in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, great presidents continue to hover, to teach, and to inspire. And we have much to learn from their successes and failures. But there is a risk in thinking, let alone succumbing to the illusion, that we will see their likes again, even in an altered contemporary guise. The world and country have changed and so have we. And besides, we should not want to see them again. Greatness in the presidency is too rare to be relevant in our modern times and -- driven as it is in our political system by big crisis -- too risky and dangerous to be desirable. Our continued search for idealized presidents raises our expectations and theirs, skews presidential performance, and leads to an impossible standard that can only frustrate and disappoint. To sum up: We can no longer have a truly great president, we seldom need one, and, as irrational as it sounds, we may not want one, either.   Perhaps our last great leader was Pierre Trudeau.  Like America, our great leaders are names from the distant past - Laurier, Pearson, St. Laurent, Cartier and MacDonald.  The thin gruel served up today is a bowl filled with petty technocrats that come in varying flavours of authoritarianism.  It's a bland and self-serving offering, devoid of vision, courage and commitment. 
And, perhaps just because I can't think of anywhere else to put it, here's Johnny Rotten on democracy and revolution. 


Subscribe to aggregator - Posts from our progressive community