Posts from our progressive community

Oh Look, It's Prime Minister Showboat !!

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 08/21/2016 - 00:22
I'm sorry, maybe it's just me. I'm a bit irked at how our prime minister, who seems to disappoint on the tough issues, never passes up a photo-op even when it comes to insinuating himself at a concert, perhaps the final concert, of a great Canadian band, the Tragically Hip.

Sure, the Hip's lead singer, Gord Downie, is dying of brain cancer. Sure this may be the band's final concert. That doesn't mean that prime minister Showboat can't stage an appearance, grab a bit of the limelight.

His staff posted the prime ministerial marquee days in advance. Justin Trudeau would be appearing at the Tragically Hip concert. And sure enough, there he was, surrounded by his security, cool as fuck.


Narcissism seems to run pretty deep with world leaders and wannabes alike these days  - Erdogan, Trump, Trudeau. It's all "look'it me, loot'it me."

I just wish he did half as good a job at governing as he does at photo-ops.

Saturday Afternoon Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 12:44
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Danyaal Raza discusses how climate change is manifesting itself in immediate health problems. And John Vidal highlights the latest research on the rapid melting of Arctic ice - making it particularly appalling that Canada has abandoned its main Arctic port to rot.

- Elizabeth McSheffrey notes that the Libs also have effectively cleared the way for the environmental danger of oil spills by approving a toxic chemical for cleanup purposes. And Cheryl Santa Mario reports on how a long-running spill arising out of poorly-regulated offshore oil drilling has contributed to the destruction of a scallop fishery in Newfoundland.

- Keith Slack discusses the permanent water pollution being planned by mining companies - and all too often allowed by governments ignoring the obvious risk when the responsibility to keep treating water after a mine ceases to operate is inevitably abandoned. But Marina Jimenez points out that the Libs are doing nothing to hold Canadian resource firms responsible for social and environmental responsibilities abroad.

- Canada Without Poverty talks to Laura Cattari and Wayne MacNaughton about housing issues, including the all-too-predictable path from precarious housing to outright homelessness. And Kelly Stajduhar and Ashley Mollison comment on the lack of end-of-life care for people who can't supply a stable address while their needs are assessed.

- Finally, Michael Geist writes that Canada's intellectual property rules have been set up to encouraging trolling and rent-seeking rather than research and development. And Mariana Mazzucato discusses the need to get a better return on publicly-funded pharmaceutical research.

PTSD For the Masses

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 08:29


Think of it as PTSD for the masses. No war fighting experience necessary. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder mainly delivered to your home free of charge through your television set or those floodwaters pouring through your front door.

So, if it's not going to be aerial bombardment or high velocity machine gun fire, just how does it work? Simple, climate change. It'll drive you bonkers, maybe.

I set out this summer to look into the toll climate change was taking on scientists researching in the field. There have been a number of anecdotal stories of researchers in therapy or others quitting their jobs to take up a quiet teaching position in some community college or high school, anything to  get away from the grinding reality of climate change.

As expected there's plenty of research into researchers into climate change matters. It does seem to be a crappy job with iffy long-term prospects. You might want to steer your kids into some other field - an exciting career in payday loans perhaps?

Right about now you're probably asking, "but what about me?" Right you are. Got you covered.  Turns out there's plenty of ongoing research into that too - you, I mean.

Last summer Britain's foremost medical journal, The Lancet, published the first papers of its Commission on Health and Climate Change. Most of the papers addressed the physical impacts of climate change on the general population. Maybe not the best bedtime reading.

There's plenty of research into the mental health toll climate change is expected to exact. The US National Institutes of Health has several papers. Here's one predictive synopsis:

Increasing ambient temperatures is likely to increase rates of aggression and violent suicides, while prolonged droughts due to climate change can lead to more number of farmer suicides. Droughts otherwise can lead to impaired mental health and stress. Increased frequency of disasters with climate change can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder, adjustment disorder, and depression. Changes in climate and global warming may require population to migrate, which can lead to acculturation stress. It can also lead to increased rates of physical illnesses, which secondarily would be associated with psychological distress.

Special attention is being paid to farmers and farming communities. Sucks to be them. Maybe not so much. More data is needed but did you know that farmers start off with one of the highest rates of suicide by occupation?
An outfit calling itself Psychologists for Social Responsibility suggests that in developed countries the emotional aspects of climate change may dominate. Here's what they figure Americans can expect.
Heat waves that can engender increased interpersonal violence, anxiety, depression, and reduced work capacity apart from sickening or killing those unable to find the means to remain cool. Recall Chicago in 1995 when about 700 people died during a massive heat wave, and across the country in 2006. Also, consider the European heat wave of 2003 that killed more than 45,000 people and created a host of human stressors, anxiety, and depression for those who survived.

Prolonged droughts, heavy rains that run off quickly, and less snowfall, such as we’ve seen recently in the West, Southeast, Southwest, and Rocky Mountain states -- which can contaminate or diminish water supplies, severely limit farming and food production, and cause damaging flash floods that all contribute to stress, anxiety, and depression.

More and/or more-powerful storms, such as we experienced with Hurricane Katrina, that include infrastructure-destroying flash floods, storm surge, and damaging winds; displace tens of thousands of people; and disrupt the normal rhythms of families and communities for months or years if not forever. Research continues to show the severe and persistent psychological consequences of these events in adults and children.

Sea level rise, which will create inordinate stress, depression, grief, and post-traumatic stress as it inundates many of our coastal areas and displaces tens of thousands of U.S. residents or requires us to build walls and enlist other costly means to keep the water from harming our communities and polluting our water supplies.

More polluted air, which causes asthma; increases risks for a host of diseases, including heart disease and cancer that have their own mental health sequelae; and is associated with higher rates of anxiety, depression, and even schizophrenia.


Stress, anxiety and depression, okay, but schizophrenia?  Abnormal social behaviour and inability to distinguish what is real... hmmm, that does sound a bit like the denialist tribe. Can cognitive dissonance lead to flipping out? I suppose that does make sense.

Given the recent catastrophic flooding in Louisiana, this warning from the Union of Concerned Scientists seems timely:


“An intensely traumatic event will have a substantial effect on the mental health of many survivors,” said psychologist and researcher Carl F. Weems, an associate professor at the University of New Orleans. “The more severe and intense your exposure to traumatic experiences during a disaster, the more likely that you will have severe mental health symptoms. If you watch someone die or your house floods, you tend to have more intense effects.”

...According to Weems, research suggests that between 25 and 50 percent of all people exposed to an extreme weather disaster may have some adverse mental health effects, the degree of severity depending on a number of things, including the person’s age, coping capacity, and proximity to the devastation.

“When you have one of these massive disasters, the effects are long-range,” he said. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, for example, researchers found no decline in cases of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms even after more than two years. “Even now we have seen a relatively small drop-off in symptoms. This suggests that we will have to respond to future disasters in new ways, that different kinds of interventions are needed three and four years down the road.” Weems added that the current federal disaster response policy makes little provision for long-term mental health treatment. 

Lise Van Susteren (yeah, Greta's "normal" sister) is mentioned in a report in psychiatry.org where she discusses what she calls "Pretraumatic Stress Disorder."

Lise Van Susteren, M.D., a psychiatrist in Washington, D.C. and co-author of a report on climate change and mental health from the National Wildlife Federation(3) notes that “We are seeing right now a full range of psychiatric conditions associated with climate change. In the aftermath of extreme weather events, especially, we see acute cases of people depressed, anxious about the uncertainty of their living conditions, about the future, their possessions and livelihoods. Some develop PTSD.” Van Susteren also notes that higher temperatures and heavy rainfalls are also associated with increased use of alcohol and drugs, a rise in the crime rate (assaults and murders) and higher suicide rates.

Stress and anxiety about potential climate threats is also affecting some. “Pretraumatic stress disorder is being seen among activists, some climate scientists and young people who can’t stop thinking about the disasters that lie ahead,” said Van Susteren. ”They struggle to force the unwanted thoughts from invading joys they “should” feel in the present.”

Speaking from personal experience, perhaps the best remedy for Pretraumatic Stress Disorder is age. Informed seniors know they've got a reserved seat on the last chopper out of Saigon. Sorry folks but we'll leave you all our stuff. Hope that helps.


Stress, anxiety, PTSD keep being brought up in the medical/psychiatric literature much of it firewalled. It seems pretty clear that we can expect some significant change in our communities, our society as these impacts set in and spread. Governments, already cash strapped, will be hard pressed to respond effectively.
We can't blame governments for all - or most of our woes. The finger we should be pointing is at ourselves. I'll finish up with this passage from the American Psychological Association

...why have we — as individuals and as a society — generally failed to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in the face of such serious consequences?
According to Anthony Leiserowitz, PhD, the director of Yale University's Project on Climate Change Communication, it's because "you really couldn't design a worse fit for our underlying psychology" than climate change.

The pain of paying more for gas at the pump, turning down the thermostat, or deciding to forgo airplane trips is real and immediate. And yet those actions can feel minuscule compared with what needs to be done to limit global warming. Meanwhile, the most serious consequences of climate change seem remote — far away and far in the future.

"It's kind of the perfect challenge," says Columbia University psychologist Elke Weber, PhD, who studies environmental decision-making. "The costs [of reducing carbon emissions] are immediate and upfront. But the benefits come in dribbles and with great uncertainty. The public doesn't easily have the tools to think about that and weigh costs and benefits and outcomes."

















































On selective interest

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 07:49
Murray Mandryk is once again far too eager to laud Brad Wall to the skies for doing the bare minimum he could to avoid responsibility for the racist sentiment his party has stoked for political gain.

So let's offer a reminder as to how willing Wall was to take action when the desperate social needs of First Nations citizens were identified in the absence of the public-relations conflagration set off by Colten Boushie's murder: 
Saskatchewan Party leader Brad Wall, who's running for a third stint as the province's premier, said that on-reserve issues are Ottawa's responsibility and duty.

"We hope the federal government moves quickly to address the concerns that have been raised," he said.But hey: in the aftermath of Boushie's death, it seems like Wall may be willing to dispense one program space in exchange for every dozen bigots who publicly state their approval of the killing of indigenous people. And apparently the only hope for provincial action under Wall is for more of them to dominate the headlines.

Pillaging The Public Purse: On Hydro One's Privatization

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 06:43

I have written in the past on my strong opposition to Kathleen Wynne's selloff of 60% of Hydro One. She has no mandate for this pillaging of the public purse, and no good reason for it except her politically and ideologically-driven obsession with balancing the budget before Ontario's next provincial election. She will not be getting my vote.

Recently, Linda McQuaig wrote a column that came out strongly against this sale, offering an historical perspective showing the public good that accrues from public ownership of such a utility.

In today's Star, readers offer their own insights on this issue, one that is likely a big contributing factor in the Liberals' current poor showing in the polls:
Re: The case against privatizing Hydro One, Opinion Aug. 4

What’s most disturbing about reading Linda McQuaig’s strong case against privatizing Hydro One is that it reveals clearly that Premier Wynne seems to be selling it for no worthwhile reason.

When 73 per cent of Ontarians disagree with the sale and she insists on it, then she is not serving the public will. Further, to trade off the long-term benefits of Hydro One for a short-lived infusion of cash for infrastructure is economically incomprehensible.

With this kind of foolish, arbitrary decision, which is symptomatic of the disconnect between the public will and its leadership, Wynne will certainly join the infamous ranks of other failed premiers of Ontario, such as Mike Harris and Dalton McGuinty, who also carried out their personal agenda while forsaking the common good of the electorate.

Pity the serious voters.

Tony D’Andrea, Toronto

Timing is everything. Currently, along with a several other Ontarians, I am particularly interested in the timing of the Ontario Liberals’ Climate Change Action Plan.

Last Nov. 15, the Ontario Liberals privatized Hydro One when they sold off 15 per cent of the former Crown Corporation. Sad but true.

In April, they sold off another 15 per cent. The following month, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change let the world know that Ontario is moving away from natural-gas home heating. Some back-peddling followed. Shortly after that, the Liberals released their official Climate Change Action Plan.

It indicated their intention to move to a more electricity-based society. Once complete, Ontario is to have far more electric vehicles, electric charging hubs, electric home initiatives, etc.

In summary, the Liberals are moving Ontario to a more electricity-based society after privatizing our province’s transmission grid and largest local distribution company! That means Hydro One will now go on to make record profits and a huge amount of potential income is being stripped away from Ontarians.

But why? To balance the current Liberal budget and dangle some shiny gifts ahead of the 2018 election. All this at the expense of Ontarians.

The whole thing reeks of corruption. Just waiting for the smoking gun to be revealed. Timing is everything.

Joel Usher, Newcastle

Thanks to Linda McQuaig for detailing the long history of support in Ontario for a public monopoly on electricity — right up to today. The public instinct is right: it is best to keep this rare and valuable asset so that profits go back to our treasury, and to avoid the risk of the monopoly control falling into the hands of those who would maximize their returns at the expense of consumers and the environment.

Ms. McQuaig could have added that selling off Hydro One is a bad deal, as concluded by Ontario’s Financial Accountability Officer. After all, investors are not stupid.

They will not pay full price for the value of the future Hydro One profits they would get as minority shareholders, due to the risk, because key decisions affecting profits are taken by government. The monopoly is worth more to the government as the decision-maker.

If you must sell an asset, this is a particularly bad one to sell.

Kim Jarvi, Toronto
Recommend this Post

Jason Kenney and Alberta's Last Political Cowboy

Montreal Simon - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 05:46


With every passing day Jason's Kenney's tour of Alberta in a Made in Mexico pick up truck becomes even more outrageous, and even more expensive.

For while one might hope that Kenney is paying for his own hair cuts...



We're still paying his MP's salary.
Read more »

The Orange Id

Northern Reflections - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 05:18

On Thursday, Donald Trump apologized -- sort of. James Hohmann writes:

Parsing the speech, which was read from a teleprompter, veteran campaign strategists and historians noted that Trump sounded much more like a conventional politician than he has all year. In their view, he’s following a path of rhetorical evasion that has been well trod by candidates in both parties.

Linguists and relationship experts, meanwhile, said Trump’s comments were ineffective and that his words cannot accurately be described as an “apology.” In fact, the GOP nominee did not specify exactly who or what he was talking about. The targets over the course of his campaign are plentiful, including the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, Megyn Kelly, New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, Mexicans and Muslims.
Trump said he regretted any slips of the tongue he might have made. That one word -- regret -- signals that his apology is a non-apology:

New York University historian Tim Naftali, who previously directed the Richard Nixon presidential library, heard Nixonian echoes as he watched the tape of Trump’s speech in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Thursday night. Two men who Trump talks to – Roger Ailes and Roger Stone – worked for the former president.

“An apology involves contrition. Neither Trump, so far, nor Nixon showed real contrition,” Naftali said. “Nixon, at least, believed apologies were a sign of weakness, which exposed him to more attacks from his real and perceived enemies.”
The only apology Trump is capable of is a non-apology. He is the Orange Id -- a rolling wrecking ball whose prime product is toxic waste.  If he weren't so dangerous, he'd be pathetic.

Image: pinterest.com

solidarity from scotland to palestine via soccer

we move to canada - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 04:30
At a football (soccer) match between the Scottish Celtic team and an Israeli team, Hapoel Beersheba, hundreds of Celtic fans defied Scottish law to show their solidarity with Palestine and protest the Israeli occupation.

Mondoweiss reports:
There could be serious consequences for Celtic thanks to the protest, carried out in front of Israelis themselves. Fines and closures of their fans seating sections are possible, under UEFA rules. And a 2012 Scottish law against provocative political speech at sporting events makes the flag display an arrestable offense, although authorities reportedly did not take the offending fans into custody. There were dozens of them, photographs show.

Although the flag politics of the region are contrarian, the feelings of political solidarity are real.

“Since at least the late 80’s Palestine flags have been seen at Celtic Park and Celtic fans have shown their support for the Palestinians. Celtic fans have always had a radical history with support for Irish resistance to British rule and it is from there that support for Palestine stems. Also following support for Palestine among other football and sports fans and figures,” reads a Facebook page called Celtic Fans for Palestine, with about 3,300 members.

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) will weigh what could happen, but it might involve the closing of some of the stands in the stadium for a Champions league game, writes Neil Cameron in the Herald, a Scottish paper, in an opinion piece chiding protesters for risking the forfeiture of other fans tickets. European football carries out collective punishment against fans, apparently.Watch this beautiful video from AJ+.

Donald Trump's Deeply Disturbing New Attack Ad

Montreal Simon - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 02:00


Well there he was in flood ravaged Louisiana yesterday, trying to portray himself as a kinder, gentler Donald Trump.

The great uniter instead of the great divider.


But let nobody be fooled by those hollow words.

Read more »

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 21:47
Oliver Heldens - Melody

Two Candidates, same story???

kirbycairo - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 12:23
I am not a big supporter of Hillary Clinton, but I believe that most of the ferocious, mainstream attacks on her are (whether consciously or not) motivated by sexism. The reason I say this is simple: Clinton is not only probably the most qualified candidate in recent memory (if not ever), but her stances and policies are completely in line with the Democratic candidates over the past thirty or forty years. It is easy and fair to criticize Clinton from a leftist point of view, and some of the public criticisms of her have been just this, something that is, I believe, a result of a rising tide of leftist politics in the millennial generation. But from the mainstream Democrats criticisms of her have been deeply hypocritical since her policies are not significantly different from Obama, Bill Clinton, Al Gore (when he was in the running), Dukakis, or even Mondale. Hillary Clinton is, in policy terms, simply an extension of the Democratic Party, a party that grew out of the Reagan years, a largely neo-liberal party (in economic terms) with a social liberal bent, that pays lip service to traditional left of centre issues. (Much like the Liberal Party here in Canada).

Now some people criticize Hillary Clinton by pointing to her scandals and alleged dishonesty. I am not going to take issue with every one of these issues because that would necessitate a longer blog than I have time for. But let me say this - for anyone who has been in public life as long, and at the high level that she has, her alleged offenses seem pretty much par for the course. I take it as read that Hillary Clinton is corrupt and dishonest to a degree, simply because I take it that the rich and powerful in capitalism are almost universally so. That is how the system works. It favours corruption and rewards dishonesty.

However, I find it hypocritical (or naive) in the extreme for people to portray Hillary as deeply flawed and dishonest and then go out and support Trump as though they are somehow doing something different. First of all, let's be clear, Trump has been a long time supporter of the same economic agenda that Hillary Clinton represents. That is a simple matter of record. But more importantly, to imagine that Trump is somehow outside of the establishment that Clinton represents is pure folly. Trump is a typically dishonest, wealthy businessman in a system that favours the rich and powerful. If he lived in a system that didn't economically and judicially favour wealth and power, Trump would be broke or maybe in jail. Like so many of the rich and powerful, Trump uses a corrupt system to shield him from prosecution, much like Clinton does. Trump uses his wealth to keep himself rich and to take wealth from smaller, more honest business people. (One simply has to examine his business history to understand this) It is simply ridiculous to think of a billionaire like Trump as somehow outside of the establishment of a capitalist nation. And his record of dishonesty is no less public, and arguably much worse, than Clinton's. But even if you think Clinton is uniquely dishonest as mainstream presidential candidates have been, it is ridiculous and blind to see Trump as any more honest or any less part of the establishment.

If someone was reluctant to vote for Clinton because she is too fiscally rightwing or too much of a foriegn policy hawk, I think that is fair enough. However, for someone to support Trump because they think Clinton is dishonest and too much part of the establishment would be as absurd as someone voting for the Neo-nazis because they think Trump is too racist and misogynistic. It is absurd. Trump's dishonesty is self-evident and obvious even without the huge amount of testimony from those he has cheated, his business failures are startling, and his support for the trade practices that he now criticizes has a long history.

So here's the thing - if I were an American voter and I was set on voting either Democrat or Republican, I would be choosing between the two generally dishonest, rich and powerful, neo-liberal candidates. Well, I would choose the one who isn't blatantly racist, misogynist, and hasn't been endorsed by the white supremacists. That seems pretty straightforward to me.

Well, There Goes the Neighbourhood

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 11:44
These are exciting times for Vancouver Island as large numbers of marine creatures move into local waters, migrating out of the south.

One species that has shown up in strength is the humpback whale. They attract a lot of attention from tourists on whale watcher excursions and from kayakers alike. This is what awaited a bunch of kayakers in the Discovery Islands off Campbell River.



If You Want to Stop Hearing These Stories, You Have to Act Now

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 11:11

Okay, July was the hottest month on record. Not the hottest July, the hottest month period. 2016 is now virtually guaranteed to be the hottest year ever, just as 2015 was in its turn. The last 15-months have each consecutively been record hot months. It's just plain getting hotter. It's going to keep getting hotter.  Too bad the Dauphin is too busy peddling bitumen to notice. If only he knew I'm sure he'd do something. Sure he would.

Interesting new development reported at phys.org (yeah, as in "physics"). Scientists have discovered that sea level rise in the Pacific Ocean accurately predicts global temperature changes. I know, I know, who cares? Wait just a minute.

Based on the Pacific Ocean's sea level in 2015, the team estimates by the end of 2016 the world's average surface temperature will increase up to 0.5 F (0.28 C) more than in 2014.

In 2015 alone, the average global surface temperature increased by 0.32 F (0.18 C).

"Our prediction is through the end of 2016," said first author Cheryl Peyser. "The prediction is looking on target so far."


Okay, now let's unpack that. We're already above 1 degree Celsius in heating since the pre-industrial era. Our leaders have agreed that the "never exceed" point for warming, the point at which we may have a reasonable chance of avoiding catastrophic, runaway global warming is 1.5 degrees Celsius. In other words we have less than half a degree Celsius to play with before we blow through that 1.5 C limit. Only we used up 0.18 degree Celsius in 2015 and we stand to add another 0.28 C this year. Wait a second. Hell's Bells - that's 0. 46 degrees Celsius of our somewhat less than 0.5 degrees Celsius limit and we've done it in just TWO years.

An old friend came to visit recently and at one point we somehow wound up watching a bit of YouTube. In particular we watched Russian dash cam video. As we went through it I was struck that it seemed to resemble our government's approach to climate change.  Watch it if you like, as little or as much as you can bear. Then ask yourself...






And We're a Long Way From Done Yet

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 09:13


Here's the problem. When our leaders are debating how little they can get away with doing about climate change,  they're looking only at the tip of the iceberg, the part above water. That's their frame of reference.

Despite how much publicity it has received, most of us have a poor if not erroneous understanding of atmospheric greenhouse gases and what they hold in store for the next few decades and over the two centuries following that.

There's already a lot of atmospheric GHG, enough that we've already locked in 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming even if we abandoned fossil energy entirely tomorrow. The stuff is very persistent, especially CO2, and it will continue to cause the planet to heat until, over a very long time, we're long gone and it finally dissipates.

At last December's Paris climate summit there was general agreement to limit warming to 1.5 C. We are effectively already there, just give it a couple of decades to work its magic.

Then there are the knock-on effects this 1.5C will create. That could add another 1.5C over a couple of centuries from the heating effect of the loss of reflective ice caps and glaciers. That's a total of 3 degrees Celsius without factoring in other natural feedback loops such as a massive methane release from melting permafrost and warming northern lakes and seabed.

Now, bad as this mess already is, we have a new government dragging its heels in the footsteps of its predecessor, intent on driving the extraction and export of ever increasing amounts of Athabasca bitumen. The greenhouse gas emissions from that initiative go directly on top of the basic 1.5 C plus the additional, long-term 1.5C plus the added warming from the methane feedback loop and so on.

Is "genocidal" too strong a word to use? There is credible scientific opinion concluding that we're on the path to a major extinction event, the first in our planet's history created by any species of life, by one species - mankind. It lacks the malevolence of concentration death camps of the Holocaust, the killing fields of Cambodia or the slaughterhouse of Rwanda yet, in raw numbers, it could eclipse all of them in sheer numbers.

Some, such as Gaia hypothesis creator, James Lovelock, foresee mankind emerging from this century with a population reduced to a few hundred million. If he's remotely correct that's talking not about millions of deaths or even hundreds of millions but many billions of humans wiped out through man's own indifference, greed and neglect. How genocidal is that? Global, encompassing almost every species, the lot wiped out. Maybe we should change it to "omnicidal."

Think about the image of that iceberg the next time you're treated to a heaping helping of climate change nonsense from Trudeau enviromin, Lady Cathy - especially when she gets to the part about keeping warming under 1.5C. When she starts on about 1.5C you know she's talking with her head up her past.

And We're a Long Way From Done Yet

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 09:13
Here's the problem. When our leaders are debating how little they can get away with doing about climate change,  they're looking only at the tip of the iceberg. That's their frame of reference.

Despite how much publicity it has received, most of us have a poor if not erroneous understanding of atmospheric greenhouse gases and what they hold in store for the next few decades and over the two centuries following that.

There's already a lot of atmospheric GHG, enough that we've already locked in 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming even if we abandoned fossil energy entirely tomorrow. The stuff is very persistent, especially CO2, and it will continue to cause the planet to heat until, over a very long time, we're long gone and it finally dissipates.

At last December's Paris climate summit there was general agreement to limit warming to 1.5 C. We are effectively already there, just give it a couple of decades to work its magic.

Then there are the knock-on effects this 1.5C will create. That could add another 1.5C over a couple of centuries from the heating effect of the loss of reflective ice caps and glaciers. That's a total of 3 degrees Celsius without factoring in other natural feedback loops such as a massive methane release from melting permafrost and warming northern lakes and seabed.

Now, bad as this mess already is, we have a new government dragging its heels in the footsteps of its predecessor, intent on driving the extraction and export of ever increasing amounts of Athabasca bitumen. The greenhouse gas emissions from that initiative go directly on top of the basic 1.5 C plus the additional, long-term 1.5C plus the added warming from the methane feedback loop and so on.

Is "genocidal" too strong a word to use? There is credible scientific opinion concluding that we're on the path to a major extinction event, the first in our planet's history created by any species of life, by one species - mankind. It lacks the malevolence of concentration death camps of the Holocaust, the killing fields of Cambodia or the slaughterhouse of Rwanda yet, in raw numbers, it could eclipse all of them in sheer numbers.

Some, such as Gaia hypothesis creator, James Lovelock, foresee mankind emerging from this century with a population reduced to a few hundred million. If he's remotely correct that's talking not about millions of deaths or even hundreds of millions but many billions of humans wiped out through man's own indifference, greed and neglect. How genocidal is that? Global, encompassing almost every species, the lot wiped out. Maybe we should change it to "omnicidal."

Think about the image of that iceberg the next time you're treated to a heaping helping of climate change nonsense from Trudeau enviromin, Lady Cathy - especially when she gets to the part about keeping warming under 1.5C. When she starts on about 1.5C you know she's talking with her head up her past.

"The Way We've Been Thinking Can't Be Right"

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 08:51

It was some 30-years ago that those shameless libertines - Thatcher, Reagan and Mulroney - hopped into bed with the comely whore, neoliberalism, and we've been getting screwed over ever since.

Their successors are still in bed with neoliberalism. Yeah, that goes for Trudeau too - in spades. But that's not the worst of it. The real creepy part is that , today, they're in bed with a corpse and yet they're still just merrily shagging away.

A corpse, I say? Pay no heed to what I say but you might want to listen to those who are calling out our political necrophiles. People like John Ralston Saul who took neoliberalism's pulse a decade ago and found its once beating heart, globalism, stilled and dead.

Or, if Ralston Saul isn't to your liking, how about Joseph Eugene Stiglitz, economist extraordinaire, Nobel laureate and all?

Since the late 1980s and the so-called Washington Consensus, neoliberalism — essentially the idea that free trade, open markets, privatisation, deregulation, and reductions in government spending designed to increase the role of the private sector are the best ways to boost growth — has dominated the thinking of the world's biggest economies and international organisations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The policies of Ronald Reagan and Clinton in the US and Margaret Thatcher in the UK are often held up as the gold standard of neoliberalism at work, while in recent years in Britain George Osborne and David Cameron's economic policies continued the neoliberal tradition.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, however, there has been a groundswell of opinion in both economic and political circles to suggest that the neoliberal consensus may not be the right way forward for the world. In the past few years, with growth low and inequality rampant, that groundswell has gained traction.

Stiglitz, who won a Nobel Memorial Prize in economics in 2001 for his work on information asymmetry, has been one of neoliberalism's biggest critics in recent years, and he says the "neoliberal euphoria" that has gripped the world since the 1980s is now gone.


"We've gone from a neoliberal euphoria that 'markets work well almost all the time' and all we need to do is keep governments on course, to 'markets don't work' and the debate is now about how we get governments to function in ways that can alleviate this," he said.

In other words, Stiglitz says: "Neoliberalism is dead in both developing and developed countries."

Stiglitz is not alone in his belief that neoliberalism has its problems, though his argument that the consensus is "dead" is somewhat more forthright than those of many others. In a blog post in May, three economists from the IMF — long one of the greatest champions of the neoliberal consensus — questioned the efficacy of some aspects of it, particularly when it comes to the creation of inequality.


..."The increase in inequality engendered by financial openness and austerity might itself undercut growth, the very thing that the neoliberal agenda is intent on boosting," Jonathan Ostry, Prakash Loungani, and Davide Furceri argued. "There is now strong evidence that inequality can significantly lower both the level and the durability of growth."

"There are a lot of people thinking the same thing at this point, that basically some aspects of the neoliberal agenda probably need a rethink," Ostry told the Financial Times on the day the blog was published, adding: "The crisis said: 'The way we've been thinking can't be right.'"


We are not thinking right, indeed. The evidence is all around us, inescapable. Yet not one of our political leaders, Trudeau included, has thought about slipping out of that bed and maybe taking a long, hot shower. Nope, it's their turn, and they've got some more shagging to do.
And there's the problem. Three decades of hard-thrusting neoliberalism has rendered statesmanship and leaders of vision, redundant and worthless.  The political process, thanks to globalism, has been so neutered as to tolerate only technocrats like Harper and Trudeau. The way they're thinking can't be right. It isn't.

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 07:44
Assorted content to end your week.

- PressProgress points out that a large number of Canadians are justifiably concerned about our economy, with a particular desire to rein in income and wealth inequality. And Guy Caron notes that there's no reason for politicians to keep facilitating tax avoidance which exacerbates the gap between the lucky few and the rest of us: 
A basic principle of any modern democracy is equality before the law. That principle includes tax law.

Nobody likes to pay taxes. It is often said that it is the price to pay for civilization. After all, they help pay for our schools, our roads, our health-care system and a social safety net that helps decrease income inequality. However, the pill is easier to swallow when everyone pays their fair share.

It's increasingly clear that in Canada -- and in most industrialized countries -- many are not. We have a two-tier system where the wealthy and the corporations can escape their obligations, and the rest of us can't.

As early as 1992, the auditor general of Canada pointed out the dangers of this unfair situation, when it warned that "Avoidance mechanisms also have a negative effect on the equity and integrity of the tax system and on public attitudes toward voluntary compliance. Access to such mechanisms is usually limited to those who can afford expensive advice. Those who cannot, therefore, may be denied equitable or even-handed treatment."
...
The problem is systemic in nature.

To put an end to tax evasion, aggressive tax avoidance, double standards and the culture of secrecy, we need to reform the system in Canada and on the international scene.- Sadie McInnes examines how homelessness (or the threat thereof) particularly affects Canadian women. And Ben Casselman points out why a focus on extremely long hours is antithetical to any attempt to reach pay equity.

- Andrew Coyne rebuts a few of the more outlandish lines of attack against proportional electoral systems with examples of highly successful countries which use them. And Devon Rowcliffe notes that PR's international track record actually involves improvements in representational diversity and political cooperation.

- Amanda Connolly reports on the Libs' delays and half-measures in reviewing Bill C-51, while Paul Wells argues that we shouldn't be surprised that the Trudeau Libs' idea of change to the Cons' surveillance policies is limited to matters of branding rather than substance. And James Di Fiore takes a closer look at Justin Trudeau's attempt to substitute carefully-managed photo ops for actual transparency:
Inadvertently, the piece outlined one of the most glaring problems with the Trudeau government: its brain trust has placed such a high value on presenting a certain image to the public that they have replaced transparency with celebrity, a strategy meant to seduce and distract rather than inform the public.

This calculation is duplicitous; it showcases an accessible leader but one with little time to get into the specifics of the policies that run counter to Trudeau's reputation of a real progressive. Keep giving the media the casual, approachable Trudeau, but keep the centre-right material in the vault. - Finally, Doug Cuthand discusses how the senseless killing of Coulten Boushie (and even more senseless attempts to justify or excuse it) has brought ingrained racism to the surface.

A Time For Some Critical Thinking

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 06:34

With Canada's police chiefs clamoring for new powers that would allow for a massive invasion of our collective privacy, Canadians need to take some time to think critically about our rights and freedoms. As you will see in the following, the first commentator, Rich van Abbe of Toronto, has done just that:
Re: Police chiefs pushing for your passwords, Aug. 17

It’s a bedrock principle of our justice system that no one should be compelled to give evidence against him- or herself.

That makes the demand by Canada’s police chiefs that a law be enacted to force citizens to divulge their computer and phone passwords such an odious suggestion.

There’s no question that authorities engaged in a lawful investigation should be able to obtain warrants from the courts to search suspects’ homes or businesses to seek evidence — even to bust down a locked door if necessary.

But no law requires that a subject of a search tell the cops where evidence may be concealed, or help them retrieve it. Finding it is what detectives are paid to do.

The law the chiefs are demanding might make investigators’ jobs easier, but it would enshrine a perverse violation of the principle of no self-incrimination, one of our most cherished legal protections.

The federal government should slap down this foray against Canadians’ rights in no uncertain terms.The second letter-writer, Claude Gannon of Markham, is quite happy to surrender his privacy, because he has "nothing to hide":
The police want my password? Here it is. I have nothing to hide.

The Internet has given criminals and radicalized individuals the possibility to operate anonymously, so the police and other law-enforcement bodies must be given the tools to curtail their activities. If this involves getting a hold of someone’s password, then so be it. Honest citizens have nothing to hide and will support the police.

Of course, civil libertarians and constitutional lawyers are very quick to cite privacy concerns, but safety and security should come first. Look around you: do people really care about privacy? Most of us are quite happy sharing our lives with banks, credit card companies, major retailers, rental companies…and the list goes on. Some people even display their whole lives on Facebook.

Let’s face it, we live in an increasingly dangerous world, and we need to give law-enforcement agencies all the help they need to combat crime and terrorism. If this means the occasional breach of privacy, then so be it!Finally, some fitting irony from Randy Gostlin of Oshawa:
Perhaps we should just assume everyone’s guilty until proven innocent —except, of course, for police. They’re always innocent.Recommend this Post

No Reason To Reject The System Outright

Northern Reflections - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 05:21


As Canada moves towards proportional representation, the Cassandras are wailing loudly. Andrew Coyne gives two examples -- from opposite ends of the political spectrum:

Here, for example, is Bill Tieleman, B.C. NDP strategist, writing in The Tyee: “How would you like an anti-immigrant, racist, anti-abortion or fundamentalist religious political party holding the balance of power in Canada? … Welcome to the proportional representation electoral system, where extreme, minority and just plain bizarre views get to rule the roost.”

At the other ideological pole, here’s columnist Lorne Gunter, writing in The Sun newspapers: “PR breaks the local bond between constituents and MPs … In a strict PR system, party leaders at national headquarters select who their candidates will be, or at least in what order they will make it into Parliament …” 
To the sceptics, Coyne writes, look at the countries where PR has been adopted:

Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, all of whose parliaments are wholly or partially elected by proportional representation. 

We can at least describe accurately how their political system actually works, rather than rely on caricatures born of half-remembered newspaper clippings.

At one end, you have countries such as Austria, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg and Sweden, all with six to eight parties represented in their legislatures — or about one to three more than Canada’s, with five. At the other, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland, with 10 to 12. 

Virtually all of these countries have some element of local representation: only the Netherlands, whose total area is less than that of some Canadian ridings, elects MPs at large. And none uses the “strict” form of PR Gunter describes, known as “closed list.” Rather, voters can generally choose which of a party’s candidates they prefer, so-called “open lists.”

How unstable are these systems? Since 1945, Canada has held 22 elections. In only one of the PR countries mentioned has there been more: Denmark, with 26. The average is 20. It is true that the governments that result are rarely, if ever, one-party majorities. But, as you may have noticed, that is not unknown here. Nine of Canada’s 22 federal elections since 1945 have resulted in minority parliaments. 
The sceptics like to point to two countries -- Israel and Italy. But both countries are outliers:

The Israeli parliament has 12 parties, Italy’s eight. By comparison, France, which uses a two-round system, has 14, while the United Kingdom — yes, Mother Britain — now has 11. More to the point, there are circumstances unique to each, not only in their parliamentary systems — Israel uses an extreme form of PR, while Italy’s, which has gone through several, defies description — but in their histories and political cultures. 
So, yes, it's important that the system be designed with care. But the fact that two countries have designed their systems poorly is no reason to reject the system outright.

Image: canadians.org

Catching Up With the Adventures of the Republican Clown Donald Trump

Montreal Simon - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 03:06


During the almost three weeks I spent in Scotland, I wasn't able to follow the adventures of the RepubliCon clown Donald Trump as closely as I normally do.

Because as you may know, most Scots can't stand Trump and would rather ignore him.

So you can imagine how surprised I was to turn on CNN when I got home last night, and see the angry orange sounding almost reasonable.

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