Posts from our progressive community

Shut up, Jake, its election-time!

Cathie from Canada - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 12:19
Everybody is talking about the Harper Cons fiscal advantage if he calls a mid-October election this weekend.

I have another question about such an early election call: what information will Canadians NOT be hearing about during the next eleven weeks?
Does Stats Canada still get to release or update unemployment rates during an election campaign? What about government economic forecasts and updates? Both would, I think, prove that Canada is in a recession. And what about other types of information -- in 2008, DND restricted interviews with the military during the election campaign.
Not forgetting, of course, the League of Extraordinary Canadians has already been silenced, along with federal scientists and any other reality-based federal employees.

Exhibit "A", Your Honour

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 12:06

That's the annual Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem.  The man in black (sorry Johnny, no offence) is Yishai Schlissel. That thing in his upraised fist is a knife. Among those terrified people are six into whom Schlissel will plunge his knife before he's wrestled to the ground by the crowd and subsequently arrested by Israeli cops.

Here's the deal. This is the 2015 Gay Pride parade. Schlissel did something similar at the 2005 Gay Pride parade when he stabbed three marchers. He didn't put in an appearance at any of the marches during the intervening decade because he was in prison. Yishai only got out three weeks ago, just in time to do some knife shopping.

Schlissel has the same mental affliction common to many of those who believe in scriptural inerrancy. He takes the batshit crazy stuff in the holy book at face value, as gospel. Like every fundamentalist Jew, every fundamentalist Christian, every fundamentalist Muslim - this stuff is God's word, ever last syllable. Schlissel told the cops that he came to the Gay Pride parade "to kill in the name of God."

Now you might have thought that, with a wack job like Schlissel, Israeli authorities might have postponed his prison release at least until after the Gay Pride business was over for the year. You also might have thought the Israeli police would have kept him under surveillance. If you know the guy has a profound belief that he's obliged to kill gay people for his God, then why do you help him do it by letting him run free?

A Hunted Man

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 11:46
Will America extradite Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer to face trial in Zimbabwe on poaching charges for the senseless killing of beloved Cecil the lion?

He readily admits he did it.  He must have seen how his "guides" used a dead animal tied to their truck as bait to lure the magnificent male lion out of the nature preserve, presumably to some ideal clearing where he could poke it in the side with an arrow, leaving it wounded until his guides ran it down and killed it with a gunshot 40-hours later.

I wonder what Dr. Palmer and his companions talked about while they were on that truck watching Cecil follow behind them? I'm sure they had plenty of time to discuss the situation during the 40-hours it took to find and dispatch the wounded creature? I'd even bet they had a chat or two about the lion's tracking collar they tried to destroy as part of their getaway.

What about the obligatory, for Palmer, photo-op? He loves taking pictures with the creatures he slaughters.  And even after the tracking collar left no doubt that it was an illegal kill, they still proceeded to skin and behead the animal, taking their prizes with them.

No, this isn't a crime Dr. Palmer is going to be able to lay off on his guides. Not a chance. Any halfway decent prosecutor will have no problem getting a conviction and asking for the maximum prescribed punishment.

Still it is Zimbabwe, a nation not known for always playing by the rules. It's the whole Mugabe thing. Will the White House deliver Palmer into their hands for trial? Not so sure. Although there's a virtual mob in the United States that would happily see Dr. Palmer fed an arrow, skinned and then tossed to a pride of needy lions in retribution. One way or the other, Washington's decision is going to be enormously controversial.

There's Nothing "Technical" About Five Consecutive Months of Economic Contraction

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 11:27
After seven consecutive deficit budgets, Sideshow Steve Harper can go to the polls adding a recession to his economic achievements.

The Canadian economy has contracted for five consecutive months and even the Harper-friendly Globe & Mail reports that suggests we've slipped into a recession.  Really, ya think?

Don't sweat it. This sort of thing happens to minor petro-states all the time. Sure Steve could blame it all on OPEC's oil price war but that would mean blaming Riyadh, the House of Saud, and they just inked a $15-billion order for Canadian armoured, democracy-suppression/Shiite extermination vehicles so he won't want to ruffle their keffiyehs.

And, as for that balanced budget Furious Leader wanted to contrive before Canadians go to the polls, that's pretty much over.  Oh, I know, let's just dissolve Parliament in time to make that whole budget business go away.

Here's an idea. Let's make the election a referendum on Mulcair's secret plans to drag Canada back to the 19th century.  Hell we've only had two prime ministers with beards - Alexander Mackenzie and Mackenzie Bowell, a stone mason and a printer respectively.

Look how long Canada has struggled to remain prime ministerially beard-free. Why should we betray our ancestors' sacrifice and throw out a century of progress now?

The Madness of Mandarins

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 10:41
Yeah! Beijing has won the 2020 Winter Olympics.  Yeah. The Olympic committee awarded the games to a city of 22-million with a water supply capable of supporting 12-million.  Yeah.  By the time the games open (if they can find/make snow), Beijing should be transformed into a new supercity of 130-million renamed as Jing-Jin-Ji.

The Jing is for Beijing, the part shown in the center. The Jin is for the city of Tianjin which will be amalgamated.  The Ji is the popular name for the region of Habei.  It's a great name, really easy to remember.  You start with Jing and then just keep dropping off the last letter.  You'll notice from the map that it's larger than South Korea with its paltry population of a midge under 50-million.

This was all done, why?  So Beijing won't be eclipsed by the even more prosperous cities to the south, Shanghai and Nanjing.  If this all sounds a little crazy, the New York Times columnist and economist, Paul Krugman, writes that it's a madness that begins at the very top.

Politicians who preside over economic booms often develop delusions of competence. You can see this domestically: Jeb Bush imagines that he knows the secrets of economic growth because he happened to be governor when Florida was experiencing a giant housing bubble, and he had the good luck to leave office just before it burst. We’ve seen it in many countries: I still remember the omniscience and omnipotence ascribed to Japanese bureaucrats in the 1980s, before the long stagnation set in.

This is the context in which you need to understand the strange goings-on in China’s stock market. In and of itself, the price of Chinese equities shouldn’t matter all that much. But the authorities have chosen to put their credibility on the line by trying to control that market — and are in the process of demonstrating that, China’s remarkable success over the past 25 years notwithstanding, the nation’s rulers have no idea what they’re doing.

China’s leaders appear to be terrified — probably for political reasons — by the prospect of even a brief recession. So they’ve been pumping up demand by, in effect, force-feeding the system with credit, including fostering a stock market boom. Such measures can work for a while, and all might have been well if the big reforms were moving fast enough. But they aren’t, and the result is a bubble that wants to burst.

China’s response has been an all-out effort to prop up stock prices. Large shareholders have been blocked from selling; state-run institutions have been told to buy shares; many companies with falling prices have been allowed to suspend trading. These are things you might do for a couple of days to contain an obviously unjustified panic, but they’re being applied on a sustained basis to a market that is still far above its level not long ago.

What do Chinese authorities think they’re doing?

...the Chinese government, having encouraged citizens to buy stocks, now feels that it must defend stock prices to preserve its reputation. And what it’s ending up doing, of course, is shredding that reputation at record speed.

Indeed, every time you think the authorities have done everything possible to destroy their credibility, they top themselves. Lately state-run media have been assigning blame for the stock plunge to, you guessed it, a foreign conspiracy against China, which is even less plausible than you may think: China has long maintained controls that effectively shut foreigners out of its stock market, and it’s hard to sell off assets you were never allowed to own in the first place.

So what have we just learned? China’s incredible growth wasn’t a mirage, and its economy remains a productive powerhouse. The problems of transition to lower growth are obviously major, but we’ve known that for a while. The big news here isn’t about the Chinese economy; it’s about China’s leaders. Forget everything you’ve heard about their brilliance and foresightedness. Judging by their current flailing, they have no clue what they’re doing.

So, to recap, while China's leaders are walking a stock market slack rope with the grenade in one hand and the pin in their teeth, they're going to amalgamate Beijing into a supercity of 130-million and host a winter olympics even as their nation descends into a desperate water crisis while sea level rise begins to imperil their coastal mega-cities.  What could possibly go wrong?  Oh yeah, everything. Stay tuned. 
Wait a second. I know what the Chinese need in this hour of desperation.  Donald Trump.

Something To Think About

Northern Reflections - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 06:35

For the next seventy-seven days, we're going to hear the message that Stephen Harper is the best person to guide the Canadian economy. Jim Stanford has been crunching the numbers; and it turns out that -- like so much of what Mr. Harper says -- there is a cavernous gap between his rhetoric and reality. Stanford writes:

However, this gap between triumphalist rhetoric and grim reality did not suddenly appear. In fact, the evidence has been piling up for years -- long before the current slowdown -- that Canada's economic performance under the Harper Conservatives has been uniquely poor.

I have worked with my Unifor colleague Jordan Brennan to compile an exhaustive empirical comparison of Canada's economic record under the Harper government, and compared that record to previous post-war prime ministers. The full 64-page study was released today, and is available here.

Here's what we did: The performance of the economy under each prime minister was described on the basis of 16 conventional and commonly used indicators of economic progress and well-being. These 16 indicators fall into three broad categories, summarized as follows:

  • Work: Job creation, employment rate, unemployment rate, labour force participation, youth employment, and job quality.
  • Production: Real GDP growth (absolute and per capita), business investment, exports and productivity growth.
  • Distribution and Debt: Real personal incomes, inequality, federal public services, personal debt, and government debt.

Taken all together, the picture that emerges is grim:

Considering the overall average ranking of each prime minister (across all 16 indicators), the Harper government receives an average ranking of 8.05 out of a worst-possible 9.0. That is dead last among the nine post-war governments, and by a wide margin -- falling well behind the second-worst government, which was the Mulroney Conservative regime of 1984-93.

The very poor economic record of the Harper government cannot be blamed on the fact that Canada experienced a recession in 2008-09. In fact, Canada experienced a total of 10 recessions during the 1946-2014 period. Most governments had to grapple with recession at some point during their tenures -- and some prime ministers had to deal with more than one. Instead, statistical evidence shows that the recovery from the 2008-09 recession has been the weakest (by far) of any Canadian recovery since the Depression. A uniquely weak recovery, not the fact that Canada experienced a recession at all, helps explains the Harper government's poor economic rating.

This statistical review confirms that it is far-fetched to suggest that Canada's economy has been well-managed during the Harper government's time in office. To the contrary, there is no other time in Canada's post-war economic history in which Canada's economy has performed worse than it did under the Harper government.
The man who claims to be an economist -- but who has never earned his living as an economist -- is a dismal failure when it comes to the dismal science.

Something to think about each time you're told that Stephen Harper knows what he's doing.

Putting A Stake Through The Heart Of Harper's Lies

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 06:15

As a youngster, there were few things I enjoyed more than vampire films starring Christopher Lee, in my view the best cinematic vampire there ever was. Usually, at the end, either a stake through the heart or exposure to the rays of the sun ended his evil hold on people. It was a satisfying form of exorcism.

In this impending (or is it never ending?) election campaign, the only thing that will release Canadians from the foul grip of the Harper regime's lies, deceptions, attacks and secrecy is the metaphorical light that only facts and truth can provide.

And there are so many untruths and that we need to be armed against, including the one about how a low-tax regime spurs the economy and proves Harper's economic 'mastery'. Star reader Russell Pangborn of Keswick, Ontario begs to differ:
Re: Budget watchdog predicts $1B deficit, July 23

The Conservatives told us their plan to reduce taxes was good for the country. Reminds me of the disastrous low-fat diet craze. While we were obsessing about lowering the quantity of fat in a serving, we overlooked the corresponding sugar increase that was introduced to make the food palatable.

Instead of improving our health, the low-fat mania actually ended up increasing our weight and our chance of getting health-unfriendly diseases like diabetes and heart problems. The new message, just starting to get through to the public, is that some fat is actually good for us.

There have been negative repercussions related to our acceptance of the promise of prosperity with the reduction of taxes. The truth is that we are in a recession. Health care, affordable higher education, proper infrastructure all sound like reasonable endeavors funded by taxes.

Attacking the amount of fat we eat and the amount of taxes we pay has not worked. I don’t want a huge tax increase, but I do want to stop hearing that “all taxes are bad” ad campaign that is thrown out to discredit some political parties.

My overall health improved when I stopped buying only low-fat products. Let’s hope that our country’s general health also will improve when we stop following the “lower taxes are always better” refrain.Excerpts from a missive written by David C. Searle of Toronto offer some pungent reminders of Harper's failures on the economic front:
Stephen Harper’s attack on Justin Trudeau’s “budgets balance themselves” may soon ignite an implosion of fortunes for the “omnipotent Conservative Grand Poobah,” who impetuously ditched the wise and prudent Red Tory Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s sound $3 billion contingency fund, steering Canada back into deficit with “a barrage of tax cuts,” well aware that oil commodity storm clouds were gathering.

The highly reputable Flaherty warned against the billions that income splitting for 15 per cent of households loyal to the Harper base would cost and actually had a conscience to resolutely stand against it.

The unveiled Harper legacy is one forsaking of our military personnel with rusted, trouble-plagued submarines, obsolete air and ground assets, a born-again-like sense of purpose at the last minute for veteran’s affairs that many deem as nothing but a charade, our aged suffering from deteriorating health care infrustructure, sewage and water repair backlogs in Toronto and Montreal are direly highlighting the need for federal help, meanwhile investments are disproportionately going to Conservative ridings in less trouble-prone areas.

We can thank Finance Critics Liberal Scott Brison and NDP Nathan Cullen for requesting a Parliamentary Budget Office Update exposes Harper’s fallacy of a balanced budget in 2015 and we should be awakened by this forecast from the PBO that warns, “Doubling Tax-Free Savings Accounts and indexing them to inflation could harm Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplements for the poorest of the poor the majority of which are women, yes our mothers.”

We shouldn’t buy into Harper’s fear-mongering-hysterics about terrorism, as he is merely deflecting our attention from the reality of a crumbling currency and economy.Continuing with economic matters, J. Richard Wright of Niagara-on-the-Lake assesses Mr. Harper as a "smug corporate pawn':
Stephen Harper has never met a free trade deal he didn’t like and seems ready to sign anything placed in front of him as he turns Canada from a benevolent and caring country into a corporate fiefdom. But, in doing so, he is playing a dangerous game.

Many of the agreements have little protections for Canadian rights but he doesn’t seem to care. For the almighty dollar, he is happy to give away out country and our resources to business interests despite the damage Canada may suffer. Of course, after the damage is done, the foreign investors will just move on, leaving us with the mess.

For instance, since many of these free trade agreements have investor protection clauses in them, he has exposed every Canadian citizen, through their tax contributions, to legal action if a foreign investor doesn’t realize a return on its investment because we won’t allow them to destroy or pollute our land.

Even now there is a $250 million lawsuit against the Canadian government by Lone Pine Resources Inc. (registered in Delaware), because the province of Quebec has banned fracking for natural gas in its province. Lone Pine wants to frack under the St. Lawrence River where it says there are massive deposits of natural gas.

Farmers and others near fracking operations in Pennsylvania regularly show that their drinking water can be lit on fire. So, imagine the St. Lawrence River on fire.

Experts say that even if the suit doesn’t succeed, it creates a libel chill for governments, discouraging them from passing environmental laws for health and safety for fear it will upset foreign investors. In addition, Harper’s latest free trade agreement with the European Union is expected to generate even more lawsuits against our government.

Also, Harper is saying he will sue the provinces if they pass laws, environmental or otherwise, that interfere with a foreign investor’s profits and leads to an action against the federal government. Is there no end to this smug, corporate pawn’s lunacy?Those who fought Dracula's evil reign were armed with garlic, crucifixes and stakes. Going into the October election, the best things we can arm ourselves with are facts, facts and more facts. Recommend this Post

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 05:40
Assorted content to end your week.

- Shannon Gormley points out how the Cons' actions to strip voting rights from Canadians abroad sticks out like a sore thumb compared to an international trend of recognizing that citizenship doesn't end merely because a person crosses a border. And Peter Russell and Semra Sevi lament that it's too late to reverse the damage before this fall's federal election, while the Star makes the broader point that we should be encouraging rather than limiting voter participation.

- Andrew Nikiforuk exposes how the U.S.'s green light to fracking has led to far more dangerous "shallow fracking" than anticipated - though it shouldn't come as much surprise that a poorly-regulated industry would engage in more risky practices than it would if public safety was properly taken into account.

- Ben Makuch reports that Stephen Harper is spending hundreds of millions of dollars for its own Star Wars program even as he denounces any suggestion of using public money to actually help people.

- Meanwhile, Jo Snyder makes the case for pharmacare as a means of reducing inequality. And Don Cayo notes that it's equally viable as a matter of economic policy.

- Finally, the Star argues that the Cons' economic spin consists of nothing but smoke and mirrors, while L. Ian McDonald sees it as more of a matter of theatre. And the CP reports on yet another month of economic decline on Stephen Harper's watch.

On institutional improvements

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 05:35
Shorter Carol Goar:
When it comes to Canada Post, the only options are cuts, sell-offs or more cuts. Because who could possibly want better service which also increases public revenue?

RU486: Game. Set. Match.

Dammit Janet - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 05:04
Further to the long overdue approval by Health Canada of RU486 or mifepristone, the 'gold standard' of medical abortion: an explanation and a clarification. (And some gloating.)

Medical -- non-surgical -- abortion is not new to Canada. But the protocol doctors have been forced to follow up to now is outmoded, unreliable, and subject to screw-ups.

Here, an expert explains:
"We're absolutely thrilled," Jill Arkles, from the Sexual Health Centre in Saskatoon, told CBC News Thursday.

According to Arkles, some doctors in the province were already providing an alternative to surgical abortion, using a combination of an injection and medication to induce a miscarriage.

She called RU-486 a welcome advancement. The injection-and-tablet method can take up to five weeks to complete, and involve up to five medical appointments, while RU-486 is two pills taken a day or two apart.

"It's more cost-effective than other current medications that we're using, as well it requires less time overall," she said.So, quicker, easier, more cost-effective. Not to mention less time and stress for patients.

Thus: gold standard.

The news story I based my blogpost yesterday was less than clear on how widely available the new protocol will be.
[Vicki] Saporta [president and CEO of National Abortion Federation] said initially the drug will probably only be available through health-care professionals who already provide abortion services.It seems that Saporta's judgement was not based on any Health Canada requirement, but on training issues and individual doctors' inclinations.

Here's part of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada's statement.
The SOGC is working with the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), using the expertise of our members to develop clinical practice guidelines on the use of mifegymiso [Canadian brand name] and to provide educational opportunities to physicians to ensure that they are well-prepared to counsel and care for women requesting medical abortion.
More on the inclinations of doctors:

Canadian doctors who were wary of the makeshift cocktail [injection and tablets] will likely be more willing to prescribe an abortion drug that’s approved by Health Canada for that purpose, said Jennifer Blake, the CEO of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. She expects the society to provide formal training around the drug and its side effects to doctors who want to offer it, and said family doctors and obstetricians will both be able to qualify. Doctors’ approaches to abortion “depends on the community,” Dr. Blake said.

“I think if you look at physicians in general as coming from the fabric of Canadians society, Canadian society on the whole feels this is a decision that is best made by a woman herself, and I would expect that to be the same among health-care providers.”We'll have to wait and see how many doctors -- and as critically, where they are located -- will decide to offer this solution.

Now for the gloating. CBC notes that as we head into a protracted election campaign, this might not be the best timing for CONservatives wanting to placate the fetus freaks among their base.

Indeed, the initial reaction among cabinet ministers was to run like hell.
[Health Minister Rona] Ambrose told reporters in St. Albert, Alta., that the decision did not rest with her.

“It’s out of my hands and the decision is final,” she said.

“Any of those details you would have to speak to the officials at Health Canada and the scientists that actually manage the regulatory approval process. I’m not involved in it.”

Ambrose cancelled two events scheduled for Thursday afternoon and Friday in Edmonton and area. No reason was given.Except for one CON MP (so far), David Anderson, who issued a foot-stomper of a press release demanding Ambrose roll back the clock to the 1950s.

To sum up, yes, medical abortion has been available in Canada but not very widely offered or actually undertaken, precisely because it was arduous for all involved.

The fetus freaks are particularly pissed over RU486, precisely because it is easier and more effective.

And they have good reason to be pissed. As SUZY ALLCAPS herself admits.

The problem with this [medical abortion] model, from the pro-life perspective, is that it's a little harder to protest the GP who does abortions, when he treats the community's ear infections, sore throats, STD's and so on.

If you make life hard on this person, it won't just be abortion clients who'll be unhappy. It will be all the patients this doctor sees.When GPs, nurse practitioners, midwives, and hopefully, eventually pharmacists are able and willing to help end an early pregnancy, it's not just a game-changer. It's a game-ender.

Game. Set. And soon, the whole fucking shooting match.

Stephen Harper and the Insanity of Harperland

Montreal Simon - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 04:09

I'm glad I'm leaving Canada for a while because I really need to get away from this ghastly political monster.

Who is now so desperate, he is turning his depraved Harperland into a mad house.

For there he was in a Bloomberg interview claiming that he was a Great Economist Leader, the steady hand on the wheel.

And that letting anyone else steer Canada through these perilous times could only lead to disaster.
Read more »

Who Says the Cons Aren't Trying to Buy the Election?

Montreal Simon - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 14:12

As I mentioned in my last post, Stephen Harper and his criminal Con gang now seem to have a triple-edged strategy.

They are going to try to cripple the opposition by extending the campaign. They are going to use the financial advantage that gives them by bombarding us with their porky ads.

Even if it costs taxpayers millions of dollars.

And of course they are going to use our money to try to buy the election.

But even by their grubby standards this is outrageous.
Read more »

Stephen Harper's Departure

LeDaro - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 11:56
I hope this clown will be gone come October 2015. He has done too much damage to Canada both at home and internationally.

C'mon, Admit It. You Know You're Going to Watch. It's Just Too Good to Pass Up.

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 11:43
"It" being the first debate for the front-runners, all ten of them, vying for the Republican presidential nomination. It'll be the usual collection of rightwing wack jobs plus the biggest, wackiest of them all, Donald Trump.

With reaction like this, the Repug debate is bound to be a ratings monster.

"If the Republican Party is at a crossroads, consider Donald Trump the NoDoz-popping long-haul trucker behind the wheel of a semi loaded with nitroglycerin."

"Imagine a NASCAR driver mentally preparing for a race knowing one of the drivers will be drunk. That's what prepping for this debate is like."

It's a formula for disaster for every other candidate who'll share that stage.
Though some candidates may rely on gravitas to draw a stark comparison with Trump's showy, shallow political positions, others may stoop to Trump's level in a bid for the limelight. Think of it like a child misbehaving to get attention, only the child is hoping to be rewarded with nuclear launch codes at the end of their tantrum.

Candidates like Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul and Rick Perry — nationally-recognized politicians who would be real contenders in any other election cycle — are asphyxiating from a lack of political oxygen. Trump's stratospheric, bordering-on-intergalactic name recognition has already won him a guaranteed spot at the center of the Cleveland debate, an element of chaos that no debate prep can possibly account for. Will he be combative or humorous? Self-absorbed or primed for battle? Ronald Reagan or P.T. Barnum?

Regardless of how other candidates attempt to engage, Trump will drag down the legitimacy of every candidate within reach, baiting serious politicians into unwinnable arguments. As the saying goes, never get into a mud-wrestling match with a pig; you both get filthy, but the pig likes it.

Cecil's Revenge. Ripping the Lid Off Walter Palmer.

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 11:12
In his dental clinic ads, Doctor Walter Palmer looks like this happy, wholesome, All-American guy.  According to the ad, "A great smile says it all." Not quite, Walter, not quite.

Among bow and arrow trophy hunters, Walter was already pretty well known. Now, after having illegally slaughtered a prize male lion in Zimbabwe (and causing the death of an estimated 25 of Cecil's male cubs), Walter's even better known.

We know about all the magnificent creatures Walter has slaughtered for no good end including a white rhino, an earlier male lion kill, on and on - or as Jimmy Kimmel puts it "about half of Noah's ark."

We know when he's got the bloodlust running, Walter doesn't always play by the rules.  He's got a felony conviction for illegally killing a bear and lying about it.

Now it seems Walter's prey possibly included a clinic receptionist.

According to documents, Palmer's receptionist, who was also his patient, accused the dentist of "unwelcome sexual harassment by [Palmer] including, but not limited to, verbal comments and physical conduct involving her breast, buttocks and genitalia." The abuse reportedly took place between 1999 and 2005. The claim also states the accuser's belief that she was fired "in retaliation for reporting the conduct."

The case was settled out of court, with Palmer's insurance company ultimately paying the woman and her attorney $127,000 in fees. Palmer was also ordered to undergo sexual harassment training and provide a letter of recommendation.

Who knows what remains to be unveiled about the doings of Dr. Walter Palmer. Oh, Walter. Keep smiling. Those teeth are magnificent even if that smile doesn't quite "say it all."

Big, Bigger, ...Burst

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 10:48
With a population a nudging 1.4-billion, China is the world's most populous nation. Overall it has the 80th highest population density, about 142 people per sq. km.  Neighbouring India, in 33rd place overall, comes in at a very conservative figure of 368 people per sq. km.  Canada, by comparison, stands in 230th place with a population density of 3.4 per sq. km.

It's now reported that India's population is growing fast enough that it will overtake China in total numbers in just six years, 2022.

But numbers alone don't give an accurate picture. Like most places, people in India and China are living longer - more consumption years per capita - and enough of them are living better, some of them far better, than ever before - which means a larger per capita environmental footprint.  More energy, more resources, more production, more consumption, more waste and pollution.

A huge problem looms from the manner in which all this growth, human and economic, is being managed or mismanaged.  China, with 20% of the world's population but just 7% of the world's water is running out of the one thing we cannot live very long without - water.

Efforts to boost supply have provided temporary relief for major cities, but the central government is scrambling to preserve what water is left. Expanded conservation work, higher water prices, and new industrial regulations are on the table.

“The demand is growing but the supply is shrinking,” says Zhang Yan, program coordinator of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a global environmental organization in Beijing. “There is just less and less water.”

The problem is made all the worse by the significant percentage of China's surface water - rivers and lakes - already too contaminated to be fit for human consumption. Yet water shortages aren't standing in the way of Chinese plans to transform Beijing into a "super city" of 130-million people.  That's about four times the entire population of Canada living in one metropolitan area. (If you follow the link, there's a great video revealing what life is already like for ordinary Chinese living in that area).
It's not just Asia plagued by water woes from burgeoning populations and lack of infrastructure.  Take Rio de Janiero, the proud host of next year's Summer Olympics.  Be glad you didn't make it to compete in any of the aquatic events.
Athletes in next year's Summer Olympics here will be swimming and boating in waters so contaminated with human feces that they risk becoming violently ill and unable to compete in the games, an Associated Press investigation has found.

An AP analysis of water quality revealed dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria from human sewage in Olympic and Paralympic venues — results that alarmed international experts and dismayed competitors training in Rio, some of whom have already fallen ill with fevers, vomiting and diarrhea.

Despite decades of official pledges to clean up the mess, the stench of raw sewage still greets travelers touching down at Rio's international airport. Prime beaches are deserted because the surf is thick with putrid sludge, and periodic die-offs leave the Olympic lake, Rodrigo de Freitas, littered with rotting fish.

"What you have there is basically raw sewage," said John Griffith, a marine biologist at the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. Griffith examined the protocols, methodology and results of the AP tests.

"It's all the water from the toilets and the showers and whatever people put down their sinks, all mixed up, and it's going out into the beach waters. Those kinds of things would be shut down immediately if found here," he said, referring to the U.S.

...Olympic athletes are almost certain to come into contact with disease-causing viruses that in some tests measured up to 1.7 million times the level of what would be considered hazardous on a Southern California beach.
...Training earlier this month in Guanabara Bay, Austrian sailor David Hussl said he and his teammates take precautions, washing their faces immediately with bottled water when they get splashed by waves and showering the minute they return to shore. And yet Hussl said he's fallen ill several times.

"I've had high temperatures and problems with my stomach," he said. "It's always one day completely in bed and then usually not sailing for two or three days."

It's believed some teams are training in Rio in order that their athletes, through repeated infection, can build up some degree of immunity in time for the games. What is this, the World Cup?
Closer to home, city officials in Toledo, Ohio are bracing for a return of the toxic algae bloom that cut off the city's Lake Erie water supply last summer.
Toledo has detected the first signs in Lake Erie of the dangerous toxin that resulted in a water crisis last year that left 400,000 people in northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan without safe tap water for two days.

Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson and city officials announced late Monday that the intake mechanisms that draw Toledo's drinking water from Lake Erie detected a toxin that can cause liver and kidney damage, The Blade reported (

The mayor says the city's drinking water remains safe but she has updated the status of the water to a "Watch" category. The next stage, "Caution," means a toxin has been detected in tap water but the level isn't great enough to require an advisory.

A severe toxic algae outbreak on the lake's western end — where the toxin was recently detected — was forecast after heavy rains in June washed huge amounts of algae-feeding phosphorus into the lake.

Unfortunately whether it's oceanic "dead zones", blue-green algae contamination of lakes and rivers, untreated sewage discharge or industrial pollution, it's become a world wide problem to which no country is immune and it's a problem which no country seems to be solving.



Dammit Janet - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 08:05
Nearly 30 years after much of the world's women got access to the "gold standard" of medical abortion, Health Canada has finally approved RU486 for Canadian women. (Remarkably, the news story does not "balance" the news by getting SHRIEKY quotes from fetus fetishists.)

This is great, if long overdue, news for safety, privacy, cost, and convenience.

Big Fetus® hates it, of course. Their long campaign, verging on the farcical at times (see Godwin's law), against it always was futile.

SUZY ALL-CAPS repeats the usual lies about it:

So does We Need a Law Like a Hole in the Head.

And here's LieShite rabbiting on about "human pesticide."

Amusingly, to accompany their extremely dodgy claim that medical abortion is "reversible," The Hole in the Head gang is encouraging fetus freaks to write to MPs to reverse Health Canada's decision. Good luck with that.

While they may have hopes of the misogynist Harper government, it seems not even proponents of 1950s morality could withstand the overwhelming evidence that mifepristone is safe and effective.

Rona Ambrose was tight-lipped about it.
Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose had little to say Wednesday night about her department's decision.

"Drug approval decisions are arms-length decisions made by Health Canada officials based on analysis by Health Canada scientists," a spokesperson for Ambrose said in an email.Shorter: Don't blame me, fetus freaks.

And while RU486 represents an advance in abortion care, one of its main advantages, it seems, will not be implemented for a while yet.

It was expected that its approval would greatly improve access for women in rural and remote areas by allowing GPs and other healthcare professionals to dispense it.

But no. Or not yet. (My emphasis.)

Reproductive medicine experts have called the drug the best known option for abortion and have been advocating for its approval in Canada.

While some countries allow the drug to be dispensed by pharmacists, Health Canada has opted not to go that route.
[Vicki] Saporta [president and CEO of National Abortion Federation] said initially the drug will probably only be available through health-care professionals who already provide abortion services. But she said it's hoped that over time more doctors will agree to prescribe the drug — especially those serving remote communities or working in areas where women have to travel long distances to see a doctor who will perform an abortion.

"Mifepristone holds the promise of improving access to abortion care for women in more rural communities where there isn't a current abortion provider," she said.

Saporta said it is likely the drug will only become available in Canada in early 2016.
So, Canada, long a world leader in sensible abortion policy, has finally joined the 21st century in offering a full range of options to patients.

DJ! has been writing about medical abortion in general and RI486/mifepristone in particular for fucking years. Some past blogposts.

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 06:48
Here, reminding us that it's our communities who ultimately pay the price for the poorly-thought-out election announcements from senior levels of government that we've seen so frequently recently.

For further reading...
- CTV reported on last week's Evraz Place expansion announcement, while the Leader-Post offered an all-too-obvious example of cheerleading for a shiny new project while paying no attention to the opportunity costs involved.
- Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan Party's regular announcements and re-announcements of what proved to be an ill-thought-out scheme for new school construction have lasted from last July to last November to just last month.
- And finally, CBC reported on City Council's hasty revision to the plan foisted on it by the province, while Shawn Fraser offered his take on the school debacle.

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 05:56
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Alan Freeman discusses the need for an adult conversation about taxes to replace the Cons' oft-repeated policy of ignorance:
Focusing on low taxes is great politics. It’s also a really dumb way to run the economy of an advanced industrialized country. Getting taxes right is a complex balance. Raise them too high — particularly taxes on income — and you risk creating disincentives for productive work, which can make your economy uncompetitive. Set them too low and you threaten the social programs and public goods that are fundamental to our values as a society — things like universal Medicare, safe highways and a sound education system.

In the U.S., where the low-tax gospel has become ingrained in the political system, the damage is there for all to see. The inability to raise the federal gasoline tax — it’s been stuck at 18.4 cents a gallon since 1993 — has exaggerated the country’s infrastructure deficit by impoverishing the road system and mass transit services while discouraging energy conservation. At the same time, budget shortfalls at the state level have resulted in large tuition increases at state universities, leading to high student debt and contributing to America’s sorry record on social mobility.

So far, the Harper Conservatives seem to be delivering low taxes while still providing most of the government services and entitlements that we all value. But that’s largely because the federal government doesn’t deliver the really expensive programs — like health care — and has washed its hands of a long-term role in designing their future by unilaterally setting a funding formula that will keep its transfers under strict control, no matter how much it actually costs the provinces to deliver the services.

The upshot is that Ottawa is in fine fiscal fettle going forward, according to the Parliamentary Budget Office, which last week reported that Ottawa’s outlook is so rosy that it can afford to increase spending or cut taxes significantly over the coming decades. The provinces and municipalities, on the other hand, won’t have enough money because of the impact of an aging population on health-care costs. A solution would be to increase federal transfers for health or shift tax room to the provinces, says the PBO. But such is the allergy to taxes (look what happened to Vancouver’s proposed regional transit tax) that politicians everywhere are reluctant to move in that direction.- Jim Stanford and Jordan Brennan take a thorough look (PDF) at the Cons' economic record, leading to the conclusion that tax baubles, indiscriminate trade deals and feckless management have led to by far the worst economic performance of any Canadian government since World War II. And Scott Sinclair and Stuart Trew note that the Cons' impending giveaways in order to get the TPP signed will only make matters worse.

- Paul Buchhelt highlights how corporations are cheating the public education system in the U.S. And Hazel Sheffield reports on Wall Street's lobbying for Puerto Rico to shut down its schools in the interest of putting creditors ahead of people.

- The CP reports that privatized power has gone awry in Alberta, as a major provider has been found to have deliberately triggered power outages at peak times in order to drive up prices.

- Jordon Cooper writes about Saskatoon's new status as the city with the highest crime rate in Canada, and points out that any improvement will require some sorely-needed leadership in dealing with poverty and exclusion. And Jesse Bauman notes that a more fair minimum wage improves living conditions for everybody, not just the workers who see their wages directly increased.

- Finally, Bryan Palmer makes the point that today's policy issues surrounding precarious work are just the latest incarnation of the dispossession which has regularly faced vulnerable workers.


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