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Harper MisGovernment blind to social factors of MMIW

The Winnipeg RAG Review - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 09:18
Another not so great moment for Canada under the Harper MisGovernment. Our federal government is at least acting clueless to the social basis behind the obscenely disproportionate numbers of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW).



(Via Truth Mashup)

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How America Wakes Up to Climate Change

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 08:25

It's not temperature that's finally sweeping Americans into acceptance of anthropogenic climate change.  It's precipitation or, in some cases, the lack of it that they can't get around.

There are still some holdouts in the Republican ranks, federal and state, and a few Dems too and they'll probably keep the argument going about global warming until the Koch brothers, Heinrich und Wolfram, run out of money.  But all the denialism money can buy won't hold back the sea, won't stop the torrents of flash flooding sweeping the US, won't break the crippling drought in the American southwest.

A fellow in a nice Michigan town was interviewed a few days ago about a series of flash floods that had hit his street.  He talked about how the recurrent flooding was breaking his house down, ruining his flooring, spreading mould into his walls, slowly rendering his house unfit for habitation.  He was in no mood to debate the reality of climate change because the impacts were already on him, leaving him facing ruinous losses.

When it comes right down to it, most of us live in a temperate zone.  It doesn't much matter if it's a little hotter or a little colder from time to time.  That we can adapt to, usually.  But when it turns a lot wetter or a lot dryer, that's another matter. When the sea fills your streets and cellars and subways; when recurrent flash floods turn your home into a mould farm; or when rain stops coming at all and your lakes dry up and your orchards die and there's nothing left to pump out of your well - then you've got problems that can't be shrugged off.   That goes directly to peoples' livelihoods.  It goes to the viability of their homes and communities.  It goes to costs and losses, real chequebook stuff.  It goes to your economy.  And then, finally, when much of the damage is already upon you, it goes into your legislatures.

The Cavendish Cottager Comes Roaring Back to the Front Page

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 08:10

Stephen Harper's pucker factor must be at "Level 7- Deep Purple" at the prospect of what awaits when Conservative senator Mike Duffy begins his criminal trial process this week.   A former top advisor to the reigning prime minister says the word is that they're shitting bricks about what Duffy might have up his sleeve.


Stephen Harper and the Conservatives should be worried about the pending trial of suspended Senator Mike Duffy because of "what Mike might have up his sleeve," a former senior adviser to the prime minister says.Keith Beardsley, who served for five years as Harper's deputy chief of staff for issues management, warned the court proceedings could leave Harper and his staff scrambling to put out fires. "Duffy, being the showman, he'll release whatever he can release when it's the most damaging and that's what the party, the prime minister, PMO has to be on guard for. And they just sit and wait for it to come and you have no control over those types of situations, you simply react," Beardsley told CBC News."So as we get closer, the longer this goes on and the closer it gets to the election date, the more damaging that type of information is."And, yes, Duffy is coming out fighting and, perhaps, Harper & Co. have reason for concern.  That much seems apparent from accounts that Duffy's counsel is considering waiving the preliminary hearing and proceeding directly to trial.A source tells CBC News that Duffy's lawyer, Donald Bayne, is considering skipping the preliminary phase to move to trial quickly.Duffy is facing 31 charges in connection with allegations of misspending of public money. The charges include fraud, breach of trust and bribery of a judicial officer. The RCMP laid the charges July 17, after a year-long investigation relating to Duffy's Senate living allowance, expense claims, awarding of consulting contracts and a $90,000 payment from the prime minister's former chief of staff, Nigel Wright.Waiving the prelim?  There's a cannon shot across the bows.  Bayne knows what he has in his arsenal, the documents.  Here's the important thing to keep in mind.NONE of these events was ever expected to become public.  It was all done very covertly - the deal, the money, the corruption of the majority in the Senate to launder Duffy's audit reports - in the party cloakroom.NONE of these events would have surfaced save for one e-mail that Duffy couldn't help but send to his Ottawa confidantes detailing (in advance) what was to unfold in the deal he'd reached with the PMO.  It was Duffy's e-mail.  It was sent contemporaneously with or in advance of events that it describes quite accurately.  It's one thing to deceitfully tell others that the prime minister has a fondness for your man-musk.  It's another altogether to describe to your nearest and dearest what the prime minister is willing to do for you and to thereafter have them come to pass.  As it turns out, it's that one Duffy e-mail, leaked to CTV's Bob Fife that, for Harper & Co. was their live grenade.  They literally indict themselves when they deny the existence of an agreement, documented in advance and circulated broadly, the particulars of which came to fruition.  That's a situation that walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck - it's a duck.By denying events that are attributed to you on a date before which they came to occur, is to self-convict.  That might, in open court, give rise to a situation in which certain members of Harper & Co, Harper's personal nest of vipers in the PMO and Senate leadership decided to drop the pretence. It seems like a "weakest link" situation.  It's an old tactic. To a lawyer with Bayne's experience and achievements, little nuanced inconsistencies become sledgehammers.  

Any idea about the documents in this case?  I've read that, between what the PMO, Nigel Wright, and Mike Duffy coughed up, it was around 600-pages in length.   I've also heard that there are another 250 documents from post-it notes to messages and solicitors' letters that pretty concisely chronicle the fact and sophistication of what transpired.

This was a fairly well thought out scheme to make a potentially big political problem go away.    Then someone talked.  Others talked. It was in the papers.  
E-mails surfaced.  They revealed both a plan and a benefits package.

Going directly to trial is a gutsy move but is it an act of desperation or an act of revenge?  Is it Duffy's way of taking the fight to Harper, dragging Harper's former key advisors back into the fray?

Hubris Is Alive And Well

Northern Reflections - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 05:41

Some economists saw the Great Recession coming. Certainly Robert Reich did. But, as Paul Krugman writes in this morning's New York Times, an army of economists missed the boat. They did so for a number of reasons:

Clearly, economics as a discipline went badly astray in the years — actually decades — leading up to the crisis. But the failings of economics were greatly aggravated by the sins of economists, who far too often let partisanship or personal self-aggrandizement trump their professionalism. Last but not least, economic policy makers systematically chose to hear only what they wanted to hear. And it is this multilevel failure — not the inadequacy of economics alone — that accounts for the terrible performance of Western economies since 2008.
During those decades, economists focused on idealized models. And,

starting in the 1980s it became harder and harder to publish anything questioning these idealized models in major journals. Economists trying to take account of imperfect reality faced what Harvard’s Kenneth Rogoff, hardly a radical figure (and someone I’ve sparred with) once called “new neoclassical repression.” And it should go without saying that assuming away irrationality and market failure meant assuming away the very possibility of the kind of catastrophe that overtook the developed world six years ago.
Some economists  -- like Joseph Stiglitiz -- got the post crisis right. However,

all too many influential economists did — refusing to acknowledge error, letting naked partisanship trump analysis, or both. “Hey, I claimed that another depression wasn’t possible, but I wasn’t wrong, it’s all because businesses are reacting to the future failure of Obamacare.”
There was a great deal of historical evidence to support the notion that counter-cyclical spending was necessary to reboot ravaged economies:

but European leaders and U.S. Republicans decided to believe the handful of economists asserting the opposite. Neither theory nor history justifies panic over current levels of government debt, but politicians decided to panic anyway, citing unvetted (and, it turned out, flawed) research as justification.
And, so, those who got it wrong led the way. It was not the first time this happened. It happens whenever hubris is given full sway.

This entry is cross posted at The Moderate Voice.

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 05:10
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Dan Lett discusses Stephen Harper's callous disregard for missing and murdered aboriginal women - and how it should serve as a call to Canadians generally to take a broader look at the causes of social inequality:
Why so much resistance to a broader, sociological analysis? A national inquiry of that kind would pose awkward questions and reveal uncomfortable realities about the diminishing role of the federal government in the lives of all Canadians.

A national inquiry would delve into questions such as familial dysfunction, child welfare, substance abuse, sexual exploitation, economic disparity and the shortcomings of the education and health-care systems. An examination of that scope would touch on issues that affect both aboriginal and non-aboriginal citizens.

An inquiry would no doubt expose growing income inequality and the ever-diminishing federal contribution to education, social programs and health care. And how that shrinking support tends to disproportionately hurt the most vulnerable in our society.

A commission of inquiry would be, to put it mildly, a potent and biting indictment of the culture of successive federal governments that have, for decades, placed the health and welfare of the neediest Canadians well below other, less profound policy goals.- Murray Brewster explores the wide world of policy areas which the Cons have shrouded in cabinet secrecy.

- Meanwhile, the CP reports on how secretive meetings with oil lobbyists look to have been behind the Clark Libs' push to weaken environmental protections. Les Whittington exposes the Wall government's preference for back-room dealing - along with its willingness to spend millions in public dollars to try to buy influence in Washington. And Mike De Souza traces the connections between ALEC, the tar sands and Keystone XL.

- Mike Moffatt weighs on on how the Cons' latest EI scheme will only make employment more precarious in mid-sized businesses by offering employers incentives to fire workers.

- Finally, Daphne Bramham writes about the need for us to be involved in public life as citizens, not merely as taxpayers:
To be a citizen means to belong, to have responsibilities, rights and shared values. It means having a stake in the future and, in democracies, a voice in determining what that future might look like.

In Canada, it means having the guarantee that laws will be applied fairly to every person and every institution (including governments), as well as the right to an education and health care.

That is why we pay taxes. It’s the cost and the duty of belonging.

As the terminology has shifted from citizen to taxpayer over the past three decades, maybe it is only coincidental that the gap between rich and poor has widened.

Perhaps it’s also only coincidence that voter turnout has spiralled downward as the poor and the young (too many of whom are unemployed or under-employed and often burdened by huge debts from post-secondary education fees that have nearly tripled in the last two decades) decide not to bother exercising their franchise.

A growing body of economic research confirms that wealth isn’t the best predictor or guarantor of happy or healthy societies.

What matters more is feeling connected, belonging and having a say. In other words, being a full citizen.

Is That The Pitter Patter Of Little Feet I Hear?

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 04:46
Sorry. False alarm. Turns out it was the sound of Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath doing a fancy dance as she practices her routine for the November leadership review she is facing.

In Toronto this past Saturday, more than 200 members of the party's provincial council were witness to the reborn Horwath expressing her allegiance to essential party principles, principles that were decidedly absent in the provincial election she forced last June that saw her party lose the balance of power it had held.

Averred the rechristened leader:

“We believe in fighting each and every day for a more equal society,” ... We believe in a strong and active role for government, because there are many things that are more important than making a buck in the marketplace.”

As reporter Adrian Morrow observed,

The soaring rhetoric was a major change from last June’s election, when the NDP campaigned on a platform of small-ball populism, pointedly abandoning ambitious policies such as a provincial pension plan.

Despite those facts, Ms. Horwath tried to remind her audience of the party's proud history without mentioning how she herself had sullied it:

In a speech that bordered on liturgy, she rhymed off example after example of progressive values – from universal health care to fighting poverty to better pensions to public transit – that she would embrace over the next four years.

She went on to channel her inner Jack Layton:

“Love is better than anger, as a good friend reminded us a few years ago. We are the party of hope. We are the party of optimism".

While all of that may be true, some cannot forget that the party of optimism currently seems to be headed by a leader of opportunism.

Perhaps also significant is this:

MPP Cheri Di Novo, who has criticised the last campaign for moving away from the NDP’s traditional focus on social justice, wouldn’t say whether she thought Ms. Horwath deserved to remain.

“I’m going to leave that to the party, the party makes that call,” she said.


The party will get that chance in November.

Since the future of her leadership rests on making a good impression, perhaps she can take some instruction from Christopher Walken on how to make a grand entrance at the review:

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Indiana Harper and the Doomed Return To Parliament

Montreal Simon - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 03:53


Twas the night before Parliament, and at 24 Sussex Drive not a creature or a mouse rat was stirring.

Except in the dark basement where Stephen Harper was planning his triumphal  return, after his golden photo-op summer.

And no doubt rehearsing his new role as Indiana Harper or Great Explorer Leader. The man, who in his mind at least, led the successful search for the Franklin expedition.

As I'm sure you remember...



But sadly for him I fear his flight voyage of fancy will be short-lived. 
Read more »

Things fall apart: or, Scotland rising

Dawg's Blawg - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 15:31
[NOTE: Be sure to read co-blogger Mandos’ succinct and trenchant piece on Iraq just below this. We finished our pieces at about the same time. ~DD] Good grief, here they go again. Any nation roughly east of the Oder-Neisse line... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

FIPA coming down the pipeline ...

The Winnipeg RAG Review - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 13:04
... and, as the Vancouver Observer's Jenny Uechi points out, it should raise many red flags. For example, because there wasn't consultation with First Nations the Canada-China trade deal might be unconstitutional.

Free, prior and informed consent has never been a strong suit of the Harper MisGovernment, though.

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Sound Familiar?

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 11:10


The current decline of the United States from global economic hegemon re-enacts the same path that brought low the previous dominant economies of Spain, the Netherlands and Great Britain.  Here's a brief account of what happened to Spain from Le Monde.

In the 16th century, Spain pillaged the New World and the gold and other precious metals that flooded into Spain turned its merchants into rich rentiers. Their wealth benefitted the nascent industries of the rest of Europe but Spain’s manufacturing sector declined, as did its empire. As the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano wrote, “Spain owned the cow, but others drank the milk.”

It's the same dynamic at play today between the United States and China.  America, flush with wealth and with an appetite for quick, big returns for its rentier class, has abandoned its manufacturing sector and used its wealth to grow the economy of its successor, China.  It's deja vu all over again.

The Le Monde article also has an insightful examination of China's resource rampage underway in Latin America.  It should provide an object lesson for what could lie in store for Canada thanks to the unfortunate trade pact by which Stephen Harper this week indentured Canada to China for decades.

Latin America is still largely missing out on the added value created by industrial processes. The relationship with China is heightening the re-primarisation of economies in the region, now more dependent on the global market and on the primary sector, which creates little wealth and few jobs. Latin America now owns the cow, but it still isn’t getting much of the milk. The growing demand for primary products is exacerbating another problem in Latin America. Andrés Velasco, former Chilean finance minister, recently said: “You look out the window and what you see is a tremendous tsunami of wealth coming your way. And this, which once upon a time might have been welcomed, I view ... as a terrifying sight ... Because this tsunami is going to make your politics very difficult ... and your macro trade-offs very sharp” (5).

He was referring to “Dutch disease”, coined after the discovery of the world’s largest deposit of natural gas in the Dutch province of Groningen, in 1959. Dutch gas exports soared, bringing in huge amounts of foreign currency and causing the value of the florin to rise sharply. The prices of Dutch products on foreign markets rose, while the cost of imports fell, and Dutch industry declined. Latin America today is in a similar position. The influx of foreign currency (linked to exports, but also to investment) has caused regional currencies to appreciate significantly. The value of the Brazilian real rose by 25% from 2010 to 2011, and the finance minister, Guido Mantega talked of a “currency war”, fuelled by China (6). On a trip to Beijing in 2011, President Dilma Rousseff urged China to rebalance trade between the two countries.

For What It's Worth - Ignatieff on ISIS

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 10:55
Der Spiegel interviews Harvard professor, Michael Ignatieff, on ISIS, Obama, the Middle East generally, Israel and Palestine.  Some interesting thoughts, some banal and predictable.  You be the judge.

Swallowing spiders

Dawg's Blawg - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 10:28
Not all genocidal bad guys are Adolf Hitler. Even when/if they reach that level of industrial death. It should be obvious that historical analogy gets you only so far. Our favorite failed PM candidate, Iggy, built a good chunk... Mandos http://politblogo.typepad.com/

Why Getting Our Arab Allies Off Their Fat, Pampered Asses Matters

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 09:57

Since Obama started this 'get ISIS' coalition-building business, the Sunni Arab world has been conspicuous by its absence.

The Sydney Morning Herald's chief foreign correspondent, Paul McGeough, weighs in on Australian prime minister Tony Abbott's decision to jump in with both boots.

The smart thing for Western leaders in the wake of John Kerry's session with Arab leaders in Jeddah on Thursday last, would have been to bide their time. And it would have been smart too to bide their time a bit more after Sunday's grim reports of another Westerner beheaded by these crazed thugs who strut as Islamic freedom fighters in the deserts of Syria and Iraq.

But Tony Abbott leapt straight in – committing 600 Australian military personnel and more aircraft to the conflict, thereby giving the Arab leaders good reason to believe that if they sit on their hands for long enough, the West will fight their war for them.

Even as Abbott made his announcement in Darwin, the US Secretary of State was trailing his coat-tails in Cairo, making little headway with pleas for assistance from a murderous military regime that will shoot its own people, but seemingly dares not volunteer to face the so-called Islamic State on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq.
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Either collectively in Jeddah or in one-on-one meetings with Kerry as in Cairo, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Lebanon all have baulked at making explicit military commitments to confront a force that they all see as a direct threat to their thrones, bunkers and, in one or two cases, tissue-thin democracies. With the exception of Iraq, which has no option because it is under attack at home, none has publicly committed military support.

McGeough warns that, despite Obama's assurances that we'll only be dropping bombs on Islamic State forces, it's a formula for failure.

...An air war cannot succeed without a substantial boots-on-the-ground accompaniment – and that part of what Obama calls a strategy is very much on a wing and a prayer.

The Kurdish Peshmerga can fight, but they can't defend all of Iraq. The Iraqi army, trained and equipped by Washington at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars, is erratic and more likely to cut and run than to stand and fight. Next door in Syria, Obama is banking of the ranks of the Free Syrian Army – which for years he has complained could not be counted on, and which Washington now tries to convince us can be taken to Saudi Arabia, retrained and sent home to win the war.

More than a decade trying to wave a magic wand over the security forces of Iraq and Afghanistan should have convinced the White House that relying on these newly trained forces qualifies for dismissal under the Obama dictum of "don't do stupid stuff!"

 Meanwhile McGeough questions what makes fools rush in.

Oddly, the Prime Minister warned Australians to prepare for a fight that might last "months rather than weeks, perhaps many, many months indeed…" Seems he's in as much of a hurry to get into this war, as he seemingly thinks he will get out of it.

It's not clear why. This "we must do something right now" response is likely to create a bigger mess than already exists in the region. Consider: the death of 200,000 locals in Syria failed to rouse much of a reaction in the West; but the deaths of two Americans – and now a Briton – has raised a crescendo for international war when it might have made more sense to tackle regional politicking and feuding first.  He might be right.  Random acts of warfare might just be the political Viagara for ailing, flaccid heads of state who can't find any other way to get their peckers up. 

Daffy's In Charge

Northern Reflections - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 09:36

                                                        http://www.poxteer.com/

Last week was a banner week for the Harper government. It announced the ratification of FIPPA. And it also announced a reduction in EI premiums -- not for employees, but for employers. David MacDonald writes:

The idea is that small businesses with a payroll of under about $550,000 a year will have a portion of what they paid in EI refunded to them. Only the employers get some of their money back, not any of the workers. Also, this is at a time when EI is so restricted that six out of 10 unemployed Canadians can't even get it.

This is going to cost half a billion dollars a year, but will only amount to a maximum of $2,200 per business. Even with this miniscule amount, Minister Oliver is flogging this as a job-creation strategy. Well if $2,200 is going to incentivize behaviour that can go either way and you don't even have to hire anyone -- you can get it by doing nothing.

It might help a bit if that money went into the hands of employees -- who would spend it -- and create some demand in the economy. But it won't do much for business. And, in fact, it will restrain job creation:

Say you're a business just over the $550,000 payroll cap. Why not just fire your summer student or cut back her hours to get yourself under the cap? Your reward for firing a student…a tax break! What if you pay minimum wage and don't want to invest in training? Your reward for sitting back and doing nothing…a tax break! Now what if you want to expand your business but you're close to the payroll cap? You may well think twice before hiring that person and losing your tax break.
What will the EI cut do? Simply add to the pile of dead money sitting atop the Canadian economy. Proof yet again that the Harperites are stuck in an ideological trough -- and that Daffy Duck is in charge of the store.


Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 09:06
Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Naomi Klein discusses how entrenched corporate control through trade and investment agreements will prevent us from making any real progress against climate change. And Cory Doctorow weighs in on the Cons' FIPA sellout of Canadian sovereignty, while highlighting the NDP's petition to stop it.

- Meanwhile, Les Whittington writes that CETA will severely limit Canada's ability to regulate banks - which, as Barry Ritholz observes, only sets us up for predictable financial abuse which will never be properly investigated or punished:
Political access and lobbying go part way toward explaining the absence of prosecutions and, therefore, the lack of convictions [for financial sector criminality]. To understand why there were no convictions of senior bankers, you need to understand a bit of criminal law in the U.S. The American form of jurisprudence requires a criminal indictment to bring someone to trial. No indictment, no trial, no conviction. Where bankers and their lawyers have been so successful is stopping prosecutions before they begin. You don’t get to the conviction part if prosecutors don’t bring indictments.

As we have repeatedly shown, Treasury Department officials, including former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, had convinced prosecutors in the Justice Department of the dangers of prosecuting banks and bankers for the economy. This showed up in the news coverage over the years, and is still going on. Just consider this recent Bloomberg News article with the headline “Criminal Charges Against Banks Risk Sparking Crisis.”

So what crimes could we imagine? How about fraudulent mortgage underwriting; robo-signing and foreclosure perjury; falsifying Libor rates; manipulating gold and other metal prices; money laundering for drug kingpins and terrorists; and participating in Ponzi schemes. This is hardly an all-inclusive list and I could certainly make it longer.

If only the list of attempted prosecutions was as long.- Bruce Johnstone points out the limitations of a government which insists on its own impotence in cultivating genuine economic development. But unfortunately, the Leader-Post's editorial board undercuts a rare effort to build an alternative to total dependence on the corporate sector - in this case, when it comes to a municipal development agency.

- Katie Raso reminds us why we need to fight against for-profit health care which discriminates based on the ability to pay. And Mollie Reilly offers a galling example of what happens when that discrimination rears its ugly head.

- Finally, Andrew Cash highlights the fight against "pay-to-pay" rackets as an example of how public pressure can result in at least some policy changes.

Oh Hell, There Goes the NATO Neighbourhood

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 08:06


The allegation:  our longtime NATO partner, Turkey, has been supporting al-Qaeda in Syria.  The accuser, Francis Ricciardone, until late June the American ambassador to Turkey.

"Turkey has directly supported al-QAeda's wing in Syria, in defiance of America, the former US ambassador has disclosed.

"The Turkish authorities thought they could work with extremist Islamist groups in the Syrian civil war and at the same time push them to become more moderate, Ricciardone told journalists in a briefing.  That led them to work with Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda offshoot, as well as hardline Salafi Islamist groups such as Ahrar al-Sham.  Mr. Ricciardone said that he tried to persuade the Turks to close their borders to the groups, but to no avail.

Turkey has declined to join Obama's coalition to beat back the ISIS threat in Iraq and Syria and has prohibited US forces from launching missions against ISIS from bases inside Turkey. In another, "whose side are you on anyway?" moment, it's reported that Turkey has failed to interfere with ISIS' oil marketing by which ISIS has become one of the wealthiest terror groups ever.


Pope Warns We May Already Be In "Piecemeal WWIII"

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 06:46


Has the world already stumbled into a third world war?  Pope Francis thinks that could well be the case.  Denouncing war as "madness", the Pope made his remarks while visiting Italy's largest military cemetery.

In Saturday's homily, standing at the altar beneath Italy's fascist-era Redipuglia memorial - where 100,000 Italian soldiers killed during WWI are buried, 60,000 of them unnamed, the Pope paid tribute to the victims of all wars."Humanity needs to weep, and this is the time to weep," he said.

"Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction," he said.I don't know about you but I'm thinking Francis might just be right.  What's going on today around the world, the brutal chaos, the clash of state and non-state actors, the "new war" type of warfare is very much in keeping with the models of warfare for the 21st century canvased in a recent course I took from the war studies department of Kings College London.

Gone are the days of Haig and Kitchener, Rommel and Patton.  Gone are the days of massive armies clashing over reasonably understood objectives.
Gone are the days of victors and vanquished, of declarations of war and treaties of peace.

Today's warfare sees parties mix and blur, sometimes drifting in and out of conflict, with often ill-defined objectives or no particular purposes at all. Conflict has become more fluid, actors are apt to change sides or vary allegiances.  The distinctions that once separated crime, terrorism, and insurgency are increasingly meaningless.

The Afghanistan debacle demonstrates how ill-prepared the West is for this transition in warfare.  Despite our claims to the contrary, we went into Afghanistan to fight a conventional military war - heavy on firepower, weak on troop strength.  It wasn't for lack of bombs or strike fighters, tanks, artillery or any of the other accoutrements of modern warfare that we failed to defeat a bunch of illiterate farm boys equipped with Korean war vintage rifles and light machine guns.  We failed because we stupidly never had remotely enough soldiers to fight their war and because they chose, not stupidly, not to fight ours.   At the end of the day the only war that mattered was theirs, the only one still in play when the clock ran out on our war.

Wars of theology seem to have supplanted wars of ideology as the new expression of nationalism.   The rise of religious fundamentalism as a driving force even in the halls of grand palaces and national legislatures has introduced a new element of zealotry and an acceptance of brutality that might have been unacceptable previously.  Who needs morality when you follow the fierce burning light of religious extremism whether Muslim, Christian, Judaic, Hindu or whatever?

Warlordism and tribalism often frustrate both the ability to conduct an effective war and any prospect for achieving peace from conflict.  We in the West have exacerbated those tensions by the manner in which we carved up so much of the world as our spoils of war, drawing lovely neat borders to suit our convenience and without concern for the ethnic realities of the people we were corralling together.

In contemporary warfare before the turn of the 20th century, fatalities were roughly 85% military, 15% civilian.  A century later those ratios had been reversed.  Today the brunt of warfare is inordinately borne by civilian populations as the laws of war intended to protect them are routinely flouted by non-state actors and state actors alike.  Even in Canada we sit by complacently as our allies deliberately target civilian populations with impunity.  They do it and, by our silence, we condone it and become complicit in it.

Morality has gone straight out the window.  There are more failed and failing states, ever more illiberal democracies (we're not all that far off either) ushering in a new era of authoritarianism.  And we have collectively arrived at this tragic place just at the moment when we must decide if mankind can find some means of equitably and peacefully sharing this biosphere, our one and only habitat, through what promises to be an increasingly challenging and dangerous century.                                        

On Harper's True Loyalties

Politics and its Discontents - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 05:29
In response to yesterday's post about Stephen Harper's boycott of a major climate change summit hosted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York on September 23, Anon wrote the following, and offered this video which, I think you will agree, is a most appropriate choice:

Harper, early on, seemed to care about human rights and UN initiatives:

"'I think Canadians want us to promote our trade relations worldwide, and we do that, but I don't think Canadians want us to sell out important Canadian values,' Harper said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao won't meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Hanoi, which is being seen by some as a snub over Canada's criticism of China's human rights record. 'They don't want us to sell that out to the almighty dollar.'"

After that crazy talk, I think Harper's sponsors sat him down in a boardroom in Calgary and explained the facts of life to him. The fact that he always was, and always would be, an Imperial Oil mail room clerk. I imagine that meeting would have gone something like this:


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Clampetts clownshow distracts from FIPA

Creekside - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 05:04

Gosh, was it only five years ago that Alberta Energy spokesman Tim Markle said "Chinese takeover is good news for Alberta", even as Harper was blowing off the Kyoto Accord, supposedly due to China's crappy environmental record, and pledging to build a monument to victims of communism? 

Beginning Oct 1 for the next 31 years until 2045, under the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement Harper just ratified on Friday, Chinese corporations will be able to directly sue the Canadian government for any public interest measures that interfere with their ability to make a profit in Canada. 

Do you think China-owned Nexen, Sinopec, and PetroChina just might consider Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline to be somewhat integral to getting their $30B investment in the tarsands home to China for refining?  
Think Steve can count on Christy Clark to ensure no BC environmental protection laws might harm China's assets?
Think it's an accident Steve released this news on a Friday during the Ford brothers' Clampett Dynasty pitch?

Two years ago in Vladivostok, Harper announced his signing of the FIPA deal with China. MP Don Davies introduced a motion in the House to not ratify it. His motion failed. All the Libs and Cons voted against it, including 24 Con MPs from Alberta and 19 from BC.  
You can contact those quislings through this HoC page showing that vote.

NDP Petition : Stop FIPA Now               
LeadNow Petition : Stop the Secretive, Reckless & Binding Canada-China FIPA


Council of Canadians : Harper government sneaks through Canada-China FIPA despite ongoing court challenge

The Tyee : FIPA 'is the price China demanded to open its purse strings for investing in the resource sector in Canada.'

Montreal Simon : Stephen Harper and the Great Chinese Betrayal 

Rick Mercer : China Trade Agreement 
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