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things i heard at the library: digital divide edition (#20)

we move to canada - Sun, 11/22/2015 - 11:00
In library school we talked a lot about the digital divide, the ever-increasing gap between those who have access to information and communication technology, and those who do not. Public libraries are one of the very few institutions that exist to bridge that gap, however imperfectly.

What does the digital divide look like on the ground? In my library, located in one of the lowest-income communities in Ontario (and in Canada), we see the digital divide in action every single day.

This week a family worked on a visa application for the United States. They had to come to the library first thing in the morning, so we could special-book them a computer, as the process would take much longer than a standard computer reservation. With intermittent staff help, they worked on their application for three hours. There was no way to download and save the application, and no paper version. When they tried to save and submit the application, either the computer or the site malfunctioned (we don't know which) and they lost all their work.

Two days ago I helped a couple, two refugee claimants, access their application for legal residency in Canada. Prior to arriving in Canada, they had no computer experience at all. Their application is only available online. I was able to offer one-on-one help for 30 minutes - very unusual - and the only reason they were able to accomplish what they needed.

Yesterday a girl asked for my help saving her homework and emailing it to herself. She waited patiently for help, while the time on her computer reservation ticked down. She did not have a USB stick. As I helped her save her work, her computer time ended. Our public computers wipe out all customer information with each login. Her homework was lost.

Lost homework is a daily occurrence. Almost all homework is accessed and completed online. Teachers are supposed to "confirm that students have access to the technology required for the homework assignment". Having a library card is considered adequate access.

Much frustration and heartbreak could be avoided if families invested in a few USB storage sticks and gave each child her own. But parents have no idea this is needed. We can't speak to the parents about this because they're not in the library. They are either at work or home with younger children. Their older children ask to use our reference-desk phone to call home when they need a ride.

Another daily occurrence: children who cannot find an available computer on which to do their homework. Our library has 22 public-use computers. We could double or triple that number and they would all be in use every hour of every day.

Provincial support exceeds Canada's Syrian refugee  target: immigration minister

LeDaro - Sun, 11/22/2015 - 10:42

Read more here:

Human history is full of wars and the atrocities which is the outcome of these wars. Will we ever learn that wars mostly create problems and do not solve them.?

I find Middle East situation very heart-breaking. CIA and MOSSAD are behind the current turmoil in the Middle East.

I am still struggling with the tablet. Sorry for all the mistakes I make.

But What Else Rhymes with "Nose"?

Dawg's Blawg - Sun, 11/22/2015 - 09:08
The recent brouhaha over whether or not the practice of “yoga” represents cultural appropriation is a deeper swamp than I care to wade into at the moment, thanks. I’ve been helping a friend in dealing with his own crisis of... Balbulican

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 11/22/2015 - 09:06
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Louis-Philippe Rochon explains how higher taxes on the wealthy can be no less a boon for the economy than for the goal of social equality:
In fact, empirical analysis shows that while the relationship between higher taxes and economic growth is complex, there is no proof that raising taxes on the wealthy will lead to slower economic growth.  In fact, in many countries, including Canada, higher growth rates in the post-Second World War era have been associated with much higher marginal tax rates.
Between 1940 and 1980, the top marginal income tax rate in Canada was much higher, at well over 70 per cent. Despite these high rates, Canada's economy prospered. In other words, with a proposed new tax bracket in Canada of a mere 33 per cent, we are still far from reaching past levels, and even further away from levels that would be detrimental to tax revenues or even growth. We could increase it even higher with no repercussions on growth or even job creation, and the benefits of a less unequal wealth concentration could even have a positive effect on the economy.
(H)ow can we explain higher taxes on the rich and higher growth? It seems counterintuitive. Yet, it isn't, for two reasons. First, higher taxes on the top one per cent reduce income inequality. Many studies show that a more even (or less uneven) distribution of wealth and income contributes to higher spending and growth.

In the case of Canada, the higher tax rate for high-income earners is compensated by lower taxes on the middle class, who then will have more money to spend. Since the top one per cent save a higher proportion of their income, raising taxes for them won't affect their consumption, just their savings.

Second, by collecting more tax revenues, governments can spend more, and there is a definite and proven correlation between higher government spending and higher economic growth, despite all the non-Keynesian naysayers. The data is clear on this.- Juliette Jowit discusses the pathetic pace being made on the path toward gender pay equity. And Maureen Conway points out the need for both public policy and labour relations decisions oriented toward improved long-term outcomes - particularly given the glaring failure of short-term thinking over the past few decades.

- The Associated Press reports that a particularly egregious example of employer abuses is resulting in rare but well-deserved jail time for the perpetrator.
- Charles Mandel discusses John Brennan's observation that climate change is already (and will increasingly become) a major source of political instability, while David Roberts offers a useful analogy to gravity in assessing its effects. And Geoff Stiles offers a proposal as to how Canada can go from being a laggard to a leader at the Paris climate change conference.

- Finally, Doug Saunders writes about the importance of integration in order to combat extremism of all kinds. Tabatha Southey reminds us that hatred and ignorance between ethnic and religious groups only tend to reinforce each other. And John Cartwright notes that there's a particular need to speak out against bigotry in the wake of an election campaign where multiple parties including the deposed government deliberately stoked it for their political advantage.

Tony Clement, Deputy Chairman of the IDU

Creekside - Sun, 11/22/2015 - 08:19
 CBC reports on Con interim leader Rona Ambrosia's top shadow cabinet jobs yesterday,
"Tony Clement, who has virtually no international experience, having served as minister of health and president of the Treasury Board under Harper, will be the critic for foreign affairs."No international experience. Really, CBC? 

Here's Tony a couple of weeks ago at the International Democrat Union Committee on Foreign Affairs meetup in Marrakesh.  The IDU - an international alliance of some 80 centre-right and rightwing parties from around the world - has featured Tony as Deputy Chairman for a year now.

He's been Canada's representative as a vice chair at IDU, alongside now deceased Senator Doug Finley, Harper’s former bagman and in-and-out scheme campaign director, for years. 

Founding members of the IDU included Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, then US Vice-President George Bush Sr, President of France Jacques Chirac, and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Until quite recently their photos formed the IDU front page :

Australian Prime Minister John Howard was chair for 12 years. This might explain how Harper came to recite verbatim a speech in support of George Bush's war on Iraq delivered just two days before by PM Howard, and why Harper's former chief of staff and election war room strategist Patrick Muttart travelled to Australia to learn and refine Howard's micro-targeting election techniques for use in four successful Conservative Canadian elections and later returned to Australia to work on their 2011 election campaign. 
On March 28 to 30, 2012, the IDU Standing Committee on Elections and Campaigns was hosted by the Conservative Party in Ottawa - one of the IDU's regular election technology seminars. In August 2014 Tony Clement hosted Pierre Poilievre's address on 'Democratic Reform' to a meeting of the IDU Executive held in Ottawa after the passage of the Fair Elections Act.
Last year NZ President John Key was asked to assume the IDU chairmanship by the prime ministers of Canada, Britain and Australia. 
From the IDU History page : 
"Through the IDU, member Parties can exchange policy ideas, assist each other to win the political argument, and to win elections. The IDU plays an essential role in enabling like-minded, centre-right parties to share experiences in order to achieve electoral success.A major event is also held every four years to coincide with the Republican Convention."This might not be what you mean by "international experience", CBC, but it certainly is what the Cons and the IDU mean by it.  And it wouldn't hurt you and other promedia, Linda Diebel excepted, to mention this international cross-fertilizing agency of rightwing electioneering at least once sometime in your news broadcasting lifetime. . 

Media Manipulation: Astroturfers And Propagandists

Politics and its Discontents - Sun, 11/22/2015 - 06:34
I have frequently written on this blog about the importance of critical thinking; it is truly the only way that we can navigate through the thickets of information with which we are constantly bombarded today. I have also admitted that it is an ideal toward which I strive, frequently falling short of the mark due to the cultural, political and social contexts within which I and everyone else interpret things.

One of the strengths of the Internet is that it gives all of us access to almost limitless information from a multitude of sources, one of the key methods by which we can evaluate what we hear and read about. Nonetheless, placing too much faith in only a few "trusted" sources, such as Wikipedia, can short circuit our quest for solid and deep thinking. As you will see in the following Ted Talk, investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson makes some very surprising observations about how both the old and the new media can manipulate us in ways we may not realize.

Wondering about the term astroturfer used in my title? Watch the video to find out its rather insidious implications:

Recommend this Post

has the whole world gone crazy? again? terrorism against muslim people as a "response" to paris attacks

we move to canada - Sun, 11/22/2015 - 06:30
Some facts.

1. The likelihood that you will be killed in a terrorist attack is extremely small. You are much more likely to be hit by lightning, killed in a car crash, have a heart attack, or meet your death hundreds of other ways.

2. Most documented terrorist attacks are perpetrated by people who are not Muslim. And this doesn't count anti-abortion violence or women being killed by abusive partners, which are forms of terrorism.

3. In 2013 and 2014, more than 316,000 people in the United States were killed by guns. 313 Americans died in terrorist attacks.

4. After the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, violence against Muslim people in the US and Canada have skyrocketed. Mosques have been burned and vandalized, women picking up their children at school have been attacked, people have been shoved, spit on, forced off planes.

5. In the UK and Europe, it is even worse.

* * * *

Yesterday, in my library, a woman called to alert us to a "security threat". She said she saw a woman wearing a hijab and carrying a backpack. Her two daughters were in judo class in the community centre, and she was "concerned for their safety".

Our senior librarian informed the caller that we don't call the police based on what people are wearing, and in a community centre and library, many people carry backpacks for their books, their swim gear, their lunch, and so on.

The librarian who took the call was seething, and I was close to tears all afternoon. This in Mississauga, one of the most diverse communities in the world, and in 2015. How can this be happening?

I've seen the small kindnesses and demonstrations of support that follow some of these incidents. They're important reminders. But hate is so loud, so destructive, so contagious and so addictive.'

How can we stop this madness?

Sometimes it seems very clear that human beings are incapable of learning from their past.

Why the Con Clown Joe Oliver Should Go Missing Again

Montreal Simon - Sun, 11/22/2015 - 04:54

It's hard to imagine a more absurd spectacle, than the old Harper Con Joe Oliver making an absolute fool out of himself. Again.

For after going missing for two months during the election campaign.

Until half the country was wondering where he was...

And the other half was looking for him.
Read more »

Let's Hope They're On The Same Page

Northern Reflections - Sun, 11/22/2015 - 03:22


On Friday, Carol Goar took stock of the Harper years. Of Mr. Harper, she wrote:

The former prime minister was neither an ogre nor a brilliant manager. He was an introverted politician who relied on fear to maintain control. Over time, he alienated all but his party’s core supporters.
She then turned her attention to the incoming government:

As the Liberals begin their mandate, they need to be conscious of their blind spots and Achilles heels. They are a largely eastern, lawyer-loaded party that closely resembles the political elite of the past. They campaigned skilfully but they haven’t mastered the levers of power.They must guard against any sign of entitlement. That means filtering out the adulation of their acolytes and refusing to demonize their opponents. It also means reaching out to the people who didn’t vote for them. Trudeau promised on election night to be a prime minister “who never seeks to divide Canadians, but takes every single opportunity to bring us together.” Every new leader makes some version of that pledge. Few stick to it. 
The Canada and the world that Justin Trudeau has inherited is full of challenges: 
The fledgling prime minister had a challenging first month: a worse-than-expected fiscal update, a horrific terrorist onslaught in Paris, a tense G20 meeting in Turkey and a jittery APEC summit in the Philippines. He stuck to his election commitments, ignored the second-guessers shouting from the sidelines and sidestepped the obvious pitfalls. It was hard work.
Having acknowledged all that, Goar's final sentence bears repeating: 
The time for celebrations and score settling, winning sides and losing sides has passed. The nation voted to turn the page.
Let's hope that Ms. Goar and Mr. Trudeau are on the same page.

The Aftermath of a Tragedy

Anti-Racist Canada - Sat, 11/21/2015 - 14:09

One would have to be living under a rock to not have heard about the horrific attacks in Paris that occurred on November 13. A total (as of this date) of 130 dead and 368 injured in what must be described as an act of cowardice by people subscribing to a twisted and evil ideology. A day before a car bombing in Beirut, Lebanon killed 43 people and prior to that 18 people attending a wedding were killed in Baghdad, Iraq. On November 17, 37 people were killed in Nigeria in a bombing that experts suspect was the handiwork of Boko Haram (who have pledged intelligence to Daesh). Just yesterday we learned that at least 21 people were killed in Mali. And today in Cameroon at least 5 people have been killed in a suicide bombing.

Those killed and injured run the gambit of ethnic, national, and religious origins and include Muslims among their numbers. Looking at the names and countries of origins for those victims of the Paris attack indicates a number of Muslims were killed and injured by extremists. In fact, the religious group most adversely affected by Daesh and their affiliates are Muslims, which is why so many refugees are fleeing Daesh in Syria.

The Canadian government is still admirably committed to taking in 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the calendar year. This writer hopes that is just the beginning of Canada's commitment to help refugees. But, despite the good will of the Canadian government (thus far) and most Canadians, there have been a backlash against both the idea of helping refugees as well as Muslim-Canadians.

Much of the backlash comes from places that are not at all unexpected. For example when a mosque was set on fire in Peterborough, Ontario, Kyle McKee and the folks at Stormfront were pleased as punch:

Read more »

Welcome back, Mr. Togneri

Creekside - Sat, 11/21/2015 - 12:59
BC Premier Christie Clark's government ran into a spot of bother of late over the triple-deleting of emails and the BC Information and Privacy Commissioner's consequent report into their serious breaches of access-to-information laws
Additionally, as noted in May by Laila Yuile , two days before former executive assistant to BC's Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Tim Duncan blew the whistle on what he contends is a widespread practice of email deletion within the Clark government, that same Clark government "removed penalties for staff who improperly destroy documents". 

Clark's deputy chief of staff retains "almost no sent emails" so presumably Christie's personal predilection for governing by post-it note remains unaffected.

Once upon a time in the west, bloggers like Dave at The Galloping Beaver, RossK at the Gazetteer, myself, and others used to track the various FedCons being cycled out of Harper's employ through the BC government and back to the Harper homeland again. Ken Boessenkool, Chuck Strahl, Sara McIntyre, Dimitri Pantazopoulos, and Nina Chiarelli all helped BC Premier Christie Clark form the BC Libs into a west coast subsidiary of whatever-it-is-the-FedCons-want-now.

So it's interesting to note amid all this controversy around breeches of access-to-information laws that former FedCon access-to-information squashing alumnus Sebastien Togneri  joined Christie Clark's government in February this year as Executive Assistant to the BC Minister of Energy and Mines.
Togneri, you will recall :"...set off a political firestorm when it was revealed by The Canadian Press that he, as a senior aide to then Public Works Minister Christian Paradis, had ordered the "unrelease" of a sensitive document that the department was set to provide to the news agency after a request under the Access to Information Act. As a result, he was the subject of a year-long probe by Canada's information commissioner in 2011 in which he was found to have meddled in a number of access-to-information files in 2010. He quit the federal government as a result."Between these two stints as senior aide in the Harper and Clark governments, Togneri worked for two years as the caucus whip for the Alberta Wildrose Party and did a stint as an election observer in 2012 for US Republican Senator John McCain's International Republican Institute. 
In May and again last month he monitored elections in the Ukraine for the OSCE.

Canada's Foreign Affairs Dept donated $8M to the International Republican Institute in 2014 "to increase transparency ... and awareness of best practices in local governance" in Ukraine.

Welcome back to the fold, Mr. Togneri


LeDaro - Sat, 11/21/2015 - 11:56

I used desktop for many years now. I had lap-top but never cared for it that much. Now I have bought a Tablet. I find very hard to use it. Although I like it because I can take it with me where ever I go.

I request visitors of my blog to give hints how to best use it.

Donald Trump - The Republican Front runner

LeDaro - Sat, 11/21/2015 - 10:25
Donald Trump is comprehensive in his approach.

How the cult of shareholder value is cannibalizing corporate North America

Metaneos - Sat, 11/21/2015 - 10:17
Financial Post
As I read through this article, I couldn't help thinking, as I read some of the defenses of the proponents of this sort of business practice, of that W.C. Fields quote, "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit."
And it's a whole lot of bullshit. These companies have been overheating their own stocks, and calling it profit. They've been raiding their own savings to placate demanding and aggressive shareholders. And in the end, it's all make-believe. They're rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
It's an ages old scam, Three-card Monte, but it's played using banks instead of cards.
Feel safe and secure with our financial leadership?

Why The Dippers Lost

Northern Reflections - Sat, 11/21/2015 - 10:06


Some folks are beginning to look through the embers to explain why the official opposition is now the third party. Geoffrey Rafe Hall writes:

Many observers, picking through the post-mortem of the NDP campaign, have laid most of the blame on the niqab debate and the eruption of identity politics, on Tom Mulcair’s flat performance in the first leaders’ debate, and on Justin Trudeau’s substantial personal appeal. All of these factors contributed to the result, of course — but not one of them was solely capable of toppling what should have been a well-run, sturdy election machine.

It may not seem obvious now, but the seeds of the NDP’s defeat in October were sown years earlier — before Jack Layton’s death and the breakthrough of 2011. Both were momentous events that had negative and long-lasting repercussions. Ultimately, the gains in the 2011 election fostered a climate of arrogance and complacency within the NDP’s senior ranks and shifted the focus away from building a robust election machine to operating the levers of power. Jack’s tragic death, which triggered a genuine and heartfelt outpouring of grief from Canadians everywhere, virtually guaranteed that the party would not conduct a critical analysis of events.
Layton's triumph  was also the party's downfall. Like Stephen Harper, Layton insisted on message discipline:

Career advancement was halted for anyone who failed to adhere rigidly to dogma prescribed in many cases by senior political staff — not the party leader. Greater emphasis was placed on centralized messaging and communications at the expense of organization, technical innovation, voter and volunteer identification and recruitment. In short, the NDP’s organizational strength was allowed to atrophy.
But, ironically, even though the party movers and shakers insisted on message discipline, the message wasn't clear:

From the get-go, the NDP campaign lacked a clear direction and message. Why did they want to win government? Was it to replace Harper? Usher in change? Provide economic stability? The party failed to answer these questions for voters, or to offer them any inspirational arguments for a NDP government.

The party seemed to have forgotten who they were -- and lots of traditional Dippers voted for Trudeau -- a message that Justin should heed.

This Former Refugee Takes an Unsentimental Journey…

Left Over - Sat, 11/21/2015 - 09:24
Senator Mobina Jaffer talks about the realities of refugee camps Jaffer tells Stephen Quinn about what she saw in her latest trip to the Middle East

By On The Coast, CBC News Posted: Nov 21, 2015 8:00 AM PT Last Updated: Nov 21, 2015 8:06 AM PT


Thank you, Senator Jaffer, for your service to Canada and the people who are the real victims in these camps..and thank you for restoring my faith in the power of women to strive for peace, to co-operate instead of compete…this article should be required reading for anyone who thinks that more killing and closing our borders is the answer to anything..

And thank you, CBC, for living up to your  mandate…I am so sickened by all the images of destruction and  soldiers with weapons brandished, it   tells me nothing has changed,  but articles  like this at least give me hope…and as a non-Liberal supporter I need to realize that  some members of their  party can be, and obviously are,  dedicated to something  beyond Con-lite policies…

Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 11/21/2015 - 08:08
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Karen Brettel and David Rohde discuss how the cult of shareholder value is destroying the concept of corporations actually making anything useful. And Deirdre Hipwell writes that the financial-sector workers pushing aside a real economy in favour of a paper one are miserable and envious as a result.

- Andrew Jackson points out that whatever one makes of the budget hole being claimed by the Libs, it could be easily filled with more fair and progressive taxes - with corporate taxes, capital gains and needless credits all offering ready sources of revenue.

- Or alternatively, the Libs could follow the Brad Wall strategy of pulling money directly from vital services (most recently schools) to paper over fiscal mismanagement. But before doing that, they might want to take note of the connection between public-sector cutbacks, low wages and economic stagnation.

- Nick Falvo offers some insights on the problem of homelessness in Canada and the readily-available options to address it. And David Ball points out that a well-designed housing program can take us a long way toward fighting climate change as well.

- Finally, Adam Radwanski, Frédérick Guillaume Dufour, Marc Zwelling and Jocelyn Maclure each offer their take on the NDP's election campaign and next steps.

Time To Reject Magical Thinking

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 11/21/2015 - 07:03

Canadians, along with the West in general, have been fed a neoliberal diet of propaganda and policy for so long that far too many have succumbed to magical thinking, the belief that we can have it all with only minimal pain, the later in the form of low taxation rates. A steady barrage of government waste stories, coupled with the extolment of the individualist giants who walk among us, all, as the mythology goes, self-made men and women, has created the unfortunate but quite intentional effect of equating taxation with government theft of its citizenry.

All of which, of course, is arrant nonsense.

As my friend Dom says about capitalist titans who 'made it on their own,' "Oh, and did they build their owns roads? Were they educated by universities they built? Did they personally educate their skilled employees?)

And as one of our finest Canadian thinkers, Alex Himelfarba, has repeatedly asserted, the concept of taxation is not a profanity but an absolutely integral part of a fair, just and balanced democracy. If you haven't read or heard him, be sure to check out my blog links to some of his work.

There is no substitute for critical thinking about such matters, but the cost of riding the low-tax bandwagon can be very high, as this Star letter writer reminds us:
What do Montreal sewage, the Gardiner expressway, the Lac-Mégantic derailment and Walkerton water have in common?

They are the legacy of cynical politicians elected by gullible voters. For decades, the likes of Mike Harris, Rob Ford and Stephen Harper have peddled the Thatcher-Reagan lie that government budgets can be pared without limit until we all live tax-free in Eden North and the wealth trickles down for the good of all.

The troublesome truth is, no matter what book-keeping tricks we use, public debts inevitably come due in the form of failed infrastructure, lowered quality of life, disease and death.

Perhaps the most heartening implication of the Harper Party’s ouster is that most voters now accept that there is a price for being Canadian – one that is well worth paying for the privilege of living in what is still one of the best countries on earth.

Paul Collier, TorontoRecommend this Post

The Missing Surplus and Stephen Harper's Last Big Lie

Montreal Simon - Sat, 11/21/2015 - 05:56

Up until the very moment his Con regime went crashing down in flames, Stephen Harper's waxy face stared out at us trying to brainwash us into believing that he knew what he was doing.

That only he, Great Economist Leader, could protect the tanking economy from the opposition and other terrorist sympathizers, spend billions trying to buy votes, but still balance the budget. 

And still produce a miraculous $2 billion dollar surplus !!!
Read more »

Shaking Things Up

Anti-Racist Canada - Fri, 11/20/2015 - 21:26
Well, not really.

Just trying to edit the site to make it, at least, mildly more readable. There may be some bugs to work out yet, but thus far we think the relatively minor changes are helping somewhat.

We'll be updating with more substantive posts soon.


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