Posts from our progressive community

The War of the Salish Sea

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 08/14/2016 - 00:50

The waters off the east coast of Vancouver Island are getting busier with the recent arrival of large numbers of marine mammals, especially humpback whales, white sided dolphins and pods of transient orca or killer whales.

The bullies of the Salish Sea are the transient killer whales that, as the name suggest, eat dolphins and sometimes whales too. We're far more familiar with pods of resident orca that are fish-eaters.

Whale watching tours have become a big business of late with the ever larger populations of marine mammals. Earlier this week they witnessed an attack by transient orcas on humpback whales in the waters near Victoria.

Tour operators said the two adult humpbacks were keeping the orca away from their vulnerable calf when the cavalry showed up in the form of several other adult humpbacks who joined forces to drive the attackers off.

It's believed that the arrival of these new top predators is the result of their prey fish, herring and sardines, migrating north from ever warming waters off the US west coast.

Here's a video of transient orca at work in the waters off Vancouver Island:

It's still rare to witness an orca attack on great whales. Far more common are attacks on another newcomer, large pods of common and white sided dolphins.
The orca herd the dolphins into bays and then have at them. One spot they use is at the BC Ferries terminal at Departure Bay, Nanaimo.

Balancing jobsjobsjobs with destroying the planet

Creekside - Sun, 08/14/2016 - 00:05

Brilliant one minute speech New Zealand MP James Shaw made to an almost empty house.

The Ambrose Cons and the Trudeau Derangement Syndrome

Montreal Simon - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 21:38

I've written about how disgusted I am by the way Rona Ambrose and her Cons have been going after Justin Trudeau for daring to take his shirt off at the beach.

Or daring to take a vacation...

And have been using that as a fund-raising opportunity.

Even though Ambrose couldn't be more hypocritical.
Read more »

Saturday Afternoon Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 14:41
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Paul Krugman rightly points out that it's to be expected that Republican establishment figures would line up behind Donald Trump since he shares their top priority of handing still more money to the richest few. And Emine Saner highlights how strong inheritance taxes would help connect children of privilege to the society around them.

- Meanwhile, Neil Gross comments on the decline of the U.S. union movement as a contributing factor to the rise of the xenophobic right.

- Kendall Worth makes his case for a basic income. And Ursula Huws discusses the need for our social safety to adapt to an economic where people are expected to get by without secure, full-time employment:
For workers hovering precariously on the edge of survival trying to patch together a livelihood from multiple jobs, never sure when the next piece of work or income will show up, a benefits system in which the only categories are “employed” or “seeking work” is of little help. At the same time, daytime television programmes such as Saints and Scroungers, Benefits Britain: Life on the Dole, and Benefits Street drive home the message that there is no middle ground: you are either a hardworking taxpayer, or a lazy scrounger. In times of austerity, when governments aim to save money wherever they can, this is a convenient message. But the reality is not so simple.
We should go back to the drawing board and develop a system that provides basic security and dignity for all while still allowing for work to be organised flexibly. One possible solution is to give everybody a basic income – a guaranteed minimum income for everyone, available as a right. This would raise the standard of living and reduce poverty among the most vulnerable, but would also allow workers to move flexibly in and out of paid work, education and care work without being subjected to the expensive, demeaning and dysfunctional inquisitorial procedures of the current benefits system that sees only the largely exclusionary categories of “work” and “claiming benefits”. - Shaurya Taran points out a stark example of the costs of homelessness - and asks why we're absorbing both the health and human costs rather than providing needed housing.

- Finally, the Globe and Mail reminds us not to overreact to the barely-existent risk of harm from terrorism in Canada. And Murtaza Hussain points out that the example of Aaron Driver looks to have been based on a lack of psychiatric care and other social supports for a single individual, rather than any meaningful type of organization.

Justice Minister Jody - a Two-Faced Hack

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 14:31

I was delighted when Trudeau selected Jody Wilson-Raybould to become Canada's justice minister. Like her grandmother and father before her, Wilson-Raybould was a prominent First Nations leader and advocate, a campaigner for the environment and social justice. She seemed an ideal pick for Canada's first First Nations justice minister.

Less than a year later that's changed. A lot.

When it came to Canada's assisted dying law, Wilson-Raybould has done everything in her power to subvert the clear decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Carter case. Along the way she revealed a dark and thuggish side when she denigrated a woman with an irremediable psychological condition that caused excruciating physical pain and suffering. Jody depicted the woman as having nothing more than a case of the downers. That's when I discovered her inner creep.

Now it's the Site C dam. This time it's Jody pushing through federal approval of the project despite the lack of consultation and opposition of our First Nations. This time Jody is revealing herself to be an utter, two-faced hack. Let's go back just a few years to 2012. Here's 'First Nations Jody' waxing eloquently on First Nations rights and the Site C project:

It's plain that Jody has done nothing to improve her own reputation. It's in the toilet.

h/t Alison at Creekside.

Green Party ReGrowth?

Left Over - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 11:49

Elizabeth May could quit as Green Party leader this month ‘Broken-hearted’ May says boycott Israel policy has her on verge of stepping down as leader By David Cochrane, CBC News Posted:…

Source: Green Party ReGrowth?

Green Party ReGrowth?

Left Over - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 11:43
Elizabeth May could quit as Green Party leader this month ‘Broken-hearted’ May says boycott Israel policy has her on verge of stepping down as leader

By David Cochrane, CBC News Posted: Aug 12, 2016 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Aug 12, 2016 5:00 AM ET

Is the Green Party ready for life after Elizabeth May? Popular leader will leave mixed legacy

By Éric Grenier, CBC News Posted: Aug 13, 2016 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Aug 13, 2016 8:55 AM ET

Elizabeth May is  yesterday’s  leader..and I say that with  a bitterweet smile.

While she was and is still, for the most part, a formidable parliamentarian,  like Tom Mulcair , ousted NDP leader,  she has fallen  behind her constituency when it comes to  values and political philosophy..

May always seemed to have a lamentable tendency to go along with whatever  spew Harper chose to throw at Parliament, and her voting  record does not bode well for the progressives being increasingly attracted to her could argue that her  party has now swung Left while she remains firmly mid-Right on everything except the  environment..not a pretty picture  for those of us who are frustrated with the NDP  foot-dragging, and want an alternative..

Although she might decide to tough it out, this is  an opportunity for fresh blood to lead the  party, and I  believe that she  knows it’s time…

Some Good News For A Change

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 09:22
Perhaps I follow the ways of the world too closely, but lately I have been feeling a deep disenchantment with everything. Time to change the channel and feature a story that highlights not only the human capacity for resilience, but also a community's capacity to embrace newcomers:

Recommend this Post

Trouble With A Capital T

Northern Reflections - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 05:24

The newspaper business is dying -- slowly. Alan Freeman writes:

I spent most of my career in newspapers and I’m not particularly nostalgic for the print version. Like most people, I now consume most of my news online. But I am worried about how the death of newspapers is affecting newsgathering itself.

For generations, newspapers formed the core of non-partisan, fact-based coverage of what was going in our communities. After waves of cutbacks, reporting jobs are disappearing. In the U.S., there are 20,000 fewer positions in newspaper newsrooms than there were 20 years ago. And though it’s great to see the growth of online media, from Buzzfeed to iPolitics, so far it has not been able to make up the shortfall.
Every new idea seems to meet with disaster:

Torstar Corp., the publisher of The Toronto Star, announced this week that it was eviscerating the dedicated team set up for its tablet edition — after having spent something like $35 million to launch the product over the past two years. It’s laying off 52 employees, most of them attached to the tablet edition.

Just last year, John Cruickshank, The Star’s recently retired publisher, gushed that the tablet version of the paper, Star Touch, was going to be “the biggest change in storytelling in a century.”
And the concept which was going to revolutionize the business has fallen flat:

Before the tablet, there was “convergence.” Remember that? At the height of the dotcom bubble in 2000, somebody had the smart idea that the future would be about marrying telecommunications providers with content companies like newspapers and TV stations. So we got the mega-merger of Time-Warner with AOL in the U.S. and copycats in Canada — BCE’s purchase of CTV and The Globe and Mail and CanWest Global’s purchase of the old Southam newspaper chain from Conrad Black.

Leonard Asper of CanWest Global breathlessly called his deal “the ultimate convergence transaction.” By 2009, CanWest had collapsed. What emerged from the ashes is Postmedia, the zombie newspaper chain that has never made a dollar in profits for anybody except its executives and whose stock last traded at 2 cents a share. And with new leadership at BCE, that convergence miracle also collapsed and the Thomson family ended up back as the sole owner of The Globe and Mail.
Journalism is in trouble. And, when journalism is in trouble, democracy is in trouble.


things i heard at the library: an occasional series: #22

we move to canada - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 05:00
"Can you help me find some mystery books?"

"Yes, I'd be happy to. What kind of mysteries are you looking for?"

"The kind where someone is killed, and then they figure out who did it."


In the mystery fiction section, I tried this. "There are different kinds of mysteries. Some are more gritty and violent. Some are more gentle. Some are humourous. Do you know what might interest you at all? Maybe you've seen a mystery on TV that you liked?"

He said, "You know, it makes you think that one person did it, but really it was another person?"

Not a lot to go on there! I pulled three different books by three different popular mystery authors, and he went happily on his way.

In case it seems like I'm making fun of this customer, I'm not at all. I thought it was very sweet. I give him credit for being able to ask for help on such a basic level. The interaction was an great reminder to not assume knowledge or use jargon. Your next customer could be a first-time reader.

Jason Kenney's Lonely Tour From Hell Continues

Montreal Simon - Fri, 08/12/2016 - 20:59

It's now been one week since Jason Kenney set out in a blue made in Mexico pick up truck to try to win the hearts and minds of Albertans.

And so far so bad.

For while it seems he did win the affection of Manning's Mighty Moose.

Just about everywhere else all he's getting is a cold shoulder.
Read more »

A Steady, Unstoppable Wave

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 08/12/2016 - 17:15

It's the Unholy Trinity - climate change, over-consumption and overpopulation. Any of those three is capable of bringing human civilization crashing down. Together, they make it a certainty. We either succeed at solving them all or we must certainly fail at fixing any of them. Which brings me to an item from Foreign Policy on the crisis almost no one wants to address - overpopulation.

While countries across Europe and East Asia are grappling with declining birthrates and aging populations, societies across the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia are experiencing youth booms of staggering proportions: More than half of Egypt’s labor force is younger than age 30. Half of Nigeria’s population of 167 million isbetween the ages of 15 and 34. In Afghanistan, Angola, Chad, East Timor, Niger, Somalia, and Uganda, more than two-thirds of the population is under the age of 25.
...Consider India. More than 300 million Indians are under the age of 15, making India home to more children than any country, at any time, in all of human history. To put the size of this generation’s numbers into perspective consider this: If these children formed a country, that country would be the fourth-largest in the world, still smaller than the United States but larger than Indonesia, Brazil, and Pakistan.
...And India is far from being the only country grappling with a booming youth population. Africa’s current population of 200 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 is set to double by 2045. In the Middle East, a region of some 400 million people, nearly 65 percent of the population is younger than age 30 — the highest proportion of youth to adults in the region’s history.
...Unfortunately, the countries that have most of the world’s young people are also the ones that are the most ill-equipped to grapple with their needs, ambitions, expectations, and inevitable frustrations — let alone capitalize on their potential. According to the United Nations, developing countries are home to 89 percent of the world’s 10- to 24-year-olds; by 2020, they will be home to nine out of every 10 people globally. Like too many developing countries, countries like Chad and Niger rank high on lists of the world’s most fragile states. They also have populations in which half of their citizens are under the age of 16.

The author of the article, Kristen Lord, is the president and CEO of an international development and education NGO. She sees this reproductive bomb as an opportunity - for development and growth. She completely overlooks the impacts of both climate change (and other forms of environmental degradation) and our already massively excessive dependence on the Earth's resources, renewable and non. When we have already exceeded the planet's ecological carrying capacity by a factor of 1.7 and we're racing ever faster to deplete nature's reserves, another 2-billion + mouths to feed and clothe and employ can only worsen the situation in those nations already "most ill-equipped to grapple with their needs." The resources these next baby-boomers will need just to survive much less thrive are already over-subscribed. Where does she imagine more, much more, shall be found?

Sh*t just got real

Dawg's Blawg - Fri, 08/12/2016 - 16:05
A sticker affixed to a container of hummus in a supermarker in Vaughan, Ontario, has sparked a full investigation by York Regional Police after an assistant manager searched through 24 hours of security tapes without being able to find the... Dr.Dawg

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 08/12/2016 - 15:53
Yuri Kane & Ana Criado - Running Wild

Our Rogue Government. Justin and Jody Are Above the Law.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 08/12/2016 - 11:15

As the Trudeau government sees it, the per curiam decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Carter case, the one that establishes the framework of the assisted dying right, is no longer applicable.

Now that there is a new law — which allows assisted dying only for incurably ill adults who are already close to a natural death — the government says those findings are no longer necessarily true.

"The defendant does not admit that these findings remain true today or that they are applicable in the present case," the government argues in a document filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

Among the f
acts that the government suggests are no longer true are the top court’s findings that:

— Denying assistance in dying for people with grievous and irremediable medical conditions may condemn them to a life of severe and intolerable suffering.

— Such a person faces a "cruel choice": take his or her own life prematurely or suffer until natural death.

— A permissive approach to assisted dying would not put Canada on a "slippery slope" in which disabled and other vulnerable Canadians are pressured to end their lives.

The government’s argument is in response to a court challenge launched by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and Julia Lamb, a wheelchair−bound 25−year−old who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative disease that she fears will eventually consign her to years of intolerable suffering. Lamb and the BCCLA contend the new law is unconstitutional and not compliant with the Carter decision because it would not allow an assisted death for people, like Lamb, who are suffering but not near death.

In a terse reply to the government’s document, Joseph Arvay, lawyer for the plaintiffs, says the government "is estopped from disputing the factual findings made in Carter ... and to do so is an abuse of process."

Grace Pastine, the BCCLA’s litigation director, said the government is essentially saying, "’We’ve crafted a brand new law and so now this is a brand new issue and you have to re−litigate and re−argue every issue related to physician−assisted dying all over again.’"

The legal fight that culminated in the Carter ruling took four years and cost millions, she noted, adding that the government is creating "a real barrier to justice" by maintaining that battle must be fought all over again.

"If ordinary Canadians and public interest groups and pro−bono lawyers have to recreate the wheel every time they challenge an unconstitutional law, they’re seriously disadvantaged against the bottomless pockets of the federal government," Pastine said in an interview.

Trudeau and justice minister Jody remind us, yet again, of the bad old days of the Harper regime. When it suits them they can be every bit as despicable, just as authoritarian, as the scoundrels they replaced. Just like Harper they see themselves as above the law.

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 08/12/2016 - 08:40
Assorted content to end your week.

- Owen Jones interviews Ha-Joon Chang about the foreseeable harm caused by the UK's austerity, as well as the false claims used to push it.

- The Stoney Creek News rightly argues that Canada Post should move toward posting banking in large part due to the potential to improve the level of service available for vulnerable groups. But Dean Beeby notes that Employment Insurance administration is just one of the many areas where the idea of actually assisting the public has been lost in favour of automation and corporatization.

- The Canadian Labour Congress points out a few of the policies which could offer much-needed opportunities and security for younger workers. And Jared Bernstein writes that an improved minimum wage (one of the CLC's recommendations) has worked exactly as hoped in Seattle, increasing workers' pay and length of employment without any of the threatened side effects.

- Mound of Sound highlights how Justin Trudeau has chosen to make Stephen Harper's industry-dominated National Energy Board his own, while Kai Nagata points out Trudeau's broken promises to put a credible review system in place before ramming through more project approvals. And Christopher Adams examines CAUT's investigation into the dubiously cozy relationship between the University of Calgary and oil-sector funders. 

- Finally, Murray Brewster exposes a Canadian-owned firm's sale of troop carriers for use in the ongoing war in South Sudan. And Don Pittis rightly notes that we should be less concerned with the nationality of a corporation's official ownership than with its actual behaviour.

Why A Tax On Financial Transactions Makes Sense

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 08/12/2016 - 08:10
Robert Reich, for whom I have a great deal of respect, offers this succinct explanation:

You can read more about this issue, also often referred to as the Tobin tax, here.Recommend this Post

What's Wrong With Democrats

Northern Reflections - Fri, 08/12/2016 - 05:46

Like Chris Hedges, Thomas Frank has been analyzing what has gone wrong with the Democratic Party over the last fifty years. Don Lenihan writes that, if you really want to understand what's going on in this year's presidential election, you should read Frank's latest book, Listen, Liberal:

As part of the American left, Frank regards Roosevelt’s New Deal as the high-water mark for the Democratic Party—a concerted effort to use the power of the state to defend working people’s interests in the face of economic calamity.

However, Democrats have ceased to be the party of working people, at least according to Frank. Under Bill Clinton and now Barack Obama, the party has begun catering to a new and very different class of people, which he calls professionals.

And the evidence is in. Professionals have done very well under the Democrats. Working people have not:

Income inequality is the smoking gun. From the middle of the Great Depression up to 1980, Frank reports, the lower 90 percent of the population took home 70 percent of the growth in the country’s income. Look at the same numbers between 1997 and today and the same group pocketed none—zero, he notes emphatically.

Readers should pause to consider what an inconvenient fact this is for Democrats. They like to portray themselves as fighting to protect the middle class. They focus on the bank CEOs and captains of industry—the notorious 1%—who’ve profited so nicely from the New Economy. It turns out, however, that the professional class has also done very well.

While Frank is appalled that this wealth has come at the expense of the middle class, in his mind, the bigger scandal lies elsewhere. There is no evidence this gap is going to close again. The professional class is not, as Clinton promised, a rebirth of the middle class, but the birth of a new elite. Indeed, Frank’s real point is that the interests of the new professional class are profoundly at odds with working people.
It's absolutely true that Donald Trump is unfit for the presidency. But a vote for Hillary should not be interpreted as approval or acceptance of Democratic Party policy since Bill Clinton. Roosevelt used to tell his supporters that if they wanted him to adopt policy, they had to push him in that direction.

Hillary needs to know that support for her comes at a price:

Working people are furious about what’s been happening to them. (Brexit provides further evidence of the unrest.) And Frank makes a convincing case that real debate over the causes has been stifled by group think for a quarter century.

 Bill Clinton’s new New Deal sells politics short. Globalization and the digital economy may be forces that no one ultimately controls, but there are all kinds of things that presidents (and prime ministers) can and should be doing to shield working people from the worst effects. And that should command their full attention.

Justin Trudeau and the Pornography of the Cons

Montreal Simon - Thu, 08/11/2016 - 20:45

As you know I am up in the north of Scotland, where it has been too wet and too windy to take off my shirt.

But even here I heard about this story.

And how the Cons are trying to exploit it.
Read more »

NYT Magazine - One Issue, One Issue

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 08/11/2016 - 18:19

It's a first for the New York Times magazine. An entire issue devoted to just one story - how the Bush/Cheney/Blair invasion of Iraq proved to be the undoing of the Arab world in the years that followed.

"More than a decade of war, terror and revolution has left a trail of ruin in the Arab world. This is the story of how a region came apart, seen through the eyes of six people whose lives were changed forever."

"This is a story unlike any we have previously published. It is much longer than the typical New York Times Magazine feature story; in print, it occupies an entire issue. The product of some 18 months of reporting, it tells the story of the catastrophe that has fractured the Arab world since the invasion of Iraq 13 years ago, leading to the rise of ISIS and the global refugee crisis. The geography of this catastrophe is broad and its causes are many, but its consequences — war and uncertainty throughout the world — are familiar to us all.

"It is unprecedented for us to focus so much energy and attention on a single story, and to ask our readers to do the same. We would not do so were we not convinced that what follows is one of the most clear-eyed, powerful and human explanations of what has gone wrong in this region that you will ever read."


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