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More Harper Acquiescence To The Corporate Agenda

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:58


As much as it is said that the Harper regime is planning to buy votes for the 2015 election by giving income-splitting to families, the reality is that Canadians are increasingly being called upon to aid and abet its agenda of 'starving the beast' while at the same time subsidizing corporate profits.

As reported in The Globe and Mail, our Finance Department has quietly shelved plans to crack down on so-called “treaty shopping” by multinationals. The surprise move suspends a long campaign by Ottawa to stop what it says is rampant “abuse” of international tax treaties by companies seeking to duck Canadian taxes.

Treaty-shopping was most recently in the news when Burger King engineered a merger with Tim Hortons so it could pay a much lower corporate tax rate that Canada offers. Despite the fact that the late Finance Minister Jim Flaherty wanted to curb the practice, 'Uncle' Joe Oliver is embracing it:

Facing intense lobbying from resources companies and their tax advisers, Mr. Oliver apparently bought the argument that curbing treaty shopping would put a chill on foreign investment in places such as the Alberta oil sands, leaving Canada at a competitive disadvantage.

In other words, the argument goes, the rapacious appetite for massive corporate profits, along with the refusal to accept any responsibility to the country that makes those profits possible, is the business imperative that must be yielded to:

In a prebudget submission to the House of Commons Finance committee, Deloitte & Touche LLP had this to say:

“To attract foreign capital, Canadian projects generally must support higher potential yields than comparative investments located in the home country of a capital source,” Deloitte tax policy leader Albert Baker said in the submission. “This is a particular issue for the energy and resource sector.”

The flip side is that not squeezing corporations means individual Canadians must bear a disproportionate share of the country’s tax load. Unlike companies, ... hard-working Canadians can’t use complex offshore tax structures.

The message therefore seems to be that all other Canadian taxpayers – you and I – should subsidize the inflated profits of offshore oil sands investors.

So much for the rhetoric and propaganda the Harper regime fosters about its concern for 'working families.'

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There's This Story Making the Rounds...

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:20


It's an item from Reuters that has been picked up by a number of newspapers, including The Globe & Mail.  It concerns a study that found one species of algae has managed to adapt fairly quickly to warming and more acidic oceans.

What's interesting is that the authors of the study went to great lengths to point out the limits of their discovery and to stress that this wasn't some sort of "all clear" on either the warming or acidification of our oceans.  Having noted that, the reporter went on to simply ignore the cautions and proclaim some sort of miracle.

An essential point that's completely overlooked is that, yes algae or phytoplankton do absorb CO2.  Sure they suck it right up like a sponge.  Great, they're carbon-based life forms.  What the writer ignores is what happens to that absorbed CO2.  It's fixed in these organisms and, being organisms, they eventually die and when they die these tiny little organisms sink to the bottom where they decay and release their fixed carbon into the waters of the ocean depths.  They don't make the acidification vanish.  They're simply a conveyor that carries it to the ocean floor.

We know that algae blooms also suck up enormous amounts of dissolved oxygen.  In large concentrations algae can turn water anoxic giving rise to "dead zones".  None of this makes its way into this "feel good" news report either.

However the giveaway that this is a journalistic con job is apparent in the final two paragraphs.  The writer mentions some "U.N. panel of scientists" that is 95% sure that climate change is man made.  That's followed by this closer:

Opinion polls, however, indicate that many voters believe that natural variations are to blame.  The mismatch between scientific and public opinion complicates a plan by almost 200 governments to work out a deal to limit global warming at a summit in late 2015 in Paris. 

There's a journalistic device that pits a powerful scientific consensus based on extensive and ongoing research into every natural science discipline by accomplished and highly-educated experts in those fields against "many voters" whose only qualification appears to be an ability to cast a ballot and then declares a "mismatch".  No, sorry, it's not a mismatch when you pit one powerful consensus based on knowledge, experience and research against a contrary opinion based on nothing.



We Still Don't Know the Depths of Harper's Perfidy

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 10:37
But we've got 32-years to find out.  That's the toxic lifespan of the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement whereby Harper sold Canada down the river to Beijing in exchange for a bag of silver coins.

According to The Tyee, Harper knuckled under to China's demands for one reason - to keep Chinese money flowing to the Oil Patch.

Gus Van Harten is an associate professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School and an expert in investment treaties.
Van Harten said FIPA is practically a one-way deal in favour of China, and Ottawa needs to acknowledge the non-reciprocal aspects of the deal and explain why they would ratify it two years after it was first signed.
"It seems to me the federal government has conceded to China under pressure to give them this treaty," said Van Harten. "My guess is this is the price China has demanded to open its purse strings for investing in the resource sector in Canada."
In a press release today, Ottawa insisted the deal will protect such Canadian investors in China and help build trade relations.
The release claims the deal will give "Canadian investors in China the same types of protections that foreign investors have long had in Canada."
But Van Harten doesn't buy that line.
"One aspect of the treaty is it has an exclusion of all existing discriminatory measures in Canada or China," he said. "China, it's safe to say, has far more existing discriminatory measures than Canada does."
Local government rules or different tax rates will now be locked in under the agreement, giving Chinese officials a tool to punish any Canadian investors it wishes to, he said.
We probably won't have to wait too long before we feel the lash of FIPA.

A Postive Abortion Story

Dammit Janet - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 10:27
[Guest post by Jaden Fitzherbert, cross-posted at NB Media Co-op.]

Here is my story.

I had a miscarriage before I made my abortion appointment. I realized that I was pregnant in my third year of university, when I got back from Christmas break. I had denied it for about a month and when I arrived back in Fredericton and still felt ill and hadn’t gotten my period I decided that I should take a pregnancy test.

I bussed to Wal-Mart, bought the test and ashamedly took the bus back to my UNB residence. How could I possibly be pregnant? I was well educated on safe sex practices, I was using birth control and my partner at the time was using condoms. I waited in my room, alone and terrified about seeing a positive pregnancy test, the few minutes that I waited seemed like an eternity. With shaky hands I checked the result. There it was, mocking almost, a positive pregnancy test. I was devastated. I wasn’t ready to become a mother, heck, I wasn’t even sure if I ever wanted to have kids. I knew in my heart that my current partner was not the person that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I knew that I did not want to raise a child with him.

There is this strange feeling, one that I’ve heard other women who have experienced unwanted pregnancies describe, a feeling that your body no longer belongs to you, that you are no longer in control of what is happening to you. I decided at that moment that I would call the Morgentaler Clinic in the morning and make an appointment for an abortion. I didn’t have the money to pay for it, but I also knew that it would take too long to get a referral from my doctor (assuming that he would give me the referral), and go through the public system, so I decided that I would somehow come up with the money to pay for the procedure.

I went to bed that night, crying, not because I was sad or felt guilty about my decision, but because I knew what an uphill battle it was going to be. I woke up in the middle of the night with intense cramps, I had no idea what was going on, but I spent the rest of the night in the fetal position on the bathroom floor. Finally I passed what I assume was the fetus. I distinctly remember feeling so incredibly relieved, I was no longer pregnant, and I did not have to try to come up with the money for my abortion. It was like a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

At first I didn’t tell anyone about what had happened, not my then partner, not my parents and not my friends. I was afraid that people would judge me for feeling so happy and relieved that I had had a miscarriage. After a few months I started opening up about my experience and people shamed me -judged me. People told me that I should grieve the loss of my pregnancy, even though the pregnancy was unwanted to begin with. I stopped telling people, and went on with my life as if it had never happened. This was four years ago, and I’ve decided to no longer be silent.

Two years ago I started volunteering at the Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic, and I was amazed by what I found there. I was welcomed, with open arms, into a community of people who were loving, compassionate and they taught me that I should not feel ashamed about my feelings towards my miscarriage and unwanted pregnancy, but most importantly, they taught me that, contrary to what I had been told by other people. I wasn’t broken.

I’ve never felt regret or grieved over my miscarriage, it was the best thing that could have happened to me at that point in my life, and for that I am eternally thankful and grateful. There are many women, who like me, are happy, healthy, who have no regrets and who do not grieve their abortions or their miscarriages, but a lot of the time our voices get lost in the shame that is projected on to us from the anti-choice movement that tells us if we don’t feel grief or regret we are not “real women” or we are terrible people.

To all the women out there who feel as though they are unable to speak out about their experience, you are loved and you have nothing to be ashamed of. You are not broken.

* * * * * *

Here at DJ! we've written often about the shameful and illegal abortion access situation in New Brunswick.

We've also written about the effects of stigmatization of abortion.

Abortion is a normal part of women's lives. It is an ordinary, safe medical procedure. There should be NO barriers and NO stigma to it.

There is a general provincial election in New Brunswick on September 22. Will politicians listen to the good sense of the people? Or will they continue to treat New Brunswickers like irresponsible children?

Stay tuned.

By the way, DAMMIT JANET! welcomes abortion stories. They are common and we will print yours, with or without your name.

And we're off...

Cathie from Canada - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 10:25


We'll be gone on vacation for a couple of weeks -- now that we have retired, its the first time in 25 years that we have been able to travel in September!

Toronto Mayoral Race 2014

FFIBS - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 09:57

Toronto-Mayoral-race 2014


Filed under: 2011 Election

How South Americans are Killing Their Environment

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 09:23

In some places, cutting down trees can have huge consequences.  In South America, the impacts are especially far-reaching.  Deforestation has picked up again in the Amazon.  That, in turn, is causing havoc to the region's hydrological cycle, triggering severe drought.

The unprecedented drought now affecting São Paulo, South America’s giant metropolis, is believed to be caused by the absence of the “flying rivers” − the vapour clouds from the Amazon that normally bring rain to the centre and south of Brazil.

Some Brazilian scientists say the absence of rain that has dried up rivers and reservoirs in central and southeast Brazil is not just a quirk of nature, but a change brought about by a combination of the continuing deforestation of the Amazon and global warming.

This combination, they say, is reducing the role of the Amazon rainforest as a giant “water pump”, releasing billions of litres of humidity from the trees into the air in the form of vapour.

...Deforestation all over Brazil has reached alarming proportions: 22% of the Amazon rainforest (an area larger than Portugal, Italy and Germany combined), 47% of the Cerrado in central Brazil, and 91.5% of the Atlantic forest that used to cover the entire length of the coastal area.

...As long ago as 2009, Antonio Nobre, one of Brazil’s leading climate scientists, warned that, without the “flying rivers”, the area that produces 70% of South America’s GNP would be desert.
In an interview with the journal Valor Economica, he said: “Destroying the Amazon to advance the agricultural frontier is like shooting yourself in the foot. The Amazon is a gigantic hydrological pump that brings the humidity of the Atlantic Ocean into the continent and guarantees the irrigation of the region.”

“Of course, we need agriculture,” he said. “But without trees there would be no water, and without water there is no food.

“A tonne of soy takes several tonnes of water to produce. When we export soy we are exporting fresh water to countries that don’t have this rain and can’t produce. It is the same with cotton, with ethanol. Water is the main agricultural input. If it weren’t, the Sahara would be green, because it has extremely fertile soil.”

Drought visits all manner of consequences on Brazil.  Sao Paulo, a city of 9-million, is facing the prospect of running out of water within just two or three months.  Brazil has also been the second-largest hydroelectric power generator in the world.  Now it's power infrastructure undermined by drought, Brazil is trying to shift to wind power.  In the meantime, as Brazil's hydro-electric generation falters, the country is left to turn to fossil fuel-powered generation.

Two years ago, hydroelectric power accounted for 89 percent of electricity production from January to July, while fossil fuels accounted for 7.3 percent of the mix. This year, hydroelectric is down to about 75 percent of the total, with fossil fuels rising to about 22 percent, Valor Economico said, citing data from the national electricity operator.

As for the future of the Amazon, the fear is that deforestation could so alter the environment that the rainforest dries up, dies, and then begins its own natural feedback mechanism - wildfires.  Unlike temperate forests, the trees of the Amazon have no resistance to fire.


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.

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