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Welcome to My (Soggy) Neighbourhood

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 07:20
We've been getting soaked lately.  A series of torrential rainstorms often called the "Pineapple Express" has been bringing flooding to Vancouver Island and parts of the Lower Mainland.

Hardest hit has been drought-stricken California.  Unfortunately these squalls can do far more harm than good.  This isn't the sort of precip California needs.


This graphic, depicting the past 72-hours, shows the atmospheric river coming out of the central Pacific to the North American coast.

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 06:57
Here, on how the Cons' secretive giveaway of what's left of the Canadian Wheat Board can only be explained by their desire to eliminate collective marketing in favour of total corporate control.

For further reading...
- Janyce McGregor reported on the Cons' refusal to consider allowing the Farmers of North America to bid on the Wheat Board's remaining assets. And Karl Nerenberg followed up on the Cons' excuses in Parliament.
- Dougald Lamont rightly sees the Cons as forcing producers toward the "bozo zone" of racing to the bottom in quality and price.
- And even the Globe and Mail recognizes the dangers of giving away public assets through a secretive process when there are bidders willing to ensure both some return in the short term, and a viable business structure in the long term.

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 06:45
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Wray Herbert examines Lukasz Walasek and Gordon Brown's work on the psychological links between inequality, status-seeking and reduced well-being. And Linda McQuaig writes about the harm increasing inequality has done to Canada both economically and socially:
(The OECD's recent) report puts actual numbers on how much growth has been reduced as a result of trickle-down. In the case of Canada, the reduced economic growth amounts to about $62 billion a year — which economist Toby Sanger notes is almost three times more than the estimated annual loss to the Canadian economy of lower oil prices.

But while dropping oil prices are grabbing headlines, the serious negative economic consequences of Canada’s pro-rich economic policies are largely ignored. Certainly the Harper government promises to entrench these policies more deeply if re-elected.
...
The OECD’s powerful message is clearly of little interest to the Harper government, which is planning to exacerbate Canada’s rich-poor gap by introducing an income-splitting scheme that will benefit rich families almost exclusively. Harper’s plan to provide an additional $60 a month per child to all families won’t be nearly enough to allow the bottom 40 per cent of Canadians to invest meaningfully in their children’s education.

The OECD stresses the need “not only for cash transfers, but also increasing access to public services, such as high-quality education, training and healthcare” — areas where Harper’s planned cutbacks to the provinces will hit hard.

What’s striking about the entrenchment of policies favouring inequality is how out of sync they appear to be with popular will.
...
While the world’s elite may still be slapping their knees and marveling at what they’ve managed to pull off, the fact that the most prestigious international economic bodies have lined up against trickle-down orthodoxy may mean there are now prospects for real change.

At the least, it suggests that, in a showdown with the world’s billionaires and multi-millionaires, the world’s people may actually stand an outside chance.- Of course, if free money for the rich is a demonstrably foolish policy, the Cons remain all too happy to destroy the evidence. But Tavia Grant reports that we can still see an alarming number of Canadians living with low incomes - signalling that the promise of trickle-down economics remains as empty as ever.

- Stephen Gordon takes a look at the fiscal squeeze Stephen Harper has placed on the federal government. But it's well worth pointing out one more piece to the puzzle, as the eroding resources nominally allocated for public services are increasingly being applied to spin rather than anything which could help anybody besides the Cons themselves.

- Thomas Walkom weighs in on the fallout from the Ontario Libs' failed P3 schemes - including needless debts which the province will be paying off for decades to come.

- Finally, Pablo Iglesias discusses how social justice principles reach far beyond partisan lines - even as they've been applied to turn Podemos into an emerging political force (as both a party and a movement) in Spain:
When you study successful transformational movements, you see that the key to success is to establish a certain identity between your analysis and what the majority feels. And that is very hard. It implies riding out contradictions.
...
Politics is not what you or I would like it to be. It is what it is, and it is terrible. Terrible. And that’s why we must talk about popular unity, and be humble. Sometimes you have to talk to people who don’t like your language, with whom the concepts you use to explain don’t resonate. What does that tell us? That we have been defeated for many years. Losing all the time implies just that: that people’s “common sense” is different [from what we think is right]. But that is not news. Revolutionaries have always known that. The key is to succeed in making “common sense” go in a direction of change.

César Rendueles, a very smart guy, says most people are against capitalism, and they don’t know it. Most people defend feminism and they haven’t read Judith Butler or Simone de Beauvoir. Whenever you see a father doing the dishes or playing with his daughter, or a grandfather teaching his grandkid to share his toys, there is more social transformation in that than in all the red flags you can bring to a demonstration. And if we fail to understand that those things can serve as unifiers, they will keep laughing at us.

Exposing The Lie

Northern Reflections - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 06:04
                                                   http://thisfragiletent.com/

The Big Lie of the last forty-five years has been Trickle Down Economics. The Great Depression exposed it as a Big Lie. But people have short memories and  -- at least until recently -- they've bought the lie for a second time. The OECD, however, has exposed the trickle down lie for a second time. Linda McQuaig writes:

Essentially, the OECD report reveals the immensity of the trickle-down scam, which the report shows has not only failed to foster economic growth as promised, but has proved to be an overall killer of economic growth.

And the report puts actual numbers on how much growth has been reduced as a result of trickle-down. In the case of Canada, the reduced economic growth amounts to about $62 billion a year — which economist Toby Sanger notes is almost three times more than the estimated annual loss to the Canadian economy of lower oil prices.
All along there have been contrarian voices:

Meanwhile, there was mounting evidence — advanced by Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman and other high-profile liberal economists — that neoliberal policies did little more than the obvious: making the rich richer, with no benefits for anyone else.
Now the economic powers that be have caught up with Stiglitz and Krugman:

With its report this week, the Paris-based OECD has gone farther still, stating unequivocally that its research shows that policies favouring the rich haven’t just failed to create overall economic growth, they have actually “curbed economic growth significantly.”

Indeed, according to the OECD, the dramatic increase in income inequality — now at its highest level in 30 years — is the “single biggest impact” preventing economic growth.

This drag on economic growth, the OECD explains, results largely from those lower down the income scale — including the bottom 40 per cent of earners — lacking the funds to invest in their own education.
The Harper government, however, has no interest in the OECD's research. They've already been bought and paid for.



Remembering A 'Superstar'

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 05:38
Well, we arrived back in the early hours of yesterday, having enjoyed a relaxing week in Cuba. Unfortunately, there was no English-speaking Canadian television available, so I feel unprepared to offer any political commentary until I get caught up. Fortuitously, however, my son sent me the following item, which, I hope, you will find of interest.

Is it wrong for me to feel such deep and utter disdain for Jonathan Bernier, who, as you will see in the video below, does nothing to dispel the stereotype of the 'dumb jock.'

Recommend this Post

Canada on torture : We're buying if you're selling

Creekside - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 04:16

Canada's collateral fallout from Tuesday's Senate Intelligence Committee summary on the torture of prisoners at CIA “black site” prisons around the world.
"A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney’s office said Wednesday that Canada does not engage in, or condone, torture by national security agencies but ...  Canada will act on “a tip from any source” if Canadians’ lives are in danger."This is our usual "we're buying if you're selling" approach to torture.
Feb. 2012 : "The latest directive says in "exceptional circumstances" where there is a threat to human life or public safety, urgency may require CSIS to "share the most complete information available at the time with relevant authorities, including information based on intelligence provided by foreign agencies that may have been derived from the use of torture or mistreatment."
April 2010 :  Day One of Omar Khadr's trial at Guantanamo. Confessions elicited via sleep deprivation, denial of pain medication, stress positions, being forced to urinate on himself and being used as a human mop, being terrorized by barking dogs, and being threatened with rape and torture. Khadr's defence team was only allowed to interview three of Khadr's 30 interrogators at Bagram and Gitmo, two of whom admit the 15 year old Khadr was threatened with rape.FBI agent Robert Fuller"... elicited from Khadr the identification of another Canadian, Maher Arar, who Khadr during interviews by Fuller claimed was training with al Qaeda operatives at a training camp at a time that, it later turned out, Arar was actually at home in Canada.
Shortly after Fuller reported the identification of Arar to the government, Arar was apprehended at JFK airport and rendered to Syria for interrogation there.FBI agent Fuller also got Khadr to confess to throwing a grenade at US forces."December 2009 : Harper shuts down parliament for two months in what turned out to be a successful strategy to muzzle parliamentarians regarding Richard Colvin's testimony about the torture of random Afghan farmers and taxi drivers under Canadian watch. Harper hired Bruce Carson to "stickhandle" the Afghan file "on a daily basis, involving senior officials from departments such as foreign affairs, defence, RCMP, justice and corrections". In 2007 a requisition for special boots to allow Correctional Services Canada inspection teams to wade through blood and shit in Afghan prisons was made public.
I think it's fair to say any report similar to the US Senate summary made partially public on Tuesday would never see the light of day in Canada.
April 2009 : "More than 16 months after Canada's security agencies cleared Abousfian Abdelrazik, government lawyers are now pressing him to admit to being a senior al-Qaeda operative, echoing American accusations extracted from Abu Zubaydah, water boarded more than 80 times under the Bush administration."
As noted by POGGE at the time : "While the rest of the world is coming to terms with the fact that the Bush administration was actually using torture to elicit false confessions in an effort to justify their invasion of Iraq, the Hapless Government™ is trying to use statements from a man who was waterboarded 83 times to prove that Abdelrazik is a terrorist."March 2009 : The same day that CSIS lawyer Geoffrey O’Brian told the public safety committee there is no absolute ban on using intelligence that may have been obtained from countries with questionable human rights records on torture, RCMP spokesman Gilles Michaud tells the same committee :"I want to be clear here - there is no absolute ban on the use of any information by the RCMP."November 2006 : CSIS director Jim Judd said it had done nothing wrong by accepting as genuine the confession of Maher Arar, who was secretly and illegally bundled off by extraordinary rendition to a prison in Syria where he was held and tortured for a year."It does not necessarily follow that because a country has a poor human rights record that any information received from it was the product of torture," Judd told Parliament's public safety committee..

The Real Stephen Harper and the Light in the Darkness

Montreal Simon - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 04:02


I hate this time of the year, when it gets dark before you get home. 

And of course nowhere is it darker than in Harperland, where the beast rules, and hope goes to die.

But now at last I see a glimmer of light. The Con Death Machine which has been on a rampaging roll for weeks may be grinding to a halt.

After the real Stephen Harper finally revealed himself in all his hideous horror.
Read more »

Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 09:41
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Scott Clark and Peter DeVries remind us that any fiscal problems Canada has faced under the Cons have been entirely of Stephen Harper's making:
Harper needed a deficit problem; the fact that the previous government neglected to leave him one was just a short-term inconvenience. From the very beginning his fiscal strategy has been driven by a commitment to his Conservative base and ideology — which demand smaller government by any means — and by a desire to show that he had ‘what it takes’. He desperately wanted to be seen by history as a better fiscal manager than his predecessors.

Harper and Flaherty both believed — as do most modern Conservatives — that smaller government inevitably leads to stronger economic growth. Unfortunately, stubborn reality has once again refused to cooperate with an impractical theory.

The evidence is clear: Cutting deficits does not by itself generate economic growth. The Conservative “growth friendly austerity” strategy has failed consistently, whenever and wherever it has been applied — in the U.S. under Republican administrations, in the eurozone in recent years, by the G20 after 2010 … and in Canada since 2010.

Cutting the GST by two points will go down in Canadian fiscal history as one of the worst public finance decisions ever. It served no useful purpose — apart from giving the prime minister the cover he needed to impose a neo-liberal fiscal orthodoxy that diminished the federal government while failing to generate growth and jobs.

All Canadians paid the price for securing Mr. Harper’s legacy. We’ll go on paying it for while.- Meanwhile, Brent Patterson points out how another of the Cons' "economic management" themes - that of constantly pushing trade agreements which entrench corporate power at the expense of the public - seems designed to prevent the development of an effective national pharmacare plan.

- Andrew Jackson notes that it's silly to think that markets can address climate change without some strong public policy leadership. But of course, for the Cons (and other petro-politicians), the only acceptable time to consider the well-being of the planet is never. And indeed, Mychaylo Prystupa reports that the Cons' kangaroo-court National Energy Board is positively bragging about its elimination of any public voices from regulatory decisions about pipelines.

- Adrian Morrow reports on the Ontario Auditor-General's findings that public-private partnerships have cost that province upwards of $8 billion in public money compared to simple public management.

- Finally, Frances Russell points out how the Cons go out of their way to eliminate precisely the voices which would ensure that public policy benefits everybody, rather than only the privileged few:
Harper now faces a wide swath of civil society groups opposed to his government on everything from shockingly mean-spirited assistance to wounded veterans to wanton disregard for the environment to authoritarian disdain – and deep antagonism -towards the forms and traditions of parliamentary democracy.

Never content with just opposing his adversaries, Harper enjoys pre-empting them, beating them up with a totally unexpected attack.

As prime minister, he frequently uses private members bills to begin the softening up process.

Take, for example, the Conservatives’ visceral – and obviously intensely personal – antagonism to organized labour. Harper is moving swiftly to destabilize and disempower Canada’s trade unions. Using the ruse of a backbench Conservative MP’s private member’s bill as the cover, the legislation will force unions to publicly disclose the names and salaries of all employees earning more than $100,000 a year and reveal how much of their time each spends on political activities, lobbying and other non-labour relations work.

Noticeably missing from this purported concern for union members is any actual changes to ensure workplace rights and protection for Canadian workers. And, of course, there is not the remotest indication of similar disclosures being required from the corporate side of the economy.

What better way to try to weaken, divide and destabilize Canada’s House of Labour than perpetrating a Hobbesian war of all against all by stirring up internal strife between leaders and members and between unions with strong and progressive collective agreements and those struggling with weaker and less robust ones forced to exist on the fringes?

With the Harper Conservatives, it’s always win-win for corporations and the well-to-do and lose-lose for everyone else.

Harnessing The Energy Of The Young

Northern Reflections - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 06:10
                                                       http://www.vice.com/

Generational conflict awaits Canadians -- unless the young are brought into the political process. And Franks Graves' latest polling suggests that is not happening. Graves reports:

Among younger Canadians there is clear sense that the playing field is tilted to favour older voters. This perception may be grounded in harsh realities about how the economy, our democracy and our public institutions are performing. The youth vote is increasingly irrelevant to the business of winning elections — so political agendas tend more and more to reflect the wishes and fears (both real and imagined) of older Canada. This, in turn, may be leading to the permanent political disengagement of the young — who increasingly see a political process that doesn’t reflect their needs, their concerns and their ethics.
The Harper government has focused its pitch solely on baby boomers, whereas the children of the boomers have been forgotten.The gap between them and their parents is profound. The young are:

much more ethnically and culturally diverse — and more educated — than previous generations. They grew up in a digital climate and are completely at home with modern information technology. Their social values are highly progressive — but they suffer from being the first post-war generation that failed to benefit from the middle class covenant of intergenerational progress. They’re entering their peak years of economic influence and they’re raising families now — but they will never have the political and market clout enjoyed by the boomers that preceded them, and will be shoved to the side by the larger echo boom of Gen Y and millennials now coming of age.
And the Gen Y folks are even more distant from the present government's agenda. Together with the GenXer's, they don't buy any of the Harperian prescriptions for this country:

They are extremely progressive in their social values; the small-c conservative values of hard work, self-reliance, traditional family values and respect for authority are basically meaningless to this generation. They’ve entered a stagnant and unequal economy and their futures look much less bright than those of their parents at the same stage of life. They’re deferring the usual rites of passage — starting a career, marrying, building a family — further and further into the future.
So what is the Harperian plan to deal with the young? Turn them off and keep them turned off. As long as the young stay away from the polling booths, the Harperites feel they are safe. However, it's clear that the future belongs to the politicians who can harness the energy of the young.


What Madness Looks Like

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 05:47
It's said to be a done deal, just the matter of a few centuries at the outside.  That's how long it's expected to take to melt all the great ice fields of the Earth.  The Arctic sea ice will disappear first, followed by the world's glaciers and then the Greenland ice sheet.  All the while the Antarctic ice sheet will continue to melt into the sea.

So, what's that going to look like say to the average Vancouverite?  Maybe something a lot like this:


As we lose those ice sheets and glaciers we can expect sea level rise of about 80 metres, maybe more.  That would leave the Lower Mainland looking something like this.  The waterfront cities of North and West Vancouver, gone.  Stanley Park, ditto.  The superprime downtown area and the toney communities along what once was English Bay, Jericho and the north shore of the Fraser, completely submerged.   No need to dwell on already low-lying municipalities like Richmond, Delta and White Rock.  They would have been among the first to succumb, their populations evacuated presumably to high ground in the interior.

It's madness yet this is the path we are taking.  Madness.

The Night Stephen Harper Channelled Axl Rose

Montreal Simon - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 04:37


Well it must have been a scary sight. Stephen Harper at the Con Christmas party last night.

Channelling Axl Rose. 

Stephen Harper channelled Axl Rose for his musical encore at the annual Conservative Christmas party on Tuesday night. Harper was on keyboards and lead vocals with his new band the Van Cats (as in 24 in French, 24 Sussex), and played the Guns N' Roses tune "Sweet Child O' Mine" to round out the night. 

Even though Ol' Axl ain't the man he once was. These days he has a crazed look in his eyes.

But then of course, if you take a closer look, so does Stephen Harper.... 
Read more »

The Day Stephen Harper Went Off the Deep End

Montreal Simon - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 00:57


As you probably know I have become increasingly concerned about Stephen Harper's mental state.

Since he's now at the age when the first Harper to arrive in Canada went off the deep end, and had to be forcibly removed from office.

So madness does run in the family. Those plunging oil prices have exacted a terrible toll on his nerves, by shattering his delusions of grandeur as the legendary leader of Greater Albertonia.

And sure enough, today he went completely CRAAAAAAAAAZY !!! 
Read more »

Shorter

Cathie from Canada - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 20:45
Shorter US torture report:

Bush and Cheney corrupted the soul of the United States when they adopted torture as a state policy -- and in return all they got was a s**t sandwich.

Paul Fromm and the Morality of the Movement

Anti-Racist Canada - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 19:47
October was a big month for Paul Fromm. He was running for mayor of Mississauga in an election which, if it can be believed, he actually did worse than in his previous effort. Earlier in the month he was in Budapest to attend and speak at a conference organized by the racist National Policy Institute, though that event didn't exactly go off without a hitch.


And just after the election at the end of the month, Paulie was once again an honored guest and speaker at Thomas Robb's Knights of the Ku Klux Klan annual European American Heritage Festival, organized both by Robb and his daughter Rachel Pendergraft, which purports to be a family friendly affair:


Oh, and then there was this (NSFW).

Now when we alluded to this apparent leak of photographs, one of the individuals who commented on the article made the following statement:

IMO this isn't relevant to ARC's mission. Paul Fromm is a fucking Nazi. His marital problems I could care less about.

We would be hard pressed to disagree with that statement, which is why we didn't post the images on the blog here and why we really haven't referred to them since. However, over the last couple of months we decided that they do have relevance.

Read more »

We're No Longer Number Last!

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 10:34

Stephen Harper owes his Aussie boyfriend, Tony Abbott, a word of thanks.   The Abbott government's reversal of Australian climate policies has allowed it to displace Canada as the "worst performing industrial country on climate change."


Isn't It Time You Gave the Geezers a Push Back?

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 10:17
I don't like it, not one bit.  If you read enough decent newspapers and journals over enough time you may catch an unwelcome awareness of changes underway across our world.  You may come to the conclusion that we're living in highly perilous times.

Our environment is in peril.  Democracy is in peril, battered by the dual scourges of neoliberalism and the rise of illiberal democracy.  Human, social and political rights are in peril, especially the shredded remnants of privacy.  Our economies are in peril, the world teetering on the cusp of another massive global collapse. Equality - of wealth, income and opportunity - is succumbing to the onslaught of inequality.  Global security is in peril, beset by the spread of insurgency and terrorism, utterly intractable "new war," nuclear proliferation and major regional arms races, and the rise of Cold War II.   Every node of peril grows even as it builds on every other node.

Put another way, the forces of stability and peace seem to be trending rather negatively with no sign of reversal on the horizon.  There's no leader, no political movement that seems remotely up to the task.  In other words, you're screwed and you're on your own.

People of my vintage hope we're sufficiently on in years that we'll miss the grande finale.  We like to imagine there's a 15 to 20-year safety corridor to see us through.  I'm not as assured of that as I once was.

I tell my children that they have to look after themselves.  Don't count on my generation to do the right thing.  We've had plenty of opportunities already and the record speaks for itself.  We do the right thing when it's right for us and, for us, that means right today not necessarily right for the medium or long haul.

Younger generations have to take inventory, figure out what they need of us today and demand it.  Our political institutions have to rein in the geezer bias. This country has to work for everyone, not just old farts because they're more likely to vote. Until we have righted that keel, younger Canadians have to realize there's an inter-generational conflict in play just beneath the surface and they're on the losing end of it.

The Hunt For Red November

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 09:42
It's called the "law of the instrument" and is sometimes put this way - "to a man who has only a hammer, everything looks like a nail."  With that, let's begin a discussion of Russian submarines and F-35s.

You might not have heard of it but last month a force of US, Canadian and French maritime patrol aircraft responded to Britain's cry for help after a periscope was sighted where none was supposed to be in the waters off the Royal Navy's nuclear submarine base in Faslane, Scotland.  The prime suspect was a Russian submarine - Vlad Putin giving the Brits a subsurface poke up the arse.

So what does a lurking Russian sub and French, Canadian and US anti-submarine aircraft have to do with the F-35?  Well, Britain - an island nation surrounded by waters easily accessed by the "other side" (a concession to the existence of Cold War II) - no longer has a force of maritime patrol aircraft to safeguard its home waters.  Britain retired its aging Nimrod ASW planes in 2010.

Britain is spending its defence pounds on other toys like two new "break the bank" aircraft carriers that will field the VSTOL version of the uber-expensive F-35 instead.


And just what does that have to do with a hammer?  Plenty.  How effective will those ships and F-35s be at keeping Britain's home waters secure?  Not at all. The F-35s with their limited range and payload might be useful for defending their home ship from some air threats but that's about all.  Meanwhile the carrier itself might not even be safe in home waters if Russian subs are prowling around.

The F-35 is a hammer.  It's a light attack bomber.  It doesn't have the range or endurance or payload to do much else.  So if you've sunk your limited defence budget into these carriers and light bombers, everything suddenly looks like a nail.

It's a dilemma the F-35 presents to Canada also.   You might have heard that Canada has the longest coastline of any nation and the second-largest land mass yet with a relatively minuscule population and an even tinier defence budget. But that doesn't mean we don't want to play with the Big Boys.  Our dodgy political and military leadership absolutely want that F-35 and by geez they're going to have it.

Harper's incredulous denials aside, we might even buy 65 of Lockheed's latest. 65 warplanes.  If that sounds like a lot it's not, not for a country the size of Canada about to face the demands of Cold War II.  Some of those airframes will be stored, kept in reserve.  We're expecting them to last a very long time.  We may expect to have 45-of them available, some of them deployed on 'coalition' ventures overseas, which leaves even fewer available to cover Canada's frontier when Vlad comes calling.

With its single engine and the problem of bird strikes up in the north where we'll keep the F-35, we can expect a hefty attrition rate.  1 single-engine F-35 + 1 birdstrike = 0 chance of getting home.  It probably won't be long before the government places a standing order for replacements to make good our losses.

To the extent the F-35 ever made any sense it was in the geopolitical context at the time of its conception in the 90s.  It was Amerika Uber Alles back then, a unipolar world in which warfare, for our side, was something we visited upon others.  Who needs defensive weapons when you've got all the guns?  And so we decided to go with offensive hardware such as first-strike, light attack bombers.

If one thing is clear it's that no one had the Arctic theatre in mind when Lockheed fired up the autocad to design the F-35.  No one back then foresaw the ice-free Arctic, the rush for seabed resources, conflicting territorial claims, and the militarization of the polar region.  It's amazing how much these things can change in just a couple of decades.

But, as they say, that's the world we have, not the world the F-35 was designed for.  And, like the Brits, sinking our defence budget into the F-35 means acquiring an offensive capability of dubious value at the expense of our defensive capability just when our vast northern territory is becoming a security problem.  The Brits have a word for it - "daft."



Meanwhile, like the Brits' Nimrod, the aircraft NATO F-35 users will depend upon, the alliance's AWACS, Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft, is in trouble.  According to Aviation Week, it began when Captain Canada yanked Canadian support from the NATO force.

For the first time since its formation in the early 1980s, NATO’s Airborne Early Warning and Control Force (AEW&C), also known as the E-3A Component, is facing major cutbacks and a fleet downsizing—at a time when mission tempos are high because of Russian aggression in Ukraine.
The force, based at Geilenkirchen air base in Germany, operates 17 Boeing E-3A Sentry aircraft that provide air surveillance and support NATO air exercises. It was called up to secure U.S. skies in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, recently ended a 3.5-year operation in Afghanistan and expects to fly 4,300 hr. during 2015 to support NATO members bordering Ukraine.Sixteen member states fund the operations with a total of €250 million ($312 million) a year.Today, however, the force is facing new financial pressures. The most critical of these emerged three years ago, when the Canadian government decided to withdraw its support from the program, seeking to save money in the economic downturn.Until the country’s flag was lowered at Geilenkirchen in July, Canada had been the third-largest contributor to the program, providing four complete flight crews. The last Canadian personnel left Geilenkirchen at the end of August.

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