Posts from our progressive community

National Monument to Victims of ...

Creekside - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 09:01




Sept 23, 2015 : Reactions were mixed today as the long awaited National Victims Monument was unveiled on Parliament Hill, but the winning designer couldn't be more pleased with the final result. "I was playing with my infant son when the inspiration for the design just came to me", he told assembled reporters. 
After cutting the ribbon and posing for photos, Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched a blistering Cold War style attack on the evils of communism saying its “poisonous ideology and ruthless practices slowly bled into countries around the world. ... That's why we need this monument."
"Hey, if the Communists had not fought so hard and taken such heavy losses there is a good chance we would have lost the second world war," shouted one aged veteran as he was dragged away by security personnel.

The bright red monument can be disassembled for cleaning and features a special plastic finish designed to facilitate the easy removal of graffiti.
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Climate Change March Highlights Global Issue

LeDaro - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 08:02
Demonstrations around the world. It is good to know that it has become international issue.

Please watch the video here

Torture and Canada's Colonial Legacy

Trapped In a Whirlpool - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 07:55
Far too many Canadians are blind to our colonial past, many willfully so, but nothing demonstrates our colonial legacy as the residential school system does.
Read more »

Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 07:07
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Robert Reich discusses how our economic system is set up to direct risk toward the people who can least afford to bear it (while also directing the spoils to those who need them least):
Bankruptcy was designed so people could start over. But these days, the only ones starting over are big corporations, wealthy moguls, and Wall Street.

Corporations are even using bankruptcy to break contracts with their employees. When American Airlines went into bankruptcy three years ago, it voided its labor agreements and froze its employee pension plan.

After it emerged from bankruptcy last year and merged with U.S. Airways, America's creditors were fully repaid, its shareholders came out richer than they went in, and its CEO got a severance package valued at $19.9 million.

But American's former employees got shafted.

Wall Street doesn't worry about failure, either. As you recall, the Street almost went belly up six years ago after risking hundreds of billions of dollars on bad bets.

A generous bailout from the federal government kept the bankers afloat. And since then, most of the denizens of the Street have come out just fine.

Yet more than 4 million American families have so far have lost their homes. They were caught in the downdraft of the Street's gambling excesses.
...
There's no starting over for millions of people laden with student debt, either.

Student loan debt has more than doubled since 2006, from $509 billion to $1.3 trillion. It now accounts for 40 percent of all personal debt -- more than credit card debts and auto loans.

But the bankruptcy law doesn't cover student debts. The student loan industry made sure of that.
...
Economies are risky. Some industries rise and others implode, like housing. Some places get richer, and others drop, like Atlantic City. Some people get new jobs that pay better, many lose their jobs or their wages.

The basic question is who should bear these risks. As long as the laws shield large investors while putting the risks on ordinary people, investors will continue to make big bets that deliver jackpots when they win but create losses for everyone else.- And Murray Dobbin discusses how an age of constant anxiety is making it more difficult for working Canadians to stand up for themselves.

- Meanwhile, Pedro Nicolaci da Costa notes that even the financial sector which has done so much to exacerbate inequality is starting to take notice of the problem. The Washington Post weighs in on how Sam Brownback's experiment in even more extreme corporatism has proven exactly as disastrous as we should have expected. And Paul Krugman debunks the Republicans' spin that inequality is a matter of merit rather than structural unfairness, while the CP reports on the Conference Board of Canada's research showing an unprecedented generational divide.

- Moira Donovan points out the sad state of early childhood education in Nova Scotia. CBC News reveals that injured Canadian soldiers are being forced to keep quiet about their injuries in order to secure some pension income. And Karl Nerenberg writes about the Cons' continued war against refugees - this time consisting of an attempt to deny even the most basic standard of living.

- Finally, Stephen Maher discusses the need to acknowledge and confront Canada's legacy of genocide toward aboriginal peoples.

"bogus" refugees and queue-jumping: stephen harper's campaign against a compassionate canada

we move to canada - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 07:00
Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language," 1946Unpacking how this happens, and in how many ways, is our life's work. It's a topic that must be repeatedly trotted out against as a bulwark against the powerful forces that shape our world.

Right now the War Resisters Support Campaign is facing a huge crisis. A spate of war resisters have received notices that decisions are imminent in their cases. At least one person has received a date for removal. In most cases, these people have heard nothing in their cases for years. Then suddenly, everyone gets notices at the same time. Remember, refugee claims are are supposed to be examined individually by an independent, non-partisan body.

Could it be that, as Harper prepares to lead Canada down the slippery slope into the newest war in Iraq, the truths told by these war resisters are just a bit too inconvenient? Does Harper need to squelch the voices that can warn the country back to its senses?

As I think about my war resister friends - people of conscience who refused complicity in destruction, torture, and murder - I think about the many ways the Harper Government, often in the person of Jason Kenney, twisted the truth about them into lies, using language as their weapon.

These linguistic sleights of hand apply not only to the US Iraq War resisters, but to all refugee claimants. Most Canadians want to believe their country is compassionate and fair. If the government flatly said, "We don't want refugees here, go back where you came from," it wouldn't play too well. Instead, the road to creating a less compassionate country is paved with lies that discredit the people who need to stay.

Three phrases spring to mind.

"Bogus refugees". Time and again, Jason Kenney characterized US war resisters as "bogus refugees". He used this terminology to sell huge changes to the Canada's refugee policies: among other things, the fast-track system that automatically rejects claimaints from certain countries that the government deems safe. In addition to US war resisters, Roma people and people from Mexico have repeatedly been characterized as "bogus" refugee claimants.

According to Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition, bogus means "counterfeit, sham, fake".

In other words, according to Jason Kenney, refugee claimants whose claims are rejected are liars. They are fabricating and exaggerating in order to claim refugee status.

The Immigration and Refugee Board can reject refugee claims for a wide variety of reasons, but a rejected claim does not imply untruths or exaggerations. I have read and transcribed several of the war resister refugee cases. The refugee board and the courts have upheld every one of them as credible witnesses. Not one of them was ever challenged on the basis of fact. Many of their cases document high praise from the Court or IRB Member for the honesty and integrity of their testimony.

"Clogging up the courts," and "the courts are indulging claimants in reviews and hearings."

In a democracy, this is called due process. We want to live in a country where people cannot be turfed from their homes, lose their health care, sent to prison, or sent to persecution without due process. Due process means having the facts of your case, from your point of view, heard by a court or tribunal with the power to mitigate the outcome.

We know that due process, in reality, often depends on how much money or political connections one has. We know that due process is not equal for all people. But we don't want to live in a country without due process. And we don't want due process to be characterized as an indulgence or a drain on the system. Due process is why the system exists!

"Jumping the queue." There is no queue for refugees. Refugees, by definition, flee their countries of origin under difficult, often life-threatening circumstances. For a while we were told there was a huge backlog of refugee cases awaiting review. This was a direct result of an IRB starved for resources and appointments. In other words, Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney created the backlog, then used the backlog as an excuse to turf refugees.

*  *  *  *

Canadians seldom hear about it, but thousands of refugee claimants have been deported, often without due process. They simply disappear. Sometimes we hear that they have been killed. Sometimes we hear they have been unjustly imprisoned. But mostly we never heard about them in the first place.

In fact, the compassionate Canada that most Canadians dream of, "has been a pioneer in repelling refugee claimants from its shores".
The xenophobic rhetoric of Europe’s far-right parties seems to have seeped into refugee policies worldwide as countries struggle with the uncertainties of a growing international refugee crisis.

“The introduction of harsh anti-asylum measures frequently triggers similar actions in other states and ‘a race to the bottom’ that threatens to strip all refugees of their hope for safety,” says Peter Showler, a former chairman of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board.

“Asylum policies seem to migrate across borders with notably greater ease than asylum seekers themselves,” quips Audrey Macklin, a human rights and refugee law expert at the University of Toronto.

Canada has been a pioneer in repelling refugee claimants from its shores. Since 1989, the immigration ministry has had a special “liaison officer program” that now deploys 63 officials in 49 locations worldwide to intercept suspicious travellers, monitor human smuggling rings and train foreign airlines and shipping companies to look for improperly documented passengers.

Like many other countries, Canada restricts access to its borders by imposing visa restrictions on “refugee-producing countries,” intercepting boats on the high seas such as the Ocean Lady and imposing stiff penalties on marine and air carriers that transport improperly documented migrants.

In the aftermath of 9/11, Canada has also moved to integrate its security institutions with those of the United States, conducting joint threat assessments, pooling immigration intelligence, improving and expanding joint border patrols and developing a joint entry and exit verification system to track foreign travellers throughout North America.

The overall impact has been to make it harder for refugees and asylum seekers to come to Canada. That, in turn, may actually encourage human smuggling by raising the demand for and profits of smugglers.For more on how the Harper Government has dismantled Canada's refugee system, may I recommend re-reading a post of mine from 2011: stephen harper dismantles canada's refugee system; jason kenney attacks canadian democracy. I was going to quote from it, but I'd end up quoting almost the whole thing. Instead, please go and read it.

*  *  *  *

I will post this link again, but if you want to help keep US war resisters in Canada, you can donate here. All amounts, no matter how modest, are very welcome.

Psst - Hey Buddy, Can You Spare Some CPU?

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 06:37
Next to Alzheimer's Disease, it is probably the scourge we fear the most. And as they say, few lives, either directly or indirectly, are unaffected by it. Cancer is pervasive.

So when a project comes along enabling anyone with a computer to participate in the battle against this dread disease, it is surely worth noting.

Sunday's Star ran a story about The World Community Grid, an IBM network of 676,000 businesses and individuals globally who have volunteered about 2.9 million computers of varying capacities to help run scientific studies. The fact that cancer, with its vast array of genetic mutations, is a complex disease means that huge computational power is now needed to do some sophisticated number crunching of data.

Because access to actual super computers is so limited, the World Community Grid, by linking home computers together for projects, becomes a virtual super computer.

Igor Jurisica, a Princess Margaret Cancer Centre scientist, began the Mapping Cancer Markers project last November. He has been granted access to about one-third of the machines worldwide, which gives him some 258 computer processing unit (CPU) years worth of power to run his data each day.

That means a typical computer would have to run continuously for 258 years to process the data the network can work through in 24 hours.

In aggregate, the full grid can generate more than 400 CPU years each day, which would rank it among the world’s 15 largest supercomputers, said Viktors Berstis, the senior IBM software engineer who runs the network.
I have installed the program's software and have been running it for the past two days. It can be run while working on the computer, or you can just leave the computer on when you are not using it. The program can be suspended at any time. As well, it seems to make minimal demands on both processing power and bandwidth.

You can learn more about the project here, or watch the video below. Should yoiu decide to participate, click here to obtain the software.

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The Bunker Buster

Northern Reflections - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 05:40
                                                     http://backofthebook.ca/

The conventional wisdom these days seems to hold that Stephen Harper will never testify at Mike Duffy's trial. But Scott Reid, who used to be Paul Martin's director of communications, knows what kind of damage scandal can do to a prime minister's future. He writes that no one should underestimate the havoc Duffy can wreck on Harper:

Imagine all of this unfolding in public – again. Except this time with added rigour and filled-in details. Not leaked out in spastic bursts through media reports, but explored carefully and transparently according to the rules of court. Imagine Nigel Wright’s testimony – as he’s compelled under oath to describe what conversations he had, with whom, and when.

For Harper, this situation is a blazing bonfire of political risk. The best-case scenarios are nerve-fraying. What might happen in the worst of all worlds is the stuff of horror films. The government may want to believe they’ve put this behind them but as this week’s brief pre-trial appearance reminds us, it’s back. Mike Duffy, the good senator from Just-Make-It-Out-To-Cash, is fighting for his freedom – and he is pointed at this government like a loaded weapon.

Any trial is also bound to explore questions that have so far gone unanswered. What sort of deal was originally cut with Duffy for partisan versus Parliamentary service? Why were the Conservatives willing to quietly vanish his expenses when they were thought to be only $30,000? How does that square with later denunciations of his profligate ways? What lies behind that email reporting the prime minister to be ‘good to go’?
In the end, Reid speculates, Harper may decide to get out of town. If he left by Christmas, his party still might have enough time to rehabilitate itself. After all, Dalton McGuinty's departure allowed Kathleen Wynne to win the next election.

However you look at it, Duffy is a precision guided missile aimed straight at Harper's bunker -- the kind of weapon the Americans call a "bunker buster." In the end, Duffy may not just destroy the bunker. He may destroy the prime minister.


Big Daddy Harper and the Climate of Fear

Montreal Simon - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 04:43


Well in my last post I predicted that Stephen Harper would try to use the ISIS threat to behead Canadians in their bedrooms, to maximum political advantage.

By trying to make it sound like we are in real danger, and that only a Great Strong Leader like Himself can save us.

And sure enough there he was today, sounding like Big Daddy. 
Read more »

Brandon Martinez Schooled on Paulie's Facebook Wall

Anti-Racist Canada - Mon, 09/22/2014 - 21:55
Our resident vampire has taken an extended vacation but should be back in October or early November. In the meantime you'll have to put up with more of me and any of the other members of the Collective who contribute during nosferatu's absence.

We first learned about "journalist" Brandon Martinez (who we've taken to lovingly refer to as Turd Blossom) this past February but didn't really pay all that much attention. Mr. Martinez has contributed to such august online journals as "Veterans Today" and "Veterans News Now" as well as Press TV out of Iran. The former two online publications are rife with conspiracy theories (many involving 9/11 and the involvement of Israel and/or Jews in general) and Holocaust denial. And Press TV, when looking for an international perspective on world events, believe that David Duke and Mike Harris are reasonable choices.

It then might not be surprising that Brandon Martinez also holds a similar world view of a world controlled by a vast Jewish cabal, as evidenced in most of his own writing:


  • February 16, 2014: In an article titled “Scrutinizing Israel role in 2001 anthrax attacks,” Martinez claims that the anthrax attacks immediately following the 9/11 terrorist bombings originated from Israel’s biological and chemical industry, and implied the existence of a nefarious collaboration between the Israel and the Bush administration to carry out the attacks. Martinez also claims that the Israelis placed the blame for the anthrax attacks on its Arab enemies as a pretext to force the U.S. to go to war against Iraq 
  • January 26, 2014: In an article titled “Israeli militarism predicated on 9/11 deception,” Martinez claims that Israel has a history of conducting false flag operations and that the 9/11 attack was Israel’s “grandest deception. 
  • January 13, 2014: In an article titled “Zionist perversion of history threatens world peace,” Martinez promotes the age-old anti-Semitic conspiracy of Zionist control over Hollywood. Zionist control of Hollywood, Martinez alleges, is why Hitler is depicted as a “villainous demon,” while in reality, “Zionist Jews themselves were Hitler’s most enthusiastic collaborators.” Elsewhere in the article, Martinez calls the Holocaust and the number of Jewish victims a “myth” and part of “Zionist propaganda.”

More recently, Martinez  has come under the influence of our favorite potential porcine politician Paulie (okay, he doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of winning in October, but I had a "p" thing going and wanted to see how far I could go with it). Not only are the Jews responsible for 9/11 and most other nefarious international plots, but they are also responsible for trying to keep the white man down here on the home front:


By the way, Joshua Blakeney is another Canadian "journalist" who writes for "Veterans Today" and serves as a correspondent for Press TV. He's also quite a charmer.

Now Mr. Martinez, who has a very smug estimation of his own intellect, likely never expected that he would be challenged on Paulie's own Facebook page.

But challenged he was. And for those who appreciate a good, intellectual, beat-down, I hope you enjoy the show:

Read more »

Barbara Frum on How to get women elected.

Dammit Janet - Mon, 09/22/2014 - 14:48
In the October 1971 issue of _Chatelaine_ Barbara Frum wrote a short piece in her characteristic irreverent, droll style.  It was titled: "Insiders' tips on how to get women elected."
The last paragraph:Marry a man who's already there and become his widowA third of all the women who've ever been in Parliament got there on the sympathy vote, as widows.  One hard-eyed pro, who dismisses the ability of women to get into politics on their own and has been cynically successful running widows on the black-crepe ticket, says: "The only way you'll ever see a hundred women in the House is to provide a hundred rifles to the wives of sitting members, and then teach them how to shoot."
Huh.  Imagine publishing that, nowadays...?

On the other hand, jerks like Peter MacKay should be very, very afraid.
Grand merci to mon copain, who spotted the vintage _Chatelaine_ on my bookshelf and perused it, much to our shared amusement.

What's the rush, Saskatoon?

Cathie from Canada - Mon, 09/22/2014 - 11:34
Transit workers picket to protest lockout, roads jammed during morning commute
I guess the idea is because the city administration has failed to negotiate a contract, then City Council should just implement the pension changes by fiat.
Yeah, that'll calm things down.
Saskatoon's transit lockout experienced its first workday morning today.
The next big story will be tonight's so-called emergency city council meeting -- when our councilors are supposed to vote on a bylaw that would impose the pension changes on the transit union.
The city and union have been warring over pensions and wages for months. The city has offered a 10-per-cent wage increase over four years with changes to the defined benefits pension plan — an offer the union voted 91 per cent against. City council had scheduled an emergency meeting Monday to legislate changes to the pension plan and force the union to accept the pension changes, but the move won’t end the lockout. The union calls the legislation a “bullying tactic” and said it would only accept the new pension arrangement in exchange for a 22-per-cent wage increase over five years.So negotiations have been going on for a year, and the pension problems have been an issue for much longer, but its just terribly, terribly urgent that the pension be resolved TODAY?
Why don't I think anyone is going to buy this?  I hope councilors can resist getting sucked into this rush to judgement.
And now the union that represents many of the other city workers is entering the fray:
The national office at CUPE, the union representing four locals and more than 2,500 city workers in Saskatoon, now agrees with the locked out transit workers that the pension plan is sound.
The Amalgamated Transit Workers Union (ATU) is arguing that the city’s pension plan is now in a surplus position, not in a deficit, as officials have stated.
Today, a CUPE national spokesperson said they agree with the ATU.
CUPE has had its own pension experts look at the latest data from the City of Saskatoon and they tell the union that there is no deficit.
What’s more, said national representative Rhonda Heisler, the four locals in Saskatoon believe that they were misled when they signed their latest contract.

Word On The Street - Chantal Hebert and Tim Harper

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 09/22/2014 - 07:59
Although it started out quite ominously with heavy downpours, yesterday turned out to be a good day. As the clouds cleared, we hopped on the GO bus to attend Toronto's Word on the Street, an annual celebration of literacy. I always take heart when I see a strong cross-generational presence among the many thousands gathering for the love of reading and learning.



This year was especially gratifying, as we actually got seats in the Toronto Star tent to hear Chantal Hebert and Tim Harper discuss the national political scene and take numerous questions from the audience, moderated by the Star's Bob Hepburn.



Tim Harper qualified his remarks with two provisos: he has been regularly wrong in his predictions, citing his failure to foresee the demise of B.C.'s Adran Dix as one egregious example, and his assumption that he would be enjoying a long journalistic relationship with Alison Redford, the now former premier of Alberta.

He and Chantal Hebert also agreed that what the federal landscape will look like following next year's election will only become clearer once the campaigns are in full throttle.

Nonetheless, based on present indicators, they offered their views on a variety of topics:

On Justin Trudeau: Drawing upon the analogy of a colouring book, Tin Harper said that much of Trudeau's picture is at present not coloured in. His employment of platitudes rather than policy statements may work for now, but the crucible of the election campaign will determine whether he can retain his 'rock star' status. He suggested that one of the reasons Stephen Harper has been burnishing his foreign policy credentials is to offer a sharp contrast to the unseasoned Trudeau.

On Thomas Mulcair and the NDP: Hebert and Harper suggested that the party has a problem branding itself in places like Ontario and the west. Those who have grown weary of the Harper machinations are more likely to go to the Liberals than the NDP, despite the fact that Mulcair has shone during Question Period, which very few people ever watch. And even though Mulcair has proven himself to be a much sharper politician than Trudeau (e.g., Trudeau immediately endorsed our adventure in Iraq, 'as long as it continues to have parliamentary oversight', while Mulcair has withheld his party's approval, saying that neither the terms of the engagement have been revealed and no parliamentary oversight exists), it doesn't translate into greater electoral support.

On Mike Duffy's Trial: While it seems unlikely that Harper will be testifying at the trial, Chantal Hebert was of the view that ultimately it won't make much difference because, unlike the aforementioned Trudeau, Harper's picture is fully coloured in. Those who support him will not change their opinion, no matter what happens, and those who oppose him wouldn't believe him even if he testified that he had no knowledge of the payoff from Nigel Wright.

Tim Harper also pointed out a couple of interesting points. Given the array of charges Duffy is facing, the Wright payoff is only one of about 31 crimes Duffy is alleged to have committed. It, in fact, will likely occupy only a relatively small portion of the trial, and a judge would not allow it to be turned into a political circus, even if that is Duffy's intent.

Canaries in the Conservative coal mine? Referring to the column he had just written that appears in today's Star, Harper noted that about 30 Conservatives will not be seeking re-election in 2015. Is this an indication of widespread backbencher dissatisfaction? Is it normal attrition? Do members genuinely want to spend more time with their families and earn money in the private sector? These are all unanswerable questions at this point, but the columnist did point out that without the power of incumbency, many seats will be up for grabs, which could prove significant.

On CETA: This was probably the most discouraging aspect of the discussion, reminding me of the harsh and unprincipled nature of politics. Trudeau has endorsed the agreement, text unseen, while Mulcair has temporized, saying that he needs to see the text first. Both Hebert and Harper are of the view that both opposition leaders have little choice but to support it, given its widespread endorsement by Quebec, Ontario and all the other provinces. Challenging the agreement would be too expensive politically.

All in all, a very good day for a political junkie.





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Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 09/22/2014 - 07:52
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Linda Tirado writes about life in poverty - and the real prospect that anybody short of the extremely wealthy can wind up there:
I haven’t had it worse than anyone else, and actually, that’s kind of the point. This is just what life is for roughly one-third of Americans and one in five people in Great Britain. We all handle it in our own ways, but we all work in the same jobs, live in the same places, feel the same sense of never quite catching up. We’re not any happier about exploding welfare costs than anyone else is, believe me. It’s not like everyone grows up and dreams of working two essentially meaningless part-time jobs while collecting food stamps.

It’s just that there aren’t many other options for a lot of people. In fact, the Urban Institute found that half of Americans will experience poverty at some point before they’re 65. Most will come out of it after a relatively short time, 75% in four years. But that still leaves 25% who don’t get out quickly, and the study also found that the longer you stay in poverty, the less likely it becomes that you will ever get out. Most people who live near the bottom go through cycles of being in poverty and just above it – sometimes they’re just OK and sometimes they’re underwater. It depends on the year, the job, how healthy you are. What I can say for sure is that downward mobility is like quicksand. Once it grabs you, it keeps constraining your options until it’s got you completely. I slid to the bottom through a mix of my own decisions and some seriously bad luck. I think that’s true of most people.

While it can seem like upward mobility is blocked by a lead ceiling, the layer between lower-middle class and poor is horrifyingly porous from above. A lot of us live in that spongy divide. - Meanwhile, Rebecca Vallas and Melissa Boteach offer ten suggestions to improve the plight of workers across the income spectrum. And oddly enough, neither state-imposed indentured servitude nor a world-lagging set of policies on temporary employment makes the list.

- Ashley Renders points out that in planning to reduce our reliance on dirty energy, it's essential to have cleaner alternatives available. But Vivek Radhwa writes that we're not far off with the renewable energy sources we've already developed.

- Joseph Heath observes that hard power is of extremely limited effectiveness in dealing with both armies around the world and crime at home.

- Finally, Aaron Wherry discusses the price of democratic accountability. And Glen McGregor reminds us that the Cons will tolerate nothing of the sort - as most recently evidence by their systematic disposal of any comment critical of the FIPA.

Anxiety Breeds Passivity

Northern Reflections - Mon, 09/22/2014 - 06:10


Over the weekend, Conservative senators announced that they will re-introduce a bill which previously sparked rebellion in the Red Chamber. The bill would force unions to publicly disclose their spending. It's all part of a movement which began forty years ago. Murray Dobbins writes:

In those pre-corporate globalization days, it was conventional political and social wisdom that the economy served the nation, and by inference, the community and families. The Bank of Canada's dual mandates -- unemployment and inflation -- were still competing but full employment was one of the few shared policy objectives of all three federal parties. It wasn't until the early '80s that inflation took a serious bite out of the accumulated wealth of the West's economic elite. That changed everything and "inflation fighting" became the obsession of the West's central banks.

But more than that it also became the weapon of choice of free-marketeers like former Liberal finance minister Paul Martin who with the co-operation of the Bank of Canada used extreme inflation targets (and subsequent high interest rates) to actually suppress economic growth and deliberately create high levels of unemployment. Few people recall that under Martin's ideological war on inflation throughout most of the 1990s, unemployment hovered around 9 per cent -- higher than it is now.Martin's war on inflation was actually a war on labour, justified by the signing of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and subsequently, North American Free Trade Agreement. It was all about global competitiveness and that meant driving down the cost and power of labour. Enforced high unemployment was perhaps the most powerful weapon, but dramatic cuts to Employment Insurance eligibility and the elimination of the Canada Assistance Plan (CAP) were effective as well. The CAP transferred money to the provinces and was targeted specifically at establishing a minimum national standard for welfare. With its cancellation and replacement with a lump sum (for health, education and welfare), the provinces radically reduced social assistance rates and shifted money into the politically popular items like medicare.
And the War on Labour continues to this day. It has reached the point now where the Harper government puts an end to strikes before they begin, based on the bogus argument that the economy is too fragile to permit labour disruptions.

The strategy is to keep workers anxious and living pay cheque to pay cheque:

Over the past few years, a stream of reports have revealed just what that sacrifice has entailed. It has even fostered the use of a new term to describe modern working life: precarity. The numbers are scary. The Canadian Payroll Association's annual poll revealed recently that 51 per cent of Canadian employees would be in real financial trouble if their paycheque were delayed by a week. A week. A quarter of those surveyed said they couldn't pull together even $2,000 to deal with an emergency. Almost half said they were spending all their income -- or more -- on basic family needs. The savings rate is now below 4 per cent -- it was 15 per cent in the 1980s. Personal debt is at record levels, some 160 per cent of annual income and no wonder: the real income gain of the average employee between 1980 and 2005 was a measly $52 -- two dollars a year. The only thing keeping many families afloat is rising house prices. But 17 per cent of mortgage holders will be under water if rates rise just 1.5 per cent.
Keep workers anxious and you keep them passive. And, if the population is passive, you can get away with anything.


More Evidence That Stephen Harper is Planning an Early Election

Montreal Simon - Mon, 09/22/2014 - 05:07


If there was any doubt that Stephen Harper is going for an early election, maybe even sooner than most people imagine, now there can be none.

For not only is he rushing his flawed prostitution bill through Parliament.

One of Parliament’s most high-profile bills appears set to become law without major changes – as one senator says the committee considering Bill C-36, aimed at reining in the sex trade, is “highly unlikely” to call for changes. 

Even though it would make the lives of sex workers even more dangerous, and is almost certainly unconstitutional.

He's also stepping up his plans to declare war on the unions. 
Read more »

Stephen Harper and the Climate Change Revolt

Montreal Simon - Mon, 09/22/2014 - 02:38


They marched in Canada, they marched all over world, and in New York it was one of the biggest demonstrations that city has ever seen. 

Legions of demonstrators frustrated by international inaction on global warming descended on New York City on Sunday, marching through the heart of Manhattan with a message of alarm for world leaders set to gather this week at the United Nations for a summit meeting on climate change.

More than 125 world leaders will be attending the summit meeting, answering  Ban-ki moon's call for urgent action. 

Time is running out. The more we delay, the more we will pay. Climate change is accelerating and human activities are the principal cause...Climate change is not just an issue for the future, it is an urgent issue for today. Instead of asking if we can afford to act, we should be asking what is stopping us, who is stopping us, and why?

But Stephen Harper will not be one of them.
Read more »

Checking out the People's Climate Marches

Cathie from Canada - Sun, 09/21/2014 - 12:28
Some memorable photos --
New York city
Embedded image permalink

People's Climate on Twitter:
RT @JennaBPope @LeoDiCaprio ~ GO LEO! THX for hitting the street! #PeoplesClimateMarch #PeoplesClimate #NYC 9/21/14 pic.twitter.com/u4rrhxxRtz

— Mike Hudema (@MikeHudema) September 21, 2014Sydney, Australia: Beyond Coal + Gas
So happy to have been a part of #peoplesclimate in Sydney today. @michaelcaton was amazing. @350Australia pic.twitter.com/gbuB9RNFxn

— Jane Nicholls (@janey64) September 21, 2014Berlin
In Berlin, 3 marches are converging on the Brandenburg Gate. Marches ongoing in Paris, London & more #PeoplesClimate pic.twitter.com/gdznFLLsad

— CAN-International (@CANIntl) September 21, 2014Paris
25,000+ at #PeoplesClimate march in Paris. Thousands in Rome. Check it out: http://t.co/67eL5KLygg pic.twitter.com/KufdDJ5wqm
— Avaaz (@Avaaz) September 21, 2014Toronto
#Toronto showing solidarity with #NYC #climatemarch #PeoplesClimate #PeopleClimateMarch pic.twitter.com/bzeNiXZOkq

— Rebecca Spring (@rspring) September 21, 2014

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 09/21/2014 - 09:11
This and that to end your weekend.

- Paul Krugman notes that a concerted effort to combat climate change could be as beneficial economically as it is important for the future of our planet:
Where is the new optimism about climate change and growth coming from? It has long been clear that a well-thought-out strategy of emissions control, in particular one that puts a price on carbon via either an emissions tax or a cap-and-trade scheme, would cost much less than the usual suspects want you to think. But the economics of climate protection look even better now than they did a few years ago.
On one side, there has been dramatic progress in renewable energy technology, with the costs of solar power, in particular, plunging, down by half just since 2010. Renewables have their limitations — basically, the sun doesn’t always shine, and the wind doesn’t always blow — but if you think that an economy getting a lot of its power from wind farms and solar panels is a hippie fantasy, you’re the one out of touch with reality.
On the other side, it turns out that putting a price on carbon would have large “co-benefits” — positive effects over and above the reduction in climate risks — and that these benefits would come fairly quickly. The most important of these co-benefits, according to the I.M.F. paper, would involve public health: burning coal causes many respiratory ailments, which drive up medical costs and reduce productivity.- But Mike De Souza documents what the Harper Cons have chosen to do in blocking any progress whatsoever. And Josh Wingrove reports that they've been similarly unwilling to see tar sands operators held to their legal obligations when it comes to polluting rivers, while Sean Holman points out how the mining sector has similarly been held to be above the law in British Columbia.

- Which is to say that Naomi Klein's call for a climate health movement arising out of civil society rather than government seems all the more important in Canada:
What is most terrifying about the threat of climate disruption is not the unending procession of scientific reports about rapidly melting ice sheets, crop failures and rising seas. It’s the combination of trying to absorb that information while watching our so-called leaders behave as if the global emergency is no immediate concern. As if every alarm in our collective house were not going off simultaneously.

Only when we urgently acknowledge that we are facing a genuine crisis will it become possible to enact the kinds of bold policies and mobilize the economic resources we need. Only then will the world have a chance to avert catastrophic warming.

It’s not simply that our leaders aren’t leading us – at an appropriate gallop – away from fossil fuels and towards the renewable energy revolution that is both technologically and economically feasible. It’s that most of them are doubling down on the very energy sources that are most responsible for the crisis, cheering on the extractive industries as they dig up the most greenhouse gas-intensive fossil fuels on the planet: oil from the tar sands, gas from fracking, extra-dirty lignite coal....
Naming climate change as a clear and present danger is not a solution in itself, of course. But it is the critical first step. Forcefully expressing our collective sense of urgency will help us resist the next attempt to tell us that some manufactured economic imperative is more important than the stability of the planet – whether it’s the supposed need for more government austerity, or the need to grow the economy at any cost. That sustained sense of urgency will allow us to demand the kinds of bold action required to get off fossil fuels, and move to a regenerative economy, in the brief window we have left.  - Frank Graves comments on the economic stagnation facing large numbers of Canadians, while Benjamin Lanka reports on the connection between poverty and educational success. But the good news is that we're not lacking for some available solutions, as Nathaniel Downes notes that a $15 minimum wage in Seatac, Washington has led to both greater economic growth as well as a far better life for the workers who can now take home a living wage.

- Finally, Michael Harris writes that the Cons' plan for 2015 involves little more than deflection and distraction. And Frances Russell highlights the contrast between Harper's lofty rhetoric about democracy in the Ukraine and his consistent attacks on anything worthy of the title at home.

Birds flying high, they know how I feel

Rusty Idols - Sun, 09/21/2014 - 08:49
Working hard or hardly working?The sun is shining, my coffee is hot and a lazy sunday lies ahead of me

And last night Rob Anders slunk away from
his humiliating defeat trying to parachute into the Bow River riding in a last desperate attempt to avoid having to work for a living.

Closed-mind, defiantly, proudly stupid.  arrogant, aggressively partisan no matter how inappropriate  the timing, racist, sectarian and homophobic (but repeated rumours that he's throwing stones from inside the closet.), a petty, dim, small minded thug with all of Ezra Levant's squirming, bulging eyed hatred but none of his even minimal flair or semi-articulate vocabulary.

Basically any chance or hope for growth from the spit be-flecked, wild eyed  ideologue a lot of us flirted with as a persona in college that he had was ruined by his safe ensconcement in his clearly comfortable backbench seat the last 17 years.  Any incentive the rest of us had due to employment, relationships or just a social desire not to be perceived as a loud mouthed douchebag to sand off our rough edges, learn when to keep our nuttier ideas to ourselves and to not say stupid shit about Nelson Mandela has never been a factor for this sad, emotionally stunted horse's ass with parliamentary induced arrested development.

He will probably be scooped up by one of the wingnut welfare operations like the Fraser Institute, it doesn't serve their interest for him to be found delirious, wandering the streets of Calgary and playing with himself on street corners.  We will be paying him for a long comfortable retirement but not to the lifestyle he's grown accustomed to.

Rob if you are taking suggestions, instead go somewhere they have never heard of you, drop some E, find a bar with pounding beats and sweaty bodies and celebrate the death of Rob Anders MP.  This is your chance to explore becoming somebody else. 

God knows being him couldn't have been much fun.sdnxry5z7g

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