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Is Putin Plotting to Scuttle Hillary?

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 14:22

There are various media reports indicating that the Kremlin is preparing a massive leak of Hillary Clinton's unauthorized emails.

The rumour is the Russians intercepted or somehow hacked some 20,000 of Clinton's "other server" emails that the Kremlin may pass along to WikiLeaks. Presumably the Russians don't consider Ms. Clinton's indiscretions as innocuous as she contends.

Putin, Trump? One New York magazine suggests there might be some reason Putin would favour Trump over Clinton.

Donald Trump is not a Russian agent in the sense that Philip and Elizabeth from The Americans are Russian agents. There’s no hidden radio in his laundry room where he transmits secrets to the Kremlin. But his relationship with Russia is disturbing and lends itself to frightening interpretations.

Franklin Foer has detailed the connections between the Republican nominee and the Kremlin. In short, it includes a long series of economic and social ties, which fit the pattern Vladimir Putin has used to infiltrate and undermine governments elsewhere — including in Ukraine, a coup Putin pulled off through Paul Manafort, who is now Trump’s campaign manager. Michael Crowley and Julia Ioffe have both described how the Russian propaganda apparatus has thrown itself behind Trump’s campaign.

The Art of the Deal

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 12:08

Donald Trump likes to mention his book, The Art of the Deal. Only it's not really his book. It was ghost-written by Tony Schwartz who says, if he had a chance to change the title, he'd call it The Sociopath.

In this, the Week of Our Donald, Schwartz has given a tell-all interview to The New Yorker about his experiences with Trump in the preparation of the book. It's kind of chilling. Here are a few teasers:

“I put lipstick on a pig,” [Schwartz] said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”

Schwartz had written about Trump before. In 1985, he’d published a piece in New York called “A Different Kind of Donald Trump Story,” which portrayed him not as a brilliant mogul but as a ham-fisted thug who had unsuccessfully tried to evict rent-controlled and rent-stabilized tenants from a building that he had bought on Central Park South. Trump’s efforts—which included a plan to house homeless people in the building in order to harass the tenants—became what Schwartz described as a “fugue of failure, a farce of fumbling and bumbling.” An accompanying cover portrait depicted Trump as unshaven, unpleasant-looking, and shiny with sweat. Yet, to Schwartz’s amazement, Trump loved the article. He hung the cover on a wall of his office, and sent a fan note to Schwartz, on his gold-embossed personal stationery. “Everybody seems to have read it,” Trump enthused in the note, which Schwartz has kept.
“Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it. And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said.
...Schwartz believes that Trump’s short attention span has left him with “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance.” He said, “That’s why he so prefers TV as his first news source—information comes in easily digestible sound bites.” He added, “I seriously doubt that Trump has ever read a book straight through in his adult life.” During the eighteen months that he observed Trump, Schwartz said, he never saw a book on Trump’s desk, or elsewhere in his office, or in his apartment.
...This year, Schwartz has heard some argue that there must be a more thoughtful and nuanced version of Donald Trump that he is keeping in reserve for after the campaign. “There isn’t,” Schwartz insists. “There is no private Trump.” This is not a matter of hindsight. While working on “The Art of the Deal,” Schwartz kept a journal in which he expressed his amazement at Trump’s personality, writing that Trump seemed driven entirely by a need for public attention. “All he is is ‘stomp, stomp, stomp’—recognition from outside, bigger, more, a whole series of things that go nowhere in particular,” he observed, on October 21, 1986. But, as he noted in the journal a few days later, “the book will be far more successful if Trump is a sympathetic character—even weirdly sympathetic—than if he is just hateful or, worse yet, a one-dimensional blowhard.”
Lying is second nature to him,” Schwartz said. “More than anyone else I have ever met, Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true.” Often, Schwartz said, the lies that Trump told him were about money—“how much he had paid for something, or what a building he owned was worth, or how much one of his casinos was earning when it was actually on its way to bankruptcy.” Trump bragged that he paid only eight million dollars for Mar-a-Lago, but omitted that he bought a nearby strip of beach for a record sum.
The New Yorker piece is an important glimpse inside the dangerously hollow man who would be president of the United States. That so many Americans would even consider voting for a man so apparently unhinged should concern us all.

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 07:34
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Alana Semuels examines new research showing a decline in U.S. social mobility within an individual's working life:
Carr and Wiemers used earnings data to measure how fluidly people move up and down the income ladder over the course of their careers. “It is increasingly the case that no matter what your educational background is, where you start has become increasingly important for where you end,” Carr told me. “The general amount of movement around the distribution has decreased by a statistically significant amount.”

Carr and Wiemers used data from the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation, which tracks individual workers’ earnings, to examine how earnings mobility changed between 1981 and 2008. They ranked people into deciles, meaning that one group fell below the 10th percentile of earnings, another between the 10th and 20th, and so on; then they measured someone’s chances of moving from one decile to another. But the researchers wanted to see not just the probability of moving to a different income bracket over the course of a career, but also how that probability has changed over time. So they measured a given worker’s chances of moving between deciles ​during two periods​, one from 1981 to 1996 and another from 1993 to 2008.​

They found quite a disparity. “The probability of ending where you start has gone up, and the probability of moving up from where you start has gone down,” Carr said. For instance, the chance that someone starting in the bottom 10 percent would move above the 40th percentile decreased by 16 percent. The chance that someone starting in the middle of the earnings distribution would reach one of the top two earnings deciles decreased by 20 percent. Yet people who started in the seventh decile are 12 percent more likely to end up in the fifth or sixth decile—a drop in earnings—than they used to be.
Overall, the probability of someone starting and ending their career in the same decile has gone up for every income rank. “For whatever reason, there was a path upward in the earnings distribution that has been blocked for some people, or is not as steep as it used to be,” Carr said.- Meanwhile, Alissa Quart notes that precarity and economic insecurity reach a long way up the income spectrum. Trish Kelly discusses the growth of working poverty in Vancouver. And Rachelle Younglai reports that an increasing number of Canadians with advanced degrees are mired in poverty despite the work they've put into their education.

- Laurel Gregory reports on the lack of accessible child care for lower- and middle-income families.

- Tom Parkin examines the record amount of lobbying happening at the federal level - and it's particularly worth noting the anti-social causes which are being pushed repeatedly. And the CP reports on the ongoing effects of the Cons' moves to undermine regulations.

- Finally, Aldo Caliari comments on the importance of establishing and enforcing international standards for fair taxes, rather than allowing the wealthy few to exploit tax havens.

A Shameful Legacy

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 06:27


During the dark years of the Harper administrations, Canadians became almost inured to the lengths it would go while promoting its neo-liberal agenda. The extolment of free trade, the promotion of tar sands development, the sneering dismissal of all environmental and climate-change concerns were what we came to expect from a government that was committed to servicing the corporate agenda at the expense of the people.

Then came the victory of the Trudeau-led Liberals, and all of us reveled in and breathed deeply of the liberated air that was all about us. But, as time passes, we are seeing that that air is not quite as pure as we had initially hoped.

Promises made are now being temporized. One of the most shameful instances of this is this government's continued importation of asbestos, the deadly mineral whose use the previous government staunchly defended until the last asbestos mines in Quebec closed in 2011.

It would seem amazing that in 2016, our country as yet has refused to ban the product, even though 55 countries, including Australia and Britain, have done so.
Canadian asbestos imports are on the rise. Despite international consensus that the carcinogen should be added to the United Nations’ list of hazardous materials, Canada is among the few countries to oppose the move. The promise of change in the swearing in of the Trudeau government last fall is giving way to a far less attractive reality. Consider, for example, the hopeful rhetoric from earlier this year, when
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada was at last “moving to ban asbestos” because “its impact on workers far outweighs any benefits that it might provide.” This welcome promise prompted fanfare from health advocates and vulnerable workers who know all too well how devastating that impact can be.The reality is looking less rosy:
Asked for an update by the Globe and Mail earlier this month, the Prime Minister’s Office hedged. Ottawa is “reviewing its strategy on asbestos, including a potential ban,” the spokesperson wrote.One need not have a nuanced understanding of the English language to see the difference.
More troubling still, at recent UN meetings the federal government has again expressed doubt that so-called chrysotile asbestos should be covered under the Rotterdam Convention, an international treaty on hazardous materials. Its rationale? “It has not been proven that chrysotile asbestos causes cancer.”Or consider what Gerry Caplan recently wrote about the experience of Katherine Ruff, Canada’s most prominent and knowledgeable advocate for a ban on all asbestos, who says,
“My experience with the current government is worse than what I experienced with the former Harper government.”Repeated attempts by Ruff to get a meeting with Health Minister Jane Philpott or Environment Minister Catherine McKenna have met with no success. According to her, these
add up to a "lack of transparency, lack of democracy and lack of respect...in trying to communicate with the government over the past eight months, which is the opposite to what Prime Minister Trudeau promised."Ruff's fuller consideration of the failure of the 'new' government to act on asbestos can be read in an op-ed she wrote in The Ottawa Citizen.

All of these disquieting signs echo the intransigent Harper cabal that so many of us so earnestly worked to dispose of.

I am growing increasingly pessimistic about the prospects for real change. May the passing of time prove my fears ill-founded.Recommend this Post

Turkey's attack on Democracy is Our problem too. . . .

kirbycairo - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 06:05
President Recep Erdogan is arguably the greatest charlatan in European politics at the moment. He is a man who actively courts an image as a populist democrat while he simultaneously makes every attempt to shut down all opposition and carve out for himself a role as absolute dictator of Turkey. From afar Erdogan's attempts can seem almost comical, as when he lobbies foreign governments to indict their own citizens for criticizing him, but at home his strong-arm tactics are frighteningly real for those who chose to dissent from his vision of Turkey.

Of course, as one might expect with any politician who takes advantage of a populist style of public image making, what exactly Erdogan's national vision is is not entirely clear. On the one hand, Erdogan has built an image as an Islamist leader (as described by the New York Times), but on the other hand he has continued the effort among Turkey's recent leaders to bring Turkey into "modern" political mainstream and make the country eligible for membership in the European Union.

The value of EU membership has recently lost a great deal of its cache, which is probably good for Erdogan who seems to have no intention of backing off his rather desperate efforts to become Turkey's dictator. One of Erdogan's draconian responses to the weekend coup attempt in Turkey has been to publicly float the idea of reinstating the death penalty. This brought a swift response from at least one EU member-state as a spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Turkey chance of gaining EU membership would be finished if it returned to using the death penalty. As the Mail Online said today, "Steffen Seibert told reporters that the EU is a 'community of values,' therefore the institution of the death penalty can only mean that such a country could not be a member."

However, it really appears that capital punishment is only one of many problems now faced by Turkey in its effort to be a modern, Western-approved, democracy. Erdogan has taken advantage of the attempted coup to enact a round-up of hundreds (if not thousands) of people in what he claims is a crackdown on the supporters of the coup, but which, given the raw numbers and generalized targets of the arrests, can only be an attempt to undermine all opposition to his leadership. If one needs a primer on how to marginalize and debilitate political opposition on the road to dictatorship, one only needs to look at what has been happening in Turkey in the past forty-eight hours: use a real event as a smokescreen for the total liquidation of dissent. It is a classic tactic with which even those with only a casual knowledge history will be familiar. And it is a tactic which Erdogan's supporters are whole-heartedly embracing. As Tim Arango and Ceylan Yeginsu wrote in the New York Times: "While secular and liberal Turks generally opposed the coup, it was Mr. Erdogan's supporters who flooded the streets and gathered at Istanbul's airport to push out the occupying army. They mostly yelled religious slogans and chants in support of Mr. Erdogan, not of democracy itself." They go on to make it clear that Erdogan's support of free political expression is extremely one sided. "When other groups, like gay and lesbian organizations or labor unions try to gather in public spaces in central Istanbul," Argano and Yeginsu write, "the streets are sealed off. Armoured vehicles with water cannons suddenly materialize, as do police officers with tear gas canisters."

The story is an old one but the implications are ominous as governments everywhere seem to be using the force of the state to shut down opposition and curtail democratic rights. Turkey after the coup will undoubtably be a less free and more draconian state. But citizens of Western nations should not feel comfortable nor satisfied that Turkey's troubles are distant from us. Democratic rights are everywhere under fire and Republican convention in Cleveland this week should remind us that Erdogan's tactics are by no means a 'foreign' or an 'Islamic' phenomenon.

The Leadership Race and the Delusions of the Cons

Montreal Simon - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 05:44


As we all know Rona Ambrose and her Cons are having a really hard time attracting any star leadership candidates.

The only candidates they have managed to attract so far, like a candle attracts bugs, couldn't be more boring or more mediocre. 

And it seems, more delusional.

Read more »

Leaders In Search Of Scapegoats

Northern Reflections - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 05:33

Where have all the leaders gone? That's the question Michael Harris asks over at ipolitics. The newly anointed and the wish to be anointed don't inspire a lot of confidence:

As the apocalypse beckons, the need for real political wisdom has never been greater. But no Titans have emerged. Instead, obscene caricatures of political leadership have risen to the top of several world establishments.

In Britain, Theresa May sits astride the absurd political ascendancy of the post-Brexit-referendum era. One of her first acts was to shut down the U.K.’s Department of Energy and Climate Change. Britain’s Tin Lady made another decision which is even more dangerous to the planet on the short term: putting the Brexit Boor and “serial liar” Boris Johnson in charge of foreign affairs.
One has to wonder about May's appointment of Johnson as Britain's chief diplomat:

Johnson is the man whose claim to fame is a bad mop of hair, pants that are perpetually on fire, and a yen for racism. Making him the country’s chief diplomat is like putting Bernie Madoff in charge of pension plan. After Barack Obama stuck his nose in the Brexit debate, urging the UK to remain in the European Union, Johnson responded by talking about the U.S. president’s “part Kenyan” ancestry.

Johnson’s previous remarks though made clear that his jibe wasn’t meant as a compliment. As reported in the Guardian, Johnson went on to describe Africans as “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles.” Their problem, he opined, was “not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge any more.”
Over in France, Francois Holland is cracking down on civil liberties, but the attacks keep coming:

The government has used its extraordinary new police and anti-terror powers to round up and arrest hundreds of its own citizens. Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality — the clarion call of one of the world’s most famous revolutions — has morphed into an obsession with policing. Strange that. Civil rights are cancelled but terrorist attacks increase. The French once exported the Statue of Liberty to America. Today they are building a Statue of Oppression at home.
And, in the land of the Statue of Liberty, the choice is between Donald and Hillary:

Look at the choice facing Americans in this November’s presidential election — a political lifer investigated by the FBI for possible breaches of national security while Secretary of State; versus a to-the-manor-born ignoramus with a Jesus complex whose idea of big, international news is a new irrigation system for his golf course in Scotland.
They don't stoke inspiration. But they do stoke fear. Harris writes, "Frightened people always have an index finger ready to point to the external causes of their woes. They’re also more likely to ignore any part they played in creating the morass like, say, invading Iraq in the first place."

And, before we get too smug, let's remember that the guy we just sent packing set up a snitch line so that the paranoid among us could rat on those of us they felt engaged in "barbaric practices." When leaders go searching for scapegoats, anyone of us could qualify for that moniker.

Image: kavistechnology.com

Another Clark Park Day in BC

Creekside - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 03:42
So remember this?
April 2014 Natty Post: Christy Clark once served as chairwoman of B.C. company that she has promoted since becoming premier
"The 2007 document has surfaced one week after it was revealed that the Premier was a partner in her former husband’s lobbying firm, which formerly listed its office at her residence and boasted such clients as Enbridge and B.C. Rail.In the fall of 2007, Ms. Clark entered into a two-year agreement as chairman and board member of RCI Capital Group’s RCI Pacific Gateway Education Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the investment firm.
Since becoming Premier, Ms. Clark has actively promoted RCI on official trade missions to Asia — recently signing a memorandum of understanding on behalf of the B.C. government in securing $1-billion in overseas investment..."
No I never worked for RCI said Christy, and RCI Capital's John Park gallantly came to Clark's defence, saying he'd never so much as even met her back  then, much less paid her the first of three annual director's fee installments of $4,000 due her within 120 days of her RCI appointment. No, it was her then husband, Mark Marissen, Stephane Dion's campaign manager, that Park had hired. I guess that's just a spousal Chairman biz card then.
In December 2013, Clark appointed RCI managing director Tenzin D. Khangsar as chair of B.C.'s Multicultural Advisory Council. Khangsar was a former chief of staff to both Jason Kenney and Tony Clement and a key CPC ethnic campaign strategist for the Cons in 2011. 
Bob Mackin, July 2014 : "John Park hired Khangsar to be managing director of his RCI Capital investment bank after the Tories were re-elected in 2011. RCI’s board includes retired Conservative MPs Stockwell Day and John Reynolds. Day represented RCI on last fall’s trade mission led by Premier Christy Clark to China."

Still with me? Ok, flash forward to the Vancouver Sun two days ago featuring yet another Clark Park Day photo op :
BC Company benefits from Quebec cash-for-visa program"A B.C.-based company says it has brought $2 billion to Canada under the Quebec government’s cash-for-visa program, a scheme that some say is a factor in Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis.Vancouver-based RCI Capital Group, which helps resource companies develop strategies and raise money in Asia, has a Montreal-based subsidiary that has been active for years in the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program.The Quebec program has become increasingly controversial in Metro Vancouver as critics point to it as one of the drivers of sky-high housing prices, since the vast majority of successful Quebec applicants immediately establish themselves in Toronto and Vancouver."

The Tyee : 'China Syndrome' Paralyzes Politicians in Housing Affordability Crisis
Huge impact of foreign buyers can't be ignored, and raising the issue isn't racist."...the province won't act as long as the real estate industry that profits enormously from selling homes to foreign buyers also contributes huge amounts to the BC Liberal Party. Josh Gordon, Simon Fraser University public policy professor, even refers to the influence of Bob Rennie, the real estate mogul who also heads Premier Christy Clark's fundraising efforts.That would be the Rennie who recently suggested action to curb foreign real estate investment would start a trade war. "China buys $6 billion a year in British Columbia exports," he said. "Are we going to tamper with those jobs and our economy?"Gordon calls out those who fund political parties."The fundraising is being dominated by prosperous developers and others closely tied to the housing boom," he writes. "This is the second lesson about housing market politics from the past decade: inside players, with large vested interests, are willing to shovel over massive amounts of money to political parties to keep the boom booming."
Just another Clark Park Day in BC.
More from Laila Yuile.

Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and the Humiliation of Chris Christie

Montreal Simon - Sun, 07/17/2016 - 15:03


I didn't get to watch Donald Trump introduce his running mate Mike Pence yesterday.

For it is summer, and both it and life are too short.

But now I'm sorry I didn't.

Because it was Trump at his worst or most bizarre.
Read more »

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 07/17/2016 - 08:27
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Aditya Chakrabortty sums up George Osborne's legacy - and give or take a Brexit vote, it looks awfully familiar for corporatist governments in general:
The multi-million-pound spending spree wasn’t justifiable, admitted Osborne, according to Laws’ recent memoir, Coalition. “It will only really be of help to stupid, affluent and lazy people, who can’t be bothered to put their savings away into tax-efficient vehicles!” said Osborne. “But it will still be very popular – we have polled it.”

Disabled people could kill themselves to put an end to the government’s reign of terror, and the chancellor would shrug. Working-class kids could live on foodbank lunches and ministers would claim they had no alternative. But shovelling cash at the people seen as undeserving by their very own benefactor? That, Mr Austerity would happily do. Anything to buy votes.
...
Osborne’s fiscal rules have been either broken or discarded, and where their replacement should be is instead a complete vacuum. The man praised for his “strategic grip” by his former permanent secretary admitted last month that he hadn’t bothered coming up with a post-Brexit strategy. Britain is adrift in what could be the choppiest waters in decades without a fiscal policy, a paddle – or even a map.

None of this is accidental. All of it could have been foreseen – indeed, was foreseen by some of us. But it is the direct result of a sniggering callousness that punished the poor while rewarding the rich, that promised greater power for the provinces while shunting ever more money to central London, that bilked the young of their futures while bribing their grandparents all the way to the ballot box.- Jeffrey Sachs, Brooke Güven and Lisa Sachs point to TransCanada's claim against the U.S. for rejecting Keystone XL as a prime example of how trade agreements give the corporate sector unacceptable power over governments acting in the public interest.

- Peter Hannam reports on Australia's problem with abandoned gas wells, showing that the resource industry's expectation of being able to take profits while leaving messes for someone else to clean up is far from unique to Canada. And Natasha Geiling finds industry spokesflacks again trying to claim that oil spills are an economic plus due to the work involved in cleaning them up.

- Mia Rabson discusses how criticism of people living in poverty is generally based on nothing but ignorance and misinformation.

- Finally Doug Cuthand writes that it's long past time to start reversing the damage done by the Cons' dumb-on-crime agenda. But it's worth noting that as in so many other areas, that means more than just resetting laws to where they stood before while allowing their consequences to remain in place.

Will Jason Kenney Help Boost the NDP in Alberta?

Montreal Simon - Sun, 07/17/2016 - 05:56


As you know Jason Kenney's crusade to unite the right in Alberta and destroy the NDP, has gotten off to a disastrous start.

His obvious plan to take the "Progressive" out of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta has many PC supporters up in arms.

Stephen Harper's endorsement of Kenney at a Stampede event attended by lots of Wildrose Party supporters, offended many of them.

And that has some political observers wondering whether that ghastly religious fanatic will unite the right, or destroy it.

Read more »

Historians On Trump

Northern Reflections - Sun, 07/17/2016 - 04:48


As Donald Trump -- and now Mike Pence -- head for Cleveland, a group of prominent American  historians have decided to launch a full scale assault on Trump. With the help of filmmaker Ken Burns, they have set up a Facebook page that has been garnering millions of views.

Kenneth Jackson, David McCullough, Ron Chernow, William Leuchtenburg, Vicki Lynn Ruiz, Kai Bird, Joseph Ellis, Jonathan Alter, Alan Kraut, Sean Wilentz, Richard Moe and Todd Gitlin each offer their views on Trump.

It's scathing stuff. Is anybody listening? And is anybody asking what kind of a man Mike Pence -- who calls himself  "a Christian, a Conservative and a Republican -- in that order" -- really is?

Image: politico.com


from the front lines, day 13

we move to canada - Sat, 07/16/2016 - 20:00
We spent more time in the community this week, speaking to Mississauga residents about our cause, and giving the gift of free storytimes. Here are some reports.

Malton

"I had a customer tell me yesterday that he calls 3-1-1 everyday to find out when the library will be open. He asked what else he could do and I told him to continue to call everyday and also contact the emails and phone numbers on the flyer I gave him.

"Many people I spoke to are outraged by the strike and the way the City is treating us. I also talked to a mom and her daughter dropping other small children off at the pool and she was so surprised at how we are being treated and said that I really "shed a light on the true side of the city as an employer". She's always suggested to her daughter to try and get a job with the City, but is now second-guessing this choice. She said she's going to write to everyone and asked for a few extra flyers to spread the word for us.

"I think being at the branches has really made an impact. Of the two days we were at Malton, we had over 400 conversations with customers, many of which sent emails right away from their phones or took flyers/pictures of the email addresses on the flyers. These conversations can sometimes be difficult because you're not sure how someone will react but most are willing to listen and can feel the passion we have for our cause."

Meadowvale

"Just came back from Meadowvale Town Centre Metro. I asked a few people and the cashiers whether they are aware of our strike. They said NO. A few of them told me the Meadowvale branch is closed because they are moving to the community centre soon. They were not happy after hearing about the situation. They told me it's unbelievable. One cashier told me it's a great loss for the kids. She also told me she thought we were well-paid happy staff with smiles all the time. Another lady told me 'keep fighting'."

Port Credit

Storytime!

PC1

PC2

PC3

Saturday Afternoon Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 07/16/2016 - 15:15
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Abi Wilkinson argues that we can't expect to take anger and other emotions out of political conversations when government choices have created nothing but avoidable stress for so many:
Actions can certainly be morally unacceptable. In my opinion, emotions cannot. Really, it’s a manifestation of extreme privilege to insist that people engage with politics in a calm and emotionless way. The further you are from experiencing any negative effects of the policy you’re debating, the more cushioned and secure your social position, the easier it is to adhere to the Oxford Union norms of cool detachment and skilful argument.

MPs might only be human, but they also hold a power over the lives of 70 million fallible, vulnerable human beings. Telling people that they’re wrong to feel anger towards an individual who voted to restrict housing benefit and place them at risk of homelessness is patently absurd. Similarly, journalists hold an unusual level of social power that makes them a reasonable target of scrutiny.
...
Broadly speaking, there are two forms of political argument. Either you defend a specific policy as the rational, logical option in the circumstances that exist, or you question the rules of the game. People on the political right are prone to presenting things such as spending cuts as morally neutral decisions, determined by economic reality. Leftwing criticism commonly argues that logic presented as natural is really no such thing, but rather that it’s a question of priorities. Political priorities are, unavoidably, a moral issue.

None of which is to say that I think calling Theresa May a “monster” is a productive, useful form of political commentary. I simply think that anger is a natural, human response to circumstance. Condemning petty name-calling more vigorously than we condemn the suffering and disempowerment that often leads to such expressions of frustration seems topsy-turvy to me. Jo Cox wasn’t simply any politician, she threw herself into defending refugees, migrants and other marginalised groups. No MP deserves to be a victim of violence, but what the politicians actually do with their power does matter. - Meanwhile, Maude Barlow comments on the increasing public skepticism of free trade dogma.

- Ryan Meili and Christine Gibson weigh in on how fair wages lead to far better social and health outcomes for children. And Josh Cohen discusses how the expectation to cling to a rung on the upper middle class ladder creates undesirable pressures on children.

- Dean Beeby reports on Policy Horizons Canada's recommendations on how to create a social safety net which will provide security for precarious workers.

- Jeremy Nuttall points out several of the Libs' most prominent promises which have thus far dropped off the radar since they won power. And Tom Spears notes that contrary to any promises of transparency, the RCMP is backsliding both by destroying documents which were supposed to be released, and ending their policy of making past disclosures publicly available.

- Finally, Chris Tollefson makes the case to start from scratch in developing an environmental assessment system which will have both the credibility and the mandate to meaningfully evaluate proposed developments.

Free Speech Is Fine

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 07/16/2016 - 12:55
.... except when it is used to criticize Israel, as Mississauga, Ont. teacher Nadia Shoufani is learning.
She addressed a downtown Toronto rally on 2 July, marking al-Quds Day, an annual event held around the world to support Palestinian rights and to protest Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

“Silence in situations of oppression and injustices is a crime against humanity,” Shoufani said in her speech at the rally, in which she condemned the Israeli occupation and Israel’s policies of home demolitions, land confiscation and arrests of Palestinians.



The fact that Shoufani called upon the occupied to resist was apparently too much for the Jewish lobby.

CBC reports that she is now being investigated on several fronts after Bnai Brith et al. complained:
Bruce Campbell, general manager of communications and community relations for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board [for whom she works], said Wednesday an investigation has begun. He said the matter was brought to the board's attention through a number of sources, including the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center and B'nai Brith Canada.The governing body for Ontario teachers is also prepared to bring down the hammer:
A spokesperson for the Ontario College of Teachers said the organization is "aware of the matter.

"If and when a complaint is launched to the College, we will deal with it accordingly," Gabrielle Barkany said in an email to CBC News.Toronto police are also involved:
Toronto police said they have opened an investigation into comments made at the Al-Quds rally, but could not confirm that Shoufani herself is under investigation.

"It's being investigated as we speak," Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said on Wednesday. "I can confirm that we are investigating comments made at the rally and there is more than one person involved."MintPressNews reports that her stance has support, however, from those not afraid to criticize Israel:
Tyler Levitan, campaigns coordinator at Independent Jewish Voices-Canada, a group that supports Palestinian rights, said organisations like Bnai Brith Canada and Canadian Friends of Simon Wiesenthal “are shills for Israel”.

“Ms Shoufani was speaking passionately in support of the Palestinians’ right to defend themselves against an occupying power,” Levitan told MEE in an email.

“Under international law, those living under military occupation and a system of colonialism have the absolute right to resist. Ms Shoufani spoke as a defender of the rights of an occupied and besieged people to resist an obscenely violent and criminal military occupation over their lands.”Nonetheless, mainstream lobbyists who oppose any defence of Palestinians have shown remarkable effectiveness in stifling criticism of the Jewish state:
Recently, pro-Israel lobby groups in Canada have launched several campaigns targeting groups and individuals supporting Palestinian rights.

Bnai Brith Canada lauded a parliamentary motion passed earlier this year condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to hold Israel accountable under international law.

In March, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs accused Canadian law professor Michael Lynk of demonstrating a pro-Palestinian bias and of being involved in “anti-Israel advocacy”. The accusations came after Lynk was appointed as the new Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Pro-Israel groups have also urged Canada to maintain funding cuts on the United Nations agency that supports Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

They are also pressuring the Green Party of Canada to dismiss two motions, set to be debated at a party convention in August, that would strip the Jewish National Fund of its charitable status and endorse BDS.

“I know from past experience that Bnai Brith would be using every means possible to try to shut down the al-Quds rally,” said Ken Stone, treasurer of the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War and another speaker at the al-Quds Day rally in Toronto this year.

Stone told MEE that Bnai Brith Canada has taken the comments made at the rally out of context and distorted them in an effort to shut down the annual event and silence Canadian supporters of Palestinian rights.

“What they’re trying to do is … put a chill on people like Nadia Shoufani,” he said.

“[And] put a chill on people who might be tempted to get up at an al-Quds rally and declare their support for the Palestinian cause.”What a wonderful ideal to aspire to - free speech and the open exchange of points of view. Too bad that when it comes to Israel, such democratic mainstays seem to have no place.

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