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Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 07:38
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Aditya Chakrabortty comments on how massive amounts of wealth are both being siphoned out of our social systems, and used to buy the politicians who facilitate those transfers:
(A)t root, the Panama Papers are not about tax. They’re not even about money. What the Panama Papers really depict is the corruption of our democracy.

Following on from LuxLeaks, the Panama Papers confirm that the super-rich have effectively exited the economic system the rest of us have to live in. Thirty years of runaway incomes for those at the top, and the full armoury of expensive financial sophistication, mean they no longer play by the same rules the rest of us have to follow. Tax havens are simply one reflection of that reality. Discussion of offshore centres can get bogged down in technicalities, but the best definition I’ve found comes from expert Nicholas Shaxson who sums them up as: “You take your money elsewhere, to another country, in order to escape the rules and laws of the society in which you operate.” In so doing, you rob your own society of cash for hospitals, schools, roads…

But those who exited our societies are now also exercising their voice to set the rules by which the rest of us live. The 1% are buying political influence as never before.
...
Hirschman argued that citizens could protest against a system in one of two ways: voice or exit. Fed up with your local school? Then you can exercise your voice and take it up with the headteacher. Alternatively, you can exit and take your child to a private school.

In Britain and in America, the super-rich have broken Hirschman’s law – they are at one and the same time exercising economic exit and political voice. They can have their tax-free cake and eat it.- Meanwhile, Jared Bernstein offers new evidence that tax cuts for the rich bear no relationship to economic development. And David Lawder reports on what looks to be a start in developing international standards to rein in tax evasion, while Rajesh Makwana points out that a global tax body may be needed to overcome corporate resistance at the national level in developed countries.

- Richard V. Reeves, Edward Rodrigue and Elizabeth Kneebone write about the multiple dimensions of poverty and inequality which put people at a fundamental disadvantage in seeking social inclusion. And Dave Lieber laments the use of the criminal justice system to lock offenders into perpetual debt servitude.

- Finally, Thomas Walkom writes that a time of low oil prices and reduced public revenues is exactly the point when it makes sense to implement consumer-level carbon pricing.

The Young Want In

Northern Reflections - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 04:43


The data has been crunched and the trend is clear. In the last election, the young showed up in droves to vote. Susan Delacourt writes:

That future may have arrived already already — through the 2015 election — according to a new study out right now by Abacus Data and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. Youth turnout jumped by 12 percentage points between the 2011 and 2015 elections — and the study suggests that it may be time to stop labelling Canada’s young people as politically disengaged and apathetic.

The study’s report, titled “The Next Canada,” suggests that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may well owe his majority victory to the large number of people aged 18-25 who showed up at the ballot box last fall — and that this infusion of youth into Canadian politics may be here to stay.
After bemoaning the apathy of the young, the powers that be are taking note:

About 45 per cent of Canadian voters between 18 and 25 supported the Liberals in the 2015 election, the Abacus/CASA study found, while only 25 per cent voted for the New Democratic Party and 20 per cent voted Conservative. (Another 5 per cent voted for the Bloc Québécois and 4 per cent for the Green Party.)
It helped that the Liberals had a young leader. But they also were more attuned to the values of the up and coming generation. They want government to begin "creating job opportunities for them and making post-secondary education affordable. Like older voters, young Canadians are also concerned about the health care system and cutting taxes, too."

I suspect that climate change is also on the top of their agenda. The times they are a changin'. And the young want in.

Image: cbc.ca



Muzzling elected officials…

Trashy's World - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 04:41
… is a worrisome development and one that has been codified by the Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB). Trustee Blackburn is outspoken, no doubt. And sometimes, like all of us, she likely says things that she wishes she could take back. But Donna alone is responsible for what she says and how she says it and […]

How Young Canadians May Have Won Justin Trudeau His Majority

Montreal Simon - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 02:58


For months  before the last election, I worked with many others to try to get young Canadians to vote.

And at the end of that long campaign I addressed this last post to them. 

Show them that young Canadians will never never be slaves. Answer the call to save our country as so many have before you, even if that meant sacrificing their young lives. Stand up for your future and the future of our beautiful Canada. And with the power of your ballot destroy this monstrous tyrant.
Read more »

Omar Khadr and the Power of Love

Montreal Simon - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 00:40


For most of his 29 years Omar Khadr's life has been an absolute nightmare.

Dragged off to Afghanistan, caught up in the horror of war, badly wounded, jailed and tortured in Guantanamo, abandoned by his own government.
And his struggle for justice continues.
But now at last it seems that horror story will have a happy ending.
Read more »

Omar in love

Dawg's Blawg - Tue, 04/19/2016 - 17:16
Congratulations, kid. My hopes that you live a long and happy life with your partner. If anyone deserves that, it’s you.... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

(un)happy equal pay day

we move to canada - Tue, 04/19/2016 - 15:00
Today is Equal Pay Day in Ontario. Why? It's the day that, if you're a woman, your earnings have finally caught up with what men were paid the previous year. Women doing the same or equivalent work still earn, on average, 30% less than their male counterparts.

The higher up the food chain a woman works, the greater the gap in pay.
Ontario’s highest paid women earn an average of 37% less than the highest paid men, translating into a whopping $64,000 less in annual average earnings.  “Over the course of a working lifetime, these pay gaps can grow into a mountain of lost earnings,” says Cornish. “For instance, a middle-income woman could find herself earning, on average, $315,000 less than men over a 35-year period. The highest paid 10 per cent of women could earn an average of $2.24 million less than highest paid 10 per cent of men over a 35-year period.The Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives has collected the data and done the rigorous study. No further study is needed. What we need is action.

Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 04/19/2016 - 05:57
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Scott Vrooman rightly makes the point that increased wealth at the top tends to splash outside a country's borders rather than trickling down. And CBC News reports on how that process has been facilitated by KPMG and other firms wining and dining executives of the Canada Revenue Agency who are supposed to be ensuring their clients' contribution to a fair society.

- Paul Krugman describes the symptoms of robber-baron stagnation - which all too closely match the state of the U.S.' economy. And Ian Welsh outlines an economy which would serve the interests of people rather than profiteers.

- Unfortunately, the Libs seem bent on pushing the economics of destruction - not only by pushing more arms sales abroad, but also by looking to buy into another round of Star Wars missile defence schemes.

- Laurence Mathieu-Leger and Ashifa Kassam write about the suicide crisis in Attawapiskat and elsewhere. And Charlie Angus discusses the desperate need to go beyond band-aid solutions.

- Finally, John Oliver looks into credit reports and other background checks - and highlights how information which is useless at best and grossly inaccurate at worse is serving to keep people from finding work, housing and other necessities of life:

The Death Throes of Pro-Life

Dammit Janet - Tue, 04/19/2016 - 05:16


Desperate fetus freaks are changing tactics for this year's Futility Fest on the HIll, aka March For Lies.
Campaign Life Coalition has paved the way for every organization fighting for the unborn to take part in this year’s National March for Life May 12.

“We’ve done something very deliberate this year,” said Campaign Life Ottawa lobbyist Johanne Brownrigg. “We have decided to present a unified voice from the entire pro-life movement as far and wide as we could reach.”

Even though Campaign Life, the national political arm of the pro-life movement, remains the sole organizer of the march, the promo video released March 14 includes groups such as WeNeedaLaw.ca*, the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA), educational pro-life groups such as LifeCanada, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Priests for Life and 4MYCanada. The promo can be viewed at Marchforlife.ca.(*NOTE: We Need a Law Like a Hole in the Head is a project of the Dominionist ARPA. For the click-averse, Dominionists want to impose Xian biblical law on all levels of government.)

This is news because the abolitionists (largely Vatican Talibaners) and incrementalists (largely evangelical fundies) do not play well together. I call this the Wingnut Wedgie.

Here's the description of their differences from the top link, a Catlick rag.
Pro-life groups have often been at odds over tactics. For instance, WeNeedaLaw.ca supports incremental legislation that would use a gestational approach to restricting abortion, a tactic Campaign Life has opposed because of its emphasis on protecting life from conception.

“It has been our experience for some time now that if we are going to be successful in advancing legal protections for pre-born children it is necessary for respective pro-life organizations to focus on those things we have in common, rather than on our differences,” said Schouten. “The annual March for Life needs to become more than a stand-alone event. The March for Life affords us a great opportunity to work together to build as much momentum as possible for the following weeks and months.”Cute, Mike. "Our experience" and "successful" do not belong in the same sentence by a fetus freak about abortion in Canada. You have had ZERO success. And a couple of HUGE losses lately. See PEI and RU486, or Mifegymiso.

And now with the election of the "most pro-abortion prime minister ever" AND the introduction of assisted dying legislation, however patronizing and risk-averse it is, fetus freaks know their movement is dying.

I called it after last year's March for Lies. Anti-choice inflation, the annual outright lying about turn-out, is stalled.

But the movement has ever been marked by delusion and (self-)deception.

Last word to another Dominionist (fixed by me):
ARPA legal counsel Andre Schutten thinks the [frantic] inclusion of his and other organizations in the promotional video is a “sign of healthy growth stagnation and the maturing imminent death of the movement.”

Justice For Omar Khadr

Northern Reflections - Tue, 04/19/2016 - 04:58


The Trudeau government recently announced that it would not pursue the appeal of Omar Khadr's release on bail. That's a good first step, Gerry Caplan writes. But there's more that needs to be done. Consider the history:

The Afghan firefight in which an American soldier was killed was actually his first and only battle. Mr. Khadr himself was badly wounded. There is at least a reasonable possibility he did not kill Sgt. Christopher Speer at all.

Under the Geneva Conventions, which govern the rules of war, soldiers who kill other soldiers in battle are not committing crimes. Otherwise, how could we have civilized wars? Yet Mr. Khadr was found guilty of a crime that wasn’t a crime when it happened – if it happened at all. And he’s the only person in modern history to be tried for killing another soldier during a battle.
From the first, well before any trial, Mr. Khadr was treated by his American captors as guilty. Over the years, including when he was still legally a child, he endured physical and psychological torture, solitary confinement, endless interrogation, post-traumatic stress, and was subjected to a kangaroo court disguised as the American military justice system. A series of Canadian governments, both Liberal and Conservative, consistently denied him his rights. On his lawyer’s advice, he confessed to his “crime” for fear he’d never otherwise get out of Gitmo.
There are a number of debts which need to be paid:
The Conservative caucus owes Mr. Khadr his youth. Tom Mulcair owes him, finally, some serious attention. The Liberal government has huge debts to him as well. Some members of today’s government were also members of the Liberal government that so shabbily mistreated him and denied his rights from the get-go.
Omar Khadr may be home. And he may be out of prison. But the story isn't over. 
Image: cbc.ca

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