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The Phony Warrior

Northern Reflections - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 06:19

Now that Remembrance Day is over, Thomas Walkom reminds his readers that a day that was set aside to honour the sacrifices of many is now being used by one man to pave his way back into office:

Patriotism is powerful tonic. The wanton killing of W.O. Patrice Vincent and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo reignited the militant side of Canadian patriotism, a side that — following the disaster of the Afghan War — had been in abeyance.
The prime minister understands this well. It explains his decision to abruptly interrupt a long-planned trip to China in order to make a cameo appearance at Ottawa’s Remembrance Day services Tuesday.To miss the chance of publicly honouring military sacrifice would have been to miss a crucial political opportunity.
Harper will use the murders of two Canadian soldiers to whip up domestic fear of terrorism and to present himself as a "steady hand." He claimed that it was his steady hand that guided the economy. But that line began to ring distinctly hollow. He needs the same line with a different context. Recent events have provided him with that context.

Walkom warns that we could be in for an early election:

His announcement that he will increase the baby bonus is a classic example of bribing voters with their own money. To ensure Canadians understand who is bringing them these cheques, the government is running non-stop ads that trumpet the new goodies.The effort appears to be working. Over most of the year, Trudeau consistently outpolled Harper in popularity. Yet in the latest Nanos tracking poll, the two were in a statistical tie.
Harper understands that he has to act before his new claim about being a steady hand begins to ring as hollow as his claim to economic clairvoyance. He is a phony economist. -- and a phony warrior.

Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 06:17
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jenny Uechi and Warren Bell expose Canada's embarrassing place as the only government participating in a climate-denial group pushing for a dirty war against the planet. But despite the Harper Cons' worst efforts, there's some good news on the climate front - as the use of solar energy is booming in the U.S., while a new bilateral deal between the U.S. and China is rapidly eliminating the Cons' traditional excuses for blocking international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

- Kathryn May reports on some of the vital public services the Cons have been slashing in the name of paying for income splitting and other tax baubles - with food safety and frontline staff addressing EI and veterans' benefits ranking at the top of the list. And Tim Harper comments on how those cuts affect Canadians directly:
A simple tally of recent reports, some gleaned by this newspaper and The Canadian Press and testimony before Parliamentary committees, gives us a partial sense of what we are sacrificing to ensure this government could get to surplus and offer its tax breaks in a pre-election period.

This week alone there was a report from the government’s public accounts showing the Harper government’s spending on marine safety had plunged 27 per cent since 2009-10 while aviation and rail safety were both down 20 per cent or more.

Transport Canada says the cuts were made on overhead, administrative and support services, but opposition critics find it hard to believe safety is not being compromised while oil shipments by rail skyrocket.

Another document obtained by CP showed Aboriginal Affairs had to shift $505 million in money earmarked for infrastructure over a six-year period to social and educational spending.

The money has bled the infrastructure fund and still not covered the shortfall on education and social spending. The infrastructure shortfall means fewer schools and more boil water orders in First Nations communities.
While you await your cheques, you might want to remember they didn’t come free. It may have already cost you from health care to security, from access to parks to treatment of our First Nations. - Meanwhile, Kelly Grant notes that the Cons' plans to undermine the public service now include taking any real authority out of the hands of Canada's chief public health officer.

- CBC reports that the false promise of a privatized prison in Ontario has finally been deemed a failure in terms of cost and other outcomes - to the point where the province paid millions of dollars just to take back control for itself. [Update: as noted by @YouthAndWork, the story dates from 2006.]

- Finally, Thomas Walkom discusses how the Harper Cons are seeking to profit politically from their own culture of fear.

It Sounds Good, Sort of, On Paper

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 06:06
It is an historic deal - if it ever comes to pass.  China and the US have made a pact to cut carbon emissions.  The US has promised to cut emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2020.  China has said it will peak its emissions by 2030 and begin cutting them thereafter. 

It is a "landmark" deal, if it ever happens.  Whether the envisioned cuts are enough and soon enough will be the subject of discussion for weeks to come.  Remember, Obama is going to have to lay this out before a Congress now firmly in Republican control. 

Still, it's a deal and, in one way,  the timing couldn't have been better.  The agreement will be the 800-pound gorilla in the room at the G20 summit in Australia where the host, knuckle-dragger Tony Abbott wants to fend off any discussion about climate change.

The China-US deal, atop the European Union's recent initiative for a 40% cut in emissions by 2030 will be awkward for the climate change bad boys, Abbott and his girlfriend, Stephen Harper.  Maybe Harper will find a Tim Horton's to open so he can duck the G20 entirely.  If not he'll probably fall back on his old trick and, when the discussion turns to CO2 emissions, just excuse himself to go to the bathroom for a couple of days.

These emission cuts agreements are important if they're matched by action.  That has to mean slashing fossil fuel consumption and increasing the renewable energy supply.  It's hardly consistent with Obama's "all of the above" energy policy.  His commitment to 2020 means concrete programmes have to be started almost immediately. 

It will be interesting to see what institutional investors make of the EU, US and Chinese initiatives.  If they're finally forced to acknowledge the "carbon bubble" it could be devastating to high cost/high carbon fossil fuels - such as bitumen, coal and seabed oil.  That would be Harper's Sword of Damocles. 

21st Century Assyrians

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 05:34

Overpopulation + Drought = Collapse.  Just ask any Assyrian.  Of course they've been gone since the 7th century so that's not very practical.

Historians have long wondered how the Assyrians, the military powerhouse of their region, were taken down by Babylonian forces at Nineveh in 612.   New research shows the Assyrians were already down and on their way out.  The Babylonians just finished the job.

Experts from UC San Diego and Koc University, Istanbul, have discovered that overpopulation and sustained drought caused the empire to collapse, leading the neighbours to move in.

Analysis of the area's weather patterns from paleoclimatic records found that this drought was part of a long period of drought that lasted for several years. Adam Schneider, from the University of California, said: "As far as we know, ours is the first study to put forward the hypothesis that climate change - specifically drought - helped to destroy the Assyrian Empire." At the same time, the Assyrian Empire was suffering from overpopulation. Society had grown unsustainably large during the reign of King Sennacherib and the Empire was "fatally weakened".Within five years, Assyria was ravaged by civil wars. "We're not saying that the Assyrians suddenly starved to death or were forced to wander off into the desert en masse, abandoning their cities," Schneider said. "Rather, we're saying that drought and overpopulation affected the economy and destabilised the political system to a point where the empire couldn't withstand unrest and the onslaught of other peoples." The researchers said the collapse of the Assyrian Empire is comparable with the current political situation in the Syria and northern Iraq. They also draw parallels with cities like San Diego and Los Angeles, where areas grow too large for their environments. "The Assyrians can be 'excused' to some extent for focusing on short-term economic or political goals which increased their risk of being negatively impacted by climate change, given their technological capacity and their level of scientific understanding about how the natural world works," the authors wrote. "We, however, have no such excuses, and we also possess the additional benefit of hindsight, which allows us to piece together from the past what can go wrong if we choose not to enact policies that promote longer-term sustainability."

Says Pat Robertson: "She's Asking For It"

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 05:34
What is she asking for? Why, divine retribution, of course.

Watch. Learn. Repent!

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Stephen Harper and the Road to an Early Election

Montreal Simon - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 03:32

I didn't watch the ceremony at the National War Memorial, but I see that Stephen Harper made it back from China just in time to take the starring role.

So he could take advantage of this country's massive emotional upheaval.

Pose as a Great Strong Leader keeping us safe in a time of war, Canada's Churchill or our Big Daddy.

While extracting every drop of political advantage out of the situation.

And with his every action, as Duncan Cameron points out, dishonouring the very meaning of Remembrance Day. 
Read more »

e.u. advocate general ruling strongly supports claim of war resister andré shepherd

we move to canada - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 03:30
The fight for justice for US war resisters took a major step forward yesterday, with a ruling strongly in favour of war resister André Shepherd.
In the legal case of U.S. AWOL soldier André Shepherd (37) the European Court of Justice Advocate General, Eleanor Sharpton, today published her final opinion. This official statement contains guiding deliberations for the interpretation of the so-called Qualification Directive of the European Union. Amongst other considerations, these rules state that those endangered by prosecution or punishment for refusal to perform military service involving an illegal war or commital of war crimes, should be protected by the European Union.

André Shepherd, former U.S. Army helicopter mechanic in the Iraq War, during leave in Germany, left his unit and in 2008, requested asylum in that country. 2011, the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees refused Shepherd's application. Shepherd's resulting court action challenge resulted in the Munich Administrative Court's asking for the opinion of the European Court in Luxemburg on significant questions concerning the interpretation of the Qualification Directive. The Justice Advocate General came to the following conclusions:

- The protection guaranteed by the Qualification Directive is also applicable to soldiers not directly involved in combat, when their duties could support war crimes. The German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has as yet failed to respect this definition.

- Within the asylum application process, a deserter is not obliged to prove that he was or could be involved in war crimes, as the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees required. Necessary is only the evidence of war crime probability, based on past occurrences.

- Even a U.N. mandate for a war, in which the deserter was, or could have been involved, cannot serve as grounds for rejection of his rights as a refugee.

. . . .

Rudi Friedrich of Connection e.V. stated today, “Should the European Union Court of Justice respect the Advocate General's final opinion, the position in asylum cases of military service refusers and deserters will be significantly reinforced.

Bernd Mesovic of PRO ASYL declared, “Should the Court acknowledge the content of the advocate general's final opinion, their verdict would set basic precedence. I hope that deserters will soon have better protection in all of Europe.”

André Shepherd, upon reading Sharpton's decision: The final opinion gives me new reason for optimism, both in my own case, and for the rights of other deserters.Read more here.

This is a tremendous victory for Shepherd, for all his supporters, and for everyone who objects to wars for empire and profit. We can only hope that the European Court of Justice will listen.

Ezra Levant's Latest Disgraceful Bigot Eruption

Montreal Simon - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 02:17

Ezra Levant is without a shadow of a doubt the most disgusting person on Canadian television.

A greasy, grubby oil pimp, a far-right demagogue, a bully and a bigot.

But even by his low standards, this is absolutely outrageous.
Read more »

Ezra Levant, Hyde, and Appealing to the Id

Anti-Racist Canada - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 20:51
Our erudite readers will all be well acquainted with this particular novel:

This writer is a fan of both Robert Louis Stevenson' and Sigmund Freud's work (though I actually prefer Jung and think his theories more relevant) so forgive me for the clumsiness when I discuss The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde through a brief Freudian analysis.

The character Hyde is the manifestation of "the id," the deep, reptilian part of the subconscious. The id is where our deepest impulses are located; lust, fear, hate:
[The id] is the dark, inaccessible part of our personality, what little we know of it we have learned from our study of the Dreamwork and of the construction of neurotic symptoms, and most of that is of a negative character and can be described only as a contrast to the ego. We approach the id with analogies: we call it a chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations. ... It is filled with energy reaching it from the instincts, but it has no organization, produces no collective will, but only a striving to bring about the satisfaction of the instinctual needs subject to the observance of the pleasure principle. ~ Sigmund Freud, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis [1933] (Penguin Freud Library 2) pp. 105–6It doesn't take a genius to realize the society that would exist if inhabited by people ruled only by their id would make anything Ayn Rand could dream up look like an altruistic utopia by comparison. Thankfully, in addition to the id we have the super-ego or, to overly simplify the concept, a conscious. The ability to discern right from wrong and to keep our id in check. In short, our Jekylls are stronger than our Hydes, at least most of the time.

Now, our readers will also be familiar with this good looking fella:

We won't go into a lot of detail as Ezra Levant's latest screed has been pretty thoroughly debunked. In short, the Greater Essex County District School Board sent out a memo to schools where parents might have safety concerns about their children attending public Remembrance Day ceremonies given the shooting in Ottawa that left a soldier who was standing as an honor guard at the National War Memorial dead. School-based memorials would continue, and for those concerned about safety alternative way to honor those who served in the military were suggested.

Levant took the opportunity to twist the intent of the memo and claim it was an attempt to appease Muslims who secretly hate Canada:

Read more »

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 16:51
Fashionable cats.

Lest We Forget

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 14:11
Brutality against women can come from those whose duty it is to protect and serve:
A Winnipeg woman said this week that she had filed a complaint after an officer beat her in her own home as her 8-year-old son watched.

Lana Sinclair told CBC that Winnipeg police officers showed up on Halloween night to investigate reports of “yelling.” One officer spoke to her son, while another officer talked to her.

“He came up to me and poked me,” Sinclair recalled. “I was sitting on a chair in the kitchen and I jumped up and said you don’t need to touch me.”

The officer pulled out a baton, and beat her with it, she explained to CTV. She said he then smashed her face into a work table, and into the floor.
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Donor Beware: Ottawa Senators' Fake Clinic Charity Re-Visited

Dammit Janet - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 14:09
'Tis the (ever earlier) season when you'll be hit up by various good causes. In light of the revelation that unbeknownst to Ontario gamblers they were helping to fund a religious anti-choice fake clinic, let's revisit the grandmother of anti-abortion trickery stories in Canada.

I was reminded of it by commenter Sub-Boreal, who reports a similar situation.
And it's not just lottery funds that end up funding the fake crisis centres. Example: I was horrified to discover a couple of years ago that my credit union gave a few thousand to a local centre after polling members on how to divvy up a fund among some charities. I hadn't been a very attentive member, so I'm not sure how the shortlist of charities had been compiled, but I'll be much more vigilant the next time any similar process gets announced.
For the holidays of 2007, the wives and girlfriends -- known as the Better Halves (awww) -- of the Ottawa Senators sponsored a charity dealie with three worthy charities the intended recipients of funds extorted exhorted from loyal Sens fans.

Planned Parenthood raised the alarm that one of the charities, First Place Pregnancy Centre, now rebranded (as they are wont to do) First Place Options, was a lying-liar outfit of the first order.

Before DJ!, deBeauxOs and I blogged at Birth Pangs. We were all over the story as were other bloggers, notably JJ at Unrepentant Old Hippie.

CBC got on it in the person of Heather Mallick. (Her original story has vaporized, as has the re-issue at rabble.)

I found a link to the meaty bit of the story -- her phone conversation with the Senators Foundation prez as they went through the links on First Place's website.
I had an initially cheerful phone interview with Sens Foundation president Dave Ready, who said the Better Halves, when asked to choose three charities, chose: First Place, Kids Help Phone [and] Harmony House (a women's shelter).

First Place was “in line with our mandate,” he said. “We did due diligence and checked that it's a charity.”

“You went to the website?” I asked.


“Did you check on the links?”


We went through the First Place site links together. There's a standard disclaimer but First Place hopes we'll find them “helpful.” I told Ready that some of the news headlines appeared to be libellous, particularly the ones linking corporations that make birth control drugs to the Jewish Holocaust and one drug itself to Nazi death camps. Others were grotesque: “One baby in 30 left alive after medical abortion” turns out to be an absurd, unsubstantiated anonymous “news story” in a British entertainment magazine.

You're also guided to a donation page for the American Life League, a hardline group based outside Washington. There's a shop, admittedly very funny, that sells “Abortion is mean” T-shirts for two-year-olds.

They offer booklets explaining that abortion is wrong even in the case of incest. They tell members to scare away raped children outside abortion clinics. They call RU-486 “the anti-human pesticide.” They offer sample letters to the editor to send to outlets that employ, I imagine, columnists like me. One begins: “Planned Parenthood is not 'a good guy.'”

Ready gets more and more quiet as we track this. Soon he is desperate to get off the phone. He will not let me talk to a Better Half, who might well explain that she hadn't known that First Place is financed by the Bethel Pentecostal Church (external - login to view) in Ottawa and its mission — declared on the Bethel website but nowhere on the First Place site — is not just anti-abortion but anti-birth control.In short, the Sens' Better Halves had stepped in some deep doo-doo.

Sens fans were wondering WTF? Pro-choicers (especially of the Leaf Nation variety) were pointing and laughing.

And bloggers were having a ball.

But before things could get any poopier, the lying liars pulled out. (This was characterized as a "gracious" move by the Fetus Freak Media. Ha. Right.)

We never learned how the Better Halves chose that charity. Was it an inside job? Were they duped?

There was one more move. First Place sued Planned Parenthood for "defamation over comments that the Centre is 'anti-choice'." As that blogger points out, it was pretty odd for one charity to sue another, and likely to be very expensive for both.

We don't know what happened there either since some kind of settlement was reached.

For us, it was lots of fun, especially as we were dubbed by LifeShite Vicious Abortion Crusaders, a title we wear with pride to this day.

But there's another more important takeaway: When someone asks you for dough, ask for details.

(It also explains why fake clinic websites don't link to their more lunatic, racist fellow travellers anymore. In public at least. We know from undercover investigations that they still spew the most outrageous nonsense once they have a live vulnerable woman in their fake clinics.)

Happy giving season!

Tuesday Afternoon Links

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 13:28
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Shannon Gormley points out that human rights are meaningless in the face of a government which claims the entitlement to strip people of their humanity - which is exactly what the Cons are setting out to do:
(W)hen Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced this year that, “Citizenship is not a right, it is a privilege,” most human rights advocates couldn’t take him seriously. He may as well have declared that the curvature of the earth is merely an optical illusion and the world is indeed flat, or that the second law of thermodynamics doesn’t apply to his government, which can perpetually stay in power whether or not its ministers fuel it with statements deserving serious consideration.

But while remarks such as the minister’s may not be worth taking seriously as statements of fact, they’re worth remembering as philosophical beliefs that determine policy directions. 
(T)o make simple policy changes, the government must make serious philosophical changes. It has to reverse its absurd and dangerous position that “the right to have rights” isn’t a right at all.- Rick Salutin highlights the amount of work young Canadians already put into their efforts to break into a hostile job market. And Aaron Wherry points out that there's no reason for workers to have any confidence in a government which will proudly trumpet the funnelling of hundreds of millions of dollars to employers in the name of a jobs program without even considering whether they'll actually create any jobs in the process.

- Jen St. Denis discusses the negative effects income-splitting would have on women's earning power even in the few families who would enjoy some surface benefit. And Angella MacEwen exposes Andrew Coyne's blind spot in valuing the contributions of a stay-at-home spouse at zero (resulting in tax benefits based solely on the actual income of the other spouse).

- Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew reports on the widespread food bank use among people with full-time jobs which don't provide enough income to put food on the table. And Jordon Cooper discusses how Saskatchewan governments have come to see increasing reliance on food banks as a solution rather than a problem.

- Finally, Michael Harris writes about the Cons' exploitative relationship with Canada's veterans. And Ryan Meili comments on the connection between peace and health:
War brings injury and death by definition, but the impact of war is not limited to wartime. Long after the bullets stop flying, the destructive effects on a country continue: on its economy, its infrastructure, its psychology, its soul. War leaves behind land mines literal and metaphorical. Unexploded ordinances claim the lives and limbs of civilians. The spread of illnesses like HIV increases with the transience of wartime life. Violence and disease kill the young, the healthy backbone of the nation's families and economy. Those left behind often struggle with the emotional and psychological echoes of the trauma they survived. All of this damage leads to the perpetuation of poverty on numerous levels and, all too often, to a return to conflict and a repetition of the destructive cycle.

The road from peace to health is not a one-way street; a healthy society is less likely to find itself fighting. The same conditions that lead to higher levels of illness -- economic inequality, food insecurity, labour unrest -- can also lead to dangerous political instability. Since the early 1990s a series of global initiatives known as Peace through Health have been actively looking at the ways in which humanitarian health efforts can serve as a bridge to peaceful resolution of conflict. Well-resourced universal health systems can be a stabilizing element in both preventing and responding to violence. In this context, recent cuts to health services (including the drastic cuts to refugee health, many of whom have come to Canada to flee conflict) present a real threat to our health and security.

At this time of remembrance we are moved to think of those who sacrificed their lives in times of war so that others might live in peace. But to say "never again" to the horrors of the past means to work for peace today. A successful peace movement must recognize how injustice and inequality promote and perpetuate conflict. The world is suffering from a disease, with most gruesome symptom. As we continue to learn in health care, the most effective way to combat disease is to move upstream, to prevent sickness from starting.

Remembrance Day as empty signifier

Dawg's Blawg - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 11:56
Every year I find it harder and harder to feel a part of the Remembrance Day ceremonies, and this year was no exception. I’ve been asking myself why this should be—perhaps “interrogate” is a better term. After all, my father... Dr.Dawg

It's Just Another Front in the New Cold War

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 09:11

Let the war begin, the propaganda war.

One of the great battlefields of Cold War is the war of propaganda.  We've been waging a propaganda war against Russia for some time.  That's not to say that Russia hasn't generously supplied us with plenty of ammunition for us to spin and circulate and fire back.

Now Russia is going to lock horns with the West on this front as in others.

Russia on Monday launched a state-of-the-art media organisation with hundreds of journalists abroad intended to wean the world off what it called aggressive Western propaganda - dubbing it, with echoes of the Cold War, Sputnik.In a hi-tech presentation in a media centre once used to host Cold War-era press conferences, one of President Vladimir Putin's favourite journalists outlined plans meant to repair the damage done to Russia's image during the crisis in Ukraine.Although Moscow denies reverting to Soviet-style techniques, Russian media executives acknowledge privately they are waging a propaganda war with echoes of the Cold War."We are against the aggressive propaganda that is feeding the world," said Dmitry Kiselyov, a conservative television anchor who heads the Rossiya Segodnya media outlet created by Mr Putin last year to promote Russia's image abroad."We will provide an alternative interpretation of the world, of course. There is demand for this."...Standing on a stage in front of a huge screen showing a starry sky, which gave way to television footage from around the world, Mr Kiselyov said Sputnik would have "news hubs" in 30 cities, including Washington, London, Berlin, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and the capitals of a host of former Soviet republics.Its operations will include news wires, a radio station, an Internet site, applications for mobile phones and social media, as well as press centres in some countries. Some of the hubs could have up to 100 staff, Mr Kiselyov said.

Keeping Remembrance Day in My Own Way….

Left Over - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 09:08
Gap’s ‘Remembrance Day deal’ not appropriate, Toronto veteran says ‘The point is not to exploit and profit from this day,’ says Cpl. Chuck Krangle

CBC News Posted: Nov 10, 2014 11:10 PM ET Last Updated: Nov 11, 2014 10:57 AM ET

  Have to agree with  Cpl. Krangle, it is beyond inappropriate to  exploit Memorial Day with  yet another phony holiday ‘sale’ and shows no respect for  our veterans, living and dead..

Then again, no ‘sale’ on  any public holiday advertised as such is  truly appropriate..but  you hear little  if any criticism of it..Still the media is happy to headline such a critique during a sensitive time in Canadian history, when we are still feeling the sting of the recent murders of  Canadians on home soil by  people who should have been treated for mental disorders, but were instead free to acquire  arms and  act on their  own hallucinations…

By centering attention on the  stores, all part of the  capitalist system that CBC gratefully buys into every five minutes on their TV network, it is easy to forget why  these  men had to die, and the reasons  get lost in the noise and pontifications from  our  elected leaders..

Why is their such a reduced amount of gun control in this country?

Why are those in dire need of  mental health doctors and facilities ignored, put back out on the streets and left to  fend for themselves?  Let us not forget that one of these sick men begged for incarceration, and told authorities he would be repeating his acts of violence if not stopped..he was not stopped.

Why is the fact that a murdered soldier involved in the hospitalization and rehab of  veterans and soldiers is not given the same attention as one guarding a monument? Could it be that  this sort of publicity would draw voters’ attention to the fact that the Harper  government has underfunded every program to rehabilitate  vets?

On Remembrance Day,  and please remember I am a Canadian citizen by choice, and always am cognizant of how happy that makes me,  I  think of my Russian-born Jewish grandfather,  whose family escaped the pogroms of his village  and  came to the US, a handsome young  doughboy  in uniform in a formal portrait, who lived a long and good life, unlike many of his comrades..

I think of my Brooklyn, NY-born  father, who lied about his age (15) to enlist and fight in WW2 and joined the SeaBees,  a Navy Construction Battalion, because he was colorblind and could not be  given a combat role, and the horrors of Guadalcanal and  the surrounding areas that he had to deal mother told me he used to wake up screaming during the early years  of their married life….

I think about all the teenage boys  that I went to school with  who were forced into  the Vietnam War, and those  who came back alive were often  damaged in ways that were not necessarily visible to the eye…often as  drug addicts who  had  the shadowed hollow eyes of  desperation.

This year, of course, I’ll be thinking about the  men who died so needlessly in this  war  of Harper’s making…not  because of his decision to get involved, yet again, in the countries far away that are not a concern of ours except as  our  old role of peacekeepers would dictate, but  the men who died here because of  his policies  of scorched earth when it comes to social justice or helping those who cannot help themselves…

    Perhaps Cpl.  Krangle will find  my musings inappropriate, but  to paraphrase Scrooge, “Let me honor  Remembrance Day in my own way..”

In Remembrance

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 08:59
From Chris Hedges' "War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning."

"When Ernie Pyle, the American war correspondent in World War II, was killed on the Pacific island of Ie Shima in 1945, a rough draft of a column was found on his body. He was preparing it for release upon the end of the war in Europe. He had done much to promote the myth of the warrior and the heroism of soldiering, but by the end he seemed to tire of it all:

"But there are many of the living who have burnedinto their brains forever the unnatural sight of cold dead menscattered over the hillsides and in the ditches along the high rows of hedge throughout the world.

Dead men by mass production - in one country after another -month after month and year after year. Dead men inwinter and dead men in summer.

Dead men in such familiar promiscuity that theybecome monotonous.

Dead men in such monstrous infinity that you come toalmost hate them. These are the things that you at home neednot even try to understand. To you at home they are columnsof figures, or he is a near one who went away and justdidn't come back. You didn't see him lying so grotesqueand pasty beside the gravel road in France.
We saw him, saw him by the multiple thousands.
That's the difference.

Another Remembrance Day, And my Scepticism Lingers . . . .

kirbycairo - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 08:28
Four years ago today I wrote a blogpost expressing my concerns with the modern manifestation of Remembrance Day. Even as recently as this week I received a positive comment on that post. I genuinely believe that more people would express concerns about Remembrance Day but they fear the reaction. This is unfortunate. When people in what is supposed to be a democratic society are hesitant to express rational and meaningful concerns about something, particularly about the dangers of nationalism, I get concerned. But since almost no one else is willing to talk about it, I will.
I grew up partly in Los Angeles California during the height of the War in Vietnam. It was a turbulent time and even as a child I had a sense of the turbulence, the violence, and the ideological rifts that were tearing apart the nation and the world. Though my parents weren’t activists, they were still vehemently against the war in Indo-China and the inhuman way violence that was being committed there. Though my maternal grandfather was a retired Master Sergeant in the USAF there was little sympathy for the war even in my grandparents’ household.
However, strangely enough what I knew about war and soldiers I was mostly learning from someone who was not in my family. Mr. Campbell was an old man who ran a little five and dime store in my neighborhood in Santa Monica. He as a grizzled, yet charming, old guy who never failed to be cheerful towards me when I came into his crowded little shop despite the obviously difficult life that he led. Mr. Campbell had fought in WWI and had been left nearly blind by gas. “The Germans did everything they could to kill me,” he would say will a crooked smile, “but I am still here.” Despite his injuries, he wasn’t bitter about the war and he didn’t seem to hold it against the Germans as many seemed to do. He even pointed out to me more than once that he had married a German woman despite the war. She had died years ago but whenever he spoke of her moisture came into his eyes and even as a kid I understood the unspoken sadness that overcame him.
I have a few vivid memories of Mr. Campbell, one of which occurred on Veteran’s Day, the US name for Remembrance Day. It must have been in 1973 because I remember it was a Sunday and I walked by Mr. Campbell’s shop and was surprised to see it open on Sunday. I went into the store and there was Mr. Campbell sitting as usual on a tall stool behind the counter reading one of those large print books for people who have severely impaired eyesight I knew it was Veteran’s Day because I had seen some kind of military celebration in Douglas Park on Wilshire Boulevard. I greeted Mr. Campbell and he smiled, as he always did, when he heard my voice. I asked him why he was open on a Sunday, and then mentioned that it was Veteran’s Day.
That was the first and only time that I saw Mr. Campbell look angry, and he spoke to me at length in a way that even now, forty years later, I still recall.
“I have never celebrated Veteran’s Day,” Mr. Campbell told me. “When I was gassed no one cared and they kicked me out of the army with almost nothing. They pinned a Purple Heart on my chest and then kicked me to the curb. And since then I have watched Veteran’s day celebrations with nothing but contempt. They act like they want people to remember but they don’t care. They just use the whole thing as a way to promote another war. They will always have another war for young kids to fight and it is all for making money for some jerk who sells weapons and bombs and acts like it is all noble. But it isn’t, it is just bull.”

I don’t know exactly why I remember these events but they stuck in my head. Perhaps it is because as Mr. Campbell told me these things the war in Vietnam still raged and young Americans were still coming home in boxes. And over the years I came to realize through my youthful friendship with Mr. Campbell that if Remembrance Day is to mean anything it should be a painful reminder that wars are an outward manifestation of our worst failures as a race, and a reminder of the terrible price that people pay for those failures. Meanwhile, blindly pro-war leaders like our own Prime Minister blatantly use Remembrance Day as a way of promoting patriotism and whipping up the very emotions that lead to these terrible human failures.
Perhaps the saddest part of all of this for my life is that Vietnam obviously failed to teach us is that our wars are almost always a machine for making wealth. But the skepticism that Vietnam brought to people didn’t last long and by the 1990s it was all but gone and once again Western Governments seem to be able to commit their nation’s to war with a minimum of critical thought on the part of the media or the people. One war comes on the tail of another and the only thing they have in common is that regular people suffer and the rich make billions of dollars from them.
Here in Canada one war stopped and the next one quickly began. Meanwhile, the many millions that the Government spent celebrating the War of 1812 (a war that was fought before we were even a Country), was spent while they are busy cutting services for the very veterans that they are supposed to be celebrating. It is perhaps the greatest act of hypocrisy from a government that has made a career of hypocrisy.
So I chose to remember Mr. Campbell and the terrible record of human failure that allow our leaders to take us into one war after another. And when people talk incessantly about the “fight for freedom,” I remember that it is not foreign countries that have been a threat to our freedoms. Just like today, the greatest threat to our freedoms are our own governments and the corporation who support them. Every freedom we enjoy from voters rights to gay marriage has been wrenched out of our governments by committed democratic and unions activists.

So while our leaders are ‘leading’ us once again into another ridiculous war remember that such violence almost always bespeaks a basic human failure  and that the real threat to your freedoms are the ones from your own leaders whose chest thumping and drum beating is just another diversion from their real intent.

The Military Math of Climate Change

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 08:15
Two, yes.  Four, no way.  According to the Royal Navy's Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti,  climate change will impose new burdens on Britain's military forces and allied militaries for conflict prevention, conflict resolution and humanitarian relief.

"We could probably secure a 2C world.  I think it most unlikely we would be able to secure a 4C world."

"The impact resulting in the loss of land and the loss of livelihoods is increasing the stresses in a number of vulnerable countries, countries where food, health and [rising population] are challenges.  All of that is increasing the threat of instability in an already unstable world.  We need to act now to manage the risk." 

Climate change will become, in other words, a peacekeeping mission so long as it is controlled, limited to 2C.  Beyond that it becomes a combat problem as an "already unstable world" succumbs to chaos and loss.

But the military may have misjudged this 2C thing.

Some experts, including a former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, warn that even capping warming at 2C could still be devastating to the environment - and us.

There is no such thing as a safe rise,” said Bob Watson, who was the chair of the IPCC from 1997 to 2002. “You will see food and water insecurity, human health problems, and sea level rise even with a 2 C rise.”
Global temperatures have risen 0.85 C on average since the Industrial Revolution — a change most scientists blame on human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels. Scientists have said that at the current levels of emissions, the world is on track for as much as a 5 C rise by the middle of this century.“Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, in the late 19th century, we’ve had about 1 C of warming, and even with that, we’ve already seen big changes in frequency of extreme events and big societal impacts,” said Radley Horton, a scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University professor.

“We’ve seen more frequently deadly heat wave events as temperatures rise and more frequent coastal flooding as sea levels rise. These are not just more frequent or longer lasting, but when they happen they’re more severe.” Residents of Pacific Island nations like the Marshall Islands tell Al Jazeera they are already feeling the effects of rising sea levels, citing the largest ever king tides, which swept through the capital Majuro earlier this year. At the same time, the nation’s northeastern atolls were hit with severe drought.
Analysts say the reason most world leaders along with the IPCC have agreed on the 2 C target is more political than scientific. The recommendations published in the IPCC climate reports are negotiated by over 100 nations, including oil-producing nations like Saudi Arabia.Despite IPCC’s reports saying the worst effects of climate change could be avoided by capping global temperature rise at 2 C, some scientists believe the Earth’s climate has already been pushed beyond its tipping point. One reason is that most of the effects from the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere are delayed.Another reason for the schism between IPCC recommendations and other scientists’ beliefs is that the panel’s report is based on science that is already several years old.“The cutoff date is three to four years before it’s published, meaning this report is the extent of climate science in 2010 — and a number of things have happened since then,” [Australian analyst David] Spratt said.Spratt cited predictions of an ice-free Arctic within a decade or two, the “unstoppable” melting of West Antarctic ice sheets and faster melting in Greenland’s glaciers.All of these are examples of interconnected systems that could feed off of each other — resulting in climate disruption.We now have evidence saying if we get to 2 C we’ll pass the tipping point to irreversible changes … which policymakers simply ignore,” Spratt said.

Oh dear.  Do me a favour?  Pass the ammunition.


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