Posts from our progressive community

Remember Your Name: A New Writing Project By Elisa Hategan

Anti-Racist Canada - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 18:44
Elisa Hategan has been a friend of ARC for a number of years now. She is an incredibly brave woman and an engaging writer. We promoted  Race Traitor: The True Story of Canadian Intelligence Service's Greatest Cover-Up when that book was published and we consider it to be a must read for anyone interested in the history of the Heritage Front, but more importantly as a cautionary tale concerning the dangers of the unchecked powers of government agencies (given the growing concerns about Bill C-51, this is an even more pressing issue).

Ms. Hategan is now working on her next book, a memoir, and she is crowd sourcing funding for the project.

We all have our own story, but that story doesn't belong to us: it’s the story of the hometown we came from, the people who gave birth to us and the people who came before them; the kids we went to school with, the neighbors across the road. It’s the story of every individual who came into our path, who added their own presence, experience, emotions, light and darkness to the universe that became our own.

Read more »

Make Sure Your Mom and Dad Know What to Do When They Get the Call.

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 16:18

An older friend recently showed up for his annual visit.  As we had dinner on Friday evening he mentioned that he'd had a computer problem.

He didn't know he had a problem until he received a call from someone with a heavy, Indian accept who purported to be from Microsoft security.  The caller said Microsoft had detected a dangerous virus in my friend's computer.  All he needed to do was let them remotely access his computer and all would be well - or at least it would be well after he agreed to a $350 charge on his VISA card.

The next morning I trotted my friend into the local branch of his bank where they wasted no time in doing all the appropriate fixes.  Bank of Montreal security was alerted, new credit card and bank cards issued, a few other tweaks and my friend was good to go.

He called this morning with the next installment of  this saga.  A couple of weeks after his bank stopped the payment he received another call from another guy with an Indian accent who angrily demanded an explanation of why the credit card charge had been rejected.  My friend was told he'd get his comeuppance and that's when his computer froze or, more accurately, was frozen - remotely.

A computer techie with some familiarity of these things was called in.  $175-later the problem was resolved and it was definitely sabotage.  The techie mentioned he'd encountered the same problem with the computer of a recently retired RCMP officer.

A late buddy's widow received the same call from someone speaking in a heavy Indian accent purporting to represent Microsoft computer security.  She was told they had detected a virus on her computer.  This is where things get weird.

The widow informed the caller that she couldn't have a computer virus because - she didn't have a computer.  The fellow on the other end of the line began arguing with her, basically calling her out as a liar.  He wanted her credit card number and apparently wasn't going away without it.  She finally just hung up on the guy.

That wasn't the end of her problems.  Over the next two weeks she received more calls, all with the same accent, all wanting her credit card information and warning of unspecified problems that could arise if she refused.  It's no wonder she looked relieved when she left for 3-weeks in Hawaii.

These guys are upping their game.  They're becoming more persistent, even threatening, not to mention that they'll sabotage the computers of the unwary.

Talk to your folks.  Tell them that Microsoft doesn't call customers.  Tell them these callers are going to scam them.  Don't allow strangers access to their computers and don't give out any credit card information.

The Inconvenient Truth About Harper's Canada

Creekside - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 14:02

Tomorrow night in Ottawa
Michael Harris and Donald Gutstein discuss how to undo the damage

I really really hope someone has arranged to tape this event and put it up online for those of us not in Ottawa.

Speaking at Goldman Sachs in New York last fall, Harper hinted at a greater military role ahead for Canada and leaving his mark on Canada :
"We've made it a policy of moving incrementally, but constantly, in our eight-and-a-half years in office," he said, citing changes to corporate taxes and a tougher law-and-order stance.
"I think that we've moved, and I think the country has moved with us."

Farley Mowat in "Party of One" : 
"Stalin had small balls compared to this guy. Harper is probably the most dangerous human being ever elevated to power in Canada. How the population has acquiesced in following this son of a bitch, and to let him take over their lives, I’ll never know. You have to create warrior nations, they are not born. They have to be made. It is the preliminary step of a tyrant. And this son of a bitch incited Canada into becoming a warrior nation."Michael Harris :  
"Harper has simply made the calculation that if the way to give a chameleon a nervous breakdown is to put him down on plaid, the way to win an election in our disappearing democracy is to offer Canadians only two flavours — vanilla or chocolate.That means hitting the hot buttons, over and over. Before oil prices tanked, greed was the button of choice. Now it’s fear. It makes things starkly simple — black and white, good and evil.

As simple as War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery … and Ignorance is Strength. It’s a campaign designed for Idiot Culture. The only question is, are there enough idiots out there to put Harper over the top again?" .. 

Coming Clean, It's Good for the Soul.

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 13:08

After half a century of persistent fudging the Pentagon has officially admitted the undeniable - Israel has an arsenal of nuclear weapons and all the high tech gear to best use them.

That revelation might not matter much to most of us but, to the US government, it has serious military and foreign policy ramifications.

...the confirmation of this poorly kept secret opens a troublesome can of worms for both the US government and our closest ally in the Middle East. Official acknowledgement poses questions and contradictions that cry out for closer inspection. For many years, the United States collaborated with Israel’s development of critical technology needed for advanced armaments. Yet Washington pushed other nations to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires international inspections to discourage the spread of nuclear arms. Israel has never signed the NPT and therefore does not have to submit to inspections.

Washington knew all along what the inspectors would find in Israel. Furthermore, as far back as the 1960s, the US Foreign Assistance Act was amended by concerned senators to prohibit any foreign aid for countries developing their own nukes. Smith asserts that the exception made for Israel was a violation of the US law but it was shrouded by the official secrecy. Since Israel is a major recipient of US aid, American presidents had good reason not to reveal the truth.

The newly released report—“Critical Technological Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations”—describes Israel’s nuclear infrastructure in broad terms, but the dimensions are awesome. Israel’s nuclear research labs, the IDA researchers reported, “are equivalent to our Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratories.” Indeed, the investigators observed that Israel’s facilities are “an almost exact parallel of the capability currently existing at our National Laboratories.”

In other words, going back well before the 80s, Israel and the US have been one collaborative lab for developing advanced weapons of mass destruction and yet the US Congress wouldn't hesitate if it only could to attack Iran for basic nuclear processing far short of any weaponized materials.  

Meet The Guardian's New Editor and Take Hope

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 12:51

When Alan Rusbridger retires this summer as editor in chief of The Guardian, Katherine Viner will fill his shoes and, as the first female editor of that venerable paper, she looks pretty impressive.

Viner does stand out from the London media crowd in being from Yorkshire, in the north of England, and for being a playwright and activist as well as a journalist. My Name Is Rachel Corrie, the play she and actor Alan Rickman wrote based the diaries of the 23-year old American killed by an Israeli army bulldozer as she tried to prevent the demolition of Palestinian houses in the Gaza strip, has been produced in London and in US cities from Seattle to New York. But of the four internal candidates for the job who entered a staff ballot three were women: Viner, Emily Bell, who helped set up The Guardian’s website and now directs the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia, and Janine Gibson, Viner’s predecessor as editor-in-chief of Guardian US who is now editor-in-chief of Viner’s overwhelming victory in the staff ballot—she got 53 percent of the vote—made her the favorite, and also spoke volumes about her ability to retain the loyalty of colleagues and contributors despite having spent several years thousands of miles away setting up The Guardian’s Australian website.

The presence of so many highly qualified women on the list is just one indication of the huge changes wrought by Rusbridger, who was himself only 42 when he took over in 1995 (Viner is 44). Whereas his predecessor, Peter Preston, handed over the leaked government documents that sent whistleblower Sarah Tisdall to prison, Rusbridger from the first showed a willingness to fight, successfully defending the paper against libel actions brought by the Police Federation and the MP Jonathan Aitken—who ended up in prison himself after The Guardian obtained proof he had perjured himself on the witness stand. In 2013 Rusbridger decided to physically destroy the hard drives containing information leaked by Edward Snowden rather than obey an order to hand the data over to the government. The launch ofGuardian Australia challenged Rupert Murdoch on his home turf. And of course it was Rusbridger and Ian Katz, then The Guardian’s deputy editor, who were the paper’s contacts with Julian Assange. (Katz, now the editor in chief of the BBC’s flagship Newsnight program, was the “outside” candidate who lost to Viner in the final round last week.)

Lockheed, You Blew It. Start Over, Do It Right.

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 12:43

For all the wholly deserved criticism of the F-35 light attack bomber, there are some things that Lockheed and its partners got right.  What they didn't get right was the airplane itself.

The Brits used to operate an aircraft carrier, HMS Invincible.  By American carrier standards the British ship had undersized elevators - the hydraulic platforms that move aircraft between the hangar deck and the flight deck. Lockheed designers had that problem in mind when they designed the F-35 which is why it's kind of short, a little stubby even.  Britain's new carriers have larger elevators but, no matter, the design is done.

Lockheed designers knew that they had to come up with an airframe that would accommodate three variants; a basic, land-based version for the air force, a strengthened version for the navy, and a VSTOL or vertical landing/short take off version for the US Marine Corps and the Royal Navy.

The VSTOL version packs a vertical lift engine in addition to the standard flight engine in that airframe.  That's why the F-35 is a bit squat, tubby.  And because it's such a wide brick it carries a big drag penalty which leaves it incapable of achieving the jet fighter sine qua non, supercruise.  It'll go moderately fast but only when its engine is in fuel-guzzling afterburner.  In other words, unlike the competition it won't go fast very far.  Unfortunately, because there's only one basic airframe design, the drag penalty dictated by the Marines' VSTOL variant also degrades the air force and naval versions.

All in all, the F-35 is a horribly compromised design.  It has a serious weight problem that has left it unable to meet the specified landing and takeoff requirements.  The answer was to move the goal posts, lower the standards.  So desperate was Lockheed to "make weight" that at one point the company removed the internal fire suppression system.  If there was ever a plane that needed that protection, it's the F-35.

In addition to the weight problem, the F-35 has a fire problem, several in fact. There's been an engine fire problem that's believed to have been caused by turbine blades coming into contact with the duct shroud.  In order to give the aircraft at least passable range, it was necessary to install innovative fuel bladders in the wings, fuselage and even wrapped around the engine.  This leaves the F-35 vulnerable to fire and explosions from lightning strikes which is why it's not allowed to fly near storms.  A recent report from the US Secretary of Defense faulted the fuel system as also very vulnerable to ground fire.  A stray bullet could be enough to make the jet go BOOM.  That might limit your enthusiasm for risking the world's most expensive warplane down in the weeds supporting friendly troops against outfits like the Taliban.

There are other problems, myriad issues.  The F-35 has a low altitude heat problem.  It just can't cool itself which leaves it easier to detect and attack by modern infra-red systems.  At higher speeds, if the F-35 has to maneuver quickly to avoid an attacker or a missile, it can develop wing-drop which means the loss of controlled flight which could turn the mega-million dollar warplane into the world's most expensive lawn dart.  I could go on but I think you get the picture of an airplane with some very serious, sometimes intractable problems.

But still ...we're hearing hints of magical systems the F-35 will bring to the battlefield including a cyber-warfare pod that's apparently designed to transmit powerful viruses into an enemy's air defence computers.  It's also reported to have a variety of novel sensing, targeting and communication systems.  Taken together these wonders of wizardry are said to redeem the F-35 despite its many other flaws.

The illogic to this argument is that it ties these electronic warfare systems to a very compromised airframe with serious performance issues.  Why, if they're that good can they not simply be installed in a better airplane, one that is more capable and survivable than the F-35?  Why not retrofit them to an upgraded, twin-engine, long range, high speed and very maneuverable airplane, something like a modernized F-22?

There are some F-35 customers who will want to stick with the airplane, warts and all.  Israel, for example, needs it soon if it is to attack Iran.  The Marines, Royal Navy and other small carrier forces still need the VSTOL version, the F-35B, so those orders would remain valid.  The US Air Force will still want some of the A-models just as the US Navy will still need some of the navalized, C-models.  Yet both services are already clamoring for a new, 6th generation fighter (the very sort of thing I'm suggesting).

Recognizing the F-35's many flaws isn't going to make it one bit better or worse. It's not going to harm "the programme."  It's just that, given the chance to build a new design incorporating the magical electronic systems without the compromises required for the "one size fits all" joint strike fighter, Lockheed's designers would come up with something that looked a lot different than the F-35.

Documents Reveal Canada’s Secret Hacking Tactics

Metaneos - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 12:21
The Intercept
This is dismaying. Why do these people insist on breaking important privacy laws, when following the law brings about usually superior results? It's sociopathic.
Seriously, it's sociopathic. We don't need this. Diplomacy works ten times better than this. But I suppose Harper's government is incapable of that. So this sort of anti-social behavior is all that's left to the CSIS.

Taking Stock

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 12:08
Most of us just don't want to know.  Most of the rest are coming to feel the same way a lot of the time.

Interesting op-ed by Quincy Saul, "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."  It deserves a read.

Ecology: The global climate is officially destabilized. Major tipping points have passed, and while the struggle to remain within others must continue, we have already lost the battle to preserve life on earth as we know it. Rising seas will reshape continents and spreading deserts will drive mass migrations. Climate change will redraw the world map and will literally shake the earth.

...We are in the middle of a mass extinction, which all accounts and reports indicate will continue to accelerate. If current rates of extinction continue, by the middle of this century, between one- and two-thirds of all living species on the planet may disappear. While superstorms and melting ice caps may be more dramatic, this accelerating loss of biological diversity in the long run is even more catastrophic. In the early 1980s, biologist E.O. Wilson compared this threat to others facing the world at that time;

Energy depletion, economic collapse, limited nuclear war or conquest by a totalitarian government. . . . As terrible as those catastrophes would be for us, they could be repaired within a few generations. The one process ongoing in the 1980s that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly that our descendants are least likely to forgive us."

If we live in times of prophecy, then ecological catastrophe is the black horseman of the apocalypse, carrying the scales of a radically unbalanced earth system, leaving famine in its wake.

Economy: The world economic system is in a structural crisis from which it will not recover. The morbid symptoms of its demise are increasingly evident. It is now mainstream knowledge that the major banks of the world routinely launder moneyfor the drug and arms trade.

Furthermore, the so-called middle class is at an end, even if the working class has not yet stepped up to replace it. Inequality is at an all-time high, with rates of poverty and affluence, malnutrition and obesity, reaching ever more epidemic proportions.

One-third of all food is wasted. Women own only 1 percent of the world's property. The absurdities of our economic system are increasingly well known and recognized. An article by Matt Taibbi in the Rolling Stone had a comprehensive title: "Everything is Rigged:"

Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. . . . Forget the Illuminati - this is the real thing, and it's no secret. . . . The idea that prices in a $379 trillion market could be dependent on a desk of about 20 guys in New Jersey should tell you a lot about the absurdity of our financial infrastructure.

The economy is the white horseman of the apocalypse, representing both evil and righteousness, wearing a crown and armed for conquest.

War: Former US Vice President Dick Cheney promised the world "a war that will not end in our lifetimes," and we are now beginning to see the form it will take. Resource wars in the Middle East and North Africa are now joined by wars born of political turmoil. Global military expenditure is currently soaring at $1.6 trillion per year, an increase of 53 percent over 14 years ago.

Today in Egypt and Syria, we witness the seeds of a bloody and tangled future, where mass social movements for national liberation and self-determination are converted into proxy wars between the global potentates. Collapsing ecosystems and economies together fan the flames of war higher. In these geopolitical nightmares, carried to a fevered pitch by the society of the spectacle, nothing is true and everything is permitted.

War rides the red horse of the apocalypse.

Surveillance States: 1984 has arrived, only 30 years after Orwell predicted. The revelations brought to us by Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden show us a world in which everything is under surveillance. Julian Assange has written with great eloquence about the death of civil society overseen by the surveillance state. (1) Today in the United States alone there are more than 5 million people working under security clearances - more than the population of Norway. The mirror image of this army of spies is the enormous number of people in prison, including more African Americans under state control than there were slaves prior to the Civil War.

This is the last stage of the state, the totalitarianism that is the last gasp of every totality. The surveillance state has the capacity for not only genocide, but also extinction: It is capable of repressing and destroying the revolutionary movements that still have hope to fight for life.

The surveillance state rides the pale horse of the apocalypse, representing death.

It's at this point that Saul offers us a glimmer of hope. the ancient Greek, apocalypse and revelation are the same word. What is the tipping point between the end of the world and the beginning of the world?

You are. We are. It's time to realize it. Time to seize the day and never let go.


Dammit Janet - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 11:12
The Fetal Gore Porn Gang -- you remember, the same group of nutbars who attempted to co-opt the Abortion Caravan -- along with Campaign Lie have a new campaign billed as "the biggest pro-life campaign Canada has ever seen."

DJ! reported on its launch last week. That's an account by an attendee at the Victoria event who had some uncomfortable and, apparently, unanswerable questions for the organizers.

Well, now that they're a week into their current road trip, let's have a look at how they're doing. (They really like road trips, don't they? Maybe because it gets them out from under the parental/pastoral thumb?)

Here's the schedule with handy Facebook links.

Oddly, the FB page for the Victoria bunfest on March 13 is "unavailable."

Here are some details from the other knees-upses. I'm using their own numbers. (Go to "schedule" link for individual FB links; I'm too lazy to code them all.)

In Vancouver on March 14, out of 655 invited, 43 "went."

In Chiliwack on March 16, 35 out of 577 invitees attended.

Kelowna on March 18, 11 out of 77.

Calgary on March 19, 35 out of 512.

Edmonton on March 21, 28 out of 429.

Next up is Saskatoon on March 24. So far 126 have been invited and 21 are "going" with 7 "maybes'." For Brandon on March 27, 10 of 110 plan to go. Regina on March 25 has no FB page and 30 Winnipegers of 418 invitees intend on going.

Then there are several in Ontario, then the one I'm planned on visiting, Toronto on April 10. The fetus freaks have great hopes of this one. They've invited 1.2k, of which so far 63 are going with 47 maybes.

That's not counting me, so add one there.

The April 20 event in Fredericton should be interesting given recent events there. Twenty-five of 205 invitees have confirmed their attendance so far.

Strangely, there is no Ottawa event listed.

The last event on the schedule is on May 12 in Peterborough.

Then nothing until May 25, but this final event in Woodstock, ON, is billed as "End the Killing," the tag-line of their Old New Abortion Caravan wankeroo. And it is a "CLOSED" event.

Their partner, Campaign Lie, however, is holding its MASSIVE annual martyrgasm, March of the Fetii, in Ottawa on May 14.

Might the Fetal Gore Gang be planning another Grand Finale?

As they did for the 2012 March for Lies with their Grand Jete de FetusMobile?

Which got unaccountably lost. (As reported by both JJ, the Unrepentant and DJ!.)

Maybe they don't want to, you know, create any unfulfillable expectations.

But let's go back to the numbers.

Even if they're telling the truth -- hey, there's a first time for everything! -- they are kind of sad, aren't they?

Forty-three in Vancouver and 35 in Calgary, which are pretty big cities.

There are 23 stops on the tour. If they get an average -- let's be generous -- of 30 per venue, that's just under 700 people.

But, see, these gatherings are not the point. The point is to hand out ONE MILLION pieces of trademark gore porn.
"This will be the biggest pro-life campaign in Canadian history," the campaign organizers state. But they stress that, "In order for us to do this, the pro-life movement will need thousands of boots on the ground across the country to participate in the #No2Trudeau campaign in whatever form of activism they feel comfortable with."THOUSANDS OF BOOTS ON THE GROUND!!!

And they're on track for about 700 pairs, or 1400 boots.

Which is going to be interesting since by my calculation, to hit ONE MILLION PIECES, each boot is going to have to hand out more than 700 pieces.

On Twitter, on the #no2Trudeau hashtag, they're claiming victory because no one is engaging in discussion. Also because "proborts" (typo or new styling? I kinda like it) are deleting tweets. I don't think they get this Twitter thingamajig.

#No2Trudeau is working. Proborts are blocking and deleting #prolife tweets instead of engaging in discussion. #endthekilling #prolife

— Recognize Rights (@__defiant) March 23, 2015

I'm enjoying this and will keep you posted.

If any of you have some time and would like to check them out, here again is their schedule. DJ! would be pleased to offer a venue for your reports.

The "Piss Away" Province

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 10:05

The key to understanding the dilemma is to realize that Tar Sand, bitumen, is just a part of Alberta's oil history.  The province has also produced a vast amount of conventional crude oil.  It's actually produced and exported a good deal more conventional crude oil than Norway.  That brings us to the starting point of the conversation.

The CBC today brings us another one of those awkward stories about Alberta and Norway and why Albertans are wallowing in another recession while their Norwegian counterparts are sitting on a mountain of wealth.  The easy answer is that Albertans, while deeply Conservative, simply can't be trusted to handle money.
Norway today sits on top of a $1-trillion Cdn pension fund established in 1990 to invest the returns of oil and gas. The capital has been invested in over 9,000 companies worldwide, including over 200 in Canada. It is now the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world.

By contrast, Alberta’s Heritage Savings Fund, established in 1976 by premier Peter Lougheed, sits at only $17 billion Cdn and has been raided by governments and starved of contributions for years.

For the last 10 years, when nothing went into the Alberta fund, and we put a lot of money aside, the profit went out of Canada," says Rolf Wiborg, a petroleum engineer who recently retired from Norway’s public service.

Wiborg, who studied at the University of Alberta and worked for a Norwegian oil company before joining Norway’s Petroleum Directorate, says the key to success has been Norway's ethos of sharing and a commitment to never waver from that goal.

“We don’t change our policies in Norway, with changes in the oil price – you can’t do that," he says. “Lougheed’s government in Alberta knew that, they made policies and then they left them behind."

It's one reason why, as a coastal British Columbian, I sense the need to push back hard against the Oil Buffoons from Alberta and Ottawa and their damned pipelines.  You can't trust them. They're idiots and I don't trust the safety of my coast to idiots out to make - and yet again piss away - a quick buck.  It's like letting a chronic drunk drive your kid's school bus.  No, I don't think so.
There's a reason Harper has rendered coastal BC defenceless with his rigged environmental review farce and his extensive stripping of our ecological, fisheries and navigation protections.  Each safeguard he steals from us is money in someone else's pocket, someone else in another province or across a vast ocean in a place like, oh I don't know, Beijing.  And to know that the money they're trying to stuff into their pockets at our endangerment and expense is just going to be pissed away yet again - well it makes the blood boil.

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 10:04
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Michael Babad writes that we should be glad to see jobs being created in the public sector since the private sector is doing nothing to offer opportunities for Canadians. And Andrew Jackson discusses how Quebec's progressive economic model has served it well, while offering an example which other provinces should be eager to follow.

- Konrad Yakabuski weighs in on the need for pharmacare to make an essential element of health care universally accessible. But while Brent Patterson agrees that we should be pursuing pharmacare, he also warns that ill-advised trade agreements may complicate its implementation.

- BJ Siekierski points out that two top Statistics Canada officials see our economic problems as revolving primarily around the working class rather than the middle class, while PressProgress finds even Harper loyalists questioning an income splitting scheme designed to benefit those who need its least. And Paul Rosenberg discusses the challenges of fighting back against voodoo economics:
“The problem with our politics is President Obama and the people who surround him, don’t represent an alternative to trickle down economics, they are trickle-down-lite,” Hanauer told me. “They’re sort of kinder-and-gentler trickle-down economics. They can talk a little bit about the importance of the middle class, but, in my opinion, they haven’t quite seen clearly that they’ve gotten cause-and-effect reversed. They still think that a thriving middle class is an effect of growth, a consequence of growth, and the truth is in a technological, modern economy, a thriving middle class is the cause of growth…. The middle class creates rich people, not the other way around.”

This used to be well-understood by everyone. During America’s long post-World War II boom, the incomes of all levels growing approximately equally—though slightly slower at the very top. “That’s how you sustain virtuous cycle of increasing returns which capitalism can be. Capitalism can be constructed in a way so that everyone does better all the time. It’s a beautiful thing,” Hanauer said. “But if the power dynamics change in really extreme ways, as they have in the last 30 years, and all of the value of enterprise is sucked out by a few owners and the senior managers, then you basically killed the goose that layed the golden egg.” That’s what stock buybacks are all about. - The CP reports that even the Calgary Chamber of Commerce is concerned about the vast amounts of resource wealth wasted by the province of Alberta.

- Finally, Chris Chambers reports on Amnesty International's polling into the effects of mass surveillance - which show both relatively little support for a Big Brother state, and a high risk that people will be reluctant to access needed information when it's in place. And Nora Lamontagne and Justin Ling offer a must-read on the massive waste of time and resources poured into infiltrating and investigating a small group of Quebec leftists.

The Still Beating Heart of Progressivism

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 09:31
Not dead yet.  The venerable Boston Globe has published an editorial urging a certain American to run for the presidency of the United States of America.  The newspaper wants senator Elizabeth Warren to enter the race.

...the Democratic Party finds itself with some serious divides that ought to be settled by the electorate. Some are clear-cut policy differences, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an enormous free-trade agreement with Pacific Rim nations that Warren opposes and Clinton backs. Even in areas where the candidates agree, there are bound to be different priorities: It’s hard to imagine a President Clinton defending and enforcing the Dodd-Frank legislation with as much vigor as a President Warren, for instance.

Indeed, the big-picture debate on financial regulation and income inequality is what’s most at peril if the Democratic primaries come and go without top-notch opponents for Clinton. While she has a great many strengths, Clinton seems far more likely to hew to a cautious approach on economics. Her financial backing from Wall Street, her vote in the Senate to reduce bankruptcy protections, and her past reluctance to raise capital-gains taxes are no secret. Nothing about her record suggests much gumption for financial reform or tackling the deeply entrenched economic problems that increasingly threaten the American dream.

Seven years after the financial collapse, those challenges remain serious. To name just a few of the financial problems facing Americans: stagnant wages; ballooning student loan debt; exploitative payday lenders; shady subprime car loans; the proliferation of dubious for-profit colleges; inadequate retirement savings.

Unlike Clinton, or any of the prospective Republican candidates, Warren has made closing the economic gaps in America her main political priority, in a career that has included standing up for homeowners facingillegal foreclosures and calling for more bankruptcy protections. If she runs, it’ll ensure that those issues take their rightful place at the center of the national political debate.

The Globe is right on the money.  Hillary is the closest thing the Republicans have this time around to a presidential candidate.  She's a Democrat but not by that bloody much.  Clinton is a foreign policy hawk with decidedly Wall Street instincts.

The Moment Of Truth

Northern Reflections - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 06:26

Justin Trudeau's moment of truth is about to arrive. The Harperities have decided to extend and expand the mission in Iraq. Trudeau opposed the original mission. But, since then, he has supported Stephen Harper's Bill C-51. Michael Harris writes:

Justin Trudeau lent his party’s support to Bill C-51, a bill that former prime ministers, Supreme Court justices, the Canadian Bar Association and hundreds of experts have denounced as dangerous, unnecessary, and unconstitutional unless it gets key amendments with respect to more oversight.
His father would have been up in arms:

Trudeau has jumped on the fear bandwagon, despite the fact that C-51 will allow Canada’s largely unaccountable spy agency, CSIS, to carry out its operations ignoring the Charter of Rights. The Charter was his father’s crowning political achievement. Pierre Trudeau would never have supported the criminalization of dissent.
Despite his claim that he does not want to hand Stephen Harper a weapon to use against him,Trudeau the Younger -- unlike Tom Mulcair -- is on the wrong side of history. Will Trudeau also choose to be on the wrong side of the Iraq mission?

His moment of truth is quickly approaching.

Full Of Sound And Fury, Signifying Nothing But An Unfitness To Govern

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 05:49

Like one of my favourite Shakespearean creations, Macbeth, the story of a corrupted Scottish king, Stephen Harper's tale unfolds on a landscape that has become increasingly blighted thanks to his diseased leadership. Harper's demagoguery, his total disregard for the moral, social and ethical well-being of Canada, all powerful attestations to his unfitness for the country's leadership, grows more poisonous the closer we come to the next election. A man seemingly without any ethical underpinnings, he exploits every opportunity that presents itself to vilify and condemn, inviting the citizens of our country to participate in his campaigns of hatred and segregation.

Muslims are one of his favourite targes, easy ones given fears about terrorism and the horrific actions of ISIS, an ever-growing group of fanatics who seem to know no bounds whatsoever. And yet, it is the height of stereotyping to conflate such with the overaul Muslim population, something Harper does with especial relish.

Zunera Ishaq, in her refusal to doff her niqab for the Canadian citizenship ceremony (which, the laws says, is not necessary) has become an easy target for Harper's vituperation, attended by his claim that the wearing of the niqab is rooted in a 'culture that is hostile to women.' Fortunately, not all Canadians are swept up in Harper's hatred.

As usual, a group that keeps me from total despair, Star letter-writers, offer their reactions to the prime minister's war on the niqab:

Why I plan to wear a niqab at my citizenship ceremony, Opinion March 16
I have thought long and hard about joining the debate on the right of Islamic women to wear the veil for the citizenship ceremony. I cannot remain silent on this matter as we all have to at some point say enough is enough.

First of all, like many non-Muslims and even some Muslims I am uncomfortable with the whole concept of the niqab or burka. However, my discomfort does not give me or anyone else the right to deny anyone to wear them if that is her wish.

The issue in question is not an immigrant demanding that Canada amend its laws to accommodate her views or those of the culture she chose to leave behind. The issue is her asking us to uphold our own law and allow her to take her oath, having already removed her niqab before the judge to establish her identity.
If we allow our uneasiness and fear, which is being stoked by cynical politicians, to allow us to change our laws to trample this woman’s rights, then everyone of us who is different in any way should start looking over his or her shoulder.

When all the Muslims are gone, who will be next?

Denise Irvine-Robertson, Toronto

Tory MPs are kept on very short leashes with their barking restricted to PMO-approved talking points. The recent spate of racist and anti-Muslim comments coming forth from this group appears to be a rather disgusting tactic within Harper’s re-election campaign much like a lawyer who speaks inappropriately before a jury and then withdraws the comment – knowing full well it will be remembered.

These messages are intended to attract, engage and inflame the fearful and prejudiced components of our personalities to motivate us towards voting Conservative. So does Bill C-51 address the radicalization of the Canadian public when it’s committed by MPs and a prime minister?

Randy Gostlin, Oshawa

MP Larry Miller’s inappropriate comments are proof that the veil has finally fallen off the Harper Conservatives hidden agenda. It has been slipping for months as nasty, mean-spirited, bigoted utterances have been made by Conservative caucus members and cabinet ministers.

Harper himself tested the waters with a bigoted comment and when it was cheered by his base Harper, the only economist who thinks one third of anything is most, quickly adopted the mantra that most Canadians agree with him. True to form this chant has been taken up by his cabinet and caucus to support the party policy.

Keith Parkinson, Cambridge

Demanding that a woman take off her niqab during the Canadian citizenship swearing in ceremony offends me deeply. I am a 33-year-old Jewish male. I am proud that Canada is a multi-cultured country. People wear turbans and kippahs and should be proud of their cultural dress.

Philosophically, I don’t love the idea of a niqab, but who am I to judge? I have a thick beard that grows to my eyebrows — my face is technically “covered.” If they have to take off the niqab, I should have to shave.

Many people mistakenly associate the niqab with oppressive Muslim extremists, which elicits fear. But when someone wants to be Canadian, so long as they aren’t harming anyone, they should be accepted for who they are, and what they wear.

Our opinion on their choice of clothing is irrelevant. And if you argue that wearing a niqab is not a choice, just ask Zunera. I’m with her, and offended that this conversation even needs to be had.

David Keystone, TorontoSo 67 per cent of Canadians oppose women wearing the niqab. So what? From time to time, in both personal attitude and public policy, “Canadians” have opposed everything from immigrants to aboriginals to pit bulls to nude beaches – the list is long and embarrassing.

Canada has evolved, with painful slowness, from its elitist, xenophobic roots to a diverse and somewhat tolerant society that was until recently the envy of the world. Now a desperate government is trying to use public opinion polls to drag us back into the dark ages where democracy is equated with majority dictatorship.

Paul Collier, TorontoRecommend this Post

Stephen Harper's Desperate Rush to War

Montreal Simon - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 03:47

He's spent the last few days licking his wounds after he was caught deliberately fanning the flames of racism, and was hit by a wave of revulsion.

And no doubt he's been knocking back a few to try to forget what's happening to the economy. 

Because that makes HIM feel sick, or makes all the voices in his head start screaming at the same time.

But now he's back on his feet, he's inflamed with energy of the desperate, and he's rushing off or lurching off to WAR. 
Read more »

Stephen Harper and Benjamin Netanyahu's Phony Phone Call

Montreal Simon - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 20:47

Lordy. If I didn't know Stephen Harper and Benjamin Netanyahu so well I'd swear their legendary love affair is heading for the International Divorce Court.

Instead of the International Criminal Court.

At least judging by what Harper says he told Netanyahu on the phone today. 
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Fear In The Streets? It's What He Wants

Politics and its Discontents - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 07:22

Those of us who have been following the machinations of our Machiavellian prime minster know that he seems intent on remaking Canada in his own malevolent image - a land where fear, suspicion, and division prevail, a land where only he and his party deserve the people's electoral trust to keep a panoply of hobgoblins at bay.

Immobilized by Islamophobia? Mr. Harper is on the job, protecting our values from the niqab and fighting ISIS for all that is good and holy. Intimidated by domestic terrorism? Bill C-51 is the answer. Horrified at the prospect of rural renegades? Gun ownership for personal protection is your salvation, intones the Dark Lord. The world is a dark place, and only the strong leadership of Dear Leader can save us from perils too prolific to enumerate.

So goes the official narrative, growing increasingly shrill the closer we come to the next election.

Yet Haroon Siddiqui feels our fears are misplaced. We should be much more wary of Harper's war on truth and transparency. Take, for example, his plan to extend the ISIS mission:
In keeping with the Conservative penchant for saying one thing and doing another, the government is positing the war plan as non-partisan — after having brazenly used the war as a partisan wedge issue to whip up fear, paint critics as terrorist sympathizers (even possibly “a national security threat,” as Greenpeace has been told), and raise funds for the ruling party.The threat that Islamic terrorists pose to Canada is itself largely a Harper creation:
... the Canadian Security Intelligence Service says that Muslim terrorists are less of a threat than white supremacists. “Lone wolf” attacks are more likely to come from radical right-wingers than radical Islamists.Harper's fevered campaign attests to the fact that in war (either real or imaginary), truth is the first casualty:
Contrary to facts, Harper links Muslim radicalization with Canadian mosques. And he remains undeterred even though his ban on the niqab during a citizenship ceremony has been tossed out by the Federal Court. He and his acolytes are inventing new rationale on the run: the citizenship oath must be seen to be recited and it should be recited loudly — when there is no such requirement.The Machiavellian motivation behind his campaign is obvious to those whose intellects allow them to resist the puppet-master's manipulations:
The Conservatives are shameless in using the anti-niqab campaign to raise funds. Similarly, no sooner had Harper told rural Canadians to use guns to protect themselves than the party followed with a fundraising appeal.

Jenni Byrne, the party’s national campaign manager, told potential donors that Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau “want to make life harder for lawful hunters, farmers and sport shooters by bringing back the long-gun registry,” while “opposing everything we do to punish criminals who commit crimes with guns.”Siddiqui ends his column with this bracing observation and advice, to which I have nothing to add:
The Harperites want us to be terrified of terrorists, niqabis, criminals, thieves, etc. Time for us, in fact, to be terrified of the Harperite bigots, bullies and ideologues.Recommend this Post

The Harper Regime and the Summer of Protest

Montreal Simon - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 05:14

As you know I was so happy to see thousands of Canadians taking to the streets to let Stephen Harper and his foul Cons exactly what we think of them.

Because I will never understand why we have remained so passive and so quiet for so many years, while Harper and his Cons raped our Canada and its values.

Instead of protesting like they do in other countries.

Not when his behaviour has been so brutish, not when he's now trying to use fear to scare people into voting for him, not when he's trying to turn us into a police state.

And not when he's threatening to torch the country by fanning the flames of intolerance. 
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You Can Trust Him -- Until You Become Inconvenient

Northern Reflections - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 03:21

If you wonder why Canada's international reputation is in tatters, consider a recent incident. Jeffrey Simpson writes:

A Conservative senator of Vietnamese heritage has pushed through a private member’s bill recognizing the flight of Vietnamese people to Canada after the fall of Saigon and the arrival of Vietnam’s Communist government.
The government is rushing the bill through the Commons, to the delight of those who favour it. The good senator has also lobbied, thankfully without success, for Canadians to fly the old red-and-yellow-striped South Vietnamese flag, instead of the yellow-starred banner flown by today’s Vietnamese government – the same government with which Canada is negotiating within the Trans-Pacific partnership and with which Canada generally has sound bilateral relations.
No matter. At a recent Vietnamese cultural event attended by Mr. Harper and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney, the hall was decked out in the old flag. Worse, Mr. Kenney paraded around with a version of it draped across his shoulders, like a middle finger held up to the Vietnamese government.
It’s a wonder Hanoi didn’t withdraw its ambassador from Ottawa. Instead, the Vietnamese embassy sent a protest note to the Department of Foreign Affairs, which, of course, is helpless in the face of political dog-whistling.
Last time around, Harper and Kenney were buying the votes of women who wore niqabs. No longer. They have become inconvenient. And all votes are interchangeable.
Strange, isn't it? Harper's election message is that you can trust him better than any of the other leaders on offer. But that's only half of his pledge. What he doesn't add is "until you become inconvenient." Those who doubt that part of the pledge should ask Garth Turner, Rahim Jaffer, Helena Geurgis, Bill Casey, Nigel Wright  and -- oh yes, Mike Duffy -- if it's true.

Stephen Harper, Strangelove Flanagan, and the Politics of Fear

Montreal Simon - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 01:03

We know what he has become; the monstrous leader of the most evil political cult this country has ever known.

A morally depraved demagogue who is using fear as a weapon against his own people, and using racism to divide them. 

So he can snatch another another bloody majority, and use his anti-terrorist bill to turn this country into a police state.

Even if, as Ralph Surette writes, he destroys our Canada beyond recognition. 
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