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The Horror of Gaza and the Crimes of Stephen Harper

Montreal Simon - 3 hours 7 min ago


The situation in couldn't be bleaker or more horribly symbolic.

The brutal Israeli assault on Gaza continues.

The lights have gone out. 

Efforts to end the violence are going nowhere. 

And Stephen Harper's Middle East policy couldn't be less helpful or more criminal. 
Read more »

Is There Anything Wrong With This Picture?

Politics and its Discontents - 6 hours 17 min ago
The Obama administration’s $225 million request to aid Israel during its war with Hamas may not be enough, warned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday afternoon.


So far, no word about humanitarian aid for the Palestinians, who so far have suffered over 1000 civilian deaths.


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They're Buzzards, But You're Their Carrion.

Politics and its Discontents - 11 hours 1 min ago


We all know that average Americans have been reeling financially since the Great Recession. We know that the post-recession recovery has gone mainly to the richest of the rich and, this time, it's pretty clear there's been no 'trickle down' to the plebes.

A new study by the Russell Sage Foundation in conjunction with Stanford University shows the hit ordinary American families have taken since the recession. In 2003, the median American household wealth stood at $87,992. A decade later that figure had plummeted to just $56,335. In other words, ordinary Americans (the median family) became 36% poorer in the span of just 10-years.

Taking a longer view, from pre-recession 1984, wealth for the 95th percentile has doubled while for the 75th percentile it increased by a third. Median family wealth, however, has dropped 20% from 1984 levels while the 25th percentile has seen their wealth evaporate by a staggering 60%.

Two weeks ago, I wrote: The game today is for one select group of people to employ its considerable advantages to mine the remaining wealth out of everyone else. We've become the last, best natural resource and the system has been rigged to effect the greatest unearned transfer of wealth ever.

Thomas Pilger observed: "'Austerity' is the imposition of extreme capitalism on the poor and the gift of socialism for the rich: an ingenious system under which the majority service the debts of the few."

The rich are getting richer and they're doing it on the backs of everyone else. The poor are indeed getting poorer and the very poor are becoming economically eviscerated. Here's the thing. This isn't going to stop on its own. It's going to continue worsening until someone makes it stop. That's you. Don't expect any help from political parties that have already embraced neoliberalism. They're not in your corner. Clinging to them is like clutching an anchor while you’re trying to tread water.

Mos, The Disaffected LibRecommend this Post

Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - 13 hours 43 min ago
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Dennis Howlett discusses what we lose when corporations are able to evade taxes, and points to some positive signs from the NDP in combating the flow of money offshore:
Federal and provincial governments lose an estimated $7.8 billion in tax revenues each year because of tax havens. The scale of the problem gets larger while the federal government cuts back on health care, food safety, rail inspections, the CBC and more.

True fiscal stewardship would recognize that staunching the flow of money offshore is the better solution. Canadian taxpayers pay the price when the CRA doesn't follow the money.
...

There are some hopeful beginnings. Earlier this year, NDP National Revenue critic Murray Rankin proposed new legislation that would make it easier for government and the courts to crack down on those who are playing the system.

Rankin's bill focuses on proving "economic substance." Corporations must be able to prove a transaction has economic purpose aside from reducing the amount of tax owed. Setting up a storefront office in Cayman Islands or Switzerland and then sending large invoices back to the Canadian head office charging "management" or "licensing fees" would no longer be acceptable. Make no mistake -- there are a lot of Bay Street lawyers getting very rich taking advantage of this existing black hole in Canada's Income Tax Act.

Rankin consulted on this legislation with internationally known tax expert Robert McMechan. The Ottawa-based McMechan is the author of a recent book, Economic Substance and Tax Avoidance. He points out that the U.S, Australia and the U.K. are among the countries that have drawn the line between legitimate tax minimization and unacceptable tax avoidance. - Karen Kamp interviews Deepak Bhargava about some ways to make the case to fight against poverty:
Americans who are struggling do not see themselves in abstract language like “the poor” or “poverty.” This is partly because such language is seen as quite pejorative in America. To be poor is to have failed in pursuit of the American Dream. In too many ways, people who are poor are reviled. The first thing we need to do is stop blaming people and start talking about their real lives.
...
The entry point is connecting with common lived experiences such as not being paid enough to cover the bills, making difficult tradeoffs between basic necessities, inadequate or irregular work hours or not being able to save for retirement or college. Then you have to quickly connect it to shared values. In our research, the most powerful value was family — not only do people identify family as a primary identity but it is the fear or reality of not being able to provide enough for family members that motivates people to get into the debate or take action.
...
Phrases like “struggling to make ends meet,” “living on the brink,” “working for family” describe lived experience and not identity. They also have the added benefit of crossing supposed class lines. At this point in the Great Recession, it’s become the norm to live paycheck to paycheck — whether those paychecks cover a trailer home or a two story colonial in the burbs. Thus, even if people self-identify as “lower middle class,” these tested messages resonate.  - But then, as Joshua Sager notes, even the U.S.' general public is already broadly in favour of progressive policies - meaning that the greatest challenge is to translate that actual policy preference into political outcomes.

- Meanwhile, Stephanie Coontz discusses the new instability facing working families, while Emad Ahdavi highlights the threat to our long-term economic development posed by youth unemployment and underemployment. And Zach McDade offers some suggestions as to new investments which can both create jobs and address glaring social needs.

- Finally, Evgeny Morozov asks whether "algorithmic regulation" might render politics obsolete while effectively handing even more control over citizens' lives to the corporate sector. But I'd think there's a sharp distinction to be drawn between data-based governance and corporate-based governance - and a strong preference the former as distinct from the latter could actually encourage meaningful debate about the goals we ultimately want our governments to pursue.

Indigenous People, Palestine, and History's Judgements Part II. . . .

kirbycairo - 13 hours 48 min ago
The concept of the so-called “manifest destiny” is a complex one. On the one hand it is steeped in fairly explicit racism and a brutal advocacy of the notion that might makes right. It is, one might argue, a complicated perversion of Christian moralism which perverts the very notion of Christianity, much like Catholicism did, into a sense of entitlement and superiority which was blatantly used to exterminate and murder large numbers of people and entire cultures. But despite the inherent racism that ran through American society during its period of conquest (and, of course, still runs through it today), the notion of manifest destiny was not universally accepted.
 Journalist John O’Sullivan first used the phrase Manifest Destiny in 1845 in an article in the New York Morning News. O’Sullivan was arguing that the States had a sort of divine right to conquer the Oregon Territory because of “our [American’s] manifest destiny to overspread and possess the whole of the continent which Providence was given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us.” O’Sullivan’s statement was not only aggressively expansionist but it relied on a nascent racism for its moral justification much like so-called idea of the “white-man’s burden” (a phrase that didn’t exist until another racist, Rudyard Kipling used it some fifty years later in connection with Anlgo-imperialism). The idea that the continent was “given to us for the development of the great experiment of liberty,” implies both that it did not really belong to the people that were there and that somehow our goals were noble (ie., liberatory) and, by extension, those who had had possession of the land lacked our noble, liberating spirit.
However, despite the fact that American society was deeply racist, some recognized the idea of the Manifest Destiny for what it was. Speaker of the House, Robert Winthrop was one of the few that recognized that the idea of Manifest Destiny was a simple justification for a self-interested and chauvinistic policy of expansion. But despite any Whig resistance to Manifest Destiny, the forces of capitalism and imperialism were irresistible to most whites who were either eager to use any justification to expand westward, no matter how specious, or they were straight-up racists who truly believed what they saw as their noble, god-governed cause.
Over the decades of westward expansion, any resistance that the settlers (ie., the conquerors) were faced with was slotted into the context of the racist and imperialist program of the manifest destiny. Thus Sitting Bull and his Lakota warriors at the Little Bighorn River could not be viewed as resistance fighters struggling for their land and the continued existence of their culture, but had to be seen as little more than “savages and killers” who had to be properly dealt with by “noble” men such as George Armstrong Custer. Similarly, Geronimo and his Apache force had to be portrayed as little more than cutthroats by military men such as General George Crook. In other words, rather than being seen as a brutal military expansion, the conquering of the West could be seen, through the eyes of the Manifest Destiny, as a moral and (importantly) a defensive operation.
Fast forward a century or so and the work of men like Custer and Crook is more or less complete. Genocide is, for all intents and purposes, finished and a matter of historical record. But the truths are fairly clear. In the midst of the Manifest Destiny and the Westward expansion, there were no real acts of defense on the part of the Cavalry. Of course individual soldiers shot at individual natives as each attempted to kill the other. However, while some battles might have been defensive, the war was not. When General Custer stood on Calhoun Hill on the ridge above the Little Bighorn River he was, at that point, shooting at Lakota warriors to save his own skin. But it was also an act of imperialism. And if we are to look back now, it is obviously absurd to say that Geronimo and his small band of Apaches were a threat to the existence of the United States. They were a threat, however, to US interests and to the program of the Manifest Destiny.
Obviously, those who are familiar with my blog know where I am going with this. I believe that in historical terms we can see the gradual theft of Palestinian land as genocide much like the conquering of the West. And political Zionism is not just a little like the principle of the Manifest Destiny. When David Ben-Gurion wrote to his son that “we must expel Arabs and take their places,” he was writing about his own notion of manifest destiny. And to call Israeli militarist expansion “defensive” is just as absurd as talking about Custard’s Seventh Cavalry a “defensive force.”
Today there are relatively small groups of Indigenous North Americans attempting to create a new culture for themselves out of the ashes of the past. With the exception of a handful of extremists, Native Americans don’t question the Right of the US or Canada, for example, to ‘exist.’ The argument is obviously absurd. Instead, they fight for justice as well as they can within a context of a sadly successful Manifest destiny. The battle for Israel’s Manifest Destiny goes on apace and each year the State of Israel takes a little bit more land and exterminates a few more Palestinians. When the PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist in 1971, it made little difference, in the same way that it would have made little difference if Sitting Bull had recognized the US’s right to exist in, say, 1876 (the year of the Battle of the Little Bighorn). The settlement of the Montana Territory would have gone on either way. And the characterization of the Native Americans as “savage” continued to be the order of the day for generations to come. Today there are groups of Palestinians who, much like Sitting Bull or Geronimo, continue to fight back against a brutal and much better armed occupying force. To call them religious fanatics is, of course, a deeply misleading political tactic on the part of Israel and its supporters much like it was misleading to call Sitting Bull a heathen, anti-Christian, savage with no respect for life. When someone is taking your land and destroying your culture, their religion is really immaterial. Religion might be used as a convenient rallying cry but what is really at stake is your land and your culture.
General George Armstrong Custer was a graduate of West Point and undoubtedly a brutal and racist man. Crazy Horse, who drove Custer up the bluffs where he was massacred, was, I am sure, a frighteningly brutal man. Custer was a “Christian” and Crazy Horse followed his own Indigenous Religion. But as these men live now only in books and memory, these issues seem strangely irrelevant today to the larger question of the conquering of the West. What we see now is a group of white conquerors pushing ever westward against an ever-dwindling group of Natives who fought back, sometimes savagely, for their land and culture. But in the midst of that historical war, the “spin” was different as the Whites held on to their notion of being noble defenders of the cause of civilization and liberty.
History is repeating itself and the spin-doctors are as busy as ever.

Credibility

Creekside - 15 hours 52 min ago


That was from five years ago - even the number of casualties is close to the same as now.   

This was also from five years ago   - we've gotten acclimatized to the language spin now but it was greeted with incredulity at the time.

Plus ça change ...
.

Gaza - A Suggested Solution

Politics and its Discontents - 15 hours 54 min ago



Further to that piece Friday on how Israel’s radical rightwing shift is brutalizing Israeli society, I stumbled across this:

http://forward.com/articles/202558/israeli-professor-suggests-rape-would-serve-as-ter/

And I found this insightful and well footnoted piece from The Nation on AlterNet debunking Israel’s (and our own) narrative on the Gaza invasion.

http://www.alternet.org/world/five-israeli-talking-points-gaza-debunked?akid=12060.103986._jtkpX&rd=1&src=newsletter1013185&t=5

When an Israeli, of all people, can openly call for a “final solution” to the Palestinian problem, well...

Netanyahu calls upon Palestinian civilians to “leave Gaza.” How exactly? And go where?

I have a solution to this unbearable mess. This would be a perfect opportunity for NATO to do something useful for a change instead of babysitting an unresolved civil war in Afghanistan or haplessly bombing Libya while al Qaeda snuck in the back door to spread through North Africa. What I have in mind is a 40-year peacekeeping mission along the lines of what we did successfully in Cyprus.

NATO forces re-establish the pre-67 borders between Israel and the Palestinians. Yes, that means the Israelis leaving the illegal settlements on the West Bank. Jerusalem is reconstituted as an “open city.” A buffer strip, extending at least five miles into the Palestinian and the Israeli side of the border is occupied by NATO personnel armed to the teeth and with the latest surveillance technology.

The Palestinians would be assisted to re-establish a functioning government and economy in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian coastline would be lifted. NATO naval forces would patrol Gaza’s coastal waters. NATO would also be responsible for securing the airspace over Palestinian territories and reopening air transport corridors into the West Bank and Gaza.

The idea would be to give the Palestinians their own homeland and statehood. Give them a viable, secure and peaceful place to again live and work freely, relieved of the yoke of generations of occupation. Allow them to rebuild their homes, their farms and their cities. Let them discover a way other than armed resistance.

Why 40 years? That’s roughly two-generations which I figure would be the minimum needed to breed the worst of the mutual hatred out of the Palestinians and Israelis. It would also allow both peoples and both governments to very gradually establish something approximating normal relations.

I’m convinced that extremism and violence are not traits inherent to any people and that, given the chance, we all would choose security, stability and peace, not only for ourselves but especially for our children.

Mos, The Disaffected Lib

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Telling It Like It Is……

Left Over - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 18:14
When I served, the Israeli military was the most moral in the world. No more

Once there was widespread Israeli outrage over the bombing of homes in Gaza. Now there is just indifference

  • I have been waiting along time to read something like this..and of course, comments were closed by the time I found it..still, absolutely worth reading.
  • Here is a woman who could, with a certain moral force,  speak the opposite of what we read here, and  be supported in that stance.
  • This  opinion, this blog, will surely cost her, but she  obviously felt that she had to speak..and I am so grateful for her  words.  Anyone reading this who can still justify what is happening, the  genocide  that Israel is practicing on civilians, on children,  in Palestine must be insane..or as, she says of the Israeli population, indifferent.
  • All my Jewish relatives and acquaintances are always horrified when I equate  the situation with Nazi Germany, with the apartheid  decades in South Africa…Could they read these words and still believe the  lies that Israel, along with the right wing governments who support  that country(Canada and The US, talking to you) keep  telling us via the media?

Stephen Harper and the Baby Killers

Montreal Simon - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 16:56


He is a man who lost his moral compass a long time ago, if he ever had one.

He is a liar, a bully, a cheat, a grubby little dictator.

But at least he won't be able to pose as Mother Harper anymore. As he was doing just two months ago when he hosted this summit. 

Not when he's ordered his stooges at Revenue Canada to go after organizations like Oxfam...



And of course, not when he is cheering on Benjamin Netanyahu and his ghastly baby killers. 
Read more »

Massaging The Message: How A Republican Has Helped Israel Justify Its Invasion Of Gaza

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 12:52


The Independent reports on how an American Republican pollster and political strategist has helped Israel sell its recent invasion of Gaza, drawing upon a

playbook [that] is a professional, well-researched and confidential study on how to influence the media and public opinion in America and Europe. Written by the expert Republican pollster and political strategist Dr Frank Luntz, the study was commissioned five years ago by a group called The Israel Project, with offices in the US and Israel, for use by those "who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel".

The strategy, which relies heavily upon an understanding of psychology, advises tailoring one's message according to one's audience. Among the gems is this:

For example, the study says that "Americans agree that Israel 'has a right to defensible borders'. But it does you no good to define exactly what those borders should be. Avoid talking about borders in terms of pre- or post-1967, because it only serves to remind Americans of Israel's military history. Particularly on the left this does you harm.

For the pesky journalist who asks uncomfortable questions, such as those involving the right of return for Palestinian refugees who were expelled or fled in 1948 and in the following years, and who are not allowed to go back to their homes, the person being question should respond this way:

They should call it a "demand", on the grounds that Americans don't like people who make demands. "Then say 'Palestinians aren't content with their own state. Now they're demanding territory inside Israel'."

An in situations where widespread destruction and loss of life results, as in the current situation:

Dr Luntz says that Israeli spokesmen or political leaders must never, ever justify "the deliberate slaughter of innocent women and children" and they must aggressively challenge those who accuse Israel of such a crime. Israeli spokesmen struggled to be true to this prescription when 16 Palestinians were killed in a UN shelter in Gaza last Thursday.

To show empathy, Luntz advises this "effective Israeli sound bite":

"I particularly want to reach out to Palestinian mothers who have lost their children. No parent should have to bury their child."

As the article suggests, the 112-page booklet should be must-reading for all journalists and, I would think, anyone else interested in truth over propaganda and public relations.Recommend this Post

Riiight. Who's more likely to shoot a doctor?

Dammit Janet - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 08:22
"Prolife" has no shame or sense of irony.

This is what was posted on the front page of their website.


Gun held to the head of a Canadian physician?

This is why.

So "prolife" supports choice when it goes against the oath that doctors swear to uphold, AND limits women's choices.

A reminder that the "prolife" movement has a violent history of executing doctors and staff at abortion clinics.


Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 07:13
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Danyaal Raza and Edward Xie write that a well-designed city environment can make all the difference in enabling individuals to live healthy lives:
What if city council took our health into account when designing neighbourhoods? An idea gaining favour in major cities around the world is “complete streets,” a city-planning concept that promotes development of streets usable by all citizens, whether they are pedestrians, cyclists, drivers or transit users. As things stand now, getting to schools, parks and stores without a car is only a dream for residents without the lush tree cover, dense transit networks and regularly spaced traffic crossings of downtown.

The science is clear: people are more likely to walk to a store if it can be reached within five to 10 minutes, while those who spent more time travelling by car had a greater likelihood of being obese. All it takes, according to a new international study, is an extra 2,000 steps a day — about 20 minutes of walking — to reduce heart attacks and strokes by 8 per cent in people at risk for diabetes. It should be no surprise, then, that building walkable neighbourhoods can discourage sprawl and prevent diabetes and its complications.
...
Some innovative solutions already exist; in fact, Toronto has been a Canadian leader by creating the Toronto Food Policy Council in 1990 and adopting the bold Toronto Food Charter in 2001. The city already supports the FoodShare organization to bring grocery stands, school meals and inexpensive fresh food via mobile markets to residents who need them.

Still more can be done. A prosperous city is nourished by healthy, productive citizens. We need visionary city planning to remedy these problems with rational zoning, support for community initiatives and a city council that takes health seriously. - Meanwhile, Lynn Stuart Paramore argues that a four-day work week can be a plus for both employee well-being and employer outcomes.

- Lydia DePillis discusses how inequality can snowball, as exorbitant wealth drives up the price (and expected returns) from a limited set of positional goods. And Joyce Nelson looks at credit rating agencies as an example of big money seeking to perpetuate itself by imposing policies on everybody else.

- Will Horter wonders whether the Cons' determination to push pipelines and tankers will drive B.C. voters to seek new alternatives.

- Finally, Gerry Caplan sees a basic lack of decency as one of the defining features of the Cons. Which is why we shouldn't be surprised that Therese Casgrain - having fought for such causes as feminism, voting rights and social democracy - is being furiously erased from Canadian history in favour of further Harper hagiography.

The Climate Change Debate Lives On

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 05:30


The science on the theory of climate change is not settled. There is a powerful, scientific consensus that anthropogenic or man-made climate change is real, here now and worsening. There is a powerful, scientific consensus that man-made climate change is already triggering natural feedback mechanisms that eventually can become "tipping points" beyond which we will have runaway global warming. Runaway as in all the king's horses and all the king's men won't be able to stop it.

For all of that, the science isn't settled. That much is obvious from the tsunami of research studies that keep pouring in from a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines such as geology, glaciology, hydrology, oceanography, atmospherics, physics and chemistry, biology and marine biology, epidemiology, botany, meteorology, climatology and others. The science isn't settled because we're constantly uncovering new information, new pieces of a puzzle that give us a clearer picture of what we're up against. It may not be good news and it usually isn't but it's all important information that we ignore at our increasing peril.

Now, having said that, what about this climate change "debate"? It does exist but the important point is not that it exists but where it exists. It lingers on amidst the far right in magazines such as Forbes, in papers such as the Washington Post and Times, on TV networks like FOX and on open-mouth radio shows that appeal to the slack jawed, tea party crowd such as Limbaugh. It exists within any media outlet owned by Aussie news mogul, reptilian Rupert Murdoch.

What they're debating, however, isn't the reality of anthropogenic global warming. They can read the science as well as anyone or at least they can pay people to give them that information. What they're debating is the question of how much longer they can get away with sowing doubt and outright denialism before their pants burst into flame and their audience walks.

And then there's the debate among the political crowd, the sort-termer "Friends of Rupert Society." That would be people like Stephen Harper, Tony Abbott and David Cameron, most of the Republican caucus and an unseemly segment of the Democrats too, and camp followers such as Sarah Palin. Yeah, that's right. Sarah Palin and Steve Harper are on the same page. These types debate how much longer they can fudge and obscure and block any meaningful action.

Maybe the worst, though, are the pols who say they accept the reality of global warming but continue to act as though the debate was real and the science wasn't settled. Here I'm talking about the closet neoliberals who lead our opposition parties - Trudeau and Mulcair. Just like Harper, they're all for ramping up bitumen production and export. They're merely quibbling about transportation options which creates the false impression that there are any good options. They'll cajole you out of your vote on the promise that they'll be "less worse" than Harper and they'll dress up that claim with a tweaked policy here and there and then, if they convince enough of you to let them in, it'll be business pretty much as usual.

How can you tell they're closet neoliberals? Easy. Just like anyone else in a closet, unwilling to reveal themselves for who they are, they tread very lightly. They avoid getting drawn into certain conversations and they're adept at distraction. They bob and weave away from discussions that link things like the highest carbon oil on the planet and climate change tipping points. Much as Harper is vulnerable on it, they won't attack him for establishing Canada as a global pariah on climate change lest they find themselves hoisted on the petard of their own hypocrisy.

Look at it this way. Their foreign policy is neoliberal. Their policy on Israel is neoliberal. Their energy policy is neoliberal. Their economic policy is neoliberal. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck and lays duck eggs - it's a f__king duck! Makes no difference if it's labeled Liberal or New Democrat. Names simply don't mean much any more. They're false flags.

And now understand this. Fighting climate change is progressivism at its very best. Fighting inequality lies at the heart of progressivism. Leaving a better world for our grandkids is progressivism. Neoliberalism, however, is antithetical to progressivism. Neoliberalism is the grease on which corporatism quietly slides into our lives. Neoliberalism, no matter what sort of happy face you slap on it, eventually smothers progressivism.

It could be fairly argued that the 2015 general election will actually be a referendum on what form of neoliberalism we prefer. Some like it hot, hard and spicy. Most of us just hold our noses and swallow, hoping we don't gag. As for me, I'll be voting progressive and in this fetid milieu that can mean only one party, Green.


MoS, the Disaffected Lib








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zucchini abundance recipe of the day: penne with zucchini and fresh herbs

we move to canada - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 05:00
This is probably the easiest way to use zucchini from your garden, and if you're growing herbs, it's an excuse to use those, too. It's also one of those dishes that takes just about anything you like in pasta. I'm keeping it very simple, so as not to drown out the zucchini.
I use brown rice pasta. I originally tried it when we thought one of us was celiac, then it became habit. It's delicious and very healthy, but it does need the extra step of rinsing the cooked pasta. If you don't do that, the pasta will all stick together in a one big gluey mess... something I discovered painfully on my own. 
Also, if you use brown rice pasta, it's easier to use a "cut" pasta, like penne, rotini, or ditalini. Long pasta like spaghetti or linguini is more difficult to rinse properly. 
Pasta with Zucchini and Fresh Herbs
1/2 package of penne pasta 1 large zucchinia variety of fresh herbs, washed and shredded (I used basil, thyme, and cilantro)2 cloves of garlic, mincedParmesan or Romano cheese, grated or shaved (Use good cheese! It makes a difference.)salt & fresh black pepper to tasteolive oil
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Cook pasta to just under desired doneness. When it's still a bit harder than you want it, remove the pasta from the heat and pour into colander. If you're using rice pasta, rinse it well with cold water, stirring the pasta with a wooden spoon as you rinse. Drain well.
While the water is heating and the pasta is cooking, slice the zucchini lengthwise, then slice each half lengthwise again, so you have four spears. Then slice each spear, so you have triangles. 
Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Add garlic and let it cook a bit. Add zucchini and herbs. Cook for a minute or two.
Add pasta to skillet, add salt and pepper as desired, and continue cooking until the pasta and zucchini are both at desired doneness, tender but not mushy.
Spoon into pasta bowls and top with grated cheese. 
One large zucchini nicely covered half a bag of pasta, for dinner for two people. 





Stephen Harper and the Never Ending War on Women

Montreal Simon - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 18:53


I always knew Stephen Harper was going to be a terrible Prime Minister, when somebody who knew him well told me he thought he owned the truth.

But I only realized how dangerous he was when the very first thing he did when he was elected was declare war on women.

By ordering his minions to erase the words "women's equality" from every document on the Status of Women.

And now he's done it again.
Read more »

It Wasn't Hamas - And Israel Knew That From the Get-Go.

Politics and its Discontents - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 16:31


We all know that Israel used the kidnapping/murder of three Israeli teens, that it blamed squarely on Hamas, to whip up support for its brutal invasion of Gaza. It's been claimed that Israeli intelligence knew the teens had been killed shortly after they were kidnapped but withheld the information to stoke anti-Hamas sentiment.

Now, with over 1,000 Palestinians dead at Israeli hands, word is out that Israel knew Hamas had nothing to do with those three murders. An Israeli police spokesman is said to have confirmed to BBC reporter, Jon Donnison, that the killings were not the work of Hamas but a "lone cell."

This suggests that the west, especially our own Harper and Baird, were duped by Netanyahu. No need going at length into what this does to Justin's praise of Israel for its "commitment to peace."

MoS, the Disaffected LibRecommend this Post

things i heard at the library: an occasional series: #15! one that makes me very happy!

we move to canada - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 13:00
The conversation was simple enough.

Teenage girl: "Where is the nonfiction?"

Me: "Nonfiction is upstairs, but it's organized according to subject. There should be some nonfiction books on the Bingo display."

Teen: "I think they're all gone."

Me: "OK, we'll find you something. What would you like to read about?"

Teen: "So far I've read one nonfiction book. It was about a man who left the war in Iraq. It was called The Deserter's Tale. I loved it."

!!!!!!!!!!!

Why did this make me so unreasonably happy?

1. War resisters! Teens reading about moral choices! Teens reading about conscientious objection to war! I always include Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale in my youth nonfiction displays. But I've never gotten feedback on it before! And she didn't just read it, she loved it!

2. One of my missions at the library is to offer nonfiction to teen readers. There is no special youth nonfiction section, and I'm trying to informally create one. This is a sign that it's working!

3. No one likes to re-fill the nonfiction on the Summer Reading Bingo display because it means going upstairs and hunting for books. It's not that library staff is lazy; it's that we're all so pressed for time, and a trip to a different floor to find books feels too burdensome for most people (given most staff don't have a strong motivation to get teens reading nonfiction). So I refill the nonfiction on the Bingo display pretty much by myself. And it was all gone from the display! It was only five or six books, but they were all gone! All! Gone!

4. And a teen asked for more!

If you're curious about Summer Reading Bingo: teens read books in different categories, write short (1-2 sentence) reviews, and win prizes - which are usually donated books or advanced reading copies from publishers. It's a great way to keep teens reading all summer. You can see it here.





But Then Again ...

Politics and its Discontents - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 11:31
S.E Cupp does not agree with the New York Times recommendation that the federal ban on marijuana be ended:

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Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 10:12
Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Pierre Beaulne discusses the inequality-related problems and solutions brought into the spotlight by Thomas Piketty, and notes that they can't simply be swept under the rug:
When all is said and done, the capitalist globalization has boosted economic growth for a certain time, but has by the same token greatly increased income inequalities and exacerbated wealth concentration. Tax breaks for the highest incomes and social spending cuts have intensified the trend. In Canada, for instance, the top marginal income tax rate at the federal level has gone down from 43% in 1981 to 29% in 2010, leaving more room for high-income individuals to accumulate wealth. Worldwide, the situation is so alarming that the World Economic Forum, which can certainly not be suspected of entertaining pinko tendencies, has recognized severe income inequalities to be the main social risk in its 2011 annual report Global Risks.

Thomas Piketty’s theories are obviously subject to debate, but the conclusions which he draws throughout his work and that of his associates don’t come out of left field. On the contrary, they support and enrich our understanding of numerous previous observations. His book’s success might be due to the fact that people are looking for explanations: they are unable to reconcile news of economic performance with their own financial situation, which has never before involved so much debt. For the common good, the trends identified must lead to changes in regulation and in the direction taken by governments in their economic and tax policies. Denial is not a sustainable option.- Which isn't to say some governments won't prefer denial as a temporary option on all kinds of issues. And in a prime example, the CP reports on the Cons' refusal to include fracking chemicals on a list of pollutants (since that might serve as the basis to measure and regulate their effect on the environment).

- Marc Spooner writes that it's entirely legitimate to maintain pride in one's home while recognizing that there's room to improve - and highlights how greater focus on eliminating all kinds of inequalities would create a better Regina. And Susan Delacourt notes that we should expect politicians too to tell us the truth, rather than simply saying what's most politically convenient at a particular moment:
A couple of months ago, I spent an afternoon walking through Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood with NDP candidate Joe Cressy and municipal councillor Mike Layton, campaigning in the Trinity-Spadina byelection.

Along the way, Layton was encountering shop owners or other citizens venting their concerns and complaints about local affairs. I was pleasantly surprised to see that he didn’t just tell them they were right — he pushed back, politely and respectfully, when he thought their views or facts were off-base.

It was a demonstration of the difference between simple, “retail politics” and authentic political dialogue.

Sometimes the customers — let’s call them citizens — aren’t always right. Sometimes, when they’re really wrong, the best reply is a little less oxygen or a little more sunlight. - Meanwhile, one of Stephen Harper's long-departed spinmeisters makes it absolutely clear that the Cons aren't interested in anything of the sort - preferring being crooked as part of their jobs to dealing honestly with the public:
But the worst part of my job was having to promote and defend policies I didn’t agree with personally. When that happened, you had to do your job and toe the party line.

Don’t shed a tear, because it didn’t happen much, at least not on issues that were core to the agenda, but consider yourself fortunate if you never have to look at a camera and argue with all of your heart for something you don’t believe in. Especially when, as happens in politics, you are standing on some thin intellectual ice.

Oh, how journalists loved it when they had you in that position. “Andrew,” they’d say, “surely you don’t believe that.”

Maybe not, but it didn’t matter what I believed. I wasn’t elected. The government had an agenda and it was my job to talk about it.
...
Parties — and leaders — are imperfect. And so that means as a spokesperson you’ll have to go out there and occasionally fire crooked arrows, sometimes at targets you don’t believe in or care about. - Finally, Rachel Malena-Chan argues that rather than forcing families to allocate a single leave period between two parents, a separate paid leave should be available to a secondary parent.

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