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Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - il y a 16 min 3 sec
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Doug Saunders observes that Syriza's strong election victory may signal a sea change as to whether austerity is inevitable, while Adnan Al-Daini notes that the financial sector can no longer take for granted that its profits will be placed above the interests of actual people. Which means that Joe Oliver may get even more lonely lecturing Canada's provinces that the economic beatings will continue until morale improves.

- Speaking of whom, Canadians for Tax Fairness highlights how Oliver has long known that the Cons' income splitting plans represent nothing more than a giveaway to the high-income families who need it the least. And Barret Weber writes that it's long past time for Alberta to fund its public services through a progressive tax system, rather than regressive taxes and unstable resource royalties.

- David Cay Johnston highlights how the U.S. is still seeing growing profits and declining personal incomes. And Cole Moreton likewise notes that the UK's elections should see plenty of discussion about a growing wealth gap and continuing poverty. 

- David Suzuki writes that free trade agreements are increasingly resulting in Canada trading away any ability to protect its environment. And Glenn Kessley destroys the myth that free trade agreements bear any relationship to jobs even under the faith-based theory intended to promote them.

- Finally, Nancy MacDonald writes about the festering prejudice against First Nations in Winnipeg in particular. But Max FineDay is right to point out that Canada's shameful legacy of racism continues to affect systemic relationships far beyond the boundaries of any one city:
Being so deeply immersed in both Native and non-Native communities I knew from a young age that these two worlds did not fit together. I remember some of my friends telling me that their parents didn’t want me over at their home for fear I might come back and rob it later. This prejudice was normal growing up nêhiyaw in Saskatoon. I don’t bring these issues up because they defined my childhood – they didn’t – and they certainly don’t define me today. But these are the types of stories that you will hear from Native people, if you take the time to listen.

If you asked a Native person, whether in Vancouver, Saskatoon, Caledonia, or Halifax, if there is a tension between Native and Canadian communities, few would hesitate to say yes. Our story, the story of Canada, is one of both mistreatment and indifference. That mistreatment and indifference have lead to Native peoples being on the negative side of almost every statistical category. No one relishes the fact that there’s still racism in our communities, but ignoring it as we like to do isn’t making anything better.

Maclean’s is right that Winnipeg has a race problem, but wrong to deflect the focus from the underlying, systemic issues that are almost always the cause of bad outcomes for Native peoples everywhere in Canada. The article reports that much of the violence we hear about is perpetrated by Native people against other Natives without further analysis into the systemic inequalities that affect Native peoples in every part of society. That’s what Canadians need to hear.

More than individual acts of prejudice or of violence, they need to hear about the systemic inequalities that they themselves never see. Individual acts of racism, violence, and intolerance are powerful, yes, but systemic racism is what maintains Canada’s ongoing settler colonialism (which depends on dispossessing Native people of their land and sovereignty).

In an article dealing almost exclusively with racism directed toward Native people, the only mention of colonialism was a quote from the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations that put colonialism in the past tense. There was only one sentence about treaties. Maclean’s understands that racism is taking place, and that it is destructive, but it has very little understanding of why.

Remembering The Harper Record

Politics and its Discontents - il y a 1 heure 27 min
If the progressive community is to have any hope of ridding the country of the Harper scourge next election, it must be relentless in reminding as many people as possible of his sorry record.

While Harper is now desperately rebranding himself from the now-failed Oil Czar to Strong Leader Standing Against ISIS (even if he has to command from the closet) remembrances of things past are crucial, as in the following Rick Mercer rant on the master economist's ineptitude:

Recommend this Post

Stephen Harper and the Revolt of the Sheep Media

Montreal Simon - il y a 3 heures 24 min

Well as we know Stephen Harper chose to deliver his deranged speech on terrorism the other day, at a campaign-style rally in Toronto rather than in Parliament.

But who knew that while Big Brother Harper ranted and raved about the need for new terror laws, and the need to read our e-mails, back in Ottawa the Parliamentary media were also being terrorized?

Locked up, deprived of information, caught up in an  Orwellian nightmare. 
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Herr Harper Is At It Again, But The Media Revolt

Politics and its Discontents - il y a 3 heures 29 min

H/t Kat McNamara

The Harper-led assault on our rights as Canadians continues, this time under the guise of Bill C-51, the new Anti-Terrorism Act. And finally, the media showed some resistance.
Reporters in Ottawa became surly quickly Friday when it was discovered the government lock-up they attended for a briefing on proposed anti-terror legislation was light on information and heavy on restrictions.

The federal government was tabling Bill C-51, Canada's new ''Anti-Terrorism Act'' meant to bolster authorities' powers to prevent and dismantle terrorist activity.Forced to agree to an embargo on information until a set time, the reporters were dismayed to find that they were not given the actual bill to peruse.
President of the Parliamentary Press Gallery Laura Payton took up the cause and at the back of the room argued with government staffers, questioning the point of having reporters sign an undertaking when they weren't even being given sensitive information, just backgrounders. The backgrounders detailed little information the reporters didn't already suspect would be in the new legislation.As discontent grew, an Orwellian intimidation tactic was launched:
Public Safety Canada and Department of Justice employees around the room began nervous attempts to calm reporters.

''Are you filming us?'' a CBC reporter asked in disbelief to a staffer who appeared to be using a phone to record the discontent. The undertaking signed by media specifically said there was to be no filming in the room.When things calmed down, questions were asked based on information given on background:
The bulk of reporters' questions were on how the bill makes it an indictable offense to knowingly advocate or promote terrorism offences ''in general,'' which could mean people who post propaganda on social media are subject to arrest.

During the question-and-answer period, reporters asked how the government would decide who is supporting terrorism. Stephen Maher from Postmedia asked if someone would be breaking the law if they posted material encouraging attacks by Ukrainian militants on Russian targets in Crimea.

The row of bureaucrats at the front of the room said they wouldn't speculate on hypothetical situations. Many answers seemed scripted to the point where one reporter asked if they were just reading parts of the backgrounder as their answers. The staffer replied that they weren't.And so the charade continued.

And will continue, of course, until the Canadian electorate grows a backbone and gets rid of the dictator and his entire apparatus.Recommend this Post


we move to canada - il y a 4 heures 7 min
It's been a very long time since I've posted a pupdate.

The short version: Tala is doing great!

You may recall that some years back, shortly after we adopted Diego, our Tala was diagnosed with cauda equina syndrome. Thus began a long, slow process of rest, rehabilitation, and experiments with medication. Our little girl's wild days of being on the move every waking hour were over. But we were determined to do everything we could to transition her into a more calm, but still active, life.

We have been so fortunate that our efforts have paid off. Tala can be off-leash at the dog park again - something we couldn't do for more than a year. She can walk up to 30 or 40 minutes on the leash, a few times a week. She can come upstairs to sleep every night, which was strictly prohibited for years. And we've been able to significantly reduce her medication.

When she comes upstairs, Tala usually doesn't sleep in our bedroom. A friend gave us this extra-big, extra-cushy dog bed, after her wonderful elderly dog left this world. Tala has claimed it as her throne.

When I think of how devastating it was to learn that Tala had a chronic, degenerative condition - one that could paralyze or kill her - and I see her so happy and content now, I am so grateful. I honestly never thought she'd come back this far.

In the process, Tala has become incredibly sweet! When she was younger, Tala was too busy, too active, to pay much attention to her humans. She liked to be pet and would submit to a hug once in a while, but mostly she was on the move, doing that famous Husky trot, keeping the yard safe from squirrels, bullying small dogs at the dog park, goading Diego into play. In her more sedate middle age, she's become so much more affectionate and attached to us. We love it.

She's also very attached to her toys! Anytime she's lying down, relaxing, she likes to have a toy with beside her. Her favourite is Mr. Squishy Bone. (Tala has bad teeth. After she had some serious dental damage, we were forced to switch from her beloved Nylabones to Kongs.) Mr. Squishy Bone exists in triplicate so there's always one around when she needs it.

Tala likes to chew Squishy, but often she just likes to hold it or have it close.

Outside, she likes to have an Orbee around at all times.

Of course, this is her favourite toy.

We have never had two dogs as attached to each other as this pair. They play constantly. (These videos are old, but nothing has changed - except the size of our backyard.)

And they do this at least once daily, often three or four times a day. (Another old video. The window has changed but the song remains the same.)

And how is Diego, you ask? He is the same as always: big, goofy, drooly, happy, pushy, annoying, not too bright, incredibly loving, sweet as can be.

Country Over Party

Northern Reflections - il y a 6 heures 35 min

Gerry Caplan writes that the Liberals and the New Democrats are going to have to do what is unthinkable -- work together. It's possible that either party might win a majority. But, if that doesn't happen:

Some kind of long-term rapprochement between the NDP and Liberals must be pursued. Don’t think, after a lifetime of deep attachment to the NDP, it doesn’t kill me to write these words. But anything else is a recipe for continued Conservative rule, a fate that Canadian progressives must not inflict on our country in the name of party loyalty. If we take seriously the assertion that the Conservatives have already undermined the values that we and most Canadians hold dear, and that another term will entrench their work and make it irreversible, we have no choice but to place Canada before party.
At the moment, he acknowledges that either party will not even consider his proposal:

I understand fully that this proposal has no chance of buy-in from either party before election day 2015. Indeed, both Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau have explicitly repudiated the idea of working together, and were I in their shoes right now I’d do the same. Both need to insist that it alone can defeat the Harperites and that all anti-Conservatives must unite behind one party. If this strategic voting strategy works (most likely for the Liberals), future co-operation is off the table. But if it doesn’t, members of both Opposition parties will have no ethical or political choice but to seek some form of collaboration. The alternative – leaving the country by default to the Conservative Party – is simply unthinkable.

Harper's recent switch from the economy to security -- and what he is willing to do in the name of national security -- underscores just how serious the situation is. And, because Harper believes in incrementalism, a lot of Canadians haven't acknowledged what the prime minister has done to the country.

But Harper knows what's he's about -- just as Adolph Hitler knew what he was about. And surely Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Mulcair know what he's about. For that reason, each man must , in the end, choose country over party.

Joe Oliver, Stephen Harper, and the Baloney Cons

Montreal Simon - il y a 6 heures 56 min

As you probably know, I've got a sinking feeling that Oily Joe Oliver is not going to save us from our present economic predicament.

Not when he helped create the oily apocalypse. Not when he doesn't know what he's doing. 

And is not only a bumbling buffoon, but also a ghastly hypocrite. 
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On destructive preconditions

accidentaldeliberations - sam, 01/31/2015 - 10:00
Shorter Elizabeth Nickson:
I'll consider accepting the need for policies to preserve the environment just as soon as we've seen exactly how much gets destroyed in their absence. (h/t to PressProgress.)

Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - sam, 01/31/2015 - 09:05
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- James Baxter discusses why there's no reason to buy into the Harper Cons' fearmongering in the first place:
Let’s accept a basic truth: There’s only so much money we’re willing to ‘invest’ in having the government to protect us from bad things and, when you get out of bed in the morning, terrorism is very, very far from the top of the list of dangers you’re likely to face.

The budget for the Department of Public Security and Emergency Preparedness is more than $6 billion and growing by leaps and bounds. Add to that the Department of National Defence, which handles our ‘Five Eyes’ clandestine eavesdropping, and the Department of Justice’s secret courts and prosecuting services and you realize the bill for countering terrorism is at least in the realm of $8 to $10 billion per year. And that doesn’t take into account the less obvious costs that come from missed opportunities and the reduced creativity that inevitably comes with constant surveillance.
(B)efore we allow ourselves to be intimidated by our own politicians into believing we have to be terrified — that we have to give up more of our rights and money to protect us from this new “threat” — why don’t we ask the government to do something more about those old, less politically-sexy scary things … like pollution, medical malpractice, drunk drivers, legal semi-automatics in the hands of idiots, and, yes, bed sores (imagine the lives that would be saved by just a few more nurses and orderlies) … you know the stupid preventable stuff that really kills people all too frequently.

FDR famously said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Let’s not lose ourselves, and our country, to politically-motivated hysteria.- But for those who think there's still some room to give the Cons the benefit of any doubt as to whether there's a meaningful threat to be addressed, Anna Mehler Paperny points out that entirely common actions can be classified as "terrorist" activity under the Cons' alarmist definitions, while Steven Chase and Daniel Leblanc point out that Stephen Harper himself is criticizing opposition parties for caring in the slightest about civil liberties. Jeremy Nuttall describes how the Cons went out of their way to punish the media for trying to ask important questions about their new bill. Stephen Maher discusses the complete lack of oversight for bodies who would be granted the authority to lock citizens up without so much as charging them. And Heather Mallick places the blather about terrorism in the context of Harper's violent insecurity.

- CBC reports on the mass surveillance which is already happening even in the absence of expanded powers for secretive spy agencies.

- Meanwhile, in case there's any question just how careful the Cons are when throwing accusations around, Victor Malarek reports on a $10 million payout to a businessman wrongfully smeared as having exported controlled goods to China. Though to be fair, that means the "lock-'em-up" approach under C-51 might save money in the short term by making sure the innocent are bound and gagged indefinitely rather than being able to plead their case.

 - Finally, Bob Hepburn discusses how the Harper Cons have undermined democracy at nearly every turn since forming government.

Yet another rant about texting…

Trashy's World - sam, 01/31/2015 - 07:31
… and driving. So here I was last week, coming home from work along my usual route. I stopped at the Heron/Riverside lights and looked around me at the other vehicles. I really wasn’t to surprised to see that every one of the drivers were “heads-down”, furiously typing away or reading whatever was on their […]

Canada's Elmer Gantry

Northern Reflections - sam, 01/31/2015 - 07:09


There was a time in this country when those charged with enforcing the law broke it in the name of national security. Tom Walkom  reminds his readers why CSIS was created:

In 1984, CSIS was created specifically to get Canadian spooks out of the dirty-tricks business.
Before that time, security had been the purview of the RCMP which, as a 1981 royal commission found, routinely broke the law in its war against those it deemed dangerous radicals.In one famous incident, the Mounties burned down a barn in order to prevent a planned meeting of Quebec separatists. In another, they circulated bogus medical information about a member of a small Toronto leftist group that they were trying to discredit.

The royal commission recommended that Canada’s spies stop trying to disrupt the activities of alleged subversives and concentrate instead on gathering and analyzing intelligence.

But Stephen Harper -- who looks at the world through a rear view mirror -- wants to return to those days of yesteryear. His new anti terror legislation, Bill  C51:

explicitly gives CSIS the right to contravene both the law and the Constitution’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The only requirement faced by the agency is that it obtain judicial warrants before acting — a condition that shouldn’t be too onerous.

The government would criminalize the communication of statements that promote and advocate terrorism. This section seems to be aimed primarily at the Internet and, subject to a judge’s warrant, would allow police to seize printed or electronic material that they believe to be terrorist propaganda.

The definition of propaganda in the bill includes any writing or “sign” that promotes terrorism.

The question we should be asking ourselves is whether or not this legislation is needed:

But on first reading, it’s hard to see the point of Bill C-51. In Canada, it’s already a crime to plan or support terrorist activity. The RCMP already uses legal methods to disrupt planned terror attacks. That’s what it did with the Toronto 18. 
Or is this all about getting re-elected? The economy shrunk by .02 percent in November and the Loonie is below 80 cents. The man who planned to be re-elected on his economic record needs something else to sing about. Before long, instead of reedy versions of old Beetles songs, he'll be leading lusty choruses of "Onward Christian Soldiers."

He's become Canada's Elmer Gantry -- who, at the opportune moment, gave up selling vacuum cleaners and started peddling Bibles.

Herr Harper, Who Is Your Goebbels?

Politics and its Discontents - sam, 01/31/2015 - 05:42
Having returned from our Cuban sojourn last evening, I have not yet had time to get caught up on the Canadian political scene, but this item by Heather Mallick deconstructing one of Herr Harper's recent 24/Seven productions caught my eye.

Its martial music, military imagery and depiction of Dear leader's steady hand on the tiller of state, standing strong against those who "hate our freedoms," left me with only one question: Are Herr Goebbels' descendants now gainfully employed by Prop Can?

P.S. I noticed that the closed captions were turned on when playing the video. I guess that is so the true believers don't miss even one word. If you are not thus enamored of the prime minister, you might want to turn them off.Recommend this Post

The Terror Laws and the Madness of Stephen Harper

Montreal Simon - sam, 01/31/2015 - 03:12

When I saw Stephen Harper delivering his deranged speech on terrorism at a campaign-style event in a Toronto suburb yesterday, at first I almost felt sorry for him.

Because that's not the face of a well man. That's the face of desperate leader cracking up before our eyes. 

But my sympathy didn't last long. Because this is INSANITY.
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Pretty much every time I hear Canadian Prime Minister Stephen...

The Ranting Canadian - sam, 01/31/2015 - 00:54

Pretty much every time I hear Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper or one of his Conservative minions speak, I think of this song: “Propaganda” by the defunct punk/Oi! band Blitz. The same goes for when I hear Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne or one of her provincial Liberal hacks spew BS talking points. Even though the crooked politicians and partisan bureaucrats are obviously lying and spinning the facts, I realize that a large percentage of the population takes what they say at face value. It is scary and demoralizing to contemplate.

Here’s my suggestion for an updated version of one of the verses, reworded for the current dubious and inconsistent “War on Terror”©.

I can`t see ISIS terrorists underneath my bed
But the fascists (Conservatives) in the media are messing up my head
You tell me I`ve got rights, the same for rich and poor
But you`re behind the police when they`re knocking down my door

The rest of the original lyrics stand the test of time (although I am quite certain that some of the words that are listed in various lyrics websites are incorrect).

Canadian and American right-wing politicians going on about...

The Ranting Canadian - sam, 01/31/2015 - 00:22

Canadian and American right-wing politicians going on about Islamic terrorism has a sickening stench of hypocrisy, considering the fact that the American government and other Western governments helped fund, arm and train Muslim extremists during the Cold War, which has contributed to many of the problems in the Middle East (and beyond) today. It looks like the American military-industrial-spy complex backed the wrong “enemy of my enemy is my friend” in that one. They made their bed, and now they are lying to us.

One of the main reasons there isn’t a strong secular, democratic alternative in most Middle Eastern countries today is that the American government helped to brutally wipe it out. Bad guys such as Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were considered allies of Western capitalist governments until some backroom deals went sour and the alliances were broken. Even today, the Canadian and American governments consider the murderous, terrorism-sponsoring Saudi Arabian dictatorship to be a friend. The Canadian government even recently helped broker a multi-million dollar deal to sell weapons to Saudi regime.

This latest war-that-isn’t-officially-a-war in Iraq is mainly a distraction from the non-stop political scandals and economic disasters at home, and will not make the world safer nor more secure. Even if ISIS/ISIL is disrupted and degraded, another gang that is just as dangerous will move in to fill the vacuum. It’s like a game of Whac-a-Mole. Who will be the “good guys” and “bad guys” tomorrow? Why the focus on one set of “bad guys” when there are other “bad guys” who are even worse elsewhere?

It’s pathetic that so many Canadians are falling for this obvious scam and are considering voting Conservative because of it.

The coward Stephen Harper and his crew of quislings are pretending that his new big-government, anti-freedom legislation is meant to crack down on actual terrorists and keep us safe, but the reality is that Harper’s main domestic targets will continue to be the same as before: environmentalists, native activists and anyone else who gets in the way of his global corporate agenda.

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - ven, 01/30/2015 - 17:59
Fuel - Bittersweet

Not Sure How Jeb Gets Past This

The Disaffected Lib - ven, 01/30/2015 - 11:56
It's looking like former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, intends to seek the Republican presidential nomination.  There's a big slate of aspirants this year and plenty remaining even after Mitt Romney stood down.

I'm guessing here but I expect some of Jeb's rivals might just suggest he take his mother Barbara's advice.  (Go to 2:20)

Could "Rapidly Proliferating Threats" Derail the F-35?

The Disaffected Lib - ven, 01/30/2015 - 09:11

(Remember, this is the plane that the Harper government wants to saddle our aircrews with for half-a-century, fifty years.  But, I digress.)

Trying to keep tabs on the development of Lockheed's F=35 requires no end of reading between the lines.

One thing that comes through, admittedly in snippets and from different angles, is that the Americans are starting to conclude that their wunder-plane is less wunderful than they had hoped.

Months ago the journal of the US Naval Institute fretted that the F-35 was operationally flawed because it lacked "all-aspect stealth."  Its stealth cloaking is mainly frontal aspect which means the F-35 remains detectable from the sides, above, below and behind.

The head of the US Air Force air combat command, General Hostage, has said the F-35 isn't a stand alone warplane but requires fighter cover, that is to say the F-22 Raptor, to survive.

Word has leaked out that the F-35 has to steer clear of thunder storms and night flying is out, for now.  More recently it got out that the F-35 has a "heat management" problem that prevents it from flying fast at low altitude, the very place an airplane like this has to operate.  The proposed solution is to re-engine the already over-priced warplane in a few years as a new, adaptive engine is developed.  Keep those cheque books open, fellas.

One thing that has emerged in snippets is that both the US Air Force and US Navy are pressing hard for a new warplane to replace the F-35 ASAP.  They're not sure that its limited stealth cloaking can stand up to rapidly proliferating threats.

There is a saying in Washington defense circles: The threat always gets a vote. It means that a valid strategic threat can influence decision-makers to derail or accelerate a weapons program. In the case of the most expensive aircraft program in history, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), senior Pentagon officials have begun considering what might happen if the still-developmental F-35 were compromised by the proliferation of ever-more-capable air defenses.

...There is a “growing concern” among senior officials in the Office of the Secretary of Defense about the proliferation of advanced air defense radars and anti-aircraft weapons, says an industry official familiar with these discussions. “We took a long time on this. The threat is taking some turns on us.” Senior officials are loath to cause alarm and jeopardize the coalition behind the F-35 and are thus tight-lipped about it.

The situation is not at a crisis point yet, one industry source says. Obsolescence is inevitable for any weapon system; the discussion now is about when that could happen for the F-35 and how to address it if it is sooner than hoped. “We are starting to see the emergence of some stressing capabilities to our conventional forces,” Al Shaffer, acting assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering, told Aviation Week during an interview last March. He was referring to the emergence of radars operating in very-high-frequency bands that can detect stealthy aircraft at long range. The concern is that these VHF radars could eventually pass targeting data to fire control elements for air defense systems.

Bear in mind that killing off the F-35 would be about as simple as dismembering Goldman Sachs. It's the biggest military aquisition programme in American history and there is a consensus in military, industrial and political circles that it's simply too big to kill.  There are too many people with too much at stake to shut it down as Obama did when he killed off F-22 production.  This isn't a 'white elephant.'  It's a diamond-encrusted elephant and, right now, everybody's still prepared to double down.

My guess is that the military types see the way out from under the F-35 is to move on to a newer-technology plane, manned or unmanned, that, put up against the F-35, will be irresistible.  Keep the F-35 as a bomb truck while deploying a "6th generation" successor to the F-22 that will have full-aspect state of the art stealth and a genuine multi-role capability.  This is the scenario predicted by Pierre Sprey, one of America's "fighter mafia" types responsible for the highly successful F-16 and A-10, who expects the US to wind up cutting the build of F-35s from the roughly 2,500 figure common today to around 500, no more.

"I do predict that they will have that much trouble within the next few years, and that we will never see them build more than 500 of these airplanes. That the airplane will become technically such an embarrassment that they'll pretend they did not really need it anyhow, and that 'it’s alright we have a better idea, we are working on a new airplane and forget about the F-35.'"
Foreign customers will have to realize their "F-150" is the Ford pickup variety, not the Ferrari of the same designation.  But, so?  The only Ferrari part will be the price tag.

Abandon all hope

Trapped In a Whirlpool - ven, 01/30/2015 - 07:59
Through me you pass into the city of woe: Through me you pass into eternal pain: Through me among the people lost for aye.
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