Agrégateur de flux

Greece - Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 46 min 28 sec
Greek voters appear poised to rather narrowly reject another round of austerity measures demanded by the IMF, the European Commission and the EBC.

It's something of a "heads I win, tails you lose" proposition.  Be it Yes or No, the Greek people are pretty much screwed either way.

As observed in Der Spiegel, even if the Greeks accept the terms they'll be stuck with debts they have no reasonable prospect of repaying - as in none, ever.

The German press seems to be blaming their Chancellor, Angela Merkel, for being too soft on the Greek's Syrzia government.  The cover of the German edition speaks for itself.

The Guardian is predicting a 61% win for the No side.  Doubtless some will say that given the referendum was called on such short notice, even that win is less than decisive.

What's totally unclear is how the IMF and European Union will respond.  They might go thermonuclear and expel Greece, the Grexit option which is sort of like holding a gun to the Greek people's head and another to your own.

Having done a lot of insolvency work in my time, it's dismaying to see how irrelevant reality is to this disaster.  The Euros, especially Merkel, need to understand that there are no debtors prisons any more.  There was a time not all that long ago when we forgave Germany for debts and a lot of other things right up to and including the Holocaust.  The quality of mercy thing...

When you're dealing with an insolvent you need to find a deal that works for creditor and debtor alike.  It has to give the creditor more than they could receive otherwise while leaving the debtor motivated to pay what it can.  There has to be light at the end of the tunnel.  If you leave the debtor without hope, usually you're both screwed.

Athens' creditors need to accept reality, figure out how much Greek debt needs to be forgiven, and strike a deal.  Or not.

As for the No side, they're already celebrating their referendum win.  This is a big day, especially for young Greeks who played no role in their country's collapse but were looking at paying a punitive price indefinitely.  I think this picture captures their mood perfectly.

FIFA - Blatter Doubles Down

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 1 heure 46 min

When is a resignation not a resignation?  When you're the Pharaoh of FIFA, Sepp Blatter.

Ol' Sepper has announced he won't be attending the final of the Women's World Cup in Canada tonight.  The way he explained that is really bizarre.

"For as long as things remain unresolved, I won't take any travel risks," Blatter said, adding that he was needed at FIFA's Zürich HQ, saying the "commanding officer remains at his post during a battle."
So traveling to Canada almost right under the noses of American investigators is one trip too risky for the Sepp Monster.  He is, however, looking forward to traveling to Russia this month for events related to Russia's 2018 World Cup. Canada is too high risk, Russia is oh so sublime.
"Criticism doesn't hurt. What hurts me are hateful tirades. From jealousy, hate has grown," Blatter said.

Burning Down the House

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 2 heures 34 min
We were warned to prepare for severe weather events of increasing intensity, frequency and duration and that cautionary heads up has already come to pass.

I went out back to gaze into the brilliant night sky before bed last night.  I awoke to find the sky had turned a dirty yellowish-grey, smoke from a forest fire over near Sechelt on the mainland.  Around here we're expecting to be next.  After months of abnormally high temperatures and exceptionally low rainfall our local forests are tinder dry just waiting for a careless hiker or thunderstorm to spark a major wildfire or several.

Saskatchewan is burning.  Alberta is burning.  Alaska's wildfire season is already the worst on record.  Fires are raging along the coast, right down into Mexico. British Columbia crews are fighting several fires but, as yet, we've been spared the sort of conditions that have beset Saskatchewan and Alberta.  With all the dead pine forests devastated by beetle infestations there's loads of fuel throughout the interior just waiting for a spark.

Rain would sure be welcome but nobody is expecting that anytime soon.

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - il y a 3 heures 18 min
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Scott Santens argues that a basic income represents the best way to ensure that the gains from technological advancement are shared by everybody. And Thom Hartmann makes the case for a guaranteed income based on its simplicity and cost-effectiveness, while Mark Sarner sees it mostly as a mechanism to reduce poverty.

- Meanwhile, Lane Windham highlights the need for social benefits to be pursued through public policy rather than through employment relationships alone. And Sean McElwee writes that increased voter turnout in the U.S. figures to bring out far more progressive citizens to have their voices heard:
To examine how boosting voting might affect policy on inequality, I asked Pew about its inequality survey. These data also show that the nonregistered population is more liberal than the registered population. Pew asked people which would do more to reduce poverty: “Raising taxes on wealthy people and corporations in order to expand programs for the poor” or “Lowering taxes on wealthy people and corporations in order to encourage more investment and economic growth.” While majorities of both registered and nonregistered Americans say that raising taxes on the wealthy would do more to reduce poverty, nonregistered respondents were more supportive than registered ones (59 percent and 51 percent, respectively). In addition, while 69 percent of registered respondents supported raising the minimum wage, 82 percent of nonregistered Americans did. While 60 percent of registered respondents supported a one-year extension of unemployment benefits, 69 percent of those who are not registered did. These findings conform to other research suggesting nonregistered Americans favor a far stronger economic role for government.
(I)f states with the lowest class bias — New Hampshire, for instance — had the same high class bias as, say, Kentucky, the change would lead to a decrease of 17 percent in support for the introduction of bills related to welfare and 22 percent in bills related to housing. The opposite is also true: Decreasing the class bias of the electorate would lead to more bills related to these issues. In a recent paper, Franko finds that lower class bias leads to more spending on health care for children, higher minimum wages and more anti-predatory-lending policies.

Parties can change the composition of the electorate, but they have failed entirely to bolster voting among the poor. According to ANES data, only 37 percent of those earning less than $30,000 reported receiving contact from either party regarding the 2012 elections, compared to 47 percent of those earning more than $100,000. And this sort of outreach makes a difference. Using the ANES data set, I examined Americans earning less than $60,000 who did not vote in 2008. I found that 41.5 percent of those who were contacted by a party voted in 2012, compared with only 28.1 percent of those who were not contacted by a party. When I removed the control for those who did not vote in 2008, the effect became much stronger, with 85 percent of those earning less than $60,000 who were contacted by a political party voting in 2012, compared with only 64 percent of those who were not contacted by a party. - But then, there's plenty of room for more progressive policy even with the electorate we already have - as Mainstreet finds that Alberta's voters are supportive of NDP platform planks including a higher minimum wage and meaningful carbon pricing even as the corporate press demands that Rachel Notley discard them.

- The Ottawa Citizen notes that the Cons' election strategy is all smoke and mirrors at this point. And PressProgress highlights the bleak economic reality which they're trying to deny.

- Finally, Tabatha Southey's fake interview with Kory Teneycke eviscerates the Cons' fearmongering, featuring what would strike me as a devastating conclusion for anybody with a conscience:
Me: So, will you be using more terrorist video as the campaign goes on?You: What in God’s name have I done with my life that I can legitimately be asked this question?

Abortion Access in the Maritimes

Dammit Janet - il y a 3 heures 29 min
Here at DAMMIT JANET! we have blogged extensively (compulsively?) on abortion access, especially in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.

Now, VICE has produced a 33-minute documentary on abortion access in the Maritimes.

Abortion has been a legal medical procedure in Canada for more than 25 years, but in spite of that, access varies widely across the country. Urban residents are far likelier to have easy access to the procedure, while rural people may face extra costs and time requirements like travel and figuring out where to go.

In this edition of VICE Canada Reports, Sarah Ratchford investigates abortion access in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, two provinces with restricted access to abortions and conservative political climates that make access a difficult issue even to discuss. She attends a pro-life rally crashed by pro-choice activists, goes undercover into a pregnancy crisis center, and talks to an activist helping people access under-the-counter abortions in Prince Edward Island (PEI).Much work yet to do.

The Earth's Future Is Our Future

Politics and its Discontents - il y a 3 heures 58 min

While I have deeply-held spiritual beliefs, I do not for a moment think that transcendent agency was involved in humanity's appearance on the earth. In my view, we just happened to arise owing to the potential inherent in the universe for development toward greater and greater complexity. To assume otherwise is to embrace a hubris that is largely responsible for the degradation, despoliation and perhaps ultimate destruction of our habitat.

In today's paper, a Star reader Kevin Farmer effectively expresses the situation that we find ourselves in today:

Re: Cooler planet, better health, Editorial June 29
In his recent column, (“Was Rachel Dolezal on to something?”), Rick Salutin poetically captured a basic truth: “Each individual is hewn organically from material reality and returns there eventually.”

Without wanting to co-opt Salutin’s discussion of race and group identity, I wonder why we do not identify more with that “material reality” from which we are so clearly hewn; namely living Earth. In fact, I would argue we are not “hewn” from living Earth at all; rather we are expressions of it. Only our fleeting sense of self makes us feel separate.

To paraphrase Alan Watts: Life did not appear on Earth like a flock of birds alighting on a barren tree; rather life came out of that tree as its flowers. In the same way that some trees are simply flowering trees, Earth is simply a life-ing and, at least for now, a people-ing “rock.”

This claim might seem like new age fluff, but it is supported by hard science. Life simply might have been inevitable on a planet such as Earth. And while it might be fluffy to think of human life as an act of self-expression by living Earth – to think that living Earth currently “identifies” as mostly human – it is entirely reasonable to wonder why human self-expression is increasingly devoid of identification with living Earth.

So, I am perplexed by the prevailing norm to timidly frame calls for environmental action in terms of furthering our self-interest; as though there were ever any such distinction. It is true that “healing the planet will make us healthier.” But the real issue is that destroying living Earth is making us sick – more than just physically.

We do not have a clear definition of “life,” but, whatever it is, Earth is bursting with it. We are all temporary patterns in the incomprehensible flow of matter and energy that is the ecosphere of living Earth. As we disrupt and destroy this flow on a planetary scale, it should come as no surprise that what we are doing to living Earth, we are doing to ourselves.

Life on Earth might have been inevitable. But that does not mean that human life was, or is, inevitable. And, unlike birds on a tree, we cannot fly away after fouling our nest.
Ironically, as we struggle with the concepts of identity and self, it is our selfishness as “individuals” that is destroying the very wellspring of our selves: living Earth.
Who are we, really, if we knowingly continue to do this?

Kevin Farmer, TorontoRecommend this Post

Could Progressives Snatch Defeat From the Jaws of Victory?

Montreal Simon - il y a 7 heures 32 min

Well I've got to hand it to Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau. Our two cowboys at the Calgary Stampede.

They're timing couldn't be more perfect, or depending on your point of view, more unfortunate.

For on the very same day they vowed they wouldn't attack Stephen Harper like he attacks them.

He attacked BOTH of them like a rabid animal. 
Read more »

There Are Reasons For Harper's Slide

Northern Reflections - il y a 7 heures 49 min


Six months ago, it looked like the prime minister was well on his way to his fourth mandate. The public supported his entry into the war on ISIS. They were scared of the terrorists Mr. Harper said were just outside the gates. And the economy seemed to be doing well. But, Michael Warren writes, things have changed:

Today we are losing that war and public support has dropped dramatically. It’s becoming clear the only way to defeat ISIS militarily is to put allied troops on the ground. But that’s too controversial to contemplate before the election. Chances are the Islamic State will consolidate its territory in Iraq, Syria and Libya and continue terrorizing western countries at will. Over the next few months Canadian voters will be reminded of this grim reality on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, the terrorist attacks on Parliament Hill and in Quebec created a climate of fear, amplified and exploited by the government, which provided the prime minister political permission to re-craft the balance between Canadian freedoms and security by writing tougher anti-terrorism laws. Eighty two per cent of Canadians favoured the idea of such legislation. But support had been cut in half by the time the final Bill C-51 was introduced. It was widely criticized for giving CSIS too much power without sufficient oversight and for encroaching on our freedoms and privacy.

And what of the economy? When the Conservatives met their pledge to balance the budget, and with a $7-billion surplus no less, the government’s economic strength seemed unassailable. Add to that the Tories’ promise to spend the surplus on a slate of populist policies — income-splitting, increased limits on tax free savings accounts, expanded child care benefits — and the Conservative outlook could hardly have been sunnier. But for many voters that’s a distant memory. Since then the opposition parties have advanced their own proposals for income transfers and child-care schemes that have broad voter appeal. Moreover, Canada’s economy shrunk for the first time in four years in the first quarter. Even Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz described the economy’s first three-month performance as “atrocious.” 

Add to that the revelations which have come out of the Duffy trial and the prime minister starts to look like the Incarnation of Incompetence. There are three months to go before the election. Recent history suggests that a lot can happen in three months. Things can change dramatically. So making predictions about victory are certainly premature.

Just ask Stephen Harper.

First It Was Harper's Police Now It's Harper's Army

Montreal Simon - il y a 11 heures 26 min

A few days ago I wrote a post about how Stephen Harper was turning the RCMP into Harper's police.

Just another tool in his campaign to try to win the next election.

Now please stand to attention, kiss our democracy goodbye.

And salute Harper's Army. 
Read more »

The Totally Unsurprising Vindication of Tom Mulcair

Montreal Simon - sam, 07/04/2015 - 22:48

A few days ago I wrote a post defending Tom Mulcair from a Maclean's story that claimed that he once asked Stephen Harper for a chance to serve him.

And only turned down the job because he wasn't offered enough money.

Having watched Mulcair in the Quebec National Assembly long before he entered federal politics, something about that story didn't seem right.

And sure enough it seems it was just a grotesque smear. 
Read more »

Is the Biggest Military Procurement Programme in World History the World's Biggest Con Job?

The Disaffected Lib - sam, 07/04/2015 - 17:41
As I wrote in an earlier post today, Lockheed's F-35 now stands exposed not as the multi-role fighter the manufacturer and the US Air Force touted it to be but as little more than a super-costly, light attack bomber.

The flight test report leaked earlier this week leaves no doubt that the F-35 is no fighter, not of any variety.  It's a bomb truck.  However Lockheed pitched it to its foreign customers as a perfect replacement for their existing multi-role fighters - F-16s, F-18s, Tornadoes and such.

I don't like to get into, much less launch, conspiracy theories but this report raises a lot of questions.

Did Lockheed and the USAF only just discover that the F-35 can't fight its way out of a paper bag? Why were they so insistent that it was a genuine, multi-role fighter when they had to have known with its speed, payload, range and agility limitations plus the degrading of its stealth cloaking it could never be more than a light attack bomber? Getting to the point, did they deliberately set out to hoodwink America's allies and, if so, were the F-35's boosters in those allied air forces in on it? 
This is a 1.5 trillion dollar programme, the biggest in world history. It sounds like the very sort of thing that could make a company resort to some pretty squirrelly things.

I wonder what they're doing to hunt down the snitch who leaked this report? Getting those flight test results into the public domain is really a Snowden-grade effort.

We'll probably have to wait a couple of weeks to see what the political fallout is going to be in those countries that have already signed on to Lockheed's order book. Talk about a political football for the opposition parties in those countries.

Pierre Sprey and Winslow Wheeler stand vindicated. Sprey predicted the US military would never buy more than about 500 F-35's, one-fifth of the announced buy.

what i'm reading: wild by cheryl strayed, zeitoun by dave eggers

we move to canada - sam, 07/04/2015 - 11:00
I've just finished two truly excellent works of nonfiction: Wild and Zeitoun. Both books read like fiction, with clean, clear writing and page-turning suspense. Both document almost unbelievable, out-sized events, in one case likely unique, in the other - horribly - anything but. I highly recommend both books.

I didn't expect to like Wild. Something about the phrase "best-selling memoir" just turns me off. But when the book was chosen as one of my Library's "Raves and Faves," I was intrigued. Those are always excellent books. (I'm quite proud that all five of my Raves and Faves suggestions made the list!)

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail is a story of perseverance and redemption. Her life unhinged, battered by loss and confusion, the author decides to undertake a wilderness backpacking expedition. This is no casual walk in the woods; she's chosen a trail for which experienced backpackers may spend a year in training and research. Strayed is completely inexperienced and almost comically unprepared - comic, that is, if the consequences of failure weren't potentially life-threatening. At several points in the book, I thought, "Well, she must survive, because she wrote this book...".

Wild is suspenseful, moving, sad, uplifting, heartrending, and joyous. I was filled with wonder at this woman's strength, tenacity, and resilience. Wild left me contemplating that potential in all of us.

Zeitoun is also a nonfiction page-turner. It's almost impossible to write about Zeitoun without spoiling it, and the way in which the novel unfolds gives it tremendous power. Perhaps most people reading this review already know the terrible punchline.

Zeitoun is the story of one man's, and one family's, ordeal during and after Hurricane Katrina. It is a story that sits at the intersection of two American nightmares: Katrina and the post-9/11 police state.

It is an answer to every person who feels "police state" and "fascism" are hyperbole when applied to the United States. In truth, that depends on your zip code, your skin colour, and your last name.

Considering I last visited New Orleans in 1992, I have a strangely personal relationship with Hurricane Katrina. August 30, 2005, the day Katrina hit New Orleans, was one of the most momentous days of my life: the day my partner and I moved to Canada. As with any move of this magnitude, we were unplugged from the world - no TV, no internet - for a couple of days before, and at least two days after. When we were back online, I struggled to take in the magnitude of what had happened. No matter how much we read, I felt like I never caught up.

In the 10 years since, in any story about the Katrina disaster, the dates jump out at me. I can picture us clearly, driving The World's Fullest Minivan, my beloved Buster between us, Cody hunkered in a cave in the back, starting our new life. Right at those moments, tens of thousands of lives were shattered, ruined, or ended.

The Zeitouns' story is compelling, heroic, and deeply frightening. If you've ever been inclined to think, "That wouldn't happen here," or "But they would never do that", know that it did, and they already have.

As with What Is The What, Dave Eggers is using proceeds from this book to fund many very important and worthwhile causes. I highly recommend picking up a copy.

Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - sam, 07/04/2015 - 10:36
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Paul de Grauwe points out that the European push to force Greece into continued austerity is the most important factor holding back a recovery, as the country would be fully solvent if it were being allowed to borrow money on anything but the most draconian of terms. And Paul Mason criticizes the war that's been declared against the Greek public for trying to pursue democratic governance - while noting that the public's justified dissatisfaction isn't going away regardless of the result of the impending referendum.

- Sherif Alsayed-Ali responds to the news that the UK's intelligence agencies have been conducting illegal spying against Amnesty International - and it's worth noting that Bill C-51 will make Canada's sweeping powers and lack of oversight even worse than the UK's:
Our concerns about mass surveillance are not limited to human rights organizations, although this is already very worrying. Mass surveillance is invasive and a dangerous overreach of government power into our private lives and freedom of expression. In specific circumstances it can also put lives at risk, be used to discredit people or interfere with investigations into human rights violations by governments.

We have good reasons to believe that the British government is interested in our work. Over the past few years we have investigated possible war crimes by UK and US forces in Iraq, Western government involvement in the CIA's torture scheme known as the extraordinary rendition programme, and the callous killing of civilians in US drone strikes in Pakistan: it was recently revealed that GCHQ may have provided assistance for US drone attacks.

The obfuscation, secrecy and determination to avoid any meaningful oversight is worthy of a tin-pot dictatorship. It is time for serious public scrutiny of the behaviour of the British government. We need to know what surveillance programmes the government is operating, what spying they consider to be fair game, and why. - Andrew Cohen sees the Cons' "Memorial to the Victims of Communism" as a monument to crass and destructive politics.

- Finally, Robin Sears highlights why the Cons' division and narrowcasting are doomed to fail as a strategy for building a natural governing party. And Thomas Walkom writes that the cult of personality around Stephen Harper is leading the Cons to shut out natural allies in the name of worshiping their leader.

The Little Bomber That Couldn't

The Disaffected Lib - sam, 07/04/2015 - 10:14
F-35 "Fatso"
The myth of the F-35 as an all purpose, multi-role fighter imploded this past week with the leak of a report on tests showing that it couldn't hold its own, much less defeat a decades old F-16 in air combat maneuvering.  To put it bluntly, the old (and cheap) F-16 waxed the F-35's tail.

When the specs were written for the F-35 one of the requirements was that it had to maneuver at least better than the venerable F-16 it was intended to replace. It's not the first time the F-35 has come up short - or long in its case.  It also failed to meet its landing and take off distance requirements.  So the US Air Force rewrote the specs to reflect what the F-35 could do and changed its F to a C-plus with the stroke of a pen. It also has a pretty worrisome weight problem.  Lockheed tried to trim the plane down by removing its onboard fire suppression system not the best solution for an airplane where the fuel tanks are wrapped around its oh so hot engine.  One lucky hit by some illiterate farmboy with a Korean War vintage assault rifle and - kaboom.

Caught with their pants down, Lockheed and the US Air Force, while admitting that the leaked report was genuine and the F-35 did indeed fail its air combat test, chimed in with a duet about how the dismal report wasn't the whole story.  Truer words were never spoken just not quite in the same way that the manufacturer and the American air force types intended.

What the damning report shows and what Lockheed and the F-35 boosters are now going to have to admit is that their claim that the F-35 is a multi-role fighter is a ruse, seemingly intended to get foreign orders.  The CF-18 that Trudeau bought for the air force is a genuine, multi-role fighter.  It can do a respectable job at ground attack (bombing), close support (helping troops on the ground - bombing and strafing), air to air combat (dogfighting), patrol and interception (air defence).

The F-35 is no multi-role strike fighter.  It's a somewhat stealthy, light attack bomber.  It's designed to carry two bombs to a high-value target (worthy of the F-35's gold plated price tag) and then get out however it can.

Close support?  Not a chance.  That role requires loiter time.  The supporting fighter has to arrive on station, communicate with the troops who need help, identify and try to take out the bad guys, and then hang around for a while in case there are more enemies lying in wait.  It has to carry enough gear to make multiple runs on enemy positions.  And - here's the big one - it has to be able to take a few hits and survive to make it home.  The F-35 is fuel limited.  Hanging around to help out would be a problem.  Then there's the "Pinto" problem of the fuel tanks wrapped around the engine that make ground fire a much more serious threat.  The F-35 is one hot airplane.  Its engine generates an enormous heat plume, ideal for a Russian or Chinese or ISIS soldier with a shoulder-launched, infrared missile just looking for something to shoot down.  Oh yeah, that engine? There's just the one.  When you lose one engine to ground fire and one is all you have you had better hope those friendly troops can get to you before the bad guys do. And if all that wasn't enough, there's the small matter of cost.  This is one super expensive airplane to put at such significant risk.

Patrol and interception, the air defence mission?  I think it was some air force that came up with the term MTBF which stands for mean time between failures. It's based on the idea that equipment eventually breaks down and the longer you run it, the more likely it is to fail.  We used to require 4-engines on passenger jets crossing the Atlantic. Why?  MTBF, that's why.  Multiple engines provide redundancy which comes in really handy if one craps out.  MTBF takes on a whole new dimension when it comes to a single engine warplane hundreds of miles from home up in the Arctic in February.  Another problem is speed.  Once a suspect aircraft is detected, you need to get an interceptor there as quickly as possible.  Gives the target less chance to launch a salvo of long range cruise missiles and such.  Even clean, with no long range fuel tanks or missiles to slow it down, the F-35 lacks "supercruise."  That's the ability to fly at supersonic speeds without having to use the fuel-guzzling afterburner.  It can't go supercruise fast because it's fat - really, really fat. It's fat because, when Lockheed was chosen to build it, they had to build three versions, one of which was the vertical lift model for the US Marines and the Royal Navy.  It takes space to house that extra engine and that made the F-35 a very wide, high drag airplane (see the photo above).  Put all of these shortcomings together and the F-35 would seem to be a very poor pick for the air defence mission.

Which brings us to the glamour stuff, the 'turn and burn' fighter role, dogfighting.  When it comes to the aerial furball, the US Air Force's own leaked tests show the F-35 simply cannot hold its own even against a vintage F-16.  It seemed to take even the pilots by surprise at how easy it was for the F-16 to get on the F-35's tail and stay there.

The Air Force brass kind of gulped and then said that report doesn't tell the whole story.  True enough.  In reality, the F-35 won't have to contend with F-16s. The adversaries it will confront will be far deadlier than the F-16.  It will have to deal with aircraft such as the Sukhoi Su-35, Russia's stealth air superiority fighter, the PAK50, and China's Su-30s and its stealth fighters, the J-20 and J-31.

Since the F-35 is plainly not an air defence fighter, or a close support fighter, or an air superiority fighter, there's just one mission left - light attack bomber.  The reason the F-35 design sacrifices speed, range, payload and agility typical of genuine fighters is because it is intended to bomb high-value targets in heavily defended enemy territory.  That's what the stealth cloaking is all about.

The F-35 is intended to defeat conventional x-band radars found on older fighters.  It's frontal-aspect cloaking.  Scanned from other aspects - the sides, above, below - the F-35 is not very stealthy at all.  The F-35 is designed to go straight to its target, drop its bombs, and go straight back out again via the shortest route possible before hostile fighters can engage it.  Okay, what's wrong with this picture?

For starters, F-35 operators will announce their presence well in advance. Because of the range limitations, the F-35 will require its support aircraft, especially its air refueling tankers to come far forward where they'll be readily detected. They'll need to top up on the way in and once they get out. You see those tankers at the edge of your airspace, you've got time to get your defending fighters in the air to meet the attackers.  You can also assign fighters to destroy the vulnerable tankers ensuring those F-35s, even if they do reach their target, will never get back to their base.  There's the first Achilles' Heel.

The obvious intended adversaries, Russia and China, have made good use of the inordinate delays in the F-35 development to do plenty of developing of their own.  As Edward Snowden revealed, the Chinese managed to hack a lot of the secrets of the F-35 design right out of the contractors' computers.  Additional secrets were obtained from the Lockheed RQ-170 stealth drone that was brought down, seemingly intact, by Iran.  That included the onboard stealth cloaking electronics and the stealth coatings from the skin of the drone.

Their time and effort seems to have paid off.  They developed work-arounds. They focused on the limitations of the American stealth technology and its weaknesses.  This resulted in what's called "sensor fusion" - the combination of sensor technologies such as L-band radar together with long-range infrared and optical sensors.  Slaved together with computers what was invisible is now detectable sufficiently well to permit not just detection but tracking and targeting.  Fighter interception is again viable and when fighters can find the F-35, the US Air Force's playbook goes out the window.

Under attack the F-35 will have little choice but to maneuver - to turn and climb and dive - and once it has to turn its stealth cloaking is simply gone.  It can try to use its onboard missiles (both of them) to bring down its attackers but it probably won't be able to get enough of them for it to avoid the very dogfight it lost to the F-16.  It has a gun but, as the test showed, it can't move its nose fast enough to get on target.  Dogfighting also consumes a crazy amount of what the F-35 has in such limited supply - fuel.  Because of its high drag it's going to be dependent on its afterburner and when the guy sitting behind you has infrared missiles your day is pretty much over.

As for the Russians, they have what's considered to be the world's best surface to air missile systems - the S-300 and the even newer S-400 which the Russkies claim is "stealth ready."

The sad truth is that the F-35 was designed for conditions as they were when the order was placed.  You might remember that time as pre-9/11.  One thing those brilliant designers never factored in was that its secrets might be hacked or turned over to the bad guys when that super secret drone was force landed. They never factored in 'sensor fusion' or that the F-35 might have to go up against an adversary with its own stealth warplanes. The F-35 was supposed to have a world-beating technological edge far into the future.  There was simply no other way to justify the cost or its operational shortcomings.  All of those assumptions now stand unraveled.

Defrocked, the F-35 appears awfully prototypical.  It's like a technology demonstrator where combat essential qualities such as range, payload, speed (remember, no supercruise) and agility have been sacrificed for the sake of supposed stealth cloaking that is frontal-aspect only. It's sort of a "look what I can do, dad" airplane that's hard to take seriously.

Lockheed and the US Air Force continue to dismiss the F-35s critics even as those critics' claims keep getting proven right.  Let's summarize what we now know about this would-be multi-role fighter.

Close support:  too costly to be worth the risk, insufficient loiter time, too vulnerable to ground fire and shoulder-launched IR missiles.

Air defence:  too slow (no supercruise), inadequate range, single engine vulnerability.

Air combat: a dead duck - underpowered, lack of fuel, inadequate turn and climb rate, terrible rear visibility, a heat-seeking missile's dream date.

It's not a fighter.  It just can't do fighter things.  It's a light attack bomber purpose built to attack countries with relatively sophisticated air defences which would be China, Russia, Iran, Britain, France, maybe Israel - as they were back in the Year of Our Lord, 2000.

This is a warplane that makes absolutely zero sense for Canada.  Even the US Navy isn't keen on buying it and the US Air Force is clamoring for quick development of a "sixth generation" fighter to replace the F-35.  The goddamned thing is years away from entering service and they're already yelling "next." I think we should take that as a clear warning. Maybe the Americans can afford to move on but if we buy it we can't.  It will drain our defence budget even if it does spend most of its time idle undergoing maintenance in our hangars.

A Barbaric Practice

Politics and its Discontents - sam, 07/04/2015 - 09:35
I have written before on the ugly and wholly indefensible slaughter of sharks so that their fins can be enjoyed as a delicacy, but now seems a good time to remind people of this barbaric practice. I just received a petition from calling on the Canadian government to ban the distribution, consumption and sale of shark fins.

Please take a moment to watch the following brief video, read the ensuing explanatory text and then consider signing the petition, obtainable by clicking on the above link.

Sharks – the apex predators of the oceans – have survived 400 million years of evolution, yet many species may face extinction within our lifetime. Up to 100 million sharks are being killed every year, most often their bodies are discarded and only their fins are kept to be used in Shark Fin Soup – a delicacy in some Chinese restaurants. Over hunting of the world’s largest fish has caused severe declines among many shark species, including the iconic Great White. Currently a third of shark species are threatened with extinction, and some populations have plummeted by over 90%. Sharks are essential to the health of our oceans. As apex predators, sharks maintain a critical balance in the ocean. When sharks are eliminated, disastrous effects have been documented further down the food chain, including the collapse of commercial fisheries and the degradation of coral reefs. If sharks were to become extinct, this would have massive unintended consequences for our ocean ecosystems worldwide. Time is running out for the world’s shark populations. It is time to take a big step in preserving the world’s vital oceans by banning the sale and distribution of shark fins and shark fin products nationwide.Recommend this Post

A Grave Mistake

Northern Reflections - sam, 07/04/2015 - 05:51


The story of the Harper Party's rejection of Ches Crosbie's candidacy in Avalon tells you much more about Stephen Harper than it does about Mr. Crosbie. Stephen Maher writes:

It is part of the culture of the distinct society of Newfoundland to have a bit of fun, to mock oneself, one’s fellows and, especially, one’s betters, who must either laugh or lose face.

So Crosbie put on a Stephen Harper wig, a kilt, a seal-skin vest, took up a wooden sword and performed the final, bloody scene of Macbeth, in which, in this version, Stephen MacHarper confronts Mike MacDuffy, swearing he will not “yield to one of Senate born.”

“Before my body, I throw my political friends,” Crosbie declaimed. “Lay on, MacDuffy, And damned be him that first cries, ‘Hold, enough!’ ”

Mr. Harper makes jokes at other people's expense. But if there's one thing he won't -- or can't -- do, it's to laugh at himself. And the National Candidate Selection Committee doesn't believe in laughing at Harper's expense, either:

Crosbie didn’t learn that some humourless mainlanders disliked this until Monday, when he got an email from Dustin van Vugt, executive director of the Conservative Party of Canada, informing him that the National Candidate Selection Committee had held a meeting.

“The NCSC has disallowed your candidacy as a potential nomination contestant for the Conservative Party of Canada,” Van Vugt wrote.

There were three reasons, the party said: the MacHarper skit, his role in a lawsuit by Labrador residential school survivors and an innocuous interview he gave to the Hill Times, the newspaper that covers Parliament Hill.
The problem, you see, is that Crosbie claimed he would be an independent voice for the good burghers of Avalon. The Harper Party will have none of that. Maher writes:

I don’t think Harper’s palace guard cares about the Crosbies or about Newfoundland’s tradition of satirical humour.  They care about winning, and they have a script to follow. It calls for candidates to stand silent while Harper stands at centre stage, sternly warning that only he can protect our families from terrorists.

Yet another reminder that Canada is ruled by a paranoid, humourless man. Extending his stay at 24 Sussex would be a grave mistake.

Stephen Harper's Most Sad and Pathetic Calgary Stampede

Montreal Simon - sam, 07/04/2015 - 03:09

Well there he was in this PMO picture, at the Calgary Stampede in his black bad guy cowboy hat, framed between a horse and a horse's ass.

Watching the parade and trying to put on a brave face, or smile like a winner. Or at least open his mouth and show his teeth.

But it couldn't have been easy. Not with Rachel Notley, the new sheriff of Alberta, riding triumphantly past him...

He must have had lockjaw by the time that was over eh?

And of course the latest EKOS poll didn't exactly make him want to stand up and shout "Yee haw or hee haw I'm still a Great Leader !!!!
Read more »

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - ven, 07/03/2015 - 18:13
Mumford & Sons - Believe (Kyau & Albert Remix)

Busted Arm Blogging

Dammit Janet - ven, 07/03/2015 - 09:10
Because Twitter is ephemeral and because this is my blog on which I can write whatever I want, here's what's been happening to me.

On Saturday night, I broke my left forearm. Went to Emerg, got it splinted, and got appt with Fracture Clinic 4 days later.

Which was yesterday. Here's my series of tweets about it. (I wrote them out first. Apologies for lack of caps, but one-handed inputting.)

well, that was more of an ordeal than expected. in short, emerg fucked up. bone should have been straightened out before splinting

would that explain BIG pain since? i asked. side-eye between doc and tech. (lotta side-eye throughout) answer: repressively, yes.

straightening process involved what they called chinese finger cages, in use since medieval times (my supposition). like that woven trick tube you put fingers in

more you pull, tighter it gets. all 5 fingers put in metal versions of tube. suspended. weight put on upper arm.

you are left for 10 minutes to weep, scream, gnash teeth, your choice, as break gets reopened. i gnashed.

then 3 techs arrive. 1 to pull on injured arm, leaning away, no shit. 1 to pull on other side to counter pulling, and, best part

1 to "model" broken bit, i.e. push and shove and wrangle bone into alignment, much apologizing included.

here, i chose to gasp and gnash, while plaster strips applied as alignment proceeds.

next, xray to see how all that went. here, one prays to whatever deity that it went well and doesn't need redo

yay! doc comes back to look at xray. no redo. i'm good. i asked for drugs. scrip written for MANY T3s, higher dose, more frequently allowed

next appt 1 week

upshot: freer fingers, no light cast, worse break than i was led to believe by emerg goof

work upshot: i'm going to forgo one gig and hope i'm good enough for the one soon after that
Further update: not surprisingly, arm feels much better with bone properly aligned in stiff cast. Still hurts like hell of course.

But new cast had a hard pointy bit poking into inside elbow. I thought what the heck and went back to the clinic this morning to see if they would fix it.

Butt barely grazed chair after being told to take a seat when nice tech came and got me and removed pointy bit. She also told me that I had been a heckuva trooper yesterday and that clinic doc was MASSIVELY pissed with emerg doc and that there would be repercussions.


I looked hard for a photo of "Chinese finger cages," using all kinds of search terms. No luck. You'll have to use your imaginations.


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