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The Real Face Of Stephen Harper

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 08:42
As we embark upon a year-long election campaign, we will increasingly be exposed to propaganda from all parties vying for our vote. But the propaganda emanating from the Harper government will deserve special scrutiny.

To be sure, we are constantly told how much better off we are under the compassionate ministrations of the cabal than we ever were under previous governments. Such claims, of course, ring hollow to anyone who has followed the machinations and manipulations of the regime for almost the last decade.

Nonetheless, many seem unwilling to engage their critical faculties when it comes to politics, and will respond best, not to facts, figures and allegations, but rather to the human toll exacted by a government whose demonstrable concerns rest almost exclusively with the business agenda.

The following brief news video, about a corporate betrayal aided and abetted by the Harper regime, perhaps speaks loudest of all. The tale of U.S. Steel's purchase of Stelco, granted with some severe stipulations under the Foreign Investment Review Act, is a graphic reminder of where the Prime Minister's true loyalties lie.

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Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 06:08
Assorted content to end your week.

- Umut Oszu contrasts the impoverished conception of rights being pushed thanks to the Cons' highly politicized museum against the type of rights we should be demanding:
In their modern incarnation, human rights were fashioned after the Second World War and entered into widespread circulation in the 1970s and 80s, when they came to be deployed by Western governments and non-governmental organizations as part of a Cold War “battle of ideas.” Designed in predominantly civil and political rather than social and economic terms, the rhetoric of human rights has since been mobilized to focus attention upon egregious violations of such entitlements as the right to vote, the right to assemble and the right to express oneself freely.

In practice, this focus on civil and political rights has prevented human rights advocates from tackling the problem of why so many people, in Canada and throughout the world, do not have their basic social and economic rights — chief among them the rights to health, housing, education, and employment — satisfied adequately.

Further, the socio-economic conditions under which violations of civil and political rights take place are nearly always ignored, rendering every such violation a more or less isolated act of injustice, to be condemned and countered on its own terms.
No more than a few kilometres from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights lies Winnipeg’s North End. Well known for its inter-generational poverty and chronic underinvestment, the area has long been regarded as one of the most destitute in any major Canadian city. Closer still, in the very heart of The Forks, is a newly erected monument to Manitoba’s countless missing and murdered aboriginal women — a reminder to locals and visitors alike that the city has grappled for decades with exceptionally high levels of crime, much of it directed against First Nations peoples.
It is one thing to document large-scale atrocities like the Holocaust, Holodomor and Armenian genocide — events as worthy of denunciation as any in humanity’s collective history. It is another thing entirely to confront the socio-economic deprivation and exploitation with which so many around the world continue to struggle. Without the latter, the former is simply garish spectacle. - Gus Van Harten breaks down the disastrous effects of the FIPA - though the Cons have made sure that it's too late to do anything to avoid the damage. And Alison examines the connection between China's investments in the tar sands and the degradation of environmental standards.

- PressProgress points out the juxtaposition of perpetually higher unemployment and continued decreases in the percentage of jobless Canadians who have access to EI benefits.

-  Toby Sanger thoroughly debunks Stephen Harper's faith-based assertion that perpetual corporate tax giveaways pay for themselves, while Canadian for Tax Fairness notes that tax cheats can rest comfortably knowing that the CRA's ability to crack down is being systematically destroyed. Which is to say that those of us who see taxes as an important means to achieve social ends - such as, say, funding mental health services - have all the more reason for concern.

- Mike De Souza reports on the Cons' refusal to answer simple questions about their climate change negligence, while Margo McDiarmid highlights the ineffectiveness of regulations governing coal plants. And in case there was any doubt whether there's a meaningful difference between the Cons, the Saskatchewan Party and the oil lobbying industry, the seamless transitions for Rob Merrifield and Tim McMillan should put that to rest.

- Finally, Justin Ling exposes the Cons' push to get MPs to vote against trans rights - as well as their strategy of once again using the Senate to override the will of elected representatives, this time based on the Harper Cons' desire to maintain discrimination.

sexism, magic, and pre-famous cameos: watching "bewitched" on netflix

we move to canada - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 06:00
The best use of TV, for me, is as a sleep aid. But I never thought I'd revisit comedies from my early childhood.

I've watched a bit of comedy in bed, while ready for sleep, for my entire adult life, and quite a few years before that. Tuning in to something funny has always helped me tune out the pressures of the day. Like many people who have struggled with insomnia, I have strict rules about what I can and can't read, see, or talk about before sleep. TV comedy is the perfect sleep prep.

But only certain comedies work, and there are so many that I don't like. Depending on what re-runs are available or what cable package we had, I sometimes had to schedule my bedtime around TV schedules! Kind of crazy.

Streaming Netflix via Roku has been the perfect solution. I'm guaranteed something funny to watch every night, whenever I want, and in order: insomnia meets OCD. Plus I can watch 10 minutes and conk out - taking three nights to finish one episode - or watch three episodes if that's what it takes. I've burned through so many comedies on Netflix - I'll fill in the history below - that I had to get creative about what might qualify. When I saw Bewitched was available, I gave it a try.

It's funnier than I remembered, and not as offensively sexist as I expected. Sure, Samantha is referred to as "just a housewife" - not a homemaker or a stay-at-home mom, but a woman married to a house - and she spends all her time cooking, cleaning, or shopping. And sure, her only desires are to love and please her man, and to support him in all his manly endeavours.

But she's not the only woman in the show. There are the secretaries, of course, respectfully referred to as Miss So-and-so. And there are female executives, too, and they're not always played for laughs. Gladys Kravitz is a harebrained gossip, but her husband isn't much better. And of course, there's Endora.

Agnes Moorehead's most famous role, as the foil to Darrin Stephens, turns out to be funnier - and more complex - than I remembered it, too. Endora loves to flaunt her power, and only her love for Samantha keeps her in check (and Darrin in human form). There's sexism in the stereotype of the meddling mother-in-law, but more often than not, Darrin is getting his comeuppance for his weaknesses: for not trusting Sam, for jumping to conclusions, or for his own hubris, in thinking he might be stronger than Endora. In a feminist reading of Bewitched, Endora is a woman at the height of her power, and although she has to exist outside the normal sphere, she is free and nearly unstoppable.

Samantha herself, try as she might, cannot shoehorn herself into the housewife role. This is not portrayed as her own failing, but as the silliness of a husband who is too uptight or insecure or conservative to enjoy his mate's talents. I expected Elizabeth Montgomery's Samantha to be another version of Barbara Eden's Jeannie: a powerful woman trapped in a gilded cage, always trying to please her Master. I was wrong. Samantha Stephens is intelligent, confident, dignified, and playful. She might have promised Darrin not to use her witchly powers, but when she gives in, she's right, and he looks ridiculous.

Perhaps the most fun thing about watching Bewitched is a parade of guest appearances by people who would later become famous. Paul Lynde was famously Uncle Albert, but I didn't know that he appeared first as a nervous driving instructor, so flamboyantly Lynde that he was actually toned down by half as the uncle. So far, in addition to Lynde, I've seen Maureen McCormick, who would later be Marcia Brady, Eve Arden, Raquel Welch, Vic Tayback, Arte Johnson, June Lockhart, James Doohan, and the biggest future star so far, Richard Dreyfuss, who didn't even rate special guest billing. Scrolling through Bewitched's IMDb entry, I see several to come, including an uncredited turn by my favourite voice, June Foray as baby Darrin.

* * * *

I am always looking for more comedy. So if you've got a hidden gem to recommend, please do! Just don't be offended if I try it and don't like it. Comedy is funny that way.

Past pre-sleep-comedy has included The Simpsons (completely random and out of order), Futurama, Family Guy, American Dad (first two seasons only), and King of the Hill. Eons before that were Seinfeld, Mad About You (shout-out to Murray, my favourite TV dog), The Honeymooners (one of the funniest comedies of all time, and I've seen every episode a dozen times or more), The Dick van Dyke Show (Nick at Night), and the occasional Frasier.

So far on Netflix I've burned through The Office (US), Malcolm in the Middle (greatest sitcom ever), Community (Netflix ends in the middle of a season!), Parks & Recreation (until it stopped being funny for me), and Brooklyn 9-9. I'm loving Shameless (UK only) but it's not pure comedy, and often not right for bedtime. Allan and I watched Episodes together, and are now watching BoJack Horseman. So those don't count.

I am waiting and hoping for Netflix to get: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, the original Bob Newhart Show, M*A*S*H, and Barney Miller.

Magic Steve

Northern Reflections - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 05:52


Between now and the next election, Stephen Harper will try hard to be a magician. He'll try to make his record disappear. Michael Harris writes:

That is a conversation Harper isn’t anxious to have, for any one of a number of reasons. The mismanagement and bottomless dishonesty on display during the F-35 acquisition process, for instance.

Then there’s the PM’s performance during the Wright/Duffy Affair. You remember how he treated the the truth on that occasion as a kind of multiple choice exercise in storytelling. Should the PM be subpoenaed to Mike Duffy’s criminal trial, he won’t have recourse to the ‘creative option’ — not without consequences.

Or recall the belly-flop of judgment that resulted in the appointments of Bruce Carson, Arthur Porter and several other weak links to powerful and sensitive positions.

There are lots of other things Harper doesn't want to talk about:

Certainly Harper’s not keen to talk about his calamitous record with the Senate — promising not to appoint any senators and then stacking the place with every idle Tory hack with a heartbeat. And then came the unconstitutional legislation to reform the Red Chamber, followed by the drive-by smear of Chief Justice McLachlin.

Or maybe Steve doesn’t want to talk about why he has spied on Canadians since coming to office in 2006, sticking the long nose of government deeper and deeper into its citizens’ privacy. In a police state, you might put union rallies, or a vigil for murdered native women, under surveillance — as they have been in Harper’s Canada. In a petro-state you might spy on a public discussion about the oilsands — but in a democracy? In Canada?
So, like a magician, he'll try to create distractions and change the subject:

Stephen Harper would rather talk about beheadings than the dead room he has made of public discourse in Canada — and his dismal record after eight years in power.
 He'll certainly talk about the other guys:

Brian Mulroney called Tom Mulcair the best leader of the Opposition since Diefenbaker. Harper says he’s not fit to run the country because … well, because he doesn’t excel in the corporate ass-kissing department. No lip-liner for Tom.

And Justin? Justin is a callow little defiler of young brides and his father was a slut — or at least that was the gist of Ezra Levant’s recent unhinged rant on the person the polls keep saying will be Canada’s next prime minister. As Scott Feschuk cleverly put it on Twitter, this was Ezra’s “magnus Trudeau-pus … the masterpiece Ezra has been working toward all his life: Trudeau steals a kiss.”

And he'll rely on other folks like Ezra Levant to do his talking for him. When it's all said and done, maybe Ezra will make Magic Steve go away.

Stephen Harper's Insane and Deeply Disturbing Comeback Plan

Montreal Simon - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 05:47

In my last post I told you how Stephen Harper's obsession with destroying Justin Trudeau is slowly driving him over the deep end.

Making him believe that only by destroying Justin can he make himself popular again.

But he does have a Plan B.

And as Michael Harris reports, it's just as CRAZY.
Read more »

The Surveillance State Under Stephen Harper

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 05:42

Yesterday, Margaret Wente wrote a piece pointing out that in terms of policy, there is no discernible difference between Justin Trudeau and Stephen Harper, and yet people are craving change. In typically lazy manner, she simply cited friends who say “He’s gotta go!”
So what’s the problem with Mr. Harper? Is it the Duffy affair? The militant foreign policy? The highly dubious tough-on-crime agenda?

No, not really. It’s just … him. He’s too controlling, too snarly, too mean. He picked a fight with Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin. He sounded callous about murdered native women. It’s not the policies or even the scandals – it’s the tone. They just don’t like the guy.Such an analysis is surely superficial. There are, indeed, plenty of solid reasons to want this national blight and his minions gone from our lives that have been well-articulated over these past many years by both journalists and bloggers. I will concentrate on just one of them today.

Although I have written on this topic before, now seems a good time to remind ourselves that the Harper government is a vindictive and paranoid regime that sees every criticism, every question about policy, every disagreement and gathering of like minds as potential threats, treating those who hold contrary views as enemies.

The latest verification of this diseased mentality comes in a report that reveals about 800 public demonstrations and events were observed and reported on by government departments and law enforcement agencies since 2006.

Conducted under the auspices of the Government Operations Centre, those surveilled included:
A panel discussion at Concordia University last September, discussing historical colonialism and race relations in Quebec. The RCMP prepared the report.

A rally in Ottawa by the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Canadian Union of Public Employees in May 2012.
Protests against a Canadian mining company in Brazil last September.

A Montreal march and vigil for missing and murdered aboriginal women in September 2013.
A public discussion in Toronto on the oilsands in August 2013.

A workshop in non-violent protest methods in Montreal in October 2013.

Public Safety reported a protest of “lobster fishers” in New Brunswick in May 2013, while a shrimp allocations protest in Newfoundland was reported by Fisheries and Oceans a year later.

Larger events that made national news — the Idle No More movement, Occupy groups, various student protests in Montreal — were also included in the list.The full list, which runs to 34 pages, can be accessed here.

Most tellingly, the majority of the reports on public events appear to focus on First Nations and environmental movements, including the Idle No More movement and anti-oilsands activism.

While the government insists that this is all in the interests of public safety, not all are convinced.

Take, for example, Halifax professor Darryl Leroux, who found himself in an RCMP report for having organized a panel discussion on alternative concepts of colonialism throughout Quebec’s history.

Perhaps the good professor fell afoul of the Harper demand for conformist thinking because the discussion also touched upon topics like feminism and black activism in Montreal in the 1960s? The lessons of history can be subversive, I suppose.

So yes, despite Margaret Wente's facile claim that people just don't like Harper because of his manner, there are innumerable reasons for millions of Canadians of goodwill to want the political landscape cleansed in 2015.Recommend this Post

No Country for Old White Men

Dammit Janet - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 05:28
Or, Point and Laugh.
A group of former Liberal backbenchers is blasting Justin Trudeau’s “discriminatory” decision to call on all party MPs to vote in favour of abortion rights in Canada.

Many (most?) of these pathetic old misogynists and homophobes are former members of Liberals for Life, aka the Gang that Prompted Jean Chrétien to Over-ride Riding Association Takeovers Nominations.

Chief among them, of course, is Tom Wappel, an execrable POS if there ever was one. (Really, check the Wiki entry.)

Here at DJ! we're no great fans of Justin Trudeau, but you gotta love this.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, faced with an open letter from seven former Liberal MPs denouncing him for his stance on abortion, tweeted that the days "when old men get to decide what a woman does with her body are long gone."
True that those days are long gone, but those who can't accept it refuse to give up. So, the fight continues. Rallies across Canada for expanded and improved abortion access are planned for tomorrow, Saturday, September 20.

h/t for illustration.

FIPA apples don't fall far from the tree

Creekside - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 04:22
At that one hour trade committee meeting in 2012 that comprised the entirety of public and parliamentary interaction with the Canada-China FIPA, the only witness providing testimony came from DFAIT -- Ian Burney, assistant deputy minister for DFAIT’s trade policy and negotiations branch, and support staff.
Ian Burney is the son of Derek Burney, former Mulroney chief of staff/ NAFTA negotiator and former head of Harper's transition team in 2006, former Canadian ambassador to the US and former Vice Chair of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE). 
tireless plumper for increased North American economic and security integration, Derek Burney is also a director at TransCanada and Chairman of International Advisory Board at GardaWorld, "one of the world’s largest privately owned security companies" with operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Colombia, Haiti, Kurdistan, Libya, and Yemen.

Burney père has recently been writing editorials in Canadian media in support of FIPA although CCCE enthusiasm for increased trade with China goes way back.

Burney fils, during his brief Canada-China FIFA briefing to the 2012 trade committee, was obviously proud of both the deal made - the biggest in Canada since his dad worked on NAFTA - and the wide support it enjoyed. Ian Burney :
"There have been public expressions of support from the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, from the CCCE, from the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, from the Canada China Business Council, and the list goes on, including a number of the larger companies that have investments in China now.I'm not aware of any negative commentary that's come from the business community in Canada."So we're all good then. Anybody who was anybody liked it.

Except for recent complaints in the G&M two days ago from Chinese state-owned businesses (SOEs) operating in Canada that "Canadian labour costs are too high so they should be able to import their own workers" and also that the "regulatory approval process for resource projects takes far too long and could almost certainly be streamlined and made more efficient", something the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association had already done for them.    G&M :
“Most of the executives we polled expressed dissatisfaction with what they saw as unfair treatment of Chinese SOEs in Canada,” Mr. Zhang wrote, noting that they thought the media did not portray them fairly and that the Canadian public seemed to dislike their investments here, even though they received government support."Funny thing, that.

The Madness of Stephen Harper and the Unusual Wisdom of Margaret Wente

Montreal Simon - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 04:05

According to the Ottawa rumour mill Stephen Harper is now so obsessed with Justin Trudeau, that none of his faithful flunkies dare mention Justin's name in his presence.

Lest he fall to his knees and start biting the carpet, or THEM.

And for more evidence of that all you have to do is look at the speech he delivered today at of all places the Canadian Heritage War Museum

Because it's crazy stuff. 
Read more »

The Scottish Referendum and the Fatal Lesson of Quebec

Montreal Simon - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 00:54

Well it was a long night and a disappointing one. The YES side in the Scottish referendum didn't do as well as I had hoped it might.

Scotland will have to wait a little longer to become independent. And fear conquered hope.

Scotland voters have opted to continue as part of the United Kingdom after 307 years in an historic referendum vote, although most observers believe there will be a change in the relationship in the coming months. With just one centre of 32 remaining to report, 55.4 per cent of voters had voted No to independence, with 44.6 in the Yes camp.

But while that poor guy in the picture might not realize it for a while, there is still a lot to celebrate.
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RCMP + CSIS - Add Water and Stir. Voila, the Stasi Lives Again

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 00:17

They were East Germany's dreaded secret police.   They spied on ordinary East Germans, tapped their phones, intercepted their mail, assessed their 'reliability', used informants, kept dossiers on persons of interest and ordinary citizens alike.  
The hated Stasi fell with the Berlin Wall but they live on - in today's RCMP, the Royal Conservative Mounted Police, Harper's personal security apparatus. Today the RCMP, in conjunction with our official spy agency, CSIS, and the Canadian Border Service Agency, operate a domestic spying network called the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, INSET.

And just whose security is INSET enforcing? Yours? Mine? Canada's? Hardly. Don't be naive. They're the taxpayer funded security service of the fossil fuelers and especially the tar sanders, corporations like Enbridge and Kinder Morgan.  Oh yeah, and the Peoples Republic of China.

71-year old Leslie Askin received a "visit" from state security officers.  Why? She had taken some photographs of what she thought were Kinder Morgan storage tanks in Burnaby, B.C.  She wasn't sneaking around.  She wasn't trespassing.  She stood a good distance away and took her photos.  She wanted to show the condition of the 60-year old tanks to the National Energy Board.

Askin was spotted by Kinder Morgan security and they, in turn, set Canada's secret police apparatus on her.

Kinder Morgan says it reports all potential threats to police to "ensure the security and safety of our facilities and the surrounding community is maintained."

"It is our security protocol to record and file an internal report of any suspicious activities surrounding our facilities and to inform the RCMP of the incident," the company says.

Ten days later Askin had RCMP officers on her doorstep demanding answers.

In a statement, a spokeseperson for E-INSET confirms they did visit an individual who was seen taking photographs of Kinder Morgan's storage terminal."The protection and security of critical infrastructure falls within the mandate of E-INSET. Any and all tips reported to us are followed up on to the fullest extent." But, in Askin'scase: "there were no issues and the file was concluded with no further action taken."Askin has filed an access to information to try and find out what is in her police file."I am now in the INSET’s database and I will be there, I guess, until I drop dead," she said. When dealing with a state secret police agency, they're never entitled to the benefit of the doubt. Never.  They're thugs who operate in the shadows, in service not to the country but to powerful, immensely wealthy corporations who could easily do their own security.  But those corporations lack the intrusive powers of the state, they lack the professional spy apparatus, the very service that INSET serves up to them on a platter.My father and my uncles went to war, sacrificed enormously, to fight this sort of thuggery.  We're damned poor Canadians if we fail to stand up to it in our own time.I have an idea.  Let's catalogue Kinder Morgan and Enbridge facilities.  Then let's organize groups of people to individually visit those facilities, monitor them, record licence plate numbers, and take plenty of photographs.  20 or 30 monitors a day, new faces rotated in daily.  Nothing remotely illegal.  No trespassing, no obstruction, no heckling. Just maintain a vigil at a safe and legal distance, letting Kinder Morgan and Enbridge and the Canadian Stasi and our despotic government know that we will not be intimidated and we will respond in kind in keeping with our democratic and constitutional right of dissent.They want to gather intelligence on us.  We should gather intelligence on them, every scrap we can collect.  To the Stasi, being exposed was like the noonday sun to a vampire.They can intimidate us, one by one, but they'll have a hell of a hard time doing it if they have 20 or 40 or 100 new names each and every day, a list that could quickly grow into many hundreds, perhaps even thousands.  Watch, we can make them stand down, crawl back into the slime beneath their rocks. The RCMP has served notice that it is quite prepared to criminalize democratic dissent.  I won't have it.  No, not in my Canada.  What about yours? And if the goons demand your name, tell them "Leslie Askin."

It is Finished. Scotland Stays Put - For Now.

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 21:46
The BBC has called the Scottish independence referendum for the No side.  The pro-independence Yes side did win some notable victories, Glasgow for example, but not enough votes overall to succeed.

Now it falls to David Cameron to face down angry dissent in the Tory caucus and make good his promises to the Scottish people if they supported No.  That's not going to be easy and could lead to a Tory revolt but there'll be absolute hell to pay if the Scots who tipped the vote Cameron's way are given cause to feel they've been had by Whitehall.

Early Results Have Scotland Staying in the Union

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 18:29
From The Scotsman

Clackmannanshire and Orkney, two prime targets for the Yes campaign, have instead gone solidly to the No camp.  83.7% turnout in Orkney, 88.6% in Clackmannanshire.

Prime minister David Cameron is scheduled to make a televised statement around 11 p.m. PDT.  His devolution card, essentially a bribe to secure No votes, is causing a furor in England.  There's some talk about getting the same deal for England, including an English Parliament.

Gee, if the Brits wind up with a Scottish Parliament and an English Parliament and, presumably, a Welsh Parliament, there might not be much left of a United Kingdom at all.

Goddamned right, we need to tax and spend | #TOpoli #ThePublicGood

Posted by Sol Chrom - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 18:04


“You’re goddamned right, we need to tax and spend. We’re living with the results of decades of NOT taxing and spending, and what have we got? Buses that don’t arrive. Chunks of the Gardiner falling on our heads. Crumbling infrastructure. Poisonous inequality. Epidemic levels of child poverty. It’s way past time we fixed this, instead of embracing the failed policies advanced by the austerity pimps and other mouthpieces for the far right.”

What I’d love to hear from progressive candidates, not just in the municipal arena, but almost any other context. Stop letting the flimflam artists of the Right use “tax and spend” as a smear. Things cost money. Taxes pay for things. Socialist, left-wing, progressive, whatever. Morans and poo-flingers can call it whatever names they want.

A fella can dream.

Related posts:

Tagged: citizenship, critical thought, inequality gap, infrastructure, poverty, progressive, reclaiming the discursive turf, taxes, the public good, Toronto politics, winning back the words

Why the F-35 Was DOOMed From Birth

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 15:30

US Air Force Lt. Col. Dan Ward has  an interesting take on just when the F-35 light strike bomber went off the rails - right from the outset.

In February of 2014, Lt. Gen. Charles Davis, the Air Force’s top uniformed acquisition official, said big, audacious programs like the Joint Strike Fighter were “doomed the day the contract was signed.” As the former Program Executive Officer for the JSF, he brings a pretty credible perspective to the situation. Given his first-hand experience and the F-35’s track record of delayscost overrunstechnical problemsoperational limitations, and the recent grounding of the entire fleet due to an engine fire, I am very much inclined to agree with him.The phrasing of Lt. Gen. Davis’ assessment is important: He is not saying the F-35 was recently doomed, or is troubled because of late-breaking developments like sequestration, the Afghan drawdown, recent technical challenges, or the latest Chinese stealth fighter. Not at all. He is saying that America’s most expensive weapon system began its very existence behind the eight ball. It was doomed from the start.The JSF malpractitioners chose to follow what we might call “the path of D.O.O.M.” – Delayed, Over-budget, Over-engineered, Marginally-effective — by establishing a massive bureaucracy, a distant delivery date, an enormous budget, and a highly complex technical architecture. This fostered an expansive culture where rising price tags and receding milestones were seen as inevitable and where the primary problem-solving strategy was to add time, money, and complexity to the project. Data from the GAO and other reliable analysts agree this is a demonstrably ineffective approach. Because it was on the Path of D.O.O.M., the JSF’s Nunn-McCurdy breaches in 2004 and 2010 were simply a matter of time....It didn’t have to be that way. There is an alternative path they could have followed which would have increased the likelihood of delivering an affordable system that is available when needed and effective when used. This better approach goes by many names, but I like to call it the FIRE method.FIRE stands for Fast, Inexpensive, Restrained, and Elegant. Unlike the expansive D.O.O.M. culture, FIRE fosters a restrained approach to problem solving. Those who follow this path eschew large price tags and long timelines, instead placing a premium on speed and thrift as the Navy did with those Virginia-class submarines. Rear Admiral William Hilarides, the program executive officer for submarines, put it this way, “The Virginia-class program… was originally designed with cost effectiveness in mind. In order to reduce costs on this program, we have to change the way we build submarines, and that’s what we’re doing.”...Restraint leads to an entirely different approach to solving problems than that followed by the D.O.O.M. method, and thus leads to different solutions. People who use approaches like FIRE leverage intellectual capital more than financial capital, and apply “reductive thinking methods” to prevent over-engineered solutions and requirements creep. Even before the contract is signed, they set up constraints and implement procedures designed to prevent the types of problems experienced on the JSF.Is it too late to cancel the Joint Strike FighterMaybe, although an article by Col Michael Pietrucha in the May-June 2014 issue of Air & Space Power Journal made a strong case that it is not. But regardless of the future viability of that particular aircraft, it is certainly not too late to set other programs on a better path. Indeed, the Air Force seems interested in doing precisely that. In the same interview where Lt. Gen. Davis called the JSF doomed, he went on to point out that “we are not starting all the new audacious big programs that we were…” Instead, the Air Force is pursuing smaller, more restrained systems. Less D.O.O.M., more FIRE. Time will tell whether the shift towards less audacity and more restraint is permanent or effective, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.


Stephen Harper and the Monstrous Spy Machine

Montreal Simon - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 14:19

We know he loves total control. We know he rules by fear. We know he likes to muzzle his opponents.

But did you know that Stephen Harper has turned his entire government into a massive Spy Machine?

Ottawa has kept tabs on hundreds of demonstrations across Canada and around the world over the last eight years, from peaceful protests to public university lectures to riots. Newly released documents show about 800 public demonstrations and events were observed and reported on by government departments and law enforcement agencies since 2006.

And when you look at the list of those on his surveillance list it couldn't be more outrageous:
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If You're Going to Get Arrested for Beating Up Your Wife, Then...

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 13:14
Don't be sporting a T-shirt with the word "Obey" emblazoned on it when the cops show up to put you in cuffs.

Alleged NFL Abuser of the Day is Arizona Cardinals' running back Jonathan Dwyer. The cops say Dwyer head butted his wife when she refused his sexual advances and then punched her in the fact the next day for good measure.

Jonathan, everything you wear may and will be used against you in a court of law - you abusive bastard.

Shove Down. We Need to Set a Lot More Places at the Table.

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:43
It seemed like a grim consolation prize in the global overpopulation sweepstakes, the notion that mankind's numbers would peak at somewhere in the vicinity of 9-billion before eventually ebbing to a more sustainable level.

Well, so much for that.

A new study says we're heading for 11-billion by 2100 and it could just keep going up after that.

A ground-breaking analysis released on Thursday shows there is a 70% chance that the number of people on the planet will rise continuously from 7bn today to 11bn in 2100.

The work overturns 20 years of consensus that global population, and the stresses it brings, will peak by 2050 at about 9bn people. “The previous projections said this problem was going to go away so it took the focus off the population issue,” said Prof Adrian Raftery, at the University of Washington, who led the international research team. “There is now a strong argument that population should return to the top of the international agenda. Population is the driver of just about everything else and rapid population growth can exacerbate all kinds of challenges.” Lack of healthcare, poverty, pollution and rising unrest and crime are all problems linked to booming populations, he said.

“Population policy has been abandoned in recent decades. It is barely mentioned in discussions on sustainability or development such as the UN-led sustainable development goals,” said Simon Ross, chief executive of Population Matters, a thinktank supported by naturalist Sir David Attenborough and scientist James Lovelock. “The significance of the new work is that it provides greater certainty. Specifically, it is highly likely that, given current policies, the world population will be between 40-75% larger than today in the lifetime of many of today’s children and will still be growing at that point,” Ross said.

It's no small irony that the UN is hosting summits on climate change and on overpopulation on successive days and yet no one expects either group to focus on the other.   There are several potentially existential challenges facing mankind this century and the odds of getting through them are not on our side.  We either perish or accept that the solution to these threats requires that we solve them all if we're to succeed in solving any of them.  It is really that cut and dried.  Overpopulation, over-consumption, climate change, the freshwater crisis, exhaustion of renewable resources, depletion of non-renewables, the collapse of global fisheries, species extinction and migration, disease and pest migration, inequality global and domestic (of income, wealth and opportunity), the spread of authoritarianism, terrorism, insurgencies and nuclear proliferation - on and on and on.  And yet, even at the UN, we can't acknowledge the obvious ties between overpopulation and climate change.

We're so screwed.


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