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Maybe These Are the "End Times" or Someone Left the Asylum Door Unlocked Again

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 13:30

I take it all back.  Maybe there is a God.  After all there must be someone of the stature of a deity driving America's right wingnuts batshit crazy.  A case in point - Glenn Beck.

Glenn Beck has washed his hands of the Republican Party.  Why?  Because they're a bunch of closet commie lefties in his mind.

“They ran and they said they were doing all of these great things and they were going to stand against Obamacare and illegal immigration – they set us up. They set us up. Enough is enough. They’re torpedoing the constitution and they’re doing it knowingly. They’re taking on people like Mike Lee and Ted Cruz and they are torpedoing them. Knowingly,” Beck said.

“So I’m done with them,” the onetime Fox News host concluded. “Four years ago I was with them. Four years ago I said work from the inside: let’s change it. Let’s get new guys in there. It’s too late.”

And Beck wasn't just done with the GOP.  He then turned his guns (pardon the pun) on the National Rifle Association, the NRA. Beck thinks NRA board member, wait for it - Grover Norquist, might be an Islamist sleeper agent.
Glenn Beck says he may drop his membership in the National Rifle Association amid (baseless) fears that the organization has been infiltrated by radical Islamists — a conspiracy theory that centers on anti-tax activist and NRA board member Grover Norquist, who is currently seeking re-election to the board.

Peddled primarily by neoconservative campaigner and former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney, the charge is this: Norquist is a man ”actively involved, both enabling and empowering, Muslim Brotherhood influence operations against our movement and our country.” As Media Matters’ Tim Johnson notes, much of Gaffney’s “evidence” concerns the fact that Norquist has Muslim family members. But while the board of the American Conservative Union unanimously determined that Gaffney’s claims lacked any foundation, Beck said on Wednesday night that he’s “heard enough” to convince himself that Norquist is “a very bad man.

Whatever you do, don't tell Glenn those chin whiskers make him look awful Bolshie.

Can You Get to the Top of a Rightwing Party Unless You're an Unrepentant Liar?

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 13:07
Florida governor Rick Scott vehemently denies there's any such thing as a ban prohibiting state employees from using terms such as "climate change" or "global warming."

Tell that to longtime Florida public servant, Barton Bibler.

...Bibler reportedly included an explicit mention of climate change in his official notes from a Florida Coastal Managers Forum meeting in late February, during which climate change, rising sea levels and the possible environmental impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline were discussed.

On 9 March, Bibler received a formal reprimand for “misrepresenting that ‘the official meeting agenda included climate change’”, according to a statement from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Peer), a nationwide non-profit that champions public employees’ rights and providers resources and guidance to whistleblowers using its network of members across the country.

Bibler was instructed to stay away from the office for two days and told he could return to work only after a mental health evaluation from his doctor verified his “fitness for duty”, the complaint said. In the letter to Florida’s inspector general, Candie Fuller, the state’s Peer director calls for a full investigation to the matter.

Bibler told the Miami Herald that he “didn’t get the memo” about the gag order, so when he introduced himself by congratulating other officials on the call for the “exciting” work they were doing to address climate change, the “reaction was mostly shock”.

When Beauty Meets Sadness

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 12:27
It's not often that something this serenely beautiful, wrapped in a bittersweet story, shows up on this blog.  Who knows, you might enjoy it.  It's the story of Houshi Ryokan, the world's oldest inn.

This One Spells Trouble.

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 12:06

The vast Amazon rainforest is sometimes called "the lungs of the planet" for its historic role in absorbing atmospheric CO2 and replenishing our supply of oxygen.  That appears to be changing and not for the better.

A study finds that, over the past ten years, the trees of the Amazon are no longer absorbing nearly as much CO2 as in the past.  The Amazon has accounted for up to a quarter of all CO2 sequestered on land.  However, from 1990 to 2000, the forests' absorption dropped by 30% even as carbon emissions increased 21%.

Dr Roel Brienen of Leeds University said, “If this trend continues then that is worrying because that means that basically the subsidies that we have been getting from nature – the forests that are taking up part of the emissions that we have been putting out into the atmosphere – if that is going to stop then that means that we have to make even stronger cuts in our CO2 emissions in order to keep the rate of climate change as low as possible.”

Climate change has also transformed British Columbia's vast forest carbon sink into a net emitter of CO2 due to the massive pine beetle infestation, itself the result of climate change that prevents the necessary winter kill off to keep the pest populations under control.
Research has found that our greatest carbon sink, our oceans, are also losing their capacity to absorb atmospheric CO2.  We've taken the carbon sinks for granted and we depend heavily on them for a viable environment.

Britain's Deputy PM Calls for the UK to Recognize the State of Palestine

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 12:03

That didn't take long.  Nick Clegg has called on prime minister David Cameron to formally recognize the state of Palestine in response to Israeli prime minister Netanyahu's rejection of independence for the Palestinian people.

Netanyahu is reported, by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, to be backpeddling furiously, claiming that he still supports the 2-state solution despite having done everything in his power to undermine it and just days after he ruled it out. Sorry, Bibi.  Sarkozy was right.  You're a damned liar and everyone, Israelis included, knows it.  You shot your bolt, pal - and you were aiming for Barack Obama but you actually shot yourself in the foot.

Jesus, Bibi, did you just hoodwink the Israeli people or are you trying to hoodwink the world?  Well you record speaks for itself, loud and clear, you're trying to hoodwink the world - again.

A Palestinian Rejoices in Netanyahu's Victory

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 10:44
An op-ed in The New York Times, by Palestinian Yousef Munayyer casts the powerful election win of Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as possibly the best news the subjugated Palestinian people could have hoped for.

IF anyone doubted where Benjamin Netanyahu stood on the question of peace, the Israeli prime minister made himself clear just before Tuesday’s election, proclaiming that there would never be a Palestinian state on his watch. Then he decided to engage in a bit of fear-mongering against Palestinian citizens of Israel in hopes of driving his supporters to the polls. “The right-wing government is in danger,” Mr. Netanyahu announced on Election Day. “Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves.”

But Mr. Netanyahu’s victory is actually the best plausible outcome for those seeking to end Israel’s occupation. Indeed, I, as a Palestinian, breathed a sigh of relief when it became clear that his Likud Party had won the largest number of seats in the Knesset.
This might seem counterintuitive, but the political dynamics in Israel and internationally mean that another term with Mr. Netanyahu at the helm could actually hasten the end of Israel’s apartheid policies. The biggest losers in this election were those who made the argument that change could come from within Israel. It can’t and it won’t.

Israelis have grown very comfortable with the status quo. In a country that oversees a military occupation that affects millions of people, the biggest scandals aren’t about settlements, civilian deaths or hate crimes but rather mundane things like the price of cottage cheese and whether the prime minister’s wife embezzled bottle refunds.

For Israelis, there’s currently little cost to maintaining the occupation and re-electing leaders like Mr. Netanyahu. Raising the price of occupation is therefore the only hope of changing Israeli decision making. Economic sanctions against South Africa in the 1980s increased its international isolation and put pressure on the apartheid regime to negotiate. 

Once Israelis are forced to decide between perpetual occupation and being accepted in the international community, they may choose a more moderate leader who dismantles settlements and pursues peace, or they may choose to annex rather than relinquish land — provoking a confrontation with America and Europe. Either way, change will have to come from the outside.

Replacing Mr. Netanyahu with his challenger, Isaac Herzog, would have slowed down the B.D.S. movement and halted pressure on Israel by creating the perception of change. A new prime minister would have kick-started a new “peace process” based on previous failed models that would inevitably fail again because of a lack of real pressure on Israel to change its deplorable behavior.

The re-election of Mr. Netanyahu provides clarity. Two years ago Secretary of State John Kerry declared that the maximum time left for a two-state solution was two years. Mr. Netanyahu officially declared it dead this week in order to drive right-wing voters to the polls. The two-state solution, which has seen more funerals than a reverend, exists today only as a talking point for self-interested, craven politicians to hide behind — not as a realistic basis for peace.

The old land-for-peace model must now be replaced with a rights-for-peace model. Palestinians must demand the right to live on their land, but also free movement, equal treatment under the law, due process, voting rights and freedom from discrimination.

Netanuyahu's Win Could Be Israel's Greatest Defeat

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 09:47
Tossing ideas around yesterday I came to a "What If" moment.  What if, I wondered, Israeli prime minister re-elect, Benjamin Netanyahu, has destroyed Israel's lifeline - the backing of the president of the United States of America.

It's been the American president, who alone controls his country's veto at the United Nations Security Council, who has intervened dozens of times over the years to prevent the U.N. from responding to Israel's excesses, particularly its half-century of mauling of the captive Palestinian people.

What if?  Could it possibly happen.  Then, this morning, Boris from The Galloping Beaver left a comment to the effect that Gwynne Dyer sees that security council business pretty much the same way.

...Netanyahu’s entire political career has been dedicated to sabotaging the 1993 Oslo Accords (which envisaged Israeli and Palestinian states living side-by-side in peace) and planting so many Jewish settlers on the Israeli-occupied territories that a separate Palestinian state becomes physically impossible.

He largely destroyed the Oslo agreement in his first term as prime minister in 1996-99 (the creation of a Palestinian state was scheduled for 1998). Almost 10 percent of Israel’s Jews now live in the occupied Palestinian territories (east Jerusalem and the West Bank) that would make up a Palestinian state. But to keep his American allies and his European supporters happy, he never actually said he would not allow an independent Palestine.

Netanyahu finally spoke the truth on Monday because that’s what the settlers and their supporters wanted to hear, and he needed those votes in order to survive politically. But it destroyed the myth, useful to the United States and the European Union, that there is some surviving “peace process” that must be protected by keeping the Israelis happy. The “peace process” is dead, dead, dead. Has been for years. There is no “two-state solution” on the table.

This makes it a lot harder for the U.S. to veto resolutions critical of Israel at the United Nations, as it has done 51 times since 1972. Without the cover of peace talks, these vetoes become votes for perpetual Israeli rule over the Palestinian people. And it will accelerate the broader erosion of the old pro-Israel reflexes of people in Europe and the US who needed the reassurance that some day, somehow, there would be a just peace settlement.

Netanyahu made matters considerably worse during the campaign by openly showing his contempt for President Barack Obama. His panic-mongering speech to the U.S. Congress, painting Obama’s quest for a nuclear deal with Iran as a naive surrender to Iran’s alleged desire for nuclear weapons, was an unprecedented foreign intervention in the U.S. political process. It will not be forgiven or forgotten by Obama.

His election promise to speed up Jewish settlement in the Palestinian territories (which is illegal under international law) was another nail in the coffin of peace negotiations. Still, it did help to get Netanyahu re-elected, and for him that’s all that counts.

He still truly believes that only he understands the real and existential dangers facing Israel, and has the will to do something about them. Except that all he ever really does is kick those dangers down the road a bit. Unable to believe that a peaceful settlement is possible or even desirable, he condemns his country to perpetual conflict and growing isolation.

Benjamin Netanyahu has given the finger to his best ally, his indispensable ally, and not just once.  He did it so that Bibi could remain the prime minister of Israel.  Before Tuesday it was unimaginable that a president of the United States would not call a prime minister of Israel to congratulate him/her on an election victory.  The unimaginable has happened.  Obama has nearly two years left in office and he doesn't have to seek re-election.  John Boehner and Mitch McConnell don't get a vote at the U.N.  From here on,  we're sailing in uncharted waters and there are storm clouds gathering.

On prospects for change

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 08:27
The latest round of discussion about the possibility of a coalition to offer something better than the Harper Cons has taken an noteworthy turn. At this point, everybody but the Libs seems to have settled on the position that there's no real obstacle to a coalition government - and the Libs' spin machine has responded with little more than a plan to fabricate mistrust between themselves and the NDP.

But no matter how far that effort goes, the foreseeable outcomes of the next election feature a low probability of anybody holding a majority, and a strong prospect that the NDP and the Libs working together can deliver the change each of their voters would like to see.

So how far does Justin Trudeau think he'll get telling Canada that cooperation is too much hard work to be worth pursuing, and that we should instead settle for another term of hopeless Harper government?

[Edit: fixed wording.]

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 07:53
Here, on the need and opportunity to show some vision in our provincial budgeting and planning - even if the Wall government has no interest in bothering.

For further reading...
- I posted previously on the Sask Party's habit of locking Saskatchewan into ill-advised long-term contracts which serve nobody's interests but the corporations involved.
- Karri Munn-Venn discusses the UK Energy Research Centre's report on which fossil fuels we can afford to exploint here.
- Likewise, Ivan Semeniuk and Shawn McCarthy report on the Acting on Climate Change study showing how Canada can eliminate the use of non-renewable power generation and cut greenhouse gas emissions in a hurry if it has the political will to do so.
- Murray Mandryk offers his own take on the important decisions which the Saskatchewan Party continues to kick down the road.
- And finally, the CCPA's Alternative Federal Budget offers an example of what we should expect out of our governments.

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 06:43
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- David Vognar argues that we should push for a guaranteed annual income not only as a matter of social equity, but also as a means of building human capital.

- Mike Benusic, Chantel Lutchman, Najib Safieddine and Andrew Pinto make the case for stronger sick leave policies across Canadian workplaces:
Canada’s current sick leave policies are not supporting the health of individuals and communities. First, employees are forced to choose between staying home when ill (losing income and potentially placing their job at risk) or to go to work (worsening their health and potentially infecting others). A CDC study of nearly 500 food service workers revealed that more than 50% had worked while knowingly ill. When asked why, half of the workers reported they did not want to lose income and a quarter did so for fear of losing their job. Obviously, those working in the food industry have a clear potential to transmit pathogens.

Second, sick workers are driven to clinics or emergency rooms: not for medical care but merely for proof they are ill – a paternalistic custom enshrined in business and many provincial sick leave rules. In delegating physicians into a policing role, clinical hours get chewed up by administrative tasks. When these illnesses are due to larger outbreaks, physicians are doubly burdened – by the sick who need treatment and the sick who need notes. The Ontario Medical Association discourages requiring sick notes for this reason, and also because of the real risk of transmission to others in the health care environment. Forcing infectious people into our waiting rooms who won’t benefit from treatment is burdensome for the patient and risky for all of those in the office.

Third, a comprehensive paid sick leave policy in Canada is economically sound. Missing work is costly, estimated to be $16.6 billion dollars annually in lost productivity, but research is beginning to show that being sick at work (presenteeism) is incredibly costly as well – up to three times as much as absenteeism for depression and pain.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of equity. All workers should have access to sufficient paid, job-protected sick leave to help them recover from illnesses without losing income and to reduce the risk of infecting others. As well, it’s a matter of respect: having an employee ‘prove’ an illness is nonproductive and onerous for all.- Meanwhile, Sara Mojtehedzadeh discusses Dorcas Martey's example of how a lack of effective sick leave forces people engaged in precarious work to put their health on hold in order to keep afloat financially. And Julia Belluz points to Alheil Picazo's story as an example of how much room there is to improve Canada's health care system.

- Joanna Kerr rightly lambastes the Cons for trying to pretend that anybody who cares about civil liberties must be a terrorist. And Alison reminds us of the Cons' history of using public resources to monitor and attack the environmental movement, while Jim Bronskill reports that protest activity in general is already in CSIS' cross-hairs. 

- Finally, the European Federation of Public Service Unions weighs in on the false promise of P3s. And Kev highlights how the lure of low taxes has led us to accept public services which are both insufficient to begin with, and extremely precarious in their fiscal footing.

Attention, Shoppers: Don't Let The Terrorists Win!

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 06:12
An important message to all Canadians from Stephen Harper:

Recommend this Post

A Game Of Inches

Northern Reflections - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 05:58

The upcoming election, Geoffrey Rafe Hall writes, will be about nasty, brutish and small things. That's because Stephen Harper has nothing else to run on:

Lacking evidence of either sound fiscal management or a healthy economy — and certainly having nothing to offer on the ‘change’ front — Stephen Harper is confronted with the problem of campaigning on not much at all.

The PM’s answer to that problem so far has been to deliver more of the same — more fear, more legislation that ‘gets tough on crime’ – but these tired old tactics won’t, on their own, mobilize support beyond the party base.
So his first task is to shore up his party's base. That's what all the fear and smear is about. His past election victories have been based on playing a game of inches:

Remember how narrow the margin is between winning and losing in federal elections now. In the northern Greater Toronto Area in the last federal election, seven seats were up for grabs. Five went to the Conservatives, who received 39.2 per cent of the votes cast. One seat went to the Liberals with 38.2 per cent of the vote; the NDP took one seat on 20 per cent of the vote. Less than 59 per cent of eligible voters actually cast a ballot — meaning that the difference between winning one seat and winning five came down to the choices made by less than one per cent of voters.

So even the smallest of actions matter. One tactic that has proved effective in galvanizing base support, regardless of political affiliation, is what psychologists call “out-group derogation”. In simple terms it means creating an Us vs. Them split in supporters minds, with the ‘Them’ group presented as threatening. The tactic works, and Conservatives have used it before. But it really only works well when the distinction between “us” and “them” is based on shared values — such as banning face coverings in citizen ceremonies.
But that's a risky strategy. What if  the "shared values" the Conservatives espouse are shared by only their base?

What if, in the process of identifying and shunning the ‘other’, that group expands beyond the boundaries set by shared values — by many Canadians’ discomfort with the niqab, for example — to a broader multicultural/multiracial society? What if, in the heat of an election campaign, some of the ‘Us’ camp get roped in with ‘Them’?
The Conservatives have courted the immigrant vote. But, if immigrants become convinced that Harper has them in his sites, what happens to his game of inches?

Stephen Harper has made gross miscalculations in the past. Perhaps this is another one. And perhaps it will do him in.

Rick Mercer Goes after the Monstrous Monument to Harperism

Montreal Simon - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 02:10

I've written a few posts about the plans for a monstrous Memorial to the Victims of Communism 

And how it's really a monument to Stephen Harper and his ghastly regime. A Harper/Kenney/Baird production designed to pleasure their base and glorify themselves.

And since the land had been reserved for a new federal court, is just another slap in the face of our justice system.

I have also pointed out how many distinguished architects have criticized it for being too big and too ugly.

While others have attacked it for its monumental cynicism. 
Read more »

Benjamin Netanyahu and Stephen Harper's Netanyahu Moment

Montreal Simon - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 23:14

Benjamin Netanyahu is as any decent person knows, a brutish right-wing demagogue, a racist, and a war criminal.

And his victory in yesterday's Israeli election couldn't be more tragic. 

Or have left the Middle East and his own country more deeply wounded. 
Read more »

What If?

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 19:48
What if a motion to recognize Palestinian statehood comes before the United Nations Security Council and the United States elects not to use its veto?

What if?

The veto power only resides in the five permanent members - the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia and China.  Of the five, the United States has been Israel's only steadfast ally on the Security Council, regularly vetoing any effort deemed unwelcome by Israel.

Obama alone controls his country's vote at the Security Council.  Of the other members, Russia and China could be expected to back the Palestinians.  France, too, is also onside and it's hard to imagine the Brits wouldn't follow America's lead.

Once recognition of the Palestinian state had the power of the Security Council behind it, the legitimacy of Netanyahu's occupation would be shattered and actions could be instituted, perhaps beginning with punitive sanctions, to lift the Israeli siege.

Just Sayin'

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 19:05
Notice how we're beating the war drums over Russia's annexation of predominantly ethnic-Russian Crimea yet when Israel steals the Palestinian homeland in the West Bank we sort of cheer them on.  Our supposed best friends have held the Palestinians captive, under brutal and often murderous occupation for half a century, and we're pretty much fine with it.

Stephen Harper and the Vigilantes

Montreal Simon - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 17:32

Oh boy. It's so hard to keep up with Stephen Harper and all the voices in his head.

One moment he's urging people in rural areas to get a gun to protect themselves if they don't live near a police station.

The next moment he's claiming he's NOT supporting vigilantism.
Read more »

Dr. Dawg's Legal Bills: How You Can Help

Anti-Racist Canada - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 15:22
At the start of the month we had mentioned that John Baglow's defamation suit did not go as hoped, though to be fair the ruling was a bit confusing:

The case finally went to trial and the judgement is now in. John both won and lost. In the weird world of libel law, the judge found that John had been defamed, but that because John had supported basic legal rights for child soldier Omar Khadr, the comment that John was a supporter of the Taliban was 'fair comment' and therefore legally okay.

The judge did not award costs to either Mr. Baglow or Mr. Smith/Free Dominion, however the cost of the suit was still considerable.

That is where you, if you so choose dear reader, can help out a friend of this blog.

Richard Warman, Mr. Murphy of BigCityLib Strikes Back, and one of the frequent contributor's to Mr. Baglaw's blog who goes by the name of Balbulican have launched an Indiegogo campaign to help Mr. Baglaw pay his legal bill. Mr. Baglow has been a friend of ARC for quite a long time and has been very supportive of our efforts. It's only right that we help him now when we can.

At this point the campaign has raised 11% of the goal. It took the Fourniers several months to reach their goal when they were raising money to fund an appeal of the Warman defamation suit. We would very much like to see the goal for Mr. Baglow reached much sooner than that.

Dr. Dawg's Legal Bill

A Work In Progress

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 13:50
The website SHD (Shit Harper Did) is currently completing a documentary looking into Canada's surveillance programs. Now in post-production, it is seeking donors to help complete the process. If you would like to contribute, you can click here.

Following is a trailer of their work:

Recommend this Post

A short, concise rant on Israel. .

kirbycairo - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 10:45
Ok, here's a short rant -

Now that Benjamin Netanyahu was inadvertently recorded admitting that Israel is only in peace negations as a way of stringing the Palestinians along while they steal all of their land, and now that Netanyahu has admitted that they will never allow a Palestinian state, isn't it time for all those apologists for Israel to admit that Israel has been the problem all along? For decades I heard people criticize Palestinians for failing to recognize Israel's right to exist, and people continued to perpetuate this misrepresentation years after the vast majority of Palestinians loudly proclaimed that they would recognize the 1947 partition boarders. It is clear now to all but the most blind partizans that it is Israel that will never recognize the Palestinians right to exist, it is the rightwing expansionism of Israel that wants all the land, not peace. The tide is turning. Millennials are beginning to recognize the pervasive lie and apartheid state that is modern Israel. Israel has long been an isolated state by the majority of countries in the world. They are isolated because they are a viscously racists, militarist, expansionist state hell-bent on taking all the land of Palestine and using some biblical fantasy to justify the more immoral of actions. But their isolation will now begin to increase as they have finally made their true colours clear to all but the most rabid apologists.

Reap the whirlwind Bibi - you have met the enemy and he is YOU.


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