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Lest We Forget

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 14:11
Brutality against women can come from those whose duty it is to protect and serve:
A Winnipeg woman said this week that she had filed a complaint after an officer beat her in her own home as her 8-year-old son watched.

Lana Sinclair told CBC that Winnipeg police officers showed up on Halloween night to investigate reports of “yelling.” One officer spoke to her son, while another officer talked to her.

“He came up to me and poked me,” Sinclair recalled. “I was sitting on a chair in the kitchen and I jumped up and said you don’t need to touch me.”

The officer pulled out a baton, and beat her with it, she explained to CTV. She said he then smashed her face into a work table, and into the floor.
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Donor Beware: Ottawa Senators' Fake Clinic Charity Re-Visited

Dammit Janet - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 14:09
'Tis the (ever earlier) season when you'll be hit up by various good causes. In light of the revelation that unbeknownst to Ontario gamblers they were helping to fund a religious anti-choice fake clinic, let's revisit the grandmother of anti-abortion trickery stories in Canada.

I was reminded of it by commenter Sub-Boreal, who reports a similar situation.
And it's not just lottery funds that end up funding the fake crisis centres. Example: I was horrified to discover a couple of years ago that my credit union gave a few thousand to a local centre after polling members on how to divvy up a fund among some charities. I hadn't been a very attentive member, so I'm not sure how the shortlist of charities had been compiled, but I'll be much more vigilant the next time any similar process gets announced.
For the holidays of 2007, the wives and girlfriends -- known as the Better Halves (awww) -- of the Ottawa Senators sponsored a charity dealie with three worthy charities the intended recipients of funds extorted exhorted from loyal Sens fans.

Planned Parenthood raised the alarm that one of the charities, First Place Pregnancy Centre, now rebranded (as they are wont to do) First Place Options, was a lying-liar outfit of the first order.

Before DJ!, deBeauxOs and I blogged at Birth Pangs. We were all over the story as were other bloggers, notably JJ at Unrepentant Old Hippie.

CBC got on it in the person of Heather Mallick. (Her original story has vaporized, as has the re-issue at rabble.)

I found a link to the meaty bit of the story -- her phone conversation with the Senators Foundation prez as they went through the links on First Place's website.
I had an initially cheerful phone interview with Sens Foundation president Dave Ready, who said the Better Halves, when asked to choose three charities, chose: First Place, Kids Help Phone [and] Harmony House (a women's shelter).

First Place was “in line with our mandate,” he said. “We did due diligence and checked that it's a charity.”

“You went to the website?” I asked.


“Did you check on the links?”


We went through the First Place site links together. There's a standard disclaimer but First Place hopes we'll find them “helpful.” I told Ready that some of the news headlines appeared to be libellous, particularly the ones linking corporations that make birth control drugs to the Jewish Holocaust and one drug itself to Nazi death camps. Others were grotesque: “One baby in 30 left alive after medical abortion” turns out to be an absurd, unsubstantiated anonymous “news story” in a British entertainment magazine.

You're also guided to a donation page for the American Life League, a hardline group based outside Washington. There's a shop, admittedly very funny, that sells “Abortion is mean” T-shirts for two-year-olds.

They offer booklets explaining that abortion is wrong even in the case of incest. They tell members to scare away raped children outside abortion clinics. They call RU-486 “the anti-human pesticide.” They offer sample letters to the editor to send to outlets that employ, I imagine, columnists like me. One begins: “Planned Parenthood is not 'a good guy.'”

Ready gets more and more quiet as we track this. Soon he is desperate to get off the phone. He will not let me talk to a Better Half, who might well explain that she hadn't known that First Place is financed by the Bethel Pentecostal Church (external - login to view) in Ottawa and its mission — declared on the Bethel website but nowhere on the First Place site — is not just anti-abortion but anti-birth control.In short, the Sens' Better Halves had stepped in some deep doo-doo.

Sens fans were wondering WTF? Pro-choicers (especially of the Leaf Nation variety) were pointing and laughing.

And bloggers were having a ball.

But before things could get any poopier, the lying liars pulled out. (This was characterized as a "gracious" move by the Fetus Freak Media. Ha. Right.)

We never learned how the Better Halves chose that charity. Was it an inside job? Were they duped?

There was one more move. First Place sued Planned Parenthood for "defamation over comments that the Centre is 'anti-choice'." As that blogger points out, it was pretty odd for one charity to sue another, and likely to be very expensive for both.

We don't know what happened there either since some kind of settlement was reached.

For us, it was lots of fun, especially as we were dubbed by LifeShite Vicious Abortion Crusaders, a title we wear with pride to this day.

But there's another more important takeaway: When someone asks you for dough, ask for details.

(It also explains why fake clinic websites don't link to their more lunatic, racist fellow travellers anymore. In public at least. We know from undercover investigations that they still spew the most outrageous nonsense once they have a live vulnerable woman in their fake clinics.)

Happy giving season!

Tuesday Afternoon Links

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 13:28
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Shannon Gormley points out that human rights are meaningless in the face of a government which claims the entitlement to strip people of their humanity - which is exactly what the Cons are setting out to do:
(W)hen Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced this year that, “Citizenship is not a right, it is a privilege,” most human rights advocates couldn’t take him seriously. He may as well have declared that the curvature of the earth is merely an optical illusion and the world is indeed flat, or that the second law of thermodynamics doesn’t apply to his government, which can perpetually stay in power whether or not its ministers fuel it with statements deserving serious consideration.

But while remarks such as the minister’s may not be worth taking seriously as statements of fact, they’re worth remembering as philosophical beliefs that determine policy directions. 
(T)o make simple policy changes, the government must make serious philosophical changes. It has to reverse its absurd and dangerous position that “the right to have rights” isn’t a right at all.- Rick Salutin highlights the amount of work young Canadians already put into their efforts to break into a hostile job market. And Aaron Wherry points out that there's no reason for workers to have any confidence in a government which will proudly trumpet the funnelling of hundreds of millions of dollars to employers in the name of a jobs program without even considering whether they'll actually create any jobs in the process.

- Jen St. Denis discusses the negative effects income-splitting would have on women's earning power even in the few families who would enjoy some surface benefit. And Angella MacEwen exposes Andrew Coyne's blind spot in valuing the contributions of a stay-at-home spouse at zero (resulting in tax benefits based solely on the actual income of the other spouse).

- Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew reports on the widespread food bank use among people with full-time jobs which don't provide enough income to put food on the table. And Jordon Cooper discusses how Saskatchewan governments have come to see increasing reliance on food banks as a solution rather than a problem.

- Finally, Michael Harris writes about the Cons' exploitative relationship with Canada's veterans. And Ryan Meili comments on the connection between peace and health:
War brings injury and death by definition, but the impact of war is not limited to wartime. Long after the bullets stop flying, the destructive effects on a country continue: on its economy, its infrastructure, its psychology, its soul. War leaves behind land mines literal and metaphorical. Unexploded ordinances claim the lives and limbs of civilians. The spread of illnesses like HIV increases with the transience of wartime life. Violence and disease kill the young, the healthy backbone of the nation's families and economy. Those left behind often struggle with the emotional and psychological echoes of the trauma they survived. All of this damage leads to the perpetuation of poverty on numerous levels and, all too often, to a return to conflict and a repetition of the destructive cycle.

The road from peace to health is not a one-way street; a healthy society is less likely to find itself fighting. The same conditions that lead to higher levels of illness -- economic inequality, food insecurity, labour unrest -- can also lead to dangerous political instability. Since the early 1990s a series of global initiatives known as Peace through Health have been actively looking at the ways in which humanitarian health efforts can serve as a bridge to peaceful resolution of conflict. Well-resourced universal health systems can be a stabilizing element in both preventing and responding to violence. In this context, recent cuts to health services (including the drastic cuts to refugee health, many of whom have come to Canada to flee conflict) present a real threat to our health and security.

At this time of remembrance we are moved to think of those who sacrificed their lives in times of war so that others might live in peace. But to say "never again" to the horrors of the past means to work for peace today. A successful peace movement must recognize how injustice and inequality promote and perpetuate conflict. The world is suffering from a disease, with most gruesome symptom. As we continue to learn in health care, the most effective way to combat disease is to move upstream, to prevent sickness from starting.

Remembrance Day as empty signifier

Dawg's Blawg - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 11:56
Every year I find it harder and harder to feel a part of the Remembrance Day ceremonies, and this year was no exception. I’ve been asking myself why this should be—perhaps “interrogate” is a better term. After all, my father... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

It's Just Another Front in the New Cold War

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 09:11

Let the war begin, the propaganda war.

One of the great battlefields of Cold War is the war of propaganda.  We've been waging a propaganda war against Russia for some time.  That's not to say that Russia hasn't generously supplied us with plenty of ammunition for us to spin and circulate and fire back.

Now Russia is going to lock horns with the West on this front as in others.

Russia on Monday launched a state-of-the-art media organisation with hundreds of journalists abroad intended to wean the world off what it called aggressive Western propaganda - dubbing it, with echoes of the Cold War, Sputnik.In a hi-tech presentation in a media centre once used to host Cold War-era press conferences, one of President Vladimir Putin's favourite journalists outlined plans meant to repair the damage done to Russia's image during the crisis in Ukraine.Although Moscow denies reverting to Soviet-style techniques, Russian media executives acknowledge privately they are waging a propaganda war with echoes of the Cold War."We are against the aggressive propaganda that is feeding the world," said Dmitry Kiselyov, a conservative television anchor who heads the Rossiya Segodnya media outlet created by Mr Putin last year to promote Russia's image abroad."We will provide an alternative interpretation of the world, of course. There is demand for this."...Standing on a stage in front of a huge screen showing a starry sky, which gave way to television footage from around the world, Mr Kiselyov said Sputnik would have "news hubs" in 30 cities, including Washington, London, Berlin, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and the capitals of a host of former Soviet republics.Its operations will include news wires, a radio station, an Internet site, applications for mobile phones and social media, as well as press centres in some countries. Some of the hubs could have up to 100 staff, Mr Kiselyov said.

Keeping Remembrance Day in My Own Way….

Left Over - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 09:08
Gap’s ‘Remembrance Day deal’ not appropriate, Toronto veteran says ‘The point is not to exploit and profit from this day,’ says Cpl. Chuck Krangle

CBC News Posted: Nov 10, 2014 11:10 PM ET Last Updated: Nov 11, 2014 10:57 AM ET

  Have to agree with  Cpl. Krangle, it is beyond inappropriate to  exploit Memorial Day with  yet another phony holiday ‘sale’ and shows no respect for  our veterans, living and dead..

Then again, no ‘sale’ on  any public holiday advertised as such is  truly appropriate..but  you hear little  if any criticism of it..Still the media is happy to headline such a critique during a sensitive time in Canadian history, when we are still feeling the sting of the recent murders of  Canadians on home soil by  people who should have been treated for mental disorders, but were instead free to acquire  arms and  act on their  own hallucinations…

By centering attention on the  stores, all part of the  capitalist system that CBC gratefully buys into every five minutes on their TV network, it is easy to forget why  these  men had to die, and the reasons  get lost in the noise and pontifications from  our  elected leaders..

Why is their such a reduced amount of gun control in this country?

Why are those in dire need of  mental health doctors and facilities ignored, put back out on the streets and left to  fend for themselves?  Let us not forget that one of these sick men begged for incarceration, and told authorities he would be repeating his acts of violence if not stopped..he was not stopped.

Why is the fact that a murdered soldier involved in the hospitalization and rehab of  veterans and soldiers is not given the same attention as one guarding a monument? Could it be that  this sort of publicity would draw voters’ attention to the fact that the Harper  government has underfunded every program to rehabilitate  vets?

On Remembrance Day,  and please remember I am a Canadian citizen by choice, and always am cognizant of how happy that makes me,  I  think of my Russian-born Jewish grandfather,  whose family escaped the pogroms of his village  and  came to the US, a handsome young  doughboy  in uniform in a formal portrait, who lived a long and good life, unlike many of his comrades..

I think of my Brooklyn, NY-born  father, who lied about his age (15) to enlist and fight in WW2 and joined the SeaBees,  a Navy Construction Battalion, because he was colorblind and could not be  given a combat role, and the horrors of Guadalcanal and  the surrounding areas that he had to deal with..my mother told me he used to wake up screaming during the early years  of their married life….

I think about all the teenage boys  that I went to school with  who were forced into  the Vietnam War, and those  who came back alive were often  damaged in ways that were not necessarily visible to the eye…often as  drug addicts who  had  the shadowed hollow eyes of  desperation.

This year, of course, I’ll be thinking about the  men who died so needlessly in this  war  of Harper’s making…not  because of his decision to get involved, yet again, in the countries far away that are not a concern of ours except as  our  old role of peacekeepers would dictate, but  the men who died here because of  his policies  of scorched earth when it comes to social justice or helping those who cannot help themselves…

    Perhaps Cpl.  Krangle will find  my musings inappropriate, but  to paraphrase Scrooge, “Let me honor  Remembrance Day in my own way..”

In Remembrance

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 08:59
From Chris Hedges' "War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning."

"When Ernie Pyle, the American war correspondent in World War II, was killed on the Pacific island of Ie Shima in 1945, a rough draft of a column was found on his body. He was preparing it for release upon the end of the war in Europe. He had done much to promote the myth of the warrior and the heroism of soldiering, but by the end he seemed to tire of it all:

"But there are many of the living who have burnedinto their brains forever the unnatural sight of cold dead menscattered over the hillsides and in the ditches along the high rows of hedge throughout the world.

Dead men by mass production - in one country after another -month after month and year after year. Dead men inwinter and dead men in summer.

Dead men in such familiar promiscuity that theybecome monotonous.

Dead men in such monstrous infinity that you come toalmost hate them. These are the things that you at home neednot even try to understand. To you at home they are columnsof figures, or he is a near one who went away and justdidn't come back. You didn't see him lying so grotesqueand pasty beside the gravel road in France.
We saw him, saw him by the multiple thousands.
That's the difference.

Another Remembrance Day, And my Scepticism Lingers . . . .

kirbycairo - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 08:28
Four years ago today I wrote a blogpost expressing my concerns with the modern manifestation of Remembrance Day. Even as recently as this week I received a positive comment on that post. I genuinely believe that more people would express concerns about Remembrance Day but they fear the reaction. This is unfortunate. When people in what is supposed to be a democratic society are hesitant to express rational and meaningful concerns about something, particularly about the dangers of nationalism, I get concerned. But since almost no one else is willing to talk about it, I will.
I grew up partly in Los Angeles California during the height of the War in Vietnam. It was a turbulent time and even as a child I had a sense of the turbulence, the violence, and the ideological rifts that were tearing apart the nation and the world. Though my parents weren’t activists, they were still vehemently against the war in Indo-China and the inhuman way violence that was being committed there. Though my maternal grandfather was a retired Master Sergeant in the USAF there was little sympathy for the war even in my grandparents’ household.
However, strangely enough what I knew about war and soldiers I was mostly learning from someone who was not in my family. Mr. Campbell was an old man who ran a little five and dime store in my neighborhood in Santa Monica. He as a grizzled, yet charming, old guy who never failed to be cheerful towards me when I came into his crowded little shop despite the obviously difficult life that he led. Mr. Campbell had fought in WWI and had been left nearly blind by gas. “The Germans did everything they could to kill me,” he would say will a crooked smile, “but I am still here.” Despite his injuries, he wasn’t bitter about the war and he didn’t seem to hold it against the Germans as many seemed to do. He even pointed out to me more than once that he had married a German woman despite the war. She had died years ago but whenever he spoke of her moisture came into his eyes and even as a kid I understood the unspoken sadness that overcame him.
I have a few vivid memories of Mr. Campbell, one of which occurred on Veteran’s Day, the US name for Remembrance Day. It must have been in 1973 because I remember it was a Sunday and I walked by Mr. Campbell’s shop and was surprised to see it open on Sunday. I went into the store and there was Mr. Campbell sitting as usual on a tall stool behind the counter reading one of those large print books for people who have severely impaired eyesight I knew it was Veteran’s Day because I had seen some kind of military celebration in Douglas Park on Wilshire Boulevard. I greeted Mr. Campbell and he smiled, as he always did, when he heard my voice. I asked him why he was open on a Sunday, and then mentioned that it was Veteran’s Day.
That was the first and only time that I saw Mr. Campbell look angry, and he spoke to me at length in a way that even now, forty years later, I still recall.
“I have never celebrated Veteran’s Day,” Mr. Campbell told me. “When I was gassed no one cared and they kicked me out of the army with almost nothing. They pinned a Purple Heart on my chest and then kicked me to the curb. And since then I have watched Veteran’s day celebrations with nothing but contempt. They act like they want people to remember but they don’t care. They just use the whole thing as a way to promote another war. They will always have another war for young kids to fight and it is all for making money for some jerk who sells weapons and bombs and acts like it is all noble. But it isn’t, it is just bull.”

I don’t know exactly why I remember these events but they stuck in my head. Perhaps it is because as Mr. Campbell told me these things the war in Vietnam still raged and young Americans were still coming home in boxes. And over the years I came to realize through my youthful friendship with Mr. Campbell that if Remembrance Day is to mean anything it should be a painful reminder that wars are an outward manifestation of our worst failures as a race, and a reminder of the terrible price that people pay for those failures. Meanwhile, blindly pro-war leaders like our own Prime Minister blatantly use Remembrance Day as a way of promoting patriotism and whipping up the very emotions that lead to these terrible human failures.
Perhaps the saddest part of all of this for my life is that Vietnam obviously failed to teach us is that our wars are almost always a machine for making wealth. But the skepticism that Vietnam brought to people didn’t last long and by the 1990s it was all but gone and once again Western Governments seem to be able to commit their nation’s to war with a minimum of critical thought on the part of the media or the people. One war comes on the tail of another and the only thing they have in common is that regular people suffer and the rich make billions of dollars from them.
Here in Canada one war stopped and the next one quickly began. Meanwhile, the many millions that the Government spent celebrating the War of 1812 (a war that was fought before we were even a Country), was spent while they are busy cutting services for the very veterans that they are supposed to be celebrating. It is perhaps the greatest act of hypocrisy from a government that has made a career of hypocrisy.
So I chose to remember Mr. Campbell and the terrible record of human failure that allow our leaders to take us into one war after another. And when people talk incessantly about the “fight for freedom,” I remember that it is not foreign countries that have been a threat to our freedoms. Just like today, the greatest threat to our freedoms are our own governments and the corporation who support them. Every freedom we enjoy from voters rights to gay marriage has been wrenched out of our governments by committed democratic and unions activists.

So while our leaders are ‘leading’ us once again into another ridiculous war remember that such violence almost always bespeaks a basic human failure  and that the real threat to your freedoms are the ones from your own leaders whose chest thumping and drum beating is just another diversion from their real intent.

The Military Math of Climate Change

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 08:15
Two, yes.  Four, no way.  According to the Royal Navy's Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti,  climate change will impose new burdens on Britain's military forces and allied militaries for conflict prevention, conflict resolution and humanitarian relief.

"We could probably secure a 2C world.  I think it most unlikely we would be able to secure a 4C world."

"The impact resulting in the loss of land and the loss of livelihoods is increasing the stresses in a number of vulnerable countries, countries where food, health and [rising population] are challenges.  All of that is increasing the threat of instability in an already unstable world.  We need to act now to manage the risk." 

Climate change will become, in other words, a peacekeeping mission so long as it is controlled, limited to 2C.  Beyond that it becomes a combat problem as an "already unstable world" succumbs to chaos and loss.

But the military may have misjudged this 2C thing.

Some experts, including a former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, warn that even capping warming at 2C could still be devastating to the environment - and us.

There is no such thing as a safe rise,” said Bob Watson, who was the chair of the IPCC from 1997 to 2002. “You will see food and water insecurity, human health problems, and sea level rise even with a 2 C rise.”
Global temperatures have risen 0.85 C on average since the Industrial Revolution — a change most scientists blame on human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels. Scientists have said that at the current levels of emissions, the world is on track for as much as a 5 C rise by the middle of this century.“Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, in the late 19th century, we’ve had about 1 C of warming, and even with that, we’ve already seen big changes in frequency of extreme events and big societal impacts,” said Radley Horton, a scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University professor.

“We’ve seen more frequently deadly heat wave events as temperatures rise and more frequent coastal flooding as sea levels rise. These are not just more frequent or longer lasting, but when they happen they’re more severe.” Residents of Pacific Island nations like the Marshall Islands tell Al Jazeera they are already feeling the effects of rising sea levels, citing the largest ever king tides, which swept through the capital Majuro earlier this year. At the same time, the nation’s northeastern atolls were hit with severe drought.
Analysts say the reason most world leaders along with the IPCC have agreed on the 2 C target is more political than scientific. The recommendations published in the IPCC climate reports are negotiated by over 100 nations, including oil-producing nations like Saudi Arabia.Despite IPCC’s reports saying the worst effects of climate change could be avoided by capping global temperature rise at 2 C, some scientists believe the Earth’s climate has already been pushed beyond its tipping point. One reason is that most of the effects from the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere are delayed.Another reason for the schism between IPCC recommendations and other scientists’ beliefs is that the panel’s report is based on science that is already several years old.“The cutoff date is three to four years before it’s published, meaning this report is the extent of climate science in 2010 — and a number of things have happened since then,” [Australian analyst David] Spratt said.Spratt cited predictions of an ice-free Arctic within a decade or two, the “unstoppable” melting of West Antarctic ice sheets and faster melting in Greenland’s glaciers.All of these are examples of interconnected systems that could feed off of each other — resulting in climate disruption.We now have evidence saying if we get to 2 C we’ll pass the tipping point to irreversible changes … which policymakers simply ignore,” Spratt said.

Oh dear.  Do me a favour?  Pass the ammunition.

A Sobering Remembrance Day Reminder

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 06:39

I have to confess that all of the extra 'enthusiasm' for this year's Remberance Day makes me uneasy. Poppy sales are at an all time high. Special and protracted ceremonies are planned. Government propaganda is being churned out incessantly.

While I fully respect the fact that many people fought and died to protect our increasingly fragile freedoms, the reflexive reaction of a wide swath of citizenry to the military, especially since the events of last month, should be cause for some concern. It suggests to me a willingness to suspend critical faculties when they are most needed, given that we currently strain under the yoke of probably the least democratic domestic regime in our history.

Two Star letter writers address these concerns effectively:

Re: ‘I know Hitler will destroy Germany,' Insight Nov. 8

I have read, with fascination, David Halton’s story of his father’s reporting on the early days of the Nazi era in Germany. Glorification of the military; rush to war at the first opportunity; rigorous control of the media message; muzzling of dissent; demonization of certain groups. Remind you of anywhere?

People everywhere must constantly be vigilant or live to regret it.

John Simke, Toronto

Matthew Halton, in his 30-part German series for the Star, provided an intersting description of Gleichschaltung, in which Germans served the state rather than the other way around after the Nazis wrested control of Germany in 1933.

To Halton, Gleichschaltung “was ‘bringing into line’ every aspect of German thought and activity, the Nazis’ rationale for suppressing “political parties, trade unions, independent churches, even long-standing provincial governments whose powers were stripped away.”

Call me crazy, but wouldn’t Gleichschaltung somewhat describe Harper Inc.’s end-game?

Alan Pellettier, ScarboroughRecommend this Post

Remembrance Day 2014

Northern Reflections - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 05:08

We have become mesmerized by bad behaviour. Michael den Tandt writes that honour is is short supply these days:

Honour is AWOL, missing without leave, in the case of the famous Toronto radio host now accused of serially assaulting at least nine women. Jian Ghomeshi has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime. The allegations against him have not been tested in court. But setting aside the outcome of the police investigation, it is clear from multiple accounts that Ghomeshi ran CBC Radio’s flagship culture show, Q, as his private, undisputed fiefdom. Medieval, you might say.

Honour was in short supply last week in Ottawa. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau turfed two MPs from his caucus over allegations of “serious personal misconduct.”As far as I have been able to tell, Trudeau went to some lengths to avoid identifying the alleged victims, or indeed the way in which they had been victimized. New Democrats promptly leaked the fact that the allegations concerned sexual harassment of female NDP MPs – and then unloaded on the Liberal leader for making the matter public. The New Democrat deputy leader, Megan Leslie, suggested Saturday on CBC Radio’s The House that a better solution would have been to deal with it all in-house, in other words secretly. 
Den Tandt suggests that, on this Remembrance Day we look to our veterans who have always adhered to a Canadian tradition:

In Afghanistan it was embodied in the Canadian Forces’ “3-d” approach to conflict – defence, diplomacy and development. This was always more than sloganeering. Even the sergeants in the Canadian Forces – especially the sergeants, in my experience – sought to embody strength with compassion. This is not to portray them as delicate do-gooders, but simply to acknowledge that they were very aware they had a purpose over and above that of killing the enemy.

Long before Afghanistan, in Rwanda, or the Medak Pocket in Croatia, the CF ethos lived in a willingness to do the perilous and hard work well, even when the country was uninterested. In Haiti, in 2010, after the earthquake, I remember sitting quietly in the dark, listening to Canadian soldiers speak to one another of the horrors they’d seen that day. There were strength, competence and decency to make any Canadian’s heart swell with pride.
The history of war is the history of folly. But, in the midst of folly, human beings can still be guided by their better angels.

11.11: honour the dead by committing to peace

we move to canada - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 05:00
Robert Fisk, in The Independent:
But as the years passed, old Bill Fisk became very ruminative about the Great War. He learned that Haig had lied, that he himself had fought for a world that betrayed him, that 20,000 British dead on the first day of the Somme – which he mercifully avoided because his first regiment, the Cheshires, sent him to Dublin and Cork to deal with another 1916 "problem" – was a trashing of human life. In hospital and recovering from cancer, I asked him once why the Great War was fought. "All I can tell you, fellah," he said, "was that it was a great waste." And he swept his hand from left to right. Then he stopped wearing his poppy. I asked him why, and he said that he didn't want to see "so many damn fools" wearing it – he was a provocative man and, sadly, I fell out with him in his old age. What he meant was that all kinds of people who had no idea of the suffering of the Great War – or the Second, for that matter – were now ostentatiously wearing a poppy for social or work-related reasons, to look patriotic and British when it suited them, to keep in with their friends and betters and employers. These people, he said to me once, had no idea what the trenches of France were like, what it felt like to have your friends die beside you and then to confront their brothers and wives and lovers and parents. At home, I still have a box of photographs of his mates, all of them killed in 1918.

So like my Dad, I stopped wearing the poppy on the week before Remembrance Day, 11 November, when on the 11th hour of the 11 month of 1918, the armistice ended the war called Great. I didn't feel I deserved to wear it and I didn't think it represented my thoughts. The original idea came, of course, from the Toronto military surgeon and poet John McCrae and was inspired by the death of his friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, killed on 3 May 1915. "In Flanders fields the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row." But it's a propaganda poem, urging readers to "take up the quarrel with the foe". Bill Fisk eventually understood this and turned against it. He was right.Read the whole piece: Do those who flaunt the poppy on their lapels know that they mock the war dead?

I'm the only person in my workplace not wearing a poppy. This is when I appreciate the Canadian quiet live-and-let-live attitude and aversion to potential conflict. I'm sure the absence has been noted, but no one says anything.

No white poppy for me, either. It has no meaning to me.

I just wear my peace button my jacket as always, and wait for the collective brainwashing to blow over. When our masters give the signal, everyone can take off the fake poppy - made with prison labour - and create a bit more landfill. And another annual ritual of war glorification comes to a close.

Meanwhile, in my country of origin...

David Masciotra, in Salon:
Put a man in uniform, preferably a white man, give him a gun, and Americans will worship him. It is a particularly childish trait, of a childlike culture, that insists on anointing all active military members and police officers as “heroes.” The rhetorical sloppiness and intellectual shallowness of affixing such a reverent label to everyone in the military or law enforcement betrays a frightening cultural streak of nationalism, chauvinism, authoritarianism and totalitarianism, but it also makes honest and serious conversations necessary for the maintenance and enhancement of a fragile democracy nearly impossible.

It has become impossible to go a week without reading a story about police brutality, abuse of power and misuse of authority. Michael Brown’s murder represents the tip of a body pile, and in just the past month, several videos have emerged of police assaulting people, including pregnant women, for reasons justifiable only to the insane.

It is equally challenging for anyone reasonable, and not drowning in the syrup of patriotic sentimentality, to stop saluting, and look at the servicemen of the American military with criticism and skepticism. There is a sexual assault epidemic in the military. In 2003, a Department of Defense study found that one-third of women seeking medical care in the VA system reported experiencing rape or sexual violence while in the military. Internal and external studies demonstrate that since the official study, numbers of sexual assaults within the military have only increased, especially with male victims. According to the Pentagon, 38 men are sexually assaulted every single day in the U.S. military. Given that rape and sexual assault are, traditionally, the most underreported crimes, the horrific statistics likely fail to capture the reality of the sexual dungeon that has become the United States military.

Chelsea Manning, now serving time in prison as a whistle-blower, uncovered multiple incidents of fellow soldiers laughing as they murdered civilians. Keith Gentry, a former Navy man, wrote that when he and his division were bored they preferred passing the time with the “entertainment” of YouTube videos capturing air raids of Iraq and Afghanistan, often making jokes and mocking the victims of American violence. If the murder of civilians, the rape of “brothers and sisters” on base, and the relegation of death and torture of strangers as fodder for amusement qualifies as heroism, the world needs better villains.The essay: You don’t protect my freedom: Our childish insistence on calling soldiers heroes deadens real democracy.

Remembrance Day 2014: And My Promise to the Dead

Montreal Simon - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 03:58

It's going to be a very emotional Remembrance Day in Canada, especially at the National War Memorial.

For the reasons we all know, for the blood spilled. 

And at the stroke of eleven I will stop whatever I'm doing, and remember those who gave their lives, and honour our veterans.

But for the first time ever, I won't even try to watch the always moving ceremony at the National War Memorial.

Because at this point in my life, in this broken country, I could not stand to see Stephen Harper exploit such a sacred occasion.
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Stephen Harper's Great Shabby Trip to China

Montreal Simon - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 02:18

Well it wasn't much of a trip, not the grand photo-op he was expecting.

He never got his pandas.

And as for those two caged Canadians they're still in a Chinese jail. 

China’s second-most powerful leader emerged from a meeting with Stephen Harper to say his country’s courts alone will decide what happens to two Canadians detained by Beijing on allegations of spying.

Because although Stephen Harper claimed he raised the matter of human rights in his private meetings with the Chinese dictators, nobody could prove it, and if he did they ignored him.

But still Great Leader did declare the trip a huge success, and say that he was very very pleased.
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No Surprises Here: The Fraser Institute Shows Its Biased Incompetence

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 17:50
Of course, right-wing groups like the Fraser Institute never let facts and data get in the way of a rabid ideology:

Recommend this Post

Tony Clement's Orwellian "Open Government" Plan

Montreal Simon - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 17:22

I suppose we should have known that anything Tony Clement proposes would be hideously flawed, so rotten is his record.

And his so-called "Open Government" plan" is no different.

The Conservative government has rejected calls to reform the Access to Information Act as part of a new openness plan. The final version of the federal blueprint on open government for 2014-16 remains silent on updating the 32-year-old law despite public pleas during several consultations — including a recent round of public feedback on a draft version.

Doing nothing to improve access to government at a time when the situation couldn't be more dire or desperate.
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Lazy journalism

Dawg's Blawg - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 15:19
An object lesson, perhaps, in just what’s wrong with the great, grey, rancid mindset that passes for mainstream Canadian “journalism” these days. First, this clunker: Rabble.ca is “promoting” a crazy theory, howls the distinguished new editor of Walrus Magazine.... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

If Harper Ordered Four F-35s, He Ordered More, a Lot More.

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 12:31

Word has leaked out of the Pentagon that Stephen Harper has ordered four F-35s for delivery in 2017.

He didn't order four.

No one would order four warplanes like the F-35.  Harper would have ordered a lot more.  Think in multiples of 12.  24 or 36 at least.  It's those sort of numbers that would be the minimum necessary for an operational F-35 unit.

The operating and service costs of anything less, such as just four, would be prohibitive.  In other words, if you've ordered four, you're ordering more.

For Harper, the F-35 is the safe bet.  It satisfies the main issue, the political factor.  The F-35 is ultimately a political decision.  It's politically advantageous to buy and politically problematic to reject.  When it comes to this sort of thing, Canada's political and military leadership are all "go along to get along" types.

From a military perspective the bloom is off the rose.  The F-35 sacrificed a lot of capability for a limited, frontal-aspect only stealth masking.  It sacrificed speed, agility, range and payload for supposed invisibility.  It doesn't even have supercruise.

It's still years away from being operational in any meaningful numbers and already the intended adversaries have developed countermeasures and worked up tactics that the Americans acknowledge will defeat the F-35's stealth qualities. There's a reason, a very good reason, that the US Air Force and Navy are pushing hard to expedite a replacement before the F-35 even enters service.

The value of the F-35 and its apparent premature obsolescence  (stillbirth) don't trump the political decision.


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