Wednesday, August 31, 2011
*Not Just Another Pretty Face
Don't limit your thoughts of Daryl Hannah to her "Steel Magnolias" and "Kill Bill" roles. She is one tough debater as the shill for Big Oil finds out in their debate on CBC's "Power and Politics" today. She handles herself very well, is well-versed on the issues and makes a strong argument for the environmental side of this issue.
At one point a comment made by the Ethical(?!?)oil rep created the same response from Daryl and I at the same moment: "Oh my god!" (I'm not even a believer in imaginary beings, but that's a whole 'nuther story.) The shill brings out Canadian values of "respect for minorities and gays and lesbians" as a reason to support "fair trade" tarsands oil. Amazing thing to see and one wonders how he sleeps at night.
Check out the video here . . . .
GETTING AWAY WITH TORTURE, the title of Dahlia Lithwick's article in Slate, commenting on the publication of Dick Cheney's memoir, "In My Time", seems to be a fair summation of Dick's adventures to date, unless, of course, some brave soul in the US gov't. decides to give it a try.
My focus is what Cheney's books tells us about the rule of law in America. As Glenn Greenwald puts it:
Less than three years ago, Dick Cheney was presiding over policies that left hundreds of thousands of innocent people dead from a war of aggression, constructed a worldwide torture regime, and spied on thousands of Americans without the warrants required by law, all of which resulted in his leaving office as one of the most reviled political figures in decades. But thanks to the decision to block all legal investigations into his chronic criminality, those matters have been relegated to mere pedestrian partisan disputes, and Cheney is thus now preparing to be feted—and further enriched—as a Wise and Serious Statesman ...
Implicit in Greenwald's commentary is that the Obama administration is responsible for Cheney's continued legitimacy in the debate about torture, as well as the legitimacy of the debate itself. By deciding to repudiate torture while doing everything in its power to protect the torturers, the Obama administration has succeeded in elevating not only Cheney but the idea that, in America, some torturers are too important to be punished.
Rule of law, what a great idea. We should try it here, too, what with Dalton and the un-published, un-Gazetted secret amendment to the Public Works Act, plus Stevie's contempt for Parliament and anything Stevie doesn't like.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
SEEMS MOAMMAR'S DAYS ARE NUMBERED and all sorts of armed people with different agendas are lurching around, some it appears, are settling old scores. With the flight of the Gadhafis to Algeria, that country's rather controlled, brittle consensus may be perturbed as well; we will find out soon enough.
Now, next up, it appears, we have Syria. How long will Bashar last? Will Syria reduce its support for Hamas? Will Iran continue its support, or has Stuxnet made them start to consider consequences?
Monday, August 29, 2011
Congratulations, Mr. Smith, on your success at returning us to colonial status.
- Jack Granatstein, distinguished military historian, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
Then again, maybe these folks are completely OK with re-subordinating us to the Empire and keeping Canada British. Why else would they think Granatstein is being complimentary? That, and/or they were too dazzled by the Royal "R" in his FRSC post-nominal to notice what he was saying.
The other strange thing about that website is if you scroll down the page, you'll see ghostly photos of long-deceased fighter pilots with the numbers of destroyed enemy aircraft credited to them. As young men their job was to sit terrified in a tiny metal space high above the Earth and try not to burn, fall, or bleed to death in it while they did their best to cause that fate for other young men. An adult recognises there's nothing glorious about that.
I find romanticizing the dead and their deeds for what is at heart a political agenda rooted in nostalgia for an era - that most members of today's armed forces were not alive for - to be a reprehensible sort of propaganda.
*As far as I can tell, all that's really happened is that Land Force Command, Maritime Command, and Air Command have been administratively renamed. The much more independent formations which constituted the original RCN, RCAF, and Army have not been reformed.
PERFECT COLOR and a century old. Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii was a photographer to the Tsar, who used a separation technique that had to wait for the advent of cheap scanners, to see the pictures, without resorting to extremely expensive "proofing" prints. Check them out.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
The quote is Aussie defence minister Stephen Smith doing his job regarding Australian defence needs versus delays in the F-35 program.
"I will not allow and the government will not allow a gap in the capability of our air combat capability...I'm not proposing to wait until the last minute...I'm proposing to recommend to the government that we make that decision next year."
On this side of the Pacific, our boy Airshow appears totally cool with the prospect of a significant gap in Canada's defence.
Oh, and a note to the RCAF:
You may want to scrap web-pages like this. The multiple links to the F-35 make you look like gullible hacks for Lockheed-Martin and something unmentionable for Airshow.
It is appalling that you lot seem willing to go along with a defence minister willing to gamble the defence of Canada on a fiction without so much as a peep. I'm not sure you presently warrant the "Canadian" in your title, let alone the "Royal."
(Aussie details via Mark)
Friday, August 26, 2011
Come on, RCAF! If you really want this 'airplane' you might actually have to drop the "Air" from your shiny new old name.
The chairman of Google has delivered a devastating critique of the UK's education system and said the country had failed to capitalise on its record of innovation in science and engineering.
Delivering the annual MacTaggart lecture in Edinburgh, Eric Schmidt criticised "a drift to the humanities" and attacked the emergence of two educational camps, each of which "denigrate the other. To use what I'm told is the local vernacular, you're either a luvvy or a boffin," he said.
A "luvvy". How marvelous. With a "drift to the humanities", there is a tendency to see the appearance of "basket weaving" courses. They make education attractive, but of no use for employment. Anyway, standards that get dropped are a stone bitch to raise, if only because the students graduated from a less-demanding regimen become the teachers for following generations. If decent educational budgets are not forthcoming . . . the future will be a hopeless wasteland for way too many people.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
From today's Toronto Star:
TRIPOLI, LIBYA—Libyan rebels who took control of Moammar Gadhafi’s sprawling compound made a surprising discovery in one of the buildings: a photo album with pictures of Condoleezza Rice.
“I support my darling black African woman,” he said. “I admire and am very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders. . . . Leezza, Leezza, Leezza. . . . I love her very much. I admire her, and I’m proud of her, because she’s a black woman of African origin.”
Although "condescending" apparently didn't qualify for moammar's "nurse," she can be comforted in being his fantasy babe.
Excuse me while I take a shower . . . .
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
(Image: Jackman Chiu)
Those who have lived enough come to realise that life doesn't boil down to anything more than simply caring for each other. That's why there's something to be said about the great outpouring of sentiment about the loss of Jack Layton.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
I've lost track of how many times I've observed people on and offline repeating that line in his farewell letter. I can't think of any other current denizen of the House who could command such genuflection.
People respond this way because of what, beyond anything else, the NDP stand for. If Jack Layton's inheritors are smart, they will use that final quote as the party motto and set the country on fire. If they're wise, they will embody this in who they are and how they act.
It could work. The comment stands as white light against the darkness of today's politics. Just observe the contrast between the sentiments contained within the letter and expressed by well-wishers and the the impropriety coming from the other side of the aisle.
There is morality at work in Canadian politics now well beyond the simple ideological or technical differences over economics or social policy. Prisons, exported torture, tar sands, expeditionary wars, asbestos exports, are all built on unkindness by people who at best do not recognise shared humanity, or at worst find it uncomfortable.
This amorality and misanthropy cannot compete with the sentiment in Mr. Layton's farewell. There's a momentum in the emotion generated by his passing that must be put to good use in the coming years. I'm not sure I agree that Harper benefits most from Layton's passing. Harper's brand of attack politics works only on the living. and as the reaction the Blatchford column suggests, speaking ill of the dead earns you few votes.
The one-trick pony Conservatives may well find themselves facing a significantly empowered opposition operating from a clearly defined and incontestable moral position. And that, my friends, is reason to hope.
James Burke's The Day The Universe Changed: "The Way We Are". A series worthy of your consideration, as is "Connections". Why? Because change is going to make today seem like a scene from a Jane Austen novel sooner than you might believe.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
I think I'm more disturbed at all the commenters who seem to be supporting the abusive mother's 'right' to squirt hotsauce into a child's mouth and put him in a freezing shower whilst waxing lyrical about the good ol' days of the strap.
In a case that has drawn international attention, jurors on Wednesday watched video showing an Alaskan mother squirting hot sauce in the mouth of her adopted son. Her attorney said it was punishment for misbehaving at school and lying about it to his mother. The video was originally aired on a Dr. Phil episode and caused a public uproar in Russia where the boy is from. The footage, along with audio of the boy screaming as he's forced to stand in a cold shower, was shown as part of Jessica Beagley's trial Wednesday on misdemeanour child abuse charges.Prosecutors say Beagley went beyond what would be considered reasonable parental discipline. Her lawyer, William Ingaldson, said she resorted to unconventional disciplinary methods because more traditional forms of punishment had not worked with the boy.Beagley, along with her police officer husband, adopted the boy and his twin brother from a Russian orphanage after their parents abandoned them, Ingaldson said. The boys were taken there after Russian investigators found their family living in a shack, where the boys slept on shelves in an armoire, he said.
Read the comments and people seem to be arguing for the right to exact violent punishment on children. The child's crime in this case? Being a child: "sword-fighting with pencils and wriggling in his seat at school." Maybe the child lied for the same reasons torture induced confessions aren't reliable. Maybe when her punitive, confession inducing approach, didn't work she might have considered her approach to be flawed instead of just punishing harder.
Recalling my introductory comment, I suspect mother in this report and her pro-abuse supporters in the comments are missing a major point. Sticking a ball of energy like a child in a orderly space like a classroom or having them conform to certain home routines is often forcing the child to fit routines of adult lives and expectations. When these might be beyond the capacity of the child to adopt, the wee one is punished by unreflexive people who don't understand the difference between discipline and punishment.
In Canada, this desire to punish for any sort of deviance explains much about why we have the government we do. Prisons and workhouses. Combat deployments in poor countries that step out of line. The Cons are dialing back the clock on the armed forces and foreign policy, why not bring back corporal punishment to keep the kids in line?
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
There's really nothing hidden here. Junior actually tells us exactly why he did it, and not Mr. Johnston, complete with the requisite product mention.
"Our Conservative government believes that an important element of the Canadian military heritage was lost when these three former services were required to relinquish their historic titles," MacKay said. "Today, I am honoured to announce that the three elements of the Canadian Forces will have their historic names restored."The intentional association of the Conservative brand with THAT national institution continues. This is where there be the dragons. The Con political branding of distinct national institutions is hypocritical in the extreme. It serves as a distraction for the masses while they pursue policies of deeper integration with the United States, erosion of the social contract, loosening environmental protections, dismantling of democratic structures and practices, and so on and so forth. They are content with the optics of state-nationalism so long at it serves to obscure their true business of dismantling the state in the interests of corporate capital, their personal dislike of social diversity, and most of all their consolidation of power to a degree unheard of here.
They'll be boiling their frogs in beer in the Legions tonight as they drink away the reason Legions exist in the first place.
Monday, August 15, 2011
George started out as a landscaper for the Toronto Public Housing Authority, became active in his union and eventually became president of his CUPE local. From there he rode the Bob Rae wave into government at Queen's Park as an NDP MPP. At Queen's Park, he frequently embarrassed his government with his tirades against legitimizing same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples. When the Rae government crashed and burned in 1995 - largely due to the constant refusal of the business community to accept the legitimacy of the NDP government and a huge backlash among public sector union members -- the backbone of the Ontario NDP at the time -- over cost-saving efforts that violated union contracts, Mammoliti moved on to municipal politics. He switched his loyalty to the Liberal Party and ran and won in the byelection to replace the city councillor who had replaced him as MPP.
On council his accomplishments have been many - he is chiefly know for his efforts to bring an NHL team to North York, establish a red light district on Toronto Island, erect a "historic" flagpole in his ward and launching a lawsuit against fellow "right-wing firebrand" Rob Ford after Ford called him "Gino-boy" and clashing repeatedly with Ford over his office budget. He declared his candidacy for mayor and even had his son poised to run against Ford's brother until the two decided that the city needed to have only one right-wing firebrand running for mayor. Since the election he has been Ford's most steadfast defender on council, calling all those who questioned the city government's efforts to slash programs and spending "communists" --
Mammoliti is not
From Friday's Mop & Pail
Even after wide criticism of his anti-Communist rants, Mr. Mammoliti is holding firm to his view that a red scourge is prevalent among Canada’s left.
“There’s an underground element that has filtered into a major party in this country,” he said of the NDP. “I’m dead serious about this.”
He said six or seven communists sit on City Council with a long-term plot of installing “a system of government where government takes over all private property and controls the thoughts and views of people.”
In the 1980s, Mr. Mammoliti served as a leader for the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Later, he served as an MPP for the NDP, where he became something of a pariah for opposing same-sex benefits. He said he learned how to “smell communists” during his stint with Canada’s left.
“I know some of my views are outside the box,” he said. “But if people hear councillors in hallways talking about Fidel Castro and what a hero he was, they would be just as concerned.”Well, they say in a democracy, people get the government they deserve. Congratulations Torontonians, you must be so proud!
Bonus: Councillor Mammoliti reveals communist plot!
Crossposted from the Woodshed
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
British Prime Minister David Cameron thinks he's found some culprits to blame in the recent riots that have rocked London and other cities -- Facebook and Twitter.Saying the "free flow of information" can sometimes be a problem, Cameron's government has summoned those two social-networking sites, as well as Research In Motion, makers of the BlackBerry, for a meeting to discuss their roles during the violent outbreaks."Everyone watching these horrific actions will be struck by how they were organized via social media," Cameron said Thursday during an address to Parliament. "Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill. And when people are using social media for violence, we need to stop them."
Shit, now ours will get the same idea.
The Con response to any [social] problem? Crush it with a jackboot.
"Picture by picture these criminals are being identified and arrested and we will not let any phony concerns about human rights get in the way of the publication of the pictures and the arrest of these individuals."
What is it with Conservatives and "phony" human rights?
"some mistakes were made by his security forces in the initial stages of the unrest and assured an IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) team which called on him on Wednesday that efforts were under way to prevent their recurrence"
— they left witnesses. The outrage grows, but this seems below progressive care or concern, juding from column-inches, or whatever. Enter Stevie, who is at least making the right noises. At least the NDP or somebody could say something. If you live in the Ottawa area, go wave a sign in front of the Syrian embassy, make some noise.
Bashar is what Saddam wanted to be: a Stalin, a gray psychopath, ruthless, cold, calculating, without the addictive exercise of brutal caprice that reduced Saddam to the twisted-fuck status of a Hitler.
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
To you, it is all about the individual. Society doesn't exist, only the individual does and he or she lives and dies by their own merits. The state? You say fuck the state as much as the kids burning the shops and attacking the cops and each other. This is your free-market free-fire zone at work. This is your economic crisis, the one that made your wet-dream of drastically reduced government come true. Cut back all the welfare you say, and people will have incentive to just go and get jobs. They'll all become entrepreneurs and slave away in the salt-mines so they can go to medical school or get MBAs. They'll be freely mobile labour, able to move to Sheffield or Northumbria at the drop of a hat if the market sent them there. They'd be able to buy stocks and become traders at the pull of a bootstrap. Or if they couldn't they'd just fade away into the ether or something as you bought up their decrepit neighbourhoods to gentrify with condos and overpriced lingerie shops.
You should be positively orgasmic over this. Government went and got all small and the dole-queens lost their cheques. But you're not pleased at all, are you?
Instead, you're scared. Terrified, as the zombie youth you created roam your cities, burning your shops, and bloodying your police, two-fingered rage to the cameras.
You still won't get it though. You'll scream for bigger prisons and more police to take all the lost kids away along with their prosecuted parents. You won't question your views, you won't listen to the people who might tell you exactly how we got here. Instead, you'll bemoan the lazy parents, call for compulsory youth camps and curfews (to be administered of course by the private sector), reinstate National Service for 16 and overs (at reduced pay of course because they're not adults).
Tottenham, Hackney, West Ham, places in Bristol or Liverpool, those are people's homes. Those places, poor and dysfunctional as they are, are the only places many of their denizens have ever known. They may not be employed or educated, but they must have something to do, they must have the means of feeding and bettering themselves. The youth must have some refuge, some means of a way out. The state provides these, government provides these. When you take those things away, you have taken away home and hope. This is not an incentive to get off the welfare and find a job. Without security of place, more so that security of jobs, there is uncertainty and fear.
Instead, this creates void where where a future should be.
The youth in England are at the bottom of a class-spectrum in these wealthy countries. Their problems are the immediate version of larger type faced by the those of us further up the line. In the US, those precious markets of yours have impoverished and displaced growing millions who maybe don't yet realise the hopelessness of their 'structural unemployment.' In the longer term those of us under a certain age see a future of dead oceans and scorched land and wonder what horror might await us, because you won't stop burning the ancient sun.
I warn you, what you see in London is the canary in the mine. We are watching, and we are angry. I pray, and you should fear, that we do not need our Mark Duggan to make you change.
CENTRE BLOCK reports that Stevie had a hissy-fit: "Less amusing translation of Brazilian article on Harper bathroom tiff". I can't believe this, this is so embarrassing. H/T Scanner, thanks.
Since Brazilian diplomats denied his request to speak to the press at the Presidential palace, Harper was already in a bad mood when he arrived for lunch. He demanded the shift in protocol at the lunch event, and locked himself in the private bathroom of ministro Antonio Patriota (Brazil’s Foreign Affairs Minister) while he waited for a reply.
- Not everyone in London is either a rioting, firebomb-throwing yob looter or an authoritarian "send-in-the-army" wannabe aristocrat. Some of them are good community minded people. Let hope these people get as much credit as they deserve.
- Sometimes you find insightful analysis in the most unlikely places.
- Not everyone was terribly surprised by this turn of events, indeed the causes have been evident for some time.
- A blogger's-eye view from the city as it burns and some thoughts on why from Red Penny. This bit in particular caught my eye:
"Most of the people who will be writing, speaking and pontificating about the disorder this weekend have absolutely no idea what it is like to grow up in a community where there are no jobs, no space to live or move, and the police are on the streets stopping-and-searching you as you come home from school. The people who do will be waking up this week in the sure and certain knowledge that after decades of being ignored and marginalised and harassed by the police, after months of seeing any conceivable hope of a better future confiscated, they are finally on the news. In one NBC report, a young man in Tottenham was asked if rioting really achieved anything:Everyone will quite rightfully decry the violence, looting and mayhem washing over the U.K., and they are right to be shocked. But anyone who is surprised that there is suddenly social unrest in a developed country in which the disparities in wealth distribution and opportunities have been steadily growing while youth culture has become centered around consumerism, heavy binge drinking and enforced idleness among vast swathes the underclass, where the moral authority of the police has been steadily eroded by the constant drip of corruption, racism, brutality and abuse of power, where the wealthy political class has coddled the upper middle class and thrown the rest of the population to the dogs --- anyone who is surprised simply hasn't been paying attention.
"Yes," said the young man. "You wouldn't be talking to me now if we didn't riot, would you?""Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you."
Eavesdropping from among the onlookers, I looked around. A dozen TV crews and newspaper reporters interviewing the young men everywhere ‘’’
crossposted to the Woodshed
We should be relieved that ours comes in the form of a pimp-sartorial hockey commentator and a oddly former union leader turned city councillor/Facebook personality who refers to himself in the third-person, and not midnight knocks and parliamentary witch-hunts (yet, at least).
Back in 1966, Frank Zappa pondered about the effect of TV news. One of the original raps, with Frank guitar. Oh how I miss that dude. Disturbingly prescient lyrics — 'watch 'em throwin' rocks and stuff'. Blow your harmonica, son.
And it seems that the new economy in Britain has left a lot of people without a lot of future — and they're really pissed. The Washington Post article, "Looting, arson spread widely in London, as civil unrest escalates" is a representative report.
In the worst bout of urban violence to hit Britain in more than two decades, parts of London morphed into lawless no man’s lands. Most of a block in the Croydon neighborhood erupted Monday night into an inferno that incinerated the 140-year-old Reeves furniture store, a south London landmark. After midnight Tuesday, an even larger fire tore through a Sony distribution center on the other side of the city, in Enfield.
Gangs of youths roamed one south London neighborhood while carrying molotov cocktails, the BBC reported. And widespread looting was reported in the west London borough of Ealing after a shopping mall caught fire.
In a way, it's the legacy from Maggie, the Iron Bitch, and the de-industrialization of Britain. When things get that frustrating, a lot of people don't need a reason to go on the razzle. This is not a new observation, it was pithily expressed by Earl Vince and the Valiants over 20 years ago: Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight.
Interestingly, it seems that the razzlers are using Blackberries to organize their creative mayhem. According to The Telegraph in a column, "London riots: how BlackBerry Messenger has been used to plan two nights of looting":
During the Arab revolutions earlier this year, attention focused on Facebook and Twitter, but for the looters and rioters of Tottenham, Enfield and Brixton, the communications tool of choice has apparently been BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). It appears to have acted as their private, encrypted social network over the past two nights’ violence.
RIM’s BlackBerry smartphones are very popular among inner city youths on both sides of the Atlantic. The devices themselves are typically cheaper than Android models and the iPhone, particularly on pay-as-you-go packages. But it is software that central to BlackBerrys’ success in this market.
BBM is an instant messaging application, allowing users to communicate in a similar way to text messaging, but effectively for free, as traffic is exchanged via the internet. According to analysts it is replacing text messaging among young people.
Monday, August 08, 2011
BBC reports the US line being this is a "one-off" as if it some sort of a rarity over there. This isn't true.
There's a Wikipedia page that tracks aircraft losses in Afghanistan. If you read through it, Canada has actually lost two Chinooks (of six) and a Griffon, including one of the former confirmed as shot-down. Total helicopter losses to date are 101, and fixed wing 23. Most are lost to accident but it makes no difference to the dead, wounded, and bean-counters whether they were lost to enemy action or simply Afghanistan. It's the mission that wrecked them.
A minor point maybe, but it helps clear a way a little of the whaleshit military PR people, politicians, and some of their media parrots pump around events like this.
The Conservative austerity measures are destroying the possibility of a future for a generation of young people. There is this weird idea amongst English elites, which I encountered in person during my London visit, that the problem in England is their welfare culture...hey are making ordinary people pay for their masters sins. And they are putting the worst of it on the people who they feel are least powerful: the young, immigrants, the poor and so on....As one sitting at the upper end of that generation of young people, I am not sure the implications of these days' events have fully registered.
...The response to a system which refuses to do the right thing, which offers Coke-Pepsi politics (if you don’t like Coke, you can always have Pepsi!) is turning more and more violent. If electoral politics offers no solution, people will look for one elsewhere.
Our elites live in a bubble. They think that what happens on the street doesn’t really effect them. There will come a day when many of them will be wrong. They’re playing with their lives, with our lives, and with the lives of their families and loved ones.
What will happen in each country will be different. Some will get a man on horseback, some will screw in the repression and hang on, turning into aristocracies, others may find what many on the left are insisting on, a Robespierre. And maybe one or two will do the right thing, stop the bailouts, stop the reforms, and make a commitment to restructure in a way which creates a future for everyone.
It will, I think. But many won't necessarily understand why and they'll act out of whatever narrative they live by...
LAST WEEK, a friend bought a new Canon inkjet, and hooked it up to his Mac with OSX 10.3 — and it wouldn't run until he upgraded to 10.31 or whatever. He's not alone, MS Vista provided lots of non-compatible hardware problems, too, so I wouldn't want people to construe that I was Mac-bashing.
That being said, on the whole, MS has done an amazing job on continuity over some 23 years. Don't believe it? Check out the video. Ah, old autoexec.bat and config.sys and win.ini! Great song. I miss Reversi, great game, I don't miss VGA and 360k floppies.
Saturday, August 06, 2011
"I FIGURED IT OUT" from Jamestown High School The Pajama Game March 2010, delightful, wonderful song. According to Wiki, The Pajama Game is a musical based on the novel 7½ Cents by Richard Bissell. It features a score by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. The story deals with labor troubles in a pajama factory, where worker demands for a seven-and-a-half cents raise are going unheeded. In the midst of this ordeal, love blossoms between Babe, the grievance committee head, and Sid, the new factory superintendent.
In today's economy, there is something touchingly innocent about this scene.
In the real world right now, the UAW is trying to survive, going into negotiations, probably with Ford, first of all. Problem is, all the Asian-owned non-union assembly plants not only don't care (UAW drives have not worked), but they hope that the UAW pulls the trigger, so they can grow market share, while Ford or GM or Chryco can't build cars. My guess is that the UAW will play nice, but never underestimate the power of churlishness.
MEDICAL XPRESS has a disturbing report: "First large study to find HIV epidemic among gays in the Middle East". HIV epidemics are emerging in several countries in the Middle East and North Africa among men who have sex with men, a term that encompasses gay, non-gay identified homosexual men, and transgendered and bisexual men.
"The Middle East and North Africa can no longer be seen as a region immune to the HIV epidemic. Based on multiyear analysis of thousands of data sources, we documented a pattern of new HIV epidemics that have just emerged among men who have sex with men in the last few years in several countries of the region," said Ghina Mumtaz, main author of this study and senior epidemiologist in the infectious disease epidemiology group at Weill Cornell Medical College-Qatar.
The study reports that rates of HIV infection among men who have sex with men vary across the region but have already exceeded 5 percent, the threshold defining concentrated epidemics, in several countries such as Egypt, Sudan and Tunisia. In one area of Pakistan, the infection rate among men who have sex with men has already reached 28 percent. Moreover, by 2008, transmission of HIV via anal sex among men was responsible for more than a quarter of reported cases of HIV in several countries in the region.
28% infection rate? Yikes! There has got to be severe social stress, considering the social milieu.
Northern Mexico is riddled with drug violence. They find mass graves in the desert. There are tens of thousands of Mexican troops in the north, yet the violence continues. The cartels sometimes achieve folk hero status among the public because they, like Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood, fill in where the state leaves gaps.
The United States has gone insane and simply cannot govern itself. Yes, the country still maintains the corpus of a functioning state, but its brain is encephalitic. It's a matter of time before the body begins to spasm and flail.
In Canada, the pale prime minister fishes and conspires with the porcine mayor of one of the wealthiest and sophisticated cities in the country to eliminate all their political opposition. One of his elected ministers levels a threat against members of the public who aid victims of government excesses.
In two of the three major North American states, the central governments are failing to govern the hinterlands and private capital, things are unwinding. In the the third, the central government is consolidating authoritarian coercive power and entrenching itself as its formal democratic opposition crumbles. It is economically dependant on the other two.
Friday, August 05, 2011
Some things come to mind.
First, this has not been proven.
Second, if true, there are criminal laws on the books in Canada to deal with these sorts of conspiracies. One would think that a phone call where a conspiracy such as this was conspired would be pretty damning evidence. Why then did CSIS et al put Abdelrazik through the rigmarole foreign torture and detention? Why was Abdelrazik allowed to board a commercial aircraft and fly to Sudan if had demonstrably plotted to blow up one? Why, if any of these 'evidence-based' accusations of explosive traces, terror training, etc, are remotely true, has Mr. Abdelrazik never been charged with anything? Why have other intelligence agencies cleared him?
And Jason Kenney is being rich when, he of the unproven war crimes lists, says,
Kenney also had a warning for those who'd been working with Charkaoui and Abdelrazik to clear their names, or had gone "to the extent of treating such people as folk heroes."
"All I can say is that I hope those who form these political support groups for individuals who have been the focus of security certificates or similar extraordinary efforts on the part of government think very carefully about this," added Kenney. "I hope that people will realize that the government does not take these measures lightly, and that these measures are only taken on the basis of very compelling evidence that such individuals mean Canada harm and no good."
I've met Abousfian Abdelrazik and found him to have a sincere and kind way about him. If he was ever involved in any nefarious activity or plotting, it would a) come as a surprise, and b) mean the government, CSIS, and RCMP seriously fucked-up.
Given the pending lawsuit, the three federal amigos have every motivation to muddy the waters. This is a calculated leak. Moreover, it is a leak that comes on the tails of lists of unproven "war criminals," fraudulent Canadians, and threats to revoke citizenship.
Whether the leak against Abousfian Abdelrazik has any veracity is unknowable at this time. However, a smear campaign to discredit an individual Canadian citizen and his friends and supporters by the government and its agencies, without substantiated evidence, appears to be underway.
This government, its ministers, seem to be actively looking for ways to circumvent the burden of proof, and hobble individuals on little more than whiffs and whispers, using smears and innuendo.
The trend of individual Ministers of the Crown targeting individual Canadian citizens like this is truly terrifying. It is one thing to have the cruelty of state power represented and enforced by a faceless bureaucracy, but quite another when it is individual politicians directly intervening in the fates of citizens, regardless of their exoneration by the relevant credible government agencies.
Well, like everything, life appears to be getting tougher. JALOPNIK's Dan Hanson has a thoughtful piece, worthy of your attention: "What you don’t know about the truck driver you just flipped off". Why should you care? Depends on how good you are with "situational awareness" — it's your butt, do check your six before you wish you had.
Everything you buy at the store and everything you order online moves by truck. Planes and trains can't get it to your house or grocery store. We are dependent on trucks to move product from the airport and the rail yards to the stores and our homes.
Every day, experienced and qualified drivers give it up because the government, the traffic and the greedy companies involved in trucking have drained their enthusiasm for this life.
They take a job at a factory if they can find it, and are replaced by an inexperienced youngster dreaming of the open road. This inexperience leads to late deliveries, causing shortages and higher prices at the store, and crashes that lead to unnecessary deaths.
Times change. It seemed a little more human, before the accountants got at the industry.
Thursday, August 04, 2011
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
Me? I think the Obama crew are like our federal Liberals in the sense that they're simply afraid of doing anything too decisive. Mediocre action actually feels less risky than radical action, even though the opposite is often the case.
Mediocrity in time of crisis means that your actions will be insufficient to combat the crisis. There is also I think a tendency to downplay the severity of a problem, leading one to justify lukewarm solutions that do not go far enough. It's like an abusive relationship where one the abused sort recognises the problem, but not to the degree that will cause them to take the necessary steps to end the abuse.
Since his election Obama hasn't quite manage to fully extract from Iraq, remains in Afghanistan to the point where the US is slowly shifting into an adversarial relationship with Pakistan proper. He couldn't bring banks the heel and fully investigate their executives during the 2008 crisis, and he hasn't quite managed to get the jump on the consequent dep/recession. He certainly hasn't managed to pwn the Republican/Tea Party fanatics, and instead seems to prefer to mush himself into their paws, not to mention divide his own party over the debt ceiling settlement.
His mediocrity has made everything worse, and 'hope' is what he's audaciously substituted for action. The less kind will soon call him a coward.
It really is a shame the rest of us on the planet will have to deal with what this means for 2012.
"The notion that such an individual enjoys the same privacy rights as a law-abiding Canadian citizen is bizarre in the extreme," Kenney has told Postmedia. "And the fact that people are concerned about this just shows the kind of ideological process obsession that some people have that overrides any consideration for the public interest or the integrity of our immigration system."That "ideological process obsession" you speak of actually describes the long and arduously established system of laws, rights, and conventions that maintain the largely peaceful society we live in. Many of us are obsessed with it because it prevents the state, personified in this case by you, from arbitrarily singling out and acting against individuals it does not like. The "process" part consists of the rigorous interrogation of the evidence against a person before they can be labelled and punished as, say, a "war criminal."
Your contemptuous dismissal of process in is alarming because it suggests an utter lack of respect for the system of laws that govern this country. Publishing lists of names such as this recalls authoritarian regimes of present and past that have mad enemies lists, where neighbour is encouraged to turn on neighbour, and the state thieves people from their beds at night.
We, the process obsessed, are concerned that you will use the same arbitrary avoidance of legal process to publicly label individual Canadians as some form of criminal and act against them outside the normal processes of police and courts. Your Party has already demonstrated its willing to tolerate the arbitrary arrest and detention of more than a thousand Canadians peacefully protesting your G8 and G20 meeting. Your Party has demonstrated its willingness to single out young Canadians and exclude them from political functions based on what it has 'creeped' on their Facebook pages. Your party has demonstrated its willingness to avoid parliamentary process that might work against it.
We are concerned that these trends together consist of a slippery slope toward turning Canada, and our democracy, into something much more inline with the fascist and authoritarian regimes like the one you have sent our Air Force to bomb in Libya...
IN STACKED $100 DOLLAR BILLS, that's what 1 trillion dollars looks like. KLEPTOCRACY has other interesting examples of the problem.
THE DAILY RECKONING is a thoughtful site devoted to finance. Its founder, Bill Bonner, is somewhat disturbed about the current state of affairs, in his piece, "The Great Correction…5 years On, Part III":
Of course, it should be obvious to everyone by now that the real problem in Europe as well as America is debt. In Europe, government debt is a problem. In America there is government debt plus household debt. Both are problems. America has about as much government debt as France – about 5 times GDP when you include unfunded pensions and health care costs. But America also has huge household debts.
• • • •
From a low of 31% of GDP after WWII, private debt rose to about 300% at the top of the credit bubble. You know all about that, so I won't bore you with the details. But at the present rate – about 5% per year – it will take another 32 years of de-leveraging before debt is down to a more comfortable level.
• • • •
Since 2000 do you realize how much the US private sector has grown? Hardly at all. Zero.
And how many new jobs have been created? I’ll give you a hint. Think of a number with a hole in the middle of it.
And how many more automobiles do we sell in America? In fact, we sell nearly a third less than we did 10 years ago.
And how much more are our stocks worth? Adjusted for inflation…not a penny more.
How about houses? Again, adjust for inflation and the average house is worth less than it was in 2001.What kind of decade was this? It was a lost decade. And it looks like another 3 decades will be lost – unless something happens to speed up the process. How? When?
Like Omar says, hard times in the land of plenty.
Tuesday, August 02, 2011
STILL LIFE WITH ACTIVE DOGS
If you've never seen this, you are in for a treat. The video link on the PBS site is for US-resident PC's, but the page is worth checking out for more detail on the artist. But thanks to YouTube, here it is.
Living in Stalinist Prague, Czechoslovakia in the 1950s, a young artist named Paul Fierlinger was angry, depressed and rebellious against the political regime where the Communist government had been in power since the end of World War II.
In STILL LIFE WITH ANIMATED DOGS we meet Roosevelt, Ike, Johnson and Spinnaker, the canine companions who helped shape Fierlinger's evolution as an artist and as a man.
Tooba et al.
NIGHT AND FOG — and invisibility. What's up with Mo and Tooba? Along with their prize son Hamed, they felt the call of "honor" — and four women drowned on the night of June 30, 2009, Zainab Shafia, 19, Sahar Shafia, 17, and Geeti Shafia, 13, all sisters, as well as Rona Amir Mohammed, 50, their father's first wife.
TWENTY-FIVE months later, and the silence is deafening. That's justice in Ontario, it seems. But considering how Dalton plays fast and loose with legalities, like failing to publish laws in the Ontario Gazette BEFORE authorizing the police to use 'em, I guess this is par for the course. Can't seem to find any information about any trial or sentencing.
Interestingly, to the distress of the feckless, corrupt Pakistanis who are either unwilling or incapable of dealing with obstreperous Muj, it seems that the US SOCOM outfits do these midnight rambles all the time. Compared to the stumbles and fumbles of abortive rescues and raids in the past, it appears that SOCOM has its shit together, so to speak.
This was one of almost two thousand missions that have been conducted over the last couple of years, night after night.” He likened the routine of evening raids to “mowing the lawn.” On the night of May 1st alone, special-operations forces based in Afghanistan conducted twelve other missions; according to the official, those operations captured or killed between fifteen and twenty targets.
Monday, August 01, 2011
Now, with US economy well into depression, and their debt-ceiling crisis narrowly averted but at the trade-off of unexamined and insane budget cuts, the demise of the US continues and even more people will fade into underclass.
The BBC's Paul Mason has completed a moving exploration of this growing problem, comparing it to the Depression 1930s in Steinbeck's novels. We see farmers in drought days away from moving on, former middle-class living in shelters, and that Arizona lawman and his expanding open-air camps for undocumented migrants he rounds up. Odd on that last one, how the paranoid in the US are worried about FEMA camps, but ignorant of the prison camp model already in practice. All you need to do is put a fence around a tent city.
Paul Krugman often highlights the shift in political concern for tangible jobs to abstract deficits and taxes in dealing with US economic malaise. I find this distinction illustrative and also alarming as it exemplifies a shift from a concern for people to a concern for balance sheets. We would expect this from corporations geared to maximising profits, but across the political class, the neoliberal worldview becomes, perversely, even more entrenched. The social world, people, do not exist in the calculus. Sure, policymakers and economists are concerned about the rising unemployment numbers in the US (and here), but their solutions do not reflect a direct concern with these numbers. Instead they fiddle with the sums with the idea that somehow this will magically find rain for crops, and management positions and credit for the dispossessed and disenfranchised.
It is interesting to see where this preoccupation with abstract 'metrics' crops up. A criticism I have of a great deal of applied social research, some of which attempts to tackle problems like those in the US, is its preoccupation with indicators and models. Social researchers avoid a discussion of the emotionality or psychological impact of a crisis on a group of people or individual, and instead talk about things like 'social capital' and 'networks' and spend millions of dollars and thousands of hours trying to find the perfect description and analysis of indicators around an event. When I first noticed this, I thought it was because the state of the field saw that this was the most effective way of analysing phenomena of social crisis or the social response to change, given modernity's ideas of objectivity and rationality. Now I'm starting think that there is a resistance on the part of policy-makers, researchers, and others to engage with a crisis like this on the human level, because it makes them uncomfortable on a personal level.
If you expose some of them to the emotive reality of an event, they will accuse you of 'guilting' them into acting, as if feeling something about the plight of a fellow human being is somehow an inconvenience. Heaven forbid one have to act upon their feelings! Maybe it's no wonder anti-depressants are so popular.
We live in a cultural system that fictionalises emotion and feeling. We read books, and more often television and movies that concentrate and intensify our emotional experience enough that we feel something, but we feel it safely because they characters on screen are not our friends, neighbours, citizens, and fellow humans. Paradoxically prophylactic. Even those media "nonfictions" based on real events are portrayed by actors with names we recognise, providing us with a reality safety-net.
So in looking at the US conversation around debt-ceilings with Obama vs. GOP vs. Tea Party and the conversations about arbitrary numbers, I don't see asked the question of what these numbers, present or absent, mean for the lives of the very real people in Paul Mason's essay. There's no empirical work behind them. The lunatic GOP/Tea Party pulls budget cut numbers out of their collective ass based on their blinkered ideologies and ignorant base. Obama played their game. Nowhere in there did stories appear about the real impacts of things on Americans (or anyone else in the world for that matter). Doing so might have caused the public to feel some concern about their fellow humans. Instead, fingers are pointed, and the only people mentioned at the emotional level are the bodies with calculated characters, sitting in tailored suits around the Capitol building and Whitehouse meeting rooms.
Not the ever growing legions of impoverished people - and their stories - in what is still wealthiest nation on the planet.