Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why does Turkey count?

Well... to a hillbilly government led by a donkey... it doesn't.

Campbell Clark lays it all out. 

Harper is way too shallow to work in the background. That takes finesse and the willingness to know how to wield the power from a second chair. And an awareness that extends beyond the horizon of pumping asphalt to Houston.

Turkey’s growing economy hasn’t featured in Mr. Harper’s push for trade with emerging-market countries. There were exploratory talks about free trade in 2010, but none in 2011.

Because he's too much of an ideological turd to actually know here he really sits in the world. He wants to be the leader of a superpower. Parades, pictures of himself everywhere, glorification at Timmy's (not the upscale version), and adoration from the gun-tottin'  gopher shooters.

You'd think that one of the overstrengthed battalion he employs as communications staff could figure it out.

You'd be wrong.

Cons to Aboriginal communities: complain and we'll take away your autonomy

Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan, who announced the measures in question period Wednesday, told the House of Commons that "urgent health and safety issues" in the northern Ontario community needed immediate action.
"The Government of Canada has informed the chief that we are placing the community in third-party management to ensure community needs are addressed," Duncan said.
"Part of the manager's role will be to administer my department's funding which is normally managed by the First Nation directly."

Attawapiskat has been in crisis for a very long time and very vocal about, mostly notably around its lack of school. The latest crisis is around housing. In response the federal government has stepped in and taken control of community administration, effectively declaring them incompetent regarding the provision of housing and services to the community. In any other community in Canada the federal reaction to a crisis would be to work with and through local authorities. Not so with Aboriginal locales. These are punished.

Attawapiskat is not alone, and conditions on many remote Aboriginal settlements are appalling. The Conservative's action on this, seizing control, risks a silencing effect on other communities in crisis as they are effectively saying, "If you complain, we will take away your autonomy and humiliate you."

Naked paternal colonial racism.

Happy Holidays . . .

WITH AMERICAN THANKSGIVING JUST PAST, we are into the Holiday Season. Here's Ron Cobb's take from 41 years ago.

Blogflog: Reflections on COP 17...

A good friend researches climate change policy and is presently at the COP 17 meeting in Durban, South Africa. She also attended COP 15 in Copenhagen a couple of years ago and started a blog about it, which she's now reactivated for Durban.

Her impressions so far were summed up in a note to me today:
desperate, tragic
the whole place feels tired
Copenhagen had some energy
this place is just tired

Anyway, her blog is worth a look if you want a personal, nuanced sense of what goes on at these meetings and the general atmosphere of the place (and maybe some discussion of local flora for the green thumbs among you).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Someone else sees exactly what I saw over a year ago.

Lawrence Martin gets it.

Added: Orwell's unclaimed child lays it out in point form. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Six years on . . .

NAOMI KLEIN is, IMHO, one of the most lucid and prescient political analysts to be found. Six years (how time flies) ago, as the Iraq elections ground to a conclusion after the invasion, Naomi made a number of acerbic observations.

Six years later, in the light of Arab Spring and OWS, they are even more trenchant, IMHO. "The Neoliberal Project" is a reprise of a spell-binding address she gave as part of the CBC's Massey Lectures, which I cannot seem to find, unfortunately. The litany of neocon abuse is mind-boggling. Paul Bremer the Threeth, or the Bugblatter Beast — which is the stupidest?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ottawa, we have a problem . . .

Many children are scalded and burned from living in densely overcrowded houses with makeshift wood stoves.

AND IT'S NOT GOING AWAY. According to Charlie Angus, who's the MP for Timmins-James Bay, the plight of our aboriginals on the northern Ontario reserve of Attawapiskat is intolerable. His post on Huffington Canada, "What if They Declared an Emergency and No One Came?" has a must-see video, as well. It's AOL-resident, and AOL doesn't play nice like YouTube for embedding, so check out the Huffington link to see it. I wonder who owns the new Cadillac Escalade to be seen in it? A $60K SUV could supply a lot of plumbing.

It's been three weeks since Attawapiskat First Nation took the extraordinary step of declaring a state of emergency. Since then, not a single federal or provincial official has even bothered to visit the community.

No aid agencies have stepped forward. No disaster management teams have offered help.

Meanwhile temperatures have dropped 20 degrees and will likely drop another 20 or 25 degrees further in the coming weeks. For families living in uninsulated tents, makeshift cabins and sheds, the worsening weather poses serious risk.

Two weeks ago I travelled to this community on the James Bay coast to see why conditions had become so extreme that local leaders felt compelled to declare a state of emergency. It was like stepping into a fourth world.

• • •

You'd think that a medical warning from a provincial health authority would move government into action. Think again. When it comes to the misery, suffering and even the death of First Nations people, the federal and provincial governments have developed a staggering capacity for indifference.
H/T to le grand chef Daniel

Friday, November 25, 2011

Yummy . . .

FOOD FREEDOM is an interesting site, proclaiming that people should Decentralize, Grow Your Own and Buy Local — which makes great sense. There's a report by Miriam Reimer, originally posted on The Street, "15 Food Companies that Serve You ‘Wood’". Yep, wood, like pine trees.

Chief among those concerns is the use of cellulose (wood pulp), an extender whose use in a roster of food products, from crackers and ice creams to puddings and baked goods, is now being exposed. What you’re actually paying for – and consuming – may be surprising.

Cellulose is virgin wood pulp that has been processed and manufactured to different lengths for functionality, though use of it and its variant forms (cellulose gum, powdered cellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, etc.) is deemed safe for human consumption, according to the FDA, which regulates most food industry products. The government agency sets no limit on the amount of cellulose that can be used in food products meant for human consumption.

“Most consumers would be shocked to find these types of filler products are used as substitutes for items that they believe are more pure,” Yoshikami said. “We would expect increased disclosure to follow increased use of cellulose and other filler products as the practice increases in frequency.”

Finger-lickin' good!
H/T to le grand chef Daniel

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bizarre . . .

Really. Like The Three Stooges, with sledgehammers. I feel for the cleaning staff.

Ursula comments . . .

IN THEIR CREATIONS, artists expound and explain. Io9's Charlie Jane Anders has a report that is worthy of your attention, "Ursula K. Le Guin writes a fable of Occupy Wall Street"

If you've been wondering just what's wrong with unemployed people, and why they won't just go get a job, then Ursula K. Le Guin has some answers for you. In the time-honored tradition of fantasists and fabulists, she's phrased her answers in the form of a fable, "Ninety Nine Weeks: A Fairy Tale".

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Grow op . . .

SEEMS TO BE A GROWTH INDUSTRY. According to Spencer Ackerman at WIRED, in an article, "Pentagon’s War on Drugs Goes Mercenary", now the Pentagon is joining the DEA in the "War on Drugs", in a BIG way:

An obscure Pentagon office designed to curb the flow of illegal drugs has quietly evolved into a one-stop shop for private security contractors around the world, soliciting deals worth over $3 billion.

The sprawling contract, ostensibly designed to stop drug-funded terrorism, seeks security firms for missions like “train[ing] Azerbaijan Naval Commandos.” Other tasks include providing Black Hawk and Kiowa helicopter training “for crew members of the Mexican Secretariat of Public Security.” Still others involve building “anti-terrorism/force protection enhancements” for the Pakistani border force in the tribal areas abutting Afghanistan.

The Defense Department’s Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office has packed all these tasks and more inside a mega-contract for security firms. The office, known as CNTPO, is all but unknown, even to professional Pentagon watchers. It interprets its counternarcotics mandate very, very broadly, leaning heavily on its implied counterterrorism portfolio. And it’s responsible for one of the largest chunks of money provided to mercenaries in the entire federal government.

Festung Amerika! Meanwhile, basement labs all over the US crank out the crank and the US slides further into a fascist hell. Yum.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Here's your G20 anarchists...

...justifying a billion dollar security budget and a thousand arbitrary arrests and beatings.

Group Statement by 17 People Charged With Conspiracy During the G20

Posted in its entirety and without comment.

**Please Forward Widely**


November 22, 2011 -- As people across Turtle Island look towards the
global wave of protests against the austerity agenda, the memory of the
2010 G20 protests in Toronto looms large as both inspiration and caution.
We are seventeen people accused by the state of planning to disrupt the
leaders summit – the prosecutors call us the G20 Main Conspiracy Group.

This alleged conspiracy is absurd. We were never all part of any one
group, we didn't all organize together, and our political backgrounds are
all different. Some of us met for the first time in jail. What we do have
in common is that we, like many others, are passionate about creating
communities of resistance.

Separately and together, we work with movements against colonialism,
capitalism, borders, patriarchy, white supremacy, ableism,
hetero/cis-normativity, and environmental destruction. These are movements
for radical change, and they represent real alternatives to existing power
structures. It is for this reason that we were targeted by the state.

Although these conspiracy charges have been a big part of our daily
reality for the past year and a half, we have been slow in speaking out
collectively. This is partly because of the restrictive bail conditions
that were placed on us, including non-association with our co-accused and
many of our close allies. In addition, those of us who did speak out have
been subjected to a campaign of intimidation and harassment by the police
and prosecutors.  We are writing now because we have negotiated a plea
deal to resolve our charges and to bring this spectacle to an end.

The state's strategy after the G20 has been to cast a wide net over those
who mobilized against the summit (over 1, 000 detained and over 300
charged) and then to single out those they perceived to be leaders. Being
accused of conspiracy is a surreal, bureaucratic nightmare that few
political organizers have experienced in this country, but unfortunately
it is becoming more common. We can't say with any certainty if what we did
was in fact an illegal conspiracy. Ultimately though, whether or not our
organizing fits into the hypocritical and oppressive confines of the law
isn't what's important. This is a political prosecution. The government
made a political decision to spend millions of dollars to surveil and
infiltrate anarchist, Indigenous solidarity, and migrant justice
organizing over several years. After that kind of investment, what sort of
justice are we to expect?

We have not been powerless in this process; however any leverage we've had
has not come from the legal system, but from making decisions
collectively. This has been a priority throughout, particularly in the
last several months, as the preliminary inquiry gradually took a back seat
to negotiations for a deal to end it. The consensus process has been at
times a heart-wrenching, thoughtful, gruelling, disappointing, and
inspiring experience, and in the end, we got through it together.

Of the seventeen of us, six will be pleading and the eleven others will
have their charges withdrawn. Alex Hundert, and Mandy Hiscocks are each
pleading to one count of counselling mischief over $5,000 and one count of
counselling to obstruct police, and Leah Henderson, Peter Hopperton, Erik
Lankin, and Adam Lewis are each pleading to a single count of counselling
mischief over $5,000. We are expecting sentences to range between 6 and 24
months, and all will get some credit for time already served in jail and
on house arrest.

Three defendants in this case had their charges withdrawn earlier and one
has already taken a plea to counselling mischief over $5,000 that involved
no further jail time. This means that out of twenty-one people in the
supposed G20 Main Conspiracy Group, only seven were convicted of anything,
and none were convicted of conspiracy. The total of fourteen withdrawals
demonstrates the tenuous nature of the charges.

This system targets many groups of people including racialized,
impoverished and Indigenous communities, those with precarious immigration
status, and those dealing with mental health and addiction.  The kinds of
violence that we have experienced, such as the pre-dawn raids, the
strip-searches, the surveillance, and pre-sentence incarceration happen
all the time.  The seventeen of us have moved through the legal system
with a lot of privilege and support.  This includes greater access to
"acceptable" sureties, and the financial means to support ourselves and
our case.  While the use of conspiracy charges against such a large group
of political organizers is noteworthy, these tactics of repression are
used against other targeted communities every day.

There is no victory in the courts. The legal system is and always has been
 a political tool used against groups deemed undesirable or who refuse to
co-operate with the state. It exists to protect Canada's colonial and
capitalist social structure. It is also deeply individualistic and
expensive. This system is designed to break up communities and turn
friends against each other.

Within this winless situation, we decided that the best course of action
was to clearly identify our goals and needs and then to explore our
options. Within our group, we faced different levels of risk if convicted,
and so we began with the agreement that our top priority was to avoid any
deportations. Other key goals we reached were to minimize the number of
convictions, to honour people's individual needs, and to be mindful of how
our decisions affect our broader movements. Although we are giving up some
important things by not going to trial, this deal achieves specific goals
that we weren't willing to gamble.

Our conversations have always been advised by concern for the broader
political impacts of our choices. One noteworthy outcome is that there are
no conspiracy convictions emerging from this case, thus avoiding the
creation of a dangerous legal precedent that would in effect criminalize
routine tasks like facilitation. Taking this deal also frees up community
resources that have been embroiled in this legal process.

We emerge from this united and in solidarity.

To those who took us in while on house arrest, to those who raised money
for our legal and living expenses, to those who cooked food, wrote
letters, offered rides and supported us politically and emotionally
throughout, thank you.

To those in jail or still on charges from the anti-G20 protests, to
political prisoners and prisoners in struggle, we are still with you.

To communities and neighbourhoods fighting back from Cairo to London, from
Greece to Chile, in Occupied Turtle Island and beyond, see you in the

Pat Cadorette, Erik Lankin, Paul Sauder, Meghan Lankin, Bill Vandreil,
Joanna Adamiak, Julia Kerr, David Prychitka, Alex Hundert, Monica Peters,
Sterling Stutz, Leah Henderson, Adam Lewis, Mandy Hiscocks, Peter
Hopperton, SK Hussan, Terrance Luscombe
If you would like to issue a solidarity statement, please email and let us know.

Nice one, pony-soldier

My first thought upon reading this report from CBC about the massive surveillance program instituted by Canadian police around the G8/G20 was wow, what are you going to do now?

Occupy didn't exist last year in Toronto and Huntsville. There wasn't a global movement with massive latent support transcending the usual activist circles the police are able to infiltrate and monitor. The police themselves, their numbers and tactics weren't on display near as often before the G8/G20 and Occupy. The entire world wasn't watching students sprayed with pain-agents, ex-Marines with fractured skulls from police baton rounds, truncheon beatings, massive summary jails.

Now, networks have formed, people are talking to each other. People are angry and the movement, resistance, is growing. The visceral images of police violence against dissent has as much to do with it. A police baton cracking a person's skull is the immediate impact of the pervasive injustice and inequality that drives the movement.

I suspect the numbers of people who would now qualify for surveillance under police criteria has grown exponentially. Being the dumb instrument of state power they are, the police will only demand greater resources and powers to monitor and detain, which in turn breeds increased resistance.

In some cases, the police tactic of encouraging violence on the part of resistance groups may only serve to promote non-violent resistance. Groups will now grow suspicious of newcomers who advocate property damage and assaults, labelling the police agents. Overall, police tactics may serve to encourage expand non-violent and transgressive protest and the agent provocateur become useless.  

Predictable as punch, so far tactically effective, but dumber than a sack of hammers at the strategic level, the security forces open themselves up to manipulation by activists and movements of all stripes. Like their ancestors at Jallianwala Bagh learnt, martial security organisations work against themselves when a movement like Occupy gains wide appeal.

OWS perspective . . .

THE TYEE has been a source of sound perspective for years, now.  John MacLachlan Gray has a fascinating article, "Managers vs. the Managed: Another Way to Look at #OWS", wherein he points out some aspects that, upon reflection, are so obvious, they're hard to see.

It's not about resenting wealth. It's about stopping the war on productive work.
• • •
There's a class war brewing all right, but it's not between the Rich and the Poor: it's between the Managers and the Managed.

Put simply, North America suffers from a cancer of the management class.

Not to be offensive, but these people are breeding like rats.

Even so, let's not fool ourselves into thinking that the colossal failure of the financial services industry will diminish the mystique of management itself -- in which a single CEO is deemed to be worth a sum equal to the gross national product of a third world nation.

The Tyranny of the MBA. Take a minute or two and check it out.

Occupation . . .

Jamison Wieser created this delight.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Money math . . .

IT JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER: according to Robert Lenzner at FORBES, "The Top 0.1% Of The Nation Earn Half Of All Capital Gains". YIKES! This means that it's not the top 1%, it's the top thousandth, that 1/1000 of some 330 million people are staggeringly wealthy.

The top 0.1%-- about 315,000 individuals out of 315 million-- are making about half of all capital gains on the sale of shares or property after 1 year; and these capital gains make up 60% of the income made by the Forbes 400.

It's crystal clear that the Bush tax reduction on capital gains and dividend income in 2003 was the cutting edge policy that has created the immense increase in net worth of corporate executives, Wall St. professionals and other entrepreneurs.

• • •

I commend you to the late Justice Louis Brandeis warning to the nation that "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." We have to make up our minds to restore a higher, fairer capital gains tax to the wealthiest investor class-- or ultimately face increased social unrest.

Ouch! And the GOP wants to give these people tax cuts?                                   H/T to Nolan

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pascal's perspective . . .

AISLIN AND PASCAL are such a treasure, compared to our Toronto editorial cartoonists. Harper Fudd, indeed.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Armed cowards in masks

Reading Harebell's excellent take on my post about Blake's Balaclava law, I thought I might juxtapose a few images.

The top is a riot cop at the G20 last year in Toronto. The second one is an Ulster Defence Force gunman, and the last is his opposite number in the Irish Republican Army.

What these three individuals have in common is a demonstrated willingness to hide their identities like cowards while committing acts of violence against unarmed civilians. Odd that we only label the last two thugs and terrorists.

#jackbootshit: Five years for wearing a mask?

"Trouble...mob...riot?" Judging by his language, Alberta MP Blake Richards seems to see any protest gathering as something that should be illegal, because it is clearly "trouble" starting.

“When trouble starts, people intent on criminal activity depend on being able to 'mask up' to conceal their faces with bandanas, balaclavas or other means to avoid being identified and being held accountable for their actions,” Richards said in a statement last month when the bill was tabled. “Wearing a mask in these circumstances is an aggravating factor for their behaviour that should be reflected in the law."
He claims the police want this. Of course they do. They like finding ways of arresting people doing little more than standing in the street at protests. Secret laws, lies, kettles, and cages. Mask-wearing? You must be a Black Bloc window-smasher.

Of course, if this passes, everyone at every protest is going to show up wearing  masks. Blake Richards masks.

Occupy. #jackbootshit

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Talkin' about a revolution"

Chris Hedges. Even NattyPo.

H/t Bob.

Fetch the smelling salts, someone said "Fuck" on the internet

As I write this, the number one story under Canada on Google news is the report by the privacy commissioner about the government collecting too much information about us, especially at airports. The number two story is about a carpenter from Winnipeg saying "fuck you" someone (who was definitely asking to be told) on the Internet.
Normally this would not be a story, but the carpenter in question is NDP Member of Parliament Pat Martin, who first expressed his anger over the government swiftly closing debate on the budget bill.
"This is a fucking disgrace... closure again. And on the Budget! There's not a democracy in the world that would tolerate this jackboot shit,”
followed by
For gods sake. In these uncertain economic times, don't you think our parliament should be debating our federal budget? Some due diligence?
These drew a series of tweets in response. Many of them, including my own, agreeing that, yes it is a fucking disgrace that the Harper government considers Parliament an inconvenience at best and that its passing of major pieces of legislation with little or no debate has the whiff of autocratic fascism. It also drew the predictable pearl-clutching trollery of the usual crowd of ignorant twerps who are more worried about the use of naughty words than they are about the government abusing its power.the one that broke the camel's back being from some hardcore Catholic fundamentalist anti-gay anti-choice dingbat who goes by the moniker of Lettingsmokeout

That was the first of several tweets by Lettingsmokeout condemning "socialism" (apparently the Pope doesn't care for socialism and since he is god's official spokesman, he couldn't possibly be wrong)  which led Martin to respond with an annoyed "Fuck you" -- to which I would only add "and the altar boys you and the pope rode in on."

Such people don't deserve to be given the time of day. Before you accuse me of anti-Catholic bigotry let me say I've nothing against Catholics that I don't have against adherents of any other major religion. Most are fine people, its the few that get carried away that spoil it all. Religion is like whisky -  it's a comfort, but those who start letting it run their life get annoying fast.

Having gotten what he wanted, the mook in question makes sure the jackals at SUN-TV are notified and seeing a shiny object, the pile-on begins with much hand-wringing and pearl-clutching about decorum in politics and those awful, awful socialists.

Well, fuck that noise.

Pat Martin is entirely correct to be as mad as hell and the language he used was entirely appropriate to the situation and the medium.

In the 46 days that Parliament has been sitting it has closed debate at least five time, ending debate on the omnibus crime bill and the gutting of the Canadian Wheat Board among other issues. This is the most times that closure has been used in such a short span and by the end of the session will likely be the most it has ever been used. That is what happens when you have a majority government that cares more about its narrow ideological agenda than about democracy.

No one was talking or writing about the number of times the government has shut down debate and pushed through legislation without allowing the opposition to examine and debate the bills., it has happened so often it isn't considered a story anymore.

But thanks to Pat Martin and a few well chosen words, that story is now at least being mentioned in passing, even if only as the reason the Winnipeg-Centre MP got angry.

Guys like Pat Martin are exactly what politics in this country need. We can no longer afford to have the opposition "go along to get along" - we can't afford to play nice while the other side is engaged in scorched-earth take-no-prisoners endless campaigning. We need an opposition that will dig in its heels and scream bloody murder every single time the Harper government tries to pull a fast one, every time it puts corporate profits ahead of public  good, every time it puts cementing its own power ahead of good public policy and fair play.

Crossposted from The Woodshed, where we often use those seven magic words

"but commanders won't allow them..."

" write fuck on their airplanes because it's obscene."

Go Pat.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

OMG . . .

FIRST THERE WAS "METH MOUTH", now there's Krokodil Korrosion. According to a frightening report from Keith Veronese at io9, "Krokodil: Russia’s Designer Drug That Will Eat Your Flesh", some clever Russkies have developed a new designer drug that has horrific side-effects.

It sounds like a direct-to-Netflix horror movie plot — a cheap, addictive drug available in a foreign land, that turns the user's skin a scaly green color. Soon it rots the flesh, causing the user's skin to emulate that of a crocodile, leaving bone and muscle tissue exposed to the world. But the Russian drug known as krokodil is real.

• • •

Just as crack is the broke addict's cocaine, krokodil is a substitute for a much more expensive drug, heroin. The chemical behind krokodil, desomorphine, was available as a morphine substitute shortly after laboratory synthesis in 1932. Desomorphine is 8-10 times more potent than morphine. The medicinal use of desomorphine was concentrated to Europe, particularly Switzerland. The synthetic opiate has a structure nearly identical to heroin.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Money travels, it seems . . .

INTERSTELLAR TRADE? THE ECONOMIST wonders, with an article "Exports to Mars". You see, when they totaled up all the balance-of-payments statistics for all the countries,

the world exported $331 billion more than it imported in 2010, according to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook. The fund forecasts that the global current-account surplus will rise to almost $700 billion by 2014.

It explains a lot of the weirdness at Wal-Mart, though. But financial stats are always a problem, as Douglas Adams showed us so delightfully:

How monsters thrive in plain sight

This morning I'm reading

Wealthy weasels . . .

THE DAILY BAIL is a fine site devoted to putting America's wealth under inspection, proclaiming its focus on "Debt & Deficits. Bailout News. Federal Reserve Corruption.". Anyway, they received a posting worthy of your attention:

We receive video submissions daily, and this is one of the most impressive piece we've ever seen: a short film by Lagan Sebert and Harry Hanbury of the American News Project featuring Ron Paul, Wlliam Greider, Dennis Kucinich, Darrell Issa and Alan Grayson. Film produced in July 2009.

If you have been following the weasels, the video may not tell you anything you don't already know, but it sums up how the Fed "manages", and some of the problems. While it's two years old, the problems are still current, and add perspective to OWS.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Peace . . .

CALAMITY SONG, by the Decemberists, is a fine piece of rock n' roll — great twang on behalf of Peace.

Break of Day in the Trenches

The darkness crumbles away.
It is the same old druid Time as ever,
Only a live thing leaps my hand,
A queer sardonic rat
As I pull the parapet's poppy
To stick behind my ear.
Droll rat, they would shoot you if they knew
Your cosmopolitan sympathies.
Now you have touched this English hand
You will do the same to a German
Soon, no doubt, if it be your pleasure
To cross the sleeping green between.
It seems you inwardly grin as you pass
Strong eyes, fine limbs, haughty athletes,
Less chanced than you for life,
Bonds to the whims of murder,
Sprawled in the bowels of the earth,
The torn fields of France.
What do you see in our eyes
At the shrieking iron and flame
Hurled through still heavens?
What quaver -- what heart aghast?
Poppies whose roots are in man's veins
Drop, and are ever dropping;
But mine in my ear is safe --
Just a little white with the dust.

June 1916
Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1918)
More here. 

Lest we forget . . .

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Never met a war like you before"

Oh, there they go! The Conservatives I mean (who else?) and their glorious plan to remember the dead from a war that happened 50 years before Confederation. A war that happened FIFTY years before Canada became a nation, when the 'dad's of confederation' were in diapers or not at all. A war, largely fought by British troops, who, given the average lifespans at the time, would have been mostly dead by the time 1867 rolled around. Many would well have returned to the British Isles once their garrison time in the colonies was at an end. Did the colonists, let along Aboriginals (those in contact at least), even think Canada ought to be anything but a Crown colony?

It was and only could be a British and American war fought for absurd reasons on colonised and usurped Indigenous land. But this won't stop the Conservatives from adopting it for political purposes to promote their very weird ideas about nationhood and glory. Canada as a state simply didn't exist.

Stay tuned next year when the Conservatives announce events memorialising Canada's role in that other World War and the importance of Britain's Canada's victory over France Quebec at the Plains of Abraham to nationhood, the English language, and the purity of assorted precious bodily fluids. "Remember 1759" they'll say, especially if Quebec stays communist pinko orange. Because "you know, pinko-orange was the colour of the uniforms of 18th century French colonial garrisons."

Of course, they'll have to conveniently forget the 1690, 1711, and 1775 Battles of Quebec and "Canada's" roles in those expeditionary wars, which may make "Canada" look bad because "we" lost some of those. 

Just awesome.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Airshow's latest problem . . .

ACCORDING TO WIRED'S David Axe, the F-35 is a long way from service. "Stealth Jet Won’t Be Ready for Combat Until 2018" says it all.

More bad news for the Pentagon’s next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the most expensive weapons program in Defense Department history — and arguably the most important one in the Pentagon today. The Air Force has confirmed what observers long expected: that the land-based F-35A model probably won’t be ready for combat until 2018, two years later than previously scheduled.

The single-engine stealth fighter, built by Lockheed Martin, has been beset by parts failures, design changes and a 64-percent increase in overall cost since development began in 2001. While testing has gone better lately, the nearly $400-billion program still needs to complete thousands more test flights before the first batch of regular pilots can even begin training.

The effects of the delay are cascading throughout the world’s biggest and most powerful Air Force. To keep up its strength while awaiting the F-35, the Air Force is having to keep its 1980s- and 1990s-vintage F-15s and F-16s far longer than anyone ever imagined when those planes rolled off the production line.

The problem of aging airframes for F-15, F-16 and F-18 fighters is becoming a serious problem, and the F-35 delay is cause for serious concern. It is also a major reason why the USAF and the USN are working as fast as possible on an RPV fighter, aka "drone".

Meanwhile, our F-18's pile up the airframe hours. And it's all just fine with Stevie and Airshow.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Eternal spirit . . .

BACK IN 2006 LOREENA MCKENNITT recorded a concert at the Alhambra Palace in Granada. Inspired location, inspirational music.  

Think of her music as a bubbling fountain of anti-Koch, and take a break from the idiots, the psychopathic and the merely greedy.

Have a koch and a $mile ? ? ? ?

The right-wing-billionaire-zealot brother$ koch are about to fully engage their database war on the rest of the civilized world.

Feature article in today's GuardianUK reveals the details:

The secretive oil billionaires the Koch brothers are close to launching a nationwide database connecting millions of Americans who share their anti-government and libertarian views, a move that will further enhance the tycoons' political influence and that could prove significant in next year's presidential election.

The database will bring together information from a plethora of right-wing groups, tea party organisations and conservative-leaning thinktanks. Each one has valuable data on their membership – including personal email addresses and phone numbers, as well as more general information useful to political campaign strategists such as occupation, income bracket and so on.

At their most recent billionaires' gathering in Vail, Colorado in June, Charles Koch described next year's presidential contest as "the mother of all wars". A tape of his private speech obtained by Mother Jones said the fight for the White House would be a battle "for the life or death of this country".
Exhorting the 300 guests in attendance to open their sizeable wallets and donate to the Koch election coffers, he went on: "It isn't just your money we need. We need you bringing in new partners, new people. We can't do it alone. We have to multiply ourselves."

"We have to multiply ourselves."

Not unlike rats in a garbage dump . . . .

(Alison has more on how everything really does go better with koch here.) 

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Testing Occupy

Occupy Vancouver is in trouble
The death of a woman taking part in the Occupy Vancouver protest at the city's art gallery has led the city's mayor to announce the protest movement's tent city will be cleared. "I have directed the city manager to expedite the appropriate steps to end the encampment as soon as possible with a safe resolution being absolutely critical to that," Mayor Gregor Robertson said Saturday night. Police said a woman in her 20s was found unresponsive inside a tent at the encampment at about 4:30 p.m. PT Saturday.
"Tragically, she could not be revived," Vancouver police Const. Jana McGuinness told reporters. "She was transported to hospital and pronounced deceased at hospital.
A death on the Downtown East Side does not spawn calls from the mayor to fix that particular neighbourhood. Fatal traffic accidents do not produce calls to keep cars off the roads.

Ashley's tragic death must not be abused by the state as excuse to shut down the encampment. This is a serious test for the movement as there are likely to be more untimely deaths and injuries if it really starts to challenge the status quo and entrenched interests. This is likely a sobering moment for some as the business of reorganising society and disrupting power is a very serious one. In other places, monks self-immolate, troops are deployed for massacre, villages are razed, and people are disappeared, yet they people don't stop resisting. Indeed it is because of these measures that the resistance often continues.

If the police move in, the Occupation can resist. If they manage to clear it, the Occupation can reform elsewhere in Vancouver, maybe in the nice heated space of Vancouver City Hall. The major strength of the movement is perseverance. People do not come out for a day of protest, but a protest of days, weeks, or even years, growing in number until the call for change cannot be ignored or overturned.

The whole point of all this is the transgressive rejection of the coercive and impoverishing influence of the state and private capital on our lives. This most definitely includes resistance to the state in all instances where it seeks to clear the Occupiers. It works like this:

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Vote for Johnny . . .

JOHN LEE HOOKER FOR PRESIDENT: too bad the man is dead. Anyway, that's the title of a delightful Ry Cooder opus.  Brilliant, creative player; while recording the music for the Bruce Willis flick, Last Man Standing, Ry created some powerful bass notes using an 8-foot 4x4 and a bass piano string strung on two spikes, with a guitar pickup underneath.

$4.5 billion, 650 000 people

Bank Transfer Day in the US. In the past few weeks an estimated $4.5 billion in personal accounts has been denied to or moved from the big US banks by 650 000 ordinary people. 

These numbers will only grow as more people begin to realise they have the means to take a stand against The 1% in a way that'll hurt them. This isn't a bank run where people cash-out their savings and dump it into a hole in the ground. This is people moving their money into financial institutions much more accountable to them.

Balloon Juice, UOH, and the CeeBeeCee have more.

Our World. Occupy it.

Nasty . . .

POOR YEMEN: OIL, FUNDIES AND RACISTS have their day in the scorching sun, and the country self-destructs, to the concern of Foreign Offices around the world. Poor Yemen, so far from God, and so close to Saudi and Iran.

ALJAZEERA has been providing yeoman service in following this sorry debacle. Ali Abdullah Saleh has run out of time and legitimacy in the Yemeni hearts and minds, and it looks like his count-down to "retirement" has started. It's how this is going to happen that keeps the ER's busy, like we see below.

That's gotta hurt. How much more pain will be endured? This may be determined in Riyadh and Tehran, because that's the way the Umma is, and the Sunni/Shi'a problem continues to fester.

Friday, November 04, 2011

C-section 2035

November 4, 2035 (TGB News): Recent advances in obstetric medicine have led to the first company offering fully independent births. NuBirth Inc claims to offer the first safe extra-corporeal pregnancy. According to company literature,

"Women no longer have to suffer the pain and suffering pregnancy and the changes in wardrobe and lifestyle this means for them. For the first time in human history women no longer must suffer the problems and health risks of childbirth."

The procedure, according to the company, involves the non-surgical removal of the egg from the woman within 48 hours of conception, and placing it in an hybrid artificial womb partially grown from stem cells previously harvested from mother. Parents can then watch their infant develop in real time through a glass enclosure. Data on vital signs and development is sent directly to the electronic lifestyle enhancer of their choice.

Normal human gestation, like natural methods, still takes about nine months. However, a company spokesperson said NuBirth was also close to commercialising a safe accelerated birth system, which would halve the normal human gestation period. The company claims this will further reduce the impact of the gestation process on people's lives. 

"No more nine month's of waiting in today's busy lives! Soon you can have your newborn in your arms in nearly half the time!"

Ok, far be it from me to pontificate on how women should handle their pregnancies and bodies, but the idea of an optional C-section without a medical reason alarms me.  It speaks to the further sanitisation and numbing of our lives, as if we're not actually meant to feel anything even remotely uncomfortable or painful, or simply accept the fact we grow old. It's got to be all youthful pleasure or nothing, like those non-stop pharmaceutical adverts you see on US television channels. The designer birth seems like yet another manifestation of this.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

"The Party of the People . . . ."

Is not that "people friendly" according to this piece from

A snippet follows, but check out the entire piece here:

More generally, the truth is this: Democratic mayors may talk about how they sympathize with the Occupy movement. They may even try to speak in its name, as Quan has. But their office requires them to keep order and protect the interests of the 1 percent--and so they will turn to repression to try to stop the struggle from disrupting business as usual.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
THE SAME truth applies further up the chain, in the White House of Barack Obama, the first African American president of the U.S.
Where was Barack Obama, who claimed to understand the "broad-based frustration" of the movement, when Occupy activists in Oakland were reclaiming Oscar Grant Plaza after enduring vicious police violence 24 hours earlier? Answer: He was across the Bay at a $5,000-a-plate fundraiser for his presidential campaign.

Quelle surprise, eh ? ? ? ?

99% Action from Home . . . .

Something we all can do from home to annoy the 1%:


Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Con Crime Bill = Constitutional Crisis?

But, then: “It is clear that this bill does not offer the financial support necessary to support the changes. Quebec refuses to absorb the costs,” Mr. Fournier said. “We won’t pay, we won’t pay these additional costs.”
And just like that, the minister had veered off Common Sense Road and headed straight for Crisistown. The game is simple: Ottawa is about to implement a plan that will cost the provinces and territories billions of dollars. Quebec isn’t interested in paying. There’s a decent chance other provinces will feel likewise. In fact, a few hours later came this from Dalton McGuinty, in an interview with the Ottawa’s Citizen’s Chris Cobb: “It’s easy for the federal government to pass new laws dealing with crime, but if there are news costs associated with those laws that have to be borne by the taxpayers of Ontario, I expect the feds will pick up that tab.’’ The Ontario Premier went on: “What is the expectation on the part of Ontario taxpayers? That expectation is this: I say to the feds – I demand of the feds – if, for example, you want us to build new prisons in Ontario and staff those prisons with highly trained personnel that’s an additional cost to us and it is incumbent upon you, as the creator of those costs, to come up with the money.” Stephen Harper, never one to be called a staunch federalist, could suddenly find himself trying to force the provinces to follow Ottawa’s lead — and on an area of provincial responsibility. This could get awkward.
I've wondered in the past whether we'd see resistance from the provinces to the lunatics in Ottawa. We've got prisons and crime bills, and we've got some discussion of provinces developing their own gun registries after the Cons lose the federal one.

What happens if the provinces simply refuse to enforce or participate in federal legislation?

Via James C Morton

Little big Occupations

I was talking to a friend this morning, also a researcher, but in a US institution. We were having the all too frequent whinge about the bullshit in our chosen environments and probably many other workplaces too. You know, the increasing demand placed on the rank and file employees, the race-to-the-bottom disguised as a race-to-the-top. The passive-aggressive stresses caused by the sense that productivity (I hate this word) requirements, are outstripping the need for humanity and happiness.

We were remarking that coworkers, academic staff, administration seem particularly touchy these days. No one has any time. Professors have no time to mentor or review work, teach, or grade. There is so much work to be done and limited funding so they try to 'employ' students and remunerate them in 'opportunity' as if we don't need to eat. Umbrage occurs at refusal and we are accused of 'entitlement' as if it is their god-given right to have free RAs and TAs.  We walk into our defences and quickly realise at least one of the committee members hasn't actually read our theses. No time, or sometimes they just want your defence on their CV. New PhD couples face the prospect of choosing between their relationships and employment because the likelihood of both finding academic jobs in the same place is rare. Spousal hire positions seem to be even rarer than single-hire tenure-track jobs. If they do land employment, the requirements of teaching and research complicate the thought of having children before menopause. The tension is palpable.

The culture, the ideology, is apparent in the rhetoric coming from the yes-men who subscribe to this. Its always about more productivity. Quantity over quality for no real return other than greater job security. Output output output, as if the human organism is nothing but a machine for producing journal articles or whatever flavour of widget your particular treadmill requires you to produce for your bread and butter.

So you see little cracks start to form. Someone snaps because he can't find a spoon in the lunchroom and CCs everyone in a curse-laden email. A department head twitches over a trivial matter and says something very regrettable to recent alumni in another mass email. Having nothing to lose now, the alumni counter-attack in force.  Intraworkplace backstabbing, screaming matches at faculty meetings. Few of the recent grads show up at their convocation.

The inverse relationship between workload and benefits, the constant feeling of exploitation, the anger, the tension is exactly the same as that which motivates the Occupy Movement the world over.

It's rage at the worldview that still buys into the lie that says hard-work will be rewarded, that futures will be secure, that we'll have time and money to have children and green planet for them to inherit. That disillusionment that comes with with waking up one day and seeing the Matrix, seeing that the game is rigged evermore against you. Some take to the streets and sit in New York, Toronto, Montreal in delegitimacy of the power and privilege that wealth or rank confers,  refusing to move when the power and privilege attack and break their skulls.

In workplaces, like my friend's and mine, stories of rebellion emerge. We start to ignore position, title and rank, which so often now less represents competence as it does label some career-climbing true-believer. Losing our fear of repercussion, we're starting speak our minds and cease listening to the myths spun by these Creationists.

Occupy Everywhere.

That was then, this is now . . .