The Shore

The Shore

Friday, January 9, 2015

Friday musings - film reviews and more

This looks like tons of fun - a new video game that is for an iphone,  and voice controlled - first time I ever wanted an iphone.    Story here.

Remember Phyllis Schafly - I recall her from the 80's as the American anti-feminist -- women should stay home, have babies  cook and clean -- too many women working she thought!   She's in the news again with a solution for College sexual assaults:  reduce the number of women on campus!  Bring back more money for male sports (they now have to share their bucks with female sports) and maybe something else -- who can remember idiocy - just posting because it is amazing she is still out there and being published!

Then there is the difficulty with the recent spate of supposedly fabulous pics,  and problems with the historic accuracy of the films.  Each reviewer suggests that, although movies do not have to be absolutely accurate, and can conflate events, contract relationships or move events around -- and they might dramatize conversations that no one can report on -- but these films (like Zero Dark Thirty suggested that torture helped produce information about the whereabouts of Osama, which is not true)   spread the mis-information or create new information that is factually wrong.

So. . .

Selma - two issues - focuses too much on the one man theory of history,  and not enough on all the organizing work that went into getting Selma "ready to march";  and  suggests that LBJ did not want to pass the Voting Rights Act when in fact he did and the two men colluded on the timing.

Then there is Clint Eastwood's American Sniper is also full of shit.  One - although  it does talk about the true story of this man but there is no analysis at all of what happened in Iraq.  Check out this review.

Then there is The Imitation Game with Benedict Cumberbatch which apparently although a great film, makes mincemeat of Alan Turing.   The Reviwer in the NYTimes Review of Books says: "There’s no question that the real-life Turing was decidedly eccentric, and that he didn’t suffer fools gladly. As his biographers vividly relate, though, he could also be a wonderfully engaging character when he felt like it, notably popular with children and thoroughly charming to anyone for whom he developed a fondness. All of this stands sharply at odds with his characterization in the film, which depicts him as a dour Mr. Spock who is disliked by all of his coworkers—with the possible exception of Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley). The film spares no opportunity to drive home his robotic oddness. He uses the word “logical” a lot and can’t grasp even the most modest of jokes. This despite the fact that he had a sprightly sense of humor, something that comes through vividly in the accounts of his friends, many of whom shared their stories with both Hodges and Copeland."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Daily Musings -- Feb 11th

An article in Truthout, this week, has an excerpt from Max Haiven's new book Crises of Imagination, Crises of Power: Capitalism, Creativity and the Commons (Zed Books, March 2014)

I want to quote many paragraphs but will just leave you with this one. 

"The crises of our age, like the crises of ages past, are the crises of capitalism. In this book, capitalism represents a cancerous disorder in the 'fabric' of social reproduction, one that works by perverting our sense of what and who is valuable and conscripting us to reproduce a system that works in the short-term interests of the few and against the interests of the vast majority of humanity. The failure to acknowledge that the many global crises we now face are, inherently, crises of capitalism represents a massive failure of the imagination. And without the radicalization of the imagination, we have no hope of overcoming these crises." 
With slightly more exciting news and a little sneak peak -- Looks like the book launch will be part of this year's Mayworks Festival!!

On the environmental front more bad news. . . 
Even a single polar bear can devastate all the eggs on a single island where birds such as common eiders nest. This unfortunate colony was visited by three bears at once. (Courtesy Steve Marson)

Polar bears cannot get to seals -- In northern Hudson's Bay the ice is frozen 60 days less per year.  The freeze is thirty days later and breakup is thirty days earlier.   So, in bad news for both birds and polar bears -- they are raiding bird nesting islands and eating eggs in huge numbers in some cases more than decimating the population.   In this piece on CBC it says: 
Iverson, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biology at Carleton University, recalled one rampage he witnessed in which a polar bear ate its way through an eider duck nesting colony with 300 nests, each containing about four or five eggs. The eggs were nearly "completely consumed within about a 48-hour period."

And on the Harper Cons. . . the story of how our national resources including water are going to be essentially sold off -- as soon as you tie public funding to P3's for municipal water you have essentially transferred control over water - a public good and something we need to survive -- to for-profit companies.  This is not more efficient or cheaper,  it just transfers a public good into private profit and should not be contemplated by any municipality in Canada (some have private sector involvement already!   )  Read more about on Rabble.

and there there is the elections act - something yesterday - more tomorrow -- this is bad. .  very bad. . .   This piece on Rabble is terrifying -- when even the Chief Electoral Officer calls it "an affront to democracy"   something is terribly wrong and we need to be reacting.  Unfortunately I heard today (Feb 11th ) about an action by the Council of Canadians yesterday -- where everyone was supposed to contact their MP but since my partner and I are social media mavens and news hawks and we didn't know about it. . . I think it must have been kept too quiet!

Then there is this NYTimes story about Snowden -- love you Eddie -- come by anytime.  You will go down in history as a hero --- hope they give you the Nobel (which he has been nominated for by two Norwegian Parliamentarians.)
Using “web crawler” software designed to search, index and back up a website, Mr. Snowden “scraped data out of our systems” while he went about his day job, according to a senior intelligence official. “We do not believe this was an individual sitting at a machine and downloading this much material in sequence,” the official said. The process, he added, was “quite automated.”
The findings are striking because the N.S.A.’s mission includes protecting the nation’s most sensitive military and intelligence computer systems from cyberattacks, especially the sophisticated attacks that emanate from Russia and China. Mr. Snowden’s “insider attack,” by contrast, was hardly sophisticated and should have been easily detected, investigators found.

A coupe of nice ones from the Olympics -- and pushing gay rights -- no matter that Russia doth protest too much. . . 

One is a story about the Greek team in blue and white as usual but with rainbow gloves to give the Russian state the finger, with. . .

And the other is a CBC story about how there has been more prominent LGBTI press and support as a result of the anti-gay law in Russia. . . in fact, says CBC they may be the gayest games ever!  Which says in part: 
"You look around Canada today and there's municipalities flying rainbow flags all over in support of the LGBT population," said Helen Kennedy, executive director of Égale Canada, a charity promoting LGBT rights."
 No comment on these two - but they interested me and may interest you too . .

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Daily Musings Feb. 9th

Best laid plans of blogging instead of sharing on FB. . .  but it is so much easier to just hit like and share -- to write this takes takes time and thought - I have been too busy at work to think of anything else -- though I, of course, do think about other things -- but no time to write -- so here is what I am musing about today. . . and for the last few days.

Upworthy published the video, below, with the headline  - Canada makes a great point about the Olympics in thirty seconds, which sounds like it is something the government of Canada did (ie Harper Cons!) .   It is a nice little video but has nothing at all to do with the Canadian Gov't.

Upworthy got it a little wrong -- this is a private sector organization (with a good goal) but private nevertheless, and in the same business as HR and business management consultants, as near as I can determine. . .  still loved the ad. From their website:
The Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion (CIDI) is a made-in-Canada solution designed to help employers, and diversity and inclusion (D&I), Human Rights and Equity (HR&E) and human resources (HR) practitioners effectively address the full picture of diversity, equity and inclusion within the workplace.
And here's the 30 sec clip: 


I wish I could recap what is in the piece by Chantal Hebert about the new bill on elections. .  but it is all important, an easy read, and I couldn't do better -- so please just go and read this piece from The Star.   Harper Cons are striking one more blow against democracy.

And there is another great piece on Global, here, about the NDP trying to filibuster to stop them from ending debate.  Once again the Harper Cons are taking what should be a non-partisan issue that all parties and the people get some say in. . . turn it into a piece of legislation that is very partisan (the people that they are denying the vote to are disadvantaged and generally not likely to vote for them) plus they are taking away rights from Elections Canada. . . like the ability to promote voting. . . and then, there is this -- 

And then yesterday on "the House" with Evan Solomon on CBC radio the Chief electoral Officer called the act an "Affront to Democracy".   More in this CBC website piece which says in part: 

The government's proposed overhaul of the Elections Act includes elements that constitute an affront to democracy, according to Canada's Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand.
 In an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio's The House, Mayrand said "my reading of the act is that I can no longer speak about democracy in this country."
 "I'm not aware of any electoral bodies around the world who can not talk about democracy," Mayrand told host Evan Solomon.
Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand says the government's proposed Fair Elections Act puts severe restrictions on the information he is able to communicate to the public. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Daily Musings Feb 3rd.

Is Edward Snowden a prisoner in Russia?   The Guardian newspaper asks.  In the second exclusive extract from his new book, The Snowden Files, Luke Harding looks at the role of Russia's shadowy intelligence agency, the FSB, in securing the whistleblower's exile – and whether they have cracked his secret files.   I feel so bad for Snowden -- instead of politics he often brings out the Mom and Grannie in me. . . I just want to bring him home and look after him.


There was a presentation in Halifax on the possibility of postal banking. . . a good idea whose time has come though the Post office CEO doesn't think so. . .   It suggests in part:
Traditional banks are closing, true. But they're also exclusive places and increasingly centralized in high density, higher income, areas, like shopping malls.
To prove the point, he draws back the curtain of a boardroom at the Holiday Inn in Dartmouth. Outside is the neon rush of another Pay Day loan storefront, a high interest loan provider that preys largely upon those who have been excluded from traditional banks due to poverty.
“We know who uses the pay day loan system,” says Bickerton. “It's basically the people who have been excluded form our 'great' banking system. In many cases they are part of the 3-5% of the population who don't have banks accounts. These are the poorest people in the country and they are systematically excluded from the banks. We know that First Nations people are often the greatest users of the pay day loans. Why? Because they are the most excluded from our banking system.”
Another of the great bank-excluded classes are rural Canadians. And here, with its cross-country network of postal outlets, Canada Post would be at a distinct advantage. Bickerton notes that there are over 2,000 bank-less communities across the country that are served by a postal outlet. Add a financial service delivery capacity to these outlets - et voila - an instant underserved market, goes the logic.
I like it. 


Tell Shell's New CEO to stop drilling in the Arctic.  Sign the petition here.

Our way or the highway. . .U.S. Cuts off aid to Bolivia,  Bolivia says: 
In any case, Morales said, 80 percent of the United States’ money returned to the U.S. in the form of Bolivian contracts for business enterprises and consulting services, “so what aid are we talking about?”
“If we review the data, the latest data, I believe it comes to 20 or 25 [million dollars], practically nothing,” he said at a press conference in the presidential palace.
Presidential chief of staff Juan Ramón Quintana told the press that USAID contributions amount at present to $23 million.
“We want to tell [the United States], with much pride, that we’re not a mendicant state, we are not beggars, we don’t need charity, we have pride and we’re going to finance the struggle against drug trafficking ourselves,” . . .       
See more here. 


Lakoff!!!   George Lakoff has tried to teach the left about framing.  He says, in this interview in the Guardian,  we are still losing -- he is mostly talking about the democrats in the U.S. and many of them are not progressive at all. . . but I still buy the framing idea.  It is just hard to make confident, black and white statements when you have an analysis, and not just an opinion, or  direct revelation from the Lord.   Lakoff says in part:

'Conservatives don't follow the polls, they want to change them … Liberals do everything wrong'

Of course me and mine are not liberals in small or large L versions. . . but I still think we can learn from this. 
 "Framing is not primarily about politics or political messaging or communication. It is far more fundamental than that: frames are the mental structures that allow human beings to understand reality – and sometimes to create what we take to be reality. But frames do have an enormous bearing on politics … they structure our ideas and concepts, they shape the way we reason … For the most part, our use of frames is unconscious and automatic."
. . ."the left, he argues, is losing the political argument – every year, it cedes more ground to the right, under the mistaken impression that this will bring everything closer to the centre. In fact, there is no centre: the more progressives capitulate, the more boldly the conservatives express their vision, and the further to the right the mainstream moves. The reason is that conservatives speak from an authentic moral position, and appeal to voters' values. Liberals try to argue against them using evidence; they are embarrassed by emotionality. They think that if you can just demonstrate to voters how their self-interest is served by a socially egalitarian position, that will work, and everyone will vote for them and the debate will be over. In fact, Lakoff asserts, voters don't vote for bald self-interest; self-interest fails to ignite, it inspires nothing – progressives, of all people, ought to understand this.

 This is just a funny piece, in MacLeans,  about how the government bureaucrats in Ottawa struggle with twitter.  Everything has to be approved and takes a lot of time and a medium that should be timely is left to languish and is always late.

Does raising the minimum wage kill jobs?  asks Rabble blogger Tod Ferguson.   The right says: 
The Ontario PCs, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and the usual suspects for the 1% have been wringing their hands and wailing about how terrible the notion of increasing the minimum wage by $0.75 is. The CFIB claims that increasing the minimum wage hurts minimum wage workers "by reducing the businesses' capacity to hire and retain them." In fact, the CFIB predicts that a 10 per cent increase in the minimum wage would trigger up to 321,000 job losses.
However the rest of the article provides actual,  statistical evidence from  5 provinces that it does not. 


You'll have to watch this to get the joke but all I can say is that I would have considered this an effective ad for landmine removal.   I am not sure it is a great ad for staying in school.  watch it - what do you think?  Perhaps the OZ mindset is different from here but I don't think that this would be at all compelling. . .

Good news/bad news . . .

1 of 4. Thousands of people march to protest a government plan to limit abortions in Madrid February 1, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Andrea Comas

 And in Alabama,  pregnant women who miscarry can be refused care -- all the staff in an emerg don't want to end that pregnancy where you might bleed to death?  They are being protected from liability and have no obligation to help you find treatment -- just a way of saying -- women can go die. Appalling. Details on the ACLU site, here.

Given that my son (30 years old),  lives here full time, and his two children 12 and 7, live here part time, and we are not chomping to have them gone; this article was a little breath of fresh air for me.  

It seems to me, it was/is capitalism,  in the rush for "expansion of the economy" and selling more more more. . .  that broke down the extended family and moved us all to nuclear families, and now to atomized individuals. . . (so that everyone needs their own fridge, TV, car, stove, washer and dryer, lawn mower etc.)  Living in extended family (however defined - we have spent many years living with family members that we met and made into family ourselves) is an act of resistance!!


ALjazeera reports on the effect on children in Gaza and the lack of international response to get Justice for the families in Gaza even though so many of Israel's actions are illegal.  

                                                            Photo by AljAZEERA

They say in part: 

. . . It has been five years since Operation Cast Lead, a 22-day Israeli military offensive in Gaza which took place between December 27 and January 18, 2008 and claimed the lives of at least 1,400 Palestinians, including more than 350 Palestinian children.
Despite damning evidence of war crimes, the US government played a role in blocking international efforts to hold Israel accountable for serious breaches of international law. The resulting impunity has enabled Israel to continue its oppressive policies in Gaza where children undoubtedly remain targets.
. . .
 Human rights groups, including Defence for Children International Palestine, Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch, have documented cases of children killed and maimed in unlawful attacks; the destruction of civilian infrastructure such as schools and water and sanitation networks; the use of children as human shields; the unlawful use of white phosphorous in populated areas; and the arbitrary detention of children.
. . .

Following the attacks, the UN Human Rights Council established a fact-finding mission headed by Justice Richard Goldstone. Their mandate was "to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law" that may have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations conducted in Gaza between December 27, 2008 and January 18, 2009. Although international law requires states to investigate war crime allegations, Israeli authorities refused to cooperate with the investigation.
The mission's report, published in September 2009, found evidence of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity committed by both the Israeli military and Palestinian armed groups. Known as the "Goldstone Report", it was overwhelmingly endorsed by the UN General Assembly on November 5, 2009, with 114 states voting in favour of a resolution demanding that Israel and the Palestinians undertake "independent, credible investigations" into alleged war crimes. The resolution also urged the Security Council to take action on the report's recommendations, primarily by referring cases to the International Criminal Court.
Unsurprisingly, the US was one of 18 countries to vote against the resolution. The Obama administration then employed its diplomatic power to mitigate the impact of the Goldstone Report, and also blocked any further potential progress through the Security Council. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Daily Musings Jan 31st.

So the word is out -- even RollingStone thought Marx had some good ideas. . .
It lays out 5 ways Marx was right -- I will not repeat them here but I will repeat the final paragraph:
Marx's moral critique of capitalism and his keen insights into its inner workings and historical context are still worth paying attention to. As Robert L. Heilbroner writes, "We turn to Marx, therefore, not because he is infallible, but because he is inescapable." Today, in a world of both unheard-of wealth and abject poverty, where the richest 85 people have more wealth than the poorest 3 billion, the famous cry, "Workers of the world uniteyou have nothing to lose but your chains," has yet to lose its potency.

It is a frightening expose of our modern world and a story about how far we have fallen and what kind of things make it to the realm of #firstworldproblems. . .   Babies ill from never eating anything except take out food and fast food,  According to this BBC documentary.    It comes from not having time to cook, to sit down and have family meals together.   I mean who has time?   With poverty wages becoming the norm, and people having to have two and three jobs to get by -- they also have to get poorer by not making food at home cause there is no time -- I only watched the intro to a bunch of families in this video and I suspect that they just blame the families,  but "the problem" I think  is a sign of what we have created.  Individuals are not solely (or maybe at all) responsible for the breakdown of families -- capitalism, as well as driving globalization, monopoly, low wages and unemployment, also atomized families ('cause individuals buy more) made us alienated and we are nuclear families or individuals and help is hard to come by. . .


I have been carefully following and trying to support Canada Post and dis the Harper Gov't changes.   In this blog on Rabble,  David Bush writes about the way that we can support the postal workers and how we can help maintain Canada Post as a viable PUBLIC SERVICE -- 60% OF Canadians currently have home mail delivery and they want to keep it! 


I am quoting here -   Kris McGrath - my FB friend from Saint John, NB who,  on posting the news release  about the fact that the the faculty at UNB had a tentative agreement,  posted the following,  and I thought it was worth repeating. 

Congratulations on a successful round of negotiations, restoration of balance and positive steps forward for all concerned. While we await a ratification vote, there will be well-deserved celebrations in many quarters, and activities in many classrooms!

Yet as happy as I am for AUNBT and all the folks at UNB, I'm reminded of an old Labour saying: *There are no victories, just new battles*. While AUNBT will be back to work, MAFA (Mount Allison Faculty Association) continues to walk the line, the Saint John 7 (CMG- Radio Free Saint John) remain embattled in an interminable action, and Workers at Labatts in St John's (NAPE- Support NL Labatts Workers on strike) continue their fight. Today CUPW workers across the country face an uncertain future, veterans and workers from veteran's affairs continue to struggle with government decisions to close office, and workers rights across this country remain under siege by government bills aimed at torpedoing collective bargaining. AUNBT has a tentative agreement and I couldn't be happier for them, but brothers and sisters- there is still so much for us to do!!!

“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”

And Ken Georgetti - head of the Canadian Labour Congress -  wrote this article about the effect of corporate tax cuts in Canada.   In it, he details what those cuts were supposed to achieve and what has happened in the last twenty years.  Are we better off?  More employment?  More research and development?  More innovation?  increasing full time or living wage jobs?  The answer is no. The article gives you the numbers, I am just repeating the conclusions.

A Canadian Labour Congress research report shows that, due to lavish tax breaks, the largest of Canada's non-financial corporations had paid their entire share of taxes to all levels of government in 2012 by the end of January. We call that Corporate Tax Freedom Day. 
. . .

 Good, family-supporting jobs are the key to Canada's economic success and corporate tax cuts aren't delivering. In fact, corporate tax cuts have delivered nothing, except windfall profits that haven't benefited the ordinary Canadians who paid for them.
 . . .
Corporate tax giveaways mean that the federal government has foregone billions of dollars in revenues. To pay for the tax breaks, Ottawa has borrowed billions of dollars and driven up the national debt. Now, the government has chosen to make big cuts to public services essential to Canadians in order to pay the bill for its tax giveaways.


The Nova Scotia Barristers Society is holding a public consultation on the application from Trinity Western University to open a law school.  I think (though still investigating) that all provinces would have to agree to register their graduates or at least let them write the bar exams.  IN an effort to ensure fairness to all we need to ensure that law is not taught in an environment which by their own missions, values, and procedures isists athat all courses be taught keeping the bible as their highest authority and that Christian Values would over rule all others.  They call themselves fundamentalist Christians at that school and part of the statement of faith and Christian Covenant that they have to sign in order to enter the school says that they believe (and will act as if) marriage is only between a man and a woman and that they will not have sex outside of marriage -- therefore banning all gay marriage and in fact I understand that they are quite intolerant of "gays and lesbians" believing them to be outside of god's will and intent for humans.

The same thing happened when they opened a teacher's college and the supreme court said that they had to be allowed to do so.   So this may be all for naught - but they perhaps can stopped by having the NS bar refuse to register them if we put pressure on them.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Daily Musings - Jan 29th

Hey -- did you hear about the new Quebec Charter?  

A replacement for the despised "charter of values"  -- this was supposed to be a satirical piece but I think that the fact that (all these religious symbols are worn above the waist) we all wear the same pants is a good point.  

"Described as the 'perfect charter,' Bourassa says that, "by wearing the same pants, we are saying that from the waist down Quebecers are united, but from the waist up we are all unique and can celebrate our individually anyway we like." 
He went on to state that, "there is absolutely nothing controversial about pants."

And it is amusing, (if perhaps a little stereotyped in the French accent department) listen here:  

My childhood was pretty happy and un-eventful: parents stayed together, we had a family vacation (by car every summer) no one got really sick or died.  My father did break a leg, both his arms and smashed his heel in a fall at work.  I remember it,  but not as traumatic.  Parents were pretty stoic Scots (I was born there, but of Irish descent on both sides)  - so nothing much caused big drama.  We were allowed to be intellectually challenging - political discussion was not out of bounds - but not angry or upset. We cried a lot, though -- something about the Irish -- I remember all of us, even my father, shedding a tear without shame at "Not a love story"  and how we laughed at ourselves.  But all that is just a lead in to this:

My nuns were those in black habits with white wimples around the face and voluminous skirts and LARGE crucifixes. . . intimidating?  Guess so. . . 


A note or two on the environment: 

This is American data, but, in case you thought that oil pipelines might be safer than rail - since we have had several big rail derailments with fire, death, destruction, evacuation etc. - check out this time lapse of oil spills, from pipelines, in the U.S. since 1986.  

This piece is a list of the crimes against the environment that the Harper Cons are guilty of. . . check it out -- it is a looooong list!  It includes the following categories and under each a long list of evidence: 

The charge: Promoting willful ignorance by eliminating advisory bodies and restricting data gathering.

The charge: Preventing knowledge from reaching the public by muzzling government scientists.

The charge: Systematically dismantling decades of environmental protection legislation.

The charge: Limiting scientists’ ability to provide perspective by reducing environmental research funding.

The charge: Undermining conservation and monitoring efforts by cutting funding, staff and programs.

The charge: Obstructing and threatening environmental education and advocacy efforts.

On women:  Check out this Bollywood star, and her angrily giving it to journalists, who want to suggest that she was dissing India, in an American interview.  As she points out she was just describing the country's treatment of women. It is mixed Hindi and English but totally understandable!

And speaking of the position of women in society -- this is a great piece by the Guardian about childcare.  It is about the UK, but, of course,  we do not provide state funded  childcare in Canada.  Daycare as daycare (in a group with trained providers)  is un-affordable  for people making minimum wage or even a little better and yet we distribute income by work - essentially consigning mothers and even two parents and children to poverty.    And they wonder why we, in Canada, delay childbearing and have so few children -- because it is each individual that is supposed to be responsible for all the costs of raising children, staying housed and employed etc. and it is hard unless you have a living wage and then some.  The paragraph I love from the article above is this: 
I believe the work situation is substantially down to the way we talk about life in gender silos, where "children", "maternity leave", "pregnancy" and "families" are filed under "women", while "industrial relations", "tribunals", "contracts" and "workplace" go under "men". This has blinded us to the fact that many statutory entitlements can never be upheld. Maybe you have the wrong kind of job or the wrong kind of (zero hours) contract; some rights build up over time and you can't prove unbroken service if you've never had a proper contract. Even if you could, your position is too precarious to insist on the rights you do have; and if it all turns sour you can't take anybody to a tribunal because since last July you've had to pay to do so.
Good eh?  ______________________________________________________________________________

Couple more things about the Harper Cons before I go. . .  You should check out:  a story about Harper calling Muslims terrorists and their backlash. . .they are suing!   It says in part: 
A prominent Muslim Canadian advocacy group has decided that enough is enough and is suing the Prime Minister and his chief spokesperson.
Jason McDonald, Stephen Harper's Communication Director publicly accused the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) of having "documented links to a terrorist organization" with a straight face and without providing a shred of evidence.
His irresponsible smear was in response to a plea the organization made with the Prime Minister not to invite a controversial Rabbi to accompany him on his trip to Israel.
Instead of reacting maturely to the request, Mr. McDonald chose to level a nasty charge against the NCCM, accusing them of one the most egregious crimes a person or a group can be accused of.
Unfortunately, the journalist who reported the accusation didn't ask the spokesperson to provide evidence or wonder why, if there are "documented links," this organization has not been charged with anything.
And then there is this:

Judge Exposes Harper Government's "paternalistic, self serving, arbitrary" approach to First Nations

Which says in part: 
On January 17, 2014, Justice Patrick Smith of the Specific Claims Tribunal issued his decision in Aundeck Omni Kaning v. Canada, finding that Canada's unilateral, take-it-or-leave-it approach to the resolution of specific claims represents a blatant refusal to negotiate and undermines the Honour of the Crown in its dealings with First Nations . . . In his decision, Justice Smith observed Canada's position is: "frankly, paternalistic, self-serving, arbitrary and disrespectful of First Nations. It falls short of upholding the honour of the Crown, and its implied principle of "good faith" required in all negotiations Canada undertakes with First Nations. Such a position affords no room for the principles of reconciliation, accommodation and consultation that the Supreme Court, in many decisions, has described as being the foundation of Canada's relationship with First Nations. " 
Harper has a couple of other crimes on the books today. . . 

Info on one comes from NUPGE and says that the federal gov (Harper Cons)  is backing away from their promise to improve/update/clean up the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW)Program -- you will recall that a couple of corporations (Including banks) got caught abusing this program. . . and I can tell you they are not looking too hard in NS before they bring in TFWs!  Those workers are welcome here but they should be able to immigrate and have the same rights as other Canadian workers.  Instead, it appears to be just another strategy to reduce wages and increase profits. 

According to NUPGE, and as one example: 
A recent Globe and Mail article suggested measures to force companies to prove they've made an effort to hire or train Canadians before they can use the TFWP may be scrapped after lobbying from business groups. This comes less than a month after the federal government scrapped plans to prevent those convicted of human trafficking, sexual abuse or causing death to employees from participating in the TFWP.

And one last piece on Harper. . . (daily I feel like there is a book to be written about our PM and fedgov. . . ) and this happened last year but just came to my attention (today) and I do pay attention so it must have passed quietly. 

Last year Harper set up a Venture Capital Action Plan- a comprehensive strategy for deploying 400 million "to help increase private sector investments to create jobs and economic growth. "

I heard about it because this week they appointed a new Chair of the Venture Capital Expert Panel - those who get to decide who gets the 400 million.  IN a country without daycare, without jobs, with too many children in poverty - they are giving 400 million to Venture Capital Firms?  That's where the money already is and the problem is they are sitting on capital without investing it and now the gov't thinks that they will solve that problem by giving them money?  I am aghast!

Links are here:


And, of course, we cannot forget the Post Office!!! Click here for what you can do to help save the post office and home mail delivery! Save Canada Post!

And while thinking about mail delivery - this passed by my eyes on FB and felt compelled to share it as it is very funny. . . and really, although amusing, speaks to the difficulties of door to door delivery! 

And that's today's musings -- 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Daily Musings -- January 28th

 Pete Seeger died this morning.  I guess we should have expected it -- he was 94, but it still makes me sad -- he lived through almost the entire twentieth century -- born in 1919 he missed the great war -- and always seemed to be on the right side.  I wonder if overall he thought things got worse or better?  Rolling Stone piece with links to other articles about Pete Seeger, with pics etc. can be found here Certainly the 60's and 70's improved the lot of many people in the northern world,  especially through the civil rights movement, women's liberation and gay rights --  all successful to a certain extent.   Turns out that legislating rights doesn't mean that you live without     discrimination day to day. . . but hard to fault improvements in legislation!     True - economically things improved from the 1940's - 1970's for North American workers, but it has been all downhill from there.   In other parts of the world, severe poverty has been reduced from the 1970's, BUT 80% of the world still lives on $10 a day (US) or less so we are not really doing very well! Pete also worked on the environment and yet 5% of the world's population consumes 13 of its resources and makes nearly half the waste on the planet -- that 5% is unfortunately. . . us.   You can though hear Jian Gonmeshi's tribute to Pete Seeger from Q on CBC radio this morning, by clicking on the  link or by playing the audio clip at the top of the page.     _________________________________________________ What else?    Hmmm. .  . A written piece on is very interesting. . .   it talks about how federal cabinet Ministers are no longer "responsible" for their departments or the "screw-ups" in their departments and how this is a change.  In fact they say: 
Somewhere between the first Conservative election victory and the last election, the rules on ministerial responsibility changed without any fanfare or public discussion.
The 2007 guide for ministers, written by the PCO, explained ministerial responsibility this way: "Ministers are individually responsible to Parliament and the prime minister for their own actions and those of their department, including the actions of all officials under their management and direction, whether or not the Ministers had prior knowledge."
By 2011, there had been a shift in thinking.
"Ministerial accountability to Parliament does not mean that a minister is presumed to have knowledge of every matter that occurs within his or her department or portfolio, nor that the minister is necessarily required to accept blame for every matter," wrote PCO in an updated version of the pamphlet.
Well, that's a problem - and Nigel Wright and more fall under this -- just a stroke of a policy pen and parliamentary accountability is eroded. The article goes on to say: 
"Accountability means accepting responsibility (a) for the action, and (b) for the correction. PCO/PMO guidelines suggest only the latter responsibility."
Turnbull put an even sharper point on it than that.
While these guidelines are written down, they are just guidelines, she said. The idea of ministerial responsibility is a convention. It is an unwritten constitutional rule.
"It's easier to ignore an unwritten convention than it is to ignore a written part of the constitution," she pointed out.
"It becomes a test of what the government can get away with if they want to start playing with conventions. And that's a huge problem," she added.
"These guidelines do not gel with the rest of our system."
CCPA has published a new study targeting the Harper government plan to allow income splitting.   There is a massive potential tax loss and it is entirely beneficial to the rich!  (Of course) it feels like once people get elected, they are lobbied only by the rich and powerful in any meaningful way and just forget about the rest of us . . . though of course in the case of the Cons, they are Harper's friends and his ideological allies. 
According to the report, about 86 per cent of all Canadian families would gain no benefit from the proposed tax loophole, while it would cost taxpayers as a whole almost $5 billion.  
This study examines the cost and the distributional impact of three income splitting scenarios: pension income splitting; income splitting for families with children under 18, as the Conservatives have pledged; and income splitting for all families. The study finds that the impact of income splitting in all scenarios is very unequal and the lost revenue for Canadian governments would be substantial. - See more at:
I spend quite a bit of time mulling over why people behave the way they do politically.  Why don't they vote in their own self-interest?  Why don't they demand better? - why don't they pay attention to the people controlling much of their lives municipally, provincially and federally?  I have  this vague, sneaking suspicion that  people don't because too often things are difficult to understand and things have gone the way of corporations and the rich for so long that people just assume that "government" is there just to screw them.   
But among all my musings in this area, I had begun to think that the "left" always deals in greys -- that we have a sophisticated understanding of the world and often debate how to achieve something, like the greatest good for the greatest number, or, which policy will be better, or, should we vote for the NDP or are we just encouraging another neo-liberal party?  ANd the right deals in/promotes these eaqsy statements -- vote for us and reduce your taxes (but they don't tell you it is the rich who will pay less) - etc.     Anyway this article on Rabble started me thinking about that again.  It is about Harper on Israel,  but basically it is about communicating a message, and gives examples,  suggesting that people will vote for a clear message over muddle even if they do not like the clear message.  I am starting to think that there is something to that logic. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Daily Musings Jan 27th

Went this morning to a rally at the Almon St., Postal facility in Halifax to support the launch of a "support our post office" demand home mail delivery demo. 

Photo Credit Toni MacAfee

A few things I learned:  Canad Post lied when they said that only 30% of Canadians get home mail delivery.  They "forgot" to include apartment buildings and rural mail delivery to mail boxes!    Oops - Turns out 60%+ of Canadians get home mail delivery -- so most Canadians would be negatively impacted by a stop on all home mail delivery,  which is the plan.   Of course they are also raising the cost of a stamp to a dollar and getting rid of jobs. 

Many people believe that this is just the continuing saga of a real plan to get rid of the Post Office altogether,  and/or privatizing the service.  If that happens how will the north,  and remote regions of the country, be able to even get mail delivery.  Why would Purolater or FedEx deliver to some place in the Arctic, or a back road in NS,  where there is not enough of a population to recoup the costs?   Too bad! they will say.   It is hard to imagine - but imagine places in Canada with no ability to have something delivered?  Not much available to buy locally but now you cannot order online either!  It could happen just the same way that there are places in NS where there is no bus or train -- you have to have a vehicle or you cannot get there (anywhere) Every Canadian has a stake in this fight.   The market is not cheaper or better when it comes to the delivery of non-profit public services.   What we do for each other is not better done by a profit-making enterprise - they don't do it better or more efficiently -- it is done to maximize profit with, generally speaking, no look at the human cost. 

In addition if this plan is put in place up to 8000 jobs will be lost -- Post Office jobs - good, living wage jobs, with benefits.   Now we are consigning another group of individuals that contribute to the tax base, can have the occasional restaurant meal and buy a car etc, to fast food, precarious work and low pay.   Right now they are shopping in your stores, eating in your restaurants and sending their kids to play on your hockey team.   Without them we all suffer. 

And one more thing about the Post Office and the Harper Con's and P.O. management and their attempts to privatize etc.   -- and that is that the report that suggests all these service eliminations are from a report by the Conference Board of Canada and Deepak Chopra (the CEO of Canada Post) is a Board member.   So as the Nat'l Post puts it, even though the gov't and the Post Office deny that there is any conflict of interest:  
OTTAWA — Canada Post president and CEO Deepak Chopra is a board member of the organization that highlighted the financial plight facing the Crown corporation and suggested eliminating door-to-door delivery as a way for it to save money.
In announcing Wednesday a five-point restructuring plan that includes ending door-to-door residential mail delivery in urban areas, Canada Post repeatedly pointed to a Conference Board of Canada report released last spring that documented challenges facing the postal service. That same report included options such as eliminating door-to-door service for urban residential households and increasing postal prices as ways to cut costs and improve the bottom line — options the Crown corporation has now adopted.
Chopra is a member of the board of directors of the Conference Board of Canada.

Also this morning 500 or so of our hard working brothers and sisters at the Chignecto Central School Board are on strike.  CUPE 3890 members who are school bus drivers, bus mechanics, Maintenance/Inventory/Warehouse Clerks, Tradepersons, Safety Technicians, General Maintenance, Groundskeepers, custodians and labourers are now walking a picket line.     I heard some parents on the radio (CBC) this morning speculating on whether they should keep their kids home until the strike ends, to force the Board to deal with this.   Hey -- good idea!  Pressure the Board!


And on the west coast the a judge has ruled against the province in its fight with BC public school teachers over bargaining provisions.  The ruling involves a move by the government to take away provisions involving class size and composition.  The court has also ordered the government to pay the union damages of $2 million.  Guessing that this will be appealed and on we go -- unions follow the rules and governments don't.   Civil Disobedience is where its at -- but we need a LOT of people to come along!  

On the BC Supreme Court Decision -- here is some of what it says from the JUDGEMENT  found at: 

SummaryThe hearing before this Court follows on the Court’s declaration on April 13, 2011 that legislation interfering with teachers’ collective bargaining rights was unconstitutional as a breach of s. 2(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees freedom of association. The legislation at issue deleted collective agreement terms and prohibited collective bargaining having to do with a range of working conditions, many having to do with class size and composition and the number of supports provided in classes to students with special needs.The freedom of workers to associate has long been recognized internationally and in Canada as an important aspect of a fair and democratic society.  Collective action by workers helps protect individuals from unfairness in one of the most fundamental aspects of their lives, their employment. Normally the result after legislation is determined by a court to be unconstitutional is that it is struck down.  This is part of Canada’s democratic structure, which requires that governments must act legally, within the supreme law of the country, the Constitution.Here this result was suspended for twelve months to give the government time to address the repercussions of the decision. The government did not appeal.After the twelve months expired, the government enacted virtually identical legislation in Bill 22, with the duplicative provisions coming into force on April 14, 2012. The over-arching question, then, is whether there is something new that makes the new legislation constitutional when the previous legislation was not.. . . The Court concludes that there is no basis for distinguishing the new legislation from the previous findings of this Court.  The new duplicative legislation substantially interferes with the s. 2(d) Charter rights of teachers, which protects their freedom to associate to make representations to their employer and have the employer consider them in good faith.As a result, the Court finds the duplicative legislation in Bill 22 to be unconstitutional, namely s. 8, part of s. 13, and s. 24, set out in Appendix A.  The unconstitutional provisions that have not already expired, ss. 8 and 24, are struck down.When legislation is struck down as unconstitutional, it means it was never valid, from the date of its enactment.  This means that the legislatively deleted terms in the teachers’ collective agreement have been restored retroactively and can also be the subject of future bargaining. . . .The Court has also concluded that it is appropriate and just to award damages against the government pursuant to s. 24(1) of the Charter.  This is in order to provide an effective remedy in relation to the government’s unlawful action in extending the unconstitutional prohibitions on collective bargaining to the end of June 2013.  The government must pay the BCTF damages of $2 million.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Daily Musings Jan 26th.

I am very excited about being able to watch this film for free this weekend.  The NFB site is putting it on the 25th and today only, accessible to everyone in canada for free. 

  You can watch it at: 

 I was so upset at Harper's visit to Israel this week and the position that he suggested Canadians have/take that Israel is all right and the Palestinians all wrong. . .  a couple of articles came up later,  in analysis that I appreaciate: 

First Rick Salutin`s piece that complained that fawning over any country other than Canada this way is an embarrasment to Canadians everywhere.  He goes so far as to say:
"As for that arms-crossed campfire moment when he sang “Hey Jude,” even Bibi (Netanyahu) looked perplexed. But Bibi’s a guy who’s spent his life feeling paranoid about everyone else being determined to get him. The undiluted adulation might’ve thrown him."
And then there is  Scarlett Johansson and the Soda Stream boycott.   What an idiot.  "Soda stream building bridges between Palestinians and Israeli`s. . ."  yeah right. . .  so I enjoyed this peice called:   Scarlett Johansson's naive SodaStream Defense. 

One of the things I had not thought of previously about SodaStream is,  it was people like me that bought them (yes some years ago we bought one - still sitting in the kitchen though we no longer use it as we can no longer buy gas cylinders for it that are not purchased from SodaStream.)  We bought it because we were going through a ton of club soda cans and wanted to reduce our recycling.   It is not cheaper than PC Club Soda in cans,  but it felt like we had stopped a bit of production and that was a good thing.  However, when we discovered that we had purchased something made in an occupied territory/illegal settlement, we were aghast.  I think that is why the backlash against Soda Stream is so big -- it is progressive people that had an interest int he state of the planet that bought it,  and that now find themselves (like me) on the wrong side of a human rights issue.  I got on the right side as fast as I knew about it!

I enjoyed this --  Kumi Naidoo Executive Ditrector of Greenpeace Int'l posted this picture with the caption:
Young members of the Swiss Socialist Party organize a zombie walk in Davos to protest against the lack of substance of the discussions at the World Economic Forum.

You can read  more  about the coverage in Davros here where you can watch a clip from John Stewart and which says:  
The Daily Show's Jon Stewart did his best to make a mockery of the media's fawning coverage of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where the so-called correspondents there from the Fox Business Channel and Bloomberg looked more like some teenagers thrilled to meet their favorite rock star than anyone who is supposed to be doing some actual reporting on financial matters -- or heaven forbid, income inequality -- which was one of the topics being discussed there by the one percent attending the conference.

 And, another piece from Huffpo, talking about the essential uselessness of the "world economic Forum"  (and which I cannot shorten as all of this info/comparison is shocking) says in part: 
But world military expenditure now stands at $1.7 trillion a year -- yes, that is trillion with a T. And according to the IMF global fossil fuel subsidies (oil, gas and coal) combined with electricity subsidies total a staggering $1.9 trillion a year. (As an aside, why are governments worldwide subsidizing the most profitable industry in the world and driving climate change?) Combined, this $3.6 trillion a year equals 5 per cent of global GDP.
What could the world do with $3.6 trillion a year, or roughly $10 billion a day? What chronic problems could be solved?
Solving the climate change crisis will only cost 2 per cent of global GDP according to Nick Stern -- in other words 40 per cent of the annual military budgets and fossil fuel subsidies!
The world could meet basic human needs for everyone on earth with $80 billion -- equal to stopping military spending and fossil fuel subsidies for just for just eight days, according to UNICEF in 2000.
Oxfam estimates that to ensure that every child could go to school, it would take an additional $6 billion -- just over one day of global fossil fuel subsidies and military spending.
Providing reproductive health care for all women in developing countries: cost $12 billion (just over one day)
Providing safe drinking water and sanitation for all people in developing nations: $9 billion (one day)
Providing basic health and nutrition needs universally in the developing world $13 billion (just 1.3 days)
What other bad news has capitalism brought me today? oh yeah. . . there is this little nugget. . . 
that the CEO of Bayer has defended their drug prices for cancer medicines by saying that they were developed for Westerners who can afford it and were not developed for Indians who cannot.