Thursday, March 5, 2015

Share Resource Revenues With First Nations

Busy day. Read this instead.
A key recommendation of a generally pro-industry report by a joint federal government and Assembly of First Nations panel will almost certainly languish on the back-burner, perhaps forever. 
The report comes from the Working Group on Natural Resource Development, which has both aboriginal and business membership.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Head Scarf in a Courtroom?

Right off the top, the idea that a woman can say she's "free" when wearing clothing that meets the requirements of some patriarchal religion's idea of female "modesty" is self-evidently absurd. I can see that there can be some freedom felt by covering-up and not having to conform to, say, North American ideas of physical attractiveness. (That's why I personally welcome the onset of colder weather!) Maybe I'm "mans-plaining" things, but if you don't have a choice in the matter, your clothing choices aren't free.

Oh yeah. And I'm one of those "fundamentalist" atheists who thinks religion does more harm than good and I support people like Richard Dawkins when they argue along those lines. (NOT when rational-atheism is used as a cover for sectarian Islamophobia.)

All that having been said, I completely disagree with the Quebec judge who won't let that woman testify in his courtroom until she removes her hijab. Matter of fact. I agree with this entire editorial.

I don't like religion, but freedom of worship is a Charter right. She says she's wearing the hijab for religious reasons. She is not refusing to remove her hijab like someone else refusing to remove sunglasses or a baseball cap. Her head wear does not in any way distract justice from its course. She should be allowed to wear it. The judge is a bigot. End. Of. Story.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

It's a Scam

I was going to write "Capitalism is a scam" for the title, but, as bloody, inhuman and monstrous as capitalism was and is, even Karl Marx realized it released enormous amounts of productivity. (Whether we're all the better for what we've been able to produce is an interesting argument, but one I don't want to enter into here.)

But if capitalism wasn't wholly a scam, it's certainly the case that the present manifestation of it is. As this article: "Europe's Debt: Lies & Myths" by Conn Hallinin shows, the present austerity being forced upon ordinary people in Greece (and Ireland, Italy, Spain, and Portugal) is a con-job. The banksters are taking advantage of a financial crisis brought on by their own greed and incompetence and criminality, and using it to weaken the European working class by blaming it on socialism.

A few choice bits:
The European debt crisis goes back to the end of the roaring ‘90s when the banks were flush with money and looking for ways to raise their bottom lines. One major strategy was to pour money into real estate, which had the effect of creating bubbles, particularly in Spain and Ireland. In the latter, from 1999 to 2007, bank loans for Irish real estate jumped 1,730 percent, from 5 million Euros to 96.2 million Euros, or more than half the GDP of the Republic. Housing prices increased 500 percent. “It was not the public sector but the private sector that went haywire in Ireland,” concludes Financial Times analyst Martin Wolf.
Spain, which had a budget surplus and a low debt ratio, went through much the same process, and saw an identical jump in housing prices: 500 percent.
In both countries there was corruption, but it wasn’t the penny ante variety of tax evasion or profit skimming. Politicians—eager for a piece of the action and generous “donations”—waved zoning rules, environmental regulations, and cut sweetheart tax deals. Hundreds of thousands of housing projects went up, many of them never to be occupied.
Then the American banking crisis hit in 2008, and the bottom fell out.
Poor Portugal. It had a solid economy and a low debt ratio, but currency speculators drove up interest rates on borrowing beyond what the government could afford, and the European Central Bank refused to intervene. The result was that Lisbon was forced to swallow a “bailout” that was laden with austerity measures that, in turn, torpedoed its economy.
There was a “score” in Greece. However, it had nothing to do with free spending, but was a scheme dreamed up by Greek politicians, bankers, and the American finance corporation, Goldman Sachs.
Greece’s application for EU membership in 1999 was rejected because its budget deficit in relation to its GDP was over 3 percent, the cutoff line for joining. That’s where Goldman Sachs came in. For a fee rumored to be $200 million (some say three times that), the multinational giant essentially cooked the books to make Greece look like it cleared the bar. Then Greece’s political and economic establishment hid the scheme until the 2008 crash shattered the illusion.

Now, perhaps a magazine like The Economist, which is basically the mouthpiece of the London financial sector, has an alternative point of view. I'm sure they do. I've been toying with the idea of dismantling their editorials as a semi-regular feature. But the problem with that is that I used to do that a lot in the 1990s, and I have a hard time mustering the enthusiasm to look at their (often pathetic) rationalizations and obfuscations again. The fact of the matter is the alternative point-of-view is bullshit. Just like the global warming deniers, the Chicken-Little screams of Saddam Hussein's "Weapons of Mass Destruction," and the cynical/stupid utterances of the harper cabal. It's all crap. It's all a crude scam.

Monday, March 2, 2015

for harper, No Time is a Good Time to Have an Election

I think he'll put it off as long as he can. Maybe oil prices will surge. Maybe a war will be declared and harper will join it and cancel the election. Maybe the Duffster will have a heart-attack. Maybe Patrick Brazeau will lose some weight and get back in shape and beat-up Justin Trudeau on the streets of Ottawa.

Or maybe (he can only hope!) there will be a horrible terrorist attack, killing several Canadians, and we'll all flock to harper (who let it happen) to "keep us safe"!

Or maybe another train will derail. Or another deadly listeriosis outbreak. Or a financial sector implosion!

I guess, in the final analysis, harper is a consistent coward. When such a creature has no good options, what he tends to do is keep his head down and hope for the best.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

How Was Net Neutrality Saved?

I'm always saying that petitions to psychopaths and afternoon demonstrations don't affect anything.

But Net Neutrality was saved from the FCC caving to giant telecommunications firms without riots in the street or a political revolution. So what happened?

Without having read any analysis of the victory, I'm going to speculate that elites realized that a multi-tiered internet service would cause a shit-storm that would cost much more than the extra profits to the telecom companies.

Hackers. Angry consumers. Non-huge businesses seeking to use the internet. Netflix (not that huge, it's just one of the potential victims i know by name), rival internet systems in other countries, actual slowdown to the economy caused by "traffic jams on the internet super-highway."

But hey, maybe it was all those petitions!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Blind Optimism

Most people think it's all going to be all right. People who go through life thinking the worst will happen are labeled "pessimists." Life requires optimism. You don't deliberately have children if you're thinking about everything that could go wrong.

Also, we stumble through politics thinking it's all going to be all right. Most people, watching the TV news, hope that "something" will fix the mess that "the politicians" have gotten them into. Perhaps they'll "throw the bums out" and their replacements will be better, even though "they're all the same." These, mind you, are Canadians with jobs. They'll grumble and complain and they'll occasionally get ripped-off, but they'll keep a roof over their heads and food in their bellies and they'll soldier on.

Who knows? I'm sure there are many NDP'r's who genuinely believe that Mulcair has a shot at being prime minister. And, when election night is over, and they find the NDP relegated to third-party status again, they'll dry their eyes, clear their throats, stand up straight and proud and continue the fight.

(And Liberals, who have a party with the support of large elements of the moneyed classes, occasionally see their corporatist leaders elevated to national leadership, they clap and cheer with tears of joy in their eyes, and suffer all the inevitable betrayals of their values by said leadership with a grim determination to keep plugging away.)

Street protesters convince themselves that their little demonstrations matter, and so they do them, god bless 'em!

But the same attitude informs the wealthy and the powerful. They're in charge. They're history's "makers" and they make things happen. Of course, being greedy, selfish, ignorant psychopaths, much of what they make happen has terrible consequences. The oil sector is driving civilization to suicide. They and other imperialists are destroying civilization in the Middle East. Obama (advised by psychotic imbeciles such as Robert Kagan and Victoria Nuland) believes that a confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia and China can work out because, well, ... things have a way of working themselves out. Don't they?

The elites can destroy the economy for the quite rational purpose of destroying the last vestiges of power of the working class and it won't end in tears because, well, everything will work out okay in the end, won't it?

And, when you're living in mansions, and driving expensive cars (or being chauffeured in limousines) and eating delicious meals in the best restaurants, ... it's hard not to think that things will work themselves out. It'll be all right.

How much of this thinking informed the July Crisis of 1914? How much of this thinking was behind the stock-market speculations of 1929? How much of elite complacency dragged-out the Great Depression and spawned Hitler?

Ah! But we got through it all didn't we?

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Pervasiveness of Right-Wing Garbage Culture

I have no idea who those two people (in the picture above of two young news anchors - in case the image is lost later) are, other than that they're news anchors. I put them up there because I wonder just how so many Canadians can be supportive of the draconian police-state bill C-51, and, indeed, the whole Great Bullshit War on Terror (GBWT). Even initially. Even if just at first glance. And I'm moved to speculate that it might be two things: Television news and the ranting of "Crazy Uncle Liberty." (This is the right-wing relative who emails you shit about the Muslims and about Justin Trudeau and David Suzuki, or who loudly holds forth at family get-togethers and what-not.)

You can't truly fault the print media for the collective ignorance and stupidity that elevates terrorism to be a greater threat to Canadians' safety than right-wing politicians and their capitalist masters. This is a simple fact, based on the numbers. And, the one time that the terrorists DID kill a lot of Canadians, CSIS and the RCMP shrugged their shoulders and so did the government. That was the Air India bombings by Sikh terrorists. I think racism explains the general official apathy on that one. Just as I think that racism partly explains the official hysteria on Islamic terrorists. But, anyway, while there are a disproportionate amount of democracy-hating elite scum writing columns in newspapers, the majority of print columnists, from Andrew Coyne to Linda McQuaig, have been pretty consistent in their trashing of harper and his contempt for democracy. Besides, relatively few people read newspapers nowadays. The editorial endorsements of right-wing newspaper owners can't account for all that much in the general public's embrace of nonsensical ideas.

I don't watch the television much at all. But when I do see the news, it's often CNN, or the local call-in show at Hamilton's CHCH. And I get the impression that television news gives a much more right-wing view of the world than what you get in the newspapers.

Combine this with emails about Obama's birth certificate, or David Suzuki's corruption and hypocrisy, from Crazy Uncle Liberty, and you've got yourself a country where the majority of the population supports allowing CSIS and the RCMP to spy on everyone, without oversight, so that people in Kenora or Kamloops can feel safe from the non-existent threat of terrorism.

(Tell me; do any of YOU get emails from your Crazy Uncle Liberty? Do YOU send out unsolicited political emails to your friends and family and co-workers?)