Saturday, August 30, 2014


Putin's Russia and the Islamic State are short-term distractions from the serious problems of climate change and resource depletion. We simply don't have time to fuck around with some new fangled Cold- luke-warm-War or to humour the Islamic State.

The global policy response should be robust, and aimed at walling off these two entities in every way possible so that we in the rest of the world can get on with the serious business of adapting civilisation to the worst crisis it has ever known.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Gazonto . . .

Imagine if Stevie hammered the GTA like the Israelis have hammered Gaza? Toronto filmmaker John Greyson's efforts to give us a better and more personalized feel for how the bombing of Gaza would look, feel, and play itself out for all us ordinary citizens if it was happening right here in good old T.O. instead.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fantino lashes out at veterans ... once again.

It's hard to believe Julian Fantino's role is to champion Canadian Forces veterans at the Harper cabinet table. You can imagine how he describes those he represents to the national control-freak.

Deveryn Ross finishes him off. Fantino, whose service as a cop has always come with some questions, should be tossed in the gutter.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

America's Police State . . .

THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC has mutated into something ugly and carnivorous, not just in its policies with the rest of the world, but in the way it has turned on its poor. It's become a ghastly distortion according to Charles Stross*, who commented on his blog that American police have abandoned Sir Robert Peel's Principles of Policing. As you may know, the London Metropolitan Police was the first professional police force, created in 1829.

These principles are in stark contrast to what we have seen from Ferguson:
  1. To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.
  2. To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
  3. To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.
  4. To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.
  5. To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.
  6. To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.
  7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
  8. To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.
  9. To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.
If this is not re-introduced to American police, Charles sees danger: "even if you’re not a member of one of the cultures on the receiving end of the jackboot today, the fact that the jackboot exists means that it may be used against you in future. Beware of complacency and apathy; even if you think you are protected by privilege, nobody is immune. See also Martin Niemoller."

Martin Niemoller's famous warning:
  • First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist.
  • Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
  • Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
  • Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
*Charlie is one of my favorite SF writers; I recommend his oeuvre "The Atrocity Archives", the first in his delightful "Laundry" series. Set in a parallel universe, an Earth identical to ours, with one difference: in the early 30's, Alan Turing discovers that certain mathematical processes produce "magic". Problem is, this "magic" is brain-eating dangerous.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Harper's ideology now presented with "acceptable casualties" ...

Shorter Lisa Raitt
The deaths of 47 people, the devastation of an entire Canadian community and the subsequent years of horrendous nightmares are acceptable collateral damage in the Harper Conservative war on reality. No amount of losses or devastated lives can prevent us from moving forward with our dangerous and seriously flawed ideology.
This may be just as "sexy" as Raitt's drooling over people dying of cancer because of a radioisotope shortage perpetrated by the Harper government. 

Since Raitt likes sexy issues involving people being killed, she can wear this one.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A great artist . . .

MEL BLANC: The Man of a Thousand Voices is a delightful look at the man, the times he worked in — and all those wonderful critters. Enjoy. A great antidote for the depression of Harper Hell . . .

Comin' at ya . . .

WHEN THE JOBS DISAPPEAR it's going to be really tough on capitalism. This video is an accurate forecast without the hype of what kind of changes are coming for your children to deal with. The next thirty years are going to be so interesting . . .

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Adios, Mork . . .

EVERYBODY HAS their favorite(s), Moscow on the Hudson is one of mine. With the stress on our society and democracy, this clip is especially cogent. We are so lucky to have been blessed by Robin's genius.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Stop killing people

The talk of two-state solutions, displacement, borders, violent Zionism, violent resistance, bombed schools, shelters, houses, kibbutzim, the opinions of various persons both thoughtful and blinkered is maybe just a little teeny tiny bit ahead of the game.

The current war on Gaza, for that's what it is, highlights the baseline condition for any peace:

Stop killing people.

Stop killing people.

Stop killing people.

Forget the politics for a while. Simply get the sides to agree to not kill each other.

Once they do that, they've will have achieved the single basic condition of peaceful coexistence.

The details can take the next generation to sort out if need be but the preservation of life must be paramount.

Imagine what Palestine-Israel would look like if all parties forswore violence.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Dear assorted Ukrainian and Russian machomen,

I hope the loss of MH17 and her passengers puts your pathetic and utterly unjustifiable little war in perspective and causes you to end it.


Commentary. I think it is likely that either the Russians supplied the rebels with advanced surface to air missile systems (SAM), or the rebels acquired them from actions against the Ukraine military. I think it is possible but unlikely that the missile was fired by the Ukrainians. Some half-trained rebel unit got excited and squeezed off a round. It might even be the case that they had no idea that there was an active international air corridor over the area.

I also think that the Ukraine government, airlines and air regulators owe explanations as to why they allowed an air corridor to be maintained over a war zone where sophisticated weapons capable of downing fast jets are regularly used to effect. My bet is that it has something to do with the fuel costs associated with rerouting and finding the answer they liked regarding air defence capabilities in the region that allowed them to maintain air corridors.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Defence of Canada under Harper

Canada's political, social and physical geography define its defence priorities. Unless there is a massive shift in US politics, it has no land connection to any existing or potential military adversary. Our small population density and massive geography compared to the US means that even if that were a hostile relationship, the 49th parallel is too long to manually defend anyway.

Even without NORAD and NATO, Canada still sits between the major strategic military opponents: Russia and the United States. This means that confrontations between these two major military powers could occur near Canada's coasts and skies, not on the ground.

This fact makes the RCAF and RCN the key services of the Canadian Forces required for the strategic defence of Canada. We are surrounded by a lot of sea and airspace.  Like it or not, the Army's major territorial role tends to only involve aid-to-the-civil power actions, usually around emergencies like fire and flood, or tactical security for high profile international events and meetings and extremely rare armed stand-offs.

Under Harper's watch, both the RCAF and RCN are suffering rust-out and mismanaged procurement.

The RCAF is due to replace its CF-18 fighters and Sea King helicopters in the next few years. The replacement for the CF-18 is still likely to be the insanely expensive and problem plagued F-35, which may yet be cancelled leaving Canada without a combat air force. The smart scandal-rumour is that the RCAF even now does not have enough serviceable fighters to intercept Russian patrols near Canada, and the USAF has to do it instead. The Sea King replacement is the expensive, beta-standard Cyclone helicopter likely to suffer significant teething problems when it does become operational.

The RCN just lost an ancient destroyer to rust, with other ships and subs in repair after damage. The ability of the Navy to fully crew its vessels is also in doubt.  Earlier this year, HMCS Protecteur suffered a major fire and had to be pulled from another exercises and towed back to Canada. Last year, that same ship was damaged in a collision with the Algonquin, which suffered severe damage. And before that, HMCS Corner Brook sailed into the seabed and was nearly lost. At this loss rate, there won't be any ships in the water in another year or two.

Today we learn that HMCS Whitehorse, a smaller coastal warship got pulled from an exercise because of discipline problems with its sailors.

What is happening to the Navy? Is this a result of political neglect impacting morale and training, leading to slip-ups? Will the RCAF follow?

Under Harper's watch, Canada is losing the key armed services necessary for its defence. Keep in mind also that Harper's labour policies are eroding the capacity of Canadians to find employment in Canada. Harper's economic policy also privileges highly risky resource extraction at the expense of the environment, destroying the climate and landbase.

The Cons are clearly hell-bent on weakening Canada from within.

Under different circumstances, you'd start to think they were agents of some enemy power because they are passively and actively crippling the economic and military security of the state.

John Baird, international man of something or other


Canada is adding a further 14 individuals to the list of those sanctioned over Russia's ongoing involvement in the situation in Ukraine...
"Peace will only be achieved if Russia and the gunmen it continues to support start showing good faith in talks with Kyiv," he said, calling on Russia to stop arming insurgents and draw down its forces on the Ukrainian border.
Baird called news Friday of the deaths of 30 Ukrainian soldiers "shocking" and pointed to "Russian-sponsored subversion and violence."
Right now Russia is more or less letting the insurgency it supports die on the vine. Putin has likely worked out that would be some kind of colossal error that would end up costing Russia quite a lot in its relationship with the world. Otherwise, the Ukraine army wouldn't have been able to push it back to Donetsk so easily or at all. There could even be Russian troops pouring into Ukraine. That could possibly still happen, but for now it's probably best to let things evolve as they are.

There is NO need to bring in new sanctions against Russians, least of all from Canada. US, European, and NATO responses will draw Russia's attention because they can actually hurt Russia. The impact of Canadian sanctions would be neglible to the Russians and could actually be of greater harm to Canada, because - if Russia even bothers to respond - it will direct its response at Canada in some way. Alas, it made the Cons feel all tingly and tough.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

End of Harpergov?

The always good to read Kirbycairo makes the case that endless anger politics and court-corrected legislation has doomed the Harpercons in the next election.

I'd say yes, likely true if all other things were equal. However, this is also why why the Fair Elections Act exists. They just need enough seats, not all of the seats to keep on keeping on and I simply don't trust the FPTP system and the Governor General to deny them that, even without robocalls or whatever new skulduggery they've connived in dark corners for the next election.

After so long with Harper at the helm, the party had been reduced to one office and an operating mode that effectively denies the legitimacy of anything that opposes them, be it the parlimentary opposition, non-supporters, the Constitution, scientists, everyday Canadians, and so on and so forth.

This is THE problem for them because it means that they will never appeal to a majority of Canadians, and hence cannot sustain majority wins in fair elections. 
There's also no coherent recovery, if there is a recovery at all for the Cons if they lose and deep down they know it.  Why? Because they've concentrated power at the top, rewarded fealty and crushed initiative which means that rising stars only rise so far and none but the Glans has executive authority. More importantly, they've snuffed out the best of both their Reform and Tory roots, which involved a mature understanding of and respect for institutions of government and democracy and a clear ideology. They only destroy things now. With those things gone there's no foundation left to rebuild on.

They'll fight like cornered animals.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Disaster Putin Posin'

"Honey, that Harper boy is at again with his Putin Posin'."

"Let me be clear, I'm really a pilot. Why do you ask?"
Vlad, smiling for the camera in his Bear near Canada
as Stephen snaps his photo from his
prime ministerial CF-18. (I wonder if they trade pics?)
Word: It's not even a disaster in Manitoba, and may not be. There've been no evacuations yet in Manitoba's annual flood (seriously, it's what happens there because it's a floodplain, sigh), just "water lapping at farm buildings" and yet there he is...


Ukraine hasn't made much in the news lately. I think it once it became clear that Putin wasn't likely to invade beyond Crimea and the pro-Russian rebels appeared to have consolidated their gains in the east, the press lost interest outside of the odd report. It's back in the news a bit now with the pro-Russians retreating in the face of the Ukrainian military's assault. It's hard to retake a city once you leave it.

It's just tragic for all concerned. Unless Putin has a sudden and insane change of mind in the next few days, the rebels appear to be pretty much on their own, and there are reports that they are fairing poorly in terms of support from Russia. Of course, we obviously don't know what it's like inside the rebel camps now, but they can't be feeling too good about the lack of decisive action by the leader of the country they think they belong to. Maybe Russian support is thinning out, and maybe the Russain commandos assisting them are leaving. In any case, their fates have already been decided in places like Moscow, Brussels, Washington, and Berlin.

Nostalgia mixed with masculine ideals, is a killer. These rebels before they were rebels and the territorial Russians crossing to help them, hanging around unemployed (this a hard but insightful piece) and whinging over beer and cigarettes, the older ones remembering life before the USSR collapsed, and the younger ones in awe thinking they'd all be better off if Russia were in charge... Then Euromaidan happened, and local politics got colourful. The Russian army walked into Crimea and tough Russians with guns showed up in Donetsk and other places and things got exciting. Pro-Russian volunteers came in to help. Nostalgic fantasies at the pub got uniforms and guns and life had a bit more meaning. Must have felt scary but thrilling at first to go off and learn some basic light infantry tactics in the woods somewhere or dust-off an old uniform and memories. A few easy wins against a starved, surprised and restrained Ukrainian army and a big chunk of territory was theirs. Dead civilians and comrades where the Kyiv struck back fueled the sense of righteousness about the cause.

Things must have felt different after the Donetsk Airport loss and casualties, and definitely now this week. The Ukraine government isn't going anywhere and finds itself moving closer to the EU, which is evidently not worried despite all the violence. The Ukrainian army has done some consolidating in the past few months and is now moving against the rebels with force. I don't think it will be long now.

Sadly, the question of what happens to the people in eastern Ukraine still remains, Crimea notwithstanding. There's effectively a civil war in that part of the country and anger and sorrow will be the fallout. Everyone should do their best to remedy things as much as possible as quickly with money and jobs and keep it that way for 20 or 50 years. There is a risk that the radicalised Donetsk denizens will start setting off bombs on buses and markets in western Ukraine, which is what happens in cases like this. Let's hope it doesn't.