Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cold War Style Games and Rhetoric

Today's story about two Russian military TU-95 Bear bombers flying within 56 kilometres of Canadian soil, just when the House of Commons defence committee is getting ready to examine the government's single-bid purchase of the new generation of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, makes it look like the Tories are trying to manufacture an excuse for $16 billion dollars worth of spending. Aiming your jets at someone else's airspace and veering off before you cross it is an old Cold War style game. A way of testing response time and seeing if the other side is awake. This is the second time in the last few weeks that this has taken place and both times the news articles took the time to note that this is a not uncommon occurrence -- four bombers have been intercepted this year, and it happened sixteen times last year.

That it happens while the three countries that are competing for Arctic riches with the Russians are engaging in military exercises -- Canadian, American and Danish warships are in the final week of a joint exercise in the Canadian Arctic, part of an annual event known as Operation Nanook -- makes the affair even less surprising. Of course the Tories would have you believe this is proof that they needed to buy sole-sourced jets at a cost of $16 billion instead of just a routine "buzzing." Canada no doubt needs an upgrade in its defense forces, the question people want the answer to is why were there no competing bids?

Report: Long Gun Registry Effective & Efficient

The RCMP report on the long-gun registry has surfaced and it is described as an important tool for law enforcement. Will the tough on crime Tories notice anything that disagrees with the narrative they've been trying to manufacture? It costs less to run than building a fake lake and is described as being cost efficient in reducing firearms related crime. It is also said to promote the public safety. This should be a no-brainer then, right?

Statistically the Canadian Firearms Act saves lives and billions of dollars a year. The Conservatives have not made a case for the proposed changes to the Firearms Act. All we get all summer long is empty rhetoric void of science and fact.

Media Demagogues - First In A Series

At the top of the list of modern day media demagogues is self-styled spokesperson for all things Christian is Glenn Beck (even though he is a Mormon). He is getting ready to hold a rally on the anniversary of the "I Have A Dream" speech, and dishonour the name of Martin Luther King. I say self-styled because there is nothing about his behaviour that is remotely Christian. The event which he has claimed will be non-political, will be decidedly political with the NRA as sponsors and Americans for Prosperity, a major conservative political organization backed by right-wing billionaire David A. Koch of the oil giant Koch Industries, providing buses to rally. He will also encourage attendees to join the right-wing group FreedomWorks, which is chaired by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

Listening to Beck discussing NYC Islamic center, he asks, "After you've killed 3,000 people, you're going to now build your mosque?" You have to wonder who the you in the question is. The people who want to build the community center didn't kill 3,000 people on 9/11 -- but it sure is a great way to tar 1.5 billion people and drum up hatred. What major religions would Jesus demagogue?

Glenn Beck even goes so far as to rail and campaign against "social justice" regularly on his program as if such an idea sprang from the devil himself instead of being an idea that runs throughout the Old and New Testaments and includes such virtues as "caring the for the poor and speaking about human rights.

He has helped to normalize this kind of vitriolic speech. Listen to Glenn below talking about rivers of blood:

Earth Blues

And we're back! Seventeen minutes past the big hour and we've got lots of stories but rapidly running out of time here tonight.

Starting with a story that should be getting way more ink, Pakistani government officials admitted that they deliberately sabotaged secret peace talks between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban because they resented being excluded from those talks. And in some news from the middle-east that actually might be called good news, turns out the prospect of an alliance between the Iraqiya and Iraqi National Alliance (INA) blocs and the formation of a coalition government could be closer than anyone realized.

Sadly that's where the good news ends for Iraq, as the country has between 25 and 50 percent unemployment, a dysfunctional parliament, rampant disease, an epidemic of mental illness, and sprawling slums. The killing of innocent people has become part of daily life. All brought about by the havoc the United States has wreaked in Iraq.


 
The right has the brothers David and Charles Koch, heirs to the oil and chemical conglomerate Koch Industries the Koch family to orchestrate not only the Tea Party movement, but much of the modern right-wing infrastructure. They have founded or funded dozens of conservative or libertarian publications, think tanks, and attack groups. Grass roots my ass! The New Yorker goes further in exposing the Koch brothers.
 
The Koch brothers delight in misleading and muddying the waters about the nature of climate change -- they are not alone in this endeavor and there are a myriad of ways to do so. To paraphrase a song I heard, you don't believe in climate change, you understand it or you don't. The above link from Skeptical Science, in an article entitled How Climate Skeptics Mislead, looks at some of things that help us understand climate change. The point to signs of warming that are found all over the globe:

•From space and the Earth’s surface, we see more heat being trapped by carbon dioxide
•Nights are warming faster than days
•The upper atmosphere is cooling while the lower atmosphere is warming
•Ice sheets are melting
•Sea levels are rising
•Biological changes in tens of thousands of species
•Glaciers are retreating
•Seasons are shifting
•Species are becoming extinct

Also from Skeptical Science, in an article about Arctic sea ice volume, they ask the question why do skeptics only think in two dimensions?

To close out on some troubling environmentally related stories, starting with a story from Julia Whitty over at Mother Jones, the IWC (International Whaling Commission) has granted Greenland an aboriginal quota to kill 27 humpback whales starting in October. But (maddeningly) the hunters aren't waiting for the season to start.

From Science Daily, A previously undefined expanse of the western North Atlantic has been found to contain high concentrations of plastic debris, comparable to those observed in the region of the Pacific commonly referred to as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch."

And from Nigeria, what happens when sweet crude turns sour.

(cross-posted at New Media and Politics)