Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Links Galore! (not a story about a stripper)

Liberal MP Marc Garneau introduced a motion in the House of Commons Tuesday calling on the federal government to reinstate the mandatory long-form census, despite continuing insistence by the Conservatives that it is intrusive and unnecessary. Unsurprisingly the Conservatives pull out the scary, scary word "coalition," as they try to beat back the momentum of the opposition in reinstating the long-form census. "Scary stuff!"


Maybe if the Tories passed out 3-D glasses the idea of a coalition would seem a lot scarier.

Sticking with the census, the Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities of Canada has asked the court in Ottawa to void Harper's bill and filed a complaint with Canada's official languages commissioner about the census change. And you can bet that the economist in Harper has great reasons for wanting to kill the census.

A report was published from Justice Canada that lends support to critics claims that Bill C-25, the so-called Truth in Sentencing Act, unfairly targets the poor, the illiterate and Canada's aboriginal community.

The PM has a new chief of staff -- surprisingly he's a Bay Street guy. Who could have predicted?

He's Nigel Wright and he's worked for hard-right politicians such as Ontario Premier Mike Harris and Canadian Alliance Leader Stockwell Day. Also worked as Executive Assistant to policy adviser Charles McMillan in Brian Mulroney’s Prime Minister’s Office, and as a policy coordinator for the Kim Campbell leadership campaign where he was considered, according to conservative analyst David Frum, on the right of the party even then. (Financial Post, June 12, 1993) Was in attendance at the Canadian Alliance’s founding policy convention in 2000 where he supported a regressive, flat-tax proposal that would have favoured wealthy earners at the expense of middle- and low-income earners. (National Post, January 31, 2000) Just another Tory moderate, right?

The Liberals attack the Tories for their mad spending on the G-8 and G-20 summits -- go peruse the database of expenditures for yourself.

Lastly a story about the governement falling short of living up to its obligation to insure Canada's returning, injured veterans are well taken care of. My radio show guest tomorrow morning will be William Ray, former member of Canada's PPCLI and we'll be talking about this and other veterans and Afghanistan War related issues -- you can stream at CJLO.com.

The Continuing Trials of Omar Khadr

When is a 15 year old boy not a 15 year old boy? This one's easy! When he's Omar Khadr. Canada's Federal Court of Appeal has refused to hear his case immediately effectively handing the Harper government a win in its fight against Omar Khadr. Have a look at the timeline of Khadr's capture, imprisonment and interrogation as a reminder of some of the things wrong with this prosecution:

November 13 2001 - Bush issues a military order “Detention, Treatment and Trial of Certain Non-Citizens in the War against Terrorism”, directing that Al Qaeda and the Taliban were non-state actors and protected Prisoner of War Status did not apply to captured combatants.

January 11 2002 - First prisoners arrive in Guantanamo.

Summer 2002 - Omar allegedly attends Al Qaeda training camp were he receives weapons training.

June 15 2002 - The US has alleged that during this time, Khadr conducted surveillance and reconnaissance against US forces and joined an Al Qaeda team that converted land mines into IEDs and planted them in places where US troops were expected to travel.

July 27 2002 - Omar captured by US forces after a lengthy firefight in which it is alleged that a wounded Omar threw a grenade that killed Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer and injured Sgt. Layne Morris. US soldiers open fire on Omar, hitting him three times in the chest. Omar pleads for soldiers to kill him; instead, he receives medical attention for his severe wounds. Omar loses sight in one eye as a result of these wounds

July – October 2002 - Omar transferred to hospital at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, where he undergoes aggressive interrogation immediately after regaining consciousness. Khadr states that interrogators withheld pain medication, forced him into stress positions, threw cold water at him, made him stand with his hands tied above a door frame for hours, interrogated him with a bag over his head in a room with barking dogs, and interrogated him for so long that he urinated on himself.

October 16 2002 - Omar transferred to Guantanamo Bay

December 2 2002 - Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld approves interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo. They include 1) use of stress positions; 2) detention in isolation for up to 30 days; 3)deprivation of light and auditory stimuli; 4) forced grooming; 5) removal of clothing; 6) interrogation for up to 20 hours; 7) use of detainee’s individual phobias to induce stress.

A month and one half later the above order is rescinded. Go look for yourself at the various summaries of the timeline of his arrest and move to trial by Military Tribunal (kangaroo court). What they don't say is that his family is seen in Western eyes as completely unsympathetic not only because of their ties to bin-laden before 9/11 murders but because of their appearance. Regardless of these things the fact remains he was a child on a battlefield and at worst was defending himself. Every other addmissionn he made was under duress and suspect.

Stalled Talks As Progress!

Jim Prentice, Canada's Environment Minister is busy lowering expectations that countries will come out of the Cancun UN climate talks with a deal. By all appearances the Cancun conference will end much as Copenhagen did, with more than 190 countries putting off a binding climate deal. It's a shameful state of affairs when talks are stalled and that is considered to be progress from last week's admission by a top U.S. climate official that the negotiations leading up to Cancun are going backwards.


 In the face of overwhelming evidence of global warming and the toxicity to our environment of spewing some 30 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere yearly, the Tories are content to do nothing.

One of the more short-sighted positions the Harper government has ever taken was to tie their actions on climate change to the U.S.'s. Obama and the Democrats are unable to pass even a tepid bill on the climate through Congress. Since the ruling on Citizens United American politics are now completely dominated by corporate interests and propaganda and they have no desire to see a bill of any sort pass and so their relentless campaigning to muddy the waters of climate science continues unabated.

The Conservatives have argued that moving forward with climate legislation before the Americans do puts Canadian companies at a disadvantage by placing burdens on them that aren't on their U.S. competitors. Yet a recent report from Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development urges the Harper government to press ahead with its own domestic policies arguing that, "...acting unilaterally would result in domestic and international credibility gains. Canada should thus remain vigilant and not import avoidable climate-policy uncertainty from its neighbour.”

The lack of action and urgency may well one day be viewed as criminal when the potential consequences are considered. Mark Hertsgaard in a new book, Generation Hot, argues that,  the battle to prevent climate change, feeble as it was, is over. Now the race to survive it has begun. If humanity is to win this race, we must change the way we think about the climate problem. ...the traditional goal of climate policy -- limiting global emissions -- is more important than ever but no longer sufficient.

There apparently is no amount of evidence sufficient enough to move our government on this issue -- not even in the midst of a gold rush for Arctic resources whose sole cause is global warming. Blind, deaf and stupid are the only polite words that come to mind.

UPDATE: Those hippies in the US Military are targeting 30 years from now as a necessary date to get off oil. The United States military must entirely get off oil by 2040 if it wants to reduce operational vulnerabilities, reduce costs, stop new security risks caused by climate change and avoid the coming peak oil supply crunch. That's the word from the Center For a New American Security, whose Fueling the Future Force report details the hows and whys of the situation.

Burnt Offerings

News reports say that in 2009 the poverty rate in the U.S. “skyrocketed” to 43.6 million -- up from 39.8 million in 2008, which is the largest year-to-year increase, and the highest number since statistics have been recorded -- putting the poverty rate for 2009 at 14.3 percent. One out of every seven Americans was living in poverty in 2009. In truth this was a product of what should be called lazy reporting. Apparently the American Census Bureau was using a long outdated method to calculate the poverty rate measuring poverty based on costs of living metrics established back in 1955. The poverty rates are calculated as being $22,050 for a family of four. That breaks down to $5,513 per person, per year. It's hard can’t imagine living in the United States on $459 per month. That amount will barely get you a good health insurance policy, never mind food, clothes and a roof over your head. Go read the entire piece over at Alternet.

What's really galling in all this is that the rich are getting richer -- much richer. Only twice before in American history has so much been held by so few, and the gap between them and the great majority been a chasm — the late 1920s, and the era of the robber barons in the 1880s. None of this happens in a vacuum and this will be felt on our side of the border be it in diminished exports or simply following our American cousins down the same self-destructive path.

In my absence the Gulf oil spill was confirmed as the largest marine oil accident ever -- my only caveat here would be to ask, is it an accident when the cause is negligence, or an inevitability? Why the Obama administration chronically lowballed estimates of how much BP oil was spewing into the Gulf of Mexico remains a mystery, however, after a top NOAA official easily sidestepped the commissioners' tepid questioning. The fact remains that we here at NM&P and over at my blog we were reporting far more accurate estimates as of May the 1st! How can that be you ask? Damned if I know, but I got the information by hunting around the web and quoting sources that have proven to be reliable over the past ten years. Of course if I can do it so could they.
Following American politics becomes increasingly difficult for me as the Democrats do not consistently stand up for what are call democratic values. A great example is the fight against DADT for gay rights. Rachel Maddow has this exactly right as she calls it a fight for civil rights. Why is that hard to stand up for. Americans are overwhelmingly in favour of abolishing Don't Ask Don't Tell.
 

 
There Must Be A Law: "The probability that a religious leader is a sex offender is directly proportional to the the virulence of his homophobia."


I've been feeling a bit burnt out doing research and writing for the radio show and various blogs so I took a couple of days off. I'm here all day until I catch up but next week I will probably not be around. Feel free to listen on-line at CJLO.com and e-mail me at oldpunk@cjlo.com.