Wednesday, April 11, 2012

More Hash April 11, 2012

So the real costs of the F-35 program continues to make news, while from the opposition we hear calls for the resignation and/or firing of the Defense Minister who is described by Liberal House leader Marc Garneau as being, "...either incompetent or not too bright!" I don't see why it's an either/or situation. It could be both. I'll admit it also could be neither. Perhaps the Minister simply lied. Those numbers are pretty much the same as the ones the PBO announced them back in March of 2012.

So where are the media at currently on the issue of the over-priced F-35 First Strike Fighter Jets replacing the soon to be mothballed CF-18's? Well, over at Canada's National Newspaper, J.L. Granastein makes a really poor argument that these jets aren't just shiny new toys for the military by... talking about all the neat gadgets we get if we buy the F-35: 
We might be involved in coalition air operations, and the F-35 could fill that role, both as a strike aircraft and as an interceptor. Its stealth technology – and a host of additional high-tech wonders – make it potentially the best fighter available anywhere for the next quarter-century, and that explains why so many countries want to purchase it. 
There's a lot wrong with his argument for procurement of these first strike weapons, number one of which is (aside from spending exorbitant amounts of Canadian taxpayers money) the idea of always being at the ready to join the Americans in bringing war and destruction to the Middle-East instead of doing something useful like say, peace-keeping. Also the Canadian press is doing its standard crappy job of informing Canadians about the Tory wish list of other toys for the military over the next 6 years. That's gonna' cost upwards of $115 Billion. Health care anyone?

                                                 Vroooom Baby, Vroooom!

So yesterday I'm having sport at the Tories expense about their lack of a jobs for youths strategy, which they've gone and made worse during the current economic downturn by cutting funding for Katimavik. So I open the morning's local fish-wrap and behold the Conservatives are announcing $27 million dollars worth of spending on... yeah, a youth jobs program. Well good, I think to myself. It's something anyhow. Right? Wrong!
The $26.7-million, a mix of previously committed and new money, is earmarked for eight projects. The biggest beneficiary is the YMCA of Greater Toronto, awarded 90 per cent of the money. Nearly $9-million of this will be used over the next three fiscal years to bankroll and administer the Y’s youth exchanges program.
So most of this money (90 %) is going to be spent in Toronto. Students looking for a leg up in finding a job in other parts of Canada are on their own.Canada's Tories are nothing if not short-sighted.

Speaking of which, guess what government department is getting hit hardest by Harper's budget cuts: ...the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Agriculture Canada will be among the hardest-hit departments as Ottawa rolls out where it will cut 19,200 jobs across the country. What could go wrong with that?

David Suzuki writes about the Gulf of St. Lawrence, its importance to our Canadian identity and the legislative changes made by the governing Tories that will have serious repercussions for the health of marine environments in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. (i.e. '...gutting the Fisheries Act by stripping down habitat protection provisions, and it plans to amend the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act in a way that would make it easier for mining and oil companies, for example, to jump through regulatory hoops and get projects up and running faster than the time required to evaluate all their impacts on nature.')

And wrapping this up this wee post, here in Quebec, students are holding rolling protests today in their latest salvo against planned tuition hikes. They hope to finish the day having held 12 different demonstrations in various parts of Montreal. I wonder who blinks first, the premier or the students?



Cheers!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

News Hash April 10, 2012

Figured I should drop by and post some... stuff. You know, for the fun of it!

Okay, let's start today with the difference between climate and weather, trends and vagaries...



How about the difference between people who put effort into thought and conservatives? No really. Here's a link to a study by an esteemed publication of original empirical papers in all areas of personality and social psychology (most of it hidden behind a subscription wall) but details of experiments and parameters are there as well as the conclusions, which are unmistakeable: "...when effortful, deliberate thought is disengaged, endorsement of conservative ideology increases."  Being a conservative is a "no-brainer," as they say.

So if there's a modern day conservative traipsing by this blog it's a good bet he's/she's got a ready snarky retort to the study's conclusions. A lazy, unoriginal comeback. The other kind of riposte takes time and cognition. Maybe it's because they're in a rush to destroy the world or repeal the 20th century... whichever comes first.

Here in Canada, the Tories shamefully have no youth employment strategy in tough times and they are killing a program that had helped train 35,000 young participants in the Katimavik program over the years. This program helped to develop work, life and leadership skills, fostering community development and civic engagement. Those things are only important to Conservatives when they're blustering on the campaign trail apparently. If you want to learn more and maybe support Katimavik, go here, and here to sign the Change.org petition.

Peter McKay says the flap over the price of the Stealth F-35's is merely an "accounting issue." I'd call it bald-faced lying and politicking. Tom-ato, tom-ahto.

His position is far easier to understand than that of the Canadian media. I've been reporting on my little radio show for months now the figures the Auditor-General presented and they could be found on-line. The Americans are selling this jet world-wide to their allies and in a very public fashion the per-unit costs of the F-35's were increasing - this Globe and Mail story has them up at a brand new estimate of $166 million per jet - the tories you'll recall insisted the price would be $75 million per.

All you had to do was multiply to know that we were getting spin as opposed to the real price tag. It didn't take a lot of digging is what I'm saying and yet the Tories get away with claiming otherwise all through the May 2011 election? (If it doesn't cost you votes you got away with it!) Where was the media to hold their feet to the fire on the actual facts and figures? Back in March of 2011 the PBO reported the price tag would likely be $28.5 billion, so none of the Auditor-General's report should come as a surprise.

An important study that underlines the reason for the Occupy Movement,  according to a study published this month by University of California economist Emmanuel Saez, in 2010, 93% of income growth in the US went to the wealthiest 1% of American households, while everyone else gets to fight over the proverbial crumbs and table scraps that makes up the 7% that's left over. From Crooks and Liars here's Bernie Sanders talking about those ridiculous numbers  and what he and other progressives see as a misnamed Jobs Bill that represents yet more deregulation of Wall Street. And we know how well that always works out, right?



Over at Slate, a terrific explainer from Mathew Iglesias on why it's time to panic about the state of the Eurozone's finances again. The  sovereign debt crisis has returned and now, "...ground zero is Spain rather than Italy..." In short, it's a mess and the austerity measure implemented so far have made things worse.

And one last story to point you to because you can't really blog all the wankery going on and have a life, from a well-sourced diary over at dailykos.com a story about how Monsanto, "... the biotech behemoth has threatened to sue the state of Vermont if it presses ahead with the signing of the Vermont Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act (H. 722), a bill that would make Vermont the first of the United States to require labeling of genetically engineered food." They are not interested in letting the free market decide what it wants. That's Monsanto's job.

Marilyn McCoo live on Soul Train, singing holy heck out of a Bacharach/David tune. She is wonderful!




Cheers!