Tuesday, November 12, 2019

And Now, A Word From Chip Franklin

Love this guy.

Monday, November 11, 2019

This Is Powerful

And very difficult to watch:



Sunday, November 10, 2019

For The Stupid, This Is Just Another Attack On Their Idol

For the rest of us, the following is not only a summation of Trump's duplicity over his efforts to extort the Ukrainians for personal political advantage, but also an indictment of his spineless defenders and the willingness of his slavish devotees to entirely suspend disbelief:

Saturday, November 9, 2019

My Gorge Rises - Part 2



Earlier in the week, I posted about Paula White, the evangelical minister who has risen to become Donald Trump's chief fluffer spiritual adviser. Yet it is interesting, though hardly surprising, to glean some facts about this insane lady's past, a past that is as sordid as one might expect about someone so intent on exalting both herself and the United States' current unhinged Commander-in-Chief.

Andrea Jefferson writes tellingly about this poseur:
She’s frequently introduced and identified as “Dr. Paula White” despite not having a college or seminary degree of any kind. No degrees…not even an undergraduate degree from college.
What could have been an inspiring story about someone pulling herself out of a very bad background proves less than inspiring, the more one reads about White:
According to Orlando Weekly, “Her mother was an alcoholic and her father committed suicide. Living for a time in a trailer, she was the victim of childhood physical and sexual abuse. As a teen, she says, she was promiscuous, became a single mother and, as a young adult, was bulimic. Years later, she was addicted to prescription medication; her teenage son was addicted to crack, and an adult stepdaughter died of brain cancer. If, through the love and power of Christ, White tells her followers, she has been able to break through these “generational curses,” so can they.”
The rub comes in how she has achieved her success, on the backs of her largely low-to-middle-income adherents:
Newsweek reported that White asked congregants to donate as much as a month’s salary to her. “Every time we give, something supernatural happens,” a third reporter saw White tell worshippers who she had asked to donate as much as “a tenth of your gross income.” She once apparently wrote in a fundraising email that donating to her church “will get God’s attention.”
I'm not sure about God, but Pastor Paula has certainly benefited from that mantra:
White reportedly owns “several Mercedes”; a Bentley was once photographed in her garage; she and her husband once owned a private jet; she lived in a $2.2 million Tampa mansion. And yet her first church—Without Walls—went bankrupt in 2014 after defaulting on a reported $29 million in loans.
Her journey to this mountain of material prosperity, which, in addition to the mansion includes two homes in Trump properties in New York City, has not been, as they say, without controversy:
Shortly after being saved at the age of 18, Paula Furr left her first husband and ran off with Randy White, her Maryland church’s pastor, who was at the time married with three young children – a fact she does not include in her redemption testimony.

At the height of their popularity, Paula and Randy White reported generating $40 million a year from her broadcast ministry and their Without Walls International Church in Tampa. The racially diverse congregation, in two locations, claimed a membership of 28,000, with the co-pastors taking together between $600,000 and $1.5 million a year in compensation.

White was also once the subject of a sensational tabloid exposé in the National Enquirer that linked her with fellow (and separated but still married) televangelist Benny Hinn in a romantic tryst in a five-star Rome hotel. Hinn, another prosperity gospel proponent, was registered in the presidential suite under the biblically suggestive name “David Solomon.” White denied the affair, but Hinn later acknowledged an “inappropriate relationship.”


How White wormed her way into the White House is a story with no real surprises, and one you can read about in the link provided at the top of this post.

As for me, my gorge has risen to a dangerous level, so I shall conclude this post and leave you to draw your own conclusions about the religious right, their cognitive abilities, and which master they truly serve.


Friday, November 8, 2019

"The Right Side Of History"

That's how New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern describes her government's landmark climate legislation, which commits the country to zero carbon emissions by 2050. The bill passed 119 to one:
Climate change minister James Shaw said the bill, which commits New Zealand to keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees, provided a framework for the island country of nearly 5 million to adapt too, and prepare for the climate emergency.

“We’ve led the world before in nuclear disarmament and in votes for women, now we are leading again.” Shaw said.

“Climate change is the defining long-term issue of our generation that successive governments have failed to address. Today we take a significant step forward in our plan to reduce New Zealand’s emissions.”

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern told MPs New Zealand was on the “right side of history”. She said: “I absolutely believe and continue to stand by the statement that climate change is the biggest challenge of our time.



What a shame that bipartisan co-operation has become the exception rather than the rule. Clearly, the world needs more New Zealand.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

If You Want Another Reason To Be Pessimistic ....

This is unspeakably depressing.
Most Americans — 65 per cent, according to PRRI — may now find Trump's behaviour undignified and damaging to the presidency, but not white evangelicals. They are, in fact, the only religious group in the survey to disagree.

There are only two reasonable explanations for this. Trump is the white evangelicals' version of V.I. Lenin's useful idiot, a character who is helping achieve their apocalyptic fever dreams, but who will perish along with the rest of us as the faithful perch in the clouds. Or the white evangelical version of Christianity is a darker, uglier thing than the smiles and the welcoming hugs and the blessings would have you believe.

White evangelicals, for example, are in general keenly alert to Trump's white nationalist, nativist leanings. When he orders families separated at the southern border, most white evangelicals are right there with him.

When he proposes removing protections from transgender people, surely among the most vulnerable of us, they're A-OK.

When he invites children visiting the White House to help build his border wall with their own personalized bricks, his loyal white evangelicals are right there with him.

The 17 women who have publicly accused him of sexual misconduct are just shrugged off as leftist harlots. The senior officials who have spoken out against his abuses of power or investigated him are just the infidel Deep State.
Still not sufficiently despondent? Then watch the following:

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

A Sophisticated Scam That Almost Ensnared Me



I think we are all familiar with the garden-variety scams that are endemic on today's Internet. Sometimes it is a Nigerian prince or princess offering to send us millions to safeguard; other times it is an alert from Canada Revenue Agency that we will be arrested immediately for taxes owing unless we purchase and send iTune cards, or, conversely, we are in for a big windfall due to a recalculation of our tax return; my personal favourite, however, is notification that my PayPal account has been frozen due to irregularities that require a wealth of personal information to unlock.

Happily, most of us have sufficient wherewithal to smell the fraud immediately.

But the scammers are getting more sophisticated.

Recently, I was on the receiving end of one that, initially, I thought was legitimate for a very good reason. It contained an exchange my cousin and I had had about the recent election results, and it appeared to be from his email account. It was, as you will see, a strange request from his wife, who sometimes uses his email address.

I have stripped out any identifying information and changed the name of my cousin and his wife, but here is how it went, with additional commentary from me at specific points:

Hi Lorne, I have to agree with you regarding the outcome, and was also disappointed with the Greens 🥬 showing. I guess baby steps are to be expected. I do think that as we get more young people involved and interested in politics and their futures, that those numbers will go up. Looking forward to Friday as well to discuss more. Cheers, Rob

Sent from my iPhone


As you can see, the previously-mentioned exchange is part of the email, but it was followed by this:

I am sorry for bothering you with this mail, I need to get an Google Play gift cards for my Niece, Its her birthday but i can't do this now because I'm currently traveling and i tried purchasing online but unfortunately no luck with that.Can you get it from any store around you? I'll pay back as soon as i am back. Kindly let me know if you can handle this.

Await your soonest response.

Best regards

Grace


Intrigued, and with no suspicions at this point, I responded:

Hi Grace,

I got your email; what is the favour you are asking?

Lorne


I am sorry for bothering you with this mail, I need to get an Google Play gift cards for my Niece, Its her birthday but i can't do this now because I'm currently traveling and i tried purchasing online but unfortunately no luck with that.Can you get it from any store around you? I'll pay back as soon as i am back. Kindly let me know if you can handle this.

Await your soonest response.

Best regards

Grace


Well, my suspicions were immediately aroused for two reasons: one, Grace has no nieces, although I did entertain the possibility that she was speaking figuratively about someone in her family that she feels like an aunt towards. The second suspicious assertion was that she couldn't get the cards online. A quick internet check showed that such cards are easily obtainable online. Still, I was not entirely certain this was bogus, so I sent the following reply:

No problem, Grace. I will look at a grocery store nearby that I think stacks them. What denomination do you want?

To which she replied:

Thank you very much. Total amount needed is $200 ($100 denomination) from any store around you and I need you to scratch the back of the card to reveal the pin, then take a snap shot of the back

showing the pin and have them sent to me.


Once again thanks and God bless.


At this point I was almost certain this was a scam (it was unlikely she was travelling, since we were having lunch with them in two days), so I called my cousin to advise him that I thought his email had been hacked. However, I decided to string the scammer along for a while to waste his/her time. I started by not replying to the above email,. After a short time, I got this:

We're (sic) you able to purchase the card yet?

I received that message a second time within a couple of hours, at which point I wrote the following:

Would you like me to pick up a birthday card for her when I go to the store to get the Google Cards?

The response was a tad curt:

Just pick up the Google Cards, i need you to scratch the back of the card to reveal the pin, then take a snap shot of the back showing the pin and have them sent to me on here

Once again thanks and God bless.


Having more fun than I have had for a while, I decided to sound like a doddering old fool:

I don't have a Smartphone to take the pictures, So I have to go to the store to buy film for my camera.

Lorne


That netted this response:

Good morning,

I need you to scratch the back of the card to reveal the pin and write it out

Await your soonest response


Finally, I wrote what I knew would terminate this blossoming online relationship:

I am a little concerned about Internet security when it comes to sending sensitive information. May I call you with the numbers?

The scammer knew there was nothing more to do, and so sent me this:

Never mind keep the card for your [non-existent] grandchild.

The game was over, but I learned never to be too complacent about being able to detect Internet fraud. What bothers me now is that I have subsequently sent two messages to my cousin using his email address, and he has received neither. In the event that my email was compromised, I changed my password, but beyond that, I am at a loss. If anyone has any suggestions or insights, I'd be happy to receive them.










Tuesday, November 5, 2019

My Gorge Rises

May your constitution prove stronger than mine. If God is ever in the mood for smiting someone, I've got the perfect candidate:

Monday, November 4, 2019

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Facebook Is Not Our Friend

I wrote a blog entry over four years ago about Facebook tolerating hate groups. I won't repeat the post here, other than to say it became apparent after I lodged a complaint with them and got a wholly unsatisfactory reply that the company must have a very strange set of community standards, given that I was told the anti-Muslim group in question did not violate them.

It now appears that the situation at Facebook is even worse, thanks to its promotion of private and 'secret' groups, some of which have very frightening agendas. The following Global News reports explains all:



Facebook is a corporate digital giant that needs far greater government intervention and regulation than has thus far been meted out. Despite its public persona, it is clearly not our friend.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Look To The Skies



Only a simpleton would deny the reality of climate change. Whether we are reading almost daily about wildfires, tornadoes, floods or sea-level rise, we know in our hearts that the future has arrived and will only get worse. Despite that understanding, many of us continue with practices that will only aggravate the problem.

One of the most egregious is flying, something I continue to be guilty of, usually twice a year. Since people are not inclined to stop visiting loved ones who live far away, or taking that much-needed winter getaway, are we doomed then to simply add to the greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling climate change?

Gwynne Dyer offers his perspective both on the scope of the problem and a possible partial answer to it through new technology:
Aviation accounts for around 2.5 per cent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions at the moment, but the contrails the planes leave in the stratosphere turn into cirrus clouds that reflect heat back to the surface, and that causes an equal amount of heating.

So in reality five per cent of current warming is already due to aviation, and industry representatives estimate that the number of people flying annually will almost double (to 8.2 billion) in the next 20 years. By then flying will have grown to 10 per cent of the global heating problem, or even more if we have made good progress on cutting our other emissions.
Should we despair? Dyer suggests there are solutions that don't entail an outright stop to flying, but they are ones that the aviation industry has shown little interest in, corporate inertia being what it is.
A number of people have been working on DAC (Direct Air Capture of carbon dioxide) for more than a decade already, and the leader in the field, David Keith’s Carbon Engineering, has had a pilot plant running in British Columbia for the past three years.

Keith’s business model involves combining his captured carbon dioxide with hydrogen (produced from water by electrolysis). The electricity for both processes comes from solar power, and the final product is a high-octane fuel suitable for use in aircraft.

It emits carbon dioxide when you burn it, of course, but it’s the same carbon dioxide you extracted from the air at the start. The fuel is carbon-neutral. Scaling production up would take a long time and cost a lot, but it would also bring the price down to a commercially viable level.
The problem with the heat-reflection caused by contrails also has some mitigation-avenues available:
The planes are flying so high for two reasons. The air is less dense up there, so you don’t use so much fuel pushing through it. But the main reason, especially for passenger planes, is that there is much less turbulence in the stratosphere than in the lower atmosphere. If the planes flew down there, they’d be bouncing around half the time, and everybody’s sick-bag would be on their knee.

So what can you do about it? Well, contrails only form in air masses with high humidity, and therefore only affect 10 to 20 per cent of flights. With adequate information, most of those flights could simply fly around them. Alternatively, fly below 7,600 metres for that section of the flight, and contrails won’t form anyway.

It will be more turbulent down there, so in the long run we should be building aircraft that automatically damp out most of the turbulence. This is probably best achieved by ducted flows of air that instantly counter any sudden changes of altitude or attitude, but if aircraft designers started incorporating such ducts into their designs today, they’d only come into regular use in about 15 years’ time.
One should always be wary of deus ex machina solutions. However, the approach suggested by Dyer surely deserves consideration as one of the strategies needed as the climate crisis continues to worsen.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Time For Reflection



While the battle for climate-change mitigation will be won or lost by regulating the big polluters, it is all too easy for us to scrutinize them to the exclusion of our own profligate greenhouse-gas-emission practices. The following letter in the print edition of today's Toronto Star should give us all pause:
We in Ontario should try for numerous gestures of reconciliation with our western neighbours.

I agree with Jason Kenney that programs for reduction of carbon emissions should focus on consumers, perhaps more than on producers. I’m a consumer.

The oil companies will continue to develop their resources as long as it is a profitable enterprise.

When we as consumers reduce our demands, oil production will be reduced accordingly. The transportation industry is the biggest contributor to carbon emissions: Long distance trucking and air cargo are filling the atmosphere with carbon, because we want our wine and beer from Europe and Australia, our clothing from Asia, our cars and computers from Japan and China, our asparagus from Peru, our fruit from California, etc.

Buy local wine, even if you think it’s not as good; buy local craft beer.

Try to buy food from the nearest possible sources, though, admittedly, in winter that’s not easy. I believe we should trade in our cars with big engines and go hybrid (better range than all-electric), even if it’s more expensive and less convenient.

Reduce long-range travel by car or plane; use transit, or car pool to work if at all possible. Think of using electricity to heat your home, even if it’s more expensive, because it’s cleaner.

Recalibrating the energy industry toward cleaner technology and alternative sources of energy will provide major employment opportunities in Alberta and everywhere. It will cause wrenching grief for some, just as the prohibition of fishing for cod caused grief for workers in Atlantic Canada some years ago.

Fighting the oil producers will only cause resentment. Everyone has to make major lifestyle changes. We have to start with ourselves.

Noel Cooper, Brechin, Ont.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

As The Dust Settles....



I will offer no analysis of our federal election; I will only say that from my perspective (my disappointment that the Greens did not do better notwithstanding), the fact of a minority government is the best of all outcomes. The question of whether or not Justin can find within himself the capacity to play nice with others is yet to be determined, but for the sake of the country, we can only hope he does.

While many pressing issues stand to be addressed, pharmacare being uppermost in Jagmeet Singh's mind, I do hope that effective action to address climate change will also be on the agenda. This latest report reminds us that we have little time to lose:
Research has found Arctic soil has warmed to the point where it releases more carbon in winter than northern plants can absorb during the summer.

The finding means the extensive belt of tundra around the globe — a vast reserve of carbon that dwarfs what's held in the atmosphere — is becoming a source of greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.

The research by scientists in 12 countries and from dozens of institutions is the latest warning that northern natural systems that once reliably kept carbon out of the atmosphere are starting to release it.
While this is only one of several feedback loops exacerbating climate change, it is a potent one.
The scientists placed carbon dioxide monitors along the ground at more than 100 sites around the circumpolar Arctic to see what was actually happening and took more than 1,000 measurements.

They found much more carbon was being released than previously thought. The results found carbon dioxide emissions of 1.7 billion tonnes a year are about twice as high as previous estimates.

Arctic plants are thought to take in just over one billion tonnes of the gas from the atmosphere every year during growing season. The net result is that Arctic soil around the globe is probably already releasing more than 600 million tonnes of CO2 annually.
And the process is accelerating.
Under a business-as-usual scenario, emissions from northern soil would be likely to release 41 per cent more carbon by the end of the century.

But the Arctic is already warming at three times the pace of the rest of the globe. Even if significant mitigation efforts are made, those emissions will increase by 17 per cent, said the report.
Our house is on fire. Only resolute, principled politics holds any hope of containing the conflagration.

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Best Way To Effect Change


H/t Michael De Adder

Should you need further encouragement, read the columns by Martin Regg Cohn and Susan Delacourt.

Says Cohn:
Decide for yourself who to vote for but whatever your decision, do not persuade yourself that your vote doesn’t matter. Nothing is more corrosive than cynicism at a time when so many citizens around the world crave the certainty and stability of our democracy.

Think of the citizens of Hong Kong who are protesting in the streets for a semblance of democratic rule that Canadians take for granted. Consider the people in the Middle East who dreamed of an Arab Spring, only to see it fade away. I lived in both places for a decade, covering the human rights movements where people risked bullets for ballots, and were prepared to die for democracy, then as now.
And, from my perspective, most importantly,
Even in so-called “safe seats” that seem predestined to favour the incumbent MP, every ballot contributes to the national popular vote tallies that are very much taken into consideration, historically, by a governor general in deciding which party (or combination of parties) has a mandate to govern.
As well, Susan Delacourt reminds us,
There is a point, though, in taking the time to vote, especially at this juncture in history. Look to the U.S. or Britain and the turmoil in politics there over the past few years. Democracy matters. Elections matter. Voting matters.

... I’m hoping that 2015 wasn’t a blip — that the upward trajectory in turnout continues on Monday, because we’re seeing how fragile democracy can be, even in nations with deep, democratic traditions, such as the U.S and Britain.
There are many ways to honour our citizenship. Participation in the voting process is one of the best.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Friday, October 18, 2019

What About The Common Good?



One of the things that has most disturbed me about this election campaign is the emphasis both the Liberals and the Conservatives have put on so-called cheque-book issues. Whether it is Mr. Trudeau's constant references to "the middle class and those working hard to join it," or Andrew Scheer's promises to put more money into people's pockets, it is clear that the needs of the individual are being targeted almost exclusively.

While I understand very well that affordability of housing, education, etc. are vital issues, they have been stressed at the expense of the common good. Are we really a society if all we are concerned about is ourselves?

Writing in the print edition of today's Star, Salvatore Amenta of Stouville, Ontario offers the following:
As we approach another election, we are being asked yet again to think of ourselves first.

Will my taxes go up or down? Will there be more money left in my pocket? Will my job be protected? Will my values be upheld? In short, what’s in this election for me?

These questions are perfectly valid and quickly attract the attention of voters on television, social and print media. However, they ignore the common good.

What’s good for our future, our grandchildren, our planet and only habitat? In short, what’s good for Canada?

These questions are harder to answer, but they are worth asking. Before going to the ballot box, let’s remember former U.S. president John F. Kennedy’s advice: “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Give Me Your Frightened Masses

Run, children, run, to your polling stations!

H/t Theo Moudakis

Meanwhile, for those made of sterner stuff, there is an insightful analysis by Larry Kazdan of Vancouver of what should truly frighten all of us:
Today’s unemployment rate of 5.5 per cent may be considered “rock bottom,” but unemployment after the Second World War until the mid-1950s averaged less than 3 per cent. However, the rise of neo-liberalism in the 1980s coincided with the normalization of higher unemployment rates. Fiscal and monetary settings that led to more jobless and new laws relating to minimum wages and labour standards, union organizing and strike rules, and import of foreign workers, all combined to reduce pressure on wages.

The link between higher productivity and concurrent wage gains was broken, and consequently more profits accrued to capital.

The suppression of wages had another benefit, since workers could be enticed to borrow in order to maintain lifestyles, leading to another source of increased profits for the financial industry. And indebted workers in a tepid economy are fearful of leaving their jobs since replacements may be hard to find.

Affordability worries today are by no means the result of the boom-bust nature of Canada’s economy or other factors beyond the control of politicians. On the contrary, the squeeze on working and middle class families was carefully engineered by Conservative and Liberal governments to benefit the economic elites which they represent.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Ain't It The Truth?

Having resisted the fear-mongering that passes as 'strategic voting,' and having already cast my ballot, I offer the following for those still to exercise their franchise next week:

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Sometimes There Really Is A Conspiracy

Chevron, Exxon, BP and Shell: names that are familiar to almost all of us. What we might be less familiar with is the role they and about 16 other fossil fuel giants have played historically in ignoring the denying the climate crisis that has come to engulf the world.

Matthew Taylor and Jonathon Watts write that those companies are responsible for more than a third of greenhouse gas emissions today:
New data from world-renowned researchers reveals how this cohort of state-owned and multinational firms are driving the climate emergency that threatens the future of humanity, and details how they have continued to expand their operations despite being aware of the industry’s devastating impact on the planet.

The analysis, by Richard Heede at the Climate Accountability Institute in the US, the world’s leading authority on big oil’s role in the escalating climate emergency, evaluates what the global corporations have extracted from the ground, and the subsequent emissions these fossil fuels are responsible for since 1965 – the point at which experts say the environmental impact of fossil fuels was known by both industry leaders and politicians.

The top 20 companies on the list have contributed to 35% of all energy-related carbon dioxide and methane worldwide, totalling 480bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) since 1965.
Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this report is that these companies knew, as far back as the 1960s, that they were degrading the earth in a way that future generations would pay a heavy price. And they have been working hard ever since to fund an array of climate-change deniers to conceal this truth.

The following brief video explains the situation succinctly:



It has been said that even paranoid people have enemies. In a similar vein, sometimes those who shout "CONSPIRACY!" are, sadly, correct.

Monday, October 7, 2019

UPDATED:This Is How To Do It

With our typical timidity, Canadians are notoriously reluctant to put our money where our mouth is when it comes to climate change. Sure, we recently had very loud and proud displays of concern during September's climate strike, but once that happened, one wonders how to sustain any momentum.

Perhaps we can take some tips from the Brits who, despite their own Brexit worries, seem to have found their focus through ongoing Extinction Rebellion demonstrations.
Extinction Rebellion protesters have shut off large parts of Westminster as they began a planned two-week shutdown of central London.

The Metropolitan police said 135 people had been arrested. Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Bridge, Trafalgar Square and Whitehall were all blocked off as throngs of people demonstrated about the lack of meaningful action to tackle the climate crisis.

In Trafalgar Square a hearse was parked carrying a coffin that said: “Our future.” The driver had used a D-lock to attach himself to the steering wheel while other protesters attached themselves to the bottom of the vehicle and some lay in the road.

Yards from Downing Street, protesters blocked off Whitehall and the Embankment was shut off for about four hours outside the Ministry of Defence (MoD) by activists who attached themselves to cars before being removed by police using buzzsaws.

Among those arrested on Monday on Victoria Embankment was 81-year-old Sarah Lasenby, a Quaker and retired social worker from Oxford. She said: “For 21 years my main concern has been to help get rid of UK nuclear weapons. I am still keen to do this but once I came across XR I was so relieved to have something I could do about the ghastly state we have got our planet in.

“The whole thing is so urgent that it is imperative the government should take serious actions and put pressure on other states and global powers to radically reduce the use of fossil fuels even if this means we need to reduce our comfort at home and so much flying.”


UPDATE: Then again, I may have written too soon.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

A Sign Of The Times

This, from Chris Cowley on Twitter, is timely. Perhaps an Amber Alert is also in order?

Ontario schools are in turmoil and we can't find premier
@fordnation!

Please help us.

If you have any information on Mr. Ford's whereabouts, please encourage him to return to work immediately and give a fair deal to #CUPE education workers.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

A Weapon Against Fake News



Living in an age when critical-thinking skills are increasingly hard to find, anything acting as a bulwark against the ignorance and stupidity that seems to inform public 'debate' is welcome. Natalie Turvey writes about a weapon that sounds promising.
While misinformation, memes, clickbait and outright lies proliferate across our online feeds, especially in this election season, Canadians are not powerless to fight back.

There’s no question it can be difficult to distinguish between fact-based real news and fake news and those who want to mislead and confuse us are becoming more sophisticated every day.Research shows that:

-90 per cent of Canadians admit to falling for fake news

-Fake news stories spread six times faster than the truth

-Only 33 per cent of Canadians regularly try to confirm if the news we see is real

-40 per cent of Canadians report finding it difficult to distinguish between truth and misinformation in the news

-More than half of respondents (53 per cent) have come across stories recently where they believe facts were twisted to push an agenda
Help in fighting these daunting numbers is now available:
The Canadian Journalism Foundation has launched a campaign called “Doubt it? Check it. Challenge it.” The campaign aims to give Canadians the skills and tools to combat fake news and information. We have built tools and tips to empower people and it all lives on DoubtIt.ca.
Having checked it out, I can attest that the site offers a wealth of resources to determine whether or not 'news' is genuine, some of which are common sense, and others are resources that many may be unaware of. There is even a fake news quiz. (I took it and scored 9/10)

Essentially, Doubtit.ca revolves some simple steps:
[F]irst, if a story doesn’t seem right, trust that instinct; second, check it out, look for other sources to verify; and third, if it is fake news, call it out.

Of the three steps, the first — Doubt it? — may be the most important. More than half of us have come across stories we think are fake. So, our Spidey senses are working. Often, we just need to take a breath before we repost something and ask ourselves “does this feel right?”

If it doesn’t, there are simple ways to “check it.” First, read beyond the headline. In today’s news, headlines don’t always match the content of the story. They can be much more provocative, to attract clicks, than the story that follows.

Next, take a look at what surrounds the story you’re reading. Do the other stories on the site seem far-fetched? Are they satirical, or all about conspiracies? If so, you’ve found your answer.

And finally, if you doubt a story’s claims, do a simple online search to see if anyone else is reporting it. If it’s true, those claims will be covered by other, reputable news sources. The same goes for images. You can search those online too, and you’ll quickly learn whether the image in that meme is real or fake.
The final responsibility we have, if we are at all active on social media, is to identify fake news when we find it. I have done that many times on Facebook (but I always like to frame it tactfully so as not to offend the poster).

As we enter the crunch point for our election, detecting and exposing fake news is paramount to the health of our democracy. If we remain silent, we give consent to lies, distortions and malicious manipulation. That is something none of us could ever be proud of.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Donald Trump, Exposed

I generally like to operate my blog with a certain level of decorum and language. However, there are exceptions to that principle, which you will see in the following.

I just discovered someone named Chip Franklin, an American who operates a website called Inside The Beltway, which is described thus:
Inside The Beltway is a collaboration of journalists, broadcasters, and assorted professionals, who have banded together to create a levee against the rising tide of lies and distortions that threaten our democracy and our sanity. That may sound dramatic, but how else do you characterize the willingness of the American public to believe in the most absurd narratives? For us, it’s an obligation to the truth. And if that sounds a little sanctimonious, that’s on you.
Be warned that the following contains profanity that may disturb some:


The Whistleblower from chip franklin on Vimeo.



Trump- Wizard of Odd from chip franklin on Vimeo.



Trump_ Just How Stupid_ from chip franklin on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

“If You’re A Liberal, You’ve Got To Be Very Nervous”

So says pollster Nik Nanos, after a poll showing young people's support for Justin Trudeau dropping dramatically after his recent chat with Greta Thunberg during her visit to Canada.
Polling data from Nanos Research shows that the proportion of voters aged 18 to 29 who cite Trudeau as their preferred prime minister fell from nearly 35 per cent to a little more than 24 per cent within 24 hours.

The Liberal leader met with Thunberg on Friday while the prominent activist was in Montreal for a climate-change march that was attended by hundreds of thousands of people.

The 16-year-old Swede took Trudeau to task, telling him he wasn’t doing enough to fight climate change. Though that is her standard message for any world leader, Nanos said he still saw it as a risk for Trudeau to agree to the meeting.

The results seem to indicate a narrowing of the gap between Trudeau and Scheer (a climate-change denier in all but name), and a small uptick of support for the Green Party.
While those two parties appear to be battling to win the most seats on Oct. 21, another fight is underway further down in the polls.

The NDP are polling at 13.18 per cent and the Greens at 12.63 per cent, likely bringing the two parties into fierce competition.

“It’s like a double horse race … the horse race to win and the horse race to place third,” Nanos said.

The Greens have been hovering around 13 per cent for several days now – their highest level ever, and approximately double the support they were pulling during the early days of the campaign.

“The last week has been very good for the Green Party,” Nanos said.
While I am long past the stage of holding out much hope for our collective future, whatever sliver there is resides in the awakening consciousness of young people, who seem to see with a perspicacity denied to many who, blinded by ideology and past practices, keep voting the same way but hoping for different results.

And that, of course, is a mere variant of a famous definition:

Sunday, September 29, 2019

"It Is Not Fair"


H/t Greg Perry

I suspect the following letter by a young person expresses the angst of an entire generation:
I had hoped my final years in high school would go smoothly. But instead of stressing over university applications, I worry if it is even worth it to go through all this trouble.

Why should I study more and look for future career options when the world will crumble soon? When I receive my diploma and prepare for interviews, my window’s view will be of dying trees and collapsed houses.

It is not fair that I am compelled to strike for my time on Earth. It is not fair that I cannot even dream of a future without images of a dying home. It is not fair that my parents had the chance to bring me to this Earth, only to say goodbye together in a few year's time. I do not want to strike continuously for some higher official to just acknowledge the problem. I want them to see it and fix it.

Give me a chance. A chance to live and dream, without vivid images of organisms dying. No more is school my priority. My priority is just to have a chance to live until I reach my final years in life. That is all I want and that is not fair.

Zainab Muneer, Ajax

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Greta And Justin


H/t Graeme McKay

Given the massive turnout for yesterday's climate strike, one can perhaps be forgiven for questioning the motives of Justin Trudeau marching in the Montreal rally. While the pipeline purchaser continues to insist twinning the Trans Mountain conduit is vital to his plan for saving the planet, some are not so easily fooled.

Greta Thunberg is one of them:
The 16-year-old Swede met privately with the Canadian prime minister but later told a news conference with local indigenous leaders that he was “not doing enough” to curb greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.

“My message to all the politicians around the world is the same. Just listen and act on the current best available science,” she said.
But Mr. Trudeau is nothing if not relentless in his rhetoric:
The prime minister said after meeting Thunberg and pledging to fund the planting of 2bn trees: “I agree with her entirely. We need to do more.”
Platitudes and posturing will not save the planet. Only earnest, sustained and concerted action hold out a modicum of hope.

Fat chance of that happening, eh?

Friday, September 27, 2019

Campaign 2019 - Where Is The Truth To Be Found?

It is perhaps to state the obvious that political campaigns are a kind of Rorschach Test. We respond to candidates' claims, promises and outright lies to a large extent through the filter of our values, our biases, our philosophy and our experiences. That is us just being human. Sadly, however, whatever intellectual capacities we may possess often are cast aside as we make impassioned choices based upon the above.

Critical thinking is the main casualty here.

A case in point is the carbon tax. All of the disinformation about the levy, from Doug Ford claiming it will lead to recession to Andrew Scheer averring it will make everyone poorer, often finds a ready, even Pavlovian, audience. The following brief news item from Global News attempts to set the record straight.



Our democracy demands that each person has the right to vote. There is nothing within our system that can make that vote an intelligent, informed one.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Connecting The Dots

While concern grows daily about the increasing toll climate change is exacting, people still have a hard time connecting it with their daily practices. Sadly, this cognitive dissonance is being facilitated by poor media coverage of the primary cause of our many natural disasters. The following Global News report addresses this pressing issue.



Additional communication resources can be found here and here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Fool Me Once



It would be nice to believe that Team Trudeau's newly-announced commitment to climate change mitigation in the form of net-zero emissions by 2050 were a heart-felt response to the latest reports about the peril the world is in, or the result of being deeply moved by the impassioned declarations of Greta Thunberg, the brave lass who has become the conscience of the world.

Doubtlessly, Trudeau's fan clubs throughout the land will hail the leader's proclamation as yet another reason to vote Liberal in the upcoming election. Those given to less emotion and more critical thinking will remember the old adage, Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. And there is much basis to be skeptical rather than rhapsodic on this issue.

First, voters will remember Justin's betrayal of his avowal that 2015 would be the last election under the fiat past the post system, an oath quickly abandoned after a brief period of inadequate consultation with the public.

Then, of course, there was his purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline to double the capacity to ship the world's dirtiest oil to the West Coast. It was also a massive corporate bailout of Kinder Morgan Canada, part of an ongoing pattern of neoliberal policies of this government.

Finally, there is the whiff of deathbed desperation in Trudeau's announcement, given the polling numbers that show the Liberals and the Conservatives very close, with some support bleeding off to the NDP and the Green Party, the latter of which has a long-history of policy purity when it comes to environmental issues.

However, probably one of the greatest reasons to be suspicious of the liberals new 'policy' is its lack of detail, as reported by Alex Ballingall:
...even as he declined to outline specific policies to slash emissions in an unprecedented way, Trudeau was adamant that a re-elected Liberal government would break with Canada’s track record of failure to meet climate targets by “exceeding” its commitment under the international Paris Agreement and achieving “net zero emissions” by the middle of the century.

“This will be a huge opportunity for Canadians,” he said, pointing to the possibilities for economic growth in the renewable energy and clean tech sectors.

“It will require us to slash our emissions, transform our economy and use the power of nature — like planting trees and protecting ecosystems — to bring us to net zero.

“It’s an ambitious target, but it’s doable.”

The new “net zero” target brings the Liberals in line with what the New Democrats and Greens have already pledged if they form government after the Oct. 21 election.
Sound public policy is not made on the back of an envelop. Credible policy is not an emergency response in the middle of a political campaign because someone has detected what way the proverbial winds are blowing. And good policy cannot emerge from an attempt to cynically manipulate the public into voting for your party.

Our country and our planet deserve much, much better.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Climate Refugees On The Move

We have been told countless times that one of the mainstays of our troubled future will be climate refugees, those fleeing their homelands due to environmental destruction, be it caused by drought, flood, or wildfire. For people tempted to see this as a problem only their descendants will have to confront, the following report will be both jarring and sobering.

Please begin at the 10:15 mark:

This Speaks To My Cynical Heart


H/t Greg Perry

Friday, September 20, 2019

The History Of Blackface

For anyone who may be puzzled about the uproar over Justin Trudeau's forays into brown and black face, I strongly recommend the following, which provides a historical context for what are inherently (whether one realizes it or not) racist acts:



For a deeper dive into the topic, take a look at this:

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Natural Climate Solutions - Protect, Restore, Fund

While it would be dishonest to suggest that I harbour any real hope for the future, I admire deeply those with the strength of character, vision, and resilience to keep fighting the good fight on climate change. Well-known activist Greta Thunberg and Guardian journalist George Monbiot remind us that an important ingredient in climate-change mitigation is nature itself:
The protection and restoration of living ecosystems such as forests, mangroves and seagrass meadows can repair the planet’s broken climate but are being overlooked, Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot have warned in a new short film.

Natural climate solutions could remove huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as plants grow. But these methods receive only 2% of the funding spent on cutting emissions, say the climate activists.
The following short video offers a concise overview of what they are advocating:

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Closer Than We Think

It is probably to state the obvious that, being a tribal and insular species, we tend to be less moved by disasters when they occur far from our shores. But counting on catastrophe to stay away from our immediate environs is becoming an increasingly difficult assumption. As the following report from NBC's Al Roker makes clear, geographic and economic disruption is closer than we care to think:

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Climate in Crisis

If you really want a detailed assessment of anything, print is always your best source. For example, today's Star details the horrendous changes taking place in the Arctic thanks to the record-breaking temperatures occurring there.

If, however, you want a quick overview of what is happening in the North, take a look at the following report by NBC's Lester Holt:



Finally, if you have the heart for it, read how our existential crisis is playing a role in helping people decide whether they want to bring children into this world.

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Media Awaken

To put it concisely, owing to a sense of general disillusionment, I have been taking a break from my blog, a break that is likely to continue with some exceptions, as in the following.

A large number of news outlets have banded together under the name Covering Climate Now, their mission, to provide better reporting on the climate crisis. While I fear that this collaboration will only turn out to be a substitute for, rather than a spur to, action on the crisis, I plan to link to stories that suggest Americans are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers posed by it. And let's face it; unless the U.S. and other populous nations take this seriously, nothing substantive can happen to mitigate the disaster we are now witnessing on an almost daily basis.

The first story comes from NBC Nightly News:

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

UPDATED: Uh, Uh. Trudeau Enthusiasts Won't Like This

Start at the 1:40 mark to see what I mean. To whet your appetite, here are some viewer comments:

What an awesome way to drop that Saudi Arabia thing. Hasan's show just keeps getting better and better.

The look on his face after that question! He thought they were gonna joke about his cool socks!

Canada selling weapons of mass death to Saudi Arabia is them just following Americans lead.

Trudeau is the Canadian Obama. They both campaigned as progressives but as soon as they got in they turned into conservative establishment centrists who cater to the status quo and big oil.

This has got to be the worst condemnation of msm journalists today, they got upstaged by a comedian.




UPDATE: The Star's Venay Menon offers his take on the interview:
When I was a kid, this one time we were driving through Pennsylvania late at night when a fawn suddenly appeared in the headlights of our station wagon. Since my father maddeningly drove under the speed limit — and there was no traffic on the interstate — he was able to brake without incident. But that adorable creature just stood there for a good 30 seconds, motionless, unsure of what to do next.

It seemed so helpless and lost in the chaos.

I was reminded of it while watching Netflix’s Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj on Sunday. Trudeau might as well buy himself a pair of antlers and a bushy tail before Halloween. Just based on the moments of awkward silence and the reaction shots in which he looked absolutely paralyzed with fear, he was that fawn.

What Trudeau’s inner circle probably didn’t realize when it thought this interview — and global exposure via Netflix — was a great idea was that much of the really damning material would come from taped segments. In between clips of Minhaj’s sit-down with Trudeau, the comedian also blitzed his in-studio audience with facts, observations and timelines that portrayed Trudeau as a scandal-ridden leader who speaks out of both sides of his mouth. The show went after Trudeau over the SNC-Lavalin scandal. It raised the issue of ethics violations. It more or less called Trudeau a fraud on the environment. It condemned him over Canada’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Venon concludes that regarding the Trudeau cachet, the bloom is off the rose. I agree wholeheartedly.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

UPDATED: A Call For Resistance



Here in Ontario Premier Doug Ford, not content to have a taxpayer-funded propaganda channel, has mandated that all gas stations must display stickers advancing the government's attack on carbon-pricing. No doubt a constitutional issue, this compelled political speech is not going down well with everyone.

May we all take inspiration from the following:


UPDATE: Here is someone else's strategy.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Koch Legacy



Following the death last week of David Koch, media coverage, I found, left much to be desired. MSNBC filled its two-minute report with fulsome praise of the man's philanthropy, with nary a word about his rapacious, insatiablee evil, massive climate-change denial funding being one of his most detestable and diabolical projects. Ditto for Global National.

Happily, the redoubtable Guardian showed no such timidity in assessing Koch's legacy:
Koch Industries, a private company, is the United States’ 17th-largest producer of greenhouse gases and the 13th-biggest water polluter, according to research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst – ahead of oil giants Exxon Mobil, Occidental Petroleum and Phillips 66. The conglomerate has committed hundreds of environmental, workplace safety, labor and other violations. It allegedly stole oil from Indian reservations, won business in foreign countries with bribery, and one of its crumbling butane pipelines killed two teenagers, resulting in a nearly $300m wrongful death settlement. The dangerous methane leakage, carbon emissions, chemical spills and other environmental injustices enacted by Koch’s companies have imperiled the planet and allegedly brought cancer to many people.
Koch's separation from the rest of humanity was profound. Evil oligarch that he was, he cared not a whit for the travails of others, having never experienced them himself, all the while calling himself a self-made man, despite the fact that he and his brother inherited the family business.

From the perspective of many, however, his and brother Charles' greatest evil revolved around climate change:
Not only did Koch help unleash countless metric tons of greenhouse gases from the earth, he was a key funder of climate change denialism, stiff-arming scientists in order to further plunder the earth he was destroying. Revelations in Christopher Leonard’s new book, Kochland, show that Koch played an even greater role in funding climate change denialism than we previously knew. As we careen towards a climate catastrophe that seems more and more likely to happen within the next 11 years, we can rightly pin a portion of the blame on David and his brother.
In the play Julius Caesar, Marc Antony says: The evil that men do lives after them;/The good is oft interred with their bones. In the case of David Koch, that is both meet and just. As the Guardian concludes,
Death and destruction. That is David Koch’s legacy.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Not Nearly Enough



For those who take a measure of pride in the fact that Canada has put a price on carbon, one that is essentially painless, by the way, thanks to the federal rebate, here is some sobering news: Canada ranks among the worst countries in its efforts to combat climate change.
The Climate Action Network, a global association of more than 1,300 climate groups, issued a report card on the climate plans of the G7 nations ahead of the leaders’ summit in France this weekend.

The report card says Canada’s current policies are consistent with global warming exceeding 4 C compared to pre-industrial levels, more than twice the stated goal of the Paris agreement of staying as close to 1.5 C as possible. The United States and Japan are also both in the 4 C category, while the other four G7 members, France, Ital
y, Germany and the United Kingdom, have policies consistent with more than 3 C in warming.
It is a report our faux Environment and Climate Change Minister, Catherine McKenna, is desperately trying to repudiate with her usual misrepresentations, as her spokeswoman claims
Canada is leading internationally with its initiative to wean the world off coal power, and financing projects in developing nations to mitigate or adapt to climate change.

“Over the past three and a half years, our government has delivered on an ambitious, affordable plan that is doing more to cut carbon pollution than any other federal government in Canada’s history,” Sabrina Kim said in a written statement.

But the Climate Action Network ranks Canada’s climate plan as having the same impact on global warming as the policies of the United States, where President Donald Trump has rejected the Paris agreement.
The usual suspects, of course, will gloss over this by saying that at least the Liberals have a plan, something essentially absent from the Conservatives' platform. True enough, but of what value is a plan that does nothing to achieve the goals set out and agreed to in the Paris Agreement?

While it might provide a talking point in the upcoming election, such a plan is otherwise valueless.

Meanwhile, with no relief in sight, the climate-change race to the bottom continues apace.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Lungs Of The Planet Are Failing

Called "the lungs of the planet," the Amazon rainforest is now ablaze; this year alone has thus far seen about 73,000 fires. When you consider that the rainforest provides about 20% of the world's oxygen, the situation, compounded by all the other climate-change havoc taking place, is dire indeed.

Start at the 12:00 mark to see this newest horror:



Monday, August 19, 2019

A Journal's Sad Decline



Readers of this blog will probably know that I am a big supporter of newspapers. In my view, they are the best bulwark against the ignorance that seems so prominent in Western society today. As a subscriber to The Toronto Star and a financial contributor to The Guardian, it is fair to say that newspapers have been a daily part of my life for a long time.

Having been born and raised in Hamilton, the newspaper of record when I was growing up was The Hamilton Spectator which, for the longest time, was an afternoon journal my family eagerly consumed after school and after work. It had a proud and long history in the Steel City, bringing to our doors both local and national news of note. Few homes went without it.

Now part of the Torstar chain, it is a paper I only buy on Saturdays. as I am addicted to the large weekly and the large New Your Times crossword puzzles contained therein. It is thanks to these once-a-week purchases that I have noticed the journal's sad decline. Not only does it rely increasingly on content from the Toronto Star, but also, it seems, on incendiary letters that, in my view, no responsible paper would publish, reliant as they tend to be on ad hominems and unsubstantiated assertions.

I offer the following as sad example of what may be a misguided attempt to increase circulation:
Obama, not Trump, was the great evil

As America's first black president, it was hoped Barack Obama would end the racial divide and bring unity to the country. Instead, the United States is more polarized than ever. He was a narcissist who wanted to change America. Everything about him was phoney. He was a demagogue whose speeches were high on rhetoric and empty promises. His actions divided the country and fanned the flames of racism and anti-Semitism. Don't look at what Obama said or how he said it. His actions belie his words. Democrats calling Trump Hitler and his supporters Nazis demonize half of Americans for the simple reason they don't support their insane leftist policies. Having a different political opinion shouldn't make you a target for verbal abuse or physical assault.

Is that what Obama meant when he said he wanted to "fundamentally transform the United States of America"? I guess he did and the result is not pretty.

Harold Pomerantz, Dundas

Blame the left, not Trump

Henry Giroux writes that, "Under the presidency of Donald Trump, the nightmare drumbeat of a fascist and racist tinged politics is getting louder and more consistent." Yes, except the drumbeat he cites is coming from the left, as their efforts to unseat the president become increasingly unhinged.

How can a man in the glare of publicity for decades suddenly be a white supremacist? How can there be a Nazi in the White House who's celebrated in Israel and has a half-Jewish family? How can Trump be uniquely evil if it's necessary to distort his actions and policies in order to show it? How can the Russia collusion stuff all be true, and then forgotten?

Get a grip, everyone. If Trump had run as a Democrat and still won the presidency, we'd be getting on with our lives.

Stuart Laughton, Burlington

Hero Trump protecting North America

The Spectator's recent columnist from the American Civil Liberties Union is spewing fake news. Chris Rickerd falsely stated that President Trump is anti immigration. Trump is not anti-immigration because America continues to accept over one million legal immigrants every year. Trump is against open borders. Trump isn't for illegal immigration, he is anti-illegals.

........

North America is the world's lifeboat and it must not be swamped. When we think about immigration we should ask ourselves, "Were the sailors who manned the Titanic's lifeboats racists because they didn't risk losing their survivors by going back for more survivors?" President Trump is only protecting Americans from illegal activities in order to preserve the Union.

George Rooney, Hamilton
It is beyond sad when a once-respected newspaper chooses to pander to shrill, inflammatory, populist but essentially empty rhetoric. Yellow journalism has no place in any responsible journal.

Friday, August 16, 2019

A Thousand Words ....


H/tTheoMoudakis

Because the political reactions from the right and the left are so tiresomely predictable, I thought I would offer a few examples from one of the so-called progressive groups that I monitor, thereby sparing those so inclined to label me for my refusal to bow before Trudeau and his sham liberalism. Out of respect for the privacy of those who post their comments within a closed forum, I leave out both source and identities. From a CBC story on Jane Philpott's reaction to the Ethic's Commissioner's report on the SNC-Lavalin scandal that I posted to the group come the following:
Another Schmeer campaign. I find it interesting that this reporting surfaces as Schmeer drops like a rock in Ontario.

Poor irrelevant Philpott.... lololol

a Pity she is still with the smear campaigners! !!

JP knows very well that JWR twisted her truth. JWR spoke to Campbell & that was the only former AG that JWR admitted to speaking to about the SNC case. Campbell did not see the info on the case, she went only by what JWR told her. Mulroney had something different than Campbell to say. The PM wanted JWR to bring an expert in to work on the case with JWR & to give advice & JWR refused to do that, so without another insight on the case, The PM did not feel that JWR's decision was the right way to go. JT did not interfere in any way, he just wanted JWR to fully do her job & use every tool that was available to her. Then there is the important information about the SNC case that JWR purposely with held from the PMO. Why is that not mentioned & the case files on JWR desk that had been sitting on her desks for months. The poor man who was in prison & finally found innocent & had to stay in prison for almost a year waiting for JWR to have him released. David the AG now had the man released with in 2 weeks after David took the AG position. There is much more & JP knows it all as well as JWR. Nope, if JWR had of been a man in the AG position, he would of been fired a lot sooner. JWR blew it her self, she let the power go to her head just like she is doing now. That alone will take her down again.

What about investigating Mr Andy Smear`s visit to Lavalin`s HQ ! What was the name of Harper`s man on the Lavalin Board of Directors!
Reacting to a story on the actual report by the Commissioner, some of the following illustrate the obdurate, uncritical support Trudeau commands from extreme partisans:
Enjoy PM Scheer.
Hillary's emails don't matter now anymore, do they?
I have sent this happen too many times with one single commissioner (who could be easily influenced by outside forces) bring down a government.

As much as it does suck, it is still better than the über-corrupt alternative, the Conservatives. Heck, in an interview on Canadaland (either Oppo or Commons) even Jodie Wilson Raybould was on the record saying she hopes Trudeau wins
In response, I wrote,
Rather than saying the Liberals are the best we've got, it is time for all Canadians to demand better government. Defending Trudeau as the least odious choice does nothing for the cause of good government.
This was followed by,
...voting for what is worse advances the cause of bad government.

... but you don't have to vote for the tories, we don't live in a two party system.
And it goes on and on, including the usual dismissal of Trudeau criticism as coming from 'the haters.'

All of this is as utterly predictable as it is dispiriting. Funny, isn't it, how partisanship on either poles of the political spectrum seems to require the suspension of critical thinking skills that we need now more than ever, all of which leaves me with little hope that we will ever see any improvement in a political landscape currently populated by hacks, Pavlovian loyalties, and a paucity of any real cogitation.

Now where have I seen this before?


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

UPDATED: Patently Ridiculous



That is my assessment of our faux Environment Minister, Catherine McKenna, in her latest political statement in answer to the question of whether or not Canada should ban the export of our plastic waste:
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says she has asked her department to look at what else Canada can do to reduce the amount of Canadian garbage that is ending up overseas.

As recently as Aug. 1, McKenna’s officials dismissed the idea of banning plastic waste exports entirely, fearing such a move could be economically harmful to countries with recycling industries that rely on the material. [Italics mine.]

Canada pointed to Australia, New Zealand and Japan as countries with similar policies.

But last week, Australia’s federal and state governments came together to start planning for an eventual ban of plastic waste exports.
While some might be fooled by McKenna's expressions of concern for jobs in other countries, others are not:
Kathleen Ruff, founder of the online advocacy campaign RightonCanada.ca, wants Canada to agree to stop shipping plastic waste out of the country. She has been critical of the federal Liberals for refusing to agree to amend the Basel Convention to stop plastic waste exports. The convention is an international agreement to prevent the world’s wealthiest nations from dumping hazardous waste on the developing world.
Ruff said she was happy to hear McKenna say there was room to do more — and suspects the Oct. 21 federal election may have something to do with it.
Politics, indeed. I think I would have more respect for McKenna if she took the almost unheard of route of speaking honestly to the public and state that a ban of plastic exports would require the elimination of a wide array of single-use products that Canadians are addicted to, ranging from plastic water bottles to bubble wrap to takeout containers to coffee cups (lined with plastic). Such a move would take real courage and vision, but the initial public backlash might be politically costly.

Instead, we have a visionless shill masquerading as the Environment and Climate Change Minister taking faux pride in the fact that we will ban plastic straws in another year or two.

In closing, it is useful to remind ourselves that we are all complicit in this minister's posturing:
Canadians are among the biggest producers of waste in the world, churning out as much as two kilograms per person every day.
Not a pretty picture


UPDATE: Now here is something we should all find sobering about plastic pollution:
Abundant levels of microplastic pollution have been found in snow from the Arctic to the Alps, according to a study that has prompted scientists to warn of significant contamination of the atmosphere and demand urgent research into the potential health impacts on people.

Snow captures particles from the air as it falls and samples from ice floes on the ocean between Greenland and Svalbard contained an average of 1,760 microplastic particles per litre, the research found. Even more – 24,600 per litre on average – were found at European locations. The work shows transport by winds is a key factor in microplastics contamination across the globe.

The scientists called for research on the effect of airborne microplastics on human health, pointing to an earlier study that found the particles in cancerous human lung tissue.