News for progressives

Federal prisoners still wait for meaningful reform after two years of ‘sunny ways’

Rabble News - Thu, 2017-12-14 15:59
December 14, 2017Civil Liberties WatchFederal prisoners still wait for meaningful reform after two years of ‘sunny ways’The Journal of Prisoners on Prisons identifies several areas for changes to the laws, policies, and practices of the Canadian penal system to improve life and work inside federal penitentiaries. B.C. prisons
Categories: News for progressives

Derek Fildebrandt ends his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year with a bang

Rabble News - Thu, 2017-12-14 13:29
David J. Climenhaga

Round up your livestock, O farmers of Alberta!

Derek Fildebrandt may be a city boy at heart, but he'll likely have to run in rural Alberta if he wants to stay in politics. So Alberta's Conservative problem child may have concluded shooting large hoofed mammals with powerful firearms would go over well with the yeoman farmers of southern Alberta who are his constituents now.

After all, it appears to work for rural Republican politicians south of the 49th Parallel, whence the querulous Ottawa-born founder of the "Reagan-Goldwater Society" at his alma mater, Carleton University, seems to get much of his strategic inspiration.

But it's hard to imagine the Strathmore-Brooks MLA's latest brush with the law, which involves being caught hunting illegally on private farm land, is going to do much to enhance his re-election chances in rural Alberta in the general election expected in 2019.

For one thing, we all know how farmers feel about city slickers wandering uninvited onto their property with big guns, Elmer Fudd caps from Cabela's, a sketchy knowledge of large ungulates, and a desire to shoot something on four legs.

The self-described liberty conservative's latest legal troubles won't even assure his until-recently-assumed swift readmission to the United Conservative Party caucus in the Alberta legislature by his friend Jason Kenney, that party's leader.

Fildebrandt, 32, resigned under pressure from the UCP Caucus in mid-August in the wake of two politically embarrassing situations -- getting caught renting his taxpayer-subsidized Edmonton condo on Airbnb and allegedly crashing his huge pickup truck into another vehicle in the building's parking lot, then taking off without leaving his name.

As The Globe and Mail reported then, "the close scrutiny given to his questionable expenses and legal blunders likely stems from his long-time role as a political agitator." Before becoming a Wildrose Party MLA in 2015, you see, Fildebrandt was well known as an unpleasantly aggressive operative for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, an anti-tax Astro-Turf organization.

Nevertheless, Fildebrandt's readmission to the UCP Caucus was widely expected as soon as Kenney got himself a seat in the Legislature in the Calgary-Lougheed byelection taking place today. Fildebrandt needs to be welcomed back because there's no way he'll be reelected in 2019 unless he's a candidate for the UCP.

Piling illegal hunting onto his previous legal and ethical troubles, though, will not speed his return!

News reports yesterday said Fildebrandt was caught near the town of Sundre on Nov. 4 in unlawful possession of wildlife (a deer he had shot) and being on private land without permission. A farmer complained to provincial Fish and Wildlife officers about an unwelcome hunter. The MLA does not dispute the charges. Indeed, he has apologized to everyone. He has a court date on Feb. 2 in the nearby town of Didsbury.

Meanwhile, his timing couldn't be less propitious. Fildebrandt already has a court hearing next Monday in the matter of the disputed parking lot collision. As noted, Kenney's by-election campaign reaches its climax in Calgary tomorrow. And the UCP Caucus in the Legislature was already scrambling to minimize the damage done by Tuesday's revelation Opposition House Leader Jason Nixon's former consulting company once fired a single mom it employed because she complained about a contractor who was sexually harassing her.

The discovery of Nixon's method of dealing with harassment at his company right came after he'd argued in the Legislature such matters should be left to private companies like his to sort out. The UCP's embarrassment was so acute it dropped its attack on the NDP Government's Bill 30, An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans, which requires employers to implement sexual harassment policies.

The UCP had planned to stage a bitter fight against the bill, extending the 22-day fall sitting of the Legislature if possible. Instead, they gave up with a whimper yesterday, letting the NDP bring the busy session to an end as it desired.

Government House Leader Brian Mason mocked the UCP's "damage control" efforts, suggesting "they're getting out of there as fast as they can" with their "tail between their legs."

Well, in fairness, they have bigger fish to fry today in Kenney's bid to get into the House, where he can control his fractious, B-Team caucus.

At least one poll -- albeit one readers may not have full confidence in -- is said to have given Kenney 60 per cent support in the safe Conservative riding.

Still, in light of unexpected election outcomes in the past couple of days, Kenney would surely rather be concentrating on his main chance right now.

On Monday in British Columbia, Liberal Gordie Hogg won what was supposed to be a rock solid Conservative seat in a federal by-election for the South Surrey-White Rock riding. It was the first time in 70 years the Liberals have managed to represent any part of the riding.

And yesterday, of course, Democrat Doug Jones scored what is being called "an unimagined victory" in the race for the U.S. Senate seat in another seven-letter jurisdiction starting with A.

So the possibility, however slim, that since political lightning has struck twice, it might strike a third time, must have occurred to Kenney's strategic brain trust.

Fildebrandt's big game hunting adventure, at least, probably means Nixon is less likely to be demoted or sent packing by Kenney after Tuesday's embarrassment. As for the errant marksman's return to the bosom of the UCP, that may depend on Kenney's margin of victory today.

If it is huge, the UCP leader may feel he can do what he pleases. If it is lower than expected, he may be inclined to take more care with his personnel problems. And if by some miracle he loses, well, all bets would be off, wouldn't they?

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca

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Categories: News for progressives

Debunking the flagwaving myths about an attack on North Korea

(This analysis was written for the Unz Review) First, the bragging dummies Trump and Haley are still at it.  The want to force China to take action against the DPRK
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A short commentary on Trumps latest SNAFU

Okay, I admit it: Trump is a Russian agent.   I tried really, really hard to deny it, but now I can’t continue anymore because I am presented with an absolutely
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The Costs of War: counted in TRILLIONS

by Phillyguy for the Saker blog Introduction The US came out of WWII as the world’s dominant military and economic power. Since that time, US hegemony has been predicated on:
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Syrian War Report – December 13, 2017: Trump Declares Victory Over ISIS

https://southfront.org/syrian-war-report-december-13-2017-trump-declares-victory-isis/ On December 12, ISIS conducted a surprise attack on the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) on the western bank of the Euphrates in the province of Deir Ezzor. According to
Categories: News for progressives

Let's all shine our lights to make the world a brighter place

Rabble News - Wed, 2017-12-13 20:41
December 13, 2017Shine a light during dark timesIt's no time to be complacent. We must show that we shine brighter. Knowledge, kindness and solidarity can overcome ignorance and fear.
Categories: News for progressives

Middle East Is On Verge Of New War Following Trump’s Recognition Of Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital

https://southfront.org/middle-east-is-on-verge-of-new-conflict-following-trumps-recognition-of-jerusalem-as-israels-capital/ On November 28, SouthFront released a video analysis entitled “Would Anyone Profit From a New War in the Middle East?”. The video said that despite tensions in the region
Categories: News for progressives

Arthur Manuel's books should be mandatory reading for all Canadians

Rabble News - Wed, 2017-12-13 07:24
Doreen Nicoll

"The loss of our lands has been the precise cause of our impoverishment. Indigenous Peoples control only 0.2 [per cent] of the land in Canada while settler governments claim control of the other 99.8 [per cent]. With this distribution of land, you don't have to have a doctorate in economics to understand who will be poor and who will be rich. And our poverty is crushing." - Arthur Manuel, Secwepemc Nation from his book Unsettling Canada.

Arthur Manuel was like a brother to Kahnawake Mohawk policy analyst, writer, and activist Russ Diabo.  Recently, I had the honour and pleasure to speak by phone with Diabo. He told me about the life and work of Manuel, his long-time friend, fellow activist, and author of Unsettling Canada (UC) and The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land Rebuilding the Economy (RM).

According to Diabo, "Both books are important for understanding the real history of Indigenous peoples and today's treatment because the structure hasn't changed."

In UC, Manuel lays out Indigenous history as a pattern of dispossession followed by dependence which eventually gives way to uprisings that culminate in the oppression of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples.

Meanwhile, RM, focuses on Indigenous right to self-determination. But, Manuel doesn't shy away from addressing the fact that Indigenous Nations also need to put their own house in order.

According to Diabo, "First Nation assemblies have been co-opted by federal government money. They are not sitting at the table at the United Nations to ensure more international oversite. There is government oppression of the 0.2 [per cent] economy which is not addressing dependency on the federal government. This needs to be addressed through a change to the system which means going after Trudeau and his fake reconciliation."

Manuel's chapter on dishonest reconciliation embraces the creative use of language by settler politicians and a disrespecting of Indigenous self-determination as laid out by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

In 2007 when UNDRIP was adopted by the UN, Canada was one of only four countries to vote against it. In 2010 after succumbing to constant international pressure Canada endorsed the declaration. Yet, it wasn't until 2016 that Canada adopted and implemented the declaration. Even then, it did so only in accordance with the Canadian Constitution effectively demoting international law to a position secondary to national law -- something that is just not done.

To date, the Canadian government has refused to implement the UNDRIP Action Plan. It continues working against Indigenous interests; routinely excludes Indigenous representatives from decision making processes; and violates Nation to Nation treaties and international human rights law.

Chapter 43 of RM is a scant five pages that concisely lays out Manuel's six-point plan for effective, relatively painless decolonization that could, "Transform Canada into one of the most politically and environmentally progressive countries in the world, one that could be an example for all on how the ugly part of colonialism and racism, that has been so catastrophic for our people in terms of the sheer brutality we have been subject to, can finally be laid to rest. And both Indigenous peoples and Canadians can finally turn away from that sad past and look to a much brighter future."

On January 11, 2017, shortly after completing the manuscript for RM, Manuel died of congenitive heart failure at the age of 65.

Diabo remembers Manuel as, "The Nelson Mandela of the international Indigenous movement. No one has his knowledge, skill, and integrity. It will take many people to replace him and the limitless volunteer work he contributed."

Manuel's wife, son and two daughters are continuing the legacy of his work and they're joined by Manuel's vast network of friends and supporters numbering in the thousands.

Throughout this year of Colonialism 150 I've encouraged readers to listen to, watch or read an Indigenous point of view each week. Well, here you go settlers, buy a copy of each of these essential books and spend some quality time over the holidays educating yourself about Canada's colonial past and present, but more importantly embrace Manuel's vision of a Turtle Island that is truly home to Indigenous and settler alike.

While you're at it, simplify your life by buying several copies to give to your kids, in-laws, friends, colleagues, and dinner guests this holiday season. What a wonderful way to ring in a truthful New Year ready to hold Canada's governments accountable for meaningful Nation to Nation reconciliAction!

Photo: Tupak Huehuecoyotl​/Facebook

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Categories: News for progressives

Shine a light during dark times

Rabble News - Wed, 2017-12-13 06:09
David Suzuki

Before he died on November 7, 2016, the great poet Leonard Cohen offered a moving, prophetic warning in his final album's title song: "You want it darker / We kill the flame." As we near the Northern hemisphere's longest night of the year, it seems like a monumental challenge to keep the flickering flame from being extinguished.

In the U.S., human rights, environmental protections and social services are being snuffed out by executive order. Angry rhetoric from an administration that appears to thrive on division is fuelling racial tensions. As drought-fuelled fires rage, storms become more intense and unpredictable, and flooding devastates communities, and as much of the world plans how to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement, the fossil fuel industry and its government sycophants continue to destroy ecosystems in their race to exploit every bit of climate-altering product they can before shrinking markets halt their rampage.

Even governments that say they're committed to tackling climate change continue to promote pipelines, fracking and other fossil fuel projects and infrastructure. We also face the spectacle of two mad nuclear-armed heads of state trading childish insults, inching us closer to catastrophic confrontation.

Another great poet, William Butler Yeats, wrote presciently in 1919: "The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned / The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity."

It's not really true that the "best lack all conviction." But as the days get darker, it sometimes feels overwhelming, hopeless.

We must keep the flame burning.

The light will return to this part of the world and the days will get longer, but we must act to make our lives brighter. The "passionate intensity" (or maybe just banal indifference to suffering) of those who would impose misery on many for the benefit of the few may be little more than the death throes of an outdated, destructive order. But it's no time to be complacent. We must show that we shine brighter. Knowledge, kindness and solidarity can overcome ignorance and fear.

This truth is coming to light as more and more people reject the forces of darkness. Black Lives Matter#MeTooIdle No More. Women are speaking out against those who have oppressed them through rape, abuse and systemic sexism. People of colour are standing up to the violence, hatred and inequality they have faced in countries claiming to value freedom and equality. Indigenous peoples are demonstrating their knowledge and power and demanding an end to colonial oppression. Business people, religious leaders, politicians and citizens are demanding action on climate change and other environmental challenges. People everywhere are developing solutions to the problems we have caused through ignorance and avarice.

We must also work for better education, at home and throughout the world. Stabilizing population growth requires education for women and families, along with access to birth control and family planning. Democracies function best when people cast their votes and base their decisions on facts, critical thought and understanding rather than tribalism and rigid ideology. Those who have learned how to critically assess the overabundance of information that floods our daily lives are in a better position to contribute to positive change.

For many cultures, the winter solstice is a time to reflect, regroup and rededicate. As the light slowly returns, it's a period of renewal and eventual rebirth. It's a good time to celebrate that which holds true meaning and brings real happiness in life: friends, family, nature, connection. It's also a time to reach out to help those who are less fortunate.

Every good deed, every positive act, helps the flame burn a little bit brighter. No matter how small or insignificant our contributions may seem, when we do good in the world, it adds up -- and it will eventually overcome the darkness. Even an unconditional smile given to a stranger can cheer that person, who may then offer smiles to others, multiplying the effect and spreading joy.

As we near the solstice and enter the holiday season, I and the David Suzuki Foundation staff wish you peace and happiness for this year and the days to come. Let us all shine our lights to make the world a brighter, better place for all.

Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington.

Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org

Image: patrick janicek​/Flickr

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Categories: News for progressives

U.S. Surrenders On Syria - Resistance Turns Eyes On Israel

This New Yorker piece is notable for its arrogant headline, and several false assertions. Those may be necessary to divert from its real message - the U.S. surrender to the realities of Syria: Trump to Let Assad Stay Until 2021,...
Categories: News for progressives

Putin’s Syrian withdrawal announcement: an analysis

Putin’s Syrian withdrawal announcement: neither a full Russian withdrawal nor victory in Syria by Alexander Mercouris (cross-posted with The Duran by special agreement with the author) At a time when
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Moveable Feast Cafe 2017/12/12 … Open Thread

2017/12/12 16:30:01Welcome to the ‘Moveable Feast Cafe’. The ‘Moveable Feast’ is an open thread where readers can post wide ranging observations, articles, rants, off topic and have animate discussions of
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Syrian War Report – December 12, 2017: Govt Forces Liberated 67,000km2 Over 7 Months

https://southfront.org/syrian-war-report-december-12-2017-govt-forces-liberated-67000km2-over-7-months/ Over 1,000 localities, 78 oil and gas fields and two deposits of phosphate ores have been liberated in Syria over the past 227 days, commander of Russia’s military group
Categories: News for progressives

Avoidance and possibility in a burning world at COP 23

Rabble News - Tue, 2017-12-12 16:04
December 12, 2017EnvironmentCopping out at COP 23Our uncomfortable future demands that climate criminals not be enabled further while we carry our caps in hand with appeals to do the right thingClimate Changeenvironmental action
Categories: News for progressives

Avoidance and possibility in a burning world at COP 23

Rabble News - Tue, 2017-12-12 16:01
December 12, 2017EnvironmentCopping out at COP 23Our uncomfortable future demands that climate criminals not be enabled further while we carry our caps in hand with appeals to do the right thingenvironmentalCOP 23Climate Change
Categories: News for progressives

Open Thread 2017-46

Yesterday an excavator disrupted several building connections here. Repairs are ongoing. Posting will hopefully resume later today. b.
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Syrian War Report – December 11, 2017: Putin Orders Withdrawal Of Russian Forces From Syria

https://southfront.org/syrian-war-report-december-11-2017-putin-orders-withdrawal-of-russian-forces-from-syria/ On December 10, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Hezbollah launched a military operation in order to clear the desert area in eastern Syria from ISIS. According to pro-government
Categories: News for progressives

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