News for progressives

Iran’s 1979 revolution picked up the People’s torch first lit in 1917 Russia

[Note by the Saker: I am posting this article with great reservations since I believe that, will all due respect, my friend Ramin fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the Bolshevik
Categories: News for progressives

Trump's decision to move U.S. embassy means further oppression for Palestinians

Rabble News - Mon, 2017-12-11 10:17
December 10, 2017Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is Trump's war on the PalestiniansBy recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the U.S. further isolates itself, as it becomes the only country in the world to do so.
Categories: News for progressives

Proof that the Saker is a Kremlin Troll!

Defending the Kremlin: Hawks, Falcons and Owls in Service by Iliia Pitalev for Sputnik News It is unbelievable, but true: birds help defend the Kremlin. Kremlin officials use hawks, falcons
Categories: News for progressives

Extreme Wealth Inequality Persists

Progressive economics forum - Mon, 2017-12-11 00:15

There was little or no media coverage of the release of data on the distribution of the wealth of Canadians in 2016 last week, perhaps because there has been little or no change since the last Survey of Financial Security in 2012.

The top 20% of Canadians own 67.3% of all net worth (assets of all kinds minus liabilities), almost exactly the same as in 2012.

The bottom 20% have no net worth, and the bottom 40% collectively own just 2.3% of all net worth.

The top 20% also own 74.6% of all financial assets (stocks, bonds, bank deposits etc) held outside of RRSPs and registered pension plans, while the bottom 40% collectively own just 3.5% of such assets. Financial assets outside of pensions total $1.4 trillion.

Unfortunately, the new data does not detail the breakdown within the top 20%. Even within this group, wealth is highly concentrated in the hands of the top 10% and top 1%.

Clearly, taxable income from financial assets (interest, dividends, capital gains, stock options) flows overwhelmingly to a relatively small number of people. If the federal government was serious about progressive tax reform, they would be reducing the preferential treatment of such income in the personal income tax system. Over to you, Minister Morneau.

Categories: News for progressives

Weekly Review And Open Thread 2017-45

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama: Dec 4 - Yemen Without Saleh The unexpected end of Yemen's former president Saleh was followed by a Houthi campaign against his functionaries in Sanaa. At the same time the Saudi and UAE...
Categories: News for progressives

Syria - ISIS Is Defeated - The U.S. Is Next In Line

The Islamic State in Syrian and Iraq is officially defeated. The UN resolution which allowed other countries to fight ISIS within Syria and Iraq no longer applies. But the U.S. military, despite the lack of any legal basis, wants to...
Categories: News for progressives

Special programs and testing prevent children from learning important life lessons

Rabble News - Sat, 2017-12-09 13:00
Anti-RacismEducationPolitics in Canada

I was saddened to see Toronto's school board retreat from its plan to phase out its special schools and programs, like those for the arts and gifted students. They said it would be for the sake of greater social equity and meant to replace them by spreading the benefits among all, not just some -- mostly white and affluent -- kids. But they came under heavy fire for trying to squelch creativity and undermine individualism among "our" brightest kids. They caved.

These educational matters go through phases; what was once daring and urgent has to eventually be discarded for something else. The individual creativity thing has roots in the mid-20th century, a highly conformist time. If you want a sense of that, watch Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, about a young Jewish woman in 1950s New York, with a cameo by comedian Lenny Bruce. He was repeatedly arrested for saying words like tits, onstage. Even in the 1970s, comic George Carlin recited a list of seven words you couldn't utter publicly. Now they're all staples of network TV.

How did social equity replace individual creativity? Partly, demographics. Toronto's an awfully different place. But there's also activism among minority communities. It's one thing to have well-meaning white liberals fighting for your kids, it's another to engage directly. It's no longer just about what's right; there's what must be responded to. OISE (the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education), the weird educational building on Bloor St. W., has become a voice for those demands, but it reflects broader activism.

Take Toronto's "gifted" program. Kids are selected for it based on individually administered aptitude tests that don't depend on growing up in a home with lots of books and a piano. But teachers choose which kids take the test. Guess which parents squawk loudest if their kids aren't chosen and demand they be tested anyway. That's one way social equity gets eased out the back door. A high school like Northern has many gifted classes and many black students, but few of the latter are in the former. It makes no sense.

The name itself also sucks. I know I sound like Mister Rogers but all kids are gifted. My main point though is educational. The great feat of public schools is being open to everyone; they offer unique opportunities to learn from those unlike us. That gets lost if school populations are desegregated by program. At the same time, kids fail to learn a crucial lesson: what their society really looks like.

The special programs debate is linked to the testing question, another issue roiling education in Toronto. Every three years all Ontario kids take standardized tests and the results in math have been falling.

In fact, this is common everywhere that standardized tests are used. But in the Globe, Margaret Wente uses it to attack the equity caucus: "The folks at OISE believe that differences in academic achievement are caused by social inequities, not differences in ability."

That isn't so preposterous. Differences in academic achievement between demographic groups are frequently caused by social inequities while differences within the same group indicate different abilities. Maybe Wente needs some refreshers in "problem-solving and discovery approaches," which Conrad Black hyperventilates over in the National Post.

He finds it absurd that teachers and their unions suggest scrapping tests in response to poor scores. But their point isn't that kids are doing badly on the tests; it's that they're doing badly because of them. A heavy stress on tests detracts from teaching time and, if it goes far enough, as it has in the U.S., drives good teachers from the system. That's not what they went into it for.

Black's solution? "A redoubled effort be made to teach young people better." Wow. It's like Trump's idea to appoint "good generals" instead of bad ones, to start winning wars. ("The man's a military genius!" fumed Lewis Black.)

Black also noted that he'd taught fellow inmates while in a U.S. prison and "Every one my lads matriculated," i.e., passed the test. Because that's what tests prove: you've learned how to pass a test.

All university students currently sweating through papers and exams prior to Christmas break know it: you're studying to pass the test, not master the course material. What you've truly learned counts zero, compared to what you think your prof (or more likely, TA) wants to hear you say. This column is dedicated to them.

This column was first published in the Toronto Star.

Photo: University of Saskatchewan​/Flickr

Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

educationCanadian teacherspublic schoolssocial equalitycreativityschools kill creativityCAONRick SalutinDecember 9, 2017Unions rally over possible school closures in TorontoSchools are community hubs, say parents and teachers, and any closures need to be reviewed by City Council and the communities affected.B.C. budget favours private schools over public educationAs with other areas of the B.C. budget, 2015 will favour the rich with increases for private schools while imposing spending cuts to public schools.Canadian schools must be culturally inclusive. Why aren't they?Earlier this month, the Toronto District School Board was in hot water after its plan to help Somali-Canadian youth better succeed in school became controversial.
Categories: News for progressives

Moveable Feast Cafe 2017/12/09 … Open Thread

2017/12/09 05:00:01Welcome 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
Categories: News for progressives

SERBIA – STOLEN KOSOVO [MULTISUBS] Banned Czech documentary

Please click on the ‘cc’ button to activate subtitles and on the little ‘wheel’ (looking like this: *) next to it to chose your subtitle language.
Categories: News for progressives

Palestine-Syria War Report – December 8, 2017: Jerusalem Standoff

https://southfront.org/palestine-syria-war-report-december-8-2017-jerusalem-standoff/ On December 7, the Palestinian al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades fired several rockets at the Israeli settlements of Hof Ashkelon and Sha’ar HaNegev north of the Gaza Strip. The group
Categories: News for progressives

Many First Nations communities still do not have safe drinking water

Rabble News - Sat, 2017-12-09 05:20
December 8, 2017The government has not budgeted enough money to provide safe water to all First Nations: PBOThe Parliamentary Budget Officer warns the funds budgeted for water infrastructure and maintenance in First Nations communities is inadequate to the need -- and to the government's own commitments.
Categories: News for progressives

Today is day 142 of the vigil demanding response to Indigenous youth suicide crisis

Rabble News - Sat, 2017-12-09 03:34
Rachel Small

Today marks the 142nd day that a continuous 24-hour vigil has been maintained outside of the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada office in downtown Toronto. Under the slogan #NOMIC (Not One More Indigenous Child) the vigil has been honoring victims of the ongoing Indigenous youth suicide crisis and demanding real, meaningful responses. That's over four months of the organizers suspending their lives in order to sleep, eat, and spend their days outside in variable ­-- and increasingly frigid -- weather. They have been tirelessly holding space with their bodies to serve as a visual reminder that Indigenous youth are dying and it is urgent that the government stop stalling and take action.

The suicide crisis affecting First Nations communities is not a new problem. And despite many promises of reconciliation and rebuilding relationships, both provincial and federal governments have dragged their feet in taking any kind of action. As the organizers of the vigil explain, "There has been report after report, inquiry after inquiry, recommendation after recommendation made, all of which have yet to be implemented in an effort to reduce the number of suicides, missing and murdered women, child apprehensions, incarceration rates, rapes, boiling water advisories, food insecurities, inadequate housing and shelters, coupled with the lack of funding and services that is administered in comparison to the non-Indigenous population."

In the face of this inaction, the vigil organizers are going one step further and planning a forum from December 19 to 21 to open up space and a platform for Indigenous youth from remote northern communities to come together in Toronto to share their vision and stories in their own words, as well as how others might contribute in a meaningful way to truly address the crisis of youth suicides in Indigenous communities. The forum will end with a large rally and march at noon on December 21, marking the five year anniversary of the thousands-strong Idle No More march on Parliament Hill.

Sometimes when we face something this heartbreaking it is easier to turn away, or the impulse is to quickly throw anything at the problem so we can then move on. For those of us like myself who are settlers here in Tkaronto, it is imperative that we support the amazing women who are refusing to let everyone turn away from this ongoing tragedy by maintaining this vigil and planning the forum and march coming up this month. We must join them in refusing to let the conversation be shifted to one of charity towards Indigenous youth. This is not an issue of charity but of working towards justice and action in response to the enormous state violence -- via ongoing colonization, erasure, resource extraction, land theft, breaking up of families, deprivation of resources, etc. -- that the Indigenous youth who have taken their own lives have faced. We have those who have supported this vigil to thank for holding space and supporting a deeper reckoning and conversation.

Information on how to support the forum and march in Toronto from December 19-21 is available here

Image: Rachel Small

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Categories: News for progressives

Trump Is Bashing The 'Salvator Saudi' - Why?

The Trump administration seemed to get along very well with the Saudi tyrant and his son Mohammed bin Salman. They together admired the orb and joined up to bash Iran. But now the Trump administration scolded and embarrassed MbS three...
Categories: News for progressives

The New Great Game moves from Asia-Pacific to Indo-Pacific

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times by special agreement with the author) Is the world’s center of gravity shifting to the heart of the Indo-Pacific – a new
Categories: News for progressives

Russia and the IOC – a commentary by Ruslan Ostashko

This is another video from the series “5 Minutes of Common Sense” by the Russian political analysis Ruslan Ostashko. In this video, Ruslan is expressing his views on the ban
Categories: News for progressives

It was wall-to-wall Brad Wall as premier exits, stage right, before wheels fall off Saskatchewan Party bus

Rabble News - Fri, 2017-12-08 14:28
David J. Climenhaga

Political coverage was wall-to-wall Brad Wall yesterday as mainstream media said farewell to their beloved posterboy for Western Canadian austerity.

Saskatchewan Premier Wall -- once known as the Mr. Congeniality of Canadian politics, but lately an increasingly cranky figure as recession and persistently low oil prices exposed the cracks in his government's austerity and privatization agenda -- gave his last speech in the province's legislature in Regina.

In response, media really poured it on.

CTV alliteratively recounted yesterday's "tears and tributes" in Regina.

Postmedia's reporter seemed to suggest Wall got his inspiration from Abraham Lincoln, leastways, the Disney version of the Civil War U.S. president. The story didn't actually say Wall was born in a log cabin, but it came close.

To the CBC, he was "Just Brad."

You get the picture.

What you didn't get from the media was much of what Wall actually said -- which from the few quotes provided by reporters mostly seemed to be the usual anodyne platitudes uttered by exiting Canadian politicians on their way out the door.

Well, give the man his due. The Swift Current MLA was premier for 14 years, led his Saskatchewan Party to three big majorities, and was very popular with voters through most of his career.

The rebranding of the Saskatchewan Progressive Conservative Party was made necessary by the mid-1990s corruption scandal in Saskatchewan that saw more than a dozen PC MLAs convicted. Wall made it work.

While Wall's mood turned sour with the onset of low petroleum prices, the defeat of the Harper Conservatives in Ottawa, and the reluctance of some provinces to see bitumen pipelines from Canada's Prairies running through their real estate, he had the wit to get out before his reputation was in tatters. Some other Saskatchewan Party premier will now have to take the blame as the provincial economy moves further south.

The election of an NDP government in Alberta seemed particularly to get up Wall's nose. He showed up in Calgary from time to time to complain petulantly about Premier Rachel Notley to conservative-dominated oilpatch audiences.

This hostility may be what's driving Saskatchewan's nutty ban on Alberta licence plates on highway construction worksites. Indeed, Wall took time out from his round of farewells yesterday to insist Saskatchewan won't be backing off the Plate War any time soon.

This prompted jeers from Alberta's government. Trade Minister Deron Bilous called him "desperate to change the channel from his bad-for-business budget" on the CBC's morning radio show yesterday. Premier Notley told the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce that "what's really going on here, we know full well, is the Saskatchewan government decided to slap a 6 per cent tax onto the construction industry and people are hurting and they're trying to distract from it."

She got laughs when she joked that "if any of you drove here and have a Saskatchewan licence plate, you might want to move your car, because we are towing." And she got a standing ovation at the end of her speech.

The late stages of Wall's political career casts some useful illumination on the problem for neoliberal ideologues who want to move democratic societies like Canada's toward full-blown austerity and privatization, a process that requires an economic boom sustained by high commodity prices to succeed.

As with the schemes of Margaret Thatcher, Stephen Harper and Ralph Klein, revenue from the export of petroleum products was supposed to pay for huge tax cuts and (temporary) maintenance of public services to buy social peace during the transfer of wealth to the richest classes and transition to privatization.

For years, the oil money pouring into Saskatchewan sustained Wall's distracting slight of hand, which was necessary to fool voters into thinking they could have both neoliberal austerity in government and a booming economy in civil economy.

Alas for him, the boom ended too soon to complete the work of weaning Saskatchewanians off government services and redirecting the taxes that pay for civil society into the pockets of the government's wealthy patrons. It turns out it was easy to be the most popular guy in the West when your coffers were overflowing. When they weren't? Not so much.

When the cracks started to appear, it wasn't just Mr. Wall that got cranky. So did significant numbers of former Saskatchewan Party supporters, particularly in the province's urban areas. Not all of them, it turns out, blame the government of Alberta for their problems, presumably contributing to the timing of Mr. Wall's prudent exit.

The Saskatchewan Party will choose a new leader on Jan. 27.

At 52, Mr. Wall is still a young man. So he'll probably find a way to continue to be a public nuisance.

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

Photo: DanielPaquet/Wikimedia Commons

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Categories: News for progressives

Apologies are appropriate and needed

Rabble News - Fri, 2017-12-08 14:18
December 8, 2017Politics in CanadaPublic apologies serve crucial role in democratic societiesApologies are not monetary gifts or hollow words offered by teary politicians. They are gestures that define our history as a country and restorre faith in institutions.Trudeau apology
Categories: News for progressives

Kosovo will be liberated

(This column was written for the Unz Review) General Ratko Mladic, now 75, was sentenced last week to life in prison by the NATO kangaroo court known as the International
Categories: News for progressives

Pages

Subscribe to Brian Robinson Public Relations aggregator - News for progressives

Contact

Brian Robinson Public Relations
104 Hiawatha Road
Toronto M4L 2X8
(in Cambodia)
+85516445835

Contact 2.0

brian[--at--]brianrobinson[--dot--]ca
Skype: bbbrobin
Brian on Facebook
Follow Brian on Twitter