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Gift guide 2018

7 hours 59 min ago
December 17, 2017The Activist Toolkit's fierce giving guide for 2018According to statistics, at this time of year many of us donate to charitable organizations. This list includes ideas to help build progressive change.
Categories: News for progressives

Alabama was a good reminder of what democratic politics looks like

Sat, 2017-12-16 15:22
ElectionsPolitical ActionUS Politics

What a relief that election in Alabama was. Not because Trump lost (which he did) or a quite decent guy won (ditto) but because it was a genuine political event -- an election -- rather than an ersatz one, like an FBI or congressional investigation into a sensational plot featuring Russian villains. Lest we forget, democratic politics is about the people making the decisions themselves.

I feel the same about impeachment, or forcing him to resign in disgrace, as a way to eject Trump. These are contrived, titillating dramas with elite casts, and ultimately resolve nothing. (Non-ultimately, I admit, they can be deeply satisfying.)

People aspire to the Watergate model, but it resolved nothing. Nixon left in shame, followed by four aimless years of Jimmy Carter, then eight of Ronald Reagan, who was even more damaging than Nixon, then George Bush I, who started the endless Iraq catastrophe, etc., culminating, inevitably I'd say, in Trump.

Beneath it all, was an inextinguishable legacy of rage and bitterness. Based on what? They couldn't beat "our guy" legitimately, i.e. electorally, so they went all legal.

In the U.S., almost everything ends up in litigation, the individual fighting alone, like the driver with Pennsylvania plates who doored me on Bloor St. and flew out of her car, shouting I was at fault, she'd see me in court, call my lawyer.

Why? Because too many Americans lack faith in social or political forces, such as elections, government, unions, parties, social movements, so it all ends with you standing alone in court fighting the good fight with Clarence Darrow, Atticus Finch or Bob Mueller as your lawyer (theoretically) and a Solomonic judge on the bench. Each time one of these fantasies plays out, even in reality, it further undermines confidence in democratic political processes.

The Russiagate investigations are quasi-judicial dramas, subbing for real politics, with Robert Mueller, G-man, as the "universally respected" hero. An Atticus for our times. He's the guy, though, who led the FBI for 11 years, post-9/11, ruthlessly smothering civil rights. Not so heroic.

If Trump was impeached or hounded from office under legal threat, like Nixon, instead of being electorally defeated, it would lead to the same hangover of resentment -- rightly, I'd say -- among his devotees. When Trump says Democrats are trying to take away an election he won fairly, he's only wrong about the fairly part, and few U.S. elections are fair. JFK won by cheating in Illinois and he's among the immortals. You still have to win it in an election, that's not optional.

Besides, the Russia claims look very thin. Sure, they tried to interfere with U.S. politics, everyone does that. The U.S. messes merrily with elections in Europe, Latin America, most recently in Ukraine. Trump's people might have "colluded" or tried to -- I don't see why the Russians would've let them -- but there seems nothing outright illegal in that.

The spiciest area may involve Trump owing money to Kremlin-linked Russian banks -- since no one else would loan to him --1 and they manoeuvred to make him president so they could pressure him. But none of that alters the democratic consideration. If the Republicans shut Mueller down, or get him fired, as they seemed determined to during congressional hearings this week — well, there would definitely be a democratic silver lining.

Trump beat Hillary in the face of the Hollywood audiotape, mocking the disabled, calling for violence, outright racism -- so what if the Russians weighed in? If you can't beat him in the light of all that, you don't deserve to be there instead.

What would taking Trump on politically, versus indirectly and legalistically, look like? You could still deal with the Russia stuff, but in public debate and electoral contexts. You could challenge the misogyny and racism, as Alabama's senator-elect Doug Jones did, but effectively, versus ineptly, à la Hillary Clinton.

It would largely be on economic and class issues -- versus Trump's preferred grounds of race -- like his plutocratic cabinet and ludicrous tax bill.

Steve Bannon (quoted by Frank Rich) may have captured it best. He said, "The only question before us" is whether it "is going to be a left-wing populism or a right-wing populism." That's a more auspicious political divide than good (or God) versus evil, or Us vs. Them. It makes you think Bannon might fear Bernie Sanders most -- the incarnation of left populism -- but he's smart enough not to say it.

Correction: Sorry about that. I misrepresented the Toronto school board’s process for selecting gifted students last week. In recent years they’ve wisely changed it so all students are preliminarily screened, not just those chosen by teachers.

This column was first published in the Toronto Star.

Image: Cam Miller/Flickr

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Donald TrumpElectionsalabamaDoug JonesdemocracyU.S. politicshillary clintonRussiaRick SalutinDecember 16, 2017Election of Doug Jones in Alabama 'a political earthquake'Social movements build power and make change. The Democrats would be wise to heed the lessons of Alabama, from resistance to slavery, to the civil-rights era, to the unexpected victory of Doug Jones.Building a mass anti-Trump movement to bring democracy back into politicsWhat kind of opposition or resistance makes sense for the Trump years ahead? The U.S. needs a a popular resistance movement coming from the ground up, mobilizing huge, diverse numbers in the streets.Russian meddling abroad underscores need for electoral reform in CanadaTransparency and representation are essential to countering the kind of foreign interference experienced in the U.S. and France.
Categories: News for progressives

The Activist Toolkit's fierce giving guide for 2018

Sat, 2017-12-16 08:36
Maya Bhullar

According to statistics, at this time of year many of us donate to charitable organizations. Given the huge need around the world, and here in Canada, this guide is meant to help you inform your giving. This list is by no means exhaustive and so please send me suggestions at toolkit@rabble.ca and I will be happy to add them.

1. Syria: ISIS has been routed from Syria and the Assad government is reinstalled. The country is in ruins and the wars in the Middle East have created the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. However, there is high probability that the reconstruction money given to the government will not get to all Syrians and will be used to sure up President Assad's power.   

The Syrian government's plans for rebuilding the country’s wrecked cities and governorates are starting to take shape, but there are warning signs the process may not necessarily be geared towards recovery and renewal, according to Swiss-Syrian academic and author Joseph Daher. Daher argues that two ulterior motives underlie the Syrian government's approach to reconstruction: Consolidating political and economic power within a narrow circle of Syrian elites connected to the ruling Assad family and quelling dissent in former opposition areas.

Organizations are working on the ground, and here is a list of 27 which are helping refugees from Syria. Meanwhile many of the Syrian refugees who have been granted asylum in Canada are reaching the one-year mark. This means an end to their monthly living allowance and many of the government supports, despite the fact that some still need assistance. The Canadian Council for Refugees has put together this guide for people who want to help refugees. In April 2016, rabble.ca interviewed Maisie Lo, the Director of Immigation Services at WoodGreen Community Services in Toronto, who called for support to meet the long term needs of refugees. This support is sorely needed. 

2. The United States: I still shudder when I think of the morning of November, 9, 2016, the morning when I realized that Donald Trump had been elected President of the United States and that the Republicans controlled or would control all three branches of the United States government. 2017 has been a rollercoaster. There have been some wins, but far too many losses. However, there are amazing organizations which continue to organize and fight back. They need your support to keep on fighting. This is a partial list, please feel free to find others. The Activist Toolkit will also continue to highlight great initiatives across North America.   

Right now, the efforts to renegotiate NAFTA are chugging along in secrecy. Here is a great analysis of what NAFTA has meant for farmers and working people in Canada. There are important fights being waged to see if the renegotiation of NAFTA can be a better deal for people in Canada. Stay tuned in 2018 for more on this issue.

3. Clean drinking water in First Nations communities: Justin Trudeau and the Liberals made a commitment to end long-term drinking water advisories in First Nations communities by March 2021. As of October 31, 2017, there are 100 long-term drinking water advisories and 47 short-term drinking water advisories in public systems financially supported by INAC and other systems where the public has a reasonable expectation of access.  

Many of us are, understandably, getting involved and demanding that the government address this issue. However, water by any means is not an answer. Some First Nations communities are already relying on private water sources and these water sources are not maintained and are part of the problem. The Harper government wanted to privatize water for First Nations and the current Liberal government likely sees privatization as a quick fix. Let us not continue this complicity by rushing to action. Many communities are demanding increased voice and autonomy, and do not want the federal government farm out contracts to private companies as a quick fix. The Canadian government has a responsibility to ensure that all Canadians have access to clean drinking water and the government should not be allowed to step away from this responsibility. Right now, in Atlantic Canada, First Nations communities are demanding the establishment of a local First Nations Water authority. 

The Council of Canadians has been actively working on this issue and with local First Nations community to amplify their work to access water. Follow and work with their campaign.  

  4. Net Neutrality and Digital Rights: There has been a steady erosion of digital privacy, and a steady corporatization of the internet which culminated in the recent United States decision to end net neutrality, giving big United States based telecom giants a lot more power over what we can see and do online. The internet has no borders, and so this petty attack on President Obama's legacy will impact not only the United States but all of us. 

Meanwhile the Liberal government has introduced Bill C-59, to address national security issues. This bill is being proposed as an attempt to address the concerns of organizations that united to protect our privacy and fight against Bill C-51, the Harper governments attack on our privacy. However, Bill C-59 continues to undermine privacy and endanger land and environmental activists. Currently, OpenMedia is collecting letters to the government to reform Bill C-59. OpenMedia.ca has been leading a lot of important fights for digital rights, as have organizations like ACORN Canada, which has been fighting for internet access for low income Canadians. 

5. Racists and Islamophobia:  On January, 29, 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette went to the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City and shot six men, Azzeddine Soufiane, Khaled Belkacemi, Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Abdelkrim Hassane, and Boubaker Thabti. Since 2014, hate crimes against Muslims in Canada have increased by 253 per cent. According to ommunity leaders, this increase can be linked to the anti-Muslim messages that were shared by Conservative candidates during the federal election and during the Conservative leadership race. The alt-right media, various politicians, and far-right organizations have continued to fuel Islamophobia across Canada.   

Bloggers and editors at rabble.ca have been working with partners around the country to highlight who the racists are and highlight efforts to fight back against them and some of their reporting is compiled in this list. However, the most important thing we can do is to work to organize against racism when we see it in our communities, within our families, and among our friends and acquaintances. As we head to holiday dinners, here are some guides we originally put together for September to help you organize against Islamophobia in your communities.  

One of the most important and difficult things to do is to organize within our own communities, to listen and build real change.  If you want to report an anti-Muslim incident or get a sense of how pervasive these incidents are, the National Council of Canadian Muslims has been mapping anti-Muslim incidents across Canada.

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Categories: News for progressives

why First Nations do not have safe water

Fri, 2017-12-15 15:48
December 15, 2017Anti-RacismOur history explains why First Nations do not have safe waterCanadian attitudes toward Indigenous peoples have only recently evolved. In the past, we believed, as one official told me, "the natives would not know how to flush toilets if they had them."First Nations water
Categories: News for progressives

Alberta UCP Leader Jason Kenney chalks up another convincing win in Calgary-Lougheed by-election

Fri, 2017-12-15 14:22
David J. Climenhaga

Never mind Surrey and Alabama. Jason Kenney won his by-election victory last night, and he won it decisively -- by more than 70 per cent of the vote.

Granted, Kenney was running in Calgary-Lougheed, a determinedly conservative riding. And while the percentages were high, the turnout was not so spectacular -- a total of 10,852 people bothered to cast a ballot out of more than 30,000 eligible voters in the riding.

Still, numbers like Kenney's don’t lie, even if the leader of the United Conservative Party does from time to time.

In this by-election, the government was spared the embarrassment of coming third. The NDP candidate, physician Phillip van der Merwe, came second with 17 per cent of the vote despite the presence of Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan in the race. Khan captured about 9 per cent of the vote.

But to those New Democrats (and not a few old style Progressive Conservatives) who wished for Kenney to win the UCP leadership in October in the belief he would be easier for Premier Rachel Notley to defeat than the former Wildrose Party Leader, Brian Jean, I say be careful what you wish for!

Yes, Kenney has many flaws. But his political virtues considerably outweigh them. He is a campaigning machine who cares not a whit about anything but politics and his social conservative beliefs. And why not? He has no spouse or child to worry about.

He is willing to do whatever it takes to win, as we saw in his ruthless elimination of opponents in the previous race to lead the Progressive Conservative Party last spring.

What he lacks in likability, he more than makes up for in political savvy and a vast network of connections built up over 20 years in politics. He has mainstream media and Alberta's Conservative establishment in his corner, and he knows how to make effective use of them. Already, mainstream media is spinning this undeniably significant election result his way -- the word "landslide" was atop almost everyone's story last night.

Readers will notice that Kenney has laid out his plan quite clearly and publicly from buying the blue Dodge pickup truck to changing the draperies in the Premier's Office, and that at every step to date he has achieved his goals on schedule. You underestimate him at your peril.

When the CBC reported the percentage of his victory, I was reminded of Dr. Johnson's observation, as recorded by Mr. Boswell: "Depend on it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."

Alberta's NDP Government will need to concentrate its mind on its strategy -- and perhaps reconsider some aspects of it -- if it is to survive Kenney's onslaught.

It is a frequent failing of first-term NDP governments in Canadian provinces to forget who their supporters are, and try to govern as if they were conservatives with a conscience. As an election approaches -- not in a fortnight, but soon enough -- members of the government should keep that in their minds.

They may also want to rethink their angle of attack on Kenney personally, since their focus on his social conservative beliefs, as opposed to his economic views, seems not to have had much impact, with Calgary-Lougheed voters at least.

Kenney's widely forecast election victory yesterday formally brings to an end what has been called here the double-reverse hostile takeover of the Progressive Conservatives by the Wildrose Party and the Wildrose Party of the Conservatives.

Alberta's PCs no longer exist. The political entity known as Alberta's Conservative Party is more akin, ideologically, to the Wildrose Party, but with the PCs' kinder, gentler branding still largely intact. In other words, this is a repeat of the Reform Party/Social Credit takeover of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, imagined and made reality by Preston Manning and implemented by Stephen Harper. Canada has not yet recovered, although the land is strong.

Using social media, Premier Notley publicly welcomed Kenney to the Legislature once yesterday's foregone conclusion was concluded. "Congratulations and welcome to the AB Legislature @JKenney -- I look forward to debating you in the House," she tweeted. Political observers of all stripes, I have no doubt, look forward to that spectacle.

Things to watch for once Kenney actually takes his place in the House:

  • Who will be up, and who will be down, in the UCP's fractious Legislative Caucus? Expect a shuffle of shadow cabinet portfolios soon, and count on Kenney to swiftly forge a more disciplined team.
  • To which insignificant post will Jason Nixon, who served poorly in Kenney's absence as House Leader, be consigned? Service Alberta?
  • How quickly will Derek Fildebrandt, who is clearly Kenney's ideological soulmate, be welcomed back into the UCP Caucus? As predicted in this space yesterday, tonight's convincing percentage is likely to persuade Kenney he can do what he pleases in this regard.
  • Who hires the former Calgary-Lougheed MLA, Dave Rodney, who made way for Kenney by resigning his seat, and to do what?

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

Image: michael_swan​/Flickr

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Categories: News for progressives

Election of Doug Jones in Alabama 'a political earthquake'

Fri, 2017-12-15 08:42
ElectionsPolitical ActionUS Politics

The unexpected victory of Democrat Doug Jones in the special U.S. Senate election in Alabama has been described as a political earthquake. The seismic rumblings began decades ago, though, during the civil-rights struggle of the 1950s and '60s, with echoes that reach as far back as the U.S. Civil War and the long, violent era of slavery. Jones' road to the Senate might have started on the early evening of December 1, 1955, at a bus stop in Montgomery, Alabama, when an African-American woman named Rosa Parks sat down in one of the 10 front rows reserved for white passengers. The driver ordered her to the back of the bus. When she refused, the police were summoned, she was arrested, and the modern civil-rights era was launched.

When she died, one of the cable news networks called her "a tired seamstress, no troublemaker." In fact, Rosa Parks was a first-class troublemaker. She knew exactly what she was doing. She was secretary of the local NAACP. After her arrest, organizing in the African-American community began immediately, with the Montgomery Bus Boycott, launched on December 5, led by Martin Luther King Jr. They knew that overcoming segregation and institutional racism would require dedicated organizing. Their historic achievements laid the foundation for Doug Jones' victory. It was modern-day grass-roots mobilization and movement-building, especially among African-American women, that won him his Senate seat.

It's important to recognize just how profoundly flawed Roy Moore was as the Republican candidate. First were the shocking allegations from at least nine women who accused Moore of sexually harassing or assaulting them when they were teenagers, one as young as 14. Coming in the midst of the national, and increasingly global, #MeToo movement to end sexual harassment and abuse of women, the numerous accounts of predatory sexual stalking by Moore became a flashpoint, with numerous senators pledging that, if he were to win the election, they would expel him from the U.S. Senate. That is, until another self-described sexual assaulter, President Donald Trump, decided to give his unequivocal support for Moore, and began aggressively campaigning for him.

But even if serial child molestation is not enough to disqualify a Senate candidate, many of Moore's statements and actions as an Alabama judge should have. He was twice removed from the elected position of chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing federal court orders. In 2003, he refused to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from the courthouse property. In 2016, he was again suspended, for refusing to implement the Supreme Court's ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

When recently asked, by one of the only African-Americans at an event, at what point in the past he thought America was great, Roy Moore referred to slavery time, "when families were united -- even though we had slavery -- our families were strong, our country had a direction." He claims that Muslims, like Keith Ellison, should not be allowed to serve in Congress, likening the Quran to Mein Kampf. He supports the repeal of all U.S. constitutional amendments after the original 10, including those outlawing slavery and granting women and African-Americans the right to vote. When assuring the public at the last campaign rally before Tuesday's election that her husband is not anti-Semitic, Moore's wife emphatically stated, "One of our attorneys is a Jew."

The results of the Alabama special election should not only serve as a lesson for the Republican Party, but for the Democratic Party. Success lies in activating the public, motivating people to become engaged, and fighting against the increasing number of restrictions on voting -- not in tailoring a message in the vain attempt to woo "undecided" voters.

Jones won through voter registration, grass-roots mobilization and the enormous get-out-the-vote effort in the African-American community. According to CNN exit polls, Doug Jones received 98 per cent of the votes cast by African-American women, and 93 per cent of votes by African-American men. In contrast, 63 per cent of white women voted for the accused child molester Roy Moore, as did 72 per cent of white male voters. A larger percentage of the African-American electorate in Alabama turned out for Jones than for Barack Obama in either 2008 or 2012.

Doug Jones won by just 1.5 per cent of the vote, a large enough margin to avoid a recount, but still very slim. He would not have won without the hard work of Alabama-based grass-roots groups, working for years with scant support from the national Democratic Party, registering poor people and African-Americans to vote. Social movements build power and make change, and the Democrats would be wise to heed the lessons of Alabama, from resistance to slavery, to the civil-rights era, to the unexpected victory of Doug Jones.

This column was first published on Democracy Now!

Photo: Doug Jones for Senate Committee​

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Doug JonesalabamaRoy MooreDonald Trumpdemocratscivil rights movementrosa parksAmy GoodmanDenis MoynihanDecember 14, 2017Intolerance in Alabama: People push back with a force more powerfulInequality, racism, segregation. These injustices persist with remarkable tenacity in Alabama and throughout the U.S. But courageous people are rising up and shifting the course of history.Unspooling justice: 'Selma' tells story of civil-rights movementThe film "Selma" follows one of the key moments in the civil-rights movement, the 1965 marches from Selma to Montgomery, best remembered for "Bloody Sunday" on March 7.Forget the polls: Idle No More can take heart from history of the civil rights movementWe can expect general bewilderment and frustration from the public as Idle No More pushes through in 2013. If history is any guide, public support should catch up sometime in 2045.
Categories: News for progressives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Avoidance and possibility in a burning world at COP 23

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

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

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

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

Special programs and testing prevent children from learning important life lessons

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

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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

Many First Nations communities still do not have safe drinking water

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

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

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Categories: News for progressives

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

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

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Categories: News for progressives

Apologies are appropriate and needed

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
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U.S. Senate committee considers limiting presidential authorization of nuclear attacks

Fri, 2017-12-08 10:34
US PoliticsWorld

In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers, thousands of pages of the Pentagon's secret history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, exposing the government's lies and helping to end the war. President Richard Nixon's national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, called Ellsberg "the most dangerous man in America."

Now at 86 years old, Ellsberg is revealing for the first time that the Pentagon Papers were not the first classified documents that he removed from his secure workplace. In his new book, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, he details his early years at the Pentagon, and why he took thousands of pages of U.S. nuclear war plans describing the lunacy of the U.S. nuclear war policy over 55 years ago. What he discovered is frighteningly relevant today.

Last July 20 at the Pentagon, President Donald Trump reportedly shocked the military staff gathered to brief him on national security issues by suggesting he wanted to increase the nuclear arsenal tenfold. It was after that meeting that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is said to have called Trump a "f-ing moron." In August, NBC's Joe Scarborough, citing an unnamed source, said Trump asked a foreign-policy adviser about using nuclear weapons. Scarborough said: "Three times [Trump] asked about the use of nuclear weapons. Three times he asked at one point if we had them why can't we use them?" For over 70 years, the president has held the enormous power to launch nuclear weapons, but only one has used it: Harry Truman, ordering the dropping of two atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, killing hundreds of thousands of people. Trump, who seems to relish saber rattling and antagonizing opponents like the supreme leader of nuclear-armed North Korea, Kim Jong Un, may be pushing us to the brink of nuclear war.

Describing President Dwight Eisenhower's nuclear war plans, which Ellsberg was tasked with improving in the early months of the Kennedy administration, the whistleblower told us on the Democracy Now! news hour: "They were insane. They called for first-strike, all-out war...for hitting every city -- actually, every town over 25,000 -- in the USSR and every city in China...The captive nations, the East Europe satellites in the Warsaw Pact, were to be hit in their air defenses, which were all near cities, their transport points, their communications of any kind. So they were to be annihilated as well."

Ellsberg recalled how, in 1961, the Joint Chiefs of Staff matter-of-factly predicted casualties of over 600 million people globally, when the world population was only 3 billion. "Six hundred million, that was a hundred Holocausts. And when I held the piece of paper in my hand that had that figure, that they had sent out proudly, to the president -- 'Here's what we will do' -- I thought, 'This is the most evil plan that has ever existed. It's insane.'"

Ellsberg was summoned to the Pentagon to help manage the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, considered the closest humanity has come to nuclear annihilation. His personal experience there informs his opinion on Trump's antagonism toward North Korea. The nuclear arsenals of both countries, he says, are "being pointed by two people who are giving very good imitations of being crazy. That's dangerous. I hope they're pretending...But to pretend to be crazy with nuclear weapons is not a safe game. It's a game of chicken. Nuclear chicken."

Despite widespread concern with Trump's mental stability, he remains in control of the world's most powerful nuclear arsenal. He has promised to rain "fire and fury" on North Korea. U.S. Air Force General John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, who oversees the entire nuclear arsenal, assured the audience at a public forum in November that "we're not stupid," that he would reject an illegal order from Trump to launch a nuclear attack.

Not satisfied to leave the check on Trump to the generals, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing November 14 to consider changing the law to forbid the president, alone, from being able to launch a nuclear attack. Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who has publicly stated his fear that Trump may start World War III, chaired the hearing. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut summed up the hearing's intent, saying, "We are concerned the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic, that he might order a nuclear weapon strike that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests."

We are closer to nuclear war than we have been in many decades, which is why Daniel Ellsberg's example as a whistleblower and his call for people in government to expose current doomsday plans are more important than ever.

This column was first published on Democracy Now!

Photo: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr

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