Wednesday, November 30, 2011

People's Bank of China cuts reserve requirement ratio by 0.5%...loosening up?

By Keith Bradsher, New York Times, November 30, 2011
HONG KONG — Faced with an economy that appears to be slowing faster than economists expected even a month ago, the Chinese government on Wednesday evening unexpectedly reversed its year-long move toward tighter monetary policy and took an important step to encourage banks to resume lending.

The central bank said Wednesday that commercial banks would be allowed to keep a slightly lower percentage of their deposits as reserves at the central bank. The change, which will take effect on Monday, means that commercial banks will have more money available to lend, which could help to rekindle economic growth and a slumping real estate market.
Real estate developers, small businesses and other borrowers have been complaining strenuously in recent weeks of weakening sales and scarce credit. Prices have dropped up to 28 percent for new apartments in some Chinese cities this autumn, real estate brokers have been laying off thousands of agents as transactions have dried up, and export orders have slumped.
The Chinese move was a particular surprise because the central bank usually announces moves on Friday evenings, to allow banks and markets plenty of time to digest the news.
The Chinese announcement came after the Shanghai stock market had slumped 3.3 percent on Wednesday, its worst one-day loss in four months, on worries that the government might not act. Central bank officials in the United States said the action was not made in coordination with the action taken by the Federal Reserve, and central banks in Canada, England, Europe and Japan to lower the cost of borrowing dollars for foreign banks.
The reduction in the so-called reserve requirement ratio came after the central bank had increased the same ratio six times this year, and raised interest rates three times. The monetary policy moves earlier this year had been aimed at curbing inflation, which persists but appears to have been replaced by weakening economic growth as the top worry for policymakers.
Monetary policy changes are made not by the country’s central bank but by the State Council, the country’s cabinet. Shifts in the broad direction of policy are usually made only with the approval of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party — the nine men who really run China.
Analysts said that the central bank’s decision to announce a change in reserve requirements instead of quietly nudging state-controlled banks to make more loans showed an important political decision had been made.
“The public nature of this move _ a move that would have gone through the State Council _ is a clear signal that Beijing has decided that the balance of risks now lies with growth, rather than inflation,” wrote Stephen Green, a China economist at Standard Chartered Bank, in a research note. “This is a big move, it signals China is now in loosening mode.”
The People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, cut the reserve requirement ratio by 0.5 percentage points as of Monday, to 21 percent for large banks and to 19 percent for smaller banks. 
We all hope that the Chinese move, coupled by the moves by several central banks earlier today to make more money available to European investors, will provide at least a short-term stimulus in the direction of prodding the global economy into a slightly more vigorous recovery from the slump it has been mired in for months.
And perhaps, if the numbers support this general loosening of the money supply, and employment figures indicate a significant rise helping many to keep their heads "above water" and government revenues start to recover, the scales will continue to tip in the direction of economic health and least prior to the 2012 elections.
Neither the U.S. itself, nor the world can tolerate a Republican occupant of the White House from 2012 through 2016, given the choice of any of the current candidates in that field and President Obama.

U.S. society slipping beneath respect for the dignity of the individual

Editorial, New York Times, November 29, 2011
The Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that it is unconstitutional to execute mentally retarded criminals, finding that the death penalty cannot be justified for these offenders because they are morally less culpable.

The court left it to the states to determine how to apply that constitutional restriction. Georgia has chosen to undermine the court’s principled ruling. It is the only state to require that offenders prove they are mentally retarded beyond a reasonable doubt, a procedural threshold that is extremely difficult to reach. In a 7-to-4 ruling last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit unwisely upheld this Georgia standard. The Supreme Court should review that decision and strike down this intolerable burden of proof.
The Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling applies to people whose intellectual functioning is subaverage (mainly with an I.Q. of 70 or below), who are limited in communicating, caring for themselves and other adaptive skills and who show these traits before they are 18. In the Georgia case of Warren Lee Hill Jr., Mr. Hill’s I.Q. of 77 was found to meet the threshold, but he was unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his adaptive skills were impaired.
Judgments about mental impairment are necessarily based on subjective interpretations of behavior. The Supreme Court has noted how hard it is to prove this kind of mental condition beyond a reasonable doubt. Proof turns on expert testimony, and an effective opposing expert can raise doubt. That is why, of the 33 other states with the death penalty, 28 use a lower standard of proof for mental retardation.
The appellate court contends that the Supreme Court has never “suggested, much less held, that a burden of proof standard on its own can so wholly burden an Eighth Amendment right as to eviscerate or deny that right.” But when the court ruled that the Eighth Amendment prohibits execution of the mentally retarded, it made plain that states cannot weaken that protection with an unfair procedural standard. In this and other ways, Georgia’s death penalty subverts the Constitution and is further evidence that capital punishment should be abolished.
Not only do we agree with the NYT Editorial, we suggest that the kind of society that is developing in the U.S. is one in which the dignity of the individual human being is less and less protected by the state. Georgia, for example, in attempting to subvert the Supreme Court decision prohibiting the death penalty for intellectually challenged individuals, is signalling to the world not only its support for the death penalty, but also that support extends to those least able to comprehend their actions and the implications of those actions. Being able to demonstrate "beyond a reasonable doubt" that one's intellectual capacity is impaired is not only empirically impossible; it is also an extremely unreasonable standard for any individual regardless of intellectual capacity or impairment.
  • When workers are nothing more than chattels in a corporation, another piece of the raw material used in production, without regard to minimal health and safety standards and protection
  • When mothers and fathers have to decide between feeding their children and buying the prescription drugs that an ill family member requires
  • When fathers drive their teen-age children around in junk-vans, moving from place to place every night, to avoid detection by the authorities, because they have no home, having lost the state supported motel rooms, and all hope of legitimate income (se 60 Minutes, November 27, 2011)
  • When children are forced to take part-time work to help pay family bills, because their parents cannot find work
  • When the incomes of those at the top so far outstrip those at the bottom of the income scale
We all know that individuals simply have slid off the radar screen of public consciousness, public debate, and thereby public support.
And that kind of society will not sustain itself; it will crumble in its own narcissistic ashes...and very soon!

MoreCare: prevention-centric, not repair centric...have a look Canada!

By Tom Main and Adrian Slywotzky Atlantic Monthly, November 2011
The CareMore story begins almost two decades ago, with a man named Sheldon Zinberg, a gastroenterologist who was deeply concerned about the changing economics of health care in Southern California. There, as in other U.S. markets, health-maintenance organizations, or HMOs, had come to dominate the landscape. The theory behind HMOs was attractive: “managed care” was supposed to coordinate and guide treatments in order to maximize both patient wellbeing and economic sustainability. But under pressure from corporate health-insurance sponsors and government agencies (as well as investors seeking profits), HMOs increasingly focused on reducing costs by any means necessary—including short-term fixes that often led to worse patient outcomes and, in the long run, even higher medical expenses. Patients were suffering, doctors were getting squeezed, and costs, after falling for a time, were soon spiraling upward again.

Zinberg was alarmed. Back in the 1960s, he’d founded a large internal-medicine practice that had grown to include some 20 physicians in a range of specialties, from cardiology and oncology to rheumatology and nephrology. But by the late 1980s, with a small number of HMOs growing more dominant, referrals were dwindling and restrictions on services were multiplying. Zinberg and his colleagues were forced to spend ever more time on the phone with “benefits coordinators,” whose main job seemed to be finding reasons to deny coverage.
Already in his late 50s, Zinberg could have simply retired and walked away from the problem, as many of his colleagues were doing. Instead, he made a different decision. Zinberg had long been mulling the elements of a coordinated-care system that would be centered on reducing hassles and improving outcomes for patients rather than simply cutting costs. He began to envision a health-care organization in which teams of doctors, nurses, therapists, trainers, and other professionals worked together, continually sharing information and insights about their mutual clients and providing whatever services were needed to keep those clients in the best possible physical and mental health. ...
One of CareMore’s critical insights was the application of an old systems-management principle first developed at Bell Labs in the 1930s and refined by the management guru W. Edwards Deming in the 1950s: you can fix a problem at step one for $1, or fix it at step 10 for $30. The American health-care system is repair-centric, not prevention-centric. We wait for train wrecks and then clean up the damage. What would happen if we prevented the train wrecks in the first place? The doctors at CareMore decided to find out.

An early discovery was that CareMore’s elderly patients failed to show up for as many as one-third of their doctor appointments. As Charles Holzner, one of Zinberg’s initial partners at CareMore and now a senior physician with the company, explains, “About one in three of the elderly people we were taking care of were home by themselves. They’d outlived their family resources, they couldn’t drive, and their kids lived out of town. So when they got sick, they ended up calling 911. And when it came to routine doctor visits, they sometimes just couldn’t make it at all.”
CareMore’s unconventional solution to the problem was to provide transportation, at no charge, to get patients to their medical appointments. Local car-service companies were happy to have the business, and while the transportation cost money, it ultimately saved a lot more. Increased regularity and consistency of medical care meant that many simple problems were recognized and treated in their early stages: complications were avoided, and rates of hospitalization and nursing-home admittance began to fall.
The problem of “noncompliance” isn’t limited to missed appointments, either. Patients, especially elderly ones, also leave prescriptions unfilled, medicines untaken, exercise-and-diet regimens unfollowed, and symptoms unnoticed and unreported. Health-care professionals often grumble about noncompliance, but given the myriad demands on their time, they generally can do very little about it. At CareMore, by contrast, Zinberg decided, “noncompliance is our problem, not the patient’s.” So the company began adding more nonmedical services to its routine care in order to improve compliance rates—for example, sending health-care professionals to its patients’ homes to make sure they had scales to keep tabs on their weight, to look for loose throw rugs that might cause falls, and to provide “talking pill boxes” that remind patients to take their medicine with preset alarms. Each of these innovations led to a small improvement in patient wellness and a corresponding improvement in the economics of providing care.
Next, CareMore began experimenting with an aggressive treatment of diabetes, one of the most widespread and debilitating illnesses suffered by elderly patients. The primary treatment for diabetes, insulin injection, had long been considered inappropriate for the elderly—too intrusive, too difficult, and too costly for patients whose life expectancy was already short. But CareMore doctors made insulin-injection treatment available to their patients. They also set about investigating exactly how the worst complications associated with diabetes occurred.
Imagine a health care system premised on healthy outcomes and not on crisis management or repair. Prevention has never been as "sexy" as crisis intervention but MoreCare demonstrates that addressing patient issues is a far more "healthy" approach that to wait for those patient issues to blossom into a full-scale crisis before intervening.
There is so much common sense in the More Care approach, and much of the approach is already targetted in the Health Care Reform Act in the U.S. However, in Canada, for example, we are still struggling with a crisis management system which is demonstrably much more costly and much less efficient.
Imagine if Canada were to blend MoreCare principles into a single-payer system already in place how Canadians would come to know the benefits of monitored and coached health care, based on a whole-patient, integrated approach!
There is clear evidence here that our costs for health care would drop significantly while our health and lifestyle would be significantly enhanced.
Would the empirical evidence, albeit from the southwestern U.S., reduce its acceptance among Canadian health care designers and providers to the point where it would be excluded from the options being considered by those negotiating the new health care accord between Ottawa and the provinces? Let's hope not!
How soon will it be before Canadian health care policy researchers invite Dr. Zinberg to address their think-tanks and to generate the needed public debate about both MoreCare interventions and outcomes, as well as direct and indirect costs and cost projections.
In an aging demographic, clearly a more enlightened premise for health care is not only welcome but essential.
Here is one model for consideration right before our eyes, for which, once again, the Americans have proven their innovative tradition!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

John Doyle defends 'the arts' against government witch-hunts! A high-five to Doyle!

By John Doyle, Globe and Mail, November 28, 2011
The Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber, who represents the good people of Edmonton-St. Albert, wants to know how much money is earned by Pastor Mansbridge, Rick Mercer and George whazzisname. Also, such things as how much the CBC spends on liquor and hotels.

Rathgeber tabled questions about the CBC in the House of Commons on Friday, in an effort to use Parliament to get answers. According to interviews Rathgeber has given, inquiring minds among the good people of Edmonton-St. Albert want answers about salaries and perks at the CBC. Apparently it preoccupies them, when they’re not talking about the Oilers. Rathgeber said that reaction to a personal blog post about the CBC had emboldened him to further his inquiries. ....
After the witch hunt against the CBC, who’s next? Museums, obviously. And then what? Theatres and publishers who receive grants from the government? Every TV show produced in Canada with the help of taxpayer money?

Don’t go calling me crazy or paranoid. In 2008, both the minority Conservative government and the Conservative Party itself were hell-bent on introducing what was essentially a morals clause to the regulations for funding Canadian film and television. A portion of an omnibus bill amending the Income Tax Act sought to allow the Heritage Minister to withdraw tax credits from productions determined to be “contrary to public policy.” The clause was so broad it meant TV and film productions deemed morally offensive by a government ministry could have their tax credits reversed. The clause was withdrawn only after its details were made public by this newspaper and a barrage of complaints from the film and TV industry about being required to self-censor in order to please a government ministry.
This government’s focus of attack on the CBC is bizarre enough as it is. For a start, it follows the corporate agenda of Quebecor, a competitor to the CBC. It’s also a witch hunt that in the case of Brent Rathgeber and Sun News Network is priggishly focused on what CBC personalities earn and what CBC spends on cars, hotels and liquor. It seems as plain as a poke in your eye that the CBC is being bludgeoned because the Conservative Party finds its reporting suspect, but the angle of attack is a ugly prurience about salaries and perks.
The justification for the attacks and the demand for information is that CBC is taxpayer-funded. However, the real reason seems to be that CBC is perceived as not reflecting small “c” conservative values. A lot of what emanates from the arts in Canada does not reflect those values, and those artists and institutions receive taxpayer money. Remember that. Think about who’s next on the attack list. That morals clause in the 2008 bill may have died, but it’s a fair bet the urge to assert such control over government-funded arts has not.

In his blog post about the CBC, Rathgeber asserts that other broadcasters already do what the CBC is funded to provide to viewers. “CTV for instance similarly offers a 24 Hour News Channel and produces reality shows (Canadian Idol) and sitcoms (Dan for Mayor) which are comparable to anything produced by the CBC.”
The MP for Edmonton-St. Albert is way out of date – Canadian Idol was cancelled years ago and Dan for Mayor was cancelled months ago. Now, CTV has even less Canadian-made content. He’s out of date, but perhaps he also represents the future of the government’s approach to all taxpayer-funded arts productions. Museums are certainly on his radar.

Target fights union in Zellers take-over in Canada

By Marina Strauss, Globe and Mail, November 29, 2011
Target Corp. (TGT-N51.630.420.82%) is locked in a fight to prevent Zellers employees from maintaining their union status, as the discount giant pushes to keep its costs down for its foray into the competitive Canadian retail field.

Target’s blueprint for Canada entails converting about 135 Zellers stores to the Target name by 2013 after letting go all the Zellers employees and starting fresh with newly hired staff – and no union. Currently about 15 of the Zellers stores are unionized.
But now, in a test case, the union has applied to the B.C. Labour Relations Board to declare Target as the “successor employer” to Zellers at an outlet in Burnaby, B.C., and keep the employees unionized.

“It could be quite a battle,” said Richard Chaykowski, a professor at Queen’s University’s School of Policy Studies in Kingston. “Any decision a government board makes would potentially be only Round 1.”
Target and its discount archrival, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., have fought the United Food and Commercial Workers for years as the union attempts to organize the retailers’ employees and improve their pay and working conditions. So far, the retailers have managed to keep unions out in North America, although for brief periods the unions have succeeded in organizing some employees.
At stake is Target’s low-cost operating model, which relies on competitive compensation and flexibility in scheduling shifts and assigning tasks. A move to unionize workers could hurt that model. Target is taking on the even bigger Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, which has generally been successful in its opposition to unions.

However, in Canada Target is now facing a well-entrenched principle in labour laws that calls for a successor company in a takeover to hold on to a union if the firm is operating in the same area.
“The whole purpose of successor rights protections are to prevent this sort of thing from happening,” said Steven Barrett, a lawyer with employee law specialist Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP.
Lisa Gibson, a spokeswoman for Target, said the firm believes its $1.8-billion acquisition of Zellers leases “is a real estate transaction and not the acquisition of a business, technology or employees. As such, we do not believe Target is a successor employer under applicable law and do not believe that there was reasonable cause to file a successorship application.”

Mr. Barrett said provincial successor rights provisions are designed to protect unionized employees in the case of a temporary shutdown because of an ownership change if the switch is in virtually the same area of operations. Other provinces also recognize the “fundamental” protection of successors rights, he said. “You can’t let those rights disappear simply because the business gets sold.”

Ivan Limpright, president of Local 1518 of the UFCW, which applied to the B.C. labour board earlier this month, said the union aims to ensure that Target honours its legal obligations and continues to employ its 120 Zellers members at Brentwood Mall in Burnaby. The successor dispute was touched off when the union recently sent Target a letter indicating its intention to negotiate a renewal of its existing contract, union spokesman Andy Neufeld said. "That’s when Target challenged our successorship."
Prof. Chaykowski said unions have faced an uphill battle in organizing retail workers, partly because they are highly transient and because the sector is so competitive, with razor-thin profit margins. Target feels tremendous pressure to remain union-free to help keep costs down, he said.
It will be for the courts to decide if Target is a successor employer, retaining both employees and their contract and their union membership. And, likely, if the lower courts decide one way, the issue will be joined at a higher level.
This is a battle that has been raging across the retail world in North America for years, led by WalMart.
Employees' rights, including the right to belong to a union are under attack, in all sectors of the economy, as fiscal crises face local, state or provincial and federal governments.
With unemployment being so high, and the resulting availability of non-union workers making it relatively easy to hire in the retail sector without having to meet union contract demands, management has been running roughshod over workers for too long.
While there are several abuses of their power that have legitimized the unions' emaciated public opinion, there is still a need for worker protection, for due process, for decent wages and benefits, and especially for fairness in their treatment by management.
Canada is not, and must not become, merely U.S. (North) with respect to the preservation of unions. However, unions themselves, just as they have done to remain viable in the auto sector, will have to make significant concessions to adjust to the global market conditions of nearly slave labour, when compared with third world workers.
Canadians, however, must press their governments at all levels, in favour of workers' rights, protections, due process and sustainable wages, as part of an overall "push-back" against management that is determined to gut the unions and destroy them totally. The unions to management are not as is Iran to the west. The unions are not radioactive; they are not determined to destroy management's right to manage; they are not interested in raping and pillaging management's rightful access to reasonable profit. They are, rather, a useful and potentially effective instrument to protect workers and this test case will write another chapter in either the meagre survival of the union that currently protects Zellers' employees or the continuing erosion of labour protection.
We all know how the Canadian government feels and acts towards unions when they are threatening to strike: the heaviest hammer available is slammed down on the unions in federal government legislation, even reducing the wage levels agreed to by management prior to the strike or lock-out.
However, the Canadian people still have many options open to them to speak out in support of the labour movement, and this Target "successor" question is one such option.
Can the Zellers' workers hear the sound of clicking keypads, phone calls, emails and text messages in support of their right to continue to work in the new Target stores, within their union contract with its several supporting provisions?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Canada: STAY HOME from Durban Climate Conference (Sierra Club)

By Gloria Galloway, Globe and Mail, November 28, 2011
The Kyoto protocol was adopted at an international conference in Japan in 1997 and came into effect in 2005. It expires in 2012 and subsequent climate-change conferences in Copenhagen and Cancun, Mexico have failed to arrive at an agreement to replace it. So representatives of 195 countries are meeting in Durban, South Africa, this week to try to hammer out a global deal to reduce carbon emissions.

The Conservative government says it will not make a second commitment to Kyoto. It instead wants to build on the talks that began in Copenhagen and wants any new agreement to include all of the world’s major emitters.
“Kyoto is the past,” said Mr. Kent (Canadian Minister of the Environment) 
But Graham Saul, the executive director the Climate Action Network who held a news conference with other groups concerned about climate change that coincided with the news conference of Mr. Kent, said it is apparent that Canada is going to the talks only to sabotage the effort.
Copenhagen is essentially a bunch of voluntary commitments with no compliance mechanism or oversight, said Mr. Saul. It is “just a bunch of countries promising to do something and, every once in a while they are going to review it and if they don’t do it, well too bad.”
The Kyoto protocol, on the other hand, is a binding international agreement that has mechanisms for compliance, he said. It has infrastructure and an entire institutional base around it that the world has spent the past 10, 15, 20 years negotiating, said Mr. Saul.
Gillian McEachern, the climate and energy program manager for Environmental Defence, said if Canada pulls out of the Kyoto Protocol next month, it will be the only country in the world to have signed and ratified the international agreement to tackle climate change, and then walk away from it.

“This news on the first morning of negotiations in Durban further hurts Canada's reputation for being a progressive actor on the world stage,” said Ms. McEachern. “Instead, we're throwing a wet blanket on progress towards a binding, international deal on climate change.”
Greenpeace activists used hundreds of LED emergency lights to spell “climate fail” on the lawn of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa on Monday.
“The Harper government continues to fail Canadians and the world on the most urgent issue of our time,” Christy Ferguson, the head of Greenpeace’s climate and energy unit head, said in a statement. “We need to turn away from the tar sands and make Canada a win on climate change.”
Garry Neil, the executive director of the Council of Canadians told the news conference attended by Mr. Saul, that Canada has become a world leader in backing away from binding greenhouse-gas reduction agreements that are essential to reducing climate change.
“It Kyoto fails these next two weeks in Durban,” said Mr. Neil, “Canada will have played a leading role, to our collective shame.”
At his news conference, Mr. Kent announced an investment of $600.8-million over five years to renew the Clean Air Regulatory Agenda to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality in Canada.

The money will be used to align greenhouse gas regulations with the United States where appropriate, finalize and implement a national air quality management system, strengthen commitments to reduce trans-boundary air pollution, and improve indoor air quality.
But Clayton Thomas-Muller, a campaigner with the Indigenous Environmental Network who took part in the news conference with Mr. Saul, dismissed that announcement.
“Is $600-plus million over five years enough? No, it’s not,” said Mr. Thomas-Muller. “Canada is currently giving $1.4-billion in subsidies to the tar sands patch alone every single year.”
The Sierra Club said in a release that, if Canada is not prepared to take meaningful action to replace the Kyoto protocol, Mr. Kent should stay home from Durban.
Let's pause and let those numbers sink in: $600 million over five years for the environment
                                                                compared with
                                                                $1.4 billion every year in subsidies to tar sands....
That is the bottom line in the Canadian government's for tar sands and no money for environmental protection...all the while pleading that all countries must join the world's environment protection initiative. China, India, the U.S.....and Canada the least likely member of the saboteurs on environmental protection...are not likely to support "teeth" and monitoring on commitments made by individual countries.
Nevertheless, the larger the group of "signatories" to a climate change treaty, the more significant the obvious momentum created by such a protocol. And therefore, the greater likelihood that resistance will erode making a full-scale commitment to right the wrong we are doing knowingly to the global environment more feasible and more likely.
But Canada, the government, not the people, are becoming deservedly named as saboteurs....and the people are embarrassed, ashamed, angry and frustrated. We expect better from our national government, but in this, as in other files, the government is simply not up to the task.

Murder, Torture, Rape crimes committed by Syrian government: UN Inquiry

By Stephanie Nebehay, Globe and Mail, November 28, 2011
United Nations commission of inquiry on Syria said on Monday Syrian military and security forces had committed crimes against humanity including murder, torture and rape and the government of President Bashar al-Assad bore responsibility.

The panel, which interviewed 223 victims and witnesses including defectors, called on Syria to halt “gross human rights violations,” release prisoners rounded up in mass arrests and allow media, aid workers and rights monitors access to the country.
Syria is “responsible for wrongful acts, including crimes against humanity, committed by members of its military and security forces as documented in the present report,” the three-member panel said in a 39-page report to the UN Human Rights Council.

It catalogues executions, torture, rapes including of children, arbitrary detentions and abductions carried out since March by Syrian forces quashing pro-democracy demonstrations while enjoying “systemic impunity” for their crimes, it said.
“The commission therefore believes that orders to shoot and otherwise mistreat civilians originated from policies and directives issued at the highest levels of the armed forces and the government,” said the team, led by Brazilian expert Paulo Pinheiro.
More than 3,500 people have been killed in the violence, according to the United Nations, while activists say that up to 30,000 have been arrested, many kept in open-air stadiums.
The UN Security Council stopped short of taking action against Syria when China and Russia vetoed a resolution in October. After continuing international criticism of Mr. al-Assad’s handling of the crisis, the Arab League approved sanctions against Syria on Sunday.
“The international community must act. More than ever it has a duty to stop the suffering of the civilian population,” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in a statement after the publication of the UN report....
Activist groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, said in a letter to United Nations member states last week that if the inquiry found that crimes under international law had been committed, they should urge the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

The UN panel’s report, specifically the paragraph on the Security Council, was “disappointing in its lack of teeth concerning international justice,” Jeremie Smith of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies told Reuters.
Crimes such as these merit an international response, including both the Security Council of the UN and the International Criminal Court. Groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, in their letter, call on the Security Council to refer the allegations of crimes to the presecutor of the International Court....
And their plea merits the governmental and public shove that could and would result in such a move.
However, in North America, many people have grown "immune" to the news reports of actions like those in this report. Canadians and Americans have tuned out much of the stream of information from the Middle East, at our own peril.
Military intervention, like the campaign in Libya, is not feasible in Syria. The Assad family is so deeply engrained in the culture of Syria, and their connections to terrorist groups make Syria a very different file from Libya.
Nevertheless, crimes like murder, torture and rape must not go unanswered, even in the midst of a sovereign debt crisis, an unemployment crisis, an impending U.S. election in 2012, and a virtually impotent Security Council.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Iran starts breakdown of diplomatic relations with U.K.. what's next?

By Paul Koring, Globe and Mail, November 8, 2011
Credible new evidence suggests Iran is secretly building nuclear warheads, the United Nations nuclear agency says, laying out the most damning case yet that Tehran is seeking to join the tiny clutch of nuclear-armed powers.

“Credible … information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device,” the International Atomic Energy Agency reported Tuesday. It was a powerful indictment of Tehran’s nuclear program that its Islamic rulers have long claimed was solely for peaceful, power-generating purposes.
Instead, the IAEA found evidence of weapons-related research entirely incompatible with power generation. Efforts to create computer models of nuclear blasts, to build the powerful detonators needed to initiate a nuclear explosions and vital miniaturization efforts needed to fit a nuclear warhead inside a missile nosecone were all uncovered.

The report, based on intelligence fed to the agency by member states, supports long-held suspicions that Tehran has a clandestine nuclear-weapons program.
The long-awaited report triggered a firestorm of speculation about pre-emptive Israeli or American strikes to destroy Iran’s nuclear-weapons’ program before it was too late.
By George Jahn, Associated Press, in Globe and Mail, November 18, 2011
The U.S. and its Western allies bluntly accused Iran on Friday of deceiving the world by trying to hide work on nuclear arms, as the U.N. atomic agency passed a new resolution criticizing Tehran's nuclear defiance.

Iran shot back that the West's allegations were based on fabricated American, Israeli, British and French intelligence fed to the International Atomic Energy Agency to try and discredit the Islamic Republic.
Reflecting its bitterness, Iran's chief IAEA delegate withdrew an invitation to U.N. atomic agency experts to visit Tehran and discuss nuclear concerns.

He also announced Tehran was boycotting a meeting next week to explore the possibilities of a Mideast nuclear-free zone that will be attended by Israel and all Arab nations, accusing IAEA chief Yukiya Amano of bias for not focusing on Israel's undeclared nuclear arsenal.
The unusually tough exchanges were bound to further raise international tensions over Iran's nuclear activities — even though the Western statements emphasized that the preferred solution was through diplomacy.
France warned Iran to defuse world fears that it is working on nuclear weapons or face “unprecedented” sanctions, while Washington dismissed “the hollowness” of Iranian claims, asserting that Iran must acknowledge its secret weapons development work. Britain, too, urged Iran to “address the grave concerns of the international community about its nuclear program.”
By Associated Press, in Globe and Mail, november 27, 2011
Iran’s parliament has approved a bill to reduce Tehran’s diplomatic relations with London and withdraw the country’s ambassador to Britain.

In a session of parliament broadcast on state radio, lawmakers voted Sunday to require Iran’s foreign ministry to reduce diplomatic relations to the level of charge d’affaires within two weeks. The bill needs ratification by a constitutional watchdog to become a law
he decision is seen as a reaction to support offered by London last week to new American efforts to pressure Tehran to halt its alleged nuclear weapons program.

Iran says its nuclear activities have aimed at peaceful purposes like power generation. Iran’s parliament instructs government to reduce diplomatic relations with Britain
Behind the headlines of the debt/deficit crisis that looms over the economies of western countries, including Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and the United States, this not-so-little drama is playing out. IAEA  report confirming evidence of nuclear weapons pursuit, encreased sanctions, virtually open accusation by the U.S., France, Germany and Great Britain, and now reduction of diplomatic relations between Iran and the U.K. if their parliament votes to confirm the measure. And we have not even mentioned Israel's public statements that this issue could trigger an arms race in the Middle East.
The saber-rattling in Canada, whose government clearly supports the tightening of sanctions around Iran, is, conceivably, an new voice in this potentially explosive situation in Iran. Canada's former ambassador to the UN, Paul Hornbecker, has strongly urged the Canadian goverment to exercise caution before deciding to attack Iran, for a host of reasons. (See, November 22, 2011)
Could it be that the debt/deficit crisis is serving as a deterrent to a decision to attack Iran by the western powers of U.S., UK, France, Germany (and potentially Canada)? If there is some potential to that dynamic, perhaps we should be a little less concerned about the negatives of the financial crisis. On the other hand, political leaders are expected (by their voters and themselves) to be able to "walk and chew gum" at the same time. Today that cliche' is stretched to include such a complex and comprehensive list of issues, that one needs to be a virtual champion juggler with a staff of experts just to grasp the myriad nuances of each file.
If Iran proves to be the proverbial "immoveable object" in the face of an "irresistible force" (the western countries comitted to a cessation of Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons), the world could be watching the prelude to another "military intervention" in the Middle East. Models like the "containment" model deployed against the former Soviet Union seem to have less resonance in the Iran context. Yet even the Russia of today is making noises about rearming and rattling sabres against the west. Could they be countering on behalf of and in support of Iran?
By Campbell Clark, Globe and Mail, November 23, 2011
On Monday, Stephen Harper’s  (Canadian) government was part of a small group of “like-minded” countries, with Britain and the United States, that led a new round of sanctions against Iran, and the European Union will soon follow.

But the trick is also swaying some of the unlike-minded. The goal of sanctions is to pressure Iran to make its nuclear activities more transparent, so it can’t develop weapons in secret. But Russia called the IAEA report propaganda. Though they, and China, have blocked UN sanctions, there’s value in diplomatic efforts to move them, and others – even a little – toward rhetorical statements that Iran is offside, and to prod them to show results from the softer approach they advocate.
There’s new war talk, with short deadlines. Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said Iran’s nuclear-weapons program would be unstoppable within a year. It again raises the prospect Israel will strike militarily, possibly drawing in the United States
Mr. Harper’s government let out some signals it would be supportive if Israel and the United States eventually felt the need to strike. Given Ottawa’s vocal criticism of Tehran, staunch support of Israel, and close alliance with Washington, it’s hard to imagine any other stand. An attack is not imminent, Defence Minister Peter MacKay indicated, but not off the table.
Iran has already responded by suggesting oil could be used to retaliate. Iranian parliamentarian Mehdi Mehdizadeh suggested the country would shut the Straits of Hormuz, through which 40 per cent of the world’s oil passes.
Even if Iran can’t pull that off, military action brings high risk. Iran has a military machine, and terror clients such as Hezbollah that could strike elsewhere. An attack would cut Iran’s oil exports, forcing big customers such as China and India to buy elsewhere. The spike in prices could further shake the global economy.
But there is a “window of opportunity,” according to Andrea Berger, a nuclear-security analyst with the Royal United Services Institute in London. The IAEA report detailed Iran’s nuclear-weapons efforts before 2003, but the picture afterward is sketchier. Iran has enriched uranium to 20 per cent, a major hurdle before reaching weapons grade at 90 per cent, but there are inspectors at known nuclear sites. It didn’t show Iran is racing toward nuclear weapons, but on “a steady crawl” toward the ability to build them, she argues.
So it seems unlikely to contain the repercussions of any military strike against Iran, although pressure seems to be mounting both among the taditional western alliance of U.S., UK, France, Germany (+Canada) and in Israel itself, and the public signs of warning are extremely difficult to ignore or to dismiss.
Iran's core interest may well be to use scare tactics, get the west to overract and commit another military and diplomatic faux pas (as in Iraq) and then unleash the terror threats of Hezbollah, Hamas as well as the military of Syria, for instance in a chaos of unleasehed power from which it might caluculate it could emerge as the dominant player in the region, with nuclear war, with Israel diminished and the hands of the "west" covered in Islamic is a horrific scenario to paint and not one that anyone would welcome, including the Iranians likely.
However, once unleased, these "dogs of war" will not easily be silenced, no matter which country seems to have risen to some phoney form of ascendancy.
And, one dares not think of the impact of such a melee on the world's economy.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Poverty: Symptom addiction, detachment.. no shared knowledge & empathy

Editorial, New York Times, November 24, 2011
What is it like to be poor? Thankfully, most Americans do not know, at least not firsthand. And times are tough for the middle class. But everyone needs to recognize a chilling reality: One in three Americans — 100 million people — is either poor or perilously close to it.

The Times’s Jason DeParle, Robert Gebeloff and Sabrina Tavernise reported recently on Census data showing that 49.1 million Americans are below the poverty line — in general, $24,343 for a family of four. An additional 51 million are in the next category, which they termed “near poor” — with incomes less than 50 percent above the poverty line.
As for all of that inspirational, up-by-their-bootstrap talk you hear on the Republican campaign trail, over half of the near poor in the new tally actually fell into that group from higher income levels as their resources were sapped by medical expenses, taxes, work-related costs and other unavoidable outlays.
The worst downturn since the Great Depression is only part of the problem. Before that, living standards were already being eroded by stagnating wages and tax and economic policies that favored the wealthy.
Conservative politicians and analysts are spouting their usual denial. Gov. Rick Perry and Representative Michele Bachmann have called for taxing the poor and near poor more heavily, on the false grounds that they have been getting a free ride. In fact, low-income workers do pay up, if not in federal income taxes, then in payroll taxes and state and local taxes.
Asked about the new census data, Robert Rector, an analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation told The Times that the “emotionally charged terms ‘poor’ or ‘near poor’ clearly suggest to most people a level of material hardship that doesn’t exist.” Heritage has its own, very different ranking system, based on households’ “amenities.” According to that, the typical poor household has roughly 14 of 30 amenities. In other words, how hard can things be if you have a refrigerator, air-conditioner, coffee maker, cellphone, and other stuff?
The rankings ignore the fact that many of these are requisites of modern life and that things increasingly out of reach for the poor and near poor — education, health care, child care, housing and utilities — are the true determinants of a good, upwardly mobile life.
Government surveys analyzed by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities indicate that in 2010, just over half of the country’s nearly 17 million poor children, lived in households that reported at least one of four major hardships: hunger, overcrowding, failure to pay the rent or mortgage on time or failure to seek needed medical care. A good education is also increasingly out of reach. A study by Martha Bailey, an economics professor at the University of Michigan, showed that the difference in college-graduation rates between the rich and poor has widened by more than 50 percent since the 1990s.

There is also a growing out-of-sight-out-of-mind problem. A study, by Sean Reardon, a sociologist at Stanford, shows that Americans are increasingly living in areas that are either poor or affluent. The isolation of the prosperous, he said, threatens their support for public schools, parks, mass transit and other investments that benefit broader society.
There are serious implications of poverty...beyond the four criteria listed: 
  • hunger,
  • overcrowding,
  • failure to pay the rent or mortgage on time or
  • failure to seek needed medical care.
  • and a fifth...out of reach college education
It is the growing out-of-sight-out-of-mindedness that plagues the world's nations, communities and global approaches to personal pain. We are living in a time of increasing "me-first-ism" that has power and money vested in a very small "(mentally) gated community while the ordinary people aspire to the "perks" they imagine behind those gates only through winning a lottery, landing a professional sport contract or befriending a rich benefactor.
  • When we fail to notice that we are not educating all of our children, and
  • when we fail to notice that we are not feeding all of our children
  • when we fail to notice that we are counting on government data to paint pictures of the gestalt that is overtaking our culture
  • when we permit the rhetoric of experts to substitute for what we know as "shared knowledge" (see John Ralston Saul in Equilibrium)
  • when we prefer to move from crisis to crisis without stopping to examine the root causes of gangs, drug abuse, family violence, lack of concentration by students, drop-out rates, lawlessness, even preventable illness and death
  • when we prefer to stampede through open doors of retail box stores at midnight on Black Friday than to contemplate how we might offer life in gifts to the starving (see UNESCO Christmas Catalogue)
we are effectively burying our heads in the sands of denial, arrogance, insensitivity and insensibility, and we are sowing the seeds of our own demise.
With over 7 billion people, growing in the next two decades to 9 billion,  increasingly using demographics to grapple with our grasp of the complex situations faced by those without enough, we are increasingly risking a world of merely a superficial grasp of the depths of the pain and consequently permitting consideration of merely a superficial band-aid to cover that open, infected and terminal sore.
We love band-aids, especially ones that are accompanied by fanfare, media attention and short-term fixes.
We despise reality checks that point to unsustainable trends, requiring that we all go to the top of the waterfall to determine why the children are falling in, rather than pulling them out at the bottom en masse.
We are a culture of crisis band-aids, make-up industries, make-believe illusionists and political deceivers, whose primary deception is one of self-deception. They know it; we know it; and nothing is done about it. And the great Houdini's of the culture, the economists, are given the 72-point headlines, because in that way we believe we are truly facing the demons that beset us.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Theirs is merely a metaphysical, theoretical construct of equations, formulae and high-sounding rhetoric. We need some ordinary common sense, not the sort that populists parade before us to seduce us into voting for them (see Michael Harris of Ontario infamy in the 1990's) but the sort that
passes between ordinary people in coffee shops, pubs and athletic events. We need real people with a real sense of the pain that we are all causing by both our reliance on the experts, and our reliance on a failed process of symptom addiction as opposed to rooting out and attending to root causes that cannot and will not fit into those tiny boxes of band-aids, nor the tiny boxes of our complacency and apathy.
It is not only the Liberal Party of Canada that needs a wake-up call; we all do. And the sooner we hear that bell, the sooner we will at least start talking about what is causing those kids to fall into the deadly waters and perhaps then we might start replacing band-aids, and crisis interventions for some truly effective long-range solutions, based on a foundation of shared knowledge, compassion and even empathy for each other.
It is really not rocket science, and that is its principal problem; because it is so ordinary, we pay it no notice.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Manichean PM turning Canada from peace-keeping to military "machismo"

Man·i·che·an   noun ... an adherent of the dualistic religious system of Manes, a combination of Gnostic Christianity, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and various other elements, with a basic doctrine of a conflict between light and dark, matter being regarded as dark and evil. (From
There is a very dangerous and unwelcome change taking place in the corridors of power in Ottawa. It concerns the transformation of this "peace-keeping" nation to one of militarism, given the ceremony in the Senate, of all places, of the troops who returned from the Libyan mission.
Presenting the General  who commanded the NATO troops with a medal, by the Governor General, is one thing.
The prime minister making a speech about how those who talk about human rights have, on occasion, to "walk the walk" is another thing.
And all of this could easily and should have been conducted in a military parade square on some Canadian Military base where national television cameras could and would have covered the event. Oh, and by the way, that "fly-past" of a bomber flanked by F-18 fighter jets, cost the Canadian taxpayers only half a million dollars, freely spent by a government alleged to be pursuing all cost-cutting measures available to it. Humph!
As at least two of one of the many panels on Power and Politics on CBC today put it, there were clear signals of a future of military campaigns to come.
By John Ivison, National Post, November 24, 2011
While the job in Libya may be done, Mr. Harper’s comments during the ceremony suggested there may be other missions that will soon require Canada’s attention.

“Those who talk the talk of human rights must from time to time be prepared to walk the walk …. Heaven forbid that we should fail to do that of which we are capable when the path of duty is clear. Our government is not that kind of government. Canada is not that kind of nation,” he said.
He wasn’t specific, but it seems he was preparing the ground for future interventions — perhaps in Syria or in a possible conflict between Israel and Iran.
The more strident tone was in keeping with other comments Mr. Harper has made since the May election, leading some observers to suggest Conservative foreign policy in the era of majority governments will be governed more by a sense of moral duty than domestic politics.
It is Harper's dividing the world into "good and bad" characters, and by implication attempting to place Canada firmly in the camp of the "good," that sounds eerily and frighteningly similar to the kind of vocabulary and policy setting agenda of George W. Bush, he of infamous manichean fame.
It was the Manicheans who originally divided the world into a neat little dichotomy, of good versus evil, presumably as mentor and guide to the simple minds of both Harper and Bush, many centuries ago. Their worldview (the Manicheans) is no more sustainable with a reality check today than it was when originally propagated.
However, for those who consider their responsibilities so clearly that they are without ambiguity cluttering up their minds, or their policy choices, they are not in need of any facts to support their dichotomizing.
And while it may make instant and powerful headlines, and provide the "base" with both clarity and encouragement to keep those dollars rolling into party coffers, it is not now, never was, and never shall be a substitute for leadership in a very complex and turbulent world.
Was Harper signalling that Canada is considering joining, (God forbid leading!) an attack against Iran?
Was Harper signalling that Canada is considering joining (once again God forbid leading!) an attack against Syria?
As John Ivison himself queried on CBC, is North Korea next?
Militarizing Canada, as a prominent player on the world's conflicted stage, is not the direction that Canadian taxpayers nor their children and grandchildren wish to see their country hijacked toward.
And it is quite literally a hijacking of the honourable traditions that have been followed for generations starting with Lester B. Pearson, he our only Nobel Peace Prize recipient, for his peace-keeping solution to the Suez Crisis.
National interest trumped by moralizing, by a Manichean anti-intellectual? Is this the best that the Prime Minister can offer to Canadians and to the world community of nations?
Are we trying to make up for some glaring weakness in our history that demonstrates that we have been less than fully "macho" in our participation in global conflicts? Is some masculinity at risk somehow leading the government to some serious over-reaching in turning this country into a "fighter nation" whose people seek to fly fighter jets and armed ships, to demonstrate our "equality" with the "big boys" of the G8....most of which countries are facing serious budget cuts to their military, thankfully, given the extreme over-commitments of the last half century, especially in the U.S.
November 24, 2011 will be remembered as a dark day in the history books of Canada, and Canadians will have only ourselves to "thank" for giving this man and his gang of sycophants a majority government on May 2, 2011.

Who really cares about income disparity on U.S. Thanksgiving?

By Jeffrey Simpson, Globe and Mail, November 23, 2011
They (The Occupy Movement) did point, however, to a challenge few politicians want to address: growing income inequality and the verifiable fact that, within that growing inequality, the very, very rich are pulling away from the rest of society. You can see this at work within the upper reaches of the corporate sector, where the gap between what bosses and employees make has widened. No longer do compensation committees look at this metric; instead, they compare CEOs’ compensation with that of other CEOs’, so that the vortex of higher pay continues within the narrow confines of cozy cross-comparisons.

The Occupy movement began in the United States, where the recession started, courtesy of the major financial institutions – a collapse that plunged the country into a nightmarish combination of large deficits, swelling debt and high unemployment.
Long before the recession, however, the U.S. was becoming a significantly more unequal society, as the Congressional Budget Office explained in a recent report. The CBO looked at the years 1979 to 2007. It found that, whereas average household income after inflation grew by 62 per cent, the top 1 per cent of the population had enjoyed income growth of 275 per cent. The bottom 20-per-cent’s after-tax income had grown 18 per cent. Said the CBO: “As a result of uneven income growth, the distribution of after-tax household income in the United States was substantially more unequal in 2007 than in 1979.”
Market income was increasingly concentrated in fewer hands, said the CBO. Government transfer programs, combined with weaker redistribution of income through the tax system, could not counterbalance the fact that the market was putting more and more income in fewer and fewer hands.
Put another way, market income for the top 1 per cent tripled from 1979 to 2007, whereas for a household at the mid-point of the income ladder, market income rose only 19 per cent. Not surprisingly, therefore, the share of total market income for the top 1 per cent rose to 20 per cent from 10 per cent....
The Occupy movement tried to shine the light of publicity on the big incomes of the wealthiest, especially in the financial sector. Through no fault of the movement, however, Americans weren’t much interested. For example, a recent Ipsos poll asked people in various countries for their top three issues. The share of Americans – 19 per cent – who identified “poverty/income inequality” as a top-three item was the lowest among the seven countries surveyed.

In Canada, the share concerned about poverty/income inequality was 30 per cent, behind health care (of course) at 47 per cent, unemployment/jobs at 39 per cent and taxes at 37 per cent. That ranking showed an increase in concern about poverty/income inequality, since it now ranks well above crime, immigration, environment and climate change.
One reason for the increase in Canada might be that income inequality has risen here, too. Inequality is not as severe as in the United States, but it is higher than everywhere in continental Europe. Indeed, the so-called “anglosphere” countries of the U.S., Britain, Canada and Australia are the places in the industrialized world where income inequality is most pronounced.
Well-intentioned philanthropy, much in the news lately, cannot do much against these market trends and inadequate government programs to offset those market trends. Nor does political attention much fall on the problem, since all parties now pitch their appeals to the actual or fictional “middle class.” The poor don’t vote much, are often hidden, don’t get much media attention and are usually not unionized.
Income inequality within countries also seems to be a worldwide phenomenon. The so-called BRICs – Brazil (with the exception of its “Bolsa Familia” program), Russia, India and China – are tremendously unequal societies, and getting more unequal all the time.
Statistics or equations are numbing in their impact on readers, listeners or any audience. However, the impact of their "gestalt" is, by contract, 'blood curlding' or at least it should be for a number of virtually gagged voices in the developed world.
For example, the silence of the clergy, including Primates, Archdeacons, Bishops, Deans and lowly Vicars is, in a word, appalling, on this issue. If there ever was an issue that called for the united voice of those allegedly "giving voice to the voiceless" as Christian clergy are called to do, these men and women ought to be joining their voices, through press releases, street marches, radio and television interviews, their blogs, and in their homilies, newsletters and parish council meetings, to make at least a sound wave that the media can not ignore. Unfortunately, the linkage, in donors and parish survival, between the corporate wealthy and the continuing stipends, not to mention the building maintenance, and the pension contributions, and the building heating and air conditioning....all the ordinary costs of operating a parish, are most likely paid by some of the 1% who are riding a tidal wave of income disparity.
Consequently, it may well be a literal "conflict of interest" for the clergy to speak out with any volume. There have been a couple of Anglican parishes, St. James in Toronto, and St. Paul's in London UK, that have permitted the Occupy Movement to camp on their property. And that information was a small but noticeable sliver of light in an otherwise dark world of media coverage, and certainly of editorial opinion.
And that brings up a second gagged voice: the editorial opinion writers in this country, and others. They too are umbilically linked to the prosperity of the corporate clients whose advertising keeps their presses running, their salesteams selling, their writers pecking keys on their keypads, and their delivery men and women driving every day, in sleet and snow, in deep freeze and stultifying heat. The same is true of the radio and television  owners, and their station managers and on-air personnel, including their decreasing numbers of reporters. They all depend, for their personal and professional livelihood, on the flow of money from the wealthy to their bank accounts. And that flow, when interrupted for example in the case of the Murdoch empire in the UK, is what keeps hundreds of thousands of people feeding their families.
University professors, for the most part, have also remained silent, with a single exception of one Queen's University "emeritus" professor of Sociology (Vincent Mosco) who publicly called the movement the most important one in the last two decades or more, probably through a press release, or perhaps a phone interview with a local radio reporter. Whether they are working in a "state" or provincial institution, and thereby paid their salaries by the taxes of the citizens of that state or province, or working for a private university, where their income would be even more dependent on the bounty of the several wealthy benefactors...and who really cares?
Community college instructors, in Ontario, at least, are part of the provincial government income-expenditure flow, and would likely consider themselves "in some danger" if they became too vocal in their support of a movement such as the Occupy movement. After all, what provincial government wants to alienate its corporate benefactors, those who only recently contributed to their re-election campaign, and do not want to be embarrassed by "civil servants" who might have an opinion on income inequality, especially one that supports the Occupiers...and who really cares?
Mechanics, truck drivers, car salesmen and women, gas and oil company workers...they are all working for those large corporations, or for the small independent garage also dependent on the flow of both oil and auto manufacturing their voice is unlikely to be heard beyond an individual whisper that would be unlikely to make it past a letter to the editor of a local paper...and who really cares?
Occasionally, entertainers, professional athletes, musicians and actors will offer their name for a cause that has already gained a degree of both public awareness and public acceptance, so that they will not suffer any damage to their reputation in their generosity. However, many of the dollars that support these economic sectors are even more dependent on the beneficence of the large, think-pocketed wealthy executives who buy the best seats to live performances, as individuals or as "corporate expenses" to entertain their who would want to offend those people and their wealth?...and who really cares?
Professionals, like doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, social workers, engineers and accountants, along with a myriad of other similar individuals and groups are silent for a variety of "other" reasons that include being unwilling to offend their public reputations in small towns, or with their peers, or with their clients who just may be a satellite of one of those large corporations...with wealthy executives who have the power to cut the strings on a contract if and when they choose, and for whatever reason....and who really cares?
Even labour leaders, some of whom have actually offered their voices in support of the Occupy Movement, have lost much of their clout in shaping public opinion...leaving small neighbourhood newspapers whose primary purpose is to express the plight of their production team, many of whom are working on minimum wage, or volunteering so that such papers will see the eyes of local readers as one of the ways this message might coalesce and create some legitimate impact, not because the facts of their argument are not legitimate, but because their cause has not generated sufficient "umph," credibility, legitimacy and authenticity....and yet, just look at the obstacles in its path to social and political legitimacy...and who really cares?
Meanwhile, the income disparity continues, at this very moment, to an absolutely appalling and unacceptable degree, with virtually no hope of a significant change to the direction of the curves, away from the 99% and in favour of the 1%....and who really cares?
With the Kingston (Ontario) Roundtable on Poverty reporting this week that the cost of a food basket of nutritional food having gone up $1000 in the past year alone, and with the growth in the numbers of those falling behind and thereby into real poverty, and their children not getting enough to eat, right here in North American towns and cities, one has to ask how long it will be before that same Poverty Roundtable will not be preparing and publishing catalogues similar to the one that arrived today from UNESCO, with Christmas gifts of food, water, bed nets, vaccines, etc. for third world families in need...only those that come from the Poverty Roundtable will be directed at North American families who cannot feed their children.....and who really cares?

Where is the West's help for Egypt?

Editorial, Globe and Mail,November 21, 2011
Democracy has been dangled in front of Egyptians, but true democracy remains a distant dream. The first manifestation, a rushed constitutional referendum approved by voters in March, did establish a term-limited presidency – but it entrenched a strong executive and the power to declare martial law, and did nothing to remove the military from its traditional place at the centre of Egyptian public affairs.

The military has abused that position: military trials of 11,879 civilians in just 7 months – more than during Mr. Mubarak’s entire rule; sexual assaults against female protesters; and a repressive response to Coptic Christian demonstrations that killed at least 10 people. Parliamentary elections begin this month, but the presidential election won’t be held until 2013 at the earliest.
The West, though, is still in cheerleading mode, as though the overthrow of Mubarak was enough. As leading Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris told the Globe and Mail editorial board on Thursday, “The whole West from Mr. Obama to Mr. Cameron to Mr. Sarkozy are just watching this so-called Arab Spring as bystanders.” Mr. Sawiris said Canada has been no better; Canada has put forward only $11-million in post-revolution assistance for Egypt and Tunisia, and $10-million of that is for youth entrepreneurship. American support for Egypt continues to focus overwhelmingly on military and economic assistance.
But Egyptians still lack many fundamental rights. And those in the political ascendancy, as seen at Tahrir Square on Friday, are Islamists, financially supported by wealthier Arab regimes.
Egypt’s allies should step forward – with more funds and expertise to help train Egyptians to build viable political parties and an independent elections authority, create more sources of independent media, and provide more legal advocates in the face of the military onslaught. Without the liberal freedoms the West can support, there will be no democracy worthy of the name in Egypt.
An observer from outside planet earth might wonder at the west's cherry picking of countries with which to engage, and how, in the middle of a series of street protests of massive proportions. In Lybia, we bombed the dictator's compound, with the inevitable "collateral damage" of citizens, including women and children, until finally he was captured. But in Syria, where the dictator continues to kill innocents, we are silent. And in Egypt, while the streets are filled once again, even though Mubarak has gone, we are silent, once again.
There are really other options besides more missiles, bombs and AK-47's to support the Egyptian people, and, it would seem that the United Nations is impotent to bring about some calm in the streets while assuring the Egyptian people that, indeed, their call for elections will be heard as soon as Monday next week, and that an orderly transition to some form of democratic government, hopefully not dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, will eventually restore some kind of "secular" order and power to the country.
Watching scenes of ambulances darting through masses of people, with the inevitable casualties from such juxtaposition, is both growing tired for the rest of the world, but also could and should be motivating of a global response.
In North America, the Occupy movement, for the most part, has been effectively reduced to an insigificant rump of compliant protesters, in a very few cities...this result having been achieved by some physical and legal force without significant injury, and no loss of life, except one in Vancouver whose life seemed to be at risk, with or without the movement.
Trust for the authorities, no matter whether it is the army or a small group of elected officials is essential for the beginning of democracy, no matter what variety. Clearly such trust is no longer available in Egypt, but the consequences of our inaction could be less "friendly" than we would contemplate, should our "hands-off" approach permit the accession to full power of a Muslim theocracy.
If there is some silent, secret work being conducted through diplomats and through other operatives with the Egyptian military, let's hope it brings fruit from its labours soon. If there is not such activity, we urge that it begin immediately, and that those "interim" supports, like UN soldiers, and peace-keepers, and democratic mentors and even a temporary judiciary...move into the Egyptian scene, with an invitiation from the military that is clearly overwhelmed, so that all parties can bring about an effective next stage in the Egyptian revolution.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Canada: "developing country" on access to information (AP)

Editorial, Globe and Mail, November 20, 2011
Canada's access-to-information laws are not working, in spite of the country's avowed commitment to open government.

In an Associated Press study, researchers filed access-to-information requests for government documents on terrorism and convictions in 105 countries. Canada asked for a 200-day extension, and then only gave a partial response. The U.S. stalled for 10 months before releasing two spreadsheets and one piece of paper with all names blanked out.
In new democracies and developing countries, meanwhile, access-to-information laws work as tools for transparency and citizen engagement. India replied in full and on time, while Turkey provided answers within 10 days. Mexico's law is cited as a “model;” it makes all responses public and allows anonymous requests.
Today, Canadians are made to file access to information requests to discover what a government ministry has already released.
There should be no political interference with access to information requests. Documents need to be produced in a timely fashion, and not redacted without cause. If Canadian officials are unable to do this themselves, they should send delegations to India, Mexico and Turkey, and study how right-to-know laws work there.
There are some issues on which a complacent, majority government in a self-described "stable" economy can become intransigent. Access to information may be one of those issues.
How many of the 33-plus million Canadians either know or care about the responses to the Associated Press experiment? However, the results are disappointing.
Access to information, even when the House of Commons is sitting and the Opposition are asking the kind of questions to which previous governments felt obliged to answer, this government remains stubbornly evasive, even approaching what ordinary people would call "cover-up".
For example, the $50 million allotted for border security was blatantly spent on perks to the Parry Sound Muskoka riding of Tony Clement, just prior to the G20 meeting in Huntsville, without a paper trail, without a full accounting to the commons or the Canadian people, and without a blink of embarrassment on the part of the government.
The full cost analysis for the 65 F-35 Fighter Jets Canada is supposed to be buying has never been made public.
The explanation of the need for more prisons and longer sentences for some crimes, when crime rates are falling significantly, is neither available nor offered, in response to the multitude of scholars and legal practitioners who bring cogent arguments against the moves forward.
The job creation scheme of 2008-9 which cost Canadians $47 billion has no idea how many jobs were created, by the Auditor General's report of yesterday. There simply was no accounting for the singular purpose of the project.
The government's silence continues on why there is no environmental protection policy or initiative, when there are many countries already moving significantly toward carbon reductions.
Canada merits "developing country" status on so many fronts that one has to wonder if, in fact, the capacity of this government to even entertain the minimal conventions of a healthy democracy for openness and accountability is zero.
Promising to balance the budget by 2014 has now become another mirage, moved to somewhere "beyond the rainbow" of 2015.
And during the campaign, the leader of the Conservatives would take only 5 questions in any press encounter, answer each of those minimally, and walk away to a waiting car, bus, train or plane, without batting an eye about the legitimate protest.
Keeping the people in the dark, while refusing even to countenance minimal factual openness....these are the tactics of third world dictators, whose citizens have little or no access to public media organs to bring them the facts. In Canada, however, we are proud of our "fourth estate" but even it cannot bring the story out if the government stone-walls their efforts.
And Canadians remain complacent, snoozing through the first snow of the year, wondering if the new snow tires will prove up to the task of preventing slippage on the roads, while government obfuscation, stubborn and arrogant silences and deflections continue to be the order of the day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

North American political culture: Time to take to the wilderness!!

By David Brooks, New York Times, November 21, 2011
In 1951, Samuel Lubell invented the concept of the political solar system. At any moment, he wrote, there is a Sun Party (the majority party, which drives the agenda) and a Moon Party (the minority party, which shines by reflecting the solar rays).

During Franklin Roosevelt’s era, Democrats were the Sun Party. During Ronald Reagan’s, Republicans were. Then, between 1996 and 2004, the two parties were tied. We lived in a 50-50 nation in which the overall party vote totals barely budged five elections in a row. It seemed then that we were in a moment of transition, waiting for the next Sun Party to emerge.
But something strange happened. No party took the lead. According to data today, both parties have become minority parties simultaneously. We are living in the era of two moons and no sun.
It used to be that the parties were on a seesaw: If the ratings of one dropped, then the ratings of the other rose. But now the two parties have record-low approval ratings together. Neither party has been able to rally the country behind its vision of government.
Ronald Brownstein summarized the underlying topography recently in The National Journal: “In Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor polls over the past two years, up to 40 percent of Americans have consistently expressed support for the conservative view that government is more the problem than the solution for the nation’s challenges; about another 30 percent have backed the Democratic view that government must take an active role in the economy; and the remaining 30 percent are agnostic. They are open to government activism in theory but skeptical it will help them in practice.”
In these circumstances, both parties have developed minority mentalities. The Republicans feel oppressed by the cultural establishment, and Democrats feel oppressed by the corporate establishment. They embrace the mental habits that have always been adopted by those who feel themselves resisting the onslaught of a dominant culture.
Their main fear is that they will lose their identity and cohesion if their members compromise with the larger world. They erect clear and rigid boundaries separating themselves from their enemies. In a hostile world, they erect rules and pledges and become hypervigilant about deviationism. They are more interested in protecting their special interests than converting outsiders. They slowly encase themselves in an epistemic cocoon.
The Democrat and Republican parties used to contain serious internal debates — between moderate and conservative Republicans, between New Democrats and liberals. Neither party does now.
The Democratic and Republican parties used to promote skilled coalition builders. Now the American parties have come to resemble the ideologically coherent European ones.
The Democrats talk and look like a conventional liberal party (some liberals, who represent, at most, 30 percent of the country, are disappointed because President Obama hasn’t ushered in a Huffington Post paradise). Meanwhile, many Republicans flock to Herman Cain or Newt Gingrich because they are more interested in having a leader who can take on the mainstream news media than in having one who can plausibly govern. Grover Norquist’s tax pledge isn’t really about public policy; it’s a chastity belt Republican politicians wear to show that they haven’t been defiled by the Washington culture.
The era of the two moons is a volatile era. Independent voters are trapped in a cycle of sour rejectionism — voting against whichever of the two options they dislike most at the moment. The shift between the 2008 election, when voters rejected Republicans, and the 2010 election, when voters rejected Democrats, was as big as any shift in recent history.
Sometimes voters even reject both parties on the same day. In Ohio this month, for example, voters rejected the main fiscal policy of the Republican governor. On the same ballot, by 31 points, they rejected health care reform, the main initiative of their Democratic president.
In policy terms, the era of the two moons is an era of stagnation. Each party is too weak to push its own agenda and too encased by its own cocoon to agree to a hybrid. The supercommittee failed for this reason. Members of the supercommittee actually took some brave steps outside party orthodoxy (Republicans embraced progressive tax increases, Democrats flirted with spending cuts), but these were baby steps, insufficient to change the alignment.
In normal circumstances, minority parties suffer a series of electoral defeats and then they modernize. But in the era of the two moons, the parties enjoy periodic election victories they don’t deserve, which only re-enforce their worst habits.
So it’s hard to see how we get out of this, unless some third force emerges, which wedges itself into one of the two parties, or unless we have a devastating fiscal crisis — a brutal cleansing flood, after which the sun will shine again.
The culture of political parties need not be binary.  The Sun and Moon as the only symbolic representation of the mood, incline, thrust and culture of the country are far too simplistic, as any binary system eventually becomes.  History has demonstrated the proverbial "third option" and yet even this does not account for the complexity arising from normal human activity. 

In her landmark book, The Hero Within, Carol S. Pearson documents the development of individuals through novels and films from the American cultural landscape. In her analysis, she postulates a succession of archetypes that seem to define and outline the maturation process of these individuals. She suggests six, in almost identical order for men and women: Innocent, Orphan, Victim, Wanderer, Warrior, Magician. Pearson also speculates that North American is fixated, roughly, on two conflicting archetypes: Victim and Warrior. Women, according to Pearson, are the victims, men, the warriors. (For men, the Warrior precedes the Wanderer, whereas for women, the Warrior follows the Wanderer.)
What is significant, according to Pearson, is that all five archetypes (excepting Magician) operate on a premise of scarcity. There is not enough of the significant ingredients in their world view for these developing individuals, whereas, for the Magician, the premise of his/her life and world view is PLENTY. There is enough time, money, love, challenge, beauty, relationships, power, comfort, happiness for everyone including him/herself.
First, the Pearson analysis supercedes any binary analysis, that would see Sun and Moon as the two operating principles in the universe.
Second, while there is no prescribed order to Pearson's succession of archetypes, there is significant work (inner work) for each individual in each archetype, and if that work is not completed upon the occasion of some significant event like the death of a family member, for the first time, in the person's life, then the work, for example, of the orphan is about to begin.
The work of the Orphan includes recognition of one's aloneness, one's need to reach out to others who, themselves are likely lonely, in order to generate relationships needed for a complete and sustaining life.
When doing the work of the Victim, one accepts the reality that one encounters in being victimized, without remaining in that state, because there are others reaching out to help the victim move, and within the Victim acknowledges his/her own potential to park in this state, as one that provides some short-term attention, comfort and healing.
However, the Warrior work involves finding and using the voice of one's own attitude, character, need and boundaries, in the establishment of healthy relationships of mutual support. This is the capacity to recognize and to deploy those skills of the executive, in decision-making and in organizational leadership, not merely the power to "hit" or "shoot" another to achieve one's objectives.
In the work of the Wanderer, one is alone in the wilderness, (as for Christians during Lent) souring one's life, looking for the signs and countersigns that indicate where one needs to change, to grow, to amend, to make amends, is a time of deep reflection, a state to which men seem strongly resistant, whereas women welcome its gifts.
In the Magician, one is unusually celebrating the many gifts around that support, sustain and energize her/his life...and while this state seems the state to which we all aspire, it is not an automatic "threshold" in every life.
And all of the work in the other five archetypes need not be fully completed for one to enter into the gift of the Magician.
With respect to political parties, clinging to simplicity does not allow growth on any front.
The country, I submit, is expected to "grow" into and through the various archetypal stages outlined in Pearson's work, and one of the first recognitions in such a process is that we cannot "purchase" plenty.
Plenty is a state of mind-heart-spirit that comes from a combination of DNA and experiences in all of the various archetypes that sustains the belief, perception, attitude and foundation that the universe is kind, loving, generous and, while sometimes malignant, fundamentally benign.
Unfortunately, the current cultural climate, globally I would suggest, points far too emphatically to the scarcity of clean water, clear air, clean land, excessive turmoil and tragedy through natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis, epidemics, hunger and starvation, fiscal crisis in too many countries, resistance to generosity from too many other countries, a dearth of trust between countries, institutions, cultures and ethnicities,
a tidal wave of stories of narcissistic and selfish greed for both money and power, a failure of systems to cope effectively with all of these "scarcities" and a collective myopia and hyper-short-sightedness of our tiny spec of time in the longer history of the universe...supported and sustained by our over-developed appetite for negative information, supported and also sustained by a massive invasion of technological devices streaming bad news of increasing negativity and scarcity that literally walls up against our normal development as individuals, and certainly as political parties, not to mention the demise of many of our social groupings like churches, service clubs, and face-to-face interest groups.
Both Republicans and Democrats are grasping for the next available vote, through the most short-sighted scarcity and both deprived and depraved sense of emptiness, hollowness and existential angst that, like the proverbial Victim archetype, they are paralyzed with fear...fear of both acting and of not acting.
Fear of themselves and of the other; fear of failure and fear of success: fear of the other holding power and fear of their losing power; fear of facts and fear of illusions; fear of questions and fear of answers; fear of attacks and fear of not being noticed; fear of winning and fear of losing....
And these frozen archetype negates the potential of both Sun and plenty; it is a state of spiritual exhaustion, spiritual hopelessness and spiritual lying..
In the Christian lexicon, Satan is depicted as the Great Liar, and it is on the lies of Satan in the broadest sense of that word that we have impaled ourselves, over the last three or four decades, in our obsessive and phoney "godliness" and "righteousness" and "sanctimoniousness" and spiritual warfare, based not on discovering and deploying our healthy 'warrior' but on deploying our negative and sinister warrior, because we see demons demanding slaying everywhere. In demonizing others, we have contributed to a cultural landscape of demons, all of them lies of our own making, and believing. In short, we have become Satan, through adoption of the lies that perpetuate the ultimate liar.
If we are Republicans, Obama is demonized; if we are Americans, Iran, Iraq, AlQaeda, AlShabaab, Syria, Libya (prior to the fall of the dictator), Hezbollar, Hamas....are all demons needing to be eradicated, not to mention the terror groups in Pakistan. If we are Democrats, Republican presidential candidates are demons, so is Rupert Murdoch, and Grover Norquist, the Koch Brothers and Rush Limbaugh. In short, we are projecting our fears, in metaphoric terms, on names and faces we do not like, trust, tolerate or even have respect for. Rather than doing the hard work of looking inward at those things in our own lives with which we are uncomfortable, but about which we remain largely unconscious, we are flinging images of those "Shadow" archetypes around like missiles at "the other" whoever that may be. As a result our unconscious is effectively in charge, to our own self-sabotage.
It is time to bring those Shadow images to the light of day, and reap the gold that can and will emerge from such an exercise.
As Victims at war with other Victims, attempting to lead any country, we are doomed to failure. The most nasty weapons, strategies, tactics and rumours will and are being deployed in a desperate attempt to take the victory. However, in such a war no one can win, because the prize has eroded, disappeared and perhaps even suffered extinction through a constant barrage of political, cultural and psychic bombing, under cover of headlines, of gossip about irrelevancies and inanities and of disasters both natural and man-generated.
Civil perceptions, attitudes, world views, dependent on PLENTY have been replaced by uncivil perceptions, attitudes, world views dependent on SCARCITY....and it is time for a truce, and time for all Victims/Warriors to lay down their arms and to wander in the wilderness of confusion, deep and profound reflection and list-making of all those they have wounded, destroyed, maimed, imperiled, and even killed whether deliberately or order to return to the "playing field" where civility, honesty, humility, creativity and both compromise and hope have a chance. Only through considerable time in the wilderness, as Wanderer, confused, anxious, hurting, vulnerable and seemingly lost, will we come face to face with our Shadow, wrap our hearts and minds around all of its complexities and listen carefully to the rhythms and the melodies that emerge.
And the return from the wilderness must not be too soon, because if it is, the hard work that needs to be done will not be accomplished.
One of the most memorable phrases of the last week is the one used to describe herself, by Christine Lagarde, on CBS' 60 Minutes, in her interview with Lara Logan, when she agreed that she had told unpopular truths in her public life to people less than receptive to their hearing. "Speaking the truth," she said, "has become my brand."
Would that it could and would become the brand of leaders from all countries and public agencies, both for profit and not-for-profit. The gift of such clarity, as an integral component of PLENTY, cannot be overestimated.

Pledged to Global Education: Canada $21m, Australia $278m, US and UK $353m

By Karen Mundy, from website, November 22, 2011
Karen Mundy is an associate professor and Canada Research Chair at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and the Munk School of Global Affairs University of Toronto. She is also the co-chair of the Canadian Global Campaign for Education.

At a pledging conference earlier this month, Canada pledged a mere $21 million in new money to support the Global Partnership for Education over the next three years. In contrast, Australia committed $278 million US and the United Kingdom committed $353 million US. Can Canada afford to let its educational support for children in the poorest parts of the globe lag?

This morning, in every part of Canada, thousands of parents will wake up, wash children’s faces, and send them off to school.
Each of us has come to expect access to educational institutions that, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and a recent report by McKinsey and Company, rank among the best in the world.
Yet for more than 67 million children around the world, attending school is still a distant dream. Even those lucky enough to make their way to a classroom face steep challenges. Poor facilities, poorly trained teachers and few books mean that learning is not a guarantee.
For the past decade, Canada has been an international leader on this issue, helping to close the gap between the educational life chances of Canadian kids, and children in the developing world. By offering financial aid to governments and others willing to make a concentrated effort to get every child in school, Canada has helped elementary education expand at a rate that is historically unprecedented: more than 40 million children gained a chance to learn.
In Bangladesh, Mali and Tanzania alone, millions more children are now in school than in 2000, and these children have the books and other basic supplies so critical to learning. Canadian assistance has helped to make this difference.
Yet recently, civil society groups have begun to suggest that Canada’s support for education is not keeping pace with its past commitments.
Further intimations of Canada’s policy directions came earlier this month at a meeting of 52 governments to discuss financing a global pooled fund for basic education: the Global Partnership for Education. At its Nov. 7 to 8 pledging conference, Canada provided a mere $21 million in new money to support the Global Partnership for Education over the next three years. That's on top of $60 million over five years pledged in 2008, of which $24 million has yet to be spent but is planned to be doled out this year and next year.
In contrast, Australia committed $278 million US and the United Kingdom committed $353 million US. They both made significant commitments at a time of financial constraint in their own countries, and helped to raise the amount the Global Partnership for Education has to spend on children to $1.5 billion over the next three years.
Contributing to a global pooled fund for basic education makes as much sense in education as it has in health, where global partnerships have had a catalytic effect on international health outcomes.
The Global Partnership for Education brings together 46 developing countries, committed to providing good-quality education for all children, with more than two dozen international donor governments and organizations, including representatives from civil society and the corporate sector.
The partnership is based on a simple bargain: if developing-country governments are willing to make extraordinary efforts to ensure all children an education, the international community will be there to support them. Already, the partnership has reached 16 million children. In the next four years, it plans to reach 25 million more.
Can Canada afford to let its educational support for children in the poorest parts of the globe lag?
We know that literacy and numeracy are force multipliers in achieving improvements in maternal and child health, contributing mightily to a woman’s ability to access services for herself and her family.
We also know that education enhances productivity in the household, farm and factory, and is a precondition for the participation of citizens at every level of society, from community to nation. No country in the modern world has achieved sustained economic growth or political stability with an illiterate population; and we can assume that a world in which large groups are denied access to knowledge is unlikely to be a stable or sustainable one.
For each of these reasons, access to a full cycle of good-quality education is one of the Millennium Development Goals. And for these reasons, education should remain a central pillar of Canada’s global commitments.
Canada has been a longstanding leader in education domestically. At home we expect, indeed demand, good-quality education for all our children. Internationally Canada has shown that it can punch above its weight on issues of global development: during this past year, it has played a catalytic role in spurring new global efforts in maternal and child health.
Health and education go hand in hand, as we’ve seen in our own nation. With a successful pooled fund for education in place, supported by 52 nations, private philanthropies and civil society, now is the time for Canada to ensure that it does not leave education behind.
To the "lay" reader of this Mundy piece, some immediate questions jump out:
Is Canada more interested in committing funds and personnel to Afghanistan and Libya than to Global Education?
Is Canada more interested in committing funds to fighter jets and armed ships and unarmed ships, than to Global Education?
Would it not be less expensive, in the long run, to dedicate dollars to growing the learning and life opportunities of the 67 million children for whom an education is still a distant dream than to pouring Canadian taxpayer dollars into military hardware?
Canada's reputation for a long-standing commitment to education of her own students is the best beacon for the Canadian government to follow in her international commitments to education, since we all know, as Prof. Mundy points out, that education is the key that opens doors in all areas of one's life, in all countries.
Not only is the Canadian government committed to trashing the importance of such academic tools as the Long Form Census, opposed by literally thousands of academics of various disciplines within out country, but now it appears that this government has lost its way on support for international education as well.
They know, however, that this story will not make it to the front pages of the national dailies, nor to the weeknight television newscasts; so they have, once again, little to worry about, in terms of push-back from the Canadian people.
Interestingly, it appears too that the Canadian government is not interested in approaching its corporate "friends" to ante up some of the dollars that could supplement the Canadian contribution to the 46-country Global Partnership for Education. Now, why might that be?