Thursday, January 31, 2013

Israel opens fire in effort to prevent bigger fire?

Syria, Iran threaten Israel with retaliation over airstrike

Bassem Mroue The Associated Press, in Toronto Star, January 31 2013

BEIRUT—Syria threatened Thursday to retaliate for an Israeli airstrike and its ally Iran said there will be repercussions for the Jewish state over the attack.
Syria says Israeli airstrike hit its territory
U.S. officials said Israel launched a rare airstrike inside Syria on Wednesday. The target was a convoy believed to be carrying anti-aircraft weapons bound for Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militant group allied with Syria and Iran.
Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim Ali said Damascus “has the option and the capacity to surprise in retaliation.”
In Iran, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian as saying the raid on Syria will have significant implications for Israel.
Hezbollah condemned the attack as “barbaric aggression” and Syrian ally Russia said it appeared to be an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation.
In Israel, a lawmaker close to hard-line Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped short of confirming involvement in the strike. But he hinted that Israel could carry out similar missions in the future.
The Syrian ambassador said he could not predict when Damascus would retaliate. He told Hezbollah's al-Ahd news website that it was up to the relevant authorities to prepare the retaliation and choose the time and place.
Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi condemned the airstrike on state television, calling it a clear violation of Syria's sovereignty. Iran is Syria's strongest ally in the Middle East, and has provided President Bashar Assad's government with military and political backing for years.
Russia, Syria's strongest international ally, said Moscow is taking “urgent measures to clarify the situation in all its details.”
“If this information is confirmed, we have a case of unprovoked attacks on targets in the territory of a sovereign state, which grossly violates the UN Charter and is unacceptable,” Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Whatever the motives, this is not justified.”
Hezbollah, closely allied with Syria and Iran, said it “expresses full solidarity with Syria's command, army and people.”
Hezbollah did not mention any convoy in the statement but said the strike aimed to prevent Arab and Muslim forces from developing their military capabilities.
The Syrian military denied the existence of any weapons shipment and said a scientific research facility outside Damascus was hit by the Israeli warplanes. It said the target was in the area of Jamraya, northwest of Damascus and about 15 kilometres from the Lebanese border.
Maj. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal, who became in December one of the most senior Syrian army officers to defect, told The Associated Press by telephone from Turkey that the targeted site is a “major and well-known” centre to develop weapons known as the Scientific Research Center.
Al-Shallal, who until his defection was the commander of the Military Police, said no chemical or nonconventional weapons are at the site. He added that foreign experts, including Russians and Iranians, are usually at such centres.
Regional security officials said Wednesday that the targeted shipment included sophisticated Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which if acquired by Hezbollah would enable the militants to shoot down Israeli jets, helicopters and surveillance drones. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
Israeli lawmaker Tzachi Hanegbi, who is close to the prime minister, said pinpoint strikes are not enough to counter the threat of Hezbollah obtaining sophisticated weaponry from Syria.
“Israel's preference would be if a Western entity would control these weapons systems,” Hanegbi said. “But because it appears the world is not prepared to do what was done in Libya or other places, then Israel finds itself like it has many times in the past facing a dilemma that only it knows how to respond to,” he added.
He was referring to NATO's 2011 military intervention in Libya that helped oust dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
“Even if there are reports about pinpoint operations, these are not significant solutions to the threat itself because we are talking about very substantial capabilities that could reach Hezbollah,” he added.
Syria's civil war has sapped Assad's power and threatens to deprive Hezbollah of a key supporter, in addition to its land corridor to Iran. The two countries provide Hezbollah with the bulk of its funding and arms.



Memo to Mulcair: Pull Scott's bill C-470

The Clarity Act of 2000 spells out the mechanism by which Quebec, or indeed any other province, may secede from Canada. It gives the federal House of Commons the right to decide whether a referendum question on secession is clear.

It also gives the Commons the right to determine whether such a referendum has been approved by a “clear majority” of the province’s voters.
Finally it requires the seceding province to negotiate terms of the divorce not just with Ottawa but with all other provinces.
Scott’s Bill C-470 would let the Quebec court of appeal determine the clarity of the referendum question, remove the reference to “clear majority” and eliminate the requirement that other provinces be involved in any negotiations. (from "Thomas Mulcair’s NDP caught in Quebec conundrum: Walkom" by Thomas Walkom, Toronto Star, January 30, 2013, excerpted below)
Sometimes, new to the responsibility and complexity of power, or even the potential to take full power, a leader, or a party wobbles under the weight of that burden. Here is one example when, paying the price of mollifying Quebec will prove far too high for the NDP, should they actually be serious about their future prospects of forming a government.
Not only is the Scott proposal unworthy of serious consideration for far too many Canadians, both inside and outside Quebec; it is another indication that the NDP has some serious developmental work to do across the country, should it ever even dream of governing the whole country.
Carrier pigeons freed from their roost at 24 Sussex this morning, are gleefully flying east and west with the laughs and toasts coming from the prime minister's breakfast of champions inside, cackling loudly over the vast land, and all its towns and cities. And there is no mistaking the exuberance in that sound!
It is the sound of the drums of "four-more-years" beating on the breakfast porridge pots of the PM should the country pay full attention to the Scott proposal. (And he will take special care to make sure that happens!) Mulcair will be saddled with this plunge into the shallow end of political naivety in the swimming pool of national debates where the carcases of other equally light-headed, and perhaps even empty-headed political proposals and their proponents have drowned.
Canadians are not the least bit interested in a national divorce, or even in the therapeutic sessions designed to prepare the mind for such a cleavage. We do not appreciate the Parti Quebecois' perpetual whining about their national, cultural victimhood, based on the thin veneer of evidence of unfair play from Ottawa and the other provinces. We also do not appreciate the PQ's chant of "Maitre chez nous!" that has been heard, in between power outages, corruption commissions, sponsorship scandals and referenda for nearly half a century. We are interested neither in appeasing the Quebec independentiste wing of Quebec politics, nor are we seeking to offend the legitimate aspirations of a unique, creative, dynamic, and animated culture and its people.
The Scott proposal has the potential to render an incipient national political party (the NDP) self-emasculated through its eagerness to appease a minority of the Quebec electorate. The country needs a healthy, vibrant and visionary contribution from the NDP and on so many files, there is evidence that it is fulfilling its role as Official Opposition satisfactorily, if not better than expected. For Mulcair to pull the Scott proposal off the parliamentary agenda would undoubtedly infuriate both Scott and some Quebec NDP MP's, it would be preferable to letting the bill onto the House of Commons agenda where it will be voted down anyway, and the only impact will be a lingering and untreatable, and self-inflicted, political hematoma on the face of the NDP and its leader.


Thomas Mulcair’s NDP caught in Quebec conundrum: Walkom

The NDP's attempt to revisit the constitutional file isn't likely to play well outside Quebec.
By Thomas Walkom, Toronto Star, Januqry 30, 2013
Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats are in caught in the Quebec bind.

On the one hand, they’ve made a specific and, in their view, necessary pitch to the Quebec electorate.
On the other, they are trying to woo voters in the rest of Canada who are not always sympathetic to positions that, in Quebec, seem common sense.
The fuss over the Clarity Act has brought the NDP’s Quebec contradictions back to the surface.
Specifically, a private member’s bill from Toronto—Danforth New Democrat MP Craig Scott would repeal that act and replace it with something significantly weaker.
The Clarity Act of 2000 spells out the mechanism by which Quebec, or indeed any other province, may secede from Canada. It gives the federal House of Commons the right to decide whether a referendum question on secession is clear.
It also gives the Commons the right to determine whether such a referendum has been approved by a “clear majority” of the province’s voters.
Finally it requires the seceding province to negotiate terms of the divorce not just with Ottawa but with all other provinces.
Scott’s Bill C-470 would let the Quebec court of appeal determine the clarity of the referendum question, remove the reference to “clear majority” and eliminate the requirement that other provinces be involved in any negotiations.
That Canada recognizes the right of secession at all is remarkable. The Americans fought a bloody civil war over secession. The United Kingdom only recently accepted the notion that Scotland might break away.
Most countries, from France to Nigeria to Mali guard their territorial integrity jealously. When Chechnya tried to secede from Russia, Moscow sent in the troops.
Still, the Clarity Act has never found much favour in Quebec, particularly among sovereigntists.
In the rest of Canada, breaking up the country is viewed as an event that affects everyone. In Quebec, it tends to be seen as a matter for Quebecers alone to decide.
In 2000, the NDP supported the Clarity Act. But in 2005, as part of an effort by then leader Jack Layton to make inroads into Quebec, the party reversed itself, arguing instead that a simple majority of 50 per cent plus one in a referendum should be enough to authorize secession.
The shift played well in Quebec among both separatists and federalists. Historically, Quebec had been a desert for the NDP. Sherbrooke helped to bring the party into the province’s mainstream.
Under Layton, the NDP also shifted its stance on electoral democracy, supporting the idea of giving Quebec more seats in the Commons than its population warrants.
I once asked Layton how he reconciled this with the party’s simultaneous support of proportional representation, “It’s a complicated country,” he answered.
Indeed it is. As long as the NDP was Canada’s third or fourth party, few cared about its views on any of this.
Now, however, the New Democrats are the official Opposition. Their position on national unity does matter. Eventually, voters in places like Moose Jaw and Kitchener will pay attention.
On the one hand, many in the rest of Canada are bitterly opposed to the notion of treating Quebec differently. That’s one big reason why the Charlottetown referendum on constitutional change failed in 1992.
On the other, when forced to think about Quebec secession (and after the usual “good riddance” barroom bravado is out of the way), a good many Canadians are horrified by the idea of a fractured country.
That’s why the Clarity Act played well in the rest of Canada: it gives all of Canadians some say in such a momentous event.



Iran and her many-fingered deviations to avoid sanctions

"China is saying let's up the numbers because no one is doing anything about it, and it looks like Obama has made a political decision not to go to war with Iran," said a senior source with a large independent trading house, referring to U.S. President Barack Obama....

A fresh round of U.S. sanctions coming into force next month could cap Iran's exports in the coming months as some buyers balk at the prospect of falling foul of the measures.

From February 6, U.S. law will prevent Iran from repatriating earnings it gets from its shrinking oil export trade, a powerful sanction that the U.S. officials say will "lock up" a substantial amount of Tehran's funds.
(from Exclusive: Iran crude oil exports rise to highest since EU sanctions

By Emma Farge and Humeyra Pamuk and Alex Lawler, Reuters, January 31, 2013, below)
Interesting to learn that the White House, and the State Department are reputed to consider messing with China over oil imports from Iran too dangerous, while simultaneously upping the ante on freezing profits from oil sales on the Islamic Republic. How nuanced is that!
And yet, one is prompted to wonder, 'Just how effective is such a policy in curtailing or forestalling or eliminating the Iranian nuclear enhancement program?'
Increasingly, talking heads surmise that a nuclear-armed Iran is likely to be a fait accompli with which the world, including the U.S. and Israel will have to live. Nevertheless, those same heads also point to the potential drop in Iranian influence in the event, mostly seen as inevitable, that Assad will finally leave power in Syria. Israel's strike, yesterday, into Syria, seems to be an overt reminder to the world that Israel will do what it has to do to defend itself, including firing warning shots over the "bows" of whatever ships(states) could threaten her people.
The king of Jordan, also yesterday, attending the conference dedicated to soliciting funds for refugees adn humanitarian aid to Syria, speculated that Syria would be the next 'home' for the AlQaeda terrorist campaign.
From far away, one wonders if, in a world in which being a non-state actor engaged in violent and asymmetrical if not random acts of terror are proving extremely difficult to defend against  and to stop, if the trouble-makers in Iran, bent on causing the U.S. and her allies whatever mayhem they can get away with, are not playing both the "state" and the "non-state" double in order to achieve their nefarious and dangerous goals. Allying with Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as with Assad, infiltrating Iraq with more terror, arming the terrorists in Mali and perhaps Somalia...these are not unconnected or irrelevant 'dots' on the map in both the State Department and in the CIA and the Pentagon.
Rather, they can and must be seen as hot-spots whose toxicity will spread as far as the rest of the world permits, including enhanced oil tanker purchases and more timely shipments of crude from Iran to her business 'friends,' China, India and Japan...while the rest of the countries deploy diplomatic words and sanctions, with limited expectations of success.
Exclusive: Iran crude oil exports rise to highest since EU sanctions

By Emma Farge and Humeyra Pamuk and Alex Lawler, Reuters, January 31, 2013
GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran's crude oil exports in December leapt to their highest level since European Union sanctions took effect last July, analysts and shipping sources said, as strong Chinese demand and tanker fleet expansion helped the OPEC member dodge sanctions.
Exports rose to around 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) in December, according to two industry sources and shipping and customs data compiled by Reuters on a country-by-country basis and corroborated by other sources and consultants.
The sources said they expected exports to dip in January from the December peak ahead of new U.S. sanctions.
Western sanctions aimed at curbing Iran's disputed nuclear program halved Iran's oil exports in 2012 from 2.2 million bpd in late 2011, leading to billions of dollars in lost revenue and a plunge in the Iranian currency.
But continuous robust demand from top buyer China and others such as India and Japan, as well as the purchase of new tankers, allowed the Islamic Republic to unexpectedly boost exports late last year.
The United States and the EU are hoping the economic pressure will force Iran to address international concerns about its nuclear program, which Tehran insists is for peaceful purposes but the West suspects is for making weapons.
Salar Moradi, oil market analyst at oil and gas consultancy FGE, estimated that Iran shipped more than 1.4 million bpd of crude oil in December and forecast that exports would remain between 1.1 million and 1.3 million bpd in the first quarter of 2013.
This represents an increase from a low point of less than 900,000 bpd in September and suggests monthly revenues worth approximately $4.7 billion based on December Brent prices.
"They (Iran) bought a number of tankers from China and can now do more deliveries ... It's taken some pressure off Iran and facilitated tanker traffic and we are seeing higher exports to China," he told Reuters this week.
The second industry source said the rise in exports to near 1.4 million bpd was a result of traditional buyers finding new ways to secure shipping insurance.
But, like FGE, he estimated that they would fall slightly to around 1.3 million bpd in January.
CHINESE THIRST
Chinese data showed the country bought 593,400 bpd of Iranian crude in December, the second-highest level of daily imports in 2012, a rise that Chinese officials also attributed to an easing of shipping delays.
Previously, Iran's tanker fleet had struggled to meet delivery schedules to China because EU measures in July barred Europe-based insurers from covering tankers that carry Iranian oil.
"China is saying let's up the numbers because no one is doing anything about it, and it looks like Obama has made a political decision not to go to war with Iran," said a senior source with a large independent trading house, referring to U.S. President Barack Obama.
Elena McGovern, oil and gas analyst at Business Monitor International, said: "The implications of preventing Chinese imports from Iran would be too damaging to the (U.S.-China) bilateral relationship. I would be very surprised if Obama were to take China to task on Iranian imports."
India's imports of Iranian crude were up 29 percent in December from November at around 275,000 bpd, according to tanker arrival data.
Tracking Iranian shipments has become increasingly difficult as companies have sought to conceal tanker movements from Western governments by turning off satellite signals.
Estimates of the Islamic Republic's monthly crude exports can vary considerably and are frequently revised.
NEW SANCTIONS LOOMING
A fresh round of U.S. sanctions coming into force next month could cap Iran's exports in the coming months as some buyers balk at the prospect of falling foul of the measures.
From February 6, U.S. law will prevent Iran from repatriating earnings it gets from its shrinking oil export trade, a powerful sanction that the U.S. officials say will "lock up" a substantial amount of Tehran's funds.
"We continue to engage in close consultations with our international partners on U.S. sanctions with the objective of maintaining pressure on Iran to comply with its international obligations," said U.S. State Department spokesman John Finn.
"Month-to-month variability in crude oil purchases is not unusual," he added.
The International Energy Agency in December forecast a drop in Iranian exports to around 1 million barrels per day in late 2012 and early 2013.
But no matter how many rounds of sanctions are in effect, they are never watertight. Iran found creative ways to market its products and managed to sell more than 1.3 million tonnes of its fuel oil last summer, generating revenues equal to up to a third of its crude exports.
However, the latest data showed fuel oil exports have also taken a dip from the average 648,000 tonnes from July to October.
Exports fell to approximately 230,000 to 330,000 tonnes in December, Salar Moradi said, although he attributed this partly to higher domestic consumption in winter as utilities switch to fuel oil to replace gas used to meet heating requirements in the country.
In a more conservative estimate, data from a firm tracking Iranian fuel oil shipments showed that December exports were around 150,000 tonnes.
Condensate exports also fell by around 300,000 tonnes from November to 600,000 to 700,000 tonnes in December, data from the same firm showed. A Dubai-based analyst said condensate exports might come under further pressure as Iran's biggest customer in the Middle East has decided to reduce its purchases.
Dubai government-owned Emirates National Oil Co (ENOC) has started importing condensate from Qatar to replace sanctioned Iranian oil and is close to finalizing deals with other producers, the company said on Sunday.
Still, some analysts think Iran will continue to find ways to safeguard against significant drops in its oil revenues.
"What we have seen is that when Iran is pushed to a do-or-die situation, they have looked for creative solutions to get around sanctions," said McGovern.
"The system will always find a way to cope."
(Reporting by Emma Farge, Humeyra Pamuk in Dubai; additional reporting by Alex Lawler in London and Manash Goswami in Singapore; Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Washington; Editing by Giles Elgood and Lisa Shumaker)



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Memo to Harper and Redford: try for base hits, not home runs!

There is a depressing malaise around the Canadian reputation on both "energy superpower" and "carbon emissions" files. And, of course, these two files are intimately linked, if not embedded.
Burning fossil fuel is one of the most contaminating of human influences on the environment, and most reasonable people would argue, thereby on climate. Deploying more fossil fuels to extract 'dense crude' further contaminates the environment. Scientifically, there is so little room for questioning these premises, according to an increasing flow of both data and interpretation of that data.
Politically, however, conservative governments, tied to their dependence on the balance sheet, thereby rendering them blind to the big picture, seem tunnelled into attempting the home run on energy production, hence the concept of Canada as an energy superpower. Historically, both Ottawa and Alberta are so deeply committed to the 'home-run' approach, to what they clearly pictured as the "golden cow" of their political aspirations, selling Alberta tar-sands oil to the world at world oil prices, seems to be fading, both in their dreams and on the ground where real decisions count.
Pipelines blocked, both in the Keystone and Northern cases, one by the Obama administration, the other by Canadian First Nations and British Columbia, have so far thwarted those home-run swings by Ottawa (Harper) and Alberta (Redford). Selling unrefined crude either to the U.S. or to China and the East, for the moment, seems, if you will pardon the pun, something of a "pipe-dream".
And yet, in the midst of this confluence of influences, economic, environmental, ethical and political, one thinks of the Canadian beaver, the little creature who continues his laborious task of cutting trees, carrying them to his dream home, and constructing his trademark "house"....never one to dream of home runs, s/he is content with a long string of base hits to accomplish his goal.
For Redford and Harper to be reminded of the little beaver, in this situation, would bring them face to face with the need to get serious, immediately, about the protection of the environment. If both were to bring the full force of their respective governments to bear on the need for environmental protection standards strictly enforced, including the imposition of some form of carbon tax (a move all executives know is coming sooner or later), and the inevitable cries of victimhood from the corporate sector (their political and financial base), these leaders would enhance the air, land and water in the public domain in Canada, their political reputations and thereby their likelihood of re-election, and the Canadian reputation as a leader in environmental protection among the global community.
Sometimes the best sales pitch is also doing the right thing, and not merely relying on the base argument of volume and access of a needed supply of energy.
Furthermore, if both leaders wanted to establish their respective political legacies, they would join together, with other Canadian provincial and energy leaders, to propose, detail and lead a national energy pipeline of Canadian crude to the eastern portion of the country, currently still dependent on Middle East imports.
Link a national energy supply, refinery and distribution system to a world-leading environmental protection strategy, including a carbon tax and a balanced thrust toward clean energies, and a guaranteed price on fossil fuels for Canadian purchasers, for a decade for example, and these two governmental leaders would have shattered so many false ceilings of public expectations, broken down walls of red tape, opened the country to at least two of its outstanding, and glaring opportunities and, in the process, opened the eyes and ears of the rest of the world to a new kind of Canadian player on the world stage. Like beavers, we would be able to show how we can cut trees (harvest oil) and build houses (protect our natural home) at the same time! Amazing!
Tunnelling to home runs too often relegates a player to the minor leagues, until he recovers his full game commitment to include base hits in his repertoire. And so it should!

Goar: Obama casts doubt on Canada’s ambition to be an energy superpower

Hopes for a quick U.S. approval of the Keystone XL pipeline fade, forcing Canada to rethink its status as an energy superpower.
By Carol Goar, Toronto Star, January 30, 2013
Much has changed since Barack Obama threw a spanner into Stephen Harper’s plan to make Canada an energy superpower.

A year ago, the U.S. president rejected an application by TransCanada to run a massive pipeline from Alberta to Texas. Canada’s prime minister assured oilsands producers it was just a hiccup; the project would get the green light after the U.S. election.
Three months ago, Americans re-elected Obama. He still hasn’t approved the Keystone XL pipeline.
Last week he pledged to make climate change a higher priority in his second term. “The path toward sustainable energy sources will be long and difficult,” he said in his Jan. 21 inaugural speech. “But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.”
Two other shifts in the landscape have occurred:
•The U.S. has moved a long way toward energy self-sufficiency. It produces enough natural gas to meet its own needs thanks to hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). And it is ramping up domestic oil production, thanks to new technologies that have unlocked the “tight oil” trapped in rock formations. Americans won’t be buying nearly as much energy as Harper anticipated.
•Ottawa’s backup plan — to export oil to eager overseas buyers — has run aground. There is no way to get Alberta’s bitumen to the Pacific coast. British Columbia won’t provide a transit route. The aboriginal peoples whose territory Enbridge proposes to cross with its Northern Gateway pipeline are even more adamantly opposed to the $6-billion project.
The bottleneck has already driven down the price of Alberta’s tarlike oil. It is now selling at 40-per-cent below the North American benchmark (the West Texas Intermediate price) and 50-per-cent below the global standard (Brent crude price).
Last week Premier Alison Redford warned Albertans the province faces a $6-billion budgetary shortfall because of dwindling royalty payments. Ottawa is feeling the fiscal pain, too. For two years running, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has had to reduce his revenue projections because of lower-than-expected taxes from the oilpatch.
The bottom line is clear: Canada needs the Keystone XL pipeline more than the U.S. does.
“We’ve made it extremely easy for Obama to say no,” warns Simon Dyer, policy director of the Pembina Institute.
The Edmonton think-tank is not opposed to oilsands development, he stresses. But the rapid pace of expansion and the complete lack of federal regulation over greenhouse gas emissions are sending the wrong signal to the White House. (Alberta has regulations but they’re too weak to provide much protection.)
Dwyer places most of the blame on the prime minister. Unlike Alberta Premier Alison Redford, who is open to ideas to clean up the oilsands, Harper and his natural resources minister, Joe Oliver, are inflaming environmentalists on both sides of the border, thereby validating Canada’s reputation as a producer of “dirty oil.”
Obama is expected to wait until the state department completes its analysis of the environmental impact of the proposed pipeline in April before making a decision.
Keystone has support in the U.S. Congress. Fifty-three senators (out of 100) called for quick approval of the pipeline application last week. The House of Representatives has voted in favour of the project four times in the last two years. And Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, mollified by TransCanada’s acquiescence to his demand that the pipeline be rerouted around an environmentally sensitive region, has dropped his opposition.
But that won’t be enough to convince Obama to give TransCanada the go-ahead.
Harper could improve the odds, Dyer says, by placing a firm cap on carbon emissions. Redford could do her part by closing Alberta’s coal-fired generators and requiring oilsands producers to adopt cleaner technologies and extraction methods.
Neither will guarantee a yes from the White House. But both would strengthen Canada’s position whatever lies ahead.

Terrorism...the cancer of our collective world "body"

UPDATE: This morning CBC is reporting unconfirmed airstrikes on the Syrian border by Israeli jets, apparently in an effort to block Hezbollah from acquiring weapons from Syria and attacking Israel....
and this just in....
Israel ramps up warplane presence over Lebanon amid fears of chemical weapons in Syria


By Zeina Karam, Associated Press, in National Post, January 30, 2013 BEIRUT — The Lebanese military said Wednesday that Israeli warplanes have sharply increased their activity over Lebanon in the past week, including at least 12 sorties in less than 24 hours in the country’s south.

The flights come amid Israeli concerns about the civil war in neighboring Syria and fears that advanced weapons could reach hostile groups in Syria or the militant anti-Israel Hezbollah group in Lebanon.
Among Israeli security officials’ chief fears is that Hezbollah could get its hands on Syrian chemical arms and SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles. If that were to happen, it would change the balance of power in the region and greatly hinder Israel’s ability to conduct air sorties in Lebanon.
Iran warns against attacking Syria
A top Iranian official said Saturday that any attack on Syria would be deemed an attack on Iran.
By Bassem Mroue and Ali Akbar Dareini Associated Press, in Toronto Star, January 26 2013
BEIRUT—Issuing Tehran’s strongest warning to date, a top Iranian official said Saturday that any attack on Syria would be deemed an attack on Iran, a sign that it will do all it can to protect embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Ali Akbar Velayati, an aide to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made his comments as Syrian troops discovered a trio of tunnels rebels were using to smuggle weapons in their fight to topple Assad.
The world has been grappling over how to deal with Syria ever since an uprising against Assad’s regime erupted nearly two years ago. But so far there has been no international intervention on the ground where more than 60,000 people have been killed, according to the United Nations.
Iran is Syria’s strongest ally in the Middle East and has provided Assad’s government with military and political backing for years.
In September, the top commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, said the elite unit had high-level advisers in Syria. Iran also is believed to be sending weapons and money to Syria as it endures its worst crisis in decades.
“Syria plays a very key role in supporting or, God forbid, destabilizing the resistance front,” Velayati was quoted by Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency as saying. “For this same reason, (an) attack on Syria is considered (an) attack on Iran and Iran’s allies.”
By backing the rebels trying to oust the Syrian leader, the U.S. and Arab states in the Gulf attacked the “golden ring of resistance,” Valayati said, referring to the militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah and to Iran and Syria, which are all anti-American.
Terrorists seem more than a little adept at creating a chaotic situation that "draws" outside forces into the fray in more than one location, using their grasp of the mentality of many western leaders to "do something" about messy and dangerous situations.
In Mali, the Islamic terrorists, probably a few ragtag armed, and over-stuffed with "macho" testosterone on behalf of Allah, are creating chaos, to which the French and their allies are now committed to "eliminate" them....as if that end result were feasible.
In Syria, according to this story, Iran now threatens the west, that an attack on Syria would be considered an attack on Iran.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban have created so much chaos that a decade plus of violence and the loss of hundreds, if not thousands, of lives, both Afghans and NATO soldiers.
In Yemen, the AlQaeda derivatives are wreaking havoc in another fragile, if not failed, state.
In all three theatres, the Americans either are already, or will soon, deploy their drone attacks, targeting those Islamic extremists.
How long will it be before the drones begin flying over Syria, in support of the rebels?
And, what will the headlines look like if and when those attacks become "public"?
It would seem that, without a state, without an army, without a military establishment, without a bomb and without a boundary in which to contain those terrorists, they are demonstrating a resilience, and an insidious virulence, similar to the incubation, metastizing and growth of a cancer tumour  in the geopolitical "body" without an effective and efficient and cost-effective eradicator.
Just as in the cancer wars, we are attempting many different interventions simultaneously, and yet, when one region grows more quiet, another erupts in violence....and the innocent continue to wear a target on their backs.




Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tide supports restriction on assault weapons and large clips growing

With both Smith and Wesson and Sturm Ruger & Co. having the Mayor of Chicago openly target their bank lines of credit, and city pension plans potentially withdrawn from investments in gun manufacturers, the industry is being openly struck where it could potentially hurt the most, their financial life lines.
However, with this news, we can easily anticipate that more and more millions of people will come forward both to purchase weapons and to invest in gun manufacturing companies, to more than replace whatever is lost from the public and political campaign of Rahm Emmanuel and other mayors.
In Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar,  when planning the murder of Caesar with Cassius, Brutus speaks these words:

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Today, there is a tide swelling on the rage evoked by Aurora, Virginia Tech, Newtown, and yes, Columbine, that speaks very loudly to those still clinging to their AR-15's and other assault weapons, and to their 30-clip magazines. It speaks in memory of lost adolescents, grandmothers, fathers, young children, and in reverent memory to a tragic process of stripped innocence, leaving raw sinews of national nerves, in addition to the tons of moist tissues, broken dreams and shattered hearts.
Like the swimmer on the edge of the whirlpool, the United States, is turning and turning with many (NRA supporters, especially) not realizing the existence of the whirlpool, while others dare to risk it's force, enter into its centrifuge and hope and pray they will emerge 'in the silver reaches of the estuary' (from Margaret Avison's poem, The Swimmer's Moment). This tide, different from the ripple that is growing around some potential bi-partisan bill in the Senate for Immigration Reform (too dependent is it on Republican opportunism for Latino votes), is more likely to swallow those voices whose conviction is that security can be bought with an assault weapon and the people from whose throats such conviction is uttered.
Just like the tobacco companies before them, the gun lobby is unaware that deNile is not just a river flowing through the turbulent nation of Egypt. Denial, in the current political storm, is nothing short of paranoia, masked with big bullets, bigger magazines and even bigger weapons.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel targets TD Bank in gun control debate
By William Marsden, Postmedia News, in National Post, January 28, 2013
The TD Bank suddenly found itself in the cross-hairs of the high-caliber political debate over gun control after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sent a letter to the bank’s U.S. subsidiary asking it to stop lending money to gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson because the company doesn’t support gun controls.
“TD Bank currently aids the gun manufacturing industry through a $60-million revolving line of credit with Smith & Wesson, a gun manufacturer that produces the AR-15 — an assault weapon that was used by James Holmes to kill 12 people and wound 58 in a crowded movie theatre in Aurora,” Emanuel’s letter to TD CEO Bharat Masrani states. “I ask you to use your influence to push this company to find common ground with the vast majority of Americans who support a military weapons and ammunition ban and comprehensive background checks.”
TD Bank official Rebecca Acededo told Postmedia “we respectfully decline to comment” on Emanuel’s letter.
Emanuel also sent a similar letter to the number two financial institution in the U.S., Bank of America, requesting that it withdraw its $25-million letter of credit to gun maker Sturm, Ruger & Company Inc.
The companies are two of America’s largest gun makers. Among their arsenals a series of semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifles similar to the Bushmaster used in the massacre Dec. 14 of 20 elementary school children and six educators at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn. They manufacture the auto-loading rifles under the names M&P 15 and SR-556. Both companies offer 10- or 30-round clips.
This is the type of semi-automatic assault weapon and high-capacity magazine that U.S. President Barack Obama wants congress to ban. He is up against stubborn opposition from the four-million-strong National Rifle Association as well as a majority of Republicans and some Democrats.
Since the Sandy Hook massacre the stock in both companies has risen as sales in assault weapons have skyrocketed. Smith &Wesson’s stock last year out-paced the Dow Jones Industrial Average by about 150 per cent.
Some cities including Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles announced Monday they will divest their pension funds of shares in gun makers.
The National Conference of Democratic Mayors, which purchases firearms and ammunition for their police departments, warned gun makers earlier this month they would not buy weapons from manufacturers who do not support the president’s gun control measures and favour those manufacturers who comply with gun safety measures.
“We’re going to do everything we can as mayors to use . . . the collective buying power of many millions of dollars in guns and ammunition, to support those who will support common-sense laws and oppose those who are fighting us in Congress,” Minneapolis Mayor Raymond Rybak told the Washington publication Politico earlier this month. “I am not going to have the people, the taxpayers of Minneapolis, pay for people to stop the Congress from passing laws that keep our people safe.”
TD U.S. Holding Company, which owns TD Bank in America, is the 13th largest financial institution in the U.S., according to the Federal Reserve.

Stunted masculinities...quo vadis?

Maher new rule- masculinity brave sports guns
By Al Smith, Literate Owl blog, January 26, 2013
While popular culture continues to tell us woman are oppressed it is males I see floundering with their roles and sexual identity. Now I’m not disregarding horrors like rape or domestic violence, nor issues like equity or fair pay but I believe that gender bias is largely a myth driven by media embedded too deep in a politically greedy white male Washington DC. In my world, the only place women are under represented is political office. From my armchair, I see a culture of men ( and boys ) quite unwell and acting out with dysfunctional behaviour and following questionable values. Bill Maher is an entertainer but his monologue raises some questions about many of my male counterparts.
By Bill Maher, on Literate Owl blog by Al Smith, January 26, 2013
And I think it’s because a lot of men today just aren’t feeling all that… useful. They did in the days of hunter-gatherers, but in today’s society, women do the hunting and the gathering — it’s called shopping. And the men, for most of us, the most masculine thing we do all day is pee standing up.
And that’s why we wind up idolizing other men who do the masculine things we’re not doing: football players, soldiers, action stars who solve every problem with violence, tough guys who start wars for no reason, generals who conquer rag-tag armies from third world countries. These are the vessels of our outsourced masculinity.
Why do men collect guns? You know, former Georgia Senator Zell Miller once said, “I’ve got more guns than I need, but not as many as I want.” Well, the Pentagon is just Zell Miller on a larger scale with shoes on. It has more guns than it needs, but not as many as it wants.
And I know some of you out there are saying, oh, that’s some liberal bullshit right there, calling guns a replacement for testosterone. But if that’s not true, how come as a man gets older, his gun always get bigger?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDA9vEjeABA&sns=tw

Living vicariously  through the "action figures" in sports, movies, the military, all in a blind "outsourcing" of our masculinity, has merit as a perspective. Living vicariously has always had its own tragic pitfalls, mostly found in an emptiness similar to the hunger experienced after eating Chinese food. Often, too it is the feelings and the full experience of powerlessness that drives us to suck life energy from others who, they believe, are living a real, authentic, full and fulfilling life.
In the historic 'run' to this epiphany, men have disdained opportunities to experience life differently.
Conquering the competition, extrinsically, has relevance only for those whose testosterone levels require a physical release, in adolescence, early adulthood and perhaps even up to forty-something.
However, as Carl Jung reminds us, human life takes a different turn sometime near the mid-forties, and many of us turn from extrinsic rewards and pursuits to the intrinsic variety, looking inward, reflecting on the meaning and purpose of our existence, 'becoming something like more spiritual' (to use today's parlance) and less interested in the acquisition of symbols of success and power 'over'.
In the course of that development, males often find themselves searching for words to describe, and thereby help them to accept and to uncover, the pain they have been avoiding for the first four-plus decades of their lives.
It was words in their English classes that sounded, at fifteen to most of them, like so much "BS" or, put another way, "too effeminate" for my taste. Shakespeare often drove male adolescents crazy with his verdant text filled to the brim with metaphors, similes, personifications, pathetic fallacies, ironies and dramatic ironies...just to mention a few of the "extravagant overblown" exposures of human emotions...like jealousy, the pursuit of power, the tragedy of hubris, mistaken identity and character foils to entertain and, if necessary, to teach....Milton, too, with his copious pages of pounding yet balanced political rhetoric breathing hot from the mouths of Beelzebub, and the host of the fallen angels in Paradise Lost seemed, to the mechanical, or even scientific and especially pragmatic adolescent, more than a little melodramatic.
And, being male, one wanted to avoid melodrama like the bubonic plague, given its obvious affinity with the female gender.
So, avoiding the devices associated with melodrama, including the words that served as its vehicle, and the exploration of the inner emotions they revealed, and the discoveries of personal responsibility that accompany all voyages into the "heart and the soul" including the forgiveness of those whose overt abuse of each of us somehow, on reflection perhaps over many replays, began to disclose the "part we played in the tragedy," a disclosure that can come only to those patient and courageous and vulnerable enough to believe that the mining of those moments, left silent like the bear in his winter cave, for decades, is truly a journey into a new conscious awareness of how things too painful or too complicated to face are really the nuggets of new life that bring meaning to the last three or four decades one breathes.
Countries, too, just like individuals, and families and communities, have the opportunity to discover their own "shadow" in the repressed tragedies of their collective experiences, should they find the courage and the vocabulary and the perspective and the quiet time to "mine" those moments, lying silent just waiting for their 'spring'(ing) to light.
However, a permanent adolescence will cling tighter and tighter to the extrinsic symbols of power like guns, and sports and military uniforms, and executive offices and BMW's and private jets in a desperate and extended pursuit of approval, acceptance and the pride/hubris of status, in a world addicted to the make-up that permits the permanent avoidance of both truth and vulnerability.
Men, especially, are so deeply embedded in a self-sabotaging culture of masculinities that reduces us to the contemptible "gayness" of the artist, or the even more contemptible "arrogance" of the action figures, in a bi-polar and hypermanic and tragic pursuit of our own emptiness.
Unless and until we discover the garden of multicoloured and nuanced floral arrangements that are already planted and waiting only for our discovery, in novels, biographies, poems, lyrics, movies and plays, and in art galleries, dance recitals, symphony concerts and individual music and art lessons, men will continue their stoic and axelithymic ("no words for feelings") path of self-destruction.
There are those, many of them men, who live by the adage, "what I do matters more than what I say" as if silence and a stunted vocabulary were innate to the male gender. Cutting the larynx/brain off from the oxygen of words, especially those words that express how we feel in all of its nuances, will only exacerbate our experience of powerlessness and generate an even more desperate pursuit of the hollow symbols of hard power...after all, isn't that hard, orgasmic power the core definition of masculinity?
Oh, only in the world of make-believe, you say?
Pity, and here I thought it was the brass ring to which every man both aspired, and once found, clung to desperately, hoping never to be found out as human, weak, vulnerable and still admirable.
Reclaiming our authentic masculinities, including a rich and nuanced vocabulary of colours to paint the canvas of our inner experiences, including our feelings, will significantly reduce our dependence on the acquisition of hard power in all of its many forms, and demonstrate both to ourselves and to our partners, that in weakness and in vulnerability and in deep reflection we can find the full value, meaning and purpose of our existence. And, then we will be able and willing to thank people like Bill Maher and Al Smith for their courageous and cogent nudges.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dads are critical in development of both girls and boys

Traditional dads more likely to raise ‘girlie girls,' says UBC researcher
How fathers act at home appears to shape daughters’ career ambitions
By Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun, in Ottawa Citizen, January 28, 2013Dads who avoid washing the dishes and doing the laundry at home tend to raise “girlie girls,” daughters who prefer dolls and aspire to be housewives, new research reveals.
Daughters are more likely to believe they can grow up to work outside the home if their fathers have egalitarian attitudes about child care, cooking and cleaning the house and actually take on those jobs, said University of B.C. psychologist Toni Schmader, who presented her findings at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology last week.
“You have to talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to gender stereotypes,” said Schmader. “And what dad says and does matters.”
Rather than emulating the behaviour of fathers who are focused on paid work, girls appear to align their attitudes about male and female gender roles to “complement” their father’s behaviour, Schmader said.
“Girls may be looking at their father not as a model for who they could be, but as a model for who they could be with [as a spouse],” Schmader said.
Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/life/Traditional+dads+more+likely+raise+girlie+girls+says/7880401/story.html#ixzz2JIQYcO5h

Here we read that how Dad's behave matters to the perceptions of their daughters.
In other research, we learn that boys learn the "dominance" model of masculinities from a culture "dominated by male bullies" who shame their young boys into "manly" attitudes, behaviours and beliefs.
And one of the weapons those "dominating males" use in their undeclared warfare is ridicule, and the comparison they use is "girlie" whenever they witness or hear about a male exhibiting attitudes commonly associated with empathy, compassion, and "failure to stand up for yourself" as in the exhortation, "Hit him back when he hits you, so he will learn his lesson!"....
In both cases, the description of the negative, "girlie" is applied both to young girls who choose to play with barbies, and young boys who exhibit attitudes, actions and beliefs that run "counter" to a stereotype of healthy masculinity.
If ever we are to begin to transform the culture in which young boys are raised, we are going to have to confront the masculine culture that abhors anything smacking of "weakness" (physical, emotional, or mental) that it witnesses in young male children.
And only men are eligible as agents applying for that role.
Women need not apply! It is, after all, women who oversubscribe to the notion of telling their young boys, when injured or bullied, "Don't cry! Be a man!" in some kind of knee-jerk response to what they believe all men want to both hear and to witness in their offspring. And, when the father discovers his son has been bullied, he immediately directs his son to "go after the xxx-xx-x-xxxxx!"
In the last few decades, female identity has dominated the North American culture, premised on the notion that too many women are not earning wages for similar and identical work as their male peers.
Identity, however, has so many nuanced aspects, which include, of course, the rate of pay of men and women.
However, masculine identity, equally if not more complex, than that of females, merits at least equal time, attention, dollars and public debate as that dedicated to the healthy growth and development of women.
Young men compromise, too often, in order to comply with what they consider "binding rules" of what a healthy male looks like, does, thinks and believes. And both their mothers and their fathers, with differing words and looks, perhaps, but nevertheless both consciously and unconsciously, induce, embed, indoctrinate and acculturate their young boys into a pressurized kind of confusion.
In order to be a healthy male, both experience and research tell us, that support for authentic feelings expressed when felt, and supported by both parents, is conducive to the development of a healthy young man.
However, too many fathers, uncles, grandfathers and community leaders (male) suffer from something new to the vocabulary of studies in masculinities: "alexithymic," (stoic) literally "no words for feelings"
And, of course, unfortunately, they pass their condition on to their male children. Harry Brod, in the introduction to Brothers Keepers, New Perspectives on Jewish Masculinity, writes these words:
..."restrictive emotionality is one of the hallmarks, and one of the most damaging outcomes, of traditional masculinity, signifying a "not feminine" constraint that boys enforce mercilessly on each other throughout boyhood's playgrounds, school hallways, and locker rooms. Males adhere to this crippling standard to such an extent that they are typified as stoic or "alexithymic," literally "no words for feelings" (Levant, 1995) Lane and Pollerman (2002) have identified opportunities to encode emotional experiences with language, in actual communication, as fundamental to the development of emotional intelligence. In their view, alexithymia represents "a developmental deficit consisting of a relative absence of emotional experience" (Land and Pollerman, p. 284*) so that children fail to develop nuanced awareness of, or vocabulary for, their feelings. In this sense, boys' normative deprivation in the realm of emotional communication may be the most costly outcome of the dominant masculine paradigm.
*(Lane, R.D. & Pollerman, B.Z. (2002). Complexity of emotional representations. In L.F. Barrett & P. Salovey (eds.) The wisdom of feelings (pp.271-296). New York: Guilford Press

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Historian: the Declaration for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders, 1998

By Murray Brewster, Canadian Press, in National Post, January 24, 2013
OTTAWA — The Conservative government has cobbled together a nascent political consensus with the Opposition NDP that should permit an extended deployment of Canada’s heavy-lift military cargo plane, which is ferrying war equipment into Mali.

New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair agreed Sunday to allow the air force’s C-17 cargo plane to continue assisting French and African forces as they battle al-Qaeda-linked militants, said NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday the government is looking at “whether and how” to extend its support of France, which launched an offensive Jan. 10 to dislodge the terrorist organization from northern Mali.
Harper said he has reached out to colleagues and opposition parties to build consensus on the next steps in the unfolding crisis, but made it clear that “direct” military involvement in the form of troops is still not in the cards.

“Anything we do, I would like a broad Canadian consensus behind that,” Harper told a news conference in Cambridge, Ont.
“I do think that it is important to help this mission, but at the same time I think we’ve been very clear — and I think this reflects Canadian opinion — that while we’re prepared to help, we don’t want to see a direct Canadian military mission to Mali.”
Mulcair told Harper he supports the decision to send the transport plane, and even favours the French intervention, Dewar said.

But in exchange for that support, the prime minister will allow the House of Commons foreign affairs committee to monitor and debate Canada’s evolving role in the conflict, which experts say has the potential to be a protracted event.
Dewar said parliamentary oversight should lead to less confusion, and hopefully clear up some of the contradictory signals coming from the government. Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird have been at odds publicly about what form Canada’s contribution would take.
Just yesterday, in her testimony to the Senate on the debacle in Benghazi, Hillary Rodham Clinton, pointedly referred to the conflict in Mali as potentially one of the more dangerous facing the world today and in the short-term future. Other observers say that the terrorists have recovered loads of weapons, of all types, from the fallen government of the Libyan dictator, Gaddafi. Clearly, the French government considers the threat from radical Islamists to their former colony Mali to be serious, and yet, as Clinton explained, the northern part of the country is filled with mountains and caves, 'sounds reminiscent' said Clinton referring directly to Afghanistan.
There are some insights that might help from Bernard Lewis, in his book, The Crisis of Islam.
For bin Ladin and those who follow him, this is a religious war, a war for Islam against infidels, and therefore, inevitably, against the United States,the greatest power is the world of the infidels.(p.xv)...
Islamic history, for Muslims, has an important religious and also legal significance, since it reflects the working our of God's purpose for His community--those that accept the teachings of Islam and obey its law. (p.xix)...
In the Western world, the basic unit of human organization is the nation, in American but not European usage virtually synonymous with country. This is then subdivided in various ways, one of which is by religion. Muslims, however, tend to see not a nation subdivided into religious groups but a religion subdivided into nations.(p.xx)...
In the early centuries of the Muslim era, the Islamic community split up into many states, the ideal of a single Islamic polity persisted.(p.xxi)...
Middle Easterners' perception of history is nourished from the pulpit, in the schools and by the media, and although it may be--indeed, often is,--slanted and inaccurate. it is nevertheless vivid and powerfully resonant.(p.xxiv)
On February 23, 1998, Al-Quds al-'Arabi, an Arabic newspaper published in Lond, printed the full text of a "declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad agains the Jews and the Crusaders. According to the peper, the statement was faxed to them, with the signatures of Usama bin Ladin and the leaders of Jihad groups in Egypt, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The statement--a magnificent piece of  eloquent, at times poetic Arabic prose--reveals a version of history that most Westerners will find unfamiliar....The declaration begins with an exordium, quoting the more militant passages in the Que'an and in the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, and then continues: "Since God laid down the Arabian peninsula, created its desert, and surrounded it with its seas, no calamity has even befalled it like these Crusader hosts that have spread in it like locusts, crowding its soil, eating its fruits, and destroying its verdure; and this at a time when the nations contend against the Muslims likes diners hostlin around a bowl of food.
From here the declaration goes on to talk of the need to understand the situation and act to put it right. The facts, is says, are known to everyone and are set forth under three main headings.
          First, For more than seven years the United States is occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of its territories, Arabia, plundering its riches, overwhelming its rulers, humiliating its people, threatening its neighbours, and using its bases in the peninsula as a spearhead to fight against the neighboring Islamic peoples.
          Though some in the past have disputed the true nature of his occupation, the people of Arabia in their entirety have now recognized it.
          There is no better proof of this than the continuing American aggression against the Iraqi people, launched from Arabis despite its rulers, who all oppose the use of their territories for this purpose but are subjugated.
          Second--Despite the immense destruction inflicted on the Iraqi people at the hands of the Crusader Jewish alliance, and in spite of the appalling number of dead, exceeding a million, the American nevertheless, in spite of all this, are trying once more to repeat this dreadful slaughter. It seems that the long blockade following after a fierce war, the dismemberment and the destruction are not enough for them. So they come again today to destroy what remains of this people and to humiliate their Muslim neighbors.
          Third--While the purposes of the Americans in these wars are religious and economic, they also serve the petty state of the Jews, to divert attention from their occupation of Jerusalem and their killing of Muslims in it.
          There is no better proof of all this than their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest of the neighboring Arab states, and their attempt to dismember all the states of the region, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia and Egypt and Sudan, into petter states, whose division and weakness would ensure the survival of Israel and the continuation of the calamitous Crusader occupation of the lands of Arabia. 
These crimes, the statement goes on to say, amount to a 'clear declaration of war by the Americans against God, His Prophet, and the Muslims. In such a situation, it is the unanimous opinion of the ulema throughout the centuries that when enemies attack the Muslim lands Jihad becomes a personal duty of every Muslim....
the final and most important part of their declaration, the fatwa, laying down that 'to kill Americans and their allies, both civil and military, is an individual duty of every Muslim who is able, in any country where this is possible, until the Aqsa mosque (in Jerusalem) and the Haram mosque (in Mecca) are freed from their grip, and until their armies, shattered and broken-winged, depart from all the lands of Islam, incapable of threatening any Muslim...(and the document continues)...
By God's leave, we call on every Muslim who believes in God and hopes for reward to obey God's command to kill the Americans and plunder their possessions wherever he finds them and whenever he can. Likewise we call on the Muslim ulema and leaders and youth and soldiers to launch attacks against the armies of the American devils and against those who are allied with them from among the helpers of Satan.(p.xxiv-xxvii)
Anyone who thinks these Islamic radicals are not serious in their goals, would do well to  pause and reflect on the meaning and implications of these words.

Early Years most important for parents and governments

James Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, argues that the most crucial investments we as a country can make are in the first five years of life, and that they pay for themselves. Yet these kinds of initiatives are underfinanced and serve only a tiny fraction of children in need. (From "For Obama's New Term, Start Here" by Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, January 23, 2013, excerpted below)
In Canada, and I suspect in the U.S., there is a journalistic bias about education and especially about parenting, shoving it off to the "Family Pages" as opposed to the "editorial" or the "news" sections of the dailies. It is as if issues around nutrition, physical and cognitive curiosity, exploration and eventually perceptions that grow into attitudes are less important than the latest budget decisions by some governmental body. Piecemeal funding of the growth and development of the first five years of life, especially among the poorest, least educated and highest risk population, and political debates about this demographic are easily and quickly dismissed as if these issues were relegated to the "afternoon tea parties" of elegant women's leagues and bridge parties. Whether this phenomenon is a left-over from the patriarchal hierarchy of values or not, is a subject for another time and place (although, it says here that we think it is!)
Nevertheless, social policy insofar as it focuses on the newborns, and the first five years of life, can include discussions of the most simple, and even personal matters.....like
When did parents last read to their young child?
When did parents last enrol their child in play activities that include socializing, competing, teasing and being teased, healthy snacks, brushing shoulders with other parents?
When did parents last take out their own memberships in the local library, demonstrating their own zest for reading, for questioning their reading, for engaging others in the matters discussed in their reading?
When did parents last enrol their young children in the local library....and library here refers to the storehouse of hard and soft cover books, DVD's, movies and documentaries?
When did parents take their children to the local produce store where they will find heaps of rainbows of various textures and tastes of fruits and vegetables not only to feast their eyes on, but also to feed their palates?
When did parents last explore the mysteries of the midnight sky, including the various stars and galaxies with their young children?
Kristof describes the work of two researchers/writers in two quite different neighbourhoods in Philadelphia, one of them referred to as the badlands....and the hands-off approach found there when referring to parenting style is simply unjust, not to mention lethargic and complacent.
We do not have to over-book our young children to offer them enrichment of the kind and degree they can appreciate; we can moderate our urges to have the hollywood version of the best kid on the block or in the school, or in the nursery school. However, we can never takes our 'hands off the wheel' when it comes to mentoring the growth of children from the very first signs of interest, curiousity and stimulation.
And we can also never take our feet off the pedal in requiring our governments to learn all there is to learn about what generates healthy, curious, imaginative and interactive engaged young bodies and minds....
And all the cliches about "they represent our future" and "kids need to learn to earn" and bumper stickers like "I have an honour student at X school" will never substitute for daily, hourly thinking, planning and responding to the questions, exclamations, urgings and sketchings of our youngest....
Let's stop talking about government programs, as if they were nothing more than "hand-outs" producing dependency; they can be role modelling examples for parents whose own opportunities were so stunted through a plethora of negative influences, none of which need to be or become a "life sentence" to repeating a similar scarcity in the next generations.
For Obama’s New Term, Start Here
By Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, January 23, 2013
What accounts for the cycles of poverty that leave so many people mired in the margins, and how can we break these cycles? Some depressing clues emerge from a new book, “Giving Our Children a Fighting Chance,” by Susan Neuman and Donna Celano.
Neuman and Celano focus on two neighborhoods in Philadelphia. In largely affluent Chestnut Hill, most children have access to personal computers and the shops have eight children’s books or magazines on sale for each child living there.
Take a 20-minute bus ride on Germantown Avenue and you’re in the Philadelphia Badlands, a low-income area inhabited mostly by working-class blacks and Hispanics. Here there are few children’s books, few private computers and only two public computers for every 100 children.
On top of that, there’s a difference in parenting strategies, the writers say. Upper-middle-class parents in America increasingly engage in competitive child-rearing. Parents send preschoolers to art classes and violin lessons and read “Harry Potter” books to bewildered children who don’t yet know what a wizard is.
Meanwhile, partly by necessity, working-class families often take a more hands-off attitude to child-raising. Neuman and Celano spent 40 hours monitoring parental reading in the public libraries in each neighborhood. That was easy in the Badlands — on an average day “not one adult entered the preschool area in the Badlands.”
When I was a third-grader, a friend struggling in school once went with me to the library, and my mother helped him get a library card. His grandmother then made him return it immediately, for fear that he would run up library fines.
The upshot is that many low-income children never reach the starting line, and poverty becomes self-replicating.
Maybe that’s why some of the most cost-effective antipoverty programs are aimed at the earliest years. For example, the Nurse-Family Partnership has a home-visitation program that encourages new parents of at-risk children to amp up the hugging, talking and reading. It ends at age 2, yet randomized trials show that those children are less likely to be arrested as teenagers and the families require much less government assistance.
Or take Head Start. Critics have noted that the advantage its preschoolers gain in test scores fades by third grade, but scholars also have found that Head Start has important impacts on graduates, including lessening the chance that they will be convicted of a crime years later.
James Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, argues that the most crucial investments we as a country can make are in the first five years of life, and that they pay for themselves. Yet these kinds of initiatives are underfinanced and serve only a tiny fraction of children in need.
We don’t have any magic bullets. But randomized trials and long-term data give us a better sense of what works — and, for the most part, it’s what we’re not doing, like improved education, starting with early childhood programs for low-income families. Job-training for at-risk teenagers also has an excellent record. Marriage can be a powerful force, too, but there’s not much robust evidence about which programs work.
So, President Obama, to fulfill the vision for your second term, how about redeploying the resources we’ve spent on the war in Afghanistan to undertake nation-building at home — starting with children so that they will no longer be limited by their ZIP codes.



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper for Liberals

Do Canada’s, or Ontario’s, Liberals matter any more: Thomas Walkom

By Thomas Walkom, Toronto Star, January 23, 2013
As a party, the Liberals haven’t had a new idea since the 1980s. Individual party members have (St├ęphane Dion’s green shift comes to mind).
But the party, as a whole never signed onto Dion’s environmental agenda. Nor has it signed onto anything else.
The Liberals talk of holding policy conventions that would replicate that golden period of the 1960s, when the party embraced medicare, public pensions and welfare reform.
But they never do. Former federal leader Michael Ignatieff hosted a thinkers’ conference that headlined prominent conservatives. Nothing came of it.
The conventional wisdom among Liberals is that strong policy positions should be avoided at all costs in order to avoid alienating voters. Instead, Liberals prefer to talk about what they call values.
For a long time, that worked. Now it doesn’t. Ontario’s provincial Liberal leadership candidates are remarkably vague. But there is no indication that this will save their party from going down the drain whenever an election is called in the province.
Part of the problem for the Liberals is that the values they trumpet are not unique to them. Liberals are for equality of opportunity, fiscal sobriety and helping those who need a helping hand. Fine. But who isn’t?
Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats aren’t agitating for collective farms. And Harper’s Conservatives don’t oppose helping those they believe to be deserving of aid.
The real divisions among political parties in this country are not based on values. They are based on specifics: Just who does merit that helping hand? What kind of tax system best promotes opportunity? Who gets to be defined as poor?
These are the political questions political parties should be able to answer.
And some do. We have a pretty good idea of where the Conservatives of Harper and Hudak stand. Harper’s Conservatives like guns, don’t like criminals, hate environmental regulation and would prefer a tax cut to a social program any day. Hudak’s Ontario Tories have no use for welfare recipients and labour unions.
The new NDP, while more slippery than it once was, still takes positions on fundamental issues like taxes and climate change.
But the Liberals? Who knows?
Who are they? If they suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth, would anyone notice?
As a former "Trudeau Liberal" having licked stamps in his leadership bid, and carefully but avidly supported his unity stance, (no special status for Quebec) and his embrace of bilingualism and French Immersion for English speaking students, as well as in insouciance and his intellect, I have grown weary of more than the lack of clear policy definition of the Liberal Party.
It is, from this vantage point, little more than a collection of backrooms, no longer filled with cigar smoke, which seems to  have been replaced by something the culture might call political correctness...wanting everyone to like them, without offending anyone by saying anything....of what I might call self-imposed political emasculation.
It was Vermont Governor Howard Dean who proclaimed, in his brief run for the presidency, that the Democratic Party needed to have its spine restored. A similar observation seems appropriate for the Liberal Party, both in Ontario and in Ottawa. While there are bursts of "fiscal austerity" under Martin and Chretien, and a firm "No" to Dubya on his invitation to join the Iraq war following 9/11, and the Kelowna Accord, under Martin, in response to First Nations injustices, there is little in public memory to the trace of Liberal "achievements" over the last two or three decades. Sadly, much of the public memory is filled with internecine inner-party, personality and ambition-driven conflict to rebuild the party.
Trudeau, unfortunately, was not interested or pro-active in providing succession steps with both policy and personalities in leadership, as a lasting emptiness in his legacy.
Is the Liberal Party just another party of big business, loyal and obsequious to Bay Street in the Manley/Martin/Turner tradition, or is it really interested in levelling the playing field for the middle class, for the poor and for the disenfranchised? Of course, the loud chorus from all leadership contenders is, "We are socially liberal and fiscally conservative," just as Mr. Walkom points out.
That's no longer adequate as a political mantra, without some flesh on those bones.
Tinkering with the age to begin OAS, or tinkering with the rate of the GST, or putting the Queen's picture back in all Canadian embassies and consulates, or pouring $50 million into self-promotion in a constant campaign...these are not signs of a healthy and substantive and responsible government.
As Susan Riley puts it in her farewell column in today's Ottawa Citizen, too many of the current crop of Conservative MP's are opportunistic careerists.
There are signs that similar evidence has been creeping, if not parading itself, into the leadership races in Ontario, Quebec and Ottawa.
And after the record of Liberals in all three theatres, much of it inflicted by themselves on themselves, the public expects more muscle, more vision, more courage and more leadership.
In a world where every hair-do (Trudeau let's Ezra Levant touch it!) is a sound byte, and where a boxing match is an authentic sign of political muscle (how ridiculous!) and where the playing field is littered with opportunities to counter the Harper catering services to the wealthy and the energy and military production corporations (we now sell weapons to Columbia!), there is a paucity of substance coming from the races.
Canadians are detached from all three races, and the responsibility rests in part on the shoulders of those seeking leadership posts in all three parties.
In answer to Walkom's question,"If they suddenly disappeared would anyone notice?" we would have to respond, probably not many.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Memo to David Brooks: "Collectivism" is a social good, not an evil philosophy

By Kelly McParland, National Post, January 22, 2013
David Brooks, a conservative-minded columnist for the liberal-minded New York Times, thought the speech “surely has to rank among the best of the past half-century,” but took exception to the president’s wholehearted embrace of collectivism as the solution to many problems.
“America’s greatest innovations and commercial blessings were unforeseen by those at the national headquarters,” he writes. “They emerged, bottom up, from tinkerers and business outsiders who could never have attracted the attention of a president or some public-private investment commission.”
I also think Obama misunderstands this moment. The Progressive Era, New Deal and Great Society laws were enacted when America was still a young and growing nation. They were enacted in a nation that was vibrant, raw, underinstitutionalized and needed taming.
We are no longer that nation. We are now a mature nation with an aging population. Far from being underinstitutionalized, we are bogged down with a bloated political system, a tangled tax code, a byzantine legal code and a crushing debt.
Memo to David Brooks:
Your use of the word "collectivism" demonstrates a colossal American paranoia of anything smacking of state operation. Your library is a collective. Your public schools are a collective, as is every police and fire department. Your military is a collective, as is your State Department. All your state universities are "collectives" as are most, if not all, of your community colleges. Your highways are a result of a collective initiative, much of it coming from the leadership of one of the most revered Republican presidents in history, Dwight Eisenhower whose name adorns the Interstate Highway System.Your national parks are another exemplary model of collectivism.
Medicare and Medicaid, as well as Social Security are both 'collectives' as are Food Stamps, and Unemployment Benefits, all of which help to sustain, by giving a hand-up, those most threatened in a seismically changing world economy.
Just because your political system is suffering from a vapid bowel obstruction, in the form of the Republic rump in the House of Representatives, not to mention an apparent brain-stem collapse from some kind of obsession with the utter contempt  in which they hold President Obama, while not owning responsibility for any of the hostage-taking they have inflicted, apparently with much impunity, is no reason or justification for raising phoney red flags about collectivism.
It is not the social safety net that is bankrupting the United States, but rather two unfunded wars, a prescription drug benefit for seniors that is also unfunded and a Wall Street seduction aided and abetted by a derelict Washington, under both political parties so co-dependent on the "milk of human kindness" that flows through the cheques written by too many plutocrats seeking to impose their personal, private and privatizing agenda on the world, to better rake in their profits, while emasculating the environment, including air, water and land, in a careless abandonment of civic responsibility.
Stop demonizing acts of collaboration, co-operating and even "collectivism" in your hell-bent pursuit of a perfectly pure capitalist, survival-of-the-fittest Darwinian jungle, where the rich triumph and the rest of us quietly fade away, as you and your ilk would have it, if you had your way!
At least during what most reasonable observers would call a transformational period in world trade and economics, not to mention an equally catatonic shift in political power in too many capitals to name, would it not behoove right-wing thinkers and writers to at least consider some modest restraint on their rhetoric and their political demonization of everything the president thinks, says or even imagines, and, in the wider interest of all Americans, demonstrate a modicum of conscience and compassion for those whose homes, jobs and security have been ripped away through no fault of their own, and through no national effort to support and sustain them through the turbulence.

Obama building lasting, platinum legacy

Did President Obama signal the potential for peace with Iran in his inaugural address yesterday at noon?
The jury is still out on that one; however, it is not out on his aggressive rhetoric on tackling global warming and climate change....finally!
Only the dinosaurs, (politically speaking, of course!) still push back against the mountains of empirical evidence that says humans are making an hourly contribution to the deterioration of the planet's environment. In fact, there are more people now concurring with the scientists on global warming and climate change than there are who refuse to believe that smoking causes cancer.....some turnaround!
Just like the turnaround on acceptance of the gay and lesbian and transgender communities...
And, one would like to think, the turnaround on the need to ban assault weapons and large magazines, as well as the need for background checks on all gun purchasers...all of these changes coming following the Newtown massacre of children and their teachers.
Another turnaround...not a single word, either in the text of the inaugural address, or in the punditry following, focuses on the president's race....and after only four years of his first term!
The war in Iraq is over, insofar as American troops in battle are concerned.
The war in Afghanistan is coming to an end, with the beginning of American troop withdrawal this year.
Osama bin Laden is dead, and resting at the bottom of the sea.
Cars will have gas mileage rates nearly double their current rates, by 2020.
Obamacare is the law of the land, needing enhancements to be sure, but nevertheless, it is passed, regardless of whether all Republican governors take advantage of the insurance exchanges.
America is becoming an exporter of fossil fuels.
The American "word" abroad has respect, honour and integrity, minus the texan bravado of the eight previous Dubya years.
And, if the office has "humbled him" as he indicated in his brief remarks at the luncheon following the inaugural ceremonies, it has certainly emboldened his approach to the need for political action to support and enhance medicare, medicaid, social security...programs that do not make us "takers" but rather make us free to take the risks necessary to survive and grow in this environment...(Take that, Mr. Romney and put it in your dog cage on top of your car!)
Americans are being led by a confident, and yes humbled president who is more cunning, more subdued and more committed to achieve a lasting and platinum legacy than in his first term....and so, "you ain't seen nothin' yet" might be the most fitting headline from yesterday's party.
If unity is the goal, then it will be up to the Republicans to find a way to "work with" the president and the Democrats or face the pushback from "citizens" engaged in "We the people"...the phrase the echoed across the globe in the address.

Monday, January 21, 2013

History of NDP does not include current political reality

NDP governments tend to have certain characteristics. They are close to the trade unions, for example, a movement dominated by public sector workers keen to expand public services, raise levels of public sector pay and pensions and remove limits on public sector collective bargaining. The party also attracts many who believe sincerely in the state’s ability to achieve fairness by high levels of redistribution, financed by high taxes, big debt, or both.

There is nothing wrong with believing in any of these policies, except that Canadian voters have, with time, tended to recoil from governments that pursue them. They do so because such policies drive out investment and growth, reduce opportunity overall and create a privileged class of public sector workers. (From "Column: Liberals and New Democrats were never natural soul mates" by Brian Lee Crawley, Ottawa Citizen, January 18, 2013, excerpted below)
While Mr. Crawley's characterization of the NDP governments has historic validity, there has been a considerable shift in the political and economic climate over the last decade or two. First, the disparity between the rich and the poor has grown in most countries in the west, including Canada, if less dramatically here then south of the 49th parallel. Second, there has been a all-out assault on the labour movement, especially on the public service sector, that is neither warranted nor productive for the long-term in generating new opportunities for both workers and the environment. It is not the public service workers who seek an expansion of public services, but rather an electorate that continues to demand access to the kind of public services that ensure the 'social contract' between those in power and those "outside" the boardrooms of power and thereby maintain the trust of the people in their own government, the sine qua non of democracy. Resisting the stripping of long-fought-for bargaining rights of unions is not the same thing as 'remov(ing) limits on public sector collective bargaining'. They are rightly determined to hold fast to those legitimate rights, in the face of a North American right-wing onslaught. Furthermore, their capacity and willingness to bend wage rates, pensions and health care benefits in order to preserve the fiscal future of major corporations like those in the auto industry demonstrate their flexibility and resilience and force critics to further examine their perspective that paints labour as the enemy of the new economy.
There is no deep reservoir in the public purse according to the messages leaping out of the mouths of people like the Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty, so all political players are left with is fighting for a balance to the austerity cuts and the maintenance of public services. That includes the NDP, who are working to serve the legitimate role of the voice of ordinary people, in the torrent of rhetoric that supports the "rich" at the expense of the "poor". "Trickle down" is no longer a legitimate argument for tax loopholes for the big corporations, for relaxed environmental protection regulations, for massive military expenditures and even more massive prison construction just to placate the "law-and-order" rump in the conservative party.
The Liberals are as historically enmeshed with the "big money, big corporations, vested interests" as are the conservatives, and the emergence of the NDP (while admittedly the Quebec resurgence is not a sign of national prominence) comes at a time when paying attention to the legitimate needs and aspirations of ordinary people are receiving their rightful attention, and only the NDP can and will sustain their support for those people, the core and beating heart of the democratic state in which they find their voice.
Also, by marrying both environmental protection and economic development, for example, the NDP is no the enemy of either investment or responsible federal budgets. In fact, there is a clear history of balanced budgets under NDP provincial governments, that could and ought to serve as a credible and reliable story of their maturing, their listening to the public demand for responsible budgets and their authentic capacity and willingness to adapt to the realpolitik of the times.
Sorry, Mr. Crawley, there is more to the story than what is contained in the history books...Sometimes, the present and the future have a voice in the prospects of the future.

Column: Liberals and New Democrats were never natural soul mates
Brian Lee Crowley, Ottawa Citizen, January 18, 2013
Even when the Liberals were seduced by the creation of the welfare state in the ’60s, and let spending rip, the Tories followed. That suited the electorate. They had two parties reasonably close to the core values of society, so voters could change leaders without having to change fundamental policy direction. Then both parties reversed course over the deficit.
That allowed first the CCF, then the NDP, to parody the other two parties as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, indistinguishable from one another. What the social democrats didn’t get was that was just what the electorate wanted. And as long as the NDP stood no real chance of taking power, that reasonably friendly rivalry between Tories and Liberals made sense.
But virtually everywhere that the CCF and later the NDP grew to have a real chance of taking power, the division between Liberals and Tories became a liability. By splitting the votes of people who agreed they wanted a society of opportunity, competitive markets, free choice, moderate taxation, limited government and social programs that help but don’t entrap, the NDP could occasionally take power.
NDP governments tend to have certain characteristics. They are close to the trade unions, for example, a movement dominated by public sector workers keen to expand public services, raise levels of public sector pay and pensions and remove limits on public sector collective bargaining. The party also attracts many who believe sincerely in the state’s ability to achieve fairness by high levels of redistribution, financed by high taxes, big debt, or both.
There is nothing wrong with believing in any of these policies, except that Canadian voters have, with time, tended to recoil from governments that pursue them. They do so because such policies drive out investment and growth, reduce opportunity overall and create a privileged class of public sector workers.
There are important regional variations of course. Prairie New Democrats are constrained by a small-c conservative culture that frowns on profligacy, for example.
But on the whole, when New Democrats become major political players, the other two parties quickly learn there is a high price to indulging their separate identities. Where they successfully present a united front, they almost invariably beat the NDP. Where the anti-NDP coalition is weak or only partial, the NDP often triumphs.
Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Column+Liberals+Democrats+were+never+natural+soul+mates/7839917/story.html#ixzz2IcPVfS6p

Memo to Joyce Murray: once, and then proportional rep. not satisfactory

UPDATE: Ms Murray's one-time bargain, is simply not enough....we must have a complete merger of both Liberal and NDP Parties, not merely to defeat Stephen Harper but also to give a voice to the moderate "left" majority chorus in Canada...One time collaboration followed by a proportional representation election is simply not good enough, as a policy plank for a Liberal Leadership candidate.
‘It’s not enough to replace Stephen Harper with someone else’: Joyce Murray the lone Liberal candidate to support deal with NDP
By Armina Legaya, National Post, January 20, 2013
Speaking in Vancouver, most of the nine candidates argued that co-operating with the official opposition party in order to win the 2015 elections was out of the question, as the Liberals were fundamentally different.
“It’s not enough to replace Stephen Harper with someone else. We need to replace him with a very, very clear vision of where we’re going forward,” said Montreal MP and presumptive front-runner Justin Trudeau.
“What would electoral co-operation imply? What kind of values are we willing to jettison?”
Vancouver MP Joyce Murray was the lone candidate to support one-time co-operation with the NDP and the Greens.
“Canada is too important to let Stephen Harper win the election in 2015,” she said. “We have to get rid of Stephen Harper.”
First, Ms Murray deserves a small round of applause for her courageous position, reflecting the political realities of the Canadian political landscape. We do need to get rid of Stephen Harper and his government....and the reasons are legion.
Second, if she continues to make her legitimate point, others will start to think about the implications of what she is saying...that Liberals are in no position to even contemplate a return to power, and that Canadians are not ready to give them the keys to 24 Sussex any time soon, and that co-operating with the NDP would offer the Canadian electorate a clear indication that collaboration has not completely disappeared from the Canadian official political arena.
And this, from the Joyce Murray for leader website
VANCOUVER, BC – Joyce Murray, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra and candidate for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, today received the endorsement of Canadian author Matthew Kalkman.
“Joyce’s vision for a Sustainable Society is exactly what I have been seeking to articulate in my book, speeches and articles on New Liberalism,” said Kalkman. ”This vision is precisely what our country needs in order to tackle the greatest threats to our freedom – be they environmental, economic or social. It is increasingly rare in our politics to have a leader who is willing to stand behind a bold, positive and thoughtful vision, which clearly articulates where she or he wants to take the country. Joyce Murray is doing just that.”
Kalkman is the author of ‘New Liberalism’, a book that examines the evolution of Liberalism from its early beginnings to its potential future incarnations. In the book, he argues that New Liberalism is the next step in this evolution: the notion that, in order for a society to be maintained and to evolve, it is necessary to take into account Liberal responsibility to future generations. Matthew was a keynote speaker at the 2012 Liberal Biennial convention, where Interim Leader Bob Rae predicted he "will have a great future in our party".

And this today from The Tyee,
Is Justin Trudeau Stephen Harper's Best Chance? (excerpted below)

By Kai Nagata, from The Tyee website, January 21, 2013
I had the chance to ask Justin Trudeau for an unequivocal answer on my number-one issue as a voter, and he obliged: "I am completely closed," he said in the scrum, "to any sort of co-operation with the NDP."
To be clear, I don't like the idea of parties merging. But the more effectively the NDP, Liberals and Greens cancel out each others' efforts in the next election, the easier it will be for Harper's party -- itself an alliance -- to win.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, journalists discovered last week, is actively trying to broker progressive co-operation talks in Ottawa. After she quietly emailed individual NDP MPs, Tom Mulcair took charge and sent May a carefully worded reply. Although he chose not to mention electoral co-operation in his letter, neither did Mulcair rule it out.
Trudeau did that yesterday. If he wins, the stage appears set for trench warfare with the NDP. Only one Liberal candidate out of nine, Vancouver Quadra MP Joyce Murray, defended the idea yesterday of "one-time electoral co-operation" to defeat the Conservatives, the goal being to implement democratic reform.
There's still time for other campaigns to come around, but so far on this issue there's a disconnect with the voters they purport to serve. Aside from realists within the Liberal Party itself, I believe there's a strong pro-cooperation constituency among the progressive Internet users the party has now invited into the race.
National pro-democracy group Leadnow began a survey on Friday of its roughly 180,000 Canadian members. More specifically, Leadnow is polling the people on its mailing list that are not already participants in its "Cooperate for Canada" campaign, launched during the last NDP leadership race.
By Sunday night, 11,228 people had replied -- Canadians from across party lines. Asked if they support co-operation between the NDP, Liberals and Greens before and after the next election, 95% said yes. That's more than 10,000 people.