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Monday, September 15, 2014

And we're off... 



We'll be gone on vacation for a couple of weeks -- now that we have retired, its the first time in 25 years that we have been able to travel in September!


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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Whoever has the most trucks wins: redefining winning in war 


Our ideas about war have mostly been patterned after WW1 and WW2, where states sent their armies to war against other states, eventually somebody won, peace agreements were signed, and the soldiers all came home and got real jobs.
That isn't the way war is anymore.
What we see now are numerous smaller wars of "insurgency", where semi-organized ideological well-armed rebel groups grab their guns and leap into their pickup trucks, traveling back and forth across their home territories, killing their enemies as they go, uprooting families, destroying people's ability to raise crops or run a business. Chechnya, Mali, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Syria, eastern Ukraine, the Sudan. Nobody seems to win or lose wars like these, or at least not for long; there is often nobody to sign a peace treaty with and nobody would respect it if one could be negotiated. In these wars, success isn't "winning".  Success seems to be just "not losing" for just long enough to exhaust the opposition and then take back some of the territory lost in the last offensive.
Its the kind of war where apparently some additional air support can give one side a crucial edge.
This appears to be Obama's strategy for dealing with ISIS. From Juan Cole: Obama's ISIL Actions are Defensive, Despite Rhetoric of going on Offense:
Obama hinted in his speech that he wants to help Baghdad and Erbil take back towns from ISIL just as Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the president of Yemen, took back Zinjibar. And just as AQAP hasn’t disappeared in Yemen, Obama expects ISIL to be around for a while. In essence, the Yemen policy has de facto yielded a sort of containment with regard to AQAP, though how successful it will be in the long run can be questioned.
What if Obama is a sharper reader of the Middle East than his critics give him credit for? He knows ISIL is likely not going away, just as, after 13 years, the Taliban have not. US military action may even prolong the lifetime of these groups (that is one argument about AQAP) even as it keeps them from taking more territory.
Don’t listen to his expansive four-stage program or his retooled, stage-managed John Wayne rhetoric. Look at his metaphors. He is telling those who have ears to hear that he is pulling a Yemen in Iraq and Syria. He knows very well what that implies. It is a sort of desultory, staccato containment from the air with a variety of grassroots and governmental forces joining in. Yemen is widely regarded as a failure, but perhaps it is only not a success. And perhaps that is all Obama can realistically hope for.
I don't know if Obama will be right or not, but certainly landing American troops likely wouldn't work any better (see: Mogadishu).
Steve at No More Mister Nice Blog writes:
Obama's job is not to try to rid the world of evil. Obama's job is to protect America and U.S. interests. With regard to ISIS, that means curtailing the group's ability to be a threat to our country and our interests. If Cole is right, and if something like this gets Obama's actual job done, I'd prefer that to a bloodlust-satisfying full-on quagmire of a war that inflames our enemies and inspires ISIS's current enemies in the Arab/Muslim world to rally around the group.

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Friday, September 05, 2014

Murder, she wrote 

The "root cause" for why Indigenous women are murdered and missing?
Men are killing them. Usually, white men.
Really, its as simple as that.
Sarah Hunt asks why are we so hesitant to name white male violence as the reason for missing and murdered Indigenous women:
I fear that no amount of increased awareness and political organizing will actually end the violence if we continue along this current trajectory because we are still not shining a spotlight on the real causes of violence. No, I'm not talking about the drug use and street involvement that some journalists have drawn attention to in their portrayal of Tina Fontaine's final days. I'm also not talking about widespread poverty on reserve, or even the myriad factors that systematically marginalize Indigenous girls and women.
What this latest round of media coverage has failed to address is simply this: white male violence.
Indeed, the erasure of that violence as a topic of social and political concern is arguably a form of violence itself, as it serves to remove white men from the equation. White men get away with being unmarked by the violence they perpetrate, not at fault for carrying out a form of violation that is as old as colonialism itself.
She adds that the search for ways to blame First Nations for the problem, and the reluctance to ascribe responsibility for violence to its actual perpetrators, also serves to marginalize Indigenous women:
Maybe all those white male 'experts' who have weighed in on this issue during these past few weeks would make better use of their energy by turning their attention to the obvious: that serial killers like Legebokoff and Pickton are their peers. Where is the national action plan to address the violence that starts with them?

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

What a strange week 

What a strange week it has been -- horrible bus crashes and nine-year olds with Uzis and Russia invading the Ukraine but lying about it while the American media flips out about Obama's suit colour and England flips out about ISIS -- and I flip out because Shaw in Saskatoon doesn't carry the new TSN channels yet.
Maybe its time for September Song.



Or maybe someting a little cheerier!


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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Shorter, on the government jets 

Shorter -- why the Harper Cons couldn't decommission four of its six Challenger jets:
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.
In fact, the Harper Cons will likely end up buying two more if they can find some place to hide the bill -- because really, its cheaper in the long run, economies of scale and all that....


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Wrong side of history 

Well, in one sense, I guess you could argue that Harper is right when he says that bringing to justice the murderers of Aboriginal women is a law enforcement matter. Ultimately, of course it is.
The problem has been that Canadian law enforcement hasn't been finding out why so many Aboriginal women are missing or murdered, and who is doing it.
And the Harper Cons have zero credibility on this issue, anyway, with their funding cuts to the Sisters in Spirit initiative and transferring the money to the RCMP.  If our justice system isn't part of the solution, that means it is part of the problem. And this is why an inquiry is needed, to find out why it has been too easy for Aboriginal women to disappear in our society, and why their murderers are not being brought to justice.
As Trudeau says:


The prime minister has shown himself not to be simply . . . just out of touch with Canadians on this issue, but also on the wrong side of history.”

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Jaywalking in Ferguson 

I found this report on Daily Kos to be shocking and horrifying
Ferguson makes 2.6 million dollars a year from court fees. In 2013, the court "disposed of 24,532 warrants and 12,018 cases, or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household."
There's your smoking gun. If it seems the town of Ferguson sees protesters as something less than human and more like cattle that have escaped their pen, it may be because the town has been "farming" their mostly-black population as a vital source of revenue for a good long time. In Ferguson, a ticket for jaywalking can be the gateway to repeated jail stays, homelessness, and a lifetime of poverty.
The white paper which Hunter is discussing is here.
So maybe this helps to explain why Michael Brown was trying to get away from a jaywalking charge -- he didn't have the $275 fine.

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