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The Disaffected Lib: As Clear as Mud

In under 2-minutes, the BBC explains who is fighting whom in Syria. It’s as clear as mud.

Things Are Good: Light Rail Bringing Massive Change to American Cities

Let’s face it: driving sucks.

Car traffic is bad for everyone and a lot of American cities have caught on to this. As a result, more light rail is being built throughout the USA, recently Pheonix residents voted to back more light rail with a tax hike.

What’s pushing this? It turns out that the awfulness of the commute, more cities adopting good public transit policy, and increased urbanization.

The future of light rail looks bright!

“Light rail” is a broad term that means a passenger rail system with tram-style cars—as opposed to “heavy rail” subways, as in New York (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Redistribute Neighbourhoods Instead of Wealth

People hate taxes despite the fact that basically every person who studies economics knows they are needed and a great way to spur economic success. Despite the fact taxes are needed and good at helping poorer people in society, taxes are hated.

As a result, some researchers in the USA have looked into alternative ways to help poor people escape poverty. One solution is to change the way we help neighbourhoods rather than looking at taxes.

More Americans live in high-poverty areas than ever in history, defined usually as places where more than 30% to 40% of residents are below (Read more…)

Michal Rozworski: Podcast: The challenge of Sanders and Corbyn to the extreme centre


Over the past year, unlikely challengers have emerged to the dominant politics of the center-left in both the US and the UK. Jeremy Corbyn is looking increasingly poised to win the leadership of the UK Labour Party next month. Meanwhile, on this side of the Atlantic, Bernie Sanders keeps rising in the polls, drawing large crowds and making Hillary Clinton’s coronation as Democratic presidential candidate a bit uncertain. Both Sanders and Corbyn are silver-haired, decades-long parliamentarians identified with a marginalized left and would have been at home in pre-1970s social democracy. After years (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Finally Americans Are Eating Less

The obesity problem in the USA may start to shrink. After years of constantly increasing they caloric intake Americans seem to be getting the message that eating too much can be bad for you. This is the first year that caloric intake has decreased and hopefully it’s a trend of things to come.

As calorie consumption has declined, obesity rates appear to have stopped rising for adults and school-aged children and have come down for the youngest children, suggesting the calorie reductions are making a difference. … The reversal appears to stem from people’s growing realization that they were harming (Read more…)

Things Are Good: White House Planning to Close Guantanamo Bay’s Infamous Torture Centre

Guantanamo Bay on the beautiful island of Cuba sounds like a great place if you don’t know anything about it.

We do know what happens there and it’s immoral and likely illegal (probably even worthy of investigation by the International Criminal Court which the USA hasn’t ratified). The USA has been operating a prison there which is internationally known for shackling prisoners to floors, hunger strikes, and of course torture. As a result of the inhumane practices at Guantanamo Bay America’s “war on terror” has been mocked because it raises the question about who is causing the terror.

President Obama (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Coal Continues to Falter

Coal was a great power source at the turn of the last century because it was easy to transport and plentiful. The obvious problem is that it basically kills the planet when you burn it and that’s not going to change despite the whole ‘clean coal’ propaganda. The good news is as we enter the 21st century coal is losing out to better energy sources. This is great because coal is the worse thing ever.

Slate has an article looking into the fall of coal and notes that less-destructive natural gas is being used. We need to curb the use (Read more…)

Things Are Good: We Need to Hold Banks Accountable (again)

The financial sector is like a hydra and we need to get it under control. The bad news is that bankers have been able to get away with some unethical practices for the last decade or so. The good news is that finally American politicians are taking notice of this and are talking about what to do.

This discourse is needed now while the banks are stable to try to ensure that the their crazy actions don’t lead to yet another financial boondoggle.

Yes, the banks are back. As the New York Times’s Neil Irwin reported, employment has returned (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: An Analogy For Understanding Violent Protest In Baltimore

Let’s say you live in an apartment building, and the only way to buy groceries was to order them and have them delivered to your apartment.

Everyone is told “To place your order, simply call this toll free number, state your name, address, and what you want to purchase.” The cost of the groceries is automatically withdrawn from your bank account, and then the groceries are delivered.

For the people living in apartments ending in the numbers 1-3, this is exactly what happens, almost 100% of the time. On the very rare occasions the groceries don’t arrive, the customer (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: The Generals are Talking – That’s Rarely a Good Thing.

The top brass is getting restive and they’re looking for a bit of mass mayhem.

This might be news to you but Russia has an Academy of Geopolitical Problems. The president of the academy, Konstantin Sivkov, wears a uniform with the insignia of a three star general.

Comrade Sivkov thinks he has an answer to NATO’s steady encroachment right up to Russia’s doorstep – America’s backyard – the San Andreas Fault and Yellowstone national park to be specific.  He thinks that all Russia has to do is pop a good size nuke into the fault and another into Yellowstone and (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: Why I want Elizabeth Warren as the next US President

Senator Elizabeth Warren: The Voice of the Left

It’s time for a progressive, highly educated, intelligent, tough as nails, committed liberal to inhabit the White House one President Obama moves on to other things.

And the article in Politicosums up why I think Warren would make a great president for that powerful nation: Warren didn’t have to struggle to define herself; she entered the Senate with instant credibility. Her rhetoric doesn’t soar like Kennedy’s, but its articulation of progressive valuesis just as unabashed, as in this campaign upbraiding to go-it-alone conservatives: “There is nobody in this country who (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Why I want Elizabeth Warren as the next US President

The Disaffected Lib: Israel’s Real Demographic Nightmare

Israel holds the Palestinian people captive because it believes it has no choice. While no Israeli leader will come right out and say it, there’s no way the country will restore the Occupied Territories to the Palestinians.  No Israeli government is prepared to see their country withdrawn to its pre-1967 borders.

There is an alternative, a one state solution, that would make Israeli and Palestinian equal citizens.  The problem there is demographic.  The Palestinians are a good deal more reproductive, meaning Arabs would fairly quickly outnumber Jews and they might take their revenge for the past half-century at the ballot (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: The Real Threat Facing Israel

No one expected Benjamin Netanyahu to win the gushing approval of the editorial board of Israel’s liberal newspaper Haaretz but they were decidedly unimpressed by their prime minister’s speech to part of the US Congress yesterday.  Their view is that Netanyahu deliberately avoided any mention of the real existential threat to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state – the ever expanding occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Israel’s insistence on ruling over millions of Palestinians in the West Bank who lack civil rights, expanding the settlements and keeping residents of the Gaza Strip under siege is the danger that threatens (Read more…)

Dead Wild Roses: The Liberal Media and the Ideology of Black Victimhood

Fascinating article by Thomas Barker- here is the conclusion. Find the rest on Counterpunch.



As with so much of the racial tension in the United States, the origins of the present situation can be traced back to slavery. In his ground-breaking work on the American slave system, the historian John Blassingame has suggested that black passivity in the antebellum South existed primarily in the minds of whites—on the one hand, to justify white paternalism, and, on the other, to dispel the fear that they felt toward slaves: ‘Like a man whistling in the dark to bolster his (Read more…)

Left Over: Idle Worship….

Stephen Harper and the Beautiful Flag He Hates So Much


As an ex-Yank who always found it profoundly disturbing that rampant, ignorant, my way or the highway stupid patriotism started with ridiculous flag-worship in the States, have to say that spending any kind of big money on the anniversary of a flag seems dumb in the extreme…It’s great to acknowledge it, and fun to read about the people involved, but I hate to see Canadians who are mostly rational and intelligently fervent about their love of country get all worked up about such trivia as (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Are We Really Willing to Go To War over Ukraine?

Would you be okay if it was your kids in uniform going off to a shooting war with the Russians over Ukraine?

The whole idea seems fantastic, ridiculous.  We tend to dismiss it as unimaginable but giving it short shrift can be lethal.

Earlier this week three words caught my attention – “une guerre totale.”  That was the prospect French president Francois Hollande foresaw if there was no quick resolution to the conflict between the warring sides in the Ukraine and between Moscow and Kiev.

Total war.  That’s something we’ve not done for quite a while.  Even (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: The "Meh" Society

There’s really no better way to understand another society that to live there.  I have never known the United States better than during the years I spent studying there back in the Vietnam war era.  This is why I was drawn to the observations of Volker Stanzel, former undersecretary of political affairs at the German foreign office.  Stanzel has just wrapped up a period of teaching at an American university on the west coast.  His impressions of the country, its people and their problems is insightful and should resonate with Canadians also.

Stanzel sees Americans as a people who (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Political Eh-conomy Radio: Climate deals and pipeline steals

Today’s episode is focused on the economics and politics of climate change, both more globally and locally.

To get a global perspective on the state of climate negotiations and the recent US-China climate deal, I speak with Leigh Phillips, a science writer and journalist who has written for Nature, the EU Observer and many other publications. His article on the China-US climate deal is here and he also has a book coming out early in 2015 so be on the lookout for that.

My second guest is economist and former head of (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: Forget Mount Rushmore: Richard Nixon’s last laugh

Richard Nixon laid back

Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace, after his Watergate tapes had shown the public just what kind of a man he was. Despite his claim that I am not a crook!, most believed he lied to the Congress, to the public, and probably to himself. There is no chance that Nixon would ever have his face carved into a granite mountain – like Mount Rushmore – to pay tribute to him. But to all those who scoff at Nixon and his legacy, a word of caution: there is a chance that Mother Nature has on her (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Political Eh-conomy Radio: Doug Henwood on US economics and politics


This week, it’s my great pleasure to present a feature interview with Doug Henwood — economic analyst, author of books including Wall Street and host of the wonderful Behind the News radio show and podcast that inspired this show. Doug always introduces his show by saying his guests will be “taking a look at worlds of economics and politics.” Today, I’ve turned the tables and asked him to take up this very task for the present-day US. The result is a wide-ranging interview on everything from the sluggish economic recovery to Obamacare, the changing character of elites, why (Read more…)

Things Are Good: China and US Agree to Cut Emissions

The world’s largest polluters have agreed that they have a problem and they need to stop it. The USA and China have come to terms with the fact that they are the worst polluters and have both decided to take action using various policy tools and joint cooperation. This is important for many reasons, for one not only does this mean the largest economies will become more efficient and less damaging to the plant. Another reason is that smaller economies (looking at you Australia and Canada) copy American policy, so hopefully the climate change denying government elsewhere will wake up (Read more…)

Left Over: Keeping Remembrance Day in My Own Way….

Gap’s ‘Remembrance Day deal’ not appropriate, Toronto veteran says ‘The point is not to exploit and profit from this day,’ says Cpl. Chuck Krangle

CBC News Posted: Nov 10, 2014 11:10 PM ET Last Updated: Nov 11, 2014 10:57 AM ET

Have to agree with Cpl. Krangle, it is beyond inappropriate to exploit Memorial Day with yet another phony holiday ‘sale’ and shows no respect for our veterans, living and dead..

Then again, no ‘sale’ on any public holiday advertised as such is truly appropriate..but you hear little if any criticism of it..Still the media is happy (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Political Eh-conomy Radio: Kshama Sawant


Last year, Kshama Sawant shocked the continent by winning a seat on Seattle’s City Council. She defeated an incumbent Democrat to become the first openly socialist city councillor in Seattle in a century. Sawant, an immigrant from India with a background as a software engineer and an economics professor, is a militant socialist activist who played a major role in the 2011 Occupy protests. Not your typical politician to say the least.

Sawant’s surprise electoral win in Seattle has sparked discussion across North America. Last week, she made her first speaking appearance in (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Vermont Stops Their War on Drugs, Will Help People Instead

The war on drugs is a backwards, destructive, and anti-human campaign that has destroyed lives. It was launched by Nixon and since then it the ‘war’ has negatively impacted everything it touches from people’s lives to the global economy.

The USA tries to enforce it’s inflexible approach around the world, yet at home many states are realizing that it’s a foolish approach. Vermont has now openly backed out of the ignorant ‘battle’ against drugs and is taking a more educated approach: helping people who are addicted rather than punishing them.

Vermont has passed a battery of reforms that have turned (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: UN Under Attack

I’ve avoided making many blog posts on Middle East politics because they tend to descend into dogmatic shouting matches on the Internet. I also don’t know every historic, geographic, religious, and political detail so don’t count myself among the experts. One doesn’t have to be an expert to comment on the ghastly situation right now. It’s plain as day.

One of the more outrageous points of Israel and Hamas shooting at each other has been Israel’s shelling of UN sites housing thousands of civilians.

#Israel is the only country who is allowed to attack #UN shelters with the support of (Read more…)