Do not stand for the Canadian Anthem

I have not stood for a national anthem in 40 years. People get so pissed all around me at sporting events or where ever we are expected to show our fealty. Not a lot of critical thinking going on when people do stand. They are afraid of being different. They are totally captured by brain-dead patriotism. When you stand for Oh Canada you are standing in support of Canada’s on-going genocide of Aboriginal peoples, you are standing for its mining industry that acts so criminally with Cdn gov’t complicity in killing people, and you are standing for ecocide through the fossil fuels industry, you stand for Canada’s armament industries selling to regimes that repress women and kill their own minorities among other horrors that Canada perpetrates around the world and at home.

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Provoking Nuclear War by Media

Provoking Nuclear War by Media

Mirko / Shutterstock.com

The exoneration of a man accused of the worst of crimes, genocide, made no headlines. Neither the BBC nor CNN covered it. The Guardian allowed a brief commentary. Such a rare official admission was buried or suppressed, understandably. It would explain too much about how the rulers of the world rule.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has quietly cleared the late Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, of war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, including the massacre at Srebrenica.

Far from conspiring with the convicted Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, Milosevic actually “condemned ethnic cleansing”, opposed Karadzic and tried to stop the war that dismembered Yugoslavia. Buried near the end of a 2,590- page judgement on Karadzic last February, this truth further demolishes the propaganda that justified Nato’s illegal onslaught on Serbia in 1999.

Milosevic died of a heart attack in 2006, alone in his cell in The Hague, during what amounted to a bogus trial by an American-invented “international tribunal”. Denied heart surgery that might have saved his life, his condition worsened and was monitored and kept secret by US officials, as WikiLeaks has since revealed.

Milosevic was the victim of war propaganda that today runs like a torrent across our screens and newspapers and beckons great danger for us all. He was the prototype demon, vilified by the western media as the “butcher of the Balkans” who was responsible for “genocide”, especially in the secessionist Yugoslav province of Kosovo. Prime Minister Tony Blair said so, invoked the Holocaust and demanded action against “this new Hitler”.  David Scheffer, the US ambassador-at-large for war crimes [sic], declared that as many as “225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59” may have been murdered by Milocevic’s forces.

This was the justification for Nato’s bombing, led by Bill Clinton and Blair, that killed hundreds of civilians in hospitals, schools, churches, parks and television studios and destroyed Serbia’s economic infrastructure.  It was blatantly ideological; at a notorious “peace conference” in Rambouillet in France, Milosevic was confronted by Madeleine Albright, the US secretary of state, who was to achieve infamy with her remark that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children were “worth it”.

Albright delivered an “offer” to Milosevic that no national leader could accept. Unless he agreed to the foreign military occupation of his country, with the occupying forces “outside the legal process”, and to the imposition of a neo-liberal “free market”, Serbia would be bombed. This was contained in an “Appendix B”, which the media failed to read or suppressed. The aim was to crush Europe’s last independent “socialist” state.

Once Nato began bombing, there was a stampede of Kosovar refugees “fleeing a holocaust”. When it was over, international police teams descended on Kosovo to exhume the victims of the “holocaust”. The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily denouncing “a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines”. The final count of the dead in Kosovo was 2,788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the pro-Nato Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).  There was no genocide. The Nato attack was both a fraud and a war crime.

All but a fraction of America’s vaunted “precision guided” missiles hit not military but civilian targets, including the news studios of Radio Television Serbia in Belgrade. Sixteen people were killed, including cameramen, producers and a make-up artist. Blair described the dead, profanely, as part of Serbia’s “command and control”. In 2008, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Carla Del Ponte, revealed that she had been pressured not to investigate Nato’s crimes.

This was the model for Washington’s subsequent invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and, by stealth, Syria. All qualify as “paramount crimes” under the Nuremberg standard; all depended on media propaganda. While tabloid journalism played its traditional part, it was serious, credible, often liberal journalism that was the most effective – the evangelical promotion of Blair and his wars by the Guardian, the incessant lies about Saddam Hussein’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction in the Observer and the New York Times, and the unerring drumbeat of government propaganda by the BBC in the silence of its omissions.

At the height of the bombing, the BBC’s Kirsty Wark interviewed General Wesley Clark, the Nato commander. The Serbian city of Nis had just been sprayed with American cluster bombs, killing women, old people and children in an open market and a hospital. Wark asked not a single question about this, or about any other civilian deaths.

Others were more brazen. In February 2003, the day after Blair and Bush had set fire to Iraq, the BBC’s political editor, Andrew Marr, stood in Downing Street and made what amounted to a victory speech. He excitedly told his viewers that Blair had “said they would be able to take Baghdad without a bloodbath, and that in the end the Iraqis would be celebrating. And on both of those points he has been proved conclusively right.” Today, with a million dead and a society in ruins, Marr’s BBC interviews are recommended by the US embassy in London.

Marr’s colleagues lined up to pronounce Blair “vindicated”. The BBC’s Washington correspondent, Matt Frei, said, “There’s no doubt that the desire to bring good, to bring American values to the rest of the world, and especially to the Middle East … is now increasingly tied up with military power.”

This obeisance to the United States and its collaborators as a benign force “bringing good” runs deep in western establishment journalism. It ensures that the present-day catastrophe in Syria is blamed exclusively on Bashar al-Assad, whom the West and Israel have long conspired to overthrow, not for any humanitarian concerns, but to consolidate Israel’s aggressive power in the region. The jihadist forces unleashed and armed by the US, Britain, France, Turkey and their “coalition” proxies serve this end. It is they who dispense the propaganda and videos that becomes news in the US and Europe, and provide access to journalists and guarantee a one-sided “coverage” of Syria.

The city of Aleppo is in the news. Most readers and viewers will be unaware that the majority of the population of Aleppo lives in the government-controlled western part of the city. That they suffer daily artillery bombardment from western-sponsored al-Qaida is not news. On 21 July, French and American bombers attacked a government village in Aleppo province, killing up to 125 civilians. This was reported on page 22 of the Guardian; there were no photographs.

Having created and underwritten jihadism in Afghanistan in the 1980s as Operation Cyclone — a weapon to destroy the Soviet Union — the US is doing something similar in Syria. Like the Afghan Mujahideen, the Syrian “rebels” are America’s and Britain’s foot soldiers. Many fight for al-Qaida and its variants; some, like the Nusra Front, have rebranded themselves to comply with American sensitivities over 9/11. The CIA runs them, with difficulty, as it runs jihadists all over the world.

The immediate aim is to destroy the government in Damascus, which, according to the most credible poll (YouGov Siraj), the majority of Syrians support, or at least look to for protection, regardless of the barbarism in its shadows. The long-term aim is to deny Russia a key Middle Eastern ally as part of a Nato war of attrition against the Russian Federation that eventually destroys it.

The nuclear risk is obvious, though suppressed by the media across “the free world”. The editorial writers of the Washington Post, having promoted the fiction of WMD in Iraq, demand that Obama attack Syria. Hillary Clinton, who publicly rejoiced at her executioner’s role during the destruction of Libya, has repeatedly indicated that, as president, she will “go further” than Obama.

Gareth Porter, a samidzat journalist reporting from Washington, recently revealed the names of those likely to make up a Clinton cabinet, who plan an attack on Syria. All have belligerent cold war histories; the former CIA director, Leon Panetta, says that “the next president is gonna have to consider adding additional special forces on the ground”.

What is most remarkable about the war propaganda now in floodtide is its patent absurdity and familiarity. I have been looking through archive film from Washington in the 1950s when diplomats, civil servants and journalists were witch-hunted and ruined by Senator Joe McCarthy for challenging the lies and paranoia about the Soviet Union and China.  Like a resurgent tumour, the anti-Russia cult has returned.

In Britain, the Guardian’s Luke Harding leads his newspaper’s Russia-haters in a stream of journalistic parodies that assign to Vladimir Putin every earthly iniquity.  When the Panama Papers leak was published, the front page said Putin, and there was a picture of Putin; never mind that Putin was not mentioned anywhere in the leaks.

Like Milosevic, Putin is Demon Number One. It was Putin who shot down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine. Headline: “As far as I’m concerned, Putin killed my son.” No evidence required. It was Putin who was responsible for Washington’s documented (and paid for) overthrow of the elected government in Kiev in 2014. The subsequent terror campaign by fascist militias against the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine was the result of Putin’s “aggression”. Preventing Crimea from becoming a Nato missile base and protecting the mostly Russian population who had voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia – from which Crimea had been  annexed – were more examples of Putin’s “aggression”.  Smear by media inevitably becomes war by media. If war with Russia breaks out, by design or by accident, journalists will bear much of the responsibility.

In the US, the anti-Russia campaign has been elevated to virtual reality. The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, an economist with a Nobel Prize, has called Donald Trump the “Siberian Candidate” because Trump is Putin’s man, he says. Trump had dared to suggest, in a rare lucid moment, that war with Russia might be a bad idea. In fact, he has gone further and removed American arms shipments to Ukraine from the Republican platform. “Wouldn’t it be great if we got along with Russia,” he said.

This is why America’s warmongering liberal establishment hates him. Trump’s racism and ranting demagoguery have nothing to do with it. Bill and Hillary Clinton’s record of racism and extremism can out-trump Trump’s any day. (This week is the 20th anniversary of the Clinton welfare “reform” that launched a war on African-Americans). As for Obama: while American police gun down his fellow African-Americans the great hope in the White House has done nothing to protect them, nothing to relieve their impoverishment, while running four rapacious wars and an assassination campaign without precedent.

The CIA has demanded Trump is not elected.  Pentagon generals have demanded he is not elected. The pro-war New York Times — taking a breather from its relentless low-rent Putin smears —  demands that he is not elected. Something is up. These tribunes of “perpetual war” are terrified that the multi-billion-dollar business of war by which the United States maintains its dominance will be undermined if Trump does a deal with Putin, then with China’s Xi Jinping.  Their panic at the possibility of the world’s great power talking peace – however unlikely – would be the blackest farce were the issues not so dire.

“Trump would have loved Stalin!” bellowed Vice-President Joe Biden at a rally for Hillary Clinton. With Clinton nodding, he shouted, “We never bow. We never bend. We never kneel. We never yield. We own the finish line. That’s who we are. We are America!”

In Britain, Jeremy Corbyn has also excited hysteria from the war-makers in the Labour Party and from a media devoted to trashing him. Lord West, a former admiral and Labour minister, put it well. Corbyn was taking an “outrageous” anti-war position “because it gets the unthinking masses to vote for him”.

In a debate with leadership challenger Owen Smith, Corbyn was asked by the moderator: “How would you act on a violation by Vladimir Putin of a fellow Nato state?”

Corbyn replied: “You would want to avoid that happening in the first place. You would build up a good dialogue with Russia … We would try to introduce a de-militarisation of the borders between Russia, the Ukraine and the other countries on the border between Russia and Eastern Europe. What we cannot allow is a series of calamitous build-ups of troops on both sides which can only lead to great danger.”

Pressed to say if he would authorise war against Russia “if you had to”, Corbyn replied: “I don’t wish to go to war – what I want to do is achieve a world that we don’t need to go to war.”

The line of questioning owes much to the rise of Britain’s liberal war-makers. The Labour Party and the media have long offered them career opportunities.  For a while the moral tsunami of the great crime of Iraq left them floundering, their inversions of the truth a temporary embarrassment. Regardless of Chilcot and the mountain of incriminating facts, Blair remains their inspiration, because he was a “winner”.

Dissenting journalism and scholarship have since been systematically banished or appropriated, and democratic ideas emptied and refilled with “identity politics” that confuse gender with feminism and public angst with liberation and wilfully ignore the state violence and weapons profiteering that destroys countless lives in faraway places, like Yemen and Syria, and beckon nuclear war in Europe and across the world.

The stirring of people of all ages around the spectacular rise of Jeremy Corbyn counters this to some extent. His life has been spent illuminating the horror of war. The problem for Corbyn and his supporters is the Labour Party. In America, the problem for the thousands of followers of Bernie Sanders was the Democratic Party, not to mention their ultimate betrayal by their great white hope. In the US, home of the great civil rights and anti-war movements, it is Black Lives Matter and the likes of Codepink that lay the roots of a modern version.

For only a movement that swells into every street and across borders and does not give up can stop the warmongers. Next year, it will be a century since Wilfred Owen wrote the following. Every journalist should read it and remember it.

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

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FearMongering to benefit war industries

Here is an an article which points to how Western governments and their corporate owners are ramping up the fear of Russian military aggression in order to create healthy bottom lines for the war industries. Canada is involved in this too through positioning troops in places like Latvia where the Russians have said they have no interest in.

U.S. Defense Contractors Tell Investors Russian Threat Is Great for Business

THE ESCALATING ANTI-RUSSIAN rhetoric in the U.S. presidential campaign comes in the midst of a major push by military contractors to position Moscow as a potent enemy that must be countered with a drastic increase in military spending by NATO countries.

Weapon makers have told investors that they are relying on tensions with Russia to fuel new business in the wake of Russian’s annexation of Crimea and modest increases in its military budget.

In particular, the arms industry — both directly and through its arsenal of hired-gun, think-tank experts and lobbyists – is actively pressuring NATO member nations to hike defense spending in line with the NATO goal for member states to spend at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense.

Retired Army Gen. Richard Cody, a vice president at L-3 Communications, the seventh largest U.S. defense contractor, explained to shareholders in December that the industry was faced with a historic opportunity. Following the end of the Cold War, Cody said, peace had “pretty much broken out all over the world,” with Russia in decline and NATO nations celebrating. “The Wall came down,” he said, and “all defense budgets went south.”

Now, Cody argued, Russia “is resurgent” around the world, putting pressure on U.S. allies. “Nations that belong to NATO are supposed to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks. “We know that uptick is coming and so we postured ourselves for it.”

Speaking to investors at a conference hosted by Credit Suisse in June, Stuart Bradie, the chief executive of KBR, a military contractor, discussed “opportunities in Europe,” highlighting the increase in defense spending by NATO countries in response to “what’s happening with Russia and the Ukraine.”

The National Defense Industrial Association, a lobby group for the industry, has called on Congress to make it easier for U.S. contractors to sell arms abroad to allies in response to the threat from Russia. Recent articles in National Defense, NDIA’s magazine, discuss the need for NATO allies to boost maritime military spending, spending on Arctic systems, and missile defense, to counter Russia.

Many experts are unconvinced that Russia poses a direct military threat. The Soviet Union’s military once stood at over 4 million soldiers, but today Russia has less than 1 million. NATO’s combined military budget vastly outranks Russia’s — with the U.S. alone outspending Russia on its military by $609 billion to less than $85 billion.

And yet, the Aerospace Industries Association, a lobby group for Lockheed Martin, Textron, Raytheon, and other defense contractors, argued in February that the Pentagon is not spending enough to counter “Russian aggression on NATO’s doorstep.”

Think tanks with major funding from defense contractors, including the Lexington Institute and the Atlantic Council, have similarly demanded higher defense spending to counter Russia.

Stephen Hadley, the former National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush now serving on the board of Raytheon, a firm competing for major NATO military contracts, has argued forcefully for hiking defense budgets and providing lethal aid to Ukraine. Hadley said in a speech last summer that the U.S. must “raise the cost for what Russia is doing in Ukraine,” adding that “even President Putin is sensitive to body bags.”

The business press has noticed the development. The Washington Business Journal noted that “if anyone is benefiting from the unease between Russia and the rest of the world, it would have to be Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp,” noting that the firm won a major contract from Poland, which is revamping its military in response to Russia. Roman Schweizer, an analyst for the defense industry with Guggenheim Securities, predicted last year that U.S. arms sales would continue to rise, particularly because “eastern NATO countries will increase procurements in the wake of continued Russian activity in Ukraine.”

At the Defence Security Exposition International, an arms dealer conference held in London last fall, contractors were quick to use Russia and rising defense budgets to hawk their products. “The tank threat is … much, much more closer to you today because Putin is doing something” in eastern Ukraine, a shoulder-fired-rocket touting representative from Saabtold Defense One.

“Companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing have pledged to increase the share of exports in their overall revenues, and they have been seeking major deals in East and Central Europe since the 1990s, when NATO expansion began,” said William Hartung, director of the Arms & Security Project at the Center for International Policy. Hartung noted that as some nations ramp up spending, U.S. firms will be “knocking at the door, looking to sell everything from fighter planes to missile defense systems.”

“Russian saber-rattling has additional benefits for weapons makers because it has become a standard part of the argument for higher Pentagon spending — even though the Pentagon already has more than enough money to address any actual threat to the United States,” he said.

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De-bunking Neo-liberal market claims

This is a fine article that debunks 5 of the major right wing neo-liberal claims about the market and its role in society.

 

Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success

Investment banks such as Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and J.P. Morgan, philanthropies such as the Rockefeller Foundation, politicians such as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Massachusetts former governor and now Bain Capital Managing Director Deval Patrick, and elite universities such as Harvard have been aggressively promoting Pay for Success (also known as Social Impact Bonds) as a solution to intractable financial and political problems facing public education and other public services. In these schemes investment banks pay for public services to be contracted out to private providers and stand to earn much more money than the cost of the service. For example, Goldman Sachs put up $16.6 million to fund an early childhood education program in Chicago yet it is getting more than $30 million (Sanchez, 2016) from the city. While Pay for Success is only at its early stages in the United States, the Rockefeller Foundation and Merrill Lynch estimate that by 2020, market size for impact investing will reach between $400 billion to $1 trillion (Quinton, 2015). The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2016, the latest iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, directs federal dollars to incentivize these for profit educational endeavors significantly legitimizing and institutionalizing them.

Pay for Success is promoted by proponents as an innovative financing technique that brings together social service providers with private funders and non-profit organizations committed to expanding social service provision. In theory, Pay for Success expands accountability because programs are independently evaluated for their success and the government only pays the funder (the bank) if the program meets the metrics. If the program exceeds the metrics, then the investor can receive bonus money making the program much more expensive for the public and highly lucrative for the banks.

Banks love Pay for Success because they can profit massively from it and invest money with high returns at a time of a glut of capital and historically low interest rates. Politicians (especially rightist democrats) love Pay for Success because they can claim to be expanding public services without raising taxes or issuing bonds and will only have the public pay for “what works.” Elite universities and corporate philanthropies love Pay for Success because they support “innovation” and share an ethos that only the prime beneficiaries of the current economy, the rich, can save the poor.

Pay for Success began as Social Impact Bonds and were imported into the U.S. from the U.K. around 2010. They were promoted by the leading consultancy advocate of neoliberal education McKinsey Consulting, the neoliberal thinktank, Center for American Progress, that was founded by former Clinton Chief of Staff and Democratic Party leader John Podesta (who also led Obama’s transition), and the Rockefeller Foundation. Pay for Success expansion is now the central agenda of the Rockefeller Foundation. Shortly before championing Pay for Success for Chicago, Rahm Emanuel served as Obama’s Chief of Staff, having had a long career as a hard driving Democratic congressman and political money raiser and also an investment banker. Certain other key figures lobbied to expand the use of Pay for Success. Most notably, Jeffrey Liebman went from Obama’s Office of Management and Budget to a large center at Harvard, the Government Performance Lab in the Kennedy School of Government dedicated to expanding Pay for Success. Liebman is both a leader of the Center for American Progress and was a key economic advisor to Obama in his 2008 campaign. Other key influencers of Pay for Success include The Rockefeller Foundation and Third Sector Capital.

Advocates explain that the value of a Pay for Success program is allegedly: 1) it creates a “market incentive” for a bank or investor to fund a social program when allegedly there is not the political will to support the expansion of public services; 2) by injecting “market discipline” into the bureaucratically encumbered public sector, Pay for Success will make the public sector “accountable” through investment in “what works” and it will avoid funding public programs for which the public has “little to show,” as Liebman and Third Sector Capital Partners are fond of suggesting (Wallace, 2014). The value of any public spending in this view must be measurable through quantitative metrics to be of social value; 3) it consequently saves money by not funding programs that cannot be shown to be effective; 4) it shifts riskaway from the public and onto the private sector while retaining only the potential social benefit for the public; 5) and lastly, it mobilizes beneficent corporations, banks, powerful non-profit companies, and philanthropic foundations to save the poor, the powerless, and the public from themselves. Here, Goldman Sachs frames its profit seeking activities as corporate social responsibility, charity, and good works that define its image in the public mind. In fact, all five of these positions that advocates claim explicitly or implicitly to support the expansion of Pay for Success are baseless.

The Myths of Pay for Success

Myth 1: Market Discipline

Repeating a longstanding neoliberal mantra of private sector efficiency and public sector bloat, advocates of Pay for Success claim that the programs are necessary because they inject a healthy dose ofmarket discipline into the bureaucratically encumbered and unaccountable public sphere. According to the leading proponent of Pay for Success, Jeffrey Liebman of the Government Performance Lab of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, private sector finance produces this market discipline because governments do not monitor and measure the services provided by contractors. Liebman says, “(Government) Programs that don’t produce results continue to be financed year after year, something that would not happen in the business world” (Overland, 2011). This is an odd claim from one of Obama’s leading economic advisors at the time that Obama was sworn in as President and proceeded to have the public sector bail out the private sector. The 2008 financial bailout of the banks by the U.S. federal government represents a repudiation of the neoliberal logic of the natural discipline of markets and of deregulation. The private sector including banks, insurance companies, and the automotive industry needed the public sector to step in and save unprofitable businesses and businesses that had invested in the deregulated mortgage backed securities markets. More broadly, some of the largest sectors of the economy such as defense, agriculture, and entertainment rely on massive public sector subsidies to function. Specifically, the financial crisis and consequent recession was a result first of neoliberal bank deregulation and a faith in markets to regulate themselves but also it demonstrated the illegal activity, fraud, and lies of the same banks that now seek profit through Pay for Success including Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and J.P. Morgan.

Pay for Success proponents claim that the financing scheme is necessary because there would otherwise not be the political will to do projects such as early childhood education in Chicago for a couple of thousand children or recidivism reduction programs in Massachusetts. Third Sector Capital Partners, a non-profit that relies on Pay for Success expansion as a cornerstone of its business, claims that Americans do not support state spending and hence Pay for Success is necessary (Von Glhn and Whistler). However, Gallup shows that 75% of Americans favor expanded public spending on infrastructure (Newport, 2016a) and 58% support replacing the Affordable Care Act with a universal federal healthcare system (Newport, 2016b). Indeed, as longstanding studies and more recently the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign of 2016 indicate, a large percentage of Americans support a range of increased spending on progressive social programs.

A mantra found in the literature that advocates Pay for Success is that it “allow[s] the government to avoid paying for programs that don’t make a difference” (Overland). For working class and poor citizens, many of whom are working two and three low paying jobs, the cost of private early childcare and education is a major financial burden. The fact that early childcare and education have become corporatized by national companies who pay super-exploitative wages to workers only worsens the situation. The fact that early childcare and education are vital economic needs raises a question about whose political will is in question when Pay for Success proponents claim that the only way to provide early child educational services is with the involvement of banks, and without banks it should not be provided. The parents and community members are not the ones who lack the political will. Political and financial elites do not want to pay for other people’s children… without a cut.

Myth 2: Transfer of Risk from the Public to the Private

The elaborate involvement of banks, lawyers, profits, and non-profit coordinating companies appears more than superfluous when one takes a closer look at what is actually being done with Pay for Success in Chicago through the expansion of pre-K to 2,600 Chicago Public School children. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office lists six schools on the west and south sides and reports, “CPS and its teachers will manage the expanded program in these schools for the current academic year and expand to additional schools in future years”(Mayor’s Press Office). If the program simply expands existing CPS programs with already employed teachers and administrators, then the potentially significantly higher cost of using the Pay for Success makes little sense. In other words, why not just expand the existing successful services such as the parent-child centers that had been successful in Chicago since 2002? According to the mayor’s office, the risk is worth it because Pay for Success “is structured to insure that its lenders, the Goldman Sachs Social Impact Bond Fund and Northern Trust as senior lenders, and the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation as a subordinate lender, are only repaid if students realize positive academic results” (Mayor’s Office). However, critics of Pay for Success point out that in reality there is little risk for investors of losing that $17 million because the investors select already proven projects such as those in Chicago (Sanchez, 2016). Indeed, they are more likely to make the millions more in profit as in the $30 million that Goldman was paid back (Sanchez, 2016). As Melissa Sanchez ofCatalyst Chicago points out, investors make not only profits but additionally receive positive public relations, good will, and image boosting (Sanchez). This is not a small matter for a bank such as Goldman Sachs that was in the center of the sub-prime mortgage crisis and was found to have committed both illegal and unethical investment practices.

Risk is also mitigated for the banks by philanthropies such as Rockefeller or Bloomberg that guarantee repayment of the money the banks invest (Quinton). Even the proponents admit that Pay for Success is “not a panacea” as banks are not really willing to take risks and consequently they are only willing to consider about 20% of service providers (Overland). The attractive service providers are ones with established track records that all but guarantee success. Pay for Success cannot be justified as an innovative scheme that tranfers the risk taking of the market into the public sector while transferring financial risk out of the public sector and onto markets.

Economist David Macdonald points out the extent to which the promise of risk transfer is in fact a lie. Macdonald explains that Pay for Success is not experimental. He argues that a bank such as Goldman Sachs is never going to put up $5 million with a 50% risk of losing their money, and so it will invest only in proven projects. Moreover, even if Goldman were to take a risk and the metrics did not pan out in its favor,

there’s no way the government will refuse to pay Goldman Sachs back the full $5 million. Why? Because if Goldman Sachs loses $5 million or any part of it, it’s not going to come back next year, and neither are any of the other bankers and private investors. (Macdonald, 37)

Yet, even with the risk to bank profits eliminated by highly selective program selection, underwriting by philanthropies, and the government’s desire to keep the bank coming back, as the Chicago example highlights, even if the leveraged Chicago Public Schools go bankrupt as the Republican Investment Banker Governor of Illinois Bruce Rauner seems intent to cause (Joravsky), banks such as Goldman Sachs are first in line as creditors as the pieces of the system are sold off (Joravsky). So rather than a system that injects the risk taking of markets into the public sector, Pay for Success injects capital drainage into successful programs while assuring minimal risk only for the profiteers. As Macdonald writes, the inversion of risk represents a disturbing change in who government serves,

People pay their taxes (and expect corporations to do so as well) in part because they want the government to deliver good services to the people who need them. But social impact bonds direct tax dollars to bank profits instead of to people in need. This dramatically changes who is being served by the government: from those who need a helping hand to affluent investors who need no government help at all. (Macdonald)

Myth 3: Accountability

Proponents also claim Pay for Success programs are more accountable than the public sector because allegedly programs are measured independently. As the principles of Third Sector Capital write, “Outcomes need to be tangible and measurable, such as reduced recidivism rates and lower utilization of foster care placement. The analyses of fiscal savings need to be demonstrated in quantifiable numbers, such as a reduction in special education dollars, lower Medicare payouts and lower juvenile justice expenditures” (Von Glahn and Whistler, 22).

Yet critics of Pay for Success have raised issues about who is making the decisions about measurement and how benchmarks have been decided (Overland, 5). A basic problem with this argument for accountability through measurable outcomes is that, in practice, as a juvenile justice caseworker involved in a recidivism reduction Massachusetts Pay for Success project explained to me, s/he received constant phone calls from an investment bank encouraging him/her to have the metrics turn out in the favor of the bank so that the bank would earn the maximum amount possible through the bond. Indeed, what I heard directly from a participant in a Pay for Success was a general concern of Jon Pratt, head of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. Pratt stated, “You’re definitely creating incentives that would be considered corruption pressures.” Pratt’s point is that by having allegedly independent measurement tied to the possibility of profit or loss, a not so independent incentive is created to game the outcomes or cheat.

Such “corruption pressures” in neoliberal education reform have had a high profile as high stakes standardized testing threatened to defund school districts, schools, and classrooms if test scores did not rise. Administrators and teachers, deeply concerned that poor students would lose desperately needed resources, found that the ethical action would be to cheat rather that participate in sanctifying the denial of resources to those most in need. Similarly, when the largest for profit educational management company, Edison Schools (now Edison Learning), was expanding in the 1990’s and 2000’s, their increased growth depended upon continually raising more investor capital. The for-profit education company could only acquire capital by showing prospective investors increasingly rising test scores (Saltman, 2005). As a consequence, numerous test scandals erupted and massive institutional pressure was placed on administrators and teachers to show raised test scores no matter what.

Other critics raise practical concerns with Pay for Success, including concern that organizational capacity of a service provider can be temporarily built up by a contract but “not build the organizations’ capacity to support that growth” (Wallace, 4). As well, critics point to how time-consuming these agreements are to create (Wallace, 4). Contracts are so convoluted and complicated that what normally would take a month to do takes two years and with financial arrangements so complicated that a university professor in financial management “still needed help understanding the financing” (Farmer).

In Chicago’s Pay for Success early childhood project, as the commissioned evaluation report makes clear, not only had this particular project received positive evaluations since 2002, but early childhood education interventions such as this Child Parent Center model have been measured and found to have positive effects on future academic performance since 1967 (Gaylor, 16). Unsurprisingly, that is, early childhood learning initiatives have been known to result in measurable improvements in student performance in subsequent academic years. These facts raise obvious questions as to Pay for Success advocates’ claims that private bank financing is needed to assure measurable accountability.

An additional problem with accountability being understood strictly through numerically quantifiable measurement is that the problems of positivist ideology are brought into areas of educational service that are not necessary ideally measurable in quantitative terms. Positivist ideology treats knowledge and truth as a collection of facts and radically devalues examination of the theoretical assumptions behind claims to truth (Giroux). Knowledge in this view disregards both the relationship between learning and the interpretive practices and perspectives of subjects as well as the relationship between learning and the broader social world. As Pay for Success projects receive that $400 billion to $1 trillion, they will be used for a wider array of educational services including many areas of schooling in which learning is interpretive and involves judgment, criticism, and analysis. Not necessarily always quantifiable, the development of such interpretive capacities do not always appear immediately but progress over time. The message from the leaders of Pay for Success is that the government spends billions of dollars on public services that are not measured and hence has “little to show for it” (Wallace, 2). Implicit here is an assumption that that which cannot be immediately measured quantifiably also cannot be justified as a public expense. This presumes that the kinds of subjects that are less quantifiably measured such as the humanities or abstract sciences are less valuable and that funding in the future ought only to follow that which can be quantified.

The denial of interests and values renders the measurement fetish of accountability pseudo-science or scientism. For example, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, and Bank of America have all been seeking profit in Pay for Success. Each bank has paid the U.S. Department of Justice multi-billion dollar settlements for not prosecuting them for lying about the risks of subprime mortgage investments and defrauding investors in the run up to the 2008 subprime crisis and great recession (Shen, 2016). In 2011 confessed financial fraudster Goldman Sachs sought 22% profit on its investment of $9.6 million in a Riker’s Island Pay for Success project teaching moral reasoning to juvenile inmates (Quinton). The efficacy of the project was to be measured by reducing recidivism. Shortly after lying and breaking the law for profit, Goldman Sachs received a contract from New York City’s billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg’s own philanthropy backed the Goldman Sachs investment so that, should the metrics not pan out, the bank would not lose money. While this particular Pay for Success project did not achieve the metrics, the value of the metrics themselves as an arbiter of the value of the project are profoundly suspect in that they shut down some of the most crucial questions that need to be asked of such a project like: Why would a company responsible for tanking the economy through fraud be hired to teach moral reasoning to youth?; Why are the youth incarcerated in the first place and what class and race position do they come from?; Why did none of the leaders of Goldman Sachs or the other banks who broke the law in the financial crisis spend a day in prison and what class and race positions do they come from?; What are the broader structural and systemic patterns and power relations that produce these different lived realities of legal accountability for some and no accountability for others like the ways that a racialized class hierarchy is reproduced through mass incarceration, the finance industry, and the educational system?; Who is authorized to develop the metrics, what is their expertise, what are their interests, and how do they assess the rules they set in place?; To whom are those legislating the accountability measurements accountable? The scientism of metrics obscures these kinds of questions. Accountability should be a part of educational projects but not through restricted metrics that conceal the broader politics informing the project. Rather, accountability should be in a form in which knowledge is comprehended in relation to how subjectivity is formed through broader social forces and in ways in which learning can form the basis for collective action to expand egalitarian and just social relations.

Myth 4: Cost Savings

A central argument of Pay for Success proponents is that they save money by only funding successful programs. However, as the prior sections suggest, if in fact evaluation is not independent and only already successful programs are being selected, and governments have incentives to continue contracting, and there are “corruption pressures,” then the alleged “market discipline” through competition cannot work. Yet, there is additional evidence that Pay for Success adds costs rather than cutting them.

Pay for Success introduces large expenses to fund extensive legal services to handle those convoluted and complicated contracts that take years instead of months (Sanchez 2014). Additionally, third party project managers and evaluators add costs to the services (Sanchez 2014). If the metrics pan out for the investors, then they can earn more than double the money that they put up for the service (Sanchez, 2014, p. 2). The intensely time-consuming and convoluted deals cost more money for administration, and this cuts into the spending on the service itself (Wallace, 2014). The Department of Legislative Services in Maryland studied Social Impact Bonds for recidivism reduction programs and found no savings (Wallace, 5). For prisons or schools with fixed costs such as physical sites, saving in per inmate or student cost is not significant because it does not reduce the fixed costs (Wallace, 5).

On the west side of Chicago, one of the billionaire heir’s to the Hyatt hotel fortune, J.B. Pritzger, whose investment firm worked with Goldman Sachs on the Chicago early childhood Pay for Success project, cut the ribbon at an early childhood center and stated that such projects must be good investments to be successful (Wallace, 6). Pritzger’s statement aligns with a trend that has intensified since the advent of venture philanthropy reimagined philanthropy as being similar to business (Saltman). Venture philanthropies hijack public governance, install corporate models and managerialism for public services, and promote public sector privatization by steering the use of public money towards the private sector (Saltman). Venture philanthropies generally give money and the giving results in a tax break for the corporation or individual that gives to the non-profit. However, most venture philanthropies do not actually seek to get the money back, let alone with profit. Social Impact Bonds (aka Pay for Success), according to David Macdonald, are not philanthropy; they are, rather, “anti-philanthropy.”(Macdonald, 1) They are profit-seeking activity masquerading as philanthropy. Some venture philanthropy has a similar effect, such as when Gates and Microsoft privatize public education by the initiatives of the Gates Foundation for privatization schemes, technology dependency and so on. However, not even venture philanthropy is explicitly organized as a for profit business. Pay for Success is similar to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative launched in 2015 in which the “philanthropy” is actually a limited liability corporation that financially invests in other projects. As Macdonald suggests, why not cut out the “middleman”? That is, why not cut out the banks seeking profit and the third parties and lawyers facilitating the deals.

Finally, a cost problem with Pay for Success is that, as critics contend, with private sector lenders involved, interest rates will tend to be higher than with public sector bond issuance. House Appropriations Committee Chair Representative Ross Hunter blocked a federal Social Impact Bond bill. He said, “As a private investor, what kind of interest rate are you going to ask for? Eleven percent? Nine percent? By contrast, interest rates on revenue bonds can be as low as 4%. If early learning is a good idea, I can issue [government-backed revenue] bonds to pay for it” (Hoback). In Chicago, Goldman Sachs’ could more than double their initial investment of $16.6 million (Sanchez 2016) as the metrics determine that Goldman receives the maximum amount from the city under the agreement. This is a much higher total cost to the public to provide the service to 2600 children than what a bond issuance would be.

Myth 5: Corporate Social Responsibility

In order for banks, corporate foundations, and venture philanthropies to claim that Pay for Success represents the good will of these actors, they must represent public sector pillage as public sector support and care. However, they must also position these private accumulation projects as necessary, inevitable, and without alternative. This is why proponents repeat the private sector language about the “hopelessly bureaucratic public sector” needing “market discipline,” private sector “cost savings,” “accountability,” “financial innovation,” and “risk reduction” despite evidence and reason to the contrary. The private sector project of Pay for Success is not merely one that involves the private capture of public wealth but also the public reframing of symbolic meanings that make such wealth capture possible, remaking common sense in ways that suggest that only the rich can promote just social change by pursuing their financial interests. Such ideologies suggest that the very private forces responsible for draining and weakening the public are in fact saviors for the public, that there is no alternative to markets in every social realm, that public citizens are nothing more than economic actors, and that these projects are apolitical rather than representing the interests and perspectives of capitalists over workers and most citizens. Non-profits such as the Center for American Progress, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Harvard are among the loudest boosters of Pay for Success. The ideological work that these organizations do shapes public perceptions about the morality and public impact of private sector organizations like Goldman Sachs. In this sense, Pay for Success is a form of public relations for banks that the banks largely do not have to pay for. In fact, Pay for Success facilitates banks being paid by the public to promote this public relations bonanza. As with venture philanthropies, the public ends up not only financially subsidizing private banks but also subsidizing the loss of public control over public governance for public services. With venture philanthropies, the subsidy takes public revenues in the form of tax breaks for rich donors and corporations. With Pay for Success, the public pays a premium for services that could have been provided directly through the government and loses democratic governance control over the service.

Conclusion

Pay for Success/ Social Impact Bonds appeal to banks for their capacity to generate profits from public tax money for education, juvenile justice, and other services and they represent a form of economic redistribution from desperately needed public money for the most vulnerable citizens such as poor youth to business.   They also appeal to banks who have gotten caught defrauding investors and that can now promote themselves as doing good works while turning a profit. Pay for Success also appeals to neoliberal politicians such as Mayor Emanuel in Chicago who can claim they are doing “innovative finance” in the interest of taxpayers instead of raising taxes or issuing educational bonds. The reality is that politicians like Emanuel are just kicking the can down the road as Pay for Success does not solve the historical failure to adequately fund public education or other social services (like the mental health services he gutted), just adding to the longstanding debt burden. In fact, because it costs more, Social Impact investing raises this debt burden while delaying it, thereby destabilizing the public system further. In this sense, Pay for Success is an elaborate form of public relations that makes a failure to address a public problem look like innovative action.

Pay for Success/Social Impact Bonds ought to be understood as simply one of the latest efforts of the private sector to exploit and to pillage the public sector for profit at a historical moment of uncertain economic growth and a crisis of capital accumulation. New legislation and policy must be developed to limit the access of investment banks to determining, running, and profiting from social programs.

References

Chandler, D. (2015 October 22) Op-Ed: Social Impact Bonds: Selling off the Public Good in the Era of Neoliberalism truthout.org.

Donovan, D. (2013 April 25) $500 Million Plan Would Reimburse Donors Who Start or Expand Programs that Work Chronicle of Philanthropy (25)11, 13-13.

Editorial Board (2015 November 8) Editorial: The Promise and Risk of Social Impact Bonds Chicago Tribune.

Farmer, L. (2015 November 12) The Hidden Cost to ‘Pay for SuccessGoverning.

Gaylor, E., Kutaka, T., Ferguson, K, Williamson, C., Wei, X., & Spiker, D. (2016). Evaluation of Kindergarten Readiness in Five Child-Parent Centers: Report for 2014-15. Prepared for IFF Pay for Success I, LLC. Menlo Park, CA. SRI International.

Giroux, H. (1983) Theory and Resistance in Education: A Pedagogy for the Opposition Westport: Bergin & Garvey.

Golden, M. (2014 October 10) How Pay-for-Success Funding Might Help Low-Income Students Chronicle of Higher Education (61) 6, A22-A23.

Hoback, J. (2015 May) Private Money, Public Impact State Legislatures, 26-29.

How Social-Impact Bonds Work(2011 February 24) Chronicle of Philanthropy (23)7, 7.

Jonas, C. and Grossman, J. (2014 February) Pay for Success Leading Change in Results-Based Contracting Policy & Practice 13-34 [Third Sector Capital Partners]

Joravsky, B. (2016 February 11) Rahm’s Latest Wall Street Bond Deal is a Bad Deal for the City The Chicago Reader.

Lipman, P. (2014) The Political Economy of Urban Education New York: Routledge.

Lipman, P. (2004) High Stakes Education New York: Routledge.

Macdonald, D. (2013 February) Anti-Philanthropy: Social Impact Bond the Worst Way to Fund Social Programs CCPA Monitor, 37.

Mayor’s Press Office (2014 October 7) Mayor Emanuel Announces Expansion of Pre-K to More than 2,600 Chicago Public School Children cityofchicago.org.

Newport, F. (2016 March 21) Americans Say Yes to Spending More on VA, Infrastructure Gallup.

Newport, F. (2016 May 16) Majority in U.S. Support Fed-Funded Healthcare System Gallup.

Overland, M. (2011 February 24) Paying for Results: A New Approach to Government Aid Chronicle of Philanthropy (23)7, 9.

Quinton, S. (2013 May 10) How Goldman Sachs Can Help Save the Safety Net National Journal , 1.

Saltman, K. (2007) Capitalizing on Disaster: Taking and Breaking Public Schools New York: Routledge.

Saltman, K. (2012) The Failure of Corporate School Reform New York: Routledge 2012.

Saltman, K. (2010) The Gift of Education: Public Education and Venture Philanthropy New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Sanchez, M. (2016 May 16) Investors Earn Max Initial Payment from Chicago’s ‘Social Impact Bond’ Catalyst Chicago retrieved from catalystchicago.org

Sanchez, M. (2016 May 16) Child-Parent Centers Boast Strong Results for Kids, Investors Catalyst Chicago May 16, 2016

Sanchez, M. (2014, November 3) For the Record: Paying for Preschool with Social Impact Bonds Catalyst Chicago retrieved from catalystchicago.org

Shen, L. (2016 April 11) Goldman Sachs Finally Admits It Defrauded Investors During the Financial Crisis Fortune.

Shipps, D. (2006) School Reform Corporate Style, Chicago 1880-2000 University Press of Kansas.

Von Glahn, D. and Whistler, C. (2011 June) Pay for Success Programs: An Introduction Policy & Practice (Third Sector Capital Partners Newsletter)

Wallace, N. (2014 July 17) With a Few Pay-for-Success Plans Under Way, the idea is Gaining Currency and Criticism Chronicle of Philanthropy (26)15, 1-23.

York, P. (2011 May 19) ‘Pay for Success’ Idea Could Fail NonprofitsChronicle of Philanthropy (23)13, 10.

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Canada’s military provocation of Russia

If there’s no Russian threat to the Baltics, why are Canada’s soldiers there again?

| AUGUST 22, 2016

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/djclimenhaga/2016/08/if-theres-no-russian-threat-to-baltics-why-are-canadas-soldiers-

 

If there’s no Russian threat to the Baltics, what is it that our Canadian soldiers are doing there again?

Back on June 20, General Petr Pavel let it slip publicly what everyone in the know already knew, and that is that the Russians pose no threat to the three Baltic Republics, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Gen. Pavel should know. After all, in addition to being until last year the Chief of Staff of the Czech Army, he’s now chair of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Military Committee, which makes him theoretically the top soldier in NATO.

“It is not the aim of NATO to create a military barrier against broad-scale Russian aggression, because such aggression is not on the agenda and no intelligence assessment suggests such a thing,” Gen. Pavel told a news conference in Brussels with remarkable candour for a top-level military bureaucrat. (Emphasis added.)

Now, that’s a pretty categorical statement from a guy who, ex officio, really ought to know what he’s talking about.

Just the same, less than three weeks later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced whathis press release called “Canada’s largest sustained military presence in Europe in more than a decade” — leading a “NATO battle group” in Latvia as part of “the Alliance’s enhanced Forward Presence in Eastern Europe.” (The eccentric capitalization, by the way, comes straight out of the news release.)

One could argue this battle group would be better described as a provocation group, considering what they face right across the border in Russia, which may not covet the Baltic Republics but nevertheless most certainly intends to defend its own national sovereignty, as any country in the same situation would.

Indeed, many of the activities Canada will be participating in — when actually examined as practiced on the ground, on the water and in the air — have the quality of provocations, notwithstanding the soothing language of Trudeau’s July 8 press release, issued during NATO’s summit in Poland.

“Additionally, the Canadian Armed Forces will deploy a frigate that will undertake operational tasks with NATO’s maritime forces in the region,” it said. “Canada will also deploy an Air Task Force — which will include up to six CF-18 fighter aircraft — to conduct periodic surveillance and air policing activities in Europe.”

Alert readers will note that when Russian warplanes fly in the direction of Canada, this is seldom described by Canadian politicians or media as “periodic surveillance and air policing activities.” They may be less aware, because this part was barely reported, that a U.S. guided missile ship carrying 2,500-kilometre range missiles was within 70 kilometres of a Russian naval base last spring when it was aggressively intercepted by Russian aircraft. Yet it was the response that prompted a media brouhaha.

The PM’s release went on: “The land, maritime and air initiatives … form Canada’s renewed mandate under Operation REASSURANCE and demonstrate Canada’s unwavering commitment to NATO, to the protection of Alliance territories, and to the ultimate goal of protecting the safety and security of our citizens.”

As has been said here before, it’s not really clear how poking at the Russians right on their doorstep – when even NATO’s commanders admit Russia has no plans or inclination to do anything aggressive in the Baltic Republics — protects the safety and security of Canadians.

Indeed, there is a strong argument to be made — notwithstanding the belligerent jingoism of the Canadian mainstream media, especially the faltering Postmedia chain — that this kind of thing does precisely the opposite.

Remember, there is a big difference between Russia and many of the countries of the world that have come up against the might of Washington and NATO proxies like Canada. The Russians have the means to credibly defend themselves, and their supply lines are very short while our soldiers are thousands of miles from home, patrolling a few hundred yards from the Russians’ border.

Our best hope in such circumstances, it would seem, is that the Canadian-led NATO battle group right on Russia’s border is there as a nuclear trip wire in the event of a Russian attack, acknowledged by NATO’s leaders to be highly unlikely. They certainly could not stopan all-out Russian attack, if it came, a fact the U.S. Army commander in Europe admitted in June. Lieutenant-General Frederick “Ben” Hodges said it would take the Russians less than 36 hours to overwhelm the Baltics if they chose to do so. Surely this can’t be very comforting to the Canadians stationed there.

Are we really comfortable putting our country’s fate in the hands of a 67-year-old military alliance that’s desperately looking for a new raison d’etre in a much-changed world, and is apparently willing to roll the nuclear dice to find it?

We certainly know what the Americans would do in the same circumstances as the Russians now find themselves, because they did it in 1962. Arguably, the Russians are showing considerable restraint in comparison.

As noted in the last post on this topic, this has the potential to be a particular problem when, given the rapprochement between Russia and Turkey and the resulting diplomatic gains made by the Russian government on its southern flank, there is a real possibility NATO’s senior soldiers and diplomats will get up to mischief in the north.

If we’re only doing this, as some observers have cynically suggested, to justify the purchase of American designed and built weapons under NATO’s notorious requirement that member nations spend two per cent of their GDPs on armaments — a policy that emphasizes only expenditures and neither efficiency nor strategy — we might want to consider dialling it down. Looking out for the only remaining healthy industrial sector in the U.S. economy doesn’t really seem like a very fair reason to risk nuclear annihilation.

Still, NATO has a new $2 billion headquarters building in Brussels to which we have all contributed, yet another strangely underreported story, so I suppose it’s too much to ask that it go the way of the Warsaw Pact, its Soviet era counterpart created six years after NATO and disbanded a quarter century ago in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

At the very least, one would think, Canada should be using its leverage in NATO to get the alliance to act with restraint — including when it comes to recruiting new members on Russia’s borders and recognizing any great power has interests in its region — thereby making the world a safer place, instead of a more dangerous one.

Instead, the latest thing we’ve heard is that Canada will be playing a bigger role in these activities while Europe’s nations focus on the real security threats they face, including the refugee crisis spawned in part by NATO’s last round of adventures in North Africa and the Middle East.

This is not very reassuring — especially for those Canadians who supported Trudeau’s Liberals in hopes of seeing a change in more than tone and image after the dark, jingoistic days of the Harper Government.

This article originally appeared at AlbertaPolitics.ca.

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Trudeau II continues to ignore the issues

So Trudeau II attends a Pride parade and a Hip show. All very easy feel-good things to do that look great for the camera. So what about the Site C decision? No cute leading the parade shirt off moments there eh? More like hide in the back room and pay back the lib corporate supporters. People are also asking what about some substance like changing or getting rid of Bill C 51? However, in this case what with the media hysteria over the Ontario nutbar, it is unlikely that Trudeau II will do anything over it now. I don’t believe the libs had any intention to change Bill C 51 anyway. They just said they would re-visit it to bleed off NDP supporters

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Olymdic Off

As I have said before the Olymdics are about pacifying us all so we do not pay attention to real community issues. I know most of you think I am a killjoy. In any case it is really diffiicult to avoid this pollution. It is everywhere you look. I have managed to avert my eyes and stop up my ears for the most part but it still seeps in. So for a limited time only I am offering you Olymdic Off! It is a new product which cleanses you of Olymdic crap and makes you immune to nonsense like “well, we have to support ‘our’ athletes.”(Also works on “well, we have to support ‘our’ troops” a more pernicious variant.) Get it today and save yourself.

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