Politics and Entertainment: Economic Forecast: Canada To See Years Of Stagnation, BMO Report Predicts


Deeply, dangerously indebted “consumers” (aka Canadian citizens) at a 156% debt to income ratio aggressively imposed upon us by banksters motivated by bottom line greed, an overpriced (by at least 10%) declining housing market with a potential bubble waiting to burst, the waning of a diversified export market and eroding commodity (read oil and minerals) prices, the absence of business (corporate or otherwise) investment plans, failing austerity and deficit reduction programs at all levels of government, an impoverishment of economic government policy and meaningful stimulus programs, stagnating wages necessitating the recessing of “consumer” spending* and the effect of that on demand, deepening income disparity and anti-union sentiment, the gradual disappearance of the middle class and the evil tenacity of the 1-10% plutocracy in clinging to their destructive neoliberal investor-oriented economic agenda – in short, we have a stagnating economy until at least all the oil runs out in 50 to 90 years and the inevitable forced shift to local economies the absence of that energy infrastructure will bring. Without a real revolution, we must wallow in this slough of despond for at least a generation unless global warming and climate change do us in first – which seems increasingly likely.
*“Canadian consumers were the linchpin of the economic recovery, contributing more than half of total GDP growth in 2010 and 2011,” the report says. “Unfortunately, a good chunk of that consumption was fuelled by debt, making it unsustainable.”
Note: Much of what I enumerate here applies to the U.S.. of course and other western capitalist countries.
 P.S. I sometimes like to think that moment of revolution is soon upon us with both the Canadian and global economies now settling into permanently stagnant conditions. An economic-social crisis would seem imminent. The complete and utter vacuousness of the neoliberal monster and all its evil tentacles will emerge of necessity from the dark pool of greed and avarice to be seen as the destructive horror it really is. And so every contribution to public discourse about this source of our all woe, this powerful engine of all our misery, helps – and that despite the embarrassing inadequacy of our Canadian media to deal with the matter in any meaningful way. How can they when they’re inscribed in the neoliberal myth as much as any true believer like the banksters, Flaherty, Harper, et al, though it’s difficult not to wonder whether these last really know it’s fundamentally a  Ponzi scheme and always has been since at least 1970.
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Politics and Entertainment: Economic Reality

#nogrowth #cdnecon – let me reiterate – for the foreseeable future with no more than a relative 2% forever

Even if one were a true believer worshipping daily at the altar of neoliberalism and its side altars the Dow and TSX, how can a mere 0.7%  growth of the Canadian economy in the last half of 2012 be remotely considered acceptable?  Isn’t such a distressing figure an index of failing economic policy – of a failure to encourage and develop a diversified domestic economy  instead of  the weighted “natural resources”  (read oil and mining) export economy we have?  One can only take blaming appalling global economic conditions so far since it is the same neoliberal agenda responsible for those dire conditions. The global neoliberal agenda with its “market-based solutions” is slowly but surely imploding – which, with peak oil,  may lead to a forced but desirable shift to local economies.


“Sustainable Economy” an Oxymoron

All this talk of a “sustainable economy” swirling around the tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline lately should remind us of just how oxymoronic such a concept is in the context of a non-renewable ”natural resources” based Canadian economy. For such a deep exploitative capitalist agenda is destructive at its core and even its perpetrators know this is so. With the exception of the wilfully ignorant, the world knows that the damage done to the land, to nature, to the environment  and the social and political radiating effects of that evil can never be repaired. And for what is this destruction wrought? To feed the bottom line of corporations, the 1%, the investor class, the plutocracy and those who gleefully serve it such as the Obama administration and the Harper Regime. Time perhaps for something beyond petitions, rallies, marches, and social media.

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Politics and Entertainment: Zero Dark Thirty Leaves Plenty of Space for Viewer’s Moral Judgment

Spoiler alert: The U.S. Navy SEALS murder Osama Bin Laden and several others in his Pakistani compound without mercy and with vengeful malice.
Most of the controversy swirling round the film revolves around whether the filmmaker, Kathryn Bigelow – positioned as auteur by most commentators –  endorses torture or  whether the film’s narrative raises the moral issue of torture for contemplation. There is, in my reading,  no overt moral position offered by the film on torture or even the morality of CIA procedures in general.  Many commentators have unwittingly bemoaned this absence or taken it as a tacit moral endorsement of torture – their right as viewers – but it is is overwhelmingly clear that torture and CIA investigative procedures, as morally problematic as they might be to us as viewers, are judged – are valued – in the film only in terms of their pragmatic effectiveness in what is for both viewers and participants a classic revenge narrative structure. “Do these procedures and practices work to help us catch terrorists, and in particular do they work to help us get Bin Laden so that we will be able to murder him in a bloody act of revenge?”

Representations of torture are recessed in the second half of the film, it should be noted,  not because of a moral awakening  by any given character but only because of a policy decision by a new administration. The Obama TV moment presented in the background in the context of a CIA war or situation room makes this crystal clear. Even Dan’s warning to Maya  – relatively early in the film –  about the possible repercussions of “enhanced” methods of detainee interrogations comes in the form of a political warning about saving her CIA ass, not moral reprehension.

The devastating loss of American lives on 9/11 is the initiating narrative event that rolls out a straightforward revenge structure ending in the murder of Bin Laden and several of his domestic companions.  Before the film proper begins in earnest, however, we are exposed to an introductory screen text informing us that the representations we are about to watch are based on  “firsthand accounts of actual event.” There is an implicit moral distancing in this textual strategy – “I’m just showing you the way it was” – but certainly one of its other effects is to suggest that what we are about to see carries the weight of authenticity and is therefore important if not “real.” The now conventional use of handheld cameras is meant to reinforce this effect with a documentary-like style of shooting. In other words, the “realism” of the film is not an allegiance to “truth” or reality,” whatever those may be since neither is a given, but a filmic effect resulting from a well-established set of film conventions creating an illusion, a fiction, of “what really happened.” It seems appropriate to evaluate the film as such.

The film proper opens with a black screen over which we hear the dying voices of only American victims of the twin towers, a restriction thus positioning us emotionally if not ideologically as American viewers. Immediately after this audio text, we are treated to roughly forty-five minutes of extensive torture sequences, including several instances of the infamous water-boarding technique. Juxtaposing the first visual torture scene of al-Qaeda’s No. 3 leader, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, with the voices of the twin tower Americans who are about to die creates a  structural effect implying a retaliatory cause-effect relationship – “I am torturing you because of 9/11” –  and that effect is sustained throughout the entire 45 minutes of multiple scenes of torture and implied throughout the entire film.

These kind of scenes are gradually recessed as we move in the second half of the film towards interrogations without torture – but nonetheless grounded in bribes or threats – and sequences of CIA group intelligence analysis:  the so-called “hard work” some critics want to see as the reason for discovering Bin Laden.  But the dialogue reveals on several occasions that the analysis – the “hard work” – really results from information received from interrogated detainees, on screen and off, and those detainees, we know, were abused in some form or other if not overtly tortured.  “Does our treatment of detainees work? You bet.”

Inter-cut with these intelligence analysis scenes is a revenge justifying history of  major terrorist attacks against westerners since 9/11, but especially against Americans, each successfully gaining more screen time and thus significance until the final, climactic suicide bombing in Afghanistan of one of Maya’s closest colleagues, Jessica, who has been betrayed  by her al-Qaeda connections. Now it’s “personal” is the implication as we move towards the final bloody revengeful act of murder in Pakistan.

But, in truth there has been little if anything personal in the film – no character development for anyone let alone Maya who has been merely the driving agent of revenge. We know little more about her by the end of the film than we do at the beginning, and the final scene of Maya in a giant U.S. army transport plane alone, isolated, and small is telling in its ambiguity.  “Where do you want to go?” asks a crew member,  his question unanswered. And what do we read on her face?  Relief? Satisfaction? Sadness? An unwinding? Anxiety now that her obsessive-compulsive revenge narrative has come to its end?  Plenty of room for the  the viewer’s meaning.

Following that final character scene is another screen text rounding out the ideological thrust of the film in its acknowledgement of the victims of 9/11 once again and all those who serve the American exceptionalist project.  Closure is provided by that framing text confirming the essence of the film as an apologia of sorts, a justification of policy, of strategy: “Revenge and all that that entails, including torture, are okay because they drove us to get Bin Laden, and we did that for you.”  Whether this is a impaired moral justification is the viewer’s decision.

In the end, it matters little what the filmmaker or commentators say about Zero Dark Thirty.  You are the site of meaning: it’s your reading of the film conditioned though it may be by your cultural, moral, and social inscription that matters. Like any text, film texts are unstable, dynamic, their meaning put in motion by your engagement with them. In a sense there is no film without you.Zero Dark Thirty is provocatively open enough – disturbing in so many ways – to allow for a variety of ways to read it, and that makes it a challenging, ideologically complex film well worth viewing – far more exciting than some of its straightforward conventional Oscar challengers.

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Politics and Entertainment: Bill McKibben on #IdleNoMore | The stakes couldn’t be higher, for Canada and for the world

“The stakes couldn’t be higher, for Canada and for the world. Much of this uprising began when Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper rammed through Parliament an omnibus bill gutting environmental reviews and protections. He had no choice if he wanted to keep developing Canada’s tar sands, because there’s no possible way to

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Politics and Entertainment: Bill McKibben on #IdleNoMore | The stakes couldn’t be higher, for Canada and for the world

“The stakes couldn’t be higher, for Canada and for the world. Much of this uprising began when Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper rammed through Parliament an omnibus bill gutting environmental reviews and protections. He had no choice if he wanted to keep developing Canada’s tar sands, because there’s no possible way to mine and pipe that sludgy crude without fouling lakes and rivers. (Indeed, a study released a few days ago made clear that carcinogens had now found their way into myriad surrounding lakes). And so, among other things, the omnibus bill simply declared that almost every river, stream and lake in the country was now exempt from federal environmental oversight. Canada’s environmental community protested in all the normal ways – but they had no more luck than, say, America’s anti-war community in the run up to Iraq. There’s trillions of dollars of oil locked up in Alberta’s tarsands, and Harper’s fossil-fuel backers won’t be denied. But there’s a stumbling block they hadn’t counted on, and that was the resurgent power of the Aboriginal Nations. Some Canadian tribes have signed treaties with the Crown, and others haven’t, but none have ceded their lands, and all of them feel their inherent rights are endangered by Harper’s power grab. They are, legally and morally, all that stand in the way of Canada’s total exploitation of its vast energy and mineral resources, including the tar sands, the world’s second largest pool of carbon. NASA’s James Hansen has explained that burning that bitumen on top of everything else we’re combusting will mean it’s “game over for the climate.” Which means, in turn, that Canada’s First Nations are in some sense standing guard over the planet.
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Politics and Entertainment: Bill McKibben on #IdleNoMore | The stakes couldn’t be higher, for Canada and for the world

“The stakes couldn’t be higher, for Canada and for the world. Much of this uprising began when Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper rammed through Parliament an omnibus bill gutting environmental reviews and protections. He had no choice if he wanted to keep developing Canada’s tar sands, because there’s no possible way to

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Politics and Entertainment: Mission Accomplished for the shrewd person who decided on the Deloitte Audit Release

It’s difficult not to think that the timing of the release of  the Deloitte financial audit of Atawapiskat was calculated in its anticipation of a potential backlash against Spence and, by association, #idlenomore.  The audit prompted Spence to shut down media relations, a closed door thus leading to the media’s usual the-people-deserve-to-know resentment and dog-with-a-bone mentality about being squashed.  That in turn led to bad press, especially from the Coyne, Blatchford,  and Wente types, and bad press led to an apparent shift in public opinion.  The squabbling over today’s meeting doesn’t help. 
Mission accomplished for whoever it was who decided to release the audit.
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