Don’t accept scraps from the rich

While Canadian media are busily fawning over pictures of Trudeau bottle-feeding an orphan otter, we’re catching wind from the latest rich people leak showing that Liberals are not exempt from the same greed Conservatives exhibit, they’re just better at hiding it:

A key aide of Canada’s PM is linked to offshore schemes that may have cost the nation millions of dollars in taxes, the Paradise Papers show.

The revelations may embarrass Justin Trudeau, who has campaigned against tax havens.

The leaks pose questions about the actions of Stephen Bronfman, chief fundraiser for Mr Trudeau’s Liberal Party as well as ex-senator Leo Kolber.

Lawyers for them said no deals had tried to evade tax and all were legal.

Canadian broadcaster, CBC, and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) have been spearheading this investigation as part of the Paradise Papers leaks.

They said a trove of documents found in the files of Appleby, the offshore law firm that is the main source of the leaks, suggested that Mr Bronfman’s investment firm, Claridge, had for more than 20 years moved millions offshore for the Kolber family.

I’ll concede that there is a difference between the Kicking 500 Puppies Party and the Kicking 1000 Puppies Party–500 puppies, to be precise–but that doesn’t change the fact that the Kicking 500 Puppies Party has been banking on the thoroughly uninspiring talking point that it kicks 500 fewer puppies than the other guy.

How many trolleyology experiments do you have to run before you start asking who is tying people to the rails?

-Shiv

“Ridiculous straight panic” is my new band name

Take it away, Samantha Allen:

Remember how I joked that that there aren’t enough of us—something like 1.4 million transgender people in the United States—to go around? Our rarity also makes the internet a lifeline for us—just as it is for any other minority—allowing us to connect with each other across great distances and feel less alone.

So it’s especially unfortunate that we can’t talk about a vast swath of human experience without being surveilled by people who are obsessed with hating us.

Those haters act as if we’re complaining that no one wants us when what we’re really complaining about—more often than not—is that the people who do want us can’t seem to be chill about it.

The same survey that found that 27 percent of Americans wouldn’t be friends with a transgender person also found that four percent of Americans said that they had been on a date with a transgender person in the last year.

Considering that just 0.3 percent of the population is estimated to be transgender, that is staggering. Unless there’s a small handful of transgender people who are cleaning up while everyone else stays home, it means that a great number of us are dating. But tellingly, the survey also found that over 25 percent of people wouldn’t tell anyone if they did have sex with a transgender person.

The fact that transgender people are desirable is one of society’s worst kept secrets. And people are still trying to keep that a secret because they’re worried what other people would think about them if they slept with us.

I’m so over this panic, too.

Read more here.

-Shiv

They’re on to me!!!

Joe Miller and William Briggs apparently spoke on a Conservative radio show about a new brain study that has them in a tizzle. Now, brain studies which attempt to draw conclusions from “activity”–images where the exchange of oxygen are highlighted by pretty neon colours in the brain–are notoriously fickle. To me there have always been an indeterminate amount of dots to connect between x behaviour and y region of the brain being active during that behaviour. So this is less about the study, to which I am largely skeptical, and more about the hilarious and improbable panic displayed by Miller and Briggs:

Joe Miller and his guest William Briggs, a statistician and adjunct professor at Cornell University, had a long discussion about the recent UCLA study. According to a release by the University of York, the study sought to understand how the posterior medial frontal cortex influences ideology, specifically religion and nationalism.

Using transcranial magnets, the researchers were able target and temporarily shut down the region. Subjects were asked questions about death and to rate a negative essay about the United States they were told was written by an immigrant. The result of the magnetic destimulation of the area of the brain in question resulted in less belief in religion and greater acceptance of immigrants.

This prompted Briggs to fear that the study would lead to “eugenics” targeting conservatives.

Considering “religion” and “nationalism” are absolutely taught behaviours, there is no way to detect their presence in a newly fertilized zygote, and thus no way to terminate a zygote with these qualities (deemed, perhaps not unfairly, undesirable to progressives). So right away we’re off to a bad start.

“Basically what they’re doing is they’re trying to bring back eugenics even, in a way,” Briggs said, his voice wavering. “Because they’re identifying what they say are biological constituents for belief. Therefore they’re able to test for these biological constituents.”

This is a pretty stunning error. There is a much needed moment to slow down and define precisely what we mean by “biological.” Neurology forms because of biological constituents, yes, but it is influenced by its input from environment. It sounds like we’re stumbling down the nature/nurture distinction which desperately needs to be retired. It doesn’t really exist, because our nurture affects our nature (and frequently vice versa).

He worried that people might think he was joking or being paranoid.

“But no, this is exactly it,” he continued. “There was a story this week too.. that some employers are now asking for DNA samples, not just to detect potential medical maladies, but to look for these kind of character traits they think they have identified that make one a lesser person.”

I mean, as I said, causative mechanisms from “having a trait in DNA” to “having that trait’s phenotype” are far from a straight line. There is no way anyone with even basic genetics literacy would actually support this. While I imagine employers are trying to do this, it’s not immediately apparent why so-called liberals would favour it.

Then, here’s the bombshell:

Miller then hinted that the magnets may be used by transgender people against people of faith.

I don’t know if paranoid is my word of choice. “Improbable,” perhaps.

“The whole transgender crowd, they see their main opponent as being those of faith and so obviously they’re going to use any aggressive tactics they can to move forward that agenda,” Miller said. “This is still minority opinion though, right? In psychology and elsewhere?”

There it is folks. I’ve been doing it wrong the whole time. Screw fact-checking, consciousness raising, building community resilience, leafleting, campaigning, and education.

I’m using MAGNETS.

-Shiv

Consent isn’t a “Catholic value”?

Apparently the totally necessary and modern institution of the Catholic church is still hung up on the whole “marital rape” business, because Saudi Arabia is clearly the shining human rights example we should all follow. The Catholic school systems in Alberta want to propose an “alternative sex ed” curriculum because, and I quote, “the values in the proposed secular curriculum reform do not reflect Catholic teachings.”

One of those values is consent.

Thankfully, the Premier is slapping this nonsense down.

Catholic school superintendents are crafting an alternative sex education curriculum that they want the province to approve for their schools.

They say the government’s teaching plan clashes with faith-based instruction by including, among other topics, homosexual relationships and gender identity different from one’s biological sex.

In documents filed with the province, the superintendents also take issue with sexual consent by a partner in marriage. They say it is only one of many factors to be considered along with morality, family and wellness.

Notley said consent is paramount and there is no debate.

“Consent is the law in Alberta and under no circumstances will any child in Alberta be taught that they have to somehow accept illegal behaviour in a sexual relationship. The end.”

This is the only correct response to theocratic bollocks.

Read more here.

-Shiv

Libelous fascist to run Conservative 2019 campaign

Ah, but I repeat myself:

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer just appointed one of the founding directors of the alt-right Rebel Media website to run his 2019 election campaign.

Hamish Marshall, who helped Ezra Levant launch Rebel Media in 2015, was still listed as a Rebel Media director until only a few days before Scheer appointed him the 2019 Conservative campaign chair this week.

One day earlier, the Globe and Mail reported Marshall managed Scheer’s leadership campaign from an office inside Rebel Media’s Toronto studio – when questioned by reporters this week, Scheer offered a stuttering response and abruptly ended a press conference.

Conservatives are trying to downplay Marshall’s important role at Rebel Media.

Scheer recently portrayed the founding director of Rebel Media as simply a “small business owner” while Conservative surrogaters try to convince people Marshall was only the money man at a website which, for the record, one Conservative MPs recently described as “anti-Semitic” and “white supremacist.”

Scheer himself was unwilling to go that far – following Rebel Media’s sympathetic coverage of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in August, the Conservative leader would only commit to a temporary pause on interviews until Rebel Media’s “editorial direction” changes.

Yet Scheer appeared as a Rebel Media guest several times as it broadcasted blatantly racist and hateful videos, something the Conservative leader would have you believe he was totally unaware of because he doesn’t “look at every story they write.”

Scheer, they are famous for lying. Badly, at that. Of course that’s entirely consistent with previous Conservative campaigning, so this isn’t totally surprising.

Rebel Media’s Gavin McInnes earned high praise from neo-Nazis and a Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard when he filmed a rambling video in Israel questioning the Holocaustand suggesting “the Jews” were responsible for the Ukrainian genocide and starting World War II. McInnes also published videos on Rebel Media titled “A Nazi take on Israel” and “10 things I hate about Jews,” generating embarrassing headlines around the globe.

Goldy also travelled to Charlottesville, Virginia in August to attend a deadly white supremacist rally. Filming herself on a live stream, Goldy proudly declared that “there has been a rising in white racial consciousness” only moments before a neo-Nazi crashed his car into a crowd of people a few steps away from Goldy, killing one person.

One day after a white nationalist terror attack on a Québec City mosque that left six dead, Ezra Levant used the tragedy for a fundraising e-mail. Levant questioned whether “the mainstream media” was telling “the truth” about who the terrorist really was and, without evidence, speculated that the attacker might in fact be a Muslim. The e-mail then concluded by soliciting donations “to uncover the truth.”

Sounds like prime campaign management material.

For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, former Rebel Media host Lauren Southern offered a head scratching defence of fascism, a political philosophy she thinks has been unfairly tarnished by Hitler – um, sorry, what?

Oh please, the Conservatives will hire Tomi Lahren North to be their talking head, a sort of hellish Canuck version of Ann Poultergeist.

Then there was the time New York-based Rebel Media correspondent Laura Loomer, whose salary was subsidized through a fellowship from an American anti-Muslim think tank, was arrested after disrupting a performance of Shakespeare in the Park. As Loomer stormed the stage to denounce Julius Caesar’s alleged anti-Trump bias, former Rebel Media White House correspondent Jack Posobiec screamed at the audience: “You are all Goebbels! You are all Nazis like Joseph Goebbels … You are inciting terrorists!”

Sure. This is exactly the crowd I want running my campaign for global domination.

More migraines here.

-Shiv

New Zealand: it would be “unduly harsh” to send British trans woman back

Apparently the United Kingdom is so verifiably transphobic that a British trans woman successfully appealed to New Zealand immigration to grant her residency on humanitarian grounds. In essence, she made a refugee claim against the United Kingdom. 

Content notice: The Guardian, progressive-rag extraordinaire, using outdated and trans-antagonistic terms.

A transgender woman who suffered years of discrimination and abuse in the UK has been granted residency in New Zealand on exceptional humanitarian grounds.

The 57-year-old woman was granted New Zealand residency by the immigration and protection tribunal in Auckland, who decided the woman was safer to remain in her adopted country where she had experienced no abuse or discrimination since arriving in 2009.

The tribunal deemed it would be “unduly harsh” for the woman to be forced to return to the UK, where she suffered years of “persecution” due to her gender identity disorder.

The woman, who works as an IT specialist and has a degree in engineering, was described as a vulnerable but “highly intelligent and skilled” individual by a psychologist who assessed her. The woman declined to be interviewed by the Guardian.

In 2005, whilst living in the UK, the woman transitioned from a male to a female, after decades of escalating confusion and mental health problems arising from her undiagnosed gender identity disorder.

(The current version of the DSM emphasized that gender dysphoria is a pathology, but not the identity of transgender itself.)

The rest of the article unnecessarily focuses on the trans woman’s confidential medical choices and is a splendid example of well-meaning coverage utterly butchering journalistic ethics. However, I thought I’d share the surprising bit of news. Surprising not because I think the UK is overly tolerant to trans folk, but surprising because exploiter countries are seldom held to account for social failings the way exploited countries are.

-Shiv

Catholic bishop writes policy for public school

Patricia Grell, well known on this blag for being basically the only Catholic with a conscience in the whole of Edmonton, dropped a piping hot revelation before Edmonton’s municipal elections take off: Catholic bishops have been pressuring elected school boards to adhere to church policy, rather than public law.

Not only is it an occupational hazard for Boards to be overrun by their administrators but with Catholic boards, the problem is compounded by the role of the church hierarchy.   Canon Law 803 states that “A catholic school is understood to be one which is under the control of the competent ecclesiastical authority…No school, even if it is in fact catholic, may bear the title ‘catholic school’ except by the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority”. Instead of working collaboratively with the ECSD Board, Archbishop Richard Smith chose to use this Canon to put undue pressure on it.

In December 2014 Archbishop Richard Smith used Canon Law to threaten to remove the catholic designation of the ECSD Board when Trustee Bergstra was intending to bring forward a motion to encourage the establishment of GSAs in our Catholic schools.  All the administrators and trustees who were present at this meeting at the Pastoral Centre – about 10 of us — would have to lie under oath to deny that this happened. I am embarrassed to admit that in those early days of my term, I was influenced by the archbishop’s threat and asked Trustee Bergstra not to bring forward her motion.  She didn’t and in the end didn’t have to because the provincial government soon passed Bill 10.

Not only did the archbishop threaten the Board but he meddled in our Board’s policy making.[2]   When Trustee Acheson and I were working on developing an LGBTQ policy, Archbishop Smith wrote a letter to Trustee Acheson to wait for and follow what the Catholic Superintendents were developing (cf. Letter from Smith 20.08.15.)  Neither Catholic Superintendents nor the archbishop is elected and their job is not to write policy for school districts.  This is the role of duly elected trustees.  Yet here is an example of administrators and the hierarchy working together to try to undermine the role of elected Boards.

Burn it all to the ground. Plough the whole damn thing with salt. Why we still funnel funds to a brazenly corrupt and criminal organization is beyond me.

-Shiv

Silver-lining-in-genocide Senator wants to assimilate you

If there was ever an argument for abolishing Canada’s appointed Senate, Lynn Beyak is it. After defending the first genocide of the continent’s first nations by European colonials, then the second genocide through the residential school program by bonafide Canadians, Beyak spent her summer months supposedly meeting with Indigenous communities. Her takeaway? Give up your culture and assimilate–also, apply for citizenship that you already have.

“Trade your status card for a Canadian citizenship, with a fair and negotiated payout to each Indigenous man, woman and child in Canada, to settle all the outstanding land claims and treaties, and move forward together just like the leaders already do in Ottawa,” she said in an open letter published Sept. 1 on her Senate website.

(Indigenous people born in this country are Canadian citizens, and were given full voting rights in 1960.)

“Like the leaders already do in Ottawa” is an interesting euphemism, considering the outstanding criticism is that we flout our treaties. Perhaps Beyak is unaware, but a federal government dishonouring its agreements is generally perceived as a high-risk partner in diplomacy, and it severely damages your government’s ability to bargain. There’s a reason North Korea has exactly zero friends, with their supposed ally mostly using NK as a proxy to undermine the United States. The fact that Trudeau is undermining “fewer” of these treaties isn’t… exactly… progress.

Also, she’s apparently unaware that status first nations are still citizens? Why is this twit being paid with my tax money?

“None of us are leaving, so let’s stop the guilt and blame and find a way to live together and share,” she wrote. “All Canadians are then free to preserve their cultures in their own communities, on their own time, with their own dime.”

Great! So we’re de-funding the Catholic systems then! (Somehow I doubt that’s what she actually means)

How about, instead of paying this leaking ass-pimple her salary, we use the money to fire her into the fucking sun.

-Shiv

 

Threatening protesters with 75 years is totally reasonable, rules #j20 judge

I find myself gobsmacked in reading these statements. The entire argument by the hundreds of defence lawyers for the J20 defendants mass arrested on Trump’s inauguration is that taking protesters to trial for 55+ years worth of charges is an act of intimidation in and of itself, in violation of the First Amendment. The j20 judge just kind of… completely ignores the implications of Kerkhoff’s [the prosecutor] actions and ploughs straight ahead.

“The government comes in and says my client is liable for a felony—all they’ve established is that he’s arrested, not even what he did during the march,” defense attorney Veronice Holt argued in July. “You can’t just say, ‘As many people as the government can catch need to stand trial.'”

But Judge Lynn Leibovitz writes in her decision that the charging document has all of the necessary specificity to go to trial. The government says that all of the defendants operated as part of the “black bloc,” using those tactics to commit violence and evade identification. Because the government is using aiding and abetting and conspiracy liability, “each defendant charged in the indictment may be liable for the acts of others alleged in the indictment,” writes the judge

Yes, Leibovitz. That’s the fucking problem. If these charges result in conviction, it’s a blank cheque to police to scoop up as many people as they want, as long as some twit breaks a window.

She also rejected the argument that the charges amounted to a First Amendment violation. Defense lawyers said that people might protest less if they feared they would be held legally responsible for the actions of others.

But Leibovitz writes that those arguments are, in essence, also about whether the government has evidence against the individual defendants that would justify their charges, a question she writes is better addressed at trial, the first of which is slated to start in November. She concludes that the indictment’s details survive both First and Fourth Amendment challenges.

In essence? Threatening you with several decades is entirely reasonable and not at all intimidation.

Solidarity is now evidence for conspiracy.

I’m sure the freeze peachers will be here any minute now.

-Shiv

Anti-fascism declared terrorist activity

Recently revealed by Politico, “antifa”–a reminder that this is simply “anti-fascist” truncated–was declared a “domestic terrorist group” in April of 2016. Analysts credit Trump’s violent rhetoric for inflaming “antifa” activities.

Media outlets, as ever, refuse to acknowledge that white supremacist organization is on the spectrum of violence, and the Department of Homeland Security apparently deems “antifas” (I keep scare-quoting because anyone against fascism is ostensibly “antifa”) the “primary instigators.”

Just to make things clear: So-called antifa organizations are not in a hierarchy, have no formal structure, and largely improvise their planning. They assemble and disband constantly. The groups are so loosely defined that the definition of an anti-fascist can be expanded at will for anyone that’s inconvenient. In fact if any protest gets rowdy the FBI could use evidence of organization as evidence of “anti-fascist membership.” This is hardly implausible–Canada tried the same with the G20 arrests in 2015, and the American federal government is doing it with J20 right now.

Enjoy your FBI dossier.

Conference organizers: Just assume I’ll be denied at the border.

I’m sure all those frozen peachers are right around the corner. Any second now.

-Shiv