Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Guardian exposes domestic 'black site' in U.S.

It really says something about the 'normalization' of extrajudicial methods to "get the bad guy" when a major newspaper can run a story about domestic anti-terror 'black sites' being used to detain protestors and nobody even blinks an eye.
The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after
its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include: 
Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.

Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.

Shackling for prolonged periods.
Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility. 
Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.
Do you understand how serious this is? Consider that the U.S. is one of the nations that our standards for "oversight" are being compared to and this is happening in their country. It is strikingly similar in terms of the methods used at the "temporary facility" at G20 in 2010 which I believe was a public test run of these new standards for holding inmates and operating political black sites. This is the model moving forward.

This is the path were on with laws like C51, make no mistake.

Click here to recommend this post on progressivebloggers.ca and help other people find this information.

Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Understanding low interest in the risk adverse "free market"

Alrighty, in the meantime while I debate with myself what to do with this blog I do have more stuff to say about things. Last night I accidently published this post in an incomplete state and it was picked up by progressivebloggers before I could delete it. Oddly just my summary garnered two votes (as the link to the post itself is now dead) so I must be on the right track! We've been talking a lot about C51 (or what we shall dub 'the Orwell act') but plenty has been happening in the global ponziconomy too (which is why Canada is now moving so rapidly to get these "anti-terror" freedom killing laws in place).

The spectre of negative interest rates in Europe really is something isn't it? It occurred to me when the Swiss announced their further rate cut (though now that rates are negative maybe "rate increase" is more accurate in the new normal) to -0.75% that really in this bizarre risk adverse world makes perfect sense. Behind all of the jargon, the supposed intent, is a declaration: the omnipotence of the central bank and it's printing press, destroyer of risk.

Of course the idea of total risk banishment is quite insane, which provides the logical basis for why economists believed negative rates were impossible. No one in their right mind in a sound economy would pay to hold risk and yet somehow, they are. This indicates that either the basic logic surrounding risk has been flawed all along or that the global economy is far from sound. My bet is on the latter.

It's been awhile since we've gotten deep into banking so I will rehash some of the more important relevant points needed to fully understand what negative rates (or for those nations that haven't crossed the 0% barrier yet, continually decreasing rates) anywhere in the world now represent. The starting point for this story of utter insanity is your bank account.

You earn interest on your "deposits" in your bank account at a floating rate loosely based on the overnight lending rate. I say loosely as because with all other commercial rates banks don't actually have to follow the central banks overnight rate at all with their prime rate but largely do follow the trends as their competitors likely will follow them thus making their loans more attractive (collusion of the banks on rates such as in the LIBOR scandal is obviously implied but outside the scope of this write-up). To not match the rate change especially when the rate is lowered amounts to the commercial bank quite obviously pocketing the difference as they are now borrowing cheaper than they are lending themselves.

The reason you earn interest on your deposits is because you are assuming risk, you are not a depositor, in fact you've deposited nothing into "your" bank account but rather what you have done is loaned the bank your "deposit" so that they can take it and loan it to someone else and earn interest on it to boot. They keep a small portion of your "deposit" on reserve and the rest is out the door being loaned at interest as soon as possible.

Interest rates and monetary policy, or at least the people's perception of these things, is extremely important today; the fact you see central bankers making headline news is a testament to that. If the global economy were truly even remotely healthy they wouldn't need to be out nearly everyday reassuring markets and providing forward guidance. Prior to 2008 most people barely knew what a central bank even was. Yet despite all the talk about interest rates, and all the talk about growing inequality and the generational gap, very few seem to talk about growing inequality and the interest rate policy together at the same time.

With prolonged low interest rates, along with the ever increasing introduction of "bank fees" which shouldn't exist at all or "ATM fees" (which shouldn't exist either as banks introduced ATMs to reduce their direct labour cost in tellers) multiple generations now have had to live with savings accounts that earn literally less than nothing. At the end of the day we have already been paying banks for the risk we assume in their lending as over time the concept of "savings and loan" has been distorted.

The global economy hasn't been sound for a long time and the spectacle of low and negative interest rates is simply the next phase in it's long deterioration. With low interest rates the only way you can get a return on your savings is to "invest" it and that is the direct intent of the central bankers: to force you to play the investment game and feed the market and ponziconomy. Of course to invest in the market you have to have some significant amount of capital actually available to invest, if you don't and are living cheque to cheque you currently have no avenue to earn a return on your income and keep up with the rate of inflation, you are losing money simply by holding on to it and the concept of "saving" is nearly impossible.

Explains a little bit why despite the constant broken promises of "recovery", uncertain "growth" prospects, and a continually worsening geopolitical situation, world markets just continue hitting new highs without a care in the world, doesn't it? Which the political class then uses as evidence of the illusive recovery narrative we hear so much about yet don't see in daily life.

There is an investment side to this story as well, aside from forcing citizens into the rigged market interest rates are also being used to make sovereign bonds and their perceived "safe haven" status less appealing by artificially increasing demand for the bonds. The goal here is to push investors and people looking for a safe place to retain the value of their income back out into the risk laden market which in fact proves the logical fallacy of sovereign bonds being a safe haven.

Sovereign bonds are perceived to be safe because they are backed by the government, which is in turn backed by "the people" (or more accurately the people's labour). As I've pointed out before you are in fact nothing more than a human resource. Your S.I.N. or Social Insurance Number represents you as collateral on the public debt.

So what do negative interest rates say? They say that no matter what the people's labour that is backing these bonds will in any circumstance and with no chance of failure absolutely will be able to produce enough wealth to pay back the bonds. This concept seems fine and dandy until you remember that the way people produce the wealth that is to service this debt is by working for the companies whose future is so uncertain that central banks are having to artificially lower interest rates to drive investment dollars into (which the companies are themselves taking and instead of expanding are simply engaging in stock "buybacks").

We've now come full circle, and as Greece's situation shows the people will only tolerate having their labour used as collateral on the debts so long as they're getting something out of it. The "Troika" has been forcing Greece to hand over not only their public assets but the spoils of Greece's human labour itself as previous government's, like all government's, have put their citizens lives up for collateral on the debt with absolutely no guarantee it can actually be paid back. It is the citizens who suffer while those in the oligarchy use the public debt for their private gain and stick the people with the tab.

There is one final piece to how low interest rates, or negative interest rates, are being used to kick the economic can down the road and that is by making consumption in the post-peak-oil world seemingly more affordable especially when it comes to the housing bubble, student loans and auto loans, and most importantly cheap loans for expensive energy production in an effort to make the projects seem temporarily viable.

The importance of low interest rates for the banks, and their vested interest in extreme energy producers can not be understated. Often I talk about the fact that contrary to popular belief amongst Canadians big oil doesn't sit on top, the banks do and big oil operates at the behest of the banks. There is no intrinsic interest in oil for the oligarchy beyond the fact that oil (cheap conventional oil, to be exact) is the only energy source that can support infinite exponential growth.

The energy companies own all of the patents to "alternative energy" (in reality derivative energy), the resistance to begin the long process of switching to other energy sources is not rooted in some ideological dislike for "Green energy", it is rooted in the fact that switching to Green energy will collapse the ponziconomy. Not the people's economy, the oligarchs credit ponziconomy where more and more loans must occur to service existing debt, where more and more consumption must occur and saving must not, where more and more must be produced quicker, sold faster, and made cheaper.

The ponziconomy requires an ever growing energy surplus to support infinite exponential growth while the green economy inherently represents a contraction in the energy surplus (doing more with less) and would require a sustainable balance between the environment and the resources we depend on and economic growth. Under this scenario the borrowing binge the western world has been on with no proof the debts can ever be repaid would be impossible as the risk and uncertainty around future wealth would be much more apparent and interest rates that account for this risk would likely follow. It is the historical observation of the results of an economy running on cheap conventional oil which provides for our (always wrong) future outlooks today.

The reason economist theories and predictions on growth and the effects of interest rates, currency pair valuations, and the like are not working out is because the fundamental structure of the economy has changed. Forecasts are no longer being made based on proof of potential future production, they are being made on the hope of it.

The migration from oil would also mark the migration of the status-quo towards something more honest, balanced, and which wouldn't revolve around "growth" as a measure of success because growth itself inherently is not wealth we've just been fooled into thinking it is. Concepts like "planned obsolescence" provide a glimpse into how quickly consumables must be turned over these days to keep "growth" humming, which represents the waste of wealth not the accumulation of it. GDP today in a world that has peaked it's natural growth potential is now a measure of energy inefficiency and nothing more.

Depending on the actions Greece takes the confidence in central bank omnipotence itself may be in danger (hopefully in danger, as every day the world continues under this false reality adds to the impact the resulting monetary collapse is going to have when these bond bubbles finally pop).

The great deflation

The majority of the world economy is now supported by near zero, zero, or negative interest rates. Seven years on from the peak-oil induced "great recession" central banks are finally out of ammo. Inevitably this situation can not last forever and with the Saudi's pushing the collapse in oil price the stage has been set, and in fact the play is already in the first act, for deflationary spiral the world has never seen the likes of before because the world has never seen a fiat asset bubble of this size before.
The expected benefit economists are expecting from lower oil and gas prices are not going to materialize as the middle class which is the primary driver of this trend has been crushed by unaffordable consumption and debt accumulation. The easiest path for this excess wealth to take is towards paying down debt which in itself is inherently deflationary and will only contribute further to the deflationary spiral we've entered.

The artificial deflation of oil is having a direct effect on the outlook for oil related employment and income which both Canada and the U.S. have been completely reliant on for wealth generation. The entire myth of the current "U.S. recovery" which Canadian economists are banking on is essentially based on the economic performance of the shale oil industry prior to the collapse in price (you'll remember the latest U.S. recovery narrative was originally about the boom of shale oil) which is no longer valid. Without the high incomes oil related jobs provide the unaffordable asset bubbles become completely unbalanced. This is why the Bank of Canada is citing mitigating the effect of low oil prices (lower inflation) as the reason for lowering interest rates while effectively ignoring the increase in inflation high oil prices represent. They are selectively interpreting the situation to service their own needs of maintaining the credit markets.

No amount of low interest or free currency can ever hope to make up for the loss in energy bounty as a result of peak oil and the focus on low EROI energy production though as currency is not wealth itself but the representation of wealth, it has an end of life and this is where C51 becomes very important for the status-quo.

I'm very happy to see Canadians quickly becoming wise to the obvious implications for those fighting the environmental fight in Canada though unfortunately I believe it is also leading to another false narrative in regards to it. While the critical infrastructure portion of the bill is important what is most important is that "economic and financial stability" is mentioned.

When you consider the great deflation of the credit markets, the asset markets, and then throw in the newish "bailin" regime and insufficient funds held by the CDIC to insure Canadian deposits the picture of inherent danger of C51 becomes a lot more clear. The broad reaching implications of this bill did not happen by accident.

You can be certain that when the deflationary pressure hits Canada in full force the government will become even more aggressive in it's "economic action plan" likely at your expense. Why is the government pushing pipelines? Why did the government reduce rail safety standards? For the economy, and as the real affordability of economic consumption declines more and more shortcuts will be taken to make up for it.

The further along we go down this rabbit hole the more obvious it will become that western governments have gone rogue and are sacrificing the livelihood of the people in the name of economic growth to service the private banks. They will sacrifice your livelihood by reducing your safety in the name of economic growth and they will sacrifice your livelihood by offering your deposits to the alter of debt as enshrined in their "bail-in" regime in the name of economic stability. The illusion of "voting for change" will disintegrate the moment people realize every single party stands for the same thing: growth at any cost. The people of course will be covering that cost.

Eventually the inevitable conclusion will be reached (as it almost was with the Occupy movement before it was co-opted) that only a direct revolt by the people and a rejection of the infinite growth model will offer any significant change and it is for that eventuality that C51 exists.

Click here to recommend this post on progressivebloggers.ca and help other people find this information.

Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

"Oversight" initiative implanted, manipulation complete

I was writing a post on the latest developments in the global economy when I decided to take a break and check out what's new on progressivebloggers.ca. I've seen a lot of posts reference this Angus Reid poll being pushed by the Globe & Mail (yes them again...) and I really feel the need to respond. I will use Montreal Simon's post on the subject as the basis for my reply as his blog is quite popular and thus likely represents a good chunk of public opinion.

In it he quotes and writes:
So it was really good to see a distinguished group of Canadians standing up to him, and reading him the riot act.

As the Harper government moved to speed up the parliamentary debate on its latest anti-terrorism legislation, four former prime ministers — three Liberal and one Progressive Conservative — are among almost two dozen prominent Canadians calling for stronger security oversight.

"Protecting human rights and protecting public safety are complementary objectives, but experience has shown that serious human rights abuses can occur in the name of maintaining national security," the statement says.

"This results not only in devastating personal consequences for the individuals, but a profoundly negative impact on Canada's reputation as a rights-respecting nation."

And what was also encouraging was to read the many comments in the MSM denouncing Harper's bill. Including the ones in this scary story I ran
last night.

Count me out of the 82%. I lived through this same nonsense in the US after 9-11. Harper is using fear to take away our rights.

Its all about fear! Are you scared enough? If you are that scared, then support this government taking away our freedom a piece at a time, all in the name of security. If not then rise above the fear mongering and support a just, open society. Confident in who we are, and not fearful of lunatics hellbent on causing chaos and destruction.

Because what all of the above tells me is things are not as bad as they seem. And that there is a growing revolt out there.

Which isn't surprising. For buried in that poll is also this:

There is one note of caution for the Conservative government as it presses ahead: a large majority, 69 per cent, believe there should be additional oversight so police agencies “do not go overboard with these new powers.”
Canadians may want their government to take strong action against any wannabe Jihadis, but they they don't trust the Con regime or the Harper Police with our civil rights or our internet freedom.

This revolt can only grow as more Canadians understand more about the bill and how it could turn us into a
police state.
Here are some other important parts from the G&M article that Simon doesn't reference:
But the Angus Reid poll indicates just what a political juggernaut the security bill is – widely popular in every province, every age group, and across party lines.
“It’s across the board,” said Shachi Kurl, senior vice-president with the Angus Reid Institute. “Whenever you’ve got four out of five Canadians agreeing on anything, that’s significant.”


Editor's Note: The original newspaper version of this story and an earlier digital version mistakenly referred to a margin of error for this poll. The poll was conducted with a randomly selected sample of 1,509 people drawn from an Angus Reid panel of 130,000 people. Because it was not a random sample of the whole population, the pollster, the Angus Reid Institute, does not cite a margin of error. It instead noted the margin of error for a probabilistic sample of the same size. This digital version has been corrected.
So here they are talking about how "across the board of every age and province and yadda yadda" and it's not even a real sample of the actual population, it's from a panel of people they have. If 82% of Canadians really supported this bill why would letters like this one exist?

Just look at the 5-star cast that is coming out to play the consent building game and all of them predictably point to oversight as the missing component. Oversight. Please, please, please Canadians don't be fooled by this bullshit dog and pony "fight" over oversight. If oversight actually mattered then the Canadian "police" wouldn't already be involved in highly questionable pipeline related activity, would they?
The Mounties bombed an oil installation as part of a dirty tricks campaign in their investigation into sabotage in the Alberta's oil patch.
The revelation came at the bail hearing Thursday of two farmers who the Crown says have turned their complaints that oil industry pollution is making their families ill into acts of vandalism and mischief.

Their lawyer produced evidence that the RCMP bombed a wellsite and that they did it with the full support of the energy company that owned it. The Crown admits the allegations are true.
The police have been under pressure from the industry and the government to put an end to two years of attacks which have caused millions of dollars in damage.

Lawyer Richard Secord told Court of Queen's Bench that when Alberta Energy Co. and police blew up an AEC shed last Oct. 14, they blamed it on his client, farmer Wiebo Ludwig.

Secord also claims AEC offered to buy a neighbour's property for $109,000 if he gave them information about Ludwig.

Ludwig and Richard Boonstra face nine charges involving vandalism at energy installations.

They were denied bail.
Oversight, yet no one in our government as is seems to know what the fuck our intelligence agencies are doing.

Do I even need to bring up the "anarchist conspiracy" of the G20? Or how about this former CSIS officer who says that: "the measures proposed in C-51 are unnecessary, a threat to the rights of Canadians and that the prime minister is using fascist techniques to push the bill".

Yes, you read that right, a former intelligence officer believes the Prime Minister is using fascist techniques to pass this bill. You're all being taken on one giant mind fuck of a ride.

This is what manufacturing consent looks like. The system is trying to ram something you don't like down your throat and they know that and to control dissent against it they are exaggerating popular support for this government, and the bill, and also popular support for the "oversight argument".

You are meant to acquiesce to a paltry increase in meaningless oversight, that is the whole point of this badly written b-script exercise.  You are under the influence of highly advanced fascist propaganda. It's not propaganda coming from Harper, it's propaganda coming from the system. It is bi-partisan propaganda because this anti-terror bill isn't about a people issue meant to create division, it is about creating a security blanket around the oligarchy and requires mass consent so as not to alarm the public. You are being conditioned.

There is a very disheartening belief amongst the numerous Canadians Harper's policies and aggressive approach have beaten down, that the fix for the system resides in getting Harper out. Mark my words, Canadians: any supporter of C51 in any form with oversight or without, any person who regurgitates the bullshit about our safety and security from the ominous "terrorists" all around us justifying the incredible amount of cash being dumped into this and incredible loss of liberty while simultaneously excusing train cars that are "blowing up all over the place" far more frequently than terrorist attacks occur without the same sort of vigorous "safety" campaign and push to overhaul, is not your friend, is not looking out for your best interests, and is operating in good faith of the banks (not big oil).

The system is a giant layer cake of lies and deceit, peel back one layer and you just land in another.

Click here to recommend this post on progressivebloggers.ca and help other people find this information.

Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Time for a change?

I launched Canadian Trends almost 3 full years ago which in itself was to address the adaptive nature of the topics I ended up discussing on my previous blog Hellberta. Plenty has happened in these 3 years and I've attempted to provide accurate forecasts of coming events as well I have tried to foster discussion not just on the inherent corruption of the system, of the Harper government, and the moves the system is making to preempt the public's dissent on coming events but also on the limits to growth which are at the root of the issues we all face. Everything happening in the world today from geopolitics to economics derives from the issue of limits to growth.

However, overall, looking back at the past 3 years I can't help but conclude I've failed in my goal. Instead of fostering conversation posts here tend to be uni-directional with very little commentary at all despite most posts getting fairly decent votes over at progressivebloggers.ca. I'm still as uncertain as I was when I started this blog as to how many actual readers I have due to the lack of feedback. Either something needs to change, or I need to quit.

For the last few months I've been seriously mulling over packing up shop and quitting. As a person I am incredibly disorganized, I'm the type of person that starts a billion projects and never finishes any. I've actually been working on a 1 year plan to revamp the entire site, moving away from BlogSpot to a custom codebase and to introduce more community aspects as well as a weekly (or monthly) talk radio show. I can see the vision, and the potential, however my motivation to execute my plan comes and goes often with my motivation to even write about the sorry state of the Canadian political scene.

One of my biggest failings of Canadian Trends has been to not put my posts through proper editing procedure. Quite often the procedure I follow is: I read a news article which I strongly feel requires additional commentary. My head fills with thoughts on the matter, which reference related news stories I constantly research ( and then link on Twitter ) and I sit down and start typing. I follow no schedule, I write when I feel like it and this may mean a post everyday, or no post for weeks or even a month. Readers understandably really have no idea when to look for new content beyond randomly and ultimately I think this lack of consistently is inhibiting the ability for a conversation on limits to growth fostered by this blog to really take off.

Yesterday my internal debate on whether to change or quit came to a head as during a heated debate on Justin Trudeau and his support of C51 and where his allegiance really resides in response to a link I provided to "The Tru(deau)th of the matter" I was told "speaking of underwhelming, your writing".
Of course I'm under no illusion my writing is actually good, I'm well aware it isn't and back in 2012 it was even worse. I'm not a natural writer so if Canadian Trends has done anything for me personally it has been to practice putting the picture of the links and events I see in my head down on paper. Some days this works better than others and truth be told I'm unhappy with every single post I've ever written and after going back and reading them a few days later find them not nearly descriptive enough resulting in a jumble of thoughts and half-answers. Cheryl's take away from my post didn't even touch on the post's points, all she saw was "underwhelming writing". I replied that I point out how shitty my writing is quite often and that if she had any actual rebuttals to my points to let me know. She didn't respond with any.

I know since 2012 my writing quality has improved slightly, but I still think I lag the pack. This is a failure on my part and I think has negatively affected the appeal of this blog amongst other reasons. Ultimately I feel I either need to step up my game, or forget the whole endeavor, continuing as is is a waste of my time, and also doesn't do the information I'm trying to convey justice.

I know due to the nature of my blog many readers prefer to communicate directly with me over email as opposed to writing public comments. What I'm looking for now is feedback via comment, email, or if it suits you, you will find a poll on the top left of the web version of this blog. The question I'm asking: has Canadian Trends run it's course? Should I enact my one year plan to revamp this media platform or should I close the doors on it (and all of my other public political activity) and move on?

Click here to recommend this post on progressivebloggers.ca and help other people find this information.

Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Closing thoughts on Sun News (and a warning to other news media)

It's official, at 5:00am this morning the Sun News channel went black. No report on it's closure, no goodbye to it's 8000 loyal viewers, just gone with barely a whimper. They might be a tad embarrassed.

The opinions on Twitter of their closure can be categorized as "good riddance", "Good but sorry for those who lost their jobs", and "It's a great loss to press freedom in Canada". I reside in the first category and in this post I plan to explain why I don't share the views of the others as well as explore some of the more general aspects Warren Kinsella discusses about the slow demise of news media.

First off, on job losses. Over the years on this blog I have (what I believe to be accurately) described many of Canada's up and coming economic issues, particularly revolving around Alberta as Canadian public opinion largely sees Alberta as the "economic engine of Canada" and federal government policy has tended to reflect this. I've written about our incredibly inflated housing bubble. I've written about the great deflation Canada now finds itself in (and the hyperinflation the western world is going to experience in the final futile attempt of central banks to ward it off). I've written about the demise of news media and how pay walls are the final nail in the coffin. This entire blog exists for one purpose, and one purpose only, to help readers prepare and understand events coming down the pipeline in the future.

This blog is not journalism, it is my beliefs as to the trends and commentary of current and future events and people are free to choose whether or not to believe me, and whether or not to prepare. The undeniable fact is that incredible numbers of job losses, food shortages, bankruptcies, credit collapses, and increasingly fascist laws meant to keep it all under wraps are already in the cards. I make no attempts to market or advertise or attract readers to this blog as I accepted long ago that it won't reach everyone, and that not everyone is willing to hear it. Those who choose not to will very likely be blindsided by their blind faith in the system and institutionalized propaganda it puts out on a daily basis through a heavily controlled communication strategy and those who desire a deeper outlook will find it on their own.

What I'm getting at here is that incredible changes are already occurring and suffering as a result of them is inevitable and while I feel bad about this suffering conceptually I also understand I can't do anything to prevent it and if I took every single forecast to heart I simply wouldn't be able to write about the deeply seeded troubles Canada's facing. As is, even with trying to keep emotionally detached from related current events which are both increasing in quantity, and frequency, it still too often becomes too much and overwhelming; I'll make an angry rant about it and then disappear for weeks as it can really get to me.

Ultimately this blog revolves around the only sound principal left: you'll have to save yourselves because the system isn't going to do it for you. In fact the system will deliberately keep you in the dark. Even after CBC news reported the demise of Sun News, Sun News employees still hadn't been informed by the company itself rather they found out the same way everyone else did: by another news source. This is analogous to how Canadians on the whole will likely discover everything in their country is not as it appears with the "upper management" attempting to maintain confidence and ward off the chaos the truth will ignite. Self-preservation above all.

The employees at Sun News losing their jobs now may have been blindsided by the event, but the signs that such an event was coming were everywhere. It was their choice not to heed them and instead have blind faith that somehow despite the fact that they were bleeding money hand over fist and the only time the average population ever heard about them was when Ezra Levant did something stupid the network would survive anyway. Much as Canadians have blind faith in our economic performance, or the integrity and trust of CSIS to not abuse it's ever expanding powers, despite a mountain of evidence that indicates the contrary. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

I myself have had to follow these types of trends and signs several times in my own career. It's a tough call to make especially when the system or job you reside in tells you everything is fine. What do you believe? your own intuition, or those who supposedly are in the know? Each and every time it was a hard decision to make as I was sacrificing the illusion of security I had built for myself, and each and every time my instincts proved to be right. I even warned my coworkers who often would say I was being alarmist and crazy only to find themselves out of work a few months later. Ultimately what it comes down to is that if you want to insulate yourself from these systems you'll need to critically think for yourself and ignore the influential groupthink the system pushes to serve it's self-preservation at your expense.

Now, on the topic of the journalism delivered by Sun News: I think the best way to address this is to respond directly to Warren Kinsella's points on the matter so I will quote the relevant sections here.
They’re celebrating, I guess, because they disagreed with the opinions that were found on Sun News. They didn’t like conservative opinions being broadcast, so they think it’s funny that 200 people have lost their jobs. I find that completely insane, for two reasons.
Firstly, folks, I disagreed with those conservatives, too. Plenty. On sex ed, on CBC, on abortion, on niqabs, on social programs, on climate change, on Islam, on gay marriage, on Liberals and liberals, on just about anything you can imagine: I would regularly appear on Sun News Network to argue with those conservatives, face-to-face, on-camera. I would argue, aggressively, against the conservative point of view.

And, over almost four years, a funny thing happened: they kept inviting me back. They asked me to come on much more than my day job would permit, in fact. And they were professional and courteous and fair to me. Only once did they try and shut me down – here – but multiple Sun folks called me afterwards to apologize, and to say that it would never happen again. It didn’t.

That’s the first thing: if you disagree with someone’s opinion, debate them. Present evidence. Argue with facts. Be passionate. Because that’s what Sun News Network gave me an opportunity to do, over and over, for four years.
Being that I don't believe in the bullshit "left vs. right" straightjacket the system uses to create division "conservative opinion" doesn't bother me. In fact much of the "Conservative opinion" out there I largely agree with. I wrote a post explicitly praising ex-Conservative MP Brian Jean for standing up for his constituents and putting real fiscal and social responsibility first above his career. I've taken Trudeau and the Liberals to task many times, and I'm not very fond of the NDP either though I rarely write about them as this blog isn't about politicians, it's about real events which a party with largely no power or influence simply doesn't factor into.

The problem with Sun News's brand of "Conservative opinion" isn't that it's "Conservative opinion" it's that it's "Conservative party opinion". Sun News was obsessed with Justin Trudeau even though the Liberals are not currently even the official opposition. This obsessive reporting on everything Justin Trudeau is doing, while very rarely reporting on what the actual government is doing and taking a critical look at that borderlines on campaign advertising as opposed to news. It was very apparent Sun News doesn't like Justin Trudeau and they constantly conflated their opinion and fact while taking every opportunity to discredit him.

While I don't deny there may be some "Liberal bias" amongst other establishments such as the CBC, the difference is these other establishments actually do try to report most of the news in fact I often find they are not critical enough of the government actions taking government press releases at face value, though with little access to actually question the government I'm not sure what else they can do. Sun News was more about convincing you of their opinion first and not bothering with the facts.

When the Rob Ford crack story broke and other establishments were busy trying to find the video and root of the story Sun News was making up it's own narrative about how the video must be fake. They put a lot of time into simulating and investigating how it could be fake, but spent very little time actually asking the question "is the video fake?". In fact the very idea the video could be fake originated with Sun News and that is the narrative they pushed until the legitimacy of the video could not be questioned anymore at which point they went into damage control and gave Rob and Doug Ford their own shitty show which didn't even last 1 episode. This is far beyond reporting the news with a Conservative bias, this is flat out making shit up to fit your own political spin, viewpoint, and agenda. It's not news at all.

Yes, I'm perfectly aware "Ezra Levant" wasn't the sole journalist at Sun News. I'm aware folks like David Akin are quite admired as respected journalists, which again pokes a hole directly in the belief that Sun News's failure is attributed to a rejection of "Conservative opinion" as much of the praise is coming from folks on the "left" as well as the "right". A few good journalists does not a good brand make however. Journalists seem to forget that their credibility resides within the brand name they publish under. The majority of the information Sun News put out was deliberate misdirection, or even outright lies, and once a reader or viewer became aware of this fact it is the brand name that suffers.

Nobody wants to read a "news" outlet where the truth and credibility of what they're reading is largely in question. That sort of journalism does not promote rather it harms democracy. Even Fox News puts out a good truthful article now and then but I never link them due to the questionable credibility of the organization which would actually discredit the perfectly sound information. I instead go and find the same information from another source so I can assure my followers, or readers, best I can that it is legitimate.

Debating someone who lies to further an agenda is pointless in fact I've attempted to start debate with Ezra Levant several times. He never once responded to me even though I saw him selectively choosing people on his twitter to debate who were weak at debating. Ezra Levant would only debate on his home turf where he could control the message. In the end he ended up blocking me, so much for "passionately debating with facts" I guess.

Kinsella's points on the state of the news media in general though offer for a much more interesting discussion.
Here’s the second thing: in case you haven’t noticed, our traditional news media are dying.
There are all kinds of reasons for that: the Internet, Google and Facebook and Craigslist, bad business decisions, whatever. We can debate the causes ad nauseum. But the fact is that the media, as we knew it, is disappearing.

Bloggers and social media mavens will celebrate the mainstream media’s demise, too. But they shouldn’t. Because bloggers and tweeters don’t generate actual news – they just comment on it. They offer opinions on someone else’s work. Someone else’s journalism.
When that journalism disappears, mark my words: our democracy will be diminished, and possibly even in peril. I’m not exaggerating. There is nothing that keeps the powerful in check – not Question Period, not a public opinion poll, not even the police – as effectively as journalists do. I’ve worked on both sides, and I know, I’ve seen it: every time a newspaper dies – every time a TV network dies – the powerful grow more so. You may think that’s okay, but I sure don’t. They are not always benign in the way they exercise power.
First off, I'm in utter agreement that nobody keeps the powerful in check more than journalists do which is why what people want is real journalism and not a bunch of reporters spouting the official line, or treading water on difficult topics so as not to offend their advertisers. Sun News's approach wasn't to keep the powerful in check it was to push the official line of the powerful. But it's not just Sun News that is utterly failing at keeping the powerful in check, all news media is failing to do this just perhaps not as spectacularly as Sun News has. Yes the internet has changed the economic models of journalism but what the internet has also done is provide the ability for citizens to become their own commenters, their own journalists, and provides ease of access to alternative sources.

There is a deep hunger for alternative information ever since the financial collapse of 2008. Plenty of real journalists were reporting on the coming collapse, the derivative scams, all of it (such as investigative journalist the late Michael C. Ruppert who also broke the Pat Tilman series, CIA drug running and much more the mainstream media still refuses to report on). However these real journalists were nowhere to be found on your T.V.

Contrary to Kinsella's assertion that all alternative media aren't really journalists at all and just piggyback off the work of others is the work of Press for Truth for instance. Press for Truth, unlike the mainstream media, has been heavily covering the lawsuit against the Bank of Canada. What lawsuit you ask? Exactly. It would be impossible for Press for Truth to simply be utilizing the mainstream media's reports on this because there aren't any. This lawsuit is based on the fact the Bank of Canada isn't operating within it's charter, pretty important for accountability one would think and yet the mainstream media is silent on it.

The Bilderberg meetings are another area where the mainstream media fails to hold the powerful accountable often opting instead to write bullshit opinion pieces on why what everyone thinks about them is stupid because they say so. They never send people to cover the events in person, while alternative media does. Pretty well any footage you ever see of those meetings is sourced not from a mainstream outlet but rather independent bloggers and journalists. the mainstream media would have you believe the world's most powerful people meeting yearly in a private secret meeting is no big deal. Nothing to see here folks! At one point in time the mainstream media even denied the Bilderberg meetings existed at all which when you consider the powerful heads of the media corporations attend isn't very surprising, is it?

When it came to the G20 Press for Truth came through for Canadians again with on the ground footage and a full documentary that even has a custom soundtrack that puts the CBC's Fifth Estate investigation into the G20 to shame. If only the news media had put as much effort into investigating the events of G20 as the alternative media had then maybe chief Bill Blair and the swarms of abusive police at the event would be held accountable, as well as finally finding out where their marching orders came from. To this day no one really knows.

Alternative media has been claiming for years that western intelligence were illegally spying on it's own citizens, it was called a conspiracy theory and never investigated by "real" journalists until you know, it turned out to be true. I remember being called a crackpot for telling people their phone can listen to them even when it's off. Now it's common knowledge thanks to a journalist named Glenn Greenwald who prior to the Snowden leaks and despite his publications on The Guardian was considered "fringe" for his conspiratorial views.

I don't know any blogs like mine which engage in commentary that claim to be journalists, both journalists and commentary exist in the alternative media world just as they do in the mainstream media world.

John Stewart's The Daily Show quite often has clips of the commentary of numerous media outlets all spouting the exact same lines, the exact same phrases, with the exact same inflections. While he never explicitly points it out it is very odd that magically all of these supposedly independent media outlets and journalists and reporters all use the same phrase. If the alternative media is simply using the work of others then the mainstream media is just regurgitating the handouts passed down to them. Hardly a path to accountability of the powerful.

Finally, the complete lack of faith in the mainstream media and a huge roadblock into holding the powerful accountable, or at least the population's perception of being able to do so is that it is the powerful that are bankrolling the news. Go look at the Calgary Herald or Edmonton Journal's "energy" section on their website and what you will find on the right side of the page is a huge strip of industry funded propaganda "sponsored by CAPP". Yes, the energy section of the news in Canada's energy capital is bank rolled by none other than the energy sector. It's hard to believe the full extent of criticism is being levied against the energy sector when it's bankrolling the news that criticism would be found in. CAPP also has direct access to publish whatever it would like people to believe to these "news" websites with no oversight as to the integrity or validity of the information.

Warren Kinsella is absolutely right, the mainstream news media is dying and frankly it is dying because it is not holding the powerful accountable.

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

Monday, February 2, 2015

UPDATE-1: "Anti-Terror": The art of misdirection and manufacturing consent

The Globe & Mail released a poll a few days ago titled "Stephen Harper's Canada: Better, worse or unchanged?". I really wish I had taken a screenshot of the results of this poll as they were Friday. Suffice to say they were dismal for Stephen Harper with the majority of the respondents answering "worse" for every question. As the poll was conducted through Google docs there are no previous versions or caches of how it appeared prior to today however there is internet conversation that references the results such as on Reddit. Reading these conversations you can get a clear impression of what the results said and they certainly were not in favour of "Stephen Harper's Canada", until today that is.

While on Friday and throughout the weekend the poll had a measly 5% or a few thousand responses under every category for 'improved' and 30000-40000 responses for "worse" now today the poll has seen a rapid jump up and beyond 'worse' in favour of 'improved'. In fact the number of respondents choosing "improved" closely matches the jump in respondents active today. Even the category of "the government's relations with first nations" has a majority of responses indicating "improved" as of today. Highly suspect.

It's very strange isn't it? Either Harper supporters don't read the Globe & Mail on Fridays or on the weekend or a poll titled 'How do you feel about Stephen Harper's Canada?' isn't a true poll at all but rather a piece of propaganda used to manufacture consent. Perhaps it should more accurately be titled "Here's how you should feel about living in Stephen Harper's Canada".

Here is a little secret of mine, a lesson in social manipulation for you all. Often when I write a controversial post, something that I really feel people who agree with me will be reluctant to admit as they may feel alone in their support, I will encourage a friend or known reader to go and cast the first vote on the only aggregator this blog disseminates through: progressivebloggers.ca. I do this not because I care about popularity or the number of votes I get (though I am happy to see when my work is well received), no, rather I do it so that other people know that it's "ok" to agree, so that those who do agree do not feel alone in their agreement. The feeling of acceptance amongst people is vital to having your message, or in the case of the government: your agenda, resonate.

Polls are powerful tools of propaganda which is why I don't put any stock in them. The polls on my own blog exist for no other reason than for me to get a reading on how those reading my blog think, and so that thinking can be shared with other readers. It's a form of anonymous feedback, and in this sense they can be very useful. Polls however can be used not just to gather information, but to plant information and influence decision making or control dissent.

It should be no surprise the Globe & Mail has this poll running now to demonstrate "support" for the Harper government as they try and convince the Canadian public that these new fascist "anti-terror" laws are in their best interest. I have thus far only read one opinion piece questioning the validity and need of the laws themselves and going as far as to say we are creating a secret police force. We are, and this fact should be the main topic of discussion, along with other provisions such as making the entire "terrorist trials" secret (if we don't just kill them first) - you know because "national security" and the other tired clichés.

However the need and validity of the laws themselves are not the main topic of discussion regarding them, are they? No, in fact the narrative being pushed by all parties and practically all media is that the scale of the new powers is fitting of the invisible "threat" we all face and that rather the contention is on whether there will be "enough oversight" to "protect Canadians" from these new laws.
The anti-terrorism legislation, which was unveiled Friday, would give CSIS the right to disrupt terrorist activity, such as by pulling suspected terrorists off planes or messing with their bank accounts. A judge would have to sign off on such actions ahead of time. The legislation would also make it easier to arrest people for promoting terrorism.

Critics say there are not enough checks on these new powers. They are calling on the government to mandate direct scrutiny from the House of Commons by, for example, having a committee of MPs oversee CSIS.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not address these concerns at a public appearance Sunday. In a short speech at a Vietnamese New Year celebration in Mississauga, he said his government will “always stand with you in support of human dignity and freedom for all people,” but made no direct references to the anti-terrorism bill. He did not take questions.

His caucus members, however, went toe-to-toe with opposition critics on the airwaves.

“What is absolutely missing in this legislation is oversight, oversight, oversight,” Liberal MP Wayne Easter, a former solicitor-general, said on Question Period. “That’s what’s needed for two things. One: to ensure that the new powers in this new legislation that agencies will be granted will not infringe on the privacy rights of Canadians. Two: to ensure that the agencies are using their powers within the law.”
If you are a Canadian that opposes the very contents of the laws, sorry but you're shit outta luck in terms of representation. "Critics say". Do you see how the criticism is being framed for you? As we discussed in my last post both the Conservatives and the Liberals have expressed interest in bringing Toronto Police Chief Bill BLiar into their ranks. Do you see how the illusion of opposition is being created? This is controlled opposition meant to ensure these laws pass and to frame the debate in such a way that even if the "opposition" gets what they want nothing has actually been opposed.

Meanwhile as polls are manipulated and the opposition to this law is manufactured, consent is also being built in biased reporting of the public's response. Take this article from Sun News Network for instance:
That said, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney told the Toronto Sun Sunday what he is hearing at the street level is different than what's in the media.
"People are telling me it's about time," said Blaney. "They were saying, ‘Why was some of this not already happening?'"

He attended an event in his Lévis-Bellechasse riding Saturday where "150 people at the town hall were all applauding and shouting out ‘Here, here.'"

Blaney said "the mayor leaned over and whispered to me ‘Did you hear that reaction?'"

Blaney was buoyed by the reaction. Since Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced tough new measures to combat terrorists or another terror attack on Canadian soil, he has noticed the luke warm media response.

However, Blaney says "people (are) saying, ‘Do what you have got to do.'"

Harper, as well as Justice Minister Peter MacKay and Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino - who were also in Richmond Hill for the announcement - understand the worry about privacy and civil liberties. Thanks to sweeping new tools, authorities will be able to detain suspects without a charge or place people of interest on a no-fly list. There will also be more sharing of personal information between law enforcement agencies.
The article then goes on to compliment the opposition! A bit strange for Sun News, don't ya think?
Such heavy security is just the way of the changing technological world. There will always be criticism but people realize law enforcement personnel are the good guys. Terrorists don't play by the rules that governments must.

Even the opposition has been fair in its criticism. All sides understand Canadians have seen extended powers abused before and want that concern to be heard.

Blaney insists the government is listening.
"People realize law enforcement personal are the good guys". Do you see how all coverage of these laws take the liberty to speak for you? Oh! A townhall of "150 people" (how many hand-chosen by Harper's staff based on their views to be allowed attendance?) were shouting "here, here!" well I guess the consensus amongst Canadians is we don't need that freedom anyway so I better just go along to get along. Everyone else seems to like them just fine, eh?

The arguments against and approval for these new laws are all being manufactured for you. The argument we don't need these laws is no longer even on the table and is being purposefully avoided by all involved parties.

But.. But.. Terrorism!!!!

Isn't it interesting how the "safety and security" of Canadians from the "perceived threat" of terrorism defies all typical logic in terms of the scale of laws passed as a result? A couple of incidents happen (which are both highly questionable as to the involvement of the government) which causes a couple people to die and it's anti-terror legislation after anti-terror legislation and a complete revamp of the very definition of the CSIS organization. But blow up a town in the name of industry that kills more people than most of Canada's history with "terrorism" combined and what happens?

Since the disaster of Lac-Megantic there has been numerous derailments of trains. I pretty well read about them every other week and many had the potential to be a Lac-Megantic 2.0 and it's only dumb luck they weren't. The Dot-111 "oil bombs" while being "phased-out" continue to endanger the lives of people all over North America. However, to demand any more than what is already happening to change their ways would infringe on business. Your safety and security is the top concern of this government? Of the elites in power? I don't think so. The status-quo is.

Which might explain this...
Nor will CSIS be limited to cutting out the RCMP middleman in cases of terrorism. This is not an “anti-terrorism act.” The bill is about “threats to the security of Canada,” which include but are not limited to: interfering with the ability of the Canadian government to maintain economic or fiscal stability; espionage; interference with critical infrastructure; terrorism; and doing anything in Canada that undermines the security of another state.

(“Lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression” are exempted from being threats to the security of Canada. But how well do governments define those things in times of “great evil”?)

Under the proposed law, CSIS agents will be allowed to take measures to reduce any perceived “threat to the security of Canada.” Agents will only need a warrant for activities that might contravene Charter rights or the law. If there is any doubt that the agents will be on the front lines of Mr. Harper’s war, you only have to read the part of the bill that says that, in taking measures to reduce a threat, CSIS can’t kill or harm anyone, or “violate the sexual integrity of an individual.”
 I wonder if CSIS sees thousands of Dot-111 train cars roaming through Canadian towns as a "perceived threat to the security of Canada?". Is the safety of the citizens even part of the "security" of Canada? Or are the citizens just sacrificial lambs being lead to the slaughter to protect the lives and standard of living of the Canadian elite?

The fact that there is a provision included "interfering with the ability of the Canadian government to maintain economic or fiscal stability" and "interference with critical infrastructure" should tell you everything you need to know. "Interference": what's that?

For instance, would a pipeline blockade now constitute "interfering with the ability of the Canadian government to maintain economic or fiscal stability and interfering with critical infrastructure"? I would imagine so given that the government has made numerous cases about how the pipelines are "critical" to maintaining "economic and fiscal stability".

This is a very dark time in Canada, don't fall for the propaganda traps. The rapid moves to finalize and legalize the Canadian police state indicate big things are on the horizon.

Futher reading: The morphing of “terrorism” and “domestic dissent” into an all encompassing and convenient category known as “domestic terrorists” or “domestic extremists”


‘Anti-petroleum’ movement a growing security threat to Canada, RCMP say

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.