July 16th, 2010 :: Year 7, Issue 24

Jul-16-2010 | Comments Off


* Oil Spill: Maybe the cap will hold, but in the meantime the Guardian reports that scientists are confronting growing evidence that BP’s ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico is creating oxygen-depleted “dead zones” where fish and other marine life cannot survive. And for readers who’ve been wondering, “Well, what’s the worst that could happen?”, here’s the BP Doomsday Scenario.

* G20: Your editor has a surprising conversation with the Toronto Police about the G20, and John Allemang writes a wonderful poem about the protests. (Thanks, Mom!)

* World Cup: One last Big Picture feature on the World Cup. We promise, no more. (For four years, anyway.) And here’s a chance to contribute to a South African food bank, to help a few of those who didn’t get helped by FIFA.

1. G20 Inside

Jul-09-2010 | Comments Off

Bird’s-Eye: Here in Toronto, 90% of the G20 coverage has focussed on the actions of the Black Bloc and the police response. The decisions that were made by the leaders of the major economic countries have been glossed over and hidden, as much as the leaders themselves were. A poll as to whether you approve of police action gets yeses and nos totalling 99%… a poll as to whether you approve of the economic decisions? Gee, we wonder why the media don’t have that on their websites. But things were decided, and here are two fine summaries and a dead-on cartoon to fill you in on what they were.

* G20 Accord: You Go Your Way, I’ll Go Mine The Guardian

Born out of necessity in the dark days of late 2008, the cracks are beginning to show in the G20. Developed and developing nations were united when confronted with the collapse of world trade and the shrivelling of industrial output but are finding it harder to keep the show on the road now that the immediate crisis is over.

The communique from the weekend’s meeting is easily summed up: do your own thing. The Americans cannot persuade the Europeans to hold off from fiscal tightening until the recovery is assured; the Germans and the British think the risks of a sovereign debt crisis are far more serious than the possibility of a double-dip recession. That was not the only contentious issue this weekend. Canada, Australia, China, India and Japan were unhappy with the idea that their banks – which proved resilient during the financial crisis – should have to pay the levy backed by Washington, Berlin, Paris and London. Again, it was a case of go your own way.

* Short-Term Pain For Long-Term Pain David Olive The Toronto Star

A fragile economic recovery worldwide has barely begun. Yet the world’s leading economies are abruptly removing the stimulus measures that revived a global economy hurtling toward a second Great Depression only 18 months ago.

This shift in global consensus from stimulus to austerity was the centerpiece agreement of the latest G20 summit, in Toronto last month. The official communiqué warned that continued stimulus to reboot the global economy “would undermine confidence and hamper growth.”

Which is nonsense. Even the stock market knows that much, having lately given up much of the huge gains it made at the peak of the stimulus last year. As a show of “confidence,” the markets have been sliding ever since the austerity talk began in earnest.

* Regarding the Ongoing Irrelevance of Keynesian Economics Cartoon by Barry Deutsch

2. G20 Protest Fallout

Jul-09-2010 | Comments Off

Bird’s-Eye: More and more stories have come out about the excesses perpetrated by some of the G20 police forces on non-violent protestors. And that raises vital questions: why didn’t the police act against the black bloc group who were the most violent? Is there any point to non-violent protests that won’t get covered and that may get you arrested and hurt? We have a cartoon, a painful personal story of a protestor and his son, and few theories we’d like to share….

* Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call Toronto cartoon from The Torontoist

* Defeat David Ker Thomson counterpunch

We have seen the future.  This is it.  More troops, more brutality, more police pretending to be protestors and smashing whatever they want at $80/hour, more acceptance from a population that will submit to any limitation on its freedom as long as it can pay someone to make them feel temporarily safe.

We were brave.  We have been hunted on our own turf like dogs.  We love dogs, and find no animosity in our hearts even for the horses that bore down on us over and over.

“Son,” I’ve been saying to my tall fourteen-year-old, “we should do something together as father and son.  Shoot some pool, maybe catch a movie.”  In the end, the bonding activity was to be hunted by cavalry and foot soldiers amongst campus buildings in which I have often taught, near Knox Church where pictures of our great great and great great great grandfather hangs.  Our people have been protestant for a long time.  We didn’t go looking for trouble that day, but we dealt with it.

* Mixed Bag of Innocents and Agent Provocateurs Creates Confusion menwithtinfoilhats.com

Another cause for concern is that the police purposely avoided arresting black block “anarchists,” so as to create the impression of mayhem and lawlessness around the city, and then use that environment as a justification to crackdown on other civil and peaceful protests. It is a very cynical tactic, and it is practiced by many polices forces across the world, both in “democratic” countries, as well as in dictatorships. Even more criminally outrageous was the obvious use of agent provocateurs in the black bloc group that hijacked a peaceful protest on Saturday afternoon and then proceeded to steer it towards a violent direction…

* Summit Protests Are Obsolete Al Giordano Narcosphere

Does anybody really think that police agencies would have left unguarded vehicles in that path if not to get that desired image onto the evening news? And the “Black Bloc” dupes fell for it! Who, among the working class and poor, would follow these white upper class fools anywhere? What separates them from any rank-and-file pyromaniac? That they attach a cause to their attempted rampage? Well, what is that cause? “Whose streets? Our streets”? Clearly they mean theirs and not “ours” in the sense that the streets belong to all the people. Otherwise they wouldn’t be pushing and threatening the people’s own cameras away. If those guys ever did gain power, they would be as violent and bullying as those that have it now. And that is evident to most members of the public who refrain from joining in such protests even when we agree with the overall causes expressed.

And to think: At least twice in recent months, in the same city of Toronto, there were two creative actions – neither of them “protests,” per se – that were designed, and succeeded, to win over hearts and minds and public support.

On April 29, 2010, students of Canada’s National Ballet Schools held a “flash mob” action at the Eaton Centre Mall in Toronto. Watch it while imagining had the G-20 protesters organized something similar and how different and better the impact would have been….

2. The G20 and the G8: Politics

Jul-02-2010 | Comments Off

Bird’s-Eye: With an overflowing mail folder on the G20, we’ve broken the topic into three sections: what happened inside the conference, what happened on the streets, and photo/videos. We start with the Globe and Mail, in which Gerald Caplin (who’s he?) explaining what filters you need to read the government PR. Then from the Guardian, John Hilary explains why he hopes that this G20 may be the last. And from the New York Times, Paul Krugman looks at the disastrous economic course the G20 has chosen to follow.

* Ten Invaluable Tips For Assessing The G8The Globe And Mail  (Thanks, Kyla!)

What do you call those who have the capacity to reduce hunger, poverty and disease with a stroke of the pen, and fail to act? What do you call those who are knowingly responsible for causing death and suffering to millions of fellow citizens? What do you call those who deny to the poor the benefits that we in the rich world take for granted? You call them the G8.

* May Toronto’s G20 Be The Last John Hilary The Guardian  (Thanks, Gabe!)

Questions are being asked as to why the police chose to drive the vehicles into the middle of a group of protesters and then abandon them, and why there was no attempt to put out the flames until the nation’s media had been given time to record the scenes for broadcast around the world.

The fact that so much attention has been directed towards the policing is largely due to the lack of anything newsworthy coming out of the summit itself. Even David Cameron, attending for the first time as British prime minister, published his own desperate plea in the Canadian press this week for summits to be turned into something more than the hot air and photo opportunities they have been in the past. (How this relates to his stated intention to take time out to watch the second half of the England v Germany game with Angela Merkel was not made clear.)

* The Third Depression Paul Krugman New York Times

Neither the Long Depression of the 19th century nor the Great Depression of the 20th was an era of nonstop decline —  [but] we are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense. And this third depression will be primarily a failure of policy. Around the world — most recently at last weekend’s deeply discouraging G-20 meeting — governments are obsessing about inflation when the real threat is deflation, preaching the need for belt-tightening when the real problem is inadequate spending….

Why the wrong turn in policy? The hard-liners often invoke the troubles facing Greece and other nations around the edges of Europe to justify their actions. And it’s true that bond investors have turned on governments with intractable deficits. But there is no evidence that short-run fiscal austerity in the face of a depressed economy reassures investors. On the contrary: Greece has agreed to harsh austerity, only to find its risk spreads growing ever wider; Ireland has imposed savage cuts in public spending, only to be treated by the markets as a worse risk than Spain, which has been far more reluctant to take the hard-liners’ medicine….

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