Dan Savage on why SSM is a decent, humane institution.
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Dan Savage on why SSM is a decent, humane institution.
The situation in the Ukraine has me puzzled. The violence and protests leading up to the deposing of the Ukrainian president were not given much coverage in the media that I follow/ or I just plain missed it. Whatever the case may be, I’m getting a couple of nearly diametrically opposed narratives of what is going on in the Ukraine and for my edification and yours we’ll go through them together.
For clarity, and the fact I like using coloured text, the article for Al Jazeera will be in green, and the articles from Counterpunch in the usual brown. Starting with Al Jazeera and the article by Mykola Riabchuk penned as “Ukraine: Russian Propaganda and Three Disaster Scenarios.
Riabchuk’s article has a surface pro-Ukraine slant but I think we can safely say that the slant is also of a pro-Western nature. (I intend to bold parts that are extra interesting/to be used in cross analysis)
“As the Ukrainian presidential election scheduled on May 25 gets closer, Kremlin’s window of opportunity for invading the country and derailing its European course is gradually narrowing. The rhetoric of Russian President Vladimir Putin justifying the Anschluss of Crimea and unscrupulous meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs has been based on the premises that there is no legitimate government in Kiev, that it is being run by a gang of Nazis and anti-Semites who took power by coup d’etat and terrorised Russians and Russophones all over the country.”
So his this is his view of the pro-Russian narrative. On the other side we have Andre Vltchek with two article featured in Counterpunch: Ukraine, a Fascist Coup (UFC) and Ukraine: Lies and Realities (ULR).
[UFC] “Ukraine is burning, it is going to the dogs; it has been taken over by an illegitimate government engorged with fascists, neo-Nazis and simple pro-Western opportunists, as well as countless EU and US-sponsored members of various NGO’s.
The West has destabilized an entire nation, supporting right-wingers and fascists. Then it began spreading anti-Russian propaganda, even before Crimea had voted to join its historic homeland.
Everything was well planned, with Machiavellian precision. The EU was hoping to get its hands on the abundant natural resources, heavy industry and a well-educated and cheap labor force. In exchange, it was willing to give… nothing. No sane government would be willing to accept such a deal. Therefore, the only way to push through its agenda, the West began supporting violence and terror, as well as the fascist, neo-Nazi groups. A similar approach is being used by the US and EU in Venezuela, Syria and even Thailand.”
We can see here that the two narratives are aware of each others existence and are actively engaged in a contest to be the leading source of truth about what is happening in Ukraine. Riabchuk bluntly asserts with this next paragraph, citing three sources that the Vltchek’s position is false. I’m skeptical of the evidence offered as opinion polls, a newspaper article and a blurb from Transitions Online hardly seems like damning evidence.
“Such a claim, however calumnious and fully disproved on the ground by independent observers, opinion polls and the minorities themselves, can be sold nonetheless to some audiences, at least Russian, willing for various reasons to be fooled.”
Onward to Riabchuk’s Three Scenarios:
“Currently there are three possible scenarios that endanger Ukraine’s sovereignty. First, attempts to appease the separatist may result in a complete collapse of the Ukrainian authority over the eastern regions and the emergence of a puppet pro-Russian state similar to Moldovan Transnistria. It will likewise exist in legal limbo without international recognition.
Second, the eastern region may decide to proclaim itself the “true Ukraine” and, with Russian backing, launch an offensive against the central government in Kiev to re-establish Viktor Yanukovych’s “legitimate” presidency. The scenario is barely new since it was fully employed in 1918 when the Bolsheviks created a puppet “Ukrainian” government in Kharkiv to overthrow the democratic government of the Ukrainian National Republic (1918-1920) in Kiev. The main advantage of the scenario is to disguise a Russian-Ukrainian war as a Ukrainian-Ukrainian war.
The third option the Ukrainian government faces today is to submit to Russian pressure and bullying and accept a broad range of Kremlin-designed constitutional and administrative changes. These would transform Ukraine into a loose confederation of weak states highly vulnerable to Russian subversion, manipulation and sabotage.”
We lose the neat 1 to 1 congruence as the articles diverge in scope, but we can still compare and contrast the outcomes predicted:
[ULR]“Ironically, there is no ‘self-grown dispute’ between two nations. The seeds of mistrust, and possible tragedy, are sown by the outsiders, and nurtured by their malignant propaganda.
As Sergei Kirichuk, leader of progressive movement ‘Borotba’, explained:
“We have extensive invasion of western imperialism here. Imperialists were acting through huge network of NGOs and through the western-oriented politicians integrated into western establishment. Western diplomats declared that they invested more that 5 billions of dollars to ‘development of democracy in Ukraine’. What kind of investment is it? How was this amount spent? We don’t really know, but we can see the wide net of the US agents operating inside many key organizations and movements.
We can see that those ‘western democracies’ had not been concerned at all about growing of the far-right, Nazi movements. They had been ready to use the Nazis as a real armed force in overthrowing of Yanucovich.
President Yanucovich was actually totally pro-western politician, to start with. And his ‘guilt’ consisted only of his attempt to minimize the devastating aftermath that would come after implementation of the free trade zone with EU, on which the West was insisting.”
Western powers using whatever means necessary to promote ‘stability’ in the region. Shades of Iran, Nicuraugwa and Chile anyone? This shouldn’t be news to anyone. Of course this view is not shared by Riabchuk, as he sees the Russian narrative in terms of massive state propaganda leading to this.
“The Russian elite, infected by its own propaganda, becomes increasingly paranoid and determined to fight the invented “fascists” in neighbouring countries as if they are real. This means that whatever Ukraine does or says in this regard, it matters little. The real choice is either to share the fate of the 1956 Hungary and 1968 Czechoslovakia invasions by the Red army or to follow the example of the 1920 Poland and 1940 Finland (when the Russians were contained).
Ukrainians should learn to live for years, perhaps for decades, not only under persistent political and economic pressure but also under blatant propagandistic war, prone at any moment to turn into quite a real military invasion. If it does not happen by May 25, it may well happen eventually, albeit under some different pretexts and slightly modified rhetorical wrapping. No government in Kiev will be recognised by Kremlin as legitimate until and unless it is the Kremlin’s government.”
Contrast with the outcome from Vltcheck’s first article:
[UFC]“There is also one photo of Arseniy Yatsenyuk – the current acting PM of Ukraine – who recently met with President Obama in Washington, and negotiated the possibility of obtaining loans while agreeing to implement brutal anti-social, neoliberal reforms that will affect millions of Ukrainian citizens. This was the very price of the victory of the rightwing and neoliberal politicians that organized and controlled the Euro-Maidan movement.”
And from the second article:
[ULR]“Old women, Communist leaders, and my friend Sergei Kirichuk, as well as people from international solidarity organizations, made fiery speeches. Apparently, the government in Kiev had already begun to cut the few social benefits that were left, including free medical assistance. Several hospitals were poised to close down, soon.
People were ready to fight; to defend themselves against those hated neo-liberal policies, for which (or against which) none of them had been allowed to vote for.
“In Crimea, people voted, overwhelmingly, to return to Russia”, explained a young man, a student, Alexei. “But the West calls it unconstitutional and undemocratic. In Ukraine itself, the democratically elected government has been overthrown and policies that nobody really wants are being pushed down our throats. And… this is called democracy!”
Still with me intrepid readers? I certainly hope so because the dynamics of the Ukraine situation are most intriguing. Are we witnessing a Russian coup, or an American one? Is this a triumph for self-determination or a end run to escape the grip of toxic neo-liberal policies. My readership is wide and diverse and I entreat you to share your knowledge and opinion about this muddled situation with me so we can all better understand exactly what the heck is going on over there.
Ohhh, bonus content! Watch Bill Maher not talk about anything important for 6 minutes. Fascinating(!) where his and his panel’s assumptions lay.
No one expects a flying crotch attack, nor should they. This is an ad by the Government of Alberta in attempt to be ‘hip’ and ‘edgy’ and appeal to the young shite-for-brains motorists who somehow think that driving is compatible with using a cell phone.
It is isn’t. So don’t do it. But for those that require a message specially tailored to their demographic, observe below. (CBC Source)
Overkill. Not really considering that the stupid things people do on the road.
It sucks when your government is an entity devoid of anything resembling a spine. *sigh*
The Alberta government is so deeply in bed with big oil its shite and piss are black. So, rather than looking at an example of how to screw your citizens over, take a look at a country that got it, and continues to get it right; Norway. It makes me spitting mad that we couldn’t even get a fractional raise in revenue for the people of Alberta (The Royalty Review), all the while Norway has 165,000 thousand dollars socked away per person for its retiring population. You fucking old people (and you fucking young greedy capitalists) who can’t vote anything other than Tory in Alberta, enjoy working past 65 and as an extra sweet bonus we’ll save you a spot working at McDonald’s until your body and mind are well and truly done. Savour the sweet capitalist freedom to work yourself to death, I know I will.
My bitter vitriol aside, onward to the article that got this party started:
“Like parts of Canada and the United States, Norway has a very lucrative oil and gas industry. But unlike Alberta and Alaska, Norway chose not to use its resource wealth immediately to pay for hefty tax cuts or social programs. Instead, the Scandinavian country squirrelled its money away in a fund for future generations, a decision that is paying enormous social dividends.
Today, less than 25 years since its inception, that nest egg has grown into the world’s most valuable sovereign wealth fund, worth about $850 billion – more than $165,000 per Norwegian citizen, according to an SWF Institute report. It is the envy of the world, funding initiatives ranging from infrastructure improvements and green energy projects to public pensions.
Meanwhile, the Alberta Heritage Fund, which is 14 years older, is worth about $17 billion. The Alaska Permanent Fund sits at $50 billion. Even combined, they represent a fraction of the wealth Norway has amassed, and which it will be able to draw on long after its oilfields run dry.
Farouk al-Kasim on Norway’s Oil Policy and Wealth.:
“They did not have a clear enough policy for how to manage petroleum resources when they were starting out,” he said. “Norway concluded that if you don’t have a policy up front, and if you don’t have a consensus on that policy, that human nature would tend to favour individual interests rather than coherent national interests.”
In 1971, shortly after the Ekofisk discovery, the Norwegian parliament drafted legislation that came to be known as the country’s “10 Oil Commandments.”
“These 10 Oil Commandments form the basic policy on which Norway has managed its petroleum resources ever since,” al-Kasim said. “And the politicians not only agreed on this document, but they agreed not to debate it in elections and the third miracle … that they kept their promise.”
He was an instrumental force behind the Norwegian government’s decision to establish a national oil company, StatOil, and an independent industry regulator.
The government also legislated that Norway’s participation, through Statoil, in all future discoveries should be no less than 50 per cent. Al-Kasim says that stipulation was actually welcomed by international oil companies, who remained keen to partner with Statoil.
“They were guaranteed recovery of their investment,” he explained. “And on top of that, they received a very reasonable interest on their investment …. There was virtually no risk at all, so the oil companies were quite happy going along with this formula.” (Source CBC.ca)
Gaa! It’s so awesome my province is so frakking high on capitalism. I found the 10 Oil Commandments from the Norwegian Governments website. So get a pencil and paper you feckless-amoral-conservative-corporate-bootlicking-lickspittles and look at how you establish resource policy that benefits the people of nation and not just corporate coffers.
The committee framed its commandments in keeping with a government desire to develop an oil policy which ensured that the natural resources on the NCS benefited the whole community.
This principle can be regarded as fulfilled. The government wanted to manage and control the business. When creating Statoil and the NPD in 1972, the Storting established a tripartite model comprising central management, administrative and commercial functions.
These three instruments of this model were the Ministry of Industry – replaced by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in 1978 – the NPD and Statoil respectively.
In 1984, the Storting resolved to split Statoil’s cash flow through the creation of the state’s direct financial interest (SDFI) in the petroleum industry. The company kept the job of managing the state’s licence holdings and selling its oil and gas.
Two new state-owned companies were founded when Statoil was listed in 2001 – Petoro to manage the SDFI portfolio and Gassco to operate the gas transport network from fields on the NCS. Statoil is the main technical service provider to the latter.
Changes have also happened to the NPD, with the Storting voting in 2004 to separate off the safety department as the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA).
The audits conducted by this agency take full care of the desire for national management and control of all operations on the NCS.
When Ekofisk was discovered in late 1969, most Norwegians thought it would make them selfsufficient in oil for 15-20 years. But it soon became apparent that resources on the NCS far exceeded Norway’s own needs.
The country accordingly became a major exporter of crude oil, and is now in the process of becoming an even bigger source of gas exports. Norway will be independent of oil imports for the foreseeable future.
Offshore operations on the NCS have led to the development of a large and strong Norwegian petroleum industry, which currently employs some 200 000 people.
Norway has secured a position among the world leaders in important technologies such as drilling, major offshore projects, subsea solutions and multiphase flow in pipelines.
Norwegian oil and gas technology has also become a substantial export commodity.
Oil and gas have made Norway one of the world’s richest countries. This wealth has been counterbalanced by a high level of domestic costs. Through 40 years as an oil nation, its industrial structure has also undergone profound changes.
Petroleum revenues have allowed Norway at times to pursue a counter-cyclical economic policy which has made the country unique in relation to comparable nations.
Reserves of more than NOK 3 000 billion have been accumulated in the government pension fund – global, and Norway has also been able to respond to the recent world financial crisis with measures which have ensured low unemployment and reasonable income growth.
During Norway’s years as a petroleum producer, climate and the environment have come to attract much greater attention. Being a major oil and gas nation while also seeking to lead work on improving climate and the environment has often proved a demanding combination.
On the other hand, Norwegian petroleum production can be described as among the cleanest in a global context.
This principle has been indicative for resource management, and complying with it has meant that environmental concerns are met while creating substantial value.
This proved a difficult commandment to fulfil. The oil and gas pipelines for first two developments on the NCS, Ekofisk and Frigg, had to go to Germany and the UK, with landfalls at Emden, Teesside and St Fergus.
This was because the deepwater Norwegian Trench lies between the fields and mainland Norway. So crossing this feature in 360 metres of water with the Statpipe gas line during the early 1980s marked a major breakthrough.
That installation went to Kårstø north of Stavanger. Later gas pipelines have come ashore at Kollsnes, Nyhamna, Tjeldbergodden and Melkøya, while oil lines run to Sture and Mongstad.
A network more than 7 000 kilometres long gives Norway the world’s largest underwater gas transport system.
This principle is perhaps the one which has been most fully implemented, as confirmed by Norway’s role as a leading oil and gas nation. (See under the first commandment above.)
This commandment was complied with immediately through the creation of Statoil, which became an important element in the Norwegian model of oil industry governance. However, major revisions have occurred along the way (see under the first commandment above).
Unlike a number of other oil nations, Norway was never tempted to pure nationalisation. Competition on the NCS ensured the participation of the world’s leading technology specialists.
“Special socio-political conditions” were interpreted as both domestic and foreign policy concerns. From the start, Norwegian politicians appreciated that petroleum operations in the far north could be sensitive, primarily in relation to Russia.
A number of commentators argued that the far northern NCS should be reserved for Norwegian oil companies.
After four decades of negotiation, the biggest issue – the boundary between Norway and Russia in the Barents Sea – is now heading for a resolution.
The domestic policy dimension related to the desire that northern Norway should share in the value creation provided by its own resources. Development of the Snøhvit gas field with a pipeline to Melkøya outside Hammerfest represents a paradigm shift for the region.
Debate on opening areas of the Norwegian Sea off Lofoten and Vesterålen to oil activity has exposed something of the vulnerability of these northern waters to pollution threats.
The environmental movement has warned of a tougher fight against petroleum operations in these areas than they pursued earlier over the activities further south on the NCS.
Former foreign minister Thorvald Stoltenberg – father of current premier Jens Stoltenberg – once formulated the challenge as follows: “We must ensure that oil policy is given a foreign policy dimension, and [vice versa].”
That might sound like something which goes without saying, but nevertheless represented an important acknowledgement of the position.
Signal Boosting: How Anti-choice zealots are saving women by harming and harassing them…
Originally posted on Everysaturdaymorning's Blog:
On Saturday, my second day volunteering as an escort, I had the occasion to get acquainted with such an individual. And by “acquainted,” I mean to say I was berated with raving projections of racism and sexism from an older male anti that were completely devoid of irony. Irony, after all, would denote some semblance of humanity and humor, and the man who verbally dug into me may have misplaced the remaining specks of his humanity quite some time ago.
It’s really a surreal experience to stand silently and withstand someone’s verbal abuse. To respond would…
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You’re welcome. :)
Forced Birthers Lying (again) for Jesus – How shocking.
Originally posted on Everysaturdaymorning's Blog:
The escorts and clients hear lies coming from the anti’s all the time. The breast cancer link that doesn’t exist, the “fact” that 20% of all women who have abortions attempt suicide, the curious item about how the equipment the clinic uses is 27 times more powerful than your home vacuum cleaner (although the anti recently upped that to 29 times, I guess people weren’t being properly scared at the lower number). The list goes on and on. These are all attempts to scare and unnerve the clients but are easily dispelled with a little Google-fu. Lately though there have been a couple of examples of the antis lying to their own flock.
In a recent article by Matt Damico in the Southern Seminary Magazine he said “There are a number of Catholics and other individuals who also do sidewalk counseling – although the number of escorts usually outnumbers the…
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