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Monday, September 22, 2014

What's the rush, Saskatoon? 

Transit workers picket to protest lockout, roads jammed during morning commute
I guess the idea is because the city administration has failed to negotiate a contract, then City Council should just implement the pension changes by fiat.
Yeah, that'll calm things down.
Saskatoon's transit lockout experienced its first workday morning today.
The next big story will be tonight's so-called emergency city council meeting -- when our councilors are supposed to vote on a bylaw that would impose the pension changes on the transit union.
The city and union have been warring over pensions and wages for months. The city has offered a 10-per-cent wage increase over four years with changes to the defined benefits pension plan — an offer the union voted 91 per cent against. City council had scheduled an emergency meeting Monday to legislate changes to the pension plan and force the union to accept the pension changes, but the move won’t end the lockout. The union calls the legislation a “bullying tactic” and said it would only accept the new pension arrangement in exchange for a 22-per-cent wage increase over five years.
So negotiations have been going on for a year, and the pension problems have been an issue for much longer, but its just terribly, terribly urgent that the pension be resolved TODAY?
Why don't I think anyone is going to buy this?  I hope councilors can resist getting sucked into this rush to judgement.
And now the union that represents many of the other city workers is entering the fray:
The national office at CUPE, the union representing four locals and more than 2,500 city workers in Saskatoon, now agrees with the locked out transit workers that the pension plan is sound.
The Amalgamated Transit Workers Union (ATU) is arguing that the city’s pension plan is now in a surplus position, not in a deficit, as officials have stated.
Today, a CUPE national spokesperson said they agree with the ATU.
CUPE has had its own pension experts look at the latest data from the City of Saskatoon and they tell the union that there is no deficit.
What’s more, said national representative Rhonda Heisler, the four locals in Saskatoon believe that they were misled when they signed their latest contract.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Checking out the People's Climate Marches 

Some memorable photos --
New York city
Embedded image permalink

People's Climate on Twitter:
Sydney, Australia: Beyond Coal + Gas
Berlin
Paris
Toronto

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Saskatoon's Press Release War has begun! 

Embedded image permalink

I see the first shot in the press release war between the city of Saskatoon and its bus union was fired by the city tonight when they locked out the bus drivers -- likely we can expect to see an answer tomorrow from ATU Local 615.*
I am totally annoyed about how the city has been managing our transit system lately -- this lockout is the last straw. SaskatoonHomepage News summed it up today:
Saskatoon Transit is dealing with a multitude of issues at the moment: a transit union dispute, lack of mechanics, lack of available buses and route disruptions. And that doesn't even touch on the recent incident where a 9 year old stole a city bus that had been left running. SaskatoonHomePage News has asked repeatedly in the last week what the status of the [Calgary] buses are, that were ordered to alleviate the shortage of working buses, which have caused service interruptions for riders. The response from the city has been "we're working on it". Working on what has not been specified.
Of course, if the "previously-owned" buses need repairs, the city has locked out the bus mechanics, too.
But if you want to see someone who is absolutely furious, don't miss the tweets from Max FineDay, president of the 11,000-strong University of Saskatchewan Students Union. It was only a few years ago that the city and the student union worked out a deal whereby all students would pay for bus passes with the guarantee that the transit system would improve for students.
Yeah, right:

*Here it is already!


Here is the document (PDF).

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Defending our right to choose 


I'm glad to see Trudeau and the Liberal Party hit back hard against the so-called Liberals who thought they could generate some traction for the Harper Cons by criticizing Liberal policy requiring MPs to vote pro-choice on any abortion bills:
"Anyone is entitled to hold their own personal views, but Canadians deserve to know that when they vote Liberal they will get an MP who will vote to defend women's rights in the House," party spokeswoman Kate Purchase said in a statement.
"Women's rights are long-held Liberal values that we will not back down from."
Not surprisingly, the National Post editorial board has weighed in to decry Trudeau's "troubling stance".
But it is absolutely clear that Trudeau never said, and is not saying now, that Liberals must support abortion.
Rather, he requires that  Liberal MPs must promise to support a woman's right to make her own choice.
And these old men never will.




h/t illustration 

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Whoever has the most trucks wins: redefining winning in war 


Our ideas about war have mostly been patterned after WW1 and WW2, where states sent their armies to war against other states, eventually somebody won, peace agreements were signed, and the soldiers all came home and got real jobs.
That isn't the way war is anymore.
What we see now are numerous smaller wars of "insurgency", where semi-organized ideological well-armed rebel groups grab their guns and leap into their pickup trucks, traveling back and forth across their home territories, killing their enemies as they go, uprooting families, destroying people's ability to raise crops or run a business. Chechnya, Mali, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Syria, eastern Ukraine, the Sudan. Nobody seems to win or lose wars like these, or at least not for long; there is often nobody to sign a peace treaty with and nobody would respect it if one could be negotiated. In these wars, success isn't "winning".  Success seems to be just "not losing" for just long enough to exhaust the opposition and then take back some of the territory lost in the last offensive.
Its the kind of war where apparently some additional air support can give one side a crucial edge.
This appears to be Obama's strategy for dealing with ISIS. From Juan Cole: Obama's ISIL Actions are Defensive, Despite Rhetoric of going on Offense:
Obama hinted in his speech that he wants to help Baghdad and Erbil take back towns from ISIL just as Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the president of Yemen, took back Zinjibar. And just as AQAP hasn’t disappeared in Yemen, Obama expects ISIL to be around for a while. In essence, the Yemen policy has de facto yielded a sort of containment with regard to AQAP, though how successful it will be in the long run can be questioned.
What if Obama is a sharper reader of the Middle East than his critics give him credit for? He knows ISIL is likely not going away, just as, after 13 years, the Taliban have not. US military action may even prolong the lifetime of these groups (that is one argument about AQAP) even as it keeps them from taking more territory.
Don’t listen to his expansive four-stage program or his retooled, stage-managed John Wayne rhetoric. Look at his metaphors. He is telling those who have ears to hear that he is pulling a Yemen in Iraq and Syria. He knows very well what that implies. It is a sort of desultory, staccato containment from the air with a variety of grassroots and governmental forces joining in. Yemen is widely regarded as a failure, but perhaps it is only not a success. And perhaps that is all Obama can realistically hope for.
I don't know if Obama will be right or not, but certainly landing American troops likely wouldn't work any better (see: Mogadishu).
Steve at No More Mister Nice Blog writes:
Obama's job is not to try to rid the world of evil. Obama's job is to protect America and U.S. interests. With regard to ISIS, that means curtailing the group's ability to be a threat to our country and our interests. If Cole is right, and if something like this gets Obama's actual job done, I'd prefer that to a bloodlust-satisfying full-on quagmire of a war that inflames our enemies and inspires ISIS's current enemies in the Arab/Muslim world to rally around the group.

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Friday, September 05, 2014

Murder, she wrote 

The "root cause" for why Indigenous women are murdered and missing?
Men are killing them. Usually, white men.
Really, its as simple as that.
Sarah Hunt asks why are we so hesitant to name white male violence as the reason for missing and murdered Indigenous women:
I fear that no amount of increased awareness and political organizing will actually end the violence if we continue along this current trajectory because we are still not shining a spotlight on the real causes of violence. No, I'm not talking about the drug use and street involvement that some journalists have drawn attention to in their portrayal of Tina Fontaine's final days. I'm also not talking about widespread poverty on reserve, or even the myriad factors that systematically marginalize Indigenous girls and women.
What this latest round of media coverage has failed to address is simply this: white male violence.
Indeed, the erasure of that violence as a topic of social and political concern is arguably a form of violence itself, as it serves to remove white men from the equation. White men get away with being unmarked by the violence they perpetrate, not at fault for carrying out a form of violation that is as old as colonialism itself.
She adds that the search for ways to blame First Nations for the problem, and the reluctance to ascribe responsibility for violence to its actual perpetrators, also serves to marginalize Indigenous women:
Maybe all those white male 'experts' who have weighed in on this issue during these past few weeks would make better use of their energy by turning their attention to the obvious: that serial killers like Legebokoff and Pickton are their peers. Where is the national action plan to address the violence that starts with them?

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

What a strange week 

What a strange week it has been -- horrible bus crashes and nine-year olds with Uzis and Russia invading the Ukraine but lying about it while the American media flips out about Obama's suit colour and England flips out about ISIS -- and I flip out because Shaw in Saskatoon doesn't carry the new TSN channels yet.
Maybe its time for September Song.



Or maybe someting a little cheerier!


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