Term Limits?

Canada does not seem to have term limits. This creates career politicians whose lives might collapse if not re-elected. (We’re going to see a lot of this in Ontario, eh?)

Chile’s president can only run for one term. Bachelet has been back repeatedly, but she had a one-term gap each time. This seems to work out well; Chile’s economic numbers look a lot better than Peru’s, for example. Bachelet either has a backup job or wealthy independence. She does not need to be re-elected because she can’t be.

The US President can only be elected twice. There’s also a ten-year limit to cover the case of succession.

I have two examples of long-running country leaders. One is Paul Kagame of Rwanda. Kagame was referred to by Romeo Dallaire as the best general in Africa. He is now, apparently, a despot.

Does this always happen after too many years in power?

My other example is Daniel Ortega. Ortega was the recipient of attacks funded by arms sales to Iran (Oliver North) used to fund the Honduran Contras. Ortega made positive changes in Nicaragua at the start of his rule. He is now, apparently, silencing the media and allowing dissenters to be killed.

Does this always happen after too many years in power?

Flashing?

We need a new word in Ontario, added to the Highway Traffic Act. It should mean ‘flashing’ but only in a special sense.

Our school buses carry signs that they are not to be passed when their signals are ‘flashing.’ This does NOT apply to four-way flashing, only to left-right flashing. Which only school buses and emergency vehicles can do.

I know a very competent bus driver. She once said that she never uses four-ways, as it stops traffic.

I suggest a new word, legally defined in the Highway Traffic Act.

What do you think of ‘flicking?’ Any other suggestions? How about winking? Flinking?

WordPress.org help sucks

Despite logging in successfully, I can Not ask a question nor add to any forum. I’ve read the instructions and I’m told to click an ‘add new’ button that is not there.

My problem is this:

I updated to 4.9.6 after backing up, as was suggested.

Then I got about 350 spam posts to my blog.

I think that all WordPress sites that updated were so targeted. I’ve seen a lot of c..p posting, but never at this volume. It was too fast to be manual, and several IP addresses were involved. I think there’s an alternate TOR being used.

Any ideas about this? I’m tempted to simply .htaccess the top level IP range for every spam I get.

Binder Proof

Netanyahu has added gasoline to the fire on Iran. With peccable timing, he has ‘proven’ that Iran reneged on its dealings with regard to the sanctions/nuclear research agreement.

Here you will find (if you haven’t seen it already) how this proof was demonstrated. I use the word demonstrate for a reason: it’s all, imho, just pure show.

In this writing room I have a large shelf-full of binders similar to those shown by Netanyahu. I could, with a curtain and a helpful TV crew, unveil these and claim they are historical proof that Netanyahu has ordered slaughters in Palestine, mostly by bombing. If you search for ‘Israel bombs Palestine’ in YouTube you’ll see there are lots of confirming instances of my claim.

Netanyahu’s proof is simply pointing to a set of binders and claiming what is in them.

Contrarily, the inspections of Iran are surprisingly invasive, and have given the international community strong evidence that Iran is indeed fully complying with the agreement.

But, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the USA are all dead set against Iran. Thus the ‘proof’ and its acceptance by Donald Trump, POTUS.

Who would deal with this president? Expert advice goes unheeded. Deals are broken due to a publicity stunt. I guess that’s today’s dumb question.

Poverty Reduction: Ontario (Wynne) versus Toronto (Tory)

Here you will find an article describing the next set of ‘moves’ planned in Toronto.

I think this betrays the usual ‘progress’ we see under our current mayor. The plan is to spend a lot of time discussing what might be done over the next twenty years.

Here’s a quote from that web page, emphasis mine:

It is part of a series of panel discussions the city’s anti-poverty advocate, Councillor Joe Mihevc, hopes will generate bold ideas “to set the stagefor the next phase of Toronto’s 20-year poverty reduction strategy, approved by city council in 2015.

So, in more than two years, the city strategy has hatched a plan to spend time creating a strategy. Vintage Toronto Council, Vintage John Tory: photo ops and not much substance.

In contrast,

Here you will find an article describing what our Premier, Kathleen Wynne, is actually doing about poverty.

Here’s a quote from that web page:

Participants must be:

  • 18 to 64 years old for the duration of the pilot.
  • living in one of the selected test regions for the past at least 12 months or longer (and still live there):
    • Hamilton, Brantford, Brant County
    • Thunder Bay, along with the Municipality of Oliver Paipoonge, Township of Shuniah, Municipality of Neebing, Township of Conmee, Township of O’Connor, Township of Gillies
    • Lindsay
  • living on a low income (under $34,000 per year if you’re single or under $48,000 per year if you’re a couple)

This pilot is already running and may be expanded. I don’t remember Wynne holding a lot of consultation. The tricky bits were deciding on the dollar numbers to use as thresholds, caps, and clawbacks.

How come Toronto doesn’t offer to co-fund an expansion to here?

Now for the dumber questions.

Suppose Doug Ford became leader of the Provincial Progressive Conservatives. (He did.) Suppose he becomes premier of Ontario. (He could.)

Which thing to you think he will do first?

  • Drive all the progressives out of the party?
  • Cancel the provincial guaranteed income program?
  • Speed up the discussions on poverty in Toronto?

I’m betting on: close to success in the first bullet, gerrymandering to un-fund the second bullet, and pointing out that the Scarborough Subway needs money more than the poor, who often don’t vote.

Is that cynical enough? That’s the final dumb question.

Trump’s Deficit

Donald Trump is complaining about constant USA trade deficits. This is a valid concern. If you check countries, you’ll find that Germany’s trade surplus is greater than that of the EU overall. The USA has always had a deficit overall, as has Canada.

Why are there trade deficits? Clearly, the USA as a whole buys more (in dollar terms) than it sells. How did this happen?

The book, Information Feudalism, is mentioned in the References pages of this website. I leave you to navigate there at your leisure. I will summarize a few points from that book.

  • The USTR and the DOHA round of trade negotiations focused on making copyright and patent rights enforced all over the world.
  • A company like Apple (no special reason to pick them, but I have the figures we need in mind) can sell an item for $3x and keep $2x of that for itself. Patent licensees build the product, acquire the necessary components and materials, pay their workers and various bills, on the remaining $x.
  • The jobs to do this are in the countries where the patents etc are licensed.
  • One third of the gross price goes to those same countries. This money may not come back to the USA as purchases.
  • Two thirds of the gross price comes back to the US parent, assuming they don’t launder or tax evade (not a good conclusion overall, eh?).
  • What does come back goes to the elites: Company executives, board members, stock option holders, and shareholders. It does not come back to the man in the street.
  • It is entirely possible for a company to decide where to license a patent and thus where to manufacture or assemble a product. American companies do not choose to do this in the USA if it can be done cheaper elsewhere. Hong Kong and Bangladesh, Japan and Korea, etc etc. There are few patriotic decisions made in board rooms.

The president who campaigned on cleaning up the swamp has a White House team composed pretty much entirely of swamp denizens and swam owners. They want their constant flows of income. Those flows are based on free trade and patent and copyright protection.

Therefore the USA will always have a trade imbalance.

Do you think the POTUS can override corporate self-interest? Did he try to buy this with his (imho disastrous) corporate tax cuts? Will anyone bought stay bought?

 

U Turn in Montreal (or, a Tale of Two Cities)

Those of us who are unhappy in Toronto should google ‘Montreal corruption.’ Either their media are much more savvy, or our politicians are not quite as venal.

However, weird things do happen in Montreal, similar to Toronto’s undying one-stop subway to Scarborough, known to be much more expensive and much less useful than the paid for LRT (which would have been running by now, if we didn’t have our Mayor and city council manoeuvering.)

There is a road that crosses Mount Royal. It isn’t particularly straight, it was I think recovered from some rail route. (Steel rail trains with few locomotives have serious limitations in climbable slopes, so the route is chosen watching slope as well as length.)

A cyclist was (regrettably) killed on this road by an illegal U-turning motor vehicle. What do you think Montreal’s proposed solution is?

To close the road at the middle to all but buses. What will that do?

Make everyone U-turn.

In Toronto we put up signs against turns. In Montreal they just close the way forward.

There is one additional similarity between our two cities: in Toronto, the subway debate and Metrolinx stations etc etc are based on ignoring planning decisions. Instead we have delays delays delays.

It appears that Montreal will now endure some sort of ‘consultation process.’ Then the road will be closed anyway.

Dumb question?

Want to bet that I’m wrong here?

Trump Peace

Donald Trump, POTUS, has a strange way of settling conflicts.

To defuse the tension with North Korea, he threatens fire and brimstone. He insults ‘little rocket man.’ He has been accused of driving DPRK to nuclear ICBMs.

I think this is correct.

To make Israel happy, the Potus has said the US Embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Palestine. Apparently it has been law in the USA to move the embassy, and every six months the POTUS keeps it from going ahead because either the building or the security is not there. This is the first time any POTUS has decided to let the move happen.

interestingly, Mr. Netanyahu lauded this latest development as a major step forward to peace.This is the same Netanyahu who keeps building illegal settlements, including in East Palestine.

Analysts have said that this is meant to justify, after the anticipated demonstrations incited into riots, of further clamp down on Palestinians. Maybe their tax revenue, water supply, and electricity will be reduced as punishment. Or maybe we’ll see another devastating bombing raid on civilians in Palestine. In short, the more powerful force is taunting the weaker one hoping to enforce further weakening, by checkpoints, curfews, outages.

You may remember that the international deal with Iran over nuclear enrichment was enacted in the USA with a clause that the POTUS had to certify (every six months) that the conditions were being met. The relevant inspectors said they were. The POTUS refused to certify, on some logic that ‘the spirit’ wasn’t being kept when the letter of the agreement obviously is.

Iran may decide to restart, clandestinely, its nuclear program. They already have a decent missile program.

One analyst of US policy with regard to agreements was to compare them to a real estate deal. If it works out for U, OK. If it doesn’t, walk away. Bankruptcy if necessary. Put it into a separate corporation ahead of time. Unfortunately one can only bankrupt the US’s credibility / integrity once or at most twice. Then everyone who can think knows not to deal with such an unreliable partner.

So, thanks to the Trump Peace effort, we can expect at least some of these dire predictions to come true:

  • North Korea gets nuclear-tipped ICBMs and proves that they work.
  • Palestine revolts, aided by all Arab nations (possibly excepting Saudi Arabia, which has a not-so-secret relationship with Israel.)
  • Iran makes a decision.

To quote Albert Einstein: I don’t know what weapons World War Three will be fought with, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

So, now for the dumb questions:

Is all this a distraction from growing inequality, bigotry, divisiveness at home? Or just from so many inappropriately behaving powerful men being outed?

Has peace been Trumped?