Gurney: Ukraine crisis shows need for larger Canadian military

A Canadian CF-18 prepares for takeoff for a combat mission over Libya in 2011.

Though it feels absurd to say this — like a bad joke at a lame 80′s themed party — the Canadian government has announced that this country is sending reinforcements to our NATO allies in Europe. Six CF-18 fighter jets and necessary support personnel will soon deploy to an Eastern European location (expected, but not confirmed, to be Poland), to join other NATO forces in a “patrol” mission. Roughly 20 staff officers will join their alliance peers at NATO headquarters in Belgium, to assist in contingency planning. HMCS Regina, currently deployed in the Arabian Sea on anti-terror duties, may join allied warships assembling in European waters.

Whatever bland bureaucratic euphemisms these efforts will be saddled with, this is a military buildup in response to recent Russian moves against Crimea and its military mobilization across the border from the rest of Ukraine, as well as some posturing off the frontier of Estonia, a NATO member. NATO’s Eastern European members, for whom Soviet domination is a not-too-distant memory, called for reinforcements, and after typical delays, the allies are responding.

At the risk of stating the obvious, any armed conflict between Russia and the West would be a very bad thing. Putin would have to be a mad man to provoke such a clash, with its literally apocalyptic risks. But, alas, NATO doesn’t really have a choice. Yes, Putin would need to be a mad man to pick a fight with the allies. But our defence posture must accept the possibility that Putin is indeed a mad man. He may not be — indeed, he probably isn’t. But the alliance would not be acting in a responsible manner if it adopted as its official response to this crisis a policy of, “Meh, we’ve probably seen the worst of it.” So, yes. Reinforcements must be sent, and Canada is right to do its part.

But, gosh, that part sure is awful tiny.

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Afternoon Update April 21st, 2014 (10)

CANADA

#1 — CNews | Spousal abuse costs Canadians $7.4 billion per year

Spousal violence costs Canada at least $7.4 billion a year, Health Minister Rona Ambrose said in Calgary Saturday.

[...]

#2 — CTV | Extradition process for Amanda Todd suspect sure to be complicated: experts

VANCOUVER — Authorities in British Columbia are anxious to bring a Netherlands resident to a Canadian courtroom on cyberbullying charges in a teen suicide case, but legal experts say it’s unclear when or even if they might get the chance.

[...]

#3 — LFP | Police, firefighters should not be paid the same, Fontana says

Police officers and firefighters have dramatically different jobs — and they shouldn’t be paid the same, Mayor Joe Fontana insists as a contract impasse between city hall and its fire crews continues.

[...]

#4 — NP | More than half Canada’s Navy vessels are either being repaired, modernized or otherwise at reduced readiness

With more than half its ships and submarines being repaired, modernized or in a reduced state of readiness, the Royal Canadian Navy is acknowledging that it has hit the low point in availability of its vessels.

[...]

#5 — WFP | Only the elite allowed to shop at government of Canada’s official gift store

OTTAWA – Canada’s official gift shop is tucked into the fourth floor of a government building in nearby Gatineau, Que., but you won’t see any tourists lining up at the cash register to buy coffee mugs adorned with Mounties.

This taxpayer-funded store carries only high-end souvenirs, reserved for the elite ranks of the federal government.

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WORLD

#6 — BBC | Afghan poll: Abdullah ‘extends lead’ as count continues

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has extended his lead over his rival Ashraf Ghani, according to latest partial results from the presidential election.

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#8 — CNN | Source: ‘Massive’ attack targets al Qaeda in Yemen

(CNN) — An operation targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is under way in Abyan and Shabwa, Yemen, a high-level Yemeni government official who is being briefed on the strikes told CNN on Monday.

[...]

#8 — Fox | Search for missing Malaysia jet two-thirds complete as airline reports another scare

As the search continued off the coast of Australia for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet on Monday, the airline announced another plane bound for India was forced to make an emergency landing after one of its tires burst on takeoff.

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#9 — DM | The Easter Bunny with a monster appetite

Looking for the Easter bunny? Here’s one that’s easy to spot.

Darius weighs three-and-a-half stone and measures 4ft 4in, making him the world’s biggest rabbit, according to Guinness World Records.

[...]

#10 — WT | USAID documents cite Hillary Clinton in chaos of Afghan aid

In internal government documents with potential repercussions for the 2016 presidential election, top officials at the U.S. Agency for International Development repeatedly cited former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for setting into motion a policy to waive restrictions on who could receive U.S. aid in Afghanistan, resulting in millions of dollars in U.S. funds going directly into the coffers of Afghan ministries known to be rife with corruption.

[...]

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Warner: Has the West fallen prey to crony capitalism? (10)

Around my area in north-west London, the housing market is again red-hot. The only stuff that doesn’t sell is the obviously undesirable or grossly overvalued. But here’s the more interesting thing about the latest boom: the vast majority of these sales, to judge by the “to let” signs that instantly go up as the “for sale” billboards are taken down, is for investment purposes – “buy-to-let” landlords, in other words.

If evidence were needed of the emergence of a new “rentier” class, London is surely it. Every man and his dog seem to be getting in on the act. By simply remortgaging an existing property and using the proceeds to buy the vacated flat down the road, you get yourself an apparently guaranteed source of income and capital growth. What could possibly go wrong? “L’Angleterre est une nation de boutiquiers”, according to Napoleon; today we are perhaps better described as a nation of landlords. The cause is a familiar one – constrained supply in a relatively fast-growing economy, made worse by London’s evident attractions to overseas nationals. To operate an open-door immigration policy without first addressing the restricted size of London’s housing stock was an act of almost criminal negligence.

The problem could easily be solved by meaningful reform to Britain’s archaic town and country planning laws, but, sadly, policy-makers suggest only politically easier, demand-side solutions – rent controls, higher property taxes, or restricting credit and migration – none of which would address the underlying problem.

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See Also:

#1 — Ukraine crisis: New world order? It’s just like the old one

#2 — Call me! A German satellite and Internet company wants answers from the NSA

#3 — Government looks to kick on

#4 — Le Pen’s National Front fail to woo Britain’s Eurosceptics

#5 — Europe’s mergers and acquisitions market heats up

Afternoon Update:

#6 — MEPs’ pension is more ammunition for Ukip

#7 — Eurobank share offering on April 25-29

#8 — US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

#9 — Italy economy minister says 2014 growth could be above 0.8 percent – paper

#10 — Draghi’s Bold Push For Creeping Defaults And Real Wage Cuts

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Black: The Profits of Doom

For most of the world’s population, climate change means nothing but trouble. For a few, it means laughing all the way to the bank.

Every cloud has a silver lining. And every hurricane, every melting glacier, every millimeter of sea-level rise. That’s the uncomfortable message delivered by McKenzie Funk’s Windfall: while global warming may bring catastrophe to billions, it will also make some people very rich. Banks, hedge funds, and smart investors had this epiphany, Funk says, around 2007, after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that 11 of the previous 12 years had been the warmest in human history. In the words of a Deutsche Bank press release at that time, “The debate around climate change is shifting away from cost and risk toward the question of how to capitalize on exciting opportunities.”

This, of course, was precisely when others were having their own epiphany after watching Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. The difference is in how these two epiphanies played out. For most people, says Elke Weber of Columbia University’s Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, it’s difficult to achieve a sense of urgency because the “time-delayed, abstract, and often statistical nature of the risks of global warming does not evoke strong visceral reactions.” The pursuit of profit works in the opposite way; the viscera and the frontal lobe of the brain operate in tandem. Strike now, before the other guy does; place your bets decisively on disaster.

So where exactly should you invest? John Deere would be one good bet. If drought destroys wheat farming in Australia, American farmers will need more tractors. The Schroder Global Climate Change Fund favors big supermarket chains: “If climate change will be a negative for crop yields, then people will just have to spend more on food. Retailers are a clear beneficiary.” Water may be the biggest profit center of all. With “hydrocommerce” already a $400 billion-a-year industry, the chief economist of Citigroup predicts that water will “become eventually the single most important physical commodity-based asset class, dwarfing oil, copper, agricultural commodities, and precious metals.”

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Editorial: Bundy’s Rebellion

The thing that needs to be said in respect of the rebellion that has gathered at the ranch of Cliven Bundy is that it is as American as apple pie. At the rate things are going the Nevada ranchers are going to write themselves into American history right alongside Daniel Shays and the Pennsylvania backwoodsmen who confronted the federal government over taxes on whiskey. The echoes are uncanny — complete with the sanctimonious lectures from the federal government over the law and the righteousness of the anger of the rebels.

Shays mounted his rebellion in western Massachusetts even before we had the Constitution. His aim was to close the courts trying to collect for Massachusetts taxes to cover its costs in the Revolution. Tempers were exacerbated by a depression, like they are today by the Great Recession. Things came to a head in 1786, and the fighting grew serious in 1787. Before it was over, five rebels — and one person on the government side — were killed. In other words, it was worse by far than anything we’ve seen yet in Nevada.

Eventually several thousand persons confessed to participating in Shays’ rebellion, hundreds were actually indicted, and 18 were sentenced to death. Yet with all that, but two — John Bly and Charles Rose — went to the gallows. Even Captain Shays himself was pardoned. The rebellion, though, ended the governorship of James Bowdoin and brought into power the tax-cutter John Hancock. It was Shays’ uprising that inspired Jefferson’s remark about how the “tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

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Ailing Mounties fear force’s new powers

OTTAWA – The RCMP is making it simpler to release officers with serious medical problems, prompting fears that many ill members will be sent packing without due process or the means to fight their dismissal.

Under the old rules an officer who protested a medical discharge because of mental or physical disability could remain on the payroll until the matter was settled.

New regulations, slated to take effect in June, say a decision as to whether to release or demote a member will not be put on hold while a grievance works its way through the system.

The Canadian Press obtained a copy of the more streamlined procedures, which flow from legislation passed last year aimed at modernizing the force.

The Conservative government argued the changes would permit the force to promptly deal with grievances that often fester for years, hurting workplace morale and leaving careers in limbo. Critics, including the NDP, said the measures placed too much power in RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson’s hands and would only worsen relations with members.

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Blatchford: The government doesn’t answer questions about its military recruiting mess

Now that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has put the Canadian Forces on notice that their presence is requested in Poland, I’ve no doubt the military will respond magnificently.

The PM announced on Thursday that Canada is sending six CF-18 fighter jets and some staff officers as part of the NATO effort to quell nerves in Eastern Europe, where folks are increasingly concerned that Russia’s Vladimir Putin may be, in the infamous words of a song from the old Mel Brooks movie To Be Or Not To Be and in the fashion of Adolf Hitler, pining for peace (“All I vant is peace… a little piece of Poland, a little piece of France”). NATO has put together a “reassurance package” for the Ukraine and its neighbours.

On the actual ground, in the actual air and on the actual water, the Canadian military rarely disappoints.

Most Canadians fail to understand what a bloody freaking miracle this is, how blessedly far removed are the men and women of the CF from the ghastly bureaucracies, chiefly the department of national defence but also veterans’ affairs, which purport to serve them.

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Gunter: CBC should pay its own way

When he announced last week that the CBC would be laying off 650 employees (about 8% of its 8,000-person workforce) and giving up on professional sports, Mother Corp president Hubert Lacroix said the state broadcaster would henceforth be “doing fewer things better.”

Lacroix added that the $1-billion, tax-funded, propaganda arm of the lib-left establishment would begin a “process of reinventing” itself in a “media landscape [that] is transforming at an astounding speed.”

That assumes the CBC understands how to reinvent itself.

To begin with, the CBC has to get over three myths it constantly tells itself.

First, it is not a national institution. It is a radio and television broadcaster like every other. Back in the 1960s, when the CBC was the only channel many Canadians could draw in with their rabbit-ear antennas, maybe then the CBC was institutional. But no longer.

Second, the CBC is not where Canadians tell one another their stories. Rather, it is a place where one narrow (and narrow-minded) segment of Canadians constantly reassure one another that the lamp of national consciousness has been given to them and them alone. It is not a public broadcaster, but rather an elite broadcaster funded by the toil of millions of working Canadians who never watch or listen.

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Johnson: Obama – No Fixes to Obamacare Until GOP has ‘Change in Attitude’

President Obama stepped out at the White House daily briefing today to again berate Republicans for challenging Obamacare — in what appeared to be an attempt to get politicians to stop talking about the law’s negative effects before midterm elections.

Obama announced “as more data comes in, we now know that the number of Americans who’ve signed up for private insurance in the marketplaces has grown to 8 million people.”

“Before this law added new transparency and competition to the individual market, folks who’ve bought insurance on their own regularly saw double-digit increases in their premiums. That was the norm. And while we suspect that premiums will keep rising, as they have for decades, we also know that, since the law took effect, health care spending has risen more slowly than at any time in the past 50 years,” he said.

“…And this thing is working. I’ve said before, this law won’t solve all the problems in our healthcare system. We know we’ve got more work to do. But we now know for a fact that repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase the deficit, raise premiums for millions of Americans, and take insurance away from millions more, which is why, as I’ve said before, I find it strange that the Republican position on this law is still stuck in the same place that it has always been.”

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Black: Vladimir Putin’s Middle Eastern harvest

For those hoping to ignore the Middle East during Easter and Passover, I am the Grinch who will steal the holiday. Approximately 140,000 people have died in the three years of the horrible imbroglio in Syria. Russia, despite its weakness and the moral bankruptcy of its foreign policy, has reaped a harvest of consistency and single-mindedness. It has entirely and unwaveringly supported the Bashar Al-Assad regime, used its status as a permanent United Nations Security Council member to veto any opposing resolution, and has provided superior weaponry to the Syrian government in its war against the atomized majority of its countrymen. Russia ignores European and American disapproval and does what’s necessary to maintain its Mediterranean naval base at the Syrian port of Tartus, and pretends to continue as a rival to the power of the United States Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.

The conduct of the United States has been much harder to follow and justify. It started with Hillary Clinton infamously referring to Assad as “a reformer.” It then morally supported the dissidents because they were clearly the majority, and because the overthrow of Assad would assure the end of the Iranian pipeline of assistance to Hezbollah and even, up to a point, of Hamas, curtailing the terrible mischief they have inflicted on Lebanon and Israel. But the United States declined to arm the Syrian rebels with the anti-aircraft capability they needed, though such weapons were entirely defensive, for three reasons: The U.S. government was afraid that these weapons would fall into the hands of Sunni extremists; was mesmerized by what it considered to be the more important relationship with Russia (a relationship that has proven to be entirely antagonistic and based on Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s correct calculation that American appeasement could be secured at no cost); and, because the American public, after 10 years, $2-trillion, and more than 50,000 casualties, was averse to any involvement in another Middle Eastern war.

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Morning Update April 21st, 2014 (10)

CANADA

#1 — CNews | Ontario mayors call for flooding aid from province

BELLEVILLE, Ont. — Flood waters in this region northeast of Toronto are receding — slowly — but local mayors are calling for swift help from provincial officials.

[...]

#2 — CTV | Smitherman hoping to cash in on medical marijuana industry

Ontario’s former health minister George Smitherman is hoping to become a licensed medical marijuana producer.

[...]

#3 — LFP | Puppies stolen at knifepoint

SIMCOE, Ont. — Police are looking for a man and a woman who robbed a woman of her two Pomeranian puppies at knifepoint at her Brant County, Ont., home Friday afternoon.

[...]

#4 — Global | More questions than answers as Canada sends fighter jets to NATO mission

OTTAWA — The Conservative government won’t yet say how much it is spending to send six CF-18 fighter jets to a NATO air-policing mission in response to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

[...]

#5 — WS | Proposed nuclear waste site triggers fears for Great Lakes, drinking water

Opposition is mounting to a proposed underground nuclear waste facility on the edge of the Great Lakes which critics say has potential to forever taint the waterway and the drinking water it provides.

[...]

WORLD

#6 — BBC | Japan to build military site near disputed Senkaku islands

Japan has begun construction work on a military radar station near a string of islands that is at the centre of a territorial dispute with China.

[...]

#7 — CNN | How Ukraine crisis could pull U.S. to war

(CNN) — Despite the ray of good news in Thursday’s Geneva agreement on steps to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine, President Obama was right to sound a note of caution, observing that “I don’t think we can be sure of anything at this point.”

[...]

#8 — Fox | Healthcare.gov users told to change passwords due to Heartbleed risk

Users of the federal heath care exchange site have been advised to change their passwords this weekend after the Obama administration reviewed the government’s vulnerability to the Heartbleed Internet security bug.

[...]

#9 — DM | Large-scale asteroids have hit Earth 10 times more often than previously thought over past decade

Nasa experts have found evidence that large-scale asteroids have struck Earth three to ten times more often over the past decade than previously thought.

[...]

#10 — WT | Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, ‘perhaps you should revolt’

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told a group of law students that it might be a good idea to revolt if taxes become too high in the future.

[...]

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