Finally: Environment is more important than health care

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This is good news:

Climate talk dominates Parliament

Now with data to back up voter sentiment:

Recent polls show the environment has vaulted over health care to become the most important issue among Canadian voters, and the political parties proved yesterday they are getting the message.

Climate change is personally my #1 political issue right now. I’m glad the voters are making that known, so in the worst case the Conservatives will have to take action on it. But, we all know Harper is only making this move now because he knows he’ll get kicked out if he doesn’t. This makes me very nervous that he will take actions that make good PR but don’t really do anything, like the previous Liberal government did to some extent. I hope the next election sees Dion get elected since his commitment to the environment is clear.

Freedom is marching, but in the wrong direction

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Good article about the state of freedom around the world: The Limits of Democracy

2006 was a bad year for freedom. I totally agree with his analysis about Bush’s goals. It’s just not feasible to attack and invade countries with the hopes of quickly installing a democratic government where none existed before. Democracy takes more than just voting infrastructure. It takes commitment from the vast majority of a society and a certain level of maturity, for lack of a better term. Democracies are relatively fragile and can’t necessarily be thrown on top of an unstable society.

With Iraq it seems a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem. People assume the civil war is caused by not having power sharing agreements ironed out, therefore feel the answer is to keep pushing the democratic government. But, the government is paralyzed due to the civil war. Even worse: the assumption above about the cause of the civil war is at least partially false. The factions are fighting at least partially just because they can. No political deal will solve that, although it would likely lessen it.

How a global warming skeptic changes his mind

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Article about how a libertarian journalist, who used to write about how the global warming crowd was wrong, eventually changed his mind.

Confessions of an Alleged ExxonMobil Whore

He lays it all out very well. His original skepticism was based on inconsistencies in various measurements of global temperature over the last few decades. Ground measurements showed significant warming but satellite and balloon data showed less.

Over the last year those measurements have been converging. Apparently there were errors in the original satellite and balloon data that weren’t accounted for.

Ok, so now that pretty much everyone believes global warming is a real looming problem, how do we convince governments to take significant action? Unfortunately the governments of North America seem to think that making small superficial gestures is enough to placate the masses. I think it’s to the point where most of the population understands that their lifestyles will have to change, at least to some small extent.

Best missed stories of 2006

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Some interesting tidbits in here. Biggest unknown story in there, IMHO, is that OPEC is dropping the US dollar as it’s currency. If they keep going it could have a huge impact on the US economy.

The Top Ten Stories You Missed in 2006

The Palestinians are their own enemy

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The Palestinians need to start realizing that they’re at least partially to blame for their current situation. Obviously Israel is a source of most of their problems, but the Palestinians are catching up themselves.

Cleric killed in Gaza after plea for calm

The latest idiocy:

Unidentified gunmen shot dead a Muslim cleric after he delivered a sermon in the Gaza Strip on Friday calling for an end to fierce factional fighting between Hamas and Fatah, hospital officials and local residents said.

Further, I’m losing faith that any kind of peace can be negotiated with political parties (and even to some extent societies) who think this is acceptable:

Brushing aside Haniyeh’s plea for calm, Fatah issued a harshly worded statement in Gaza: “Blood for blood and aggression for aggression… and all the sons of the movement should retaliate to each aggression openly.”

At one of the funeral marches, members of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades threatened to assassinate Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar and Interior Minister Saeed Seyam of Hamas.

“Zahar and Seyam, you have to leave Gaza. We will tear your bodies to pieces,” an al-Aqsa member screamed through a megaphone as gunmen fired into the air.

In fighting between rival Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, Fatah gunmen killed a policeman loyal to Hamas.

Hamas gunmen, blaming the shooting on bodyguards of Colonel Mohammed Ghareeb of the Preventive Security Service, besieged his home in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, killing Ghareeb and six of his men and wounding his wife.

I don’t know if this kind of behaviour and rhetoric is new, or getting worse, but it sure seems that way. The Palestinians really need a leader to unite and lead them to some kind of resolution on this. At this point it’d have to be someone of the same magnitude as say Ghandi, Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King.

The environment is a priority! #147 in fact!

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Harper is making public pronouncements of his newly increased commitment to the environment. I’m confident this isn’t due to some change of heart in the face of a January without snow, rather due to a miscalculation of how much voters care about the issue. There is (likely) an election coming up soon, don’t forget!

Whatever his motives, this can only be a good thing. The Conservatives will be forced to do something on the issue, even if minor, which far surpasses what they did in their first year. They have a lot of work to do, considering they dismantled a lot of environmental programs.

Tories get fresh shot at environment

PM charts a greener course

How will the Israeli-Palestinian conflict end?

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Ran into this interesting debate on the Israel/Palestine subject here: Norman Finkelstein & Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami Debate: Complete Transcript

I don’t think there’s a harder problem in the world today, partially because there’s no real possibility of achieving a “fair” solution. Both sides are wrong. Very wrong.

The hardest part is how to reconcile what probably should be done, ideally, and what can be done given the realities of the situation.

There’s zero debate about how the formation of Israel screwed the Palestinians. A large land area was taken that had about 6 Palestinians for every Jewish person and was converted into a basically homogeneous Jewish area through forced eviction.

I have no idea what the Palestinians should be willing to accept. Lately I have been thinking they should just accept the negotiated conditions from the talks with Clinton and start rebuilding their society. As crappy as it would seem to accept less land than they think they deserve, their current situation is the worst possible. Through armed resistance they’re basically giving Israel the justification (to itself) to continually knock them back hundreds of years.

Also, I do believe the armed resistance is futile. Israels allies (read: US) will never allow it to be taken militarily, for many reasons. Non-violent resistance would at least make the Palestinians seem to have the moral upper-hand, giving them more political capitol.

But, to make things worse, it seems the real players in the region don’t want the conflict resolved and are using the Palestinians as a pawn in larger schemes. If the worlds attention is divided between Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, this allows Iran to fly lower under the radar.