Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Taxpayer-funded Bruce Carson school spent $1.3 million on salaries, travel, office in 2011

OTTAWA — A federally-funded research partnership that actively promoted oil and gas companies reported spending more than $1.3 million on salaries, office expenses and travel in 2011, coinciding with the departure of its executive director who is now in the middle of an ethics and lobbying controversy.

Bruce Carson, a former adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, headed the Alberta-based Canada School of Energy and Environment that promoted research collaborations between three universities in the province until he was prompted to leave because of unrelated allegations of inappropriate lobbying of the government on behalf of a company promoting water treatment technology and services.

The shape of debate to come

ARCHITECTS behind two of the world’s newest legislative assemblies say it is time to consider debating the design of spaces for political discourse.

The territory of Nunavut’s consensus government and circular legislature and the National Assembly for Wales’ similar arrangement of members represent two of the most modern attempts at debating chambers.

Lead architects from both projects said the traditional British Westminster approach of two opposing sides of a chamber now had room for change and variation.

UBS Execs Allegedly Deceived U.S. Cities, Steered Contracts To Friends

NEW YORK, July 30 (Reuters) - Three former UBS executives helped deceive U.S. cities and towns by operating a scheme to rig bids to invest municipal bond proceeds, a federal prosecutor said on Monday at the start of the bankers' criminal trial in New York.

Peter Ghavami, Gary Heinz and Michael Welty were charged in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Justice as part of its broad investigation of the $3.7 trillion U.S. municipal bond market. The probe has focused on rooting out schemes to fix prices and rig bids on bond transactions, and has ensnared some of the world's largest banks.

Reporters Know What the 'Voter ID' Push Is Really About. Why Don't They Just Say So?

Does any journalist who is not an overt shill for the right actually believe that Republicans are pushing voter ID laws because they’re concerned about voter fraud?

No, of course not.

And for good reason. Voter fraud simply isn’t a problem in this country. Studies have definitively debunked the voter fraud myth time and again.

Will Women Get Pushed Off the Fiscal Cliff?

Remember that time when Congress almost defaulted on our debt? It may seem like a distant nightmare, but we’re still living with repercussions from the debt ceiling showdown. In order to get Congress to lift the ceiling a year ago, President Obama struck a deal that will cut $2.4 trillion in spending over ten years and formed a Congressional committee that was supposed to recommend ways to cut another $1.5 trillion from the deficit. If the committee failed to come up with the cuts, sequestration would kick into gear, with $1 trillion in cuts evenly split between defense and non-defense spending come January 2. The latter never came to fruition, so we’re now on a collision course with the former.

Poland's Solidarnosc Wants No Part of Romney's Anti-Labor Politics

Mitt Romney jetted into Poland Monday, as part of a push to win Polish-American votes in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and other battleground states. And how does an American presidential candidate “do” Poland? By posing for photos with Lech Walesa, the former Polish president who—like Ronald Reagan—was once a union leader.

But don’t think that the grip-and-grin session with Walesa signaled that Romney, who has run a militantly anti-union campaign (even airing television commercials that promote so-called “right-to-work” laws and assaults on public employees), is moving toward a more mainstream stance as regards the rights of labor. Walesa long ago abandoned the union movement for politics, and like Reagan he’s tended toward the right side of the political spectrum.

The Startling Accuracy of Referring to Politicians as 'Psychopaths'

In this presidential election season where, as usual, the fur is flying and name-calling is in full swing, one invective seems to be gaining currency -- psychopath. A web search for "Romney" or "Obama" and "psychopath" (or, more generally, "politician" and "psychopath") yields millions of hits. While it's tempting to dismiss this phenomenon as mere venting by angry voters, the rantings of conspiracy theorists, or even bloggers trying to drive traffic, it is worth at least asking the question: could they be right? If these pundits mean that the targeted office-seekers are evil or "crazy," probably not. But if they are pointing out that politicians and psychopaths share certain characteristics, they could be on to something.

There's Only One Tank the Army Can't Stop

The M1 Abrams tank has survived the Cold War, Iraq, and Afghanistan. No wonder—it weighs as much as nine elephants and is fitted with a cannon capable of turning a building to rubble from two and a half miles away.

But now the hulking, clanking machine finds itself a target in an unusual battle between the Defense Department and lawmakers who are the beneficiaries of large donations by its manufacturer.

Mitt Romney Says Israel Settlements 'Should Be Discussed In Private'

The sensitive issue of Israeli settlement construction in the Palestinian West Bank is something that should be "discussed in private," Mitt Romney said in an interview with CNN Monday.

"I believe that the issue of settlements is something which should be discussed in private by the American president and our allies," Romney told Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room." "When we show diplomatic distance between ourselves and our ally, I think we encourage people who oppose that relationship to seek other means to achieve their ends."

Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program Change Could Lead To Exodus, Critics Warns

REGINA - Some members of Saskatchewan's immigrant community are predicting another exodus due to the changes in the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program.

The program was created back in 2009 as a means to speed up the immigration process for several categories of people, including skilled workers and family members of immigrants.

Northern Gateway Pipeline Battle Puts Harper In Tough Position

The disagreement between Christy Clark and Alison Redford over the Northern Gateway pipeline puts Stephen Harper in a delicate position with no easy way out.

Harper wants the pipeline to go ahead. Exploiting Canada's natural resources is a key plank in his economic vision for the country and his government has harshly criticized environmental groups that have tried to put up obstacles to Northern Gateway.

B.C. premier’s stance unlikely to affect Northern Gateway Pipeline

B.C. Premier Christy Clark raised the stakes in the pipeline poker game last week. But given that she has such a weak hand, it’s not likely to be a game changer.

Clark and her Liberals are way down in the polls in B.C, running far behind NDP leader Adrian Dix. She needed to do something dramatic if the trend was to be reversed before next year’s election.

What better way than to hold hostage the controversial Northern Gateway Pipeline and make a few demands?

The ‘petro dictators’ are among us

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark’s belated but necessary assertion of B.C.’s bottom lines on the preposterously irresponsible $5.6 billion Enbridge Inc. pipeline-and-tanker scheme has caused a great deal of windy indignation to erupt from Ottawa. Clark is hijacking the prospects for a national energy strategy, we’re told. Even worse, what’s at stake is the delicate balance of Confederation itself.

The thing to notice is that what the federal Conservatives share with the Opposition New Democrats and Liberals is a comical inability to open their mouths on these subjects without insulting the intelligence of nine out of 10 Canadians. That’s the proportion of us who showed up in a February Harris Decima survey to affirm the obvious, which is that encouraging Beijing’s police-state racketeers to take over Canadian oilsands corporations — this is the core of the “national energy strategy” on offer, by the way — is unpardonably stupid and reckless.

Proposed pipelines all risk, little reward for B.C.: report

Alberta stands to rake in more than half a trillion dollars in taxes over 25 years should three major pipeline projects – all facing stiff opposition – proceed, a new report says.

British Columbia will receive just a trickle in comparison, even though the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and Trans Mountain network will snake through the province and oil tankers will ship out of its ports.

Lawyer says Kenney’s office tried to intimidate him over Conrad Black comments

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s office pursued a formal complaint against a Toronto lawyer who suggested publicly that the Conservative politician played a role in the decision to let former media baron Conrad Black return to Canada.

This spring, a staffer in Mr. Kenney’s office filed a grievance against Guidy Mamann with the Law Society of Upper Canada, proposing he be investigated for violating its code of conduct.

Exhaustive Study Finds Global Elite Hiding Up to $32 Trillion in Offshore Accounts

A new report reveals how wealthy individuals and their families have between $21 and $32 trillion of hidden financial assets around the world in what are known as offshore accounts or tax havens. The actual sums could be higher because the study only deals with financial wealth deposited in bank and investment accounts, and not other assets such as property and yachts. The inquiry was commissioned by the Tax Justice Network and is being touted as the most comprehensive report ever on the "offshore economy." It also finds that private banks are deeply involved in running offshore havens, with UBS, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs handling the most assets. We’re joined by the report’s author, James Henry, a lawyer and former chief economist at McKinsey and Company.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---

Religion’s fair game if it motivates politics

Much has been made of the government’s muzzling of the science community, its low regard for statistics, its hard line against environmentalists.

Because Stephen Harper otherwise appears to be a clear-headed rationalist, there is some wonder about the motivation for these impulses, including the question of whether they are triggered by his evangelical beliefs. The Prime Minister is a member of the Alliance Church, more specifically the Christian and Missionary Alliance. The church believes the free market is divinely inspired and views science and environmentalism with what might be called scorn.

People's Tribunal on mining impacts: Why we found Goldcorp guilty

Wednesday, August 1 is a 'Continental Day of Action Against Canadian Mega Resource Extraction.' In Vancouver, a protest action will take place in front of Goldcorp's corporate headquarters, starting at 4:30p.m. at 666 Burrard Street. Goldcorp's record in Central America and Mexico was recently put before a People's Tribunal in Guatemala. Here, two of the judges explain why Goldcorp was found guilty. 

 “The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being…” – World Health Organization

For two days in mid-July, a panel of 12 judges from different countries with expertise in health, the environment and human rights, came together to hear testimonies and complaints from people affected by Goldcorp’s mining operations in Carrizalillo, Mexico; Valle de Siria, Honduras; and in San Miguel Ixtahuacán and Sipacapa, San Marcos, Guatemala.

Conflict of Interest Act's five-year review past deadline, opposition MPs frustrated with 'toothless' bill

The deadline for Parliament’s five-year review of the Conflict of Interest Act for public office holders came and went this July without any sign of progress, concerning and frustrating MPs and government observers.

“There’s a lot of frustration about an act that was supposed to give really clear tools to ensure that Parliamentarians and designated public office holders play by the rules, and yet it’s become fairly toothless,” said NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay, Ont.).

Unpaid overtime a growing legal liability

Mobile technology has helped employers squeeze more productivity out of their employees, but all those hours of work while technically off the clock leaves them open to lawsuits over unpaid overtime, experts warn.

Overtime pay is governed by different standards across Canada. In Ontario, for example, it must be paid for any work in excess of 44 hours per week. There are exceptions for managerial roles and those in professions like medicine, the law and accounting, but for the most part, employees are legally entitled to excess pay for excess work.

Canadian economy slows, sets stage for disappointing second quarter

Economic growth in Canada slowed in May, increasing the likelihood that second-quarter gross domestic product will disappoint.

May’s GDP grew a weaker-than-expected 0.1 per cent, following a 0.3 per cent expansion in April, according to Statistics Canada data released on Tuesday.

Historic postal station site may be for sale

Protesters at Postal Station K are channelling the site’s rebellious past.

About 100 people gathered Monday evening to protest the possible sale of the historic post office, fearing another condo tower will rise in its place.

“We don’t need more condominiums,” said George Butterway, 76, who spends time every day in the building’s parkette.

India blackout spreads, 700 million without power

NEW DELHI—More than 700 million people in India have been left without power in the world’s worst modern blackout, prompting fears that protests and even riots could follow if the country’s electricity supply continues to fail to meet growing demands, the Guardian reported.

The blackout has trapped miners, stranded train travellers and plunged hospitals into darkness when grids collapsed for the second time in two days.

ORNGE’s Italian chopper firm wants $1.8 million back

Italian helicopter firm AgustaWestland wants to “claw back” $1.8 million because ORNGE founder Dr. Chris Mazza and his team failed to drum up new business.

“We were dissatisfied with the end result,” said Agusta spokesman Dan Hill from Washington. “They didn’t deliver the product.”

The product referred to by Hill was part of the controversial marketing services agreement between ORNGE and Agusta now under investigation by a Queen’s Park committee and the Ontario Provincial Police.

Stay-at-Home Dad Wins Right to Front Yard Vegetable Garden

Karl Tricamo has gardened off and on since he was a child. He says he's had about six or seven seasons in which to hone his "green thumb." Earlier this year, his concerns about GMOs and the use of pesticides and herbicides in industrial farming prompted the stay-at-home dad to convert his front lawn into a vegetable garden. His plant list included 55 heirloom varieties -- among them, tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplant and various ornamental plants.

Before starting his garden he reviewed the city’s ordinances to ensure that he was following all the necessary rules in regards to front yard landscaping.

Harper is building the foundation for constant war

The Conservatives are setting up overseas bases, increasing the military's size, and making Canadian society more militaristic. Now, the head of the military wants to get to work.

Six and half years into Harper’s Conservative government, Canada has become so militaristic that the head of the armed forces can demand a new war and few bat an eye.

On July 7, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk told the Canadian Press, “We have some men and women who have had two, three and four tours and what they’re telling me is ‘Sir, we’ve got that bumper sticker. Can we go somewhere else now?’”

As global economy worsens, Canadian politicians urged to prepare for the worst

OTTAWA — The economic clouds gathering beyond Canada’s borders are so ominous that at least two bank economists recommend Canadian governments, and particularly Ottawa, start thinking about a contingency plan should the world be plunged into a second crisis — further stimulus spending.

CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld, who cautions that another recession is not in his baseline forecast as yet, believes Canada’s best response to a new crisis should not be for the Bank of Canada to cut interest rates further.

More political fallout from pending Nexen takeover

With the takeover of Canada’s Nexen Inc. still not finalized, already politicians on both sides of the border are using it for leverage.

On Monday, federal New Democrats called on the government to initiate a “thorough” and “transparent” review of CNOOC’s takeover of Nexen Inc., after U.S. regulators raised the possibility of insider trading before the deal was announced.

Air Canada wins in arbitration case against pilots

An arbitrator has sided with Air Canada, choosing its final offer over that put forward by its 3,000 pilots, ending the long-simmering contract dispute.

But it is unlikely to resolve morale and labour troubles at the airline.

“Air Canada pilots are angry at the way they have been treated by the government and their employer,” according to a statement issued by the Air Canada Pilots Association after Douglas Stanley released his decision Monday.

Olympic Goodwill Image Belied by Arrests, Censorship and Corporate Ties Behind London Games

While NBC has been airing wall-to-wall coverage of Olympic Games in London, little attention has been paid to what has taken place behind the scenes and just outside Olympic Park where many organizations are mobilizing to bring attention to many issues. London police arrested 182 people Friday for taking part in the monthly Critical Mass bike ride during the Olympics’ opening ceremony. Meanwhile, public outcry is growing after thousands of fans were told the Games were sold out, but prime seats reserved largely for sports federations and corporate sponsors have remained empty. Although many locals cannot afford to attend the Games, this year’s Olympics is estimated to cost British taxpayers a staggering $17 billion. Residents have been subjected to sweeping censorship laws enacted by their government at the behest of the International Olympic Committee. Meanwhile, activists are outraged that the Olympics’ long list of sponsors include Dow Chemical and BP, companies with human rights records that critics say are at odds with the Olympic ideals of global peace and goodwill. We go to London to speak with scholar and former U.S. soccer team member Jules Boykoff, who has been in England since April researching a book on dissent and the Olympics. "The Olympics provide a real opportunity for activists. We often say [at protests] that the entire world is watching, the whole world is watching. And, in fact, at the Olympics, it almost is," Boykoff says. "This is a real opportunity for activists to put their ideas in front of people who might not otherwise be able to or willing to listen to them."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---

Government deal with charity cut after Enbridge pressure

The Conservative government cancelled an agreement with a charity that supports environmental causes eight months after energy firm Enbridge Inc. lobbied against the deal, The Canadian Press has learned.

The federal Fisheries Department said last September it would no longer use an $8.3-million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, a U.S.-based environmental trust. The foundation donated the money through charity Tides Canada, which was to distribute the funds with federal oversight to support a departmental marine-planning initiative.

Monday, July 30, 2012

B.C. Premier urged to reject Enbridge and its ‘cowboy culture’

Former federal Environment Minister David Anderson has ripped into Enbridge as “probably the last company” that should be allowed to build an oil pipeline across British Columbia.

At a news conference in Vancouver on Monday, featuring high-profile opponents of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, Mr. Anderson accused the company of having a “cowboy culture” that is indifferent and careless toward environmental safety.

Scientists warn it’s the ‘new norm’ after worst drought in 800 years

The signs of drought were everywhere, from shrivelled rivers and lakes in the American West to brittle brown lawns and parched farm crops in the Canadian Prairies.

Even the hardy, drought-tolerant pinyon pine forests of New Mexico turned grey as they withered and died, starved of water for far too long.

The growing mobilization against Harper: Not your ordinary revolution

Scientists. Doctors. Nuclear engineers. Academics. Researchers. Stephen Harper has a big problem.

He has ticked them all off. And they are not suffering their grievances or concerns for informed, fact-based public policy and decision-making, the environment, the health of Canada's most vulnerable citizens and the safety of all of us in silence.

No. Instead they are protesting, marching, disrupting government news conferences. They are mobilizing.

Toronto’s other crime problem

For our typically unassuming city, events of recent months have rendered this sweltering summer as one of violence. And while horrific incidents like last week’s east-end shooting rampage have, for good reason, occupied Toronto headlines, less prominent is a recent spate of sexual assaults.

A string of attacks at York University occurred earlier this month. Meanwhile, three separate women in their 20s reported being sexually assaulted over the course of several weeks in the Kensington Market area*. Police have yet to identify any suspects. All in all, sexual violence in Toronto seems eerily prevalent at the moment.

'Dark Money' Hits $172 Million In 2012 Election, Half Of Independent Group Spending

WASHINGTON -- In May, the conservative nonprofit group Crossroads GPS, founded by famed political strategist Karl Rove and other leading Republican operatives, ran a television ad showcasing a fictional mother who had supported Barack Obama in 2008. The mom was disappointed in Obama's performance, saddled as she was with two adult children who had moved back in with her due to the stalled economy. The ad was the centerpiece of a $25 million campaign -- one of the biggest ad buys so far in the 2012 election cycle.

Despite the fact that the ad's central message was the failure of the president, it wasn't considered a campaign ad under election laws. Although the group spends tens of millions of dollars on ads targeting Democratic candidates, Crossroads GPS is organized as a "social welfare nonprofit" under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code and therefore not subject to the rules governing political organizations.

HSBC To Pay More Than $2 Billion In Penalties

LONDON, July 30 (Reuters) - HSBC's boss said on Monday revelations of lax anti-money laundering controls had been "shameful and embarrassing" for Europe's biggest bank, and may force it to pay out well over $2 billion for those flaws and in compensation for UK mis-selling.

HSBC set aside $700 million to cover fines and other costs for an anti-money laundering scandal, after a U.S. Senate report criticised it this month for letting clients shift funds from dangerous and secretive countries, notably Mexico.

Fussbudget -- How Paul Ryan captured the G.O.P.

One day in March, 2009, two months after the Inauguration of President Obama, Representative Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, sat behind a small table in a cramped meeting space in his Capitol Hill office. Hunched forward in his chair, he rattled off well-rehearsed critiques of the new President’s policies and America’s lurch toward a “European” style of government. Ryan’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all died before their sixtieth birthdays, so Ryan, who is now forty-two, could be forgiven if he seemed like a man in a hurry. Tall and wiry, with a puff of wavy dark hair, he is nearly as well known in Washington for his punishing early-morning workouts as he is for his mastery of the federal budget. Asked to explain his opposition to Obama’s newly released budget, he replied, “I don’t have that much time.”

Feel the Burn: Making the 2012 Heat Wave Matter

There have been two, maybe three, landmark heat waves in the history of man-made global warming. The first was in 1988. Then as now, the eastern two-thirds of the United States was broiling while relentless drought parched soil and withered crops across the Midwest. But in Washington, the underlying problem was being named for the first time. On June 23, NASA scientist James Hansen testified to the Senate that man-made global warming had begun. The New York Times reported his remarks on Page 1, and the rest of the media at home and abroad followed suit. By year’s end, “global warming” had become a common phrase in news bureaus, government ministries and living rooms around the world.

How WikiLeaks Revitalized Brazil's Media

As the Boeing 777 from London arrived at the gate of Guarulhos International Airport in São Paulo on December 2, 2010, its passengers queued up to deplane, many with the local newspaper under their arm. “Brazil fears terrorism at the 2016 Olympics, says US Embassy” blared the headline of the daily Folha de S. Paulo—a front-page story generated from the first of tens of thousands of classified US diplomatic cables obtained and released by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. Unnoticed among those passengers was a young woman with a backpack slung over her shoulder. Concealed within a bundle of messy clothing inside her bag was a pen drive containing nearly 3,000 sensitive cables to and from the US Embassy and consulates in Brazil between 2003 and 2010—a cache of documents provided by WikiLeaks.

Is the Natural Gas Industry Buying Academics?

Last week the University of Texas provost announced he would reexamine a report by a UT professor that said fracking was safe for groundwater after the revelation that the professor pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Texas natural gas developer. It's the latest fusillade in the ongoing battle over the basic facts of fracking in America.

Texans aren't the only ones having their fracking conversations shaped by industry-funded research. Ohioans got their first taste last week of the latest public-relations campaign by the energy policy wing of the US Chamber of Commerce. It's called "Shale Works for US," and it aims to spend millions on advertising and public events to sell Ohioans on the idea that fracking is a surefire way to yank the state out of recession.

Enbridge Oil Spill Worries B.C. Pipeline Critics

An oil spill on an Enbridge pipeline in Wisconsin has critics in B.C. questioning the safety of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

About 1,200 barrels (190,000 litres) seeped out of an Enbridge pipeline in Wisconsin, which was delivering Canadian crude to Chicago-area refineries. According to Reuters, Enbridge plans to replace the leaky Wisconsin oil pipeline Monday, though it is not clear when the line will restart.

Native leader decries lenient sentence for ex-Mountie

A prominent B.C. native leader says disgraced ex-RCMP officer Monty Robinson should have gone to jail, and he’s concerned that public outrage over the seemingly lenient sentence may lead to a backlash against the principle of aboriginals receiving less time in custody than other offenders.

In handing Mr. Robinson a year’s conditional sentence, including a month of house arrest, for obstruction of justice, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Janice Dillon said the former Mountie’s aboriginal status was a factor in her decision not to send him to prison. Under the so-called Gladue principle, courts are required to provide distinct treatment for aboriginals.

Last unstaffed border crossing closes between Stanstead and Derby Line

MONTREAL - In the age of heightened border security and tightening immigration restrictions, the Eastern Townships community of Stanstead seems to have existed in a kind of time warp for years.

Located next to Derby Line, Vt., it isn’t uncommon to see houses, office buildings, residential streets and even a public library split in half by Canada’s border with the United States.

“You could cook dinner in the U.S., walk into your dining room and eat it in Canada,” said 73-year-old Sydney Flanders, who has lived in Stanstead his entire life. “It’s definitely something unique, almost bizarre about our town.”

PM makes changes to senior ranks of civil service, focuses on good managers, not just good policy wonks

Recent changes to the upper crust of the public service may resemble a busy NHL trade deadline to outsiders, but those who know the players involved say they are evidence that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Privy Council Clerk Wayne Wouters have a traditional approach to managing senior civil servants.

In the past six weeks, there have been 17 major changes to the ranks of the senior public service, sparked by a series of high-level retirements, but this isn’t a major shakeup of the system, say the experts.

Confronting Jason Kenney and the cuts to refugee health care: An interview with Bashir Mohamed

Bashir Mohamed is, to many people, "just" a university student. However, inside him brews the power and spirit of politics and social change. His previous actions involve starting and contributing to numerous charitable projects, including an initiative to send 1500 water filters to Haiti earlier this year. He hopes in the future to become a Member of Parliament with the hope of instituting true and effective change.

On Saturday, July 14, 17-year-old Bashir Mohamed interrupted a speech given by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to highlight the growing opposition to the cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) imposed by the Conservative government as of June 30. The disruption -- which took place at a BBQ in Edmonton that was open to the public, but required pre-registration -- was inspired by similar actions taken by physicians and other healthcare providers (HCPs) across the country to force CIC to reverse the cuts to the IFHP.

Romney’s ‘racist’ economic statement outrages Palestinians

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told Jewish donors Monday that their culture is part of what has allowed them to be more economically successful than the Palestinians, outraging Palestinian leaders who called his comments racist and out of touch.

“As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality,” the Republican presidential candidate told about 40 wealthy donors who breakfasted at the luxurious King David Hotel.

‘Pussy Riot’ go on trial for cathedral protest against Putin

MOSCOW—Three women who protested against Vladimir Putin in a “punk prayer” on the altar of Russia's main cathedral went on trial on Monday in a case seen as a test of the longtime leader's treatment of dissent during a new presidential term.

The women from the band “Pussy Riot” face up to seven years in prison for an unsanctioned performance in February in which they entered Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral, ascended the altar and called on the Virgin Mary to “throw Putin out!”

Jewish culture makes Israelis more economically successful than Palestinians, Romney tells donors

JERUSALEM—Having publicly pledged a “solemn duty and moral imperative” to protect Israel, Mitt Romney told Jewish donors Monday that their culture is part of what has allowed them to be more economically successful than the nearby Palestinians.

“As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality,” the Republican presidential candidate told about 40 wealthy donors who breakfasted around a U-shaped table at the luxurious King David Hotel.

Blackout in India: power mostly restored in the north

NEW DELHI—India’s electrical grid suffered a major systemic failure Monday morning, affecting at least seven northern states and an estimated 360 million people. By late afternoon, service was about 75 per cent restored across the region.

Power failures are common in India, but officials said Monday’s blackout was the worst in a decade. The Ministry of Power was investigating the cause, but officials suggested that part of the problem was probably excessive demand during the torrid summer.

OAS benefits denied: Immigrants told to produce residency proofs

After 40 years as a registered nurse, Yvonne Gardner never thought she'd have to beg to get her federal pension benefits.

For 14 months, the Toronto retiree has been struggling to prove to Service Canada that she's eligible for the $500 monthly Old Age Security (OAS) pension.

In the latest twist, she was asked for copies of plane tickets for all of her travels in and out of Canada since moving here from England in 1975 — a mission impossible — as proof she has lived here the minimum 10 years required to qualify.

Burlington, Vermont Protest: Protesters, Cops Square Off Ahead Of Canadian Premiers And New England Governors Meeting

BURLINGTON, Vt. - Protests kicked off Sunday ahead of the 36th annual meeting of eastern Canadian premiers and New England governors, even before official talks got underway.

A protest group official said Sunday that police in riot gear used rubber and pepper bullets against protesters outside a Burlington, Vt., hotel that is the site of the conference.

Angel Sue Larkman Indian Status: Woman's Quest To Gain Indian Status Closer To End

TORONTO - An Ontario woman's long and byzantine quest to gain Indian status — lost because her grandmother was "enfranchised" under a discredited federal government statute — is set to enter a new phase.

Federal Court will soon have to decide whether a 1952 cabinet decision that stripped Angel Sue Larkman's grandmother and her descendants of their Indian status was the result of fraud.

"I'm really sad that she couldn't be here to see this because she was a big part of it," Larkman said of her grandmother, who died two years ago.

Mitt Romney: United States Has 'Solemn Duty' To Block Nuclear Iran

JERUSALEM — Standing on Israeli soil, U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Sunday declared Jerusalem to be the capital of the Jewish state and said the United States has "a solemn duty and a moral imperative" to block Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability.

"Make no mistake, the ayatollahs in Iran are testing our moral defenses. They want to know who will object and who will look the other way," he said. "We will not look away nor will our country ever look away from our passion and commitment to Israel."

Conservatives to douse fire protection program

The Conservative government plans to scrap a program designed to safeguard federal office towers and major public buildings on aboriginal reserves.

Leaked documents obtained by the Citizen show the government will dismantle the national Fire Protection Program by March 31, 2014.

Members of the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) program are responsible for ensuring federal office towers and major buildings in aboriginal communities meet National Fire Code standards.

Senate stubborn on making information about chamber more accessible

OTTAWA - When Moncton's Pascal Raiche-Nogue wanted to know how often senators from New Brunswick showed up for work, he found it near impossible to pull back the curtain on their attendance.

The reporter for weekly newspaper L'Etoile was told that he would have to physically come to Ottawa to look through the Senate attendance register, fat red binders with forms filed monthly by each senator.

The register, developed in 1998 following the scandal around truant Liberal Andrew Thompson, remains stubbornly stuck in pre-Internet, pre-open government times. The Senate website offers no information on how to access the registry or even where it is, although communications staff are helpful when one does arrive to take a peek in the downtown office building.

Opposition parties slam slow federal response to drought in Eastern Canada

Opposition MPs are calling on the federal agriculture minister to deliver assistance to drought-stricken farmers in Eastern Canada, but Conservative MPs say it’s too soon to kick-start relief programs.

“There’s just no feed crop to go around in this area, so farmers are starting to sell some of their animals,” NDP MP Mathieu Ravignat (Pontiac, Que.) said following meetings with farmers in his riding on July 25. “The price of beef, in particular, is really down, so this is a very tough time for farmers.”