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.]

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy as Greek Tragedy

Never has a hurricane been more aptly, if tragically, named than Sandy, the superstorm that flooded New York City and battered much of the East Coast. At press time, the storm had killed at least forty-three people and caused an estimated $32 billion in damages to buildings and infrastructure—figures expected to increase in the coming days as emergency personnel pick through the wreckage—and left 8 million homes without electricity.

Sandy is short for Cassandra, the Greek mythological figure who epitomizes tragedy. The gods gave Cassandra the gift of prophecy; depending on which version of the story one prefers, she could either see or smell the future. But with this gift also came a curse: Cassandra’s warnings about future disasters were fated to be ignored. That is the essence of this tragedy: to know that a given course of action will lead to disaster but to pursue it nevertheless.

Afghanistan War Vets' Class-Action Lawsuit Against Feds Targets Disability Payments

VANCOUVER - A group of Afghanistan war veterans has filed a class-action lawsuit against the federal government, saying the disability payment regime under the New Veterans Charter violates their human rights.

The lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday claims disability payments are decided arbitrarily and aren't enough to support soldiers who have been injured.

"There's no other group of people who can be ordered to put their life on the line for their country," said Don Sorochan, the Vancouver lawyer representing six current and former soldiers named in the suit.

Canadian Real GDP Shrank By 0.1 Per Cent In August Says StatsCan

OTTAWA - Canada's economic expansion came to a surprising halt in August, posting the first decline since February and setting the stage for the worst quarter of economic activity in more than a year.

Real gross domestic product shrank by 0.1 per cent over the month, with both temporary and fundamental factors taking the steam out of what economists had expected to be a relatively healthy 0.2 per cent advance.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty cautioned against overreacting to the one-month setback, saying the economy is growing.

There’s no such thing as a free bridge

The Canadian government and the state of Michigan signed a deal this June to build a new $2-billion bridge between Detroit and Windsor. Including highway upgrades and customs plazas, the estimated cost is $4-billion. The government of Canada will absorb the entire cost.

Backers of the New International Trade Crossing (NITC), as the project is called, believe that there is a need for increased capacity at the Windsor-Detroit border. As much as 25% of trade between Canada and the United States crosses the existing Ambassador Bridge between the two cities, and NITC backers project that traffic will double by 2034.

Petition targets Canada-China deal

A petition signed by 60,000 Canadians calls on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to reject a "secretive and sweeping" Canada-China trade agreement.

The Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (FIPA), discussed mostly behind closed doors, comes as the Conservative cabinet reviews a Chinese state-owned oil company's $15.1-billion bid to take over Calgary oil company Nexen.

Reflecting on racisms

A few months ago now I was in court for another one of Mohammad Mahjoub’s court hearings, another day in the 12 year trauma he’s had to bear, living in indefinite detention without being charged. On the witness stand was Egyptian lawyer Magdy Salem, who had spent nearly 20 years in Mubarak’s jail and had taught himself law, recently released and speaking from Cairo via video link and through an interpreter. To accommodate the time difference the federal court was unusually sitting on a Sunday and starting at 7am, and it seemed everyone’s nerves were fraught.

$2B fundraising for U.S. presidential race raises concern

When all is said and done, and all the money contributed to the presidential campaigns is tallied up, more than $2 billion will have been raised and spent on the bid for the White House.

That total, which is roughly the equivalent of Greenland's GDP, will represent the highest amount of money gathered during a presidential campaign.

The risk of shrugging at climate change

Weather is what you see out the window right now; climate is the probability of that weather happening outside your window. It’s a simple distinction. And it’s the reason why we cannot be certain if climate change played any role in Hurricane Sandy.

Scientists can only say climate change is expected to increase the probability of such hurricanes, and there are considerable uncertainties and disagreements about even that.

Stephen Harper and the triumph of the corporation state

Stephen Harper has moved beyond being the prime minister of Canada. He’s its CEO, making Canada the first democracy to tacitly embrace global corporate governance.

Canada finds itself presiding over the birth of a new Dark Age. The Age of Democracy is over. The Age of Corporate Rule is upon us.

Harper is uniquely qualified to be Canada’s first CEO. His father worked for Imperial Oil (Exxon in global parlance) in Calgary. Harper graduated in economics from the University of Calgary. Its “Calgary School” politicial scientists were recruited largely from the American Right, according to one of their mentors, Allan Kornberg. The objective was to blunt the “leftist statism” of Canadian academia.

Fair or not, Opposition targets Katz donation(s) as symbol of Tory sleaze

The Wildrose Party strategy for defeating the Progressive Conservative government of Premier Alison Redford when the next election rolls around in 2016 is a variation of the right-wing party's plan when it came close to winning earlier this year: paint the PCs as corrupt and themselves as the only viable uncorrupted alternative.

As a result, we can expect to see a lot more implications and inferences in the Legislature's Question Period like the attack Monday by Opposition Leader Danielle Smith on Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz's ability to perform his duties on the board of the Alberta Investment Management Co., which invests the province's public service pension funds and other huge pools of money.

Blinded by the right: My past as an anti-abortion activist

To start, I didn't want to write this. So I searched hoping to find someone that had a similar experience to share and to read their take on their progression from "pro-life/anti-choice/anti- abortion" to believing in and advocating for abortion rights. I'm sharing this story of my past anti-choice activism because it is a past I have been ashamed of. Yet it also shaped me and is part of what, ironically, made me who I am today.

This, in the end, is a story about how destructive an influence this movement can be not only socially, but to individuals as well.

E. coli is sign of a sick system: My days working at Alberta's XL meat-packing plant

The major recall of E. coli contaminated meat from XL doesn't surprise me in the slightest.

There may be some substance to calls for greater regulation and the resignation of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. But there is a deeper problem that no one in the elite media seems capable of addressing: the sweatshop working conditions at XL. I know it from personal experience.

Like many New Brunswick men, I went west at 19 to seek my fortune. One of my many jobs was in Alberta's now infamous XL Foods plant, which advertised "1,100 positions available." If you could wield a knife and obey basic commands, you started at $8.50 an hour for a 40-hour week.

EPassports Canada: New Design Lacks Women, Diversity, Says Focus Group

OTTAWA - The iconic images on Canada's new passports, unveiled with fanfare last week, short-change women and multicultural communities, says a report ordered by Passport Canada.

The passport agency hired a survey firm to "disaster check" more than a dozen of the watermark images on the pages of new passports being introduced next year, to ensure nothing offensive would be released.

Ottawa investigating permits for Chinese miners in B.C.

The federal government is investigating foreign worker permits that will bring Chinese miners to British Columbia to determine whether the applications meet federal requirements.

Labour leaders have raised numerous concerns about permits obtained by HD Mining to bring 200 temporary workers to B.C. for its proposed Murray River coal mine.

Scrums: About that Net New Jobs total…

Thomas Mulcair wanted to talk about the economy. He stood at the small, portable lectern that’s placed at his desk every day and started question period with a nod to the parliamentary budget officer. The budgetary watchdog released a report Monday that concluded that Canada’s level of nominal GDP “is now projected to be $22 billion lower annually, on average,” relative to the PBO’s April fiscal outlook.

Mulcair interpreted some of the numbers for the government side. The PBO, he said, had declared that putting an end to the economic stimulus signified 125,000 fewer jobs in the Canadian economy. That was a mild simplification.

The Commons: Like a lawfully authorized bridge over navigable waters

The Scene. And so the House returned to the drama, intrigue and tragedy of the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Oh if only the Marquess of Lorne—John George Edward Henry Douglas Sutherland Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll and fourth governor general of Canada—had known what he had wrought when he signed into law “an Act respecting Bridges over the navigable waters, constructed under the authority of Provincial Acts” on May 17, 1882. One wonders if he would have hesitated to put his signature on the bill if he’d known that one day its reform would be used to mercilessly mock the president of the Treasury Board.

Canadian majority opposes omnibus legislation: Forum Research poll

PARLIAMENT HILL—A new poll has found an overwhelming majority of Canadians say the government should not be allowed to use omnibus bills, rolling amendments of several unrelated laws into one massive volume of legislation, as the Conservative government is doing with an array of measures they say stem from last spring’s federal budget.

The Forum Research poll, conducted last weekend after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty (Whitby-Oshawa, Ont.) tabled a second massive budget implementation bill, found 64 per cent of respondents opposed the tactic, which also failed to get support from a majority who ranked the Conservative Party as their current voter preference.

Federal spending on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s international trips grows by 75 per cent

OTTAWA — Federal spending on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s international trips and related hospitality increased more than 70 per cent last fiscal year to nearly $14 million while his office cut costs in other areas, according to new government figures.

As Harper was flying overseas more often, the Prime Minister’s Office cut its spending on staff, communications and other costs by 15 per cent in the 2011-12 budget year to around $7.6 million, compared to about $9 million the previous year, according to federal public accounts tabled Tuesday in the House of Commons.

Canadian middle class left out of the growth equation

Those who think the middle class is thriving in this country should spend more time with their fellow citizens.

Canada’s extraordinary success is that we have bound together a vast country with a set of shared ideas and beliefs. We have created a society where individual rights and freedoms, compassion and diversity are core to our citizenship. But underlying that idea of Canada is the promise that we all have a chance to build a better life for ourselves and our children. We provide our citizens upward mobility through economic opportunity. This is at the heart of the Canadian ideal, and it is under real threat. Our political leadership is not addressing it.

Conservatives defend new waterways rules against accusations of favouritism

OTTAWA — The opposition New Democrats say the Conservative government is creating a special class of environmental rules that protects a small number of lakes circled by affluent cottagers and leaves out thousands of others lakes across the country.

“They’re saying there’s going to be an exclusive club for environmental protection and the rest of Canadians, well, you know, you boat users, you lake users, well, you can just buzz off,” said NDP MP Charlie Angus on Tuesday.

Tories deny sitting on extradition request for businessman

TORONTO – The Federal Conservatives rejected the suggestion on Tuesday that they sat on an extradition request from the United States for a businessman who is close to senior cabinet ministers.

Nathan Jacobson, a philanthropist and businessman who was friendly with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, was arrested Thursday in his Toronto home on a provisional warrant granted after a request by the federal justice department.

'Trudeau Effect’: With Justin as leader Liberals would win majority government, poll finds

With Justin Trudeau at the helm, the Liberals could instantly bounce from political ignominy to a majority government if an election were held tomorrow, according to new Forum Research poll commissioned by the National Post.

“The ‘Trudeau Effect’ has proven itself as a real phenomenon, and it appears to be growing, not going away,” said Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff.

Email from Mayor Rob Ford signals support for downtown casino

An email from Mayor Rob Ford’s office to his city council allies shows, for the first time, his explicit endorsement for a downtown casino.

Ford’s office sent the email, which includes talking points, to his allies Monday ahead of a report released by city manager Joe Pennachetti on the viability of a downtown casino.

The email suggests Toronto’s interests would be best served if the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation “simply” expanded Woodbine Racetrack and built a new casino downtown.

For a politician elected to stop the “gravy train,” Mayor Rob Ford’s sense of entitlement is a bit rich

No matter where you travel in Canada, there’s no getting away from Rob Ford. Mere mention of his name in Halifax is enough to bring a crowd of several hundred to laughter, even guffaws. In Calgary, people fret about how his buffoonery makes the country look ridiculous in the eyes of the world.

But just when you think Ford’s banality couldn’t get any worse, any more humiliating and disturbing, it does.

Indeed, the more we learn about the chief magistrate’s willingness to use his office — first as councillor and now as mayor — for his own purposes, the more we cringe.

Ontario ombudsman André Marin says municipalities ‘shockingly secretive’

Ontario ombudsman André Marin says the province must put “some teeth” into its government transparency legislation by penalizing municipal councils which break open meeting laws.

Saying “shocking secrecy” exists in some of Ontario’s 444 municipalities, Marin said the government should consider prosecuting councillors and making them face fines or jail time for holding secret meetings.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Government survey suggests Canadian hearts hardening towards immigrants

OTTAWA - Canadian hearts are hardening slightly towards the country's immigrants, particularly when it comes to their impact on the economy, an internal government survey suggests.

The latest results of the Citizenship and Immigration tracking survey — conducted every year since 1996 to gauge public opinion on immigration — suggest that national attitudes towards both the number and the value of Canadian immigrants are shifting.

Budget watchdog seeks opinion in showdown with government

Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, is waiting for a legal opinion about the authority of his office's mandate before he takes any action against government departments that have failed to disclose how they will implement the 2012 budget cuts.

Last week, several cabinet ministers, including Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, said Page was exceeding his mandate, and one government MP even suggested that Page could simply get the information he was seeking by going online, as any Canadian can. Last week Page announced that he would take recalcitrant departments to Federal Court to attempt to obtain the information.

Proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion faces opposition in Kamloops, B.C.

The "No Pipelines No Tankers Solidarity Tour" made its stop in Kamloops last Wednesday evening, and local issues relating to the Trans Mountain pipeline were raised.

Five speakers greeted a packed auditorium.

"Who's opposed to pipelines?" asked the MC. Almost every hand in the room went up.

Multiplying mistakes: Tallying the economic costs of austerity

In 1936, the British economist John Maynard Keynes published his celebrated General Theory, a book that provided a scientific basis for understanding the Great Depression, the worldwide slump lasting from 1929 until the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Only recently has the International Monetary Fund realized his research insights apply to today's world economic mess centred in a stagnating Europe, and a slow growth U.S. The IMF rediscovery of Keynes has not yet registered with the Harper government, which continues to mislead Canadians about what to do about the sluggish economy.

Keynes showed that spending -- what he called effective demand -- was the driving force creating employment. When consumers slowed spending, business stopped investing. As a result, government revenues plunged, and deficits appeared.

We Are All from New Orleans Now: Climate Change, Hurricanes and the Fate of America's Coastal Cities

The presidential candidates decided not to speak about climate change, but climate change has decided to speak to them. And what is a thousand-mile-wide storm pushing eleven feet of water toward our country’s biggest population center saying just days before the election? It is this: we are all from New Orleans now. Climate change—through the measurable rise of sea levels and a documented increase in the intensity of Atlantic storms—has made 100 million Americans virtually as vulnerable to catastrophe as the victims of Hurricane Katrina were seven years ago.

The Government Secretly Spied On You? Prove It!

On Monday, as Hurricane Sandy shut down most of the rest of the federal government, the black-robed justices of the Supreme Court gathered to hear a case that embodies the post-9/11 paradox: Can the government violate your rights as long as it does so in secret?

In 2008, Congress, with the support of then-Sen. Barack Obama, passed a bill called the FISA Amendments Act that retroactively legalized the Bush administration's warrantless spying program. Ever since, a coalition of civil libertarians and human rights activists—including Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, attorneys for Guantanamo Bay detainees, and journalists—have been seeking to challenge the program as unconstitutional.

NASA Warned New York About Hurricane Danger Six Years Ago

In 2007, I published a book called Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming. It was inspired by what my family had been through in Hurricane Katrina (I'm from New Orleans), but at the end, I looked forward to what other families and other cities might have to experience—if we don't start to think in a much broader way about our society's stunning vulnerability to hurricane disasters.

Canadian Conference Of The Arts Fails To Survive Government Cuts

OTTAWA - A cultural group founded by artists including Group of Seven member Lawren Harris is suspending operations after 67 years, a victim of federal spending cuts.

The Canadian Conference of the Arts, the largest national alliance of the arts, culture and heritage sector, says it will start winding down its work immediately.

The group was warned 18 months ago that the Harper government intended to end 47 years of funding.

China-Canada Trade Deal Under Opposition Fire

OTTAWA - An investment treaty with China that would turn Canada into a "resource colony" is about to be ratified despite almost no parliamentary debate, opposition critics charge.

Bolstered by more than 60,000 signatures on petitions and a finely targeted letter-writing campaign led by activists, the opposition NDP, Liberals and Green party Leader Elizabeth May are opening a last-minute push for a fuller debate on the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with China.

Food bank use in Canada remains well above 2008 recession levels: report

OTTAWA - The number of Canadians depending on charity for food continues to grow, a new study being released today has found.

More than 882,000 Canadians used a food bank in March 2012, up 2.4 per cent from last year, says the annual study by Food Banks Canada.

The number of people using meal programs — where meals are prepared and served —also jumped 23 per cent from last year, the study found. It says food bank usage is up 31 per cent since the start of the 2008 recession.

Report that explosives found in wreckage of crash that killed Poland’s president untrue, say prosecutors

WARSAW, POLAND—Polish military prosecutors on Tuesday denied a newspaper report that said investigators had found traces of explosives in the 2010 plane crash in Russia which killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others.

Ireneusz Szelag, a spokesman for military prosecutors, said experts who examined the wreckage in recent weeks in Russia detected no explosives on plane parts or at the site of the crash. He said, however, that some chemical substances were found on parts of the wreckage that will be submitted for laboratory tests. It will take months to name those substances, he said.

New Windsor-Detroit bridge threatens endangered species

Earlier this month, the Harper government announced in its
latest omnibus bill it will exempt the new Windsor-Detroit bridge
 from major Canadian environmental laws.  
Canada's public works department said the construction of a new international border crossing in Windsor, Ont., poses a threat to two endangered plants.

The department said it's launching an effort to relocate the species before construction of the Detroit River International Crossing in west Windsor ramps up next summer.

It said at least 277 Dense Blazing Star plants and 180 Willow Leaf Aster ramets will be moved between November 2012 and May 2013.

Investment deal with China would leave Canada a resource colony: opponents

OTTAWA - An investment treaty with China that would turn Canada into a "resource colony" is about to be ratified despite almost no parliamentary debate, opposition critics charge.

Bolstered by more than 60,000 signatures on petitions and a finely targeted letter-writing campaign led by activists, the opposition NDP, Liberals and Green party Leader Elizabeth May are opening a last-minute push for a fuller debate on the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with China.

Ford’s dumb mistakes make Mayor Olivia Chow more likely

There’s a new poll out, showing that Rob Ford would lose in a hypothetical election campaign against NDP MP Olivia Chow. Chow, who was a Toronto city councillor for years alongside her late husband, Jack Layton, hasn’t committed to running, but has of late left the door to a potential run increasingly open. The poll is consistent with others that have shown Ford with a core group of supporters that would give him an excellent chance of being re-elected in a three-way race, but trouble if running against only one (presumably left-leaning) challenger. Ford’s approval rating is still hovering in the low-to-mid 40s, where it’s largely stayed since he took office two years ago. But as much as 10% of the city, while approving of the job he’s doing, would shift their votes to someone else, like Chow.

Hurricane Sandy Blamed On Gays, Obama And Romney By Preacher John McTernan

The Eastern seaboard may have yet to experience the full wrath of Hurricane Sandy, but one right-wing Christian preacher is already pointing the finger at the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

In a wordy and occasionally rambling blog on his website, chaplain John McTernan seems to link Hurricane Sandy (and a number of other recent weather-related trends and natural disasters) on LGBT people and President Barack Obama's recent backing of marriage equality. While most of McTernan's wrath is directed at Obama, he has some choice words for GOP candidate Mitt Romney, too.

John Baird’s guide to polite conversation

The Scene. In the 15 minutes before Question Period, John Weston stood and worried that a carbon tax would raise the price of Halloween candy. Then Cheryl Gallant fretted that a carbon tax would raise the price of wood. Then Lawrence Toet lamented for a carbon tax that would punish families and kill jobs. Then Pat Martin stood and attempted to shame a Conservative backbencher into rejecting his talking points. And then Kelly Block cried that a carbon tax would “hurt ordinary Canadians.”

All of this was supposedly something to do with the NDP and its leader.

There must be a better way to honour Canadians

The purpose of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal is commendable: to honour Canadians for their service to Canada. To recognize those who make a contribution to the country.

The medal should be a celebration of citizenship. In a country slow to praise and reluctant to thank, it should say: “We appreciate you.”

It isn’t the Nobel Prize. The medal itself isn’t precious or rare; it’s made of “nickel-silver” and 60,000 will be struck this year.

After federal changes to waterways rules, 90 per cent of protected lakes lap on Conservative shores

OTTAWA — The vast majority of lakes that retain federal protection under the government’s proposed changes to waterway rules lap up against ridings held by Conservative MPs.

While revisions to the Navigable Waters Protection Act has stripped federal oversight from thousands of Canadian waterways, 90 per cent of the lakes that will still be designated as protected are in Tory territory, a Citizen analysis shows.

The F-35: The plane that keeps on billing

“If you went out and bought yourself a new minivan and you wanted to drive it off the lot, you wouldn’t calculate the gas, the washer fluid, the oil and give yourself a salary to drive it for the next 15 or 20 years.”

That was Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s response to Michael Ferguson in April, after the Auditor-General used “life-cycle costs” to calculate the full impact that buying F-35 stealth fighter jets would have on the federal treasury.

Is Stephen Harper’s Honeymoon With the Canadian Forces Over?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been known for his unwavering support for the Canadian Forces.

But no sooner had Prime Minister Harper made his speech at the change of command ceremony Monday for the new Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson, did the emails from Defence Watch readers start coming in. Some readers were asking – Is the honeymoon over?

Overwhelming majority supports revoking citizenship for Canadians who commit treason

A new public opinion poll has found overwhelming support for a proposal to revoke the citizenship of those who commit acts of treason and terrorism against their fellow Canadians, a Calgary MP said Monday.

Eight out of 10 people polled by NRG Research agreed Canadians guilty of treason should lose their citizenship. A similar ratio favoured revoking citizenship from terrorists who target their countrymen.

Undemocratic impulses? Who ya gonna call? Not Jimmy Carter!

By the sound of it, the international observers of Sunday's Ukrainian parliamentary elections did manage to catch the government of President Viktor F. Yanukovich getting up to some undemocratic naughtiness.

Their report, which the international media yesterday described as scathing, accused Yanukovich's Party of Regions of unfairly benefiting from excessive money from supporters, abuse of government resources to make it look good and heavily biased media coverage in its favour.

So it comes as no surprise that on the same day the party was claiming to have won the election and hung onto its parliamentary majority.

NDP calls feds’ attempts to convince Parliament they're considering alternatives to F-35s a ‘red herring’; Public Works rejects claims it prefers F-35 fighter jets

PARLIAMENT HILL—The federal government is under fire over what critics call a “red herring” attempt to convince Parliament it intends to consider alternatives to the F-35 stealth warplane to replace Canada’s aging fleet of fighter jets.

And, in a new development in the controversy over the minimum $25-billion project to acquire 65 F-35 fighter jets, the opposition and a leading critic of the plan say the government also intends to rewrite Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s scathing report on the planned acquisition with an independent review that MPs say is designed to contradict the findings Mr. Ferguson tabled in Parliament last April.

Mayor Rob Ford ‘blaming others’ in non-apology, integrity commissioner says

Mayor Rob Ford’s “retraction” of his disparaging comments about the city’s chief medical officer is so inadequate that council should punish him, the integrity commissioner wrote in a brief but blistering report released Monday.

Janet Leiper last week said she would not recommend a punishment against Ford until she considered his last-minute “letter of retraction.” After studying the letter, she decided that Ford should be formally reprimanded.

Mayor Rob Ford sought provincial money only for his own football programs

Mayor Rob Ford used his office to seek government money for only one Toronto football field: the one where his own teams play and practise.

A freedom of information request shows Ford’s staff sought provincial funding for a single football-related project or program — a major renovation of the field at Etobicoke’s Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School, where Ford is head coach and where his summer team, the Rexdale Raiders, holds practices.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Las Vegas Sands' Money Laundering Probe May End In Settlement

NEW YORK -- Federal officials and Las Vegas Sands Corp. are having talks aimed at settling a probe into whether the casino operator failed to report millions of dollars of potentially laundered money transferred to its casinos by two gamblers, according to a published report.

Representatives for the Justice Department and the company held settlement talks as recently as last Thursday, but have yet to reach an agreement, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing unidentified people familiar with the case.

Oklahoma 'Personhood' Ballot Amendment Appeal Rejected By Supreme Court

Oct 29 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected an attempt by anti-abortion activists to place what they call a "personhood amendment" on the Oklahoma ballot to define an embryo as a human being from the moment of conception.

The anti-abortion group Personhood Oklahoma had appealed to the Supreme Court, challenging the Oklahoma Supreme Court's decision in April to strike down the ballot initiative.

Tax Expert Calvin Johnson 'Skeptical' Of Mitt Romney's Taxes

A respected tax attorney and deficit hawk wrote a letter to the editor of Tax Notes on Monday saying that, "There is good reason to be skeptical" of Mitt Romney's claim to have paid all the taxes he legally owes.

The letter, by University of Texas Law School Professor Calvin Johnson, focuses on two trusts Romney has set up: one for his children, which is worth over $100 million, and an $87 million retirement trust. These trusts have grown at an enormous rate -- Johnson notes that they have been more than 10 times as profitable as Warren Buffett's investments over the same time frame. Johnson writes that Romney may have played fast and loose with the law by undervaluing Bain Capital assets that were contributed to the trusts. By undervaluing the assets, Romney could avoid paying gift taxes.

US Navy Unveils Missile-Equipped Unmanned Sea Drone

The US military has unveiled a new fleet of unmanned drones - and this time they're floating, not flying.

Drones have been used by militaries around the world for years, both for reconnaissance and in combat.

On the water drones have been used to search for mines and enemy positions. But weaponised sea drones have yet to make their appearance (either below the waves or above them).

Economic Forecast Canada: PBO Says Slower Growth To Sap $22 Billion Annually From Economy

OTTAWA - Canada's budget watchdog says slower growth will sap about $22 billion annually from the country's economy.

Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page says in a new report that he anticipates economic growth will brake to an annual rate of 1.6 per cent in the second half of this year, after slowing to 1.8 per cent in the first half.