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.]

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Unemployment Limbo Makes Americans Feel 'Like They're Playing Games' In Congress

WASHINGTON -- Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said on Thursday that Americans are paying unusually close attention to the fiscal cliff debate in Congress.

"I’ve never seen a public as energized or as knowledgeable about an issue as they are about the fiscal cliff," Hoyer said. "They know it will have a negative impact on the economy and they know it will have a negative impact on them and their families."

2013 Is Year Zero for Climate Change

As this wild year comes to an end, we return to the season of gifts. Here’s the gift you’re not going to get soon: any conventional version of Paradise. You know, the place where nothing much happens and nothing is demanded of you. The gifts you’ve already been given in 2012 include a struggle over the fate of the Earth. This is probably not exactly what you asked for, and I wish it were otherwise—but to do good work, to be necessary, to have something to give: these are the true gifts. And at least there’s still a struggle ahead of us, not just doom and despair.

Republicans Now 100 Percent AWOL From Fiscal Cliff Talks

John Boehner gave up on fiscal cliff negotiations after he was unable to get House Republicans to agree to any proposal at all, even one that he himself had crafted. The fate of the Republic, he said, was now in the Senate's hands. So how is Mitch McConnell handling things?

    An aide said Wednesday that McConnell had not been in contact with any top Democrats, including Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, during the holiday break....Always cautious, McConnell has kept a decidedly low profile during the last few weeks of political theater in the Capitol....Behind the scenes, he [] helped devise Boehner's Plan B maneuver, which failed to gain enough Republican votes to be brought up in the House. In the aftermath of that defeat, however, McConnell may be unwilling to take on the job of deal-maker. The reasons reflect the pressures that have buffeted his fellow Republicans.

How Dark Money Helped Democrats Hold a Key Senate Seat

In the waning days of Montana's hotly contested Senate race, a small outfit called Montana Hunters and Anglers, launched by liberal activists, tried something drastic.

It didn't buy ads supporting the incumbent Democrat, Sen. Jon Tester. Instead, it put up radio and TV commercials that urged voters to choose the third-party candidate, libertarian Dan Cox, describing Cox as the "real conservative" or the "true conservative."

Where did the group's money come from? Nobody knows.

Senate to Intel Agencies: We Don't Need to Know How Often You Spy on Americans

There's nothing like a debate over warrantless wiretapping to clarify how the two parties really feel about government. On Friday, the Senate voted to reauthorize the government's warrantless surveillance program, with hawkish Democrats joining with Republicans to block every effort to curtail the government's sweeping spying powers.

As the Senate debated the renewal of the government's warrantless wiretapping powers on Thursday, Republicans who have accused President Barack Obama of covering up his involvement in the death of an American ambassador urged that his administration be given sweeping spying powers. Democrats who accused George W. Bush of shredding the Constitution with warrantless wiretapping four years ago sung a different tune this week, with the administration itself quietly urging passage of the surveillance bill with no changes, and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) accusing her Democratic colleagues of not understanding the threat of terrorism.

First Nations chief rejects minister's call to end hunger strike

One of the two aboriginal MPs in the Conservative cabinet has called on Chief Theresa Spence to abandon her fast aimed at securing a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who is Inuk, joined other federal officials in asking Spence to accept a meeting with Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan and end the campaign that has seen the chief go more than two weeks without solid food.

Paywalls: A real 'fiscal cliff' for a plunging news industry

As was so famously observed, or not, by Phineas Taylor Barnum, the 19th Century American self-promoter, showman, scam artist and newspaper publisher better known as "P.T.," "There's a mark born every minute."

We refer not to the minuscule group of newspaper readers who have actually paid online subscription fees to the likes of the Globe and Mail, but to the credulous newspaper publishers who have been persuaded by technological hucksters and scamsters to invest millions in "paywall" schemes in hopes of resuscitating the lost era when readers actually paid for news.

Ford decision reaffirms public’s ability to distinguish campaign rhetoric from fact

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s legal luck may be turning — at the most opportune time for the city’s embattled chief magistrate who faces dismissal from office in a separate conflict-of-interest lawsuit, now under appeal.

On Thursday, a Superior Court judge dismissed a $6-million defamation lawsuit brought against Ford for words he said to the Toronto Sun during the 2010 mayoral campaign.

GOP Governors Deny The Poor Health Care In Opposing Obamacare's Medicaid Expansion

RUSTON, La. -- With no health insurance and not enough money for a doctor, Laura Johnson is long accustomed to treating her ailments with a self-written prescription: home remedies, prayer and denial.

Over decades, she made her living assisting elderly people in nursing homes in jobs that paid just above minimum wage and included no health benefits. So even as her feet swelled to such an extent that she could no longer stuff them into her shoes, and even as nausea, headaches and dizziness plagued her, she reached for the aspirin bottle or made do with a teaspoon of vinegar. She propped her feet up on pillows and hoped for relief.

Is Growth Over?

The great bulk of the economic commentary you read in the papers is focused on the short run: the effects of the “fiscal cliff” on U.S. recovery, the stresses on the euro, Japan’s latest attempt to break out of deflation. This focus is understandable, since one global depression can ruin your whole day. But our current travails will eventually end. What do we know about the prospects for long-run prosperity?

 The answer is: less than we think.

112th Congress Set To Become Most Unproductive Since 1940s

WASHINGTON -- As 2012 comes to a close, the 112th Congress is set to go down in American history as the most unproductive session since the 1940s.

According to a Huffington Post review of all the bills that hit President Barack Obama's desk this session, Obama has signed 219 bills passed by the 112th Congress into law. With less than a week to go in the year, there are currently another 20 bills pending presidential action. In comparison, the last Congress passed 383 bills, while the one before it passed 460.

Top Ten Signs of a Warming World

Another year, another set of climate records. Here are the top ten signs you are living in a warming world, 2012 edition:

1. Hot enough for you? Though it’s only mid-December, it’s already clear that 2012 will be the hottest year on record for the contiguous United States. “The warm November virtually assures that 2012 will be the warmest year on record in the U.S.,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently observed. “The year-to-date period of January-November has been by far the warmest such period on record for the contiguous U.S.-a remarkable 1.0°F above the previous record. ” The Web site Climate Central put it this way: “There is a 99.99999999 percent chance that 2012 will be the hottest year ever recorded in the continental 48 states.”

Chuck Hagel and His Enemies

Chuck Hagel does not shirk a fight. Since he was a boy, he has been impelled to stand up, no matter how difficult the situation or how high its cost. After enlisting in the Army and being posted to Germany, he elected instead to be sent to Vietnam, where he was later awarded two Purple Hearts. But in his latest battle, in the unsightly war zone that Washington has become, he has not been allowed to retaliate. His treatment has been akin to “getting jumped in an alley,” Ellen Tauscher, formerly the Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control, told me. Tauscher has known Hagel well since she served on the House Armed Services Committee and Hagel served on Senate Foreign Relations. “This is not meant to be a fair fight, nor is this meant to be a serious and sober consideration of someone’s public record and their credibility. This is a knife in the back. Because you cannot defend yourself when you are not nominated. You don’t have the policy or the political machine of the White House behind you. It is a very unsavory, very terrible situation.”

Idle No More actions taking place across Canada

There is a rich history of resistance against colonialism in North America-Turtle Island. In Canada alone, there are stories of victories from Batchewana Bay First Nation to the Oka uprising to the occupation of the Federal Revenue Agency.

Drawn from the deep water of this legacy, the Idle No More movement has sprung up -- starting in early December 2012 and promising to continue into the new year.

California Fracking Disclosure Rules Leave Some Environmentalists Unsatisfied

SAN FRANCISCO -- Underneath much of Central and southern California sits the single largest deposit of shale oil in the United States, boasting a motherlode of some 15 billion barrels of oil.

While the Monterey Shale's unique geology has prevented energy companies from unleashing a new West Coast energy boom, California regulators have begun to take the first steps in regulating hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking"), a controversial practice decried by environmentalists and the most promising solution for retrieving said oil.

First Nations Water Troubles Drive Idle No More Action

MARTEN FALLS, Ont. - Water has consumed the daily routine of Chief Eli Moonias, and it's making him visibly agitated.

His small, fly-in reserve in northern Ontario has had a boil-water advisory for seven long years, and there is no end in sight.

Now he feels the long-term quality of the water that surrounds his reserve may well be at risk, too.

Voluntary drug shortage reporting approved despite Health Canada’s concerns

Ryan Harrington is living proof that a voluntary drug shortage reporting system can fail.

Harrington, 26, has seven days until he runs out of his much-needed antiseizure medicine, Celontin, despite not being warned of a shortage of the drug.

It’s s precisely the type of problem predicted in documents obtained by The Canadian Press, which reveal Health Canada staff had fears a voluntary reporting system implemented in April would be “susceptible to bad company behaviour.”

Pressure mounting for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to meet Attawapiskat chief on hunger strike

OTTAWA—Prime Minister Stephen Harper is facing a growing chorus of calls for him to meet an aboriginal chief on a hunger strike.

On Thursday, New Democrat MP Charlie Angus said the hunger strike by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence has entered a deadly serious phase.

Egypt opposition leaders probed over treason allegations, plan to overthrow President Morsi

CAIRO—Egypt’s chief prosecutor ordered an investigation on Thursday into allegations that opposition leaders committed treason by inciting supporters to overthrow Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

The probe by a Morsi-appointed prosecutor was launched a day after the president called for a dialogue with the opposition to heal rifts opened in the bitter fight over an Islamist-drafted constitution just approved in a referendum. The opposition decried the investigation as a throwback to Hosni Mubarak’s regime, when the law was used to smear and silence opponents.

Harper’s shadow public service

Everyone knew it was happening, but no one knew how prevalent it was or how much it cost.

Economist David Macdonald decided to find out how many consultants, contractors and temporary workers the federal government was hiring and how much Canadians were paying for them.

It took him about a year. What he discovered was a burgeoning “shadow public service.” Last year it cost taxpayers $1.2 billion. That was 79 per cent higher than when Prime Minister Stephen Harper took power in 2006.

Canadians need a national food policy, not a food industry business model

Christmas can bring out the best in us. We're encouraged to think of others and remember the holiday season's humble beginnings. Some invite the lonely to share a meal, while others volunteer at their local food banks.

If the crass commercialism is hard to avoid, at least we can console ourselves by shopping for others. And then there's always a moment when the Dickensian ghost of Christmas future descends upon us, encouraging shifts in behavior.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet mulls massive Chinese resource project in Arctic

Another massive Chinese-owned resource project is before Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet.

Some time in the new year, four federal ministers are to decide how to conduct an environmental review for the Izok Corridor proposal. It could bring many billions of dollars into the Arctic but would also see development of open-pit mines, roads, ports and other facilities in the centre of calving grounds for the fragile Bathurst caribou herd.

Harper's cabinet mulls massive Chinese resource project in Arctic

Another massive Chinese-owned resource project is before Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet.

Some time in the new year, four federal ministers are to decide how to conduct an environmental review for the Izok Corridor proposal. It could bring many billions of dollars into the Arctic but would also see development of open-pit mines, roads, ports and other facilities in the centre of calving grounds for the fragile Bathurst caribou herd.

Izok Corridor Deal: Harper's Cabinet Mulls Massive Chinese Resource Project In Arctic

Another massive Chinese-owned resource project is before Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet.

Some time in the new year, four federal ministers are to decide how to conduct an environmental review for the Izok Corridor proposal. It could bring many billions of dollars into the Arctic but would also see development of open-pit mines, roads, ports and other facilities in the centre of calving grounds for the fragile Bathurst caribou herd.

Congress Says Netflix Can Share What You're Watching

When the streaming-video site Netflix suffered an outage on Christmas Eve, millions of Americans confronted the terrifying possibility of an evening of spent talking with their relatives instead of re-watching Die Hard. But Netflix's technical snafu wasn't the only streaming-related news infuriating Americans over the Christmas holiday.

Last Tuesday, the Senate quietly altered a key privacy law, making it much easier for video streaming services like Netflix to share your viewing habits. How quietly? The Senate didn't even hold a recorded vote: The bill was approved by unanimous consent. (Joe Mullin of Ars Technica was among the first to note the vote.)

'Right-to-work' will cause labour chaos, experts warn

OTTAWA — The bitter teachers’ dispute that has caused chaos in schools across the province is setting the stage for a new wave of labour unrest Ontario has not seen in decades, experts warn.

With Tory leader Tim Hudak, the favourite to win the next provincial election, talking tough against unions and promoting a so-called right-to-work agenda, they warn that Ontario is heading for labour discontent that could cripple the province. The experts say if teachers’ unions today are up in arms because the Liberal government is curbing their right to negotiate contracts or go on strike, Ontarians can only imagine what would happen if the Tories enact a right-to-work law that could strip unions of their ability to function and hasten their demise.

Ottawa must get real on climate change

American President Barack Obama has indicated that "stopping climate change" will be an important focus of his second term. Because our climate policies are closely tied to those of the U.S., it is therefore crucial that the Canadian government finally gets its act together on the issue. If it doesn't, we will be swept up in increasingly expensive programs that many in the Conservative party, Prime Minister Stephen Harper included, must know are utterly futile.

Before first forming the government in 2006, Harper, a longtime climate realist, promised that the Conservatives would re-examine the file and handle it more sensibly. But they haven't. Here are some of the ways the government is letting Canadians down on climate change, and what they must do differently in 2013.

Pension shortfall worse than Ottawa admits

Recent reforms notwithstanding, the generous pension plans for federal employees - not to mention the one for MPs - are in much worse shape than Ottawa admits, says a new study from the C.D. Howe Institute.

The same kind of collapse of investment returns that set back the retirement dreams of countless Canadians in the private sector has also hit the government plans, the analysis notes. But there are two key differences.

Bureaucrats concerned with drug-shortage plan later backed by minister

TORONTO - The federal health minister opted to let drug makers voluntarily alert doctors and pharmacists of medication shortages despite concerns from her own department that the approach could put Canada's drug supply at risk, documents show.

Records obtained by The Canadian Press indicate civil servants at Health Canada warned in February of last year a voluntary-notice system was "susceptible to bad company behaviour" that could see firms neglect to report every shortage. An outline comparing voluntary versus mandatory approaches cautioned there would be no way to punish manufacturers who fail to report production gaps, which leave health practitioners scrambling to get drugs to their patients.

Egypt: Morsi vows economic improvement as new constitution becomes law

President Mohamed Morsi admitted on Wednesday that Egypt’s economy faces serious problems after he enacted a new, bitterly contested constitution that is supposed to help end political unrest and allow him to focus on the financial crisis.

The president said the economy also had great opportunities to grow, but earlier the Egyptian pound tumbled to its weakest level in almost eight years as ever more people rushed to buy dollars and withdraw their savings from banks.

Tougher protection sought for Rouge lands

The environmental protections for the future Rouge National Urban Park will be less strict than those that currently exist, says a group of environmental organizations in a letter that was sent to Premier Dalton McGuinty earlier this month.

The groups are urging the provincial government to insist on five conditions before signing away large tracts of land on Toronto's eastern edge to the federal government, which will establish Canada's first urban national park.

HD Mining refuses to show B.C. unions the files on work permits for Chinese miners

VANCOUVER—The mining company that is bringing in hundreds of miners from China to work on a northern B.C. coal operation is refusing to release its files on the temporary work permits it obtained from the federal government.

On Dec. 7, a federal court judge ordered HD Mining and the federal Human and Resources and Skills Development ministry to provide two B.C. unions with documentation on how the permits were requested and approved.

But HD Mining now says it has no “legal obligation” to open its files.

Homelessness, childhood trauma, put youth at risk for drug use, HIV and hep C, studies find

VANCOUVER—The turkey has just gone into the oven but the smell of frying onions and sage wafts down into the TV room, a hint of the smells to come later this Christmas Day.

Lying on the couch, the young woman in red pyjamas is checking Facebook on her phone. The other woman, in a black knit beanie pulled low over her forehead, is eating a plate of rice and beans.

Idle No More takes Toronto

Hundreds of people gathered in the heart of downtown Friday afternoon to join in nationwide protests against the federal government’s treatment of native peoples.

As part of the Idle No More campaign that was marked by dozens of simultaneous rallies across the country, protesters briefly blocked the intersection at Yonge and Dundas by performing a “round dance” around a circle of drummers.

Liberty losing its cool

At 60 Atlantic in Liberty Village on this Friday morning, refuse from artists’ studios that are no more is piled high, awaiting trash pickup: irregularly shaped styrofoam, plastic bags full of cardboard, boxes of empty paint cans.

The moving bustle is evident as denizens of the 48 work spaces clear out their stuff before the building, an Artscape refuge, is turned over to Hullmark Developments.

Michael Nutter: NRA Armed Guard Proposal A 'Completely Dumbass Idea'

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter on Wednesday slammed the National Rifle Association's proposal to put an armed guard in every school in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, calling it a "completely dumbass idea."

"I guess, you know, out of last week's bizarre press statement -- it wasn't a press conference -- I guess Mr. [Wayne] LaPierre would then say firefighters need to have armed guards go with them," Nutter said on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports." I think it just shows that was a completely dumbass idea from the start with the announcement last week," he said.

U.S. Mental Healthcare System Failing Patients, Advocates Say

On Feb. 9, 1844, the governor of Missouri ate breakfast, went to his office and locked the door. Then he shot himself with a rifle. Thomas Reynolds’ death rattled the state and inspired a conversation about mental illness that led to the founding of its first public mental hospital.

One hundred and sixty-eight years later, Missouri's mental health system is in crisis.

“The place is something out of the 1920s,” Missouri State Rep. Jeanne Kirkton said of Fulton State Hospital, the state's first. “Have you ever seen ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’? It’s that, but worse.”

Rising inequality and the threat to the Canadian dream

In the 1940s and ’50s in my hometown of Oshawa, boys growing up in a working class family rarely went to university. For a girl in the same family, it was even less likely.

The situation changed fundamentally in the 1960s and ’70s, and not just because of economic growth. While unions continued to improve wages and working conditions, government invested massively in education at all levels, as well as in other public domains, with the clear goal of equalizing opportunities. Post-secondary education of all kinds became an affordable reality — and with all these changes came increased expectations for parents and kids from all families.

Dick Armey Brought Armed Guard Into FreedomWorks In Coup Attempt: Report

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), who abruptly resigned as head of Tea Party group FreedomWorks, brought in an assistant with a gun in an apparent coup attempt at the group, according to a report in the Washington Post.

On Sept. 4, the assistant escorted out Matt Kibbe, president and CEO, and Adam Brandon, the senior vice president, accusing them of ethical misconduct. Others were put on administrative leave, but the Washington Post report says that when they started crying, they got their jobs back.

Frank Luntz, GOP Pollster: The NRA Isn't Listening With Proposal For Armed Guards At Schools

Frank Luntz, a top Republican strategist and pollster, said Wednesday that the National Rifle Association's recent calls for armed guards to be stationed at every school in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. massacre suggested the organization isn't listening to public opinion on the issue.

“The public wants guns out of the schools, not in the schools, and they're not asking for a security official or someone else," Luntz said on CBS’s “This Morning,” responding to a proposal first floated by top NRA lobbyist Wayne LaPierre during a press conference last week.

Youth Unemployment Canada: Young Workers Grapple With Job Market Built For Baby Boomers

TORONTO - Conventional wisdom would suggest that Jonathan Glencross has a bright and secure future ahead of him.

Anyone who completed an undergraduate degree from McGill University, established and developed a $2.5-million sustainability fund for the school while there and received national honours as an environmental advocate might well seem destined for the sort of career that would make any parent proud.

Teacher Brings Loaded Gun To Minnesota School For Fear Of Newtown Shooting

Fear over the Newtown school shooting prompted a Minnesota teacher to bring a loaded gun to school last week, forcing a school lockdown. The unnamed teacher, a female in her 50s, has been placed on administrative leave from Seward Montessori School in Minneapolis.

"This is the first case like this I've ever heard of," Minneapolis police Sgt. Bill Palmer told KMSP. "In this day in age in this week, handguns in schools are of great concern to everyone."

The Other Bradley Manning: Jeremy Hammond Faces Life Term for WikiLeaks and Hacked Stratfor Emails

A federal judge has refused to recuse herself from the closely watched trial of jailed computer hacker Jeremy Hammond, an alleged member of the group "Anonymous" charged with hacking into the computers of the private intelligence firm Stratfor and turning over some five million emails to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. Hammond’s lawyers had asked Federal Judge Loretta Preska to recuse herself because her husband worked for a client of Stratfor, and himself had his email hacked. Hammond’s supporters say the Stratfor documents shed light on how the private intelligence firm monitors activists and spies for corporate clients. He has been held without bail or trial for more than nine months. We speak with Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, about Hammond’s case.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

When Canada turns 150: The politics of celebrating our history

The 150th birthday of Confederation is now less than five years away. Beginning today, Postmedia News offers a special series on how the country should mark the occasion.

OTTAWA –  It’s a major milestone in Canada’s history that’s still nearly five years away, but the approaching 150th anniversary of Confederation — a national birthday bash that will culminate on July 1, 2017, touch every corner of the country and cost hundreds of millions of dollars — has already inspired one showcase sesquicentennial project and, just as quickly, sparked the event’s first controversy: the Conservative government’s decision not to appoint an independent commission to oversee what promises to be the biggest cross-Canada celebration since 1967.

Hunger-striking chief rebuffs senator's, minister's offers to meet

OTTAWA -- Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan expressed concern on Tuesday for the health of a northern Ontario First Nations chief who is on a hunger strike near Parliament Hill.

In a letter sent to Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence on Christmas Day, Duncan said he was worried about the leader's well-being and urged her to end her protest.

Canada's health care system rewards mediocrity

The recent federal government decision to provide health care transfers to the provinces without conditions or demands has prompted a flurry of opinions concerning health care delivery. Some of the issues under discussion are waiting lists and emergency room challenges.

Unfortunately, much of the public discourse about health care has focused on addressing specific issues piecemeal, rather than the need for major policy reform. The system itself is the problem, and we would be wise to address the underlying problems at the heart of Canadian health care rather than simply trying to deal with the symptoms.

The FBI vs. Occupy: Secret Docs Reveal "Counterterrorism" Monitoring of OWS from Its Earliest Days

Once-secret documents reveal the FBI monitored Occupy Wall Street from its earliest days and treated the nonviolent movement as a potential terrorist threat. Internal government records show Occupy was treated as a potential threat when organizing first began in August of 2011. Counterterrorism agents were used to track Occupy activities, despite the internal acknowledgment that the movement opposed violent tactics. The monitoring expanded across the country as Occupy grew into a national movement, with FBI agents sharing information with businesses, local police agencies and universities. We’re joined by Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which obtained the FBI documents through the Freedom of Information Act. "We can see, decade after decade, with each social justice movement, that the FBI conducts itself in the same role over and over again, which is to act really as the secret police of the establishment against the people," Verheyden-Hilliard says.

Original Article
Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Canadian democracy stumbled in 2012

It's difficult to believe that in less than a week we will be welcoming a new year. For many parts of the world, 2012 was a year of dramatic change as citizens made progress on their path to democracy. Yet in some countries such as our own, democracy took a few steps backward.

For the first time in their lives, Libyans experienced a civic and national election this year. After decades under Moammar Gadhafi's rule, they got a real taste of democracy and participated in choosing the representatives they wanted to lead the country.

DND removes report on killing of Canadian soldier by Israeli forces

The Defence Department has quietly removed from the Internet a report into the killing of a Canadian military officer by Israeli forces, a move the soldier’s widow says is linked to the Conservative government’s reluctance to criticize Israel for any wrongdoing.

Maj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener and three other United Nations observers were killed in 2006 when the Israeli military targeted their small outpost with repeated artillery barrages as well as an attack by a fighter aircraft.

Justice at stake: Chief Theresa Spence passes Day 15 of hunger strike

Launched in the shadows of Parliament Hill two weeks ago, the hunger strike by Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence goes on. There is little to be heard from the federal government or Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but a cowardly silence.

Chief Spence said she is willing to die in an attempt to get the federal government and aboriginal leaders to discuss the treaty process and make fundamental changes.

Rising inequality driven by corporate Canada

"So distribution should undo excess, and each man have enough,” wrote Shakespeare in King Lear. Of course, this should be read as an aspiration, rather than as a catalog of our current condition, especially in Canada today.

Between 1980 and 2010, according to Statistics Canada, the pre-tax median income of the bottom 20 per cent of earners dropped by about 20 per cent. During the same period, the top 20 per cent’s median incomes rose. The result was an overall increase of 19.4 per cent in pre-tax inequality, according to a study by the Centre for the Study of Living Standards, an Ottawa-based think tank. Even after taxes and the distribution of benefits, the rate of inequality still rose during the period, only at a lower rate of 13.5 per cent. Furthermore, the study ranks British Columbia the most unequal province.

Durham, NC: Cop Shoots Self With His Own Gun In Stop, Then Charges Man With Assault

My 21 year-old cousin, Carlos Riley, Jr, was stopped by a cop in Durham, NC the other night.

During the stop, the cop shouted expletives, physically attacked Carlos, verbally threatened to kill him and attempted to draw his weapon to shoot at my cousin.

While attempting to draw his weapon, the cop shot himself in the leg. This is actually a common occurrence for police while drawing their weapons.

Georgia Abortion Law Blocked Temporarily By State Judge

ATLANTA -- A state judge has suspended a Georgia law banning abortions for women who are more than 20 weeks pregnant.

The law bans doctors from performing abortions five months after an egg is fertilized, except when doctors decide a fetus has a defect so severe it is unlikely to live. The law also makes an exception to protect the life or health of the mother, though that does not apply to a mother's mental health.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia filed a lawsuit on behalf of three obstetricians challenging the law's constitutionality. The organization says the law violates the state's privacy protections as provided for in the state constitution.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Doris Downs suspended the law Friday and it was set to take effect Jan. 1.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: AP

HSBC Sued By Atlanta-Area Counties Over Predatory Lending Claims

ATLANTA -- Three Atlanta-area counties have filed a lawsuit claiming that British bank HSBC cost them hundreds of millions of dollars in extra expenses and damage to their tax bases by aggressively signing minorities to housing loans that were likely to fail.

The Georgia counties' failure or success with the relatively novel strategy could help determine whether other local governments try to hold big banks accountable for losses in tax revenue based on what they claim are discriminatory or predatory lending practices. Similar lawsuits resulted in settlements this year worth millions of dollars for communities in Maryland and Tennessee.

Paul Krugman: Deficit Hawks Are 'Remarkably Foolish'

Paul Krugman is doubling down in his battle with deficit hawks.

The Nobel Prize-winning economist struck back at those who doubted his rationale for not being concerned about the budget deficit in a blog post Monday afternoon. Krugman described in a column in The New York Times that morning how The Wall Street Journal, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and others predicted that fears over rising U.S. government debt would spook investors. In reality, he noted, interest rates on U.S. government debt are at historic lows, indicating that investors aren’t worried about America’s ability to pay off its debt.

Canadian Miner Axmin Camp In Central African Republic Briefly Occupied By Rebels

TORONTO - Axmin Inc. (TSXV:AXM) says its operating camp based near Ndassima Village in the Central African Republic was temporarily occupied by rebels last Friday, but no casualties were reported.

Food, medical supplies and vehicles were taken by the rebels, who were believed en route to the major town of Bambari.

MADD Canada report calls for drug testing at roadside checks

Mothers Against Drunk Driving are calling on police officers to perform saliva tests at roadside checks, in an effort to combat driving under the influence of drugs as well as alcohol.

A recent report by two Western University law professors, prepared for MADD Canada, says drug-impaired driving is catching up to alcohol impairment, and may be even more common than drinking and driving among young people.

We need F-35s because Canada is worth defending

Amid the media and Parliamentary frenzy over the estimated $46-billion cost to replace Canada’s aging CF-18s with F-35 stealth fighters, a fundamental point has been missed entirely. The first and most important obligation of the government is the security of the country, its sovereignty and the safety and well-being of its citizens. Our politicians must do a better job of remembering this, especially since Canada is a particularly challenging country to secure. That means getting the best equipment possible.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Harper: Act now before Chief Theresa Spence dies

Chief Theresa Spence hasn't eaten in over 11 days. The weather has taken a big turn for the worse and her tent home on Victoria Island is far from ideal. With Christmas week upon us, there is a real danger that the war room gamers in the Prime Minister's office will think they can simply wait this one out. It would be a terrible miscalculation. Make no mistake, as Ottawa shuts down for the holidays, this hunger strike is entering a very volatile and high stakes phase.