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.]

Thursday, January 12, 2012

John McCain Blasts Citizens United Ruling

WASHINGTON -- Sen. John McCain says the Supreme Court ruling that led to formation of super PACs was "one of the worst decisions I have ever seen."

McCain, whose name has been synonymous with the push for campaign finance reform, also says, quoting, "I predict to you that there will be huge scandals associated with this huge flood of money."

McCain was referring to Citizens United, the court's 2010 ruling against limits on spending by independent organizations. The justices based their decision on freedom of speech principles.

A super PAC supporting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney ran negative ads against former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in Iowa. Gingrich says the spots substantially harmed his campaign. And Gingrich now is benefiting from similar spending by a group running anti-Romney ads in South Carolina.

Original Article
Source: Huff 

Pipeline has one backer in two days - Native elders oppose project

A lone intervener spoke out in favour of Enbridge Inc.'s $5.5-billion Northern Gateway pipelines during the first two days of a federal review, saying the project would bring economic, social and environmental diversification locally and worldwide.

It doesn't make sense to locate all economic development in large urban centres because increased population brings more pollution, Peter King, a resident of the nearby community of Kitimat, told a three-member panel on Wednesday at hearings in Kitamaat Village, a Haisla First Nation of 700 a short drive from the town where a tanker port is proposed to ship bitumen from the Alberta oilsands to refineries in Asia.

King was the only speaker - of 18 - who spoke in favour of the project during the opening of the hearings expected to run for 18 months.

King, 53, also questioned whether British Columbians had the right to deny access oil to countries like Japan, which is facing pressing energy needs following the tsunami that destroyed part of the country's nuclear energy capacity.

King also argued that oil can be transported safely from Kitimat through the Douglas Channel into the Pacific.

A pipefitter who worked for West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.'s pulp and paper mill for 34 years (the mill was closed in 2010), King now works at Rio Tinto Alcan's $2.7-billion aluminum smelter modernization.

MP pension changes urged

With the federal government potentially eyeing changes to public sector pensions, there are new calls to alter the pensions that members of Parliament receive.

Bill Robson the president and CEO of the C.D. Howe Institute, an economic policy think-tank, says the pensions that MPs get are no example for the rest of the country to follow, adding "it undermines the federal government's authority when it comes to leading pension reform."

"The kind of pension plan we should be promising our leaders should be somewhere in the middle — more generous than what the ordinary Canadian currently gets, but less generous than what the MPs are currently promising themselves," Robson said.

Roughly a third of Canadians have an employer-supported pension, and some of those employers will match employee contributions dollar for dollar to help them save for their retirement.

However, for every dollar MPs put into their pension, taxpayers contribute about $5.

City wants deadlock declared in contract talks, strike or lockout looms

The City of Toronto is asking a provincial mediator to declare a deadlock in its contract talks with unionized staff — a step closer to a winter lockout or strike.

Councillor Doug Holyday confirmed the move in an interview Thursday.

“I guess we weren’t getting any co-operation” in ongoing talks, Holyday said shortly before Mayor Rob Ford held a news conference to discuss the move in his City Hall office.

“I guess it’s just another step in the process. Hopefully it will get the two sides together.”

Contracts for about 32,000 City of Toronto workers in four unions expired New Year’s Day.

A city-requested provincial mediator started meeting with negotiators for the city and CUPE Local 416, representing 6,000 outside workers, on Monday. Earlier talks had broken down in mid-December.

The two sides met again this week and discussed bargaining dates, but the city now says no progress is being made.

If mediator Denise Small agrees and Ontario Labour Minister Linda Jeffrey issues what is called a “no board” report, 17 days after the day on that report the city can legally lock out the workers and the workers can legally strike.

The Ford administration is adamant the union give up safeguards ensuring any permanent employee made redundant by contracting out, or technological innovation, be found another job in the civil service.

CUPE 416 president Mark Ferguson is equally adamant workers won’t give up the hard-won job protection or other concessions being sought by the city, fuelling fears of a winter lockout or strike.

Earlier this month, Holyday told the Star the Ford administration believes that, if a work disruption is inevitable, it should happen soon, in the winter, rather than the summer when rotting garbage will stink up the tourist season.

Talks are ongoing between the city and CUPE Local 79, representing 23,000 inside workers, and are expected to start soon with the 2,300-member Toronto Public Library Workers Union.

Original Article
Source: Star 

Oil's value lies in profits, not costs

Yesterday, I tuned-in as the Globe hosted a Live Chat between the World Wildlife Fund’s Gerald Butts and former TransCanada CEO Hal Kvisle on Radicals, foreign money, and Northern Gateway. During the chat, Mr. Kvisle made what I found to be a puzzling comment:

“The assertion that KXL does not benefit Canadians is just wrong. When we develop and produce a barrel of Oil sands oil we spend about $80 per bbl to do that, and almost all that money gets spent in the Canadian economy.”

His assertion, at least as I interpreted it, was that the benefits of oil sands were tied to the production costs -- higher cost of production implies more benefit. That did not make sense coming from someone who had a distinguished career in the pipeline industry, which adds value because it can move oil to market at the lowest cost (unlike an oil bucket brigade), thereby increasing rents to the resource owner and netbacks/profits to the producer. I sought to clarify his comments:

“Mr. Kvisle, I find it astounding that you would equate higher oil production costs with higher benefits to Canadians. The higher are the costs of production, the lower is the value (of the resource). If we had vast oil sands resources which could only be produced at $200/bbl, they would not be of much value to the Canadian economy.” (my typos fixed from Live Chat)

I thought that surely he would come back to explain that he was talking only in terms of GDP within the oil sector and that, yes, in terms of broad economic benefit, the lower the production cost, the better. I was wrong. He responded as follows:

The Pipeline Will Hurt Our Economy

The battle lines are drawn, and Northern B.C.'s pristine wilderness is the latest front. With hearings underway into the proposed $5.5-billion, dual 1,172-kilometre Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project to transport bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to Kitimat and imported condensate to dilute it from the coast back to Alberta, the fossil fuel industry and its supporters have stepped up the rhetoric. Environmentalists and people in towns, rural areas, and First Nations communities in B.C. have lined up in opposition.

It's not just about potential damage from an oil spill along the pipeline route or from a supertanker plying the precarious fiords and waterways along our northern coast -- as critical as those concerns are. The larger issues are about our continued reliance on polluting fossil fuels and the economic impact of rapidly exploiting and selling our resources and resource industries.

It's about Canada's national interest. With lax royalty structures and massive subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, not to mention foreign ownership of tar sands operations and lobbying by foreign companies, Canadians are not enjoying the real benefits of our oil industry. In fact, increasing reliance on the tar sands is hurting other sectors of the economy, manufacturing in particular.

Thanks to the government's support for the fossil fuel industry, ours is a petro dollar that rises and falls with the price of oil. The high price of oil has increased our dollar's value, and that has hurt the more labour-intensive manufacturing sector, which relies on exports. Not only have hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs been lost over the past few years, Canada has also been missing out on opportunities to join the boom in production of renewable energy technology.

And when we build infrastructure such as pipelines to support the fossil fuel industry, we increase the incentive to use fossil fuels for a longer time and decrease the incentives to invest in cleaner energy.

A new NASA study predicts massive ecological changes for Canada's Prairies and boreal regions by the year 2100.

Those areas are in "hot spots" highly vulnerable to massive environmental changes this century due to global warming, the study states.

Much of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba is predicted to see major shifts northward of plant and animal species.

"By about 2100, the climate change projections that we have today would suggest that there would be pressure on that grassland so prevalent in [the Canadian Prairies] to move further northward — and at the expense of the forest moving further northward as well," said NASA climate scientist Duane Walliser, who spoke with CBC News from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Walliser said that all across the globe, whole ecological zones such as deserts and tundra will be on the move because of "unprecedented" warming at a pace faster than at any time in 10,000 years.

But Western Canada will be among the areas hardest hit.

Same-sex marriages of non-resident couples not legal: federal justice department

The Harper government is being accused of taking away same-sex rights by “stealth” in light of a surprise government stand that non-resident gay and lesbian couples who flocked to Canada to exchange vows really aren’t legally married after all.

“The narrow interpretation of the law shows that the Harper government is trying to take away same-sex rights by stealth, and Canadians need to know that the advances we thought were secure are now under threat from the Harper neo-conservatives,” Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae told the Star Thursday.

Thousands of same-sex marriages since 2004 involving couples from outside Canada are in limbo as result of a new position taken by the Conservative government. In a nutshell, government lawyers are arguing in court that if same-sex couples could not be legally married in their home country, then their Canadian wedding is not valid.

The revelation came when a lesbian couple — one from Florida and the other from the United Kingdom — married in 2005 filed for divorce in Toronto but was told by a Department of Justice lawyer that their marriage was not legal in Canada.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed Thursday to find out why the sudden change, but assured reporters that it is not a sign that his government is reopening the same-sex marriage debate.

“I will admit to you that I am unaware of the details,” Harper said following a news conference in Halifax. “This is I gather a case before the courts where Canadian lawyers have taken a particular position based on the law … I will be asking officials to provide me more details on this particular case.”

“As I have said before we have no intention of opening or reopening this issue,” he said.

NDP MP Olivia Chow said that Canada used to be a “beacon of hope” for gay and lesbian couples wanting to get married but now it is a “a laughing stock.”

Justice Minister vows to clarify laws on same-sex marriages

The federal government will consider changing the law to ensure non-residents married in Canada can obtain divorces, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Thursday afternoon.

Wading into a controversy that has quickly blown into an international cause célèbre, Mr. Nicholson made assurances the government “has no intention of reopening the debate on the definition of marriage.”

He said that under the current laws, the marriage in the case at the centre of the controversy cannot be dissolved in Canada in spite of the fact that the couple was wed in Toronto in 2005.

“I will be looking at options to clarify the law so that marriages performed in Canada can be undone in Canada,” Mr. Nicholson said.

Mr. Nicholson's statement gave immediate hope to married same-sex couples who are seeking a divorce but appeared to have no prospect of obtaining a one in Canada. However, it left one central question unanswered: Does the government consider their marriages to be legal, or not?

Despite efforts by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to quell the controversy, opposition had grown swiftly Thursday to the Justice Department’s position that thousands of same-sex couples who married in Canada were not legally wed.

Former Toronto mayor David Miller said the Harper government had embarrassed Canada in front of the world by upsetting the lives of same-sex couples who flocked to the city for marriages they were denied in their home countries.

Class Conflict Awareness Rose Significantly From 2009 To 2011: Report

Significantly more Americans see "very strong" or "strong" class conflict between the rich and poor, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center. The results show that Americans think that conflicts between the rich and poor are stronger than immigrant and native born, black and white and young and old.

In 2009, 47 percent of respondents said there were "very strong" or "strong" conflicts between the rich and poor. In 2011, 66 percent saw the same, possibly signaling that the "We are the 99 percent" rhetoric of Occupy Wall Street has had an impact. The ongoing economic recession also may have magnified class differences as income inequality has risen, continuing a trend occurring in American society since at least the 1970s.

Democrats in general -- and President Barack Obama in specific -- have also spoken out about income inequality. "Now, this kind of inequality -- a level that we haven't seen since the Great Depression -- hurts us all," Obama said in a December speech in Kansas. The GOP front-runner for the presidency, Mitt Romney, has in turn charged Obama with promulgating the "politics of envy" and said that discussions over the distribution of wealth were "fine" to talk about "in quiet rooms in discussions about tax policy."

Media mentions about income inequality have also risen significantly since the start of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Electro-Motive Lockout: Caterpillar's Aggressive Labour Strategy May Be A Sign Of Things To Come

LONDON, Ont. -- On an unseasonably balmy afternoon in January, a few hundred union members, local residents and their families descend on the picket line outside the Electro-Motive Diesel plant in this southern Ontario city, where workers are embroiled in one of the most cutthroat labour disputes in recent memory.

Billed as a “solidarity barbecue,” the event is intended to keep spirits high among Electro-Motive’s 420 CAW members, who have been locked out of the locomotive assembly plant since January 1 -- and likely will be for some time. Peoria, Ill.-based manufacturing giant Caterpillar, which owns the facility through its subsidiary Progress Rail, barricaded the plant when the union refused to accept a 55 per cent pay cut, a concession labour leaders describe as unprecedented.

As volunteers fire up hot dogs and hamburgers, organizers and politicians deliver impassioned speeches atop a makeshift stage, eliciting enthusiastic applause from the captive crowd and sporadic honking from passing motorists.

“Caterpillar underestimated not only the response of the labour movement but of the response of the community as a whole,” proclaimed Tim Carrie, the president of CAW Local 27, which represents the workers at the plant. “This fight will be going on for a while.”

But beneath the bravado, there is a nagging sense of fear on the line, where workers are getting a bone-chilling glimpse of what could be the new face of the manufacturing industry. As they told The Huffington Post, they’re only too aware that the opponent they’re staring down has deep pockets, transnational reach -- and, perhaps most menacingly, a possible alternative to the labour they provide.

It’s a scenario that has the union and its members caught between a rock and a very hard place.

An open letter on the proposed Enbridge pipeline

An open letter to my fellow Canadians

Hello friends,

We are under attack. By our own government, flanked by the oil industry. I don't know how else to describe it.

The logic of the Harper government -- and the "ethical oil" lobbyists our prime minister himself is parroting -- is so twisted, their arguments so convoluted, it makes the head spin. I am a writer, and words are failing me.

Let me try to explain.

Like so many other Canadian families, my parents were born elsewhere and moved to Canada at a young age. I was born here on the West Coast, and grew up under the canopy of ancient cedar trees. As a child I explored tide pools, climbed trees and mountains. To know a place well you've got to get your hands dirty, get it under your nails. This coast is my home, I know it well.

I grew up watching forests on Vancouver Island be clear-cut, mountains seemingly shaved from top to bottom. I wondered where the animals would go. I grew up at rallies and on picket-lines in Vancouver, with women and workers struggling for their rights. I learnt that you don't always win, but that speaking out can make a difference, and there is power in numbers.

And I've been speaking out, ever since I was 14 years old, for the kind of future I want to live in. A future that is more equitable, with ancient trees and wild spaces, where we treat each other and the land with respect and humility. I'm now 35. Harper twisted logic No.1 is that somehow foreign funding is telling me what to think and say. Sure, my activism has been shaped by people and cultures from around the world: my German refugee grandfather and independent British grandmother, my American grandparents who moved their family north to avoid a war, indigenous communities I've worked with in Mexico, an Ecuadorian agroforestry technician, a Kenyan sweatshop organizer, and so many more. I am frequently inspired by the writings and actions of courageous people around the world. But no source of funding -- Canadian or other -- is going to dictate what I say or do. Ask anyone who knows me; I've never been shy to share my opinion or to speak up for what I believe in.

U.K. spies escape criminal charges for detainee torture

ONDON—British spies escaped immediate criminal charges over torture complicity Thursday, but the country's top prosecutor ordered a new investigation into claims that intelligence shared with Moammar Gadhafi's regime led to the torture or rendition of Libyans.

Prosecutors have been investigating claims of mistreatment by detainees who were eventually sent to the United States prison in Guantanamo, Cuba. Most of the torture allegations come from terror suspects who were either initially held in Pakistan and Afghanistan, or sent to other countries such as Morocco for interrogation.

Although the investigation into specific claims of collusion has ended, authorities said new evidence could force criminal investigations to be reopened. Civil actions may also emerge.

The agents have been accused of passing on information about detainees to their foreign captors but not of direct abuse.

The criminal investigation began in 2008 after former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohammed alleged that Britain was aware of his torture.

Mohamed, an Ethiopian who moved to Britain as a teenager and initially held in Pakistan, says he was also sent by the U.S. to Morocco where he was interrogated and brutally tortured. He alleges that he told an MI5 officer of his mistreatment in 2002.

Elizabeth Warren Raised $5.7 Million in 3 Months. But Can She Beat Brown?

A month into her Senate campaign, Elizabeth Warren is at Tito's Bakery in Chelsea, Massachusetts, finding her sea legs. It's her first-ever appearance in this Boston suburb, meaning she's now officially spent as much time here as Martha Coakley, whose hapless showing in the January 2010 special Senate election against Republican Scott Brown is the reason Warren is running in the first place.

Warren schmoozes with the Argentine-born owners—"I loooooove bakeries," she says, with a slight Oklahoma drawl—and listens, arms folded, as a local recounts Chelsea's transition from affluent suburb to immigrant enclave. Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, eases patrons in and out of the conversation as if she's directing traffic, her eyes widened in a look of perpetual concern.

"Partly we are all subject to the whole influences of history," Warren jumps in, slipping briefly into lecture hall mode. "But it's also a decision by government: China is investing in infrastructure, building more roads and more bridges. Last year China spent 9 percent of GDP on infrastructure. The US is at 2.5 percent. The implications of that over five years—over 20 years—will be devastating."

The real foreign interests in the oilsands

If there were a global competition for the most brazen and preposterously transparent attempt by a ruling political party to change a necessary subject of national debate with alarmist distractions and hubbub, the Conservative escapade engineered in Ottawa these past few days really deserves some kind of grand prize.

First it was Prime Minister Stephen Harper himself, carrying on about some sort of conspiracy involving jet-setting American radical billionaire eco-saboteurs who are intent upon blocking Canada's vital bitumen semi-fluids by ambuscading the Enbridge pipeline hearings that began this week in the Haisla village of Kitimat on British Columbia's north coast.

Then Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver got in on the act. "These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda. ... They use funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada's national economic interest." A problem: when he went dredging around for evidence, Oliver came up with a two-month delay in approving some skating pond in Banff National Park. Then he tried backtracking. He'd suddenly found himself keeping company with conspiracy theorists who like making dirty insinuations about Ducks Unlimited. You had to feel sorry for the guy.

But if we're seriously supposed to be going all villagers-with-torches about foreign outfits with weird ideologies undermining Canada's national economic interests, let's review what's really going on, shall we?

The $5.5-billion Enbridge pipeline project is all about sending Alberta bitumen in huge oil tankers to China. Beijing's own state enterprises are among the project's major backers, and Beijing has been buying up Alberta's oilpatch at such a dizzying pace lately it's hard to keep up. In the spring of 2010, China's state-owned Sinopec Corp. took a $4.65-billion piece of Syncrude. Then the China Investment Corporation, which is run by the Chinese Communist Party, took possession of a $1.25-billon share of Penn West Petroleum. Last summer, the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation gobbled up Opti Canada for $2.34 billion. And so on.

Department mum on $10-billion lawsuit by Saskatchewan First Nation

REGINA — The Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Department (AAND) is reserving comment in regard to the $10-billion lawsuit filed by the George Gordon First Nation.

According to Genevieve Guibert, AAND spokeswoman, the department is aware of the legal action filed by the George Gordon First Nation and will review the Statement of Claim once it is received.

"Our position will be outlined in our statement of defence, which will be filed with the court in due course," Guilbert said Wednesday. "As this is a legal matter it would be inappropriate to comment further."

The First Nation is suing the federal and provincial governments for $10 billion, claiming it is being "cheated out of" on potash and oil developments.

In the suit served on Tuesday, the First Nation alleges Canada and Saskatchewan improperly denied it access to billions of dollars worth of potash and oil and gas lands through misconduct by both levels of government during the George Gordon Treaty Land Entitlement Settlement Agreement process. The agreement was entered into by all three parties on Aug. 11, 2008.

"The general tenor of the lawsuit is that George Gordon First Nation, like many First Nations in Saskatchewan, are still owed land by Canada and Saskatchewan and before disposing of valuable oil and gas or potash lands to third parties . . . that there's an obligation on the governments to find out from the First Nations whether they are interested in acquiring those lands first, which they did not do," said Jeffrey R. W. Rath, an Alberta-based lawyer, who is representing the First Nation.

The province intends to fight the action.

"At this point, I can just say that we are confident in the province's constitutional authority to be able to manage and control the natural resources of the province, and we'll be defending the lawsuit vigorously," Linsay Rabyj, communications director at Saskatchewan Justice, said Tuesday.

Original Article
Source: Ottawa Citizen 

To boost Tory papers, foreign money wanted

On the subject of foreign money and its incursion (Gateway pipeline) into Canadian affairs, it was interesting to note a little item in The Globe and Mail the other day.

It said Postmedia, the giant newspaper chain, has initiated a lobbying effort to have the Harper government allow more foreign investment in Canadian newspaper ownership.

That got tongues wagging as in, ‘Hello Rupert Murdoch, welcome to the great white north.’

The Harper government, as we know, is loosening foreign investment rules for the telecommunications industry. It makes sense that it might wish to do the same for the newspaper business.

Postmedia is looking for someone with deep pockets to invest in or buy up some of its properties. The Canadian market is hardly ideal. For one thing there’s a paucity of players with big bucks. For another there’s the presence of Postmedia’s ideological opposite, the Torstar Corp. That Liberal bastion has been in the bidding for Postmedia titles in the past and might very well have its eyes on the print prizes this time.

Environment Canada to get rid of 60 scientists

OTTAWA — Environment Canada is sending notices to 60 scientists and other researchers that their jobs are being declared surplus.

Gary Corbett, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, confirmed his union was notified by the department that surplus notices would be going out this week. They are fallout from the department’s announcement last August that it would be cutting or reassigning 776 people — which is about 10 per cent of the workforce.

But Corbett said the department is under “strict orders” not to reveal precisely what work these surplus scientists are doing. They broadly include engineers, scientists, biologists, climatologists, and chemical analysts from across the country, including 18 or so in the national capital region. They work in areas such as pollution, monitoring water quality, and climate research.

“This exercise is all about money and a government obsessed with the bottom line,” said Corbett.

“While the government pays lip service to protecting the interests of all Canadians, it continues to target science-based departments, the front line, when it comes to protecting our environment and health of our citizens,” he said.

Unions’ purpose at stake

The labour standoff at London's Electro-Motive Diesel clearly illustrates the threat unions face in the evolving global market, a Canadian labour analyst says.

Charlotte Yates, McMaster University's dean of social sciences and a labour studies professor, said the Canadian Auto Workers and other unions may appear to be impotent when companies table take-it-or-leave-it contracts under the threat of closing and moving operations to cheaper markets.

EMD parent company Caterpillar, which owns the locomotive factory, through its Progress Rail Services subsidiary, hasn't threatened to close the plant if London workers don't accept a wage-slashing final contract offer.

Still, many workers fear their jobs will be moved to Progress Rail's under-used factory in Muncie, Ind., where workers are paid less than half that of London workers.

"About 20 years ago, (former CAW president) Bob White said something along the lines of, 'You don't need a union if it's to help you march backwards,' " Yates said. "The idea of a union's goal to move forward is being challenged when they're being told to accept it or we'll relocate."

Canada to deport alleged Rwandan war criminal despite UN

Canadian authorities will deport Léon Mugesera, an alleged Rwandan war criminal, in spite of a postponement request from the United Nations committee against torture.

The UN committee asked Canada to delay Mugesera's deportation, after the former Rwandan politician's legal team lobbied the commission to investigate claims that he could face possible torture or death if he is sent back to his native country.

Officials with the federal Department of Public Security confirmed Wednesday night that they will go ahead and execute the deportation order.

It's not clear when that will actually happen — Mugesera's scheduled deportation will likely be delayed after he suffered a medical crisis Wednesday afternoon that put him in a Quebec City hospital.
His legal team told CBC News that doctors at the Centre Hospitalier de l'Université Laval (CHUL) won't let Mugesera fly until his medical situation is resolved.

The UN's intervention came at the 11th hour of Mugesera's anticipated Thursday afternoon deportation.

Justice Michel Shore denied Mugesera's appeal for a delay on his deportation order earlier Wednesday in a Montreal courtroom.

Despite legal about-face, Harper has ‘no intention’ of reopening gay marriage

The Harper government has served notice that thousands of same-sex couples who flocked to Canada from abroad since 2004 to get married are not legally wed.

But speaking in Halifax Thursday, the Prime Minister said the issue was not on the agenda for his majority Conservatives. “We have no intention of further re-opening or opening this issue,” Stephen Harper told reporters when asked about The Globe and Mail’s report.

The reversal of federal policy is revealed in a document filed in a Toronto test case launched recently by a lesbian couple seeking a divorce. Wed in Toronto in 2005, the couple have been told they cannot divorce because they were never really married – a Department of Justice lawyer says their marriage is not legal in Canada since they could not have lawfully wed in Florida or England, where the two partners reside.

“In terms of the specifics of the story this morning, I will admit to you that I am not aware of the details,” Mr. Harper said. “This I gather is a case before the courts where Canadian lawyers have taken a particular position based on the law and I will be asking officials to provide me more details”

The government’s hard line has cast sudden doubt on the rights and legal status of couples who wed in Canada after a series of court decisions opened the floodgates to same-sex marriage. The mechanics of determining issues such as tax status, employment benefits and immigration have been thrown into legal limbo.

The two women – professionals in the their early 30s – cannot be identified under a court order. But Martha McCarthy, a prominent Toronto lawyer who represents them, said the government’s about-face is astonishing.

Let’s hear it for parliamentary gridlock

Oh dear. We seem to be having a Mussolini moment.

You remember Mussolini. Big guy. Bit of a bully. Had a thing for uniforms. Some people didn’t like how he did this or that but, hey, he made the trains run on time.

That’s the usual defence of hyper-centralized power. It may not be ideal but it sure gets things done. And when times are uncertain, that’s a lot better than the alternative.

And so we have government House Leader Peter Van Loan telling Canadians they’re lucky the federal government is the most centralized in the Western world, that Parliament has been emasculated, that one man runs the show. Look at the Europeans. Look at the Americans. They don’t have our “il Duce” model. And they’re circling the drain. The conclusion is obvious.

“Anybody who suggests that we shouldn’t be making decisions is really inviting the kind of political gridlock that you’ve seen elsewhere and is so harmful economically,” Van Loan told Canadian Press.

Gridlock. Is there any word more frightening? Let’s all cheer for the big man who makes the big decisions and keep the trains running on time.

The same theme emerged recently in National Post articles about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s plan to reform the Senate.

The plan “would set a non-renewable nine-year time limit and prescribe a process where provinces and territories could elect senators who would then be considered for appointment,” reported Kathryn Blaze Carlson. “Some political analysts suggest ... Canada could well be headed for an American-style system characterized by gridlock and an unprecedented competition between two bodies that could be controlled by different parties.”

What 'Right to Work' Means for Indiana's Workers: A Pay Cut

For the past year, public employees around the country have been under attack. With collective bargaining cast as a fiscal issue, private sector workers are encouraged to vent their economic frustrations at lazy government clerks living high on the hog off others’ hard-earned tax dollars. “We can no longer live in a society,” Scott Walker, then governor-elect of Wisconsin, argued, “where the public employees are the haves and taxpayers who foot the bills are the have-nots.”

But it turns out that the same forces that bankrolled the attack on public employees have also been advancing an agenda to eliminate unions for private sector workers.

Twenty-two states—predominantly in the old Confederacy —already have “right to work” laws, mostly dating from the McCarthy era. “Right to work” (RTW) does not guarantee anyone a job. Rather, it makes it illegal for unions to require that each employee who benefits from the terms of a contract pay his or her share of the costs of administering it. By making it harder for workers’ organizations to sustain themselves financially, RTW aims to undermine unions’ bargaining strength and eventually render them extinct.

With the Republican sweep of state legislatures in 2010, a coalition of corporate lobbies, right-wing ideologues and Republican operatives seized the moment to fulfill their long-sought goal of extending RTW into traditionally union-friendly parts of the country.

In 2011, RTW was promoted in a dozen states, but adopted in none. As the new year gets underway, national attention has focused on Indiana as the best hope of anti-union lobbyists. Republicans have comfortable majorities in both houses of the Indiana legislature, and Governor Mitch Daniels is eager to sign a RTW bill. In March 2011, Democrats defeated RTW by fleeing the state—spending five weeks holed up in an Illinois hotel to prevent a legislative quorum. They returned only after Republicans promised that RTW would not be reintroduced in 2011.

Toronto budget: Mike Del Grande’s candid chat about social programs

Councillor Mike Del Grande, Mayor Rob Ford’s budget chief, last summer described in blunt terms his “tough love” opposition to some city-funded social programs, including school meals for low-income kids.

Del Grande defended a proposed $400,000 cut to student breakfast programs — he recently and unexpectedly started to oppose the cut — during an hour-long, Aug. 10 city hall chat with then-constituent Hakim Kassam, who recorded it on his iPhone.

“I don’t support the way that’s funded because if we’re going to do breakfast in schools, to me personally, if you have children you’re responsible for children,” Del Grande said in the recording provided by Kassam to the Star.

“The nation is not supposed to be in the bedrooms of the people. But then when you come out of the bedroom and you have children, why is it the state’s responsibility to look after your children? I didn’t tell you to wear a condom or not wear a condom or how many children — you made that decision.”

Kassam, who asked Del Grande (Ward 38, Scarborough Agincourt) for the meeting, did not tell Del Grande he was taping it. He said he recorded it for personal reference and, with the 2012 budget headed to council next week, re-listened to it last week, “to see if there was anything noteworthy involved.” He decided to make it public because he fears socially conservative views helped shape the budget Del Grande and other executive committee members will vote upon Thursday.

Del Grande “isn’t a bad person, per se. He genuinely thinks what he’s doing is the right thing for the city,” said Kassam, who works for a food-centred non-profit and did some work on the Joe Pantalone mayoral campaign. “But I think what he’s doing is fundamentally damaging to Toronto.”

Del Grande did not respond to Star e-mails and calls to his office.

Stephen Harper apes Republican nuttiness

I am disappointed at the emergence of Mitt Romney as the most likely Republican presidential nominee. I was rooting, by turn, for Michelle Bachman, Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich.

Any one of them as the nominee would have suffered the same fate as Barry Goldwater in 1964 — wiped out by Lyndon Johnson, who also won the House for the Democrats. That landslide jolted moderate Republicans into reclaiming their party from the racist rump that had taken control of it.

A similar cleansing is in order, given the nuttiness of the party’s current rank and file. An electoral drubbing would also be beneficial for Canada, discrediting the Stephen Harper policies that have been drawn from extremist Republican theology. These include:

 • Opposing gun controls and curbing global warming.

 • Cutting taxes for corporations and the rich on the discredited theory that they would create jobs.

 • Decrying big government while merrily milking it for pork barrelling in targeted constituencies, funding friendly groups and splurging on big-ticket military procurement — thereby racking up deficits.

 • Spending billions on jails when crime rates are at a 25-year low.

 • Ignoring expert opinion, be it on climate change, taxation, incarceration or a scientific national census.

 • Destroying political opponents with negative ads and being vindictive with critical NGOs, charities and think-tanks by cutting off their funding or questioning their patriotism (as in the current attacks on opponents of the Northern Gateway pipeline).

 • Legislating private financing of elections so that the public interest is surrendered to those who can buy politicians and political parties.

 • Giving blind support to Israel, demonizing Palestinians and declaring Iran to be the biggest threat to world peace making it a suitable target of war.

China is prime beneficiary of Enbridge pipeline

Not long ago (in historical terms) the Government of Canada launched a national energy program in response to the 1973 oil crisis.

The objective was to promote Canadian ownership of our oil resources and to develop alternative energy sources. Events did not turn out as anticipated. Global oil prices collapsed and the program triggered a constitutional conflict between national and provincial authorities.

The program was abandoned and the field was once again dominated by global corporate giants such as Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, and BP.

Foreign money in Canada’s petroleum resource industry is not a new phenomenon. What is a new is that another national energy program, that of the People’s Republic of China, is gaining a growing interest and control over Canada’s oil resources.

The Enbridge Northern Gateway Project is a proposal for a crucial connection between Alberta’s bituminous sand deposits (often referred to as oil or tar sands) and the Pacific region.

Without extensive foreign investment in the exploitation of Canada’s oil resources, a project such as the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline could not be imagined.

The Enbridge project is controversial not because of the sources of its financing, pro or con.

It is controversial because of the high energy consumption and environmental risks associated with extracting oil from bituminous sand, the risks to northwest British Columbia rivers and streams from possible pipeline breaks or leakages, and the risks associated with oil super tanker traffic in Northern Pacific inlets.

Tapping the Unbanked Market

Wireless carriers, money-transfer vendors, and other stakeholders are poised to bring mobile banking services to North America's unbanked.

This is Part 2 of a two-part series exploring the opportunity to service the large unbanked and underbanked population in North America through innovative new banking services. Part 1discussed the need for “mobile wallets” in North America, and how they could benefit lower-income communities in the same region. Part 2 takes a closer look at the stakeholders that are poised to offer mobile banking services.

Post economic downturn, there is a healthy demand for prepaid cash services in the United States. In 2012, $118.5 billion will be loaded onto prepaid cards, accounting for 650 per cent growth since 2009. Establishing a light mobile wallet will grow this existing market and add valuable services to the U.S. economy, helping members of the lower-income, cash-dependent community build and protect their wealth while avoiding fees associated with traditional banking services.

According to a Federal Reserve Bank publication from 2010, “Unbanked consumers spend approximately 2.5 to 3 percent of a government benefits check and between 4 percent and 5 percent of payroll check just to cash them.” Clearly, there is a need for services that would reduce this “poverty tax” on unbanked consumers. But what solutions are currently on the table, and which players in the value chain are motivated to champion mobile-cash services?

A Future for Public Diplomacy?

With memories of Canadian leadership on global issues receding, renewed commitment under the Tories will be an uphill battle.

In a recent article on The Mark, I demonstrated that the paradigm for the delivery of Canadian international policy shifted fundamentally during the 1980s and ’90s. Over the course of those years, there was a deliberate move away from an emphasis on traditional, state-to-state interaction, and toward public diplomacy (PD). PD is a form of international political exchange that features diplomats communicating directly with foreign populations and cultivating partnerships with civil-society actors – NGOs, businesspeople, journalists, and academics. As I discussed before, the PD formula, in conjunction with the right combination of political will and bureaucratic skill, can produce impressive results, especially if directed towards projects with broad popular and media appeal, such as a land-mine ban or efforts to improve the lot of children in conflict zones.

Looking back, it can be seen that Canadian PD reached its apogee during Lloyd Axworthy’s years as foreign minister (1996-2000). At a time of severe government-wide cost-cutting, Canada fundamentally downsized its international ambitions, but that exercise was not translated into a retreat from the field. To be sure, the large-scale, long-range, potentially world-changing projects of the post-war decades – poverty eradication, conflict resolution, and global environmental conservation – were gone. In their place, Canadian officials proposed a series of special projects – such as curbs on the trading of “blood” diamonds and small arms – designed for implementation within media-friendly diplomatic niches. They did not always succeed, but each initiative featured a defined start and finish. Upon completion, the foreign minister could simply call a press conference, declare victory, and move on.

Axworthy very quickly learned how the use of soft power could make a virtue of necessity. Conventional diplomacy was still necessary, but it was no longer sufficient when it came to influencing foreign governments. That influence was best brought to bear through their publics, and through international public opinion, especially when compulsion was not an option and democratization had expanded the scope for exercising influence indirectly.

Why not end the Northern Gateway in Prince Rupert?

It wasn’t a week after Barack Obama put the Keystone XL oil pipeline on ice for a couple of years that the Canadian proponent of the project made a somewhat surprising announcement.

TransCanada offered to reroute the pipeline around the ecologically sensitive Sand Hills area of Nebraska that had become the epicentre of opposition to the proposal. TransCanada’s new position left many perplexed; why hadn’t the company made that offer from the beginning?

The answer is money. Changing the path would mean adding an extra 65 kilometres of pipe and tens of millions of dollars to the bottom line. TransCanada decided to go direct – and cheap – and, in the process, badly miscalculated the environmental conflict its proposed route would generate. And by gambling that it could overcome any protests, TransCanada may now have lost the opportunity altogether.

I mention this as the National Energy Board hearings into Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline get under way near Kitimat, B.C. The project is Canada’s own Keystone, and the hostility toward it is being framed in the same grandiose terms: the biggest environmental showdown Canada has witnessed in generations.

From the outset, concern has centred on Enbridge’s plans to take the pipeline across northern B.C. to Kitimat, where gargantuan oil tankers would come to collect the Alberta crude and then take it out through the narrow Douglas Channel before hitting the open ocean and the far-off Asian markets for which the oil is primarily intended.

New Study on Municipal Funding for the Arts

Toronto falls far behind large Canadian cities inmunicipal arts investment

Hill Strategies Research released a report today, Municipal Cultural Investment in Five Large Canadian Cities, comparing funding in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

Investment by Toronto City Council ranks lowest by a wide margin -
per capita investment in each city is, from highest to lowest:
Montreal: $55
Vancouver: $47
Calgary: $42
Ottawa: $28
Toronto: $19

“Throughout major international cultural centres, municipal arts funding is key to maintaining a thriving creative city, attractive to residents and tourists alike. We are at the tipping point; this study clearly demonstrates that Toronto risks losing its position as Canada’s go-to city for arts and culture.” noted Claire Hopkinson, Executive Director of Toronto Arts Council.

The impact of cultural investment is felt throughout Toronto’s economy, much of which is dependent upon a vibrant arts sector. The arts and culture industry contributes $9 billion to Toronto’s local economy and supports 130,000 jobs.

In May 2011, Toronto City Council affirmed the critical importance of arts and culture funding when it unanimously endorsed the Creative Capital Gains report. The report recommends increasing Toronto’s arts funding to $25 per capita.

In contradiction of this unanimous decision, the 2012 City Operating Budget, approved by Budget Committee yesterday, recommends a reduction in Toronto’s arts and culture grants by $2 million and additional reductions to the city’s department of Economic Development and Culture. Given that every dollar invested by the city in grants to arts organizations in Toronto leverages an additional $17 in funding from other sources this will have the direct effect of reducing investment in Toronto by $25 million.

Tensions between U.S., Iran rise with killing of another Iranian nuclear scientist

Amid escalating threats, the covert war to thwart Iran’s efforts to get nuclear weapons took an ugly – if gruesomely familiar – turn Wednesday with the murder of a young Iranian nuclear scientist on a Tehran street.

It was the fourth such reported targeted assassination in two years, adding a dangerous new element to the escalating conflict over Iran’s refusal to rein in its nuclear program or to open it to international inspection.

Wednesday’s killing in North Tehran was similar to previous attacks. Using powerful magnets, a motorcyclist attached a small delayed-action bomb to a car carrying Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, a nuclear scientist and university professor.

The explosion killed the 32-year-old chemistry professor, who worked at the sprawling Natanz nuclear facility, and another person in the car, reports said. The pinpoint attack focused the blast into the car during the morning rush hour.

Despite his relative youth, some Iranian reports said the professor was a senior official at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility. Iran’s Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said there was “evidence of [foreign] government-sponsored terrorism.”

There were similar targeted killings of Iranian nuclear scientists in January and November of 2010, and bombs have injured others.

The United States and Iran have ratcheted up hostilities in recent weeks, accusing each other of being sponsors of state terrorism as Tehran has threatened to close the vital sea lanes of the Straits of Hormuz, while Western nations have urged tough new sanctions to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

B.C. coast is hostile country for oil, pipeline panel told

When the sun shines, it brings to life a stunning vista of snow-capped mountains and deep ocean inlets that surround the northern British Columbia town of Kitimat.

But in a place that could one day serve as a nexus for sending Canadian oil-sands crude to Asia and California, the imposing scenery is often matched by savage winds, earthquakes, avalanches and deluges of precipitation that set loose rock and mud slides.

It is not a simple place to put the terminus of a pipeline – a point that opponents of the Northern Gateway project sought to bring home on Wednesday before a federal review panel seeking public input in hearings that began this week in northern B.C.

Amid the raucous debate inspired by Northern Gateway, which has drawn the ire of some first nations and environmental groups, the forbidding geography of northern British Columbia stands to pose enough risks that the pipeline and tanker plan should be reconsidered.

“It is dangerous, to say the very least,” said Dieter Wagner, an avid sailor. Prior problems, he added, “should convince any reasonable person that this is an insane route to take.”

Those who spoke at the hearings on Wednesday drew on decades of experience in the area to question how a pipeline, and the supertankers it would fill, could operate safely in such severe conditions.

Breastfeeding Pics Pulled From B.C. Woman's Facebook

A Vancouver mother is calling foul after Facebook pulled pictures of her breastfeeding off its website, calling the photos sexually explicit.

Emma Kwasnica, a breastfeeding advocate, said the social networking website recently pulled two pictures of her daughters — now two and four years old — being breastfed because they contravene the site's strict no-nudity policy.

"The most recent time it happened is when I logged in Saturday morning and there was a message, a clear message, saying that, 'We have removed sexually explicit content from your account,'" she said.

Kwasnica said Facebook is discriminating against nursing mothers, something she calls outrageous.

"I really don't understand the issue with this. The World Health Organization suggests that babies and children should be breastfed up to two years of age minimum and beyond as long as mutually desirable for the mother and child," she said.

"In public policy, everyone pressures women — breastfeeding is great, you need to breastfeed — but then when women do, they're told that's disgusting or that's gross."

The Enbridge Pipeline: The "Largest and Most Insidious Threat to Our Culture."

Recently there has been a lot of criticism by supporters of the tar sands and oil industry front groups of Canadian non-profit organizations who have concerns regarding the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project, and the fact that they receive support from U.S. philanthropic foundations., and Our, oil industry front groups with close ties to the Prime Minister's office, recently launched attack ads in northern communities, where opposition to the Enbridge project is fiercest.

This desperate attempt to change the minds and hearts of the hundreds of thousands of people who oppose this project is driven by more than concern for our home and native land. It is being driven by greed and desperation.

The foreign interest groups Canadians should really be concerned about are the Chinese oil companies investing billions in the tar sands, and the multinational oil companies like Shell and British Petroleum, who are investing $200 million trying to sell Canadians on this astoundingly stupid idea.

Ezra Levant, Stephen Harper, and Minister Oliver should study history a bit. The First Nations of Northern B.C. including the Haisla, who live in the Kitimat Village, have been fighting to protect this coast for decades. This proposed project is just one of many we will have ended up stopping. The insinuation that northern communities -- and especially First Nations -- can be bought by U.S. interests is paternalistic and insulting; if not some new iteration of hypocrisy that can only be characterized as soft-core racism.

US marines accused of war crimes

US forces in Afghanistan are facing fresh accusations of war crimes after film emerged which appears to show American marines urinating on dead bodies and laughing.

The US military command in Kabul, which was severely embarrassed last year by revelations that Americans soldiers were running a "kill squad" murdering Afghan civilians, said it would investigate the undated video, and that if it proved to be authentic, desecration of corpses would be regarded as a serious crime. Despoiling of the dead is illegal under the Geneva conventions as well as under US military law.

In the graphic short video, four soldiers in combat gear and carrying weapons are seen acting in unison as they urinate on three bloodied corpses. One of the soldiers sighs with relief, another says "yeah" and a third laughs. One remarks: "Have a great day, buddy". Another says: "Golden, like a shower".
A fifth soldier films the incident.

The video was posted anonymously on Wednesday along with a caption that said: "scout sniper team 4 with 3rd battalion 2nd marines out of camp lejeune peeing on dead talibans".

Google Should Face Federal Trade Commission Probe Over New Personalized Search, Privacy Group Says

Criticism of Google's new social search function ramped up on Thursday, with a prominent privacy watchdog group suggesting the U.S. Federal Trade Commission should investigate the company over privacy and antitrust concerns.

Google introduced big changes to its search function earlier this week, when it began incorporating content from the company's social networking site, Google+, into search results.

For Google+ users, who may number between 40 million and 60 million, search results will now be customized to their particular interests and will include photos and comments from their Google+ connections. The new function, called 'Search Plus Your World', is being marketed as an improved search method that will tailor results to each individual.

But not everyone is enthused about the move. On a statement on its website, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) criticized Google for changing search results to favor its content and raised concerns about the impact on consumer privacy.

From EPIC's statement:
"Although data from a user's Google+ contacts is not displayed publicly, Google's changes make the personal data of users more accessible. Users can opt out of seeing personalized search results, but cannot opt out of having their information found through Google search."

Mitt Romney: Questions About Wall Street, Income Inequality Are Driven By 'Envy'

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney claimed concerns about Wall Street, financial institutions and income inequality were the result of "envy."

Romney -- who won the New Hampshire primary Tuesday night -- attacked President Barack Obama for promulgating the "politics of envy" during a Wednesday interview with Matt Lauer on NBC's "The Today Show." Though his attack was mainly directed at the president, Romney's "envy" remark came after Lauer asked about the concerns of "anyone who has questions about the distribution of wealth and power in this country."

"I think it's about envy. I think it's about class warfare," Romney said. "I think when you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on 99 percent versus one percent... you've opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of 'one nation under God.'"

The GOP hopeful also said it wasn't necessary to have a public debate about the inequality of wealth distribution in this country, and claimed Obama's focus on this issue was just "part of his campaign rally."

"I think it's fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like," Romney said. "But the president has made this part of his campaign rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It's a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it'll fail."

During a separate appearance Wednesday morning, Romney admitted he has "an uphill climb" ahead of him in South Carolina, where he finished fourth in the 2008 presidential race.

Original Article
Source: Huff  

Guantanamo Bay 10th Anniversary: Obama's Detention Law Could Fill Prison Obama Tried To Close

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama failed two years ago to close the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison, and with Wednesday marking the 10th anniversary of its creation, debate is raging over whether a law he signed will ensure it will stay open for decades to come, jailing even United States citizens.

Tucked into the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which Obama signed on New Year's Eve, are provisions that appear to allow indefinite military detention of American terrorism suspects, and to require it of suspected foreign enemies.

The Obama administration insists the law merely codifies existing standards, but its strong supporters and vehement opponents are sure it does much more, legally enshrining for the first time in 60 years the authority to hold citizens without trial.

"We're no longer in the box of having to read Miranda rights to terrorists who come to America to try to kill us," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an author of the bill who praised its passage on his website earlier this month.

"Homegrown terrorism is a real threat," he said. "There are a lot of people being radicalized on the Internet. So if someone goes to Pakistan as an American citizen, gets radicalized in a madrassa and comes back here and starts attacking Americans, I want to make sure they're held for intelligence-gathering purposes and they're not read their Miranda rights but they're held by the military, the CIA, and the FBI to find out, 'Is another attack coming?'"

U.S. Marines Urinate On Dead Bodies In Afghanistan

The U.S. Marine Corps has launched an investigation into a video that purports to show American Marines urinating on the dead bodies of Taliban members.

The video, posted on YouTube, shows four Marines peeing on three dead bodies lying in the dust in front of them. In the 40-second film, the soldiers are laughing, and one of the Marines jokes, "Have a great day buddy." A second man is heard saying, "Golden, like a shower."

The men in the video are not identified. A caption on YouTube says the men are part of the "Scout Sniper Team 4 with 3rd battalion 2nd marines out of camp lejeune." A senior Marine Corps official told CNN that the men are wearing helmets typical for the Marine corps sniper teams and that their rifles are 30-caliber sniper rifles.

The video also has been brought to the attention of the Marine Corps headquarters.

"While we have not yet verified the origin or authenticity of this video, the actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps," ABC quotes an official statement. "This matter will be fully investigated."

"Regardless of the circumstances or who is in the video, this is egregious, disgusting behavior," Department of Defense spokesman Capt. John Kirby told CNN. "It's hideous. It turned my stomach."

Original Article
Source: Huff 

MPs have ‘duty’ to debate rights of unborn, backbench Tory argues

Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth has restated his interest in examining the point at which a person becomes a human being, saying he will decide in February how to open that discussion in Parliament.

It is a debate that could have profound ramifications for access to abortion.

“My inclination is that I probably will be looking at a motion,” Mr. Woodworth said in a telephone interview on Wednesday after issuing a second news release to state his opposition to Canadian law which declares babies to be human at the moment they have fully emerged from the birth canal.

“Where I want to end up is to just remind Parliament of its duty in this case, its duty to inform itself,” he said. The MP for Kitchener-Centre in Southwestern Ontario said it is a “foundational principle in Canada that we don’t say people are human if we know they are.”

As with his first release on the subject, which was issued in December, the missive sent to reporters by Mr. Woodworth on Wednesday did not mention the word abortion.

ORNGE air ambulance service now run by Ontario deputy minister

The dream of getting rich at ORNGE air ambulance ended Wednesday as high-paid executives got pink slips, a series of mysterious for-profit companies were shuttered and well-paid board members were given the boot.

The new president at the publicly funded agency is Ron McKerlie, a deputy minister in government services who regularly lectures on accountability. Health Minister Deb Matthews told the Star she put McKerlie there and made other changes because she was not pleased with ORNGE’s transparency in the weeks following a Star exposé.

“It became abundantly clear there were issues at ORNGE that required new leadership,” Matthews said.

An ongoing Star investigation has found that top executives at ORNGE, which gets $150 million in taxpayers money a year, had set up a warren of for-profit companies in what they described as an attempt to “leverage” the public assets of a service that was created to fly sick and injured Ontario residents to hospital. Meanwhile, the Star had learned that ORNGE was late to some emergency calls and failed to provide proper coverage in certain parts of the province. ORNGE will not answer questions by the Star about those calls. Ministry of Health investigators are probing them now.

McKerlie, in a speech to bureaucrats, once said that “without accountability you can’t transform and modernize government.”