Democracy Gone Astray

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Refugees will die if health care cuts go ahead Ontario nurses say

Ontario nurses are urging the Harper government to scrap its plans to reduce health care coverage for refugee claimants or face the fact people will die.

Ottawa announced in April it will strip thousands of refugees of health-care coverage starting in July unless their conditions pose a threat to public health.

“Ontario’s nurses, like health-care professionals from across the country, are gravely concerned that these dangerous changes will threaten the lives and well-being of people who have already experienced trauma and hardship before they arrived in Canada,” Doris Grinspun, chief executive officer of Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, said in a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

NDP leader Tom Mulcair invades enemy territory

Tom Mulcair brazenly parachutes into enemy territory Wednesday.

The NDP leader is backed only by a tiny band of subversives, his energy critic, Peter Julian, his environment critic and deputy leader, Megan Leslie, and his lone Alberta MP, Linda Duncan.

As he journeys to Fort McMurray, he drags with him accusations he is “lecturing” Alberta on the oilsands, is seeking to divide the country and is carving up the nation in some Ottawa bunker, pitting region versus region, rubbing his hands in glee as he counts central Canadian seats on his way to forming the next government.

He is on the agenda of the western premiers’ meeting in Edmonton and is the subject of a politically motivated government motion condemning him in the British Columbia legislature.

Enough already with the wedge politics.

Ottawa considers high-altitude drones for Arctic surveillance

OTTAWA - The Harper government is considering a proposal to buy at least three high-altitude, unmanned aerial vehicles in what could be an attempt to salvage its Arctic sovereignty ambitions.

The pitch was made by U.S. defence contractor Northrop Grumman and involves modifying its existing Global Hawk drone, which can operate at 20,000 metres, to meet the rigours of flying in the Far North.

Many of the Conservative government's plans to establish a presence in the rapidly thawing region, including the construction of military icebreakers and the establishment of a deepwater port, are behind schedule.

Peter Kent giving public “incorrect” info, says NDP

OTTAWA — Changes to environmental reviews of industrial projects in recent years are already “preventing process duplication,” says an internal government presentation obtained by Postmedia News.

The Harper government has publicly argued reforms are necessary to Canada’s environmental protection laws because of too much duplication in reviews at the federal and provincial levels that cause delays, but the internal document, prepared by the Canadian Environmental Assessment (CEA) Agency last fall, for a joint presentation that was to be delivered by Environment Minister Peter Kent and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver to Conservative MPs, suggested duplication was no longer a significant problem.

“Amendments made in 2010 have made the CEA Agency responsible for most comprehensive studies; this change is yielding positive results as all agency-led comprehensive studies have started in alignment with provincial reviews, preventing process duplication,” said the presentation, dated Sept. 6, 2011 and released by Environment Canada through access to information legislation.

Israel mulls ‘unilateral action' in West Bank

Defence Minister Ehud Barak abruptly proposed on Wednesday that Israel consider “unilateral action” if long-stalled peace talks with the Palestinians don't resume and produce a deal — suggesting Israel may be thinking of withdrawing from part of the West Bank, as it did from the Gaza Strip seven years ago.

Echoing sentiments voiced Tuesday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr. Barak warned that time was running out to reach an accord.

“Israel cannot afford to tread water,” he said in a speech before a security conference. If a deal “proves to be impossible, we have to consider a provisional arrangement or even unilateral action.”

Push is on to get Premier Dalton McGuinty to testify at ORNGE hearing

Premier Dalton McGuinty would be forced to testify before an all-party committee of MPPs investigating ORNGE if a Progressive Conservative motion passes.

Tory MPP Frank Klees said Wednesday he would make the unusual move to compel McGuinty to face a grilling at a legislative committee.

During question period, a grim-faced McGuinty ducked repeated questions about whether he would appear.

Klees is a member of the public accounts committee investigating the air ambulance agency’s questionable business contracts, high salaries and odd real estate deals. ORNGE receives $150 million in public funds each year to operate.

“I am going to be drafting a motion and I’ll present it to the clerk today,” Klees told reporters. “The people of Ontario deserve to hear from their premier. This has now reached the doorstep of the premier’s office.”

Child's 'Ain't No Homos Gonna Make It To Heaven' Church Performance Goes Viral

Disturbing footage of what appears to be a young child's choral performance is going viral in the blogosphere.

The congregation in the church, which has been identified as the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle Church in Greensburg, Ind., gives a standing ovation after the child sings, "I know the Bible’s right, somebody’s wrong...ain't no homos gonna make it to heaven."

A number of high profile lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) bloggers and allies have re-posted the video, including Towleroad and Joe. My. God. All have noted that the child was undoubtedly coached by adults for his performance.

"Interview with a Vampire" author Anne Rice also posted the video to her Facebook page, noting, "In this country, Christians can teach toddlers to hate and to persecute, and we, through the automatic tax exemption for churches, foot the bill."

Of course, the video is merely the latest in what has become an onslaught of anti-gay, right-wing declarations.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: ---

Murfreesboro Mosque Construction Will Be Stopped, Rules Chancellor Robert Corlew

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Construction of a Tennessee mosque that has been strongly opposed by critics of Islam likely will be stopped after a judge ruled Tuesday that local officials didn't give the public adequate notice before the meeting where it was approved.

The mosque was one of several Muslim projects in the U.S. that hit a swell of conservative opposition around the same time as the controversy over a plan to build a Muslim community center near New York's ground zero.

Chancellor Robert Corlew found that the Rutherford County Planning Commission didn't do enough to inform the public of the May 2010 meeting when it approved the site plan for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.

GOP groups plan record $1 billion blitz

Republican super PACs and other outside groups shaped by a loose network of prominent conservatives – including Karl Rove, the Koch brothers and Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – plan to spend roughly $1 billion on November’s elections for the White House and control of Congress, according to officials familiar with the groups’ internal operations.

That total includes previously undisclosed plans for newly aggressive spending by the Koch brothers, who are steering funding to build sophisticated, county-by-county operations in key states. POLITICO has learned that Koch-related organizations plan to spend about $400 million ahead of the 2012 elections - twice what they had been expected to commit.

Just the spending linked to the Koch network is more than the $370 million that John McCain raised for his entire presidential campaign four years ago. And the $1 billion total surpasses the $750 million that Barack Obama, one of the most prolific fundraisers ever, collected for his 2008 campaign.

Income Inequality Keeps Poorer Americans Away from the Polls

It’s no secret that money and politics enjoy a nasty love affair in this country. And as Ari Berman has written here, the problem has gotten even worse this cycle after the ill-fated Citizens United decision unleashed the power of Super PACs. As he reports, campaigns are increasingly reliant on that money, yet “Super PACs on both sides of the aisle are financed by the 1 percent of the 1 percent.” That means the rich have an even more outsized impact on the outcome of the election.

At the same time, it’s been hard to miss the GOP’s relentless campaign to roll back voting rights in the name of eliminating the (mostly imaginary) threat of fraud. Many of those tactics will severely impact low-income voters and likely suppress their turnout in November, handing even more power over to the 1 percent.

Under Obama, Men Killed by Drones Are Presumed to Be Terrorists

After interviewing dozens of current and former White House advisers, the New York Times breaks a lot of news in its story on President Obama's secret kill list, perhaps none of it more jaw-dropping than new details describing how the U.S. now calculates the number of innocents killed by our drones. What innovative method did our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president implement?

"It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent," the newspaper reports. "Counter-terrorism officials insist this approach is one of simple logic: people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good."

For those tracing Obama's career arc, we've gone from his insistence, as a U.S. senator, that it would be unjust to try accused terrorists in a military tribunal with an attorney, to his judgment, as president, that if one member of Al Qaeda is someplace, every guy in vague physical proximity automatically meets the convenient "innocent until 'probably up to no good'" standard.

No Disclosure, Please, We're Contractors

Earlier this month, the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee approved the Keeping Politics Out of Federal Contracting Act (KPOFCA), which would prohibit the government from forcing federal contractors to disclose campaign spending and lobbying expenditures as a condition for keeping their contracts. In response, 14 watchdog groups are urging senators to block the bill, condemning it as a "pay-to-play" political maneuver that would make it easier for corporations to peddle influence in the shadows.

The bill is the latest chapter in a debate over transparency for the companies that rake in more than $536 billion in federal contracts annually. In April 2011, the Obama administration drafted an executive order (PDF) that would have required corporations bidding on federal contracts to disclose any political spending greater than $5,000, including money given to dark-money groups such as the Chamber of Commerce that do not disclose their donors. Following staunch opposition from Republicans and the Chamber, President Obama hasn't acted on the order.

Can BPA Make You Fat?

The food industry likes to portray obesity as a matter of personal responsibility: People who eat too much gain weight, and it's their own fault.

That view willfully neglects the role that industry marketing, particularly to children, plays on shaping people's food habits. Meanwhile, evidence is mounting that exposure to certain industrial chemicals in food, often at very low levels, changes the way people metabolize calories and can lead to weight gain. While no one would say that these chemicals, known as obesogens, are the sole cause of rising rates of obesity in the United States, they may well be contributing significantly to it.

How do You Like it Now, Boomers? You're to Blame for the Quebec Protests

Canada's baby boomer-run media has been pretending that Quebec's student protests are only about tuition, when that's merely symbolic of the boot the older generation is placing upon the necks of their kids. This misinformation campaign reached its culmination with Maclean's magazine's angrily incorrect cover "Quebec's New Ruling Class: How a group of entitled students went to war and shut down a province. Over $325."

The dollar amount is meant to dismiss the student protestors out of hand -- the actual issue is debt and the austerity measures that fuel it, the 75 percent tuition hike is simply the straw that broke this particular camel's back.

But the keyword here is "entitled." Kinda sounds like something the WWII generation would have sneered at the 60s-era boomers, however this is about more than simply growing up and becoming "The Man."

Paul Boyd Police Shooting Death: Colleague Hopes New Video Will Bring Answers

VANCOUVER - A colleague and friend of a man gunned down by police in a tony Vancouver shopping district five years ago says he hopes a new video will finally lead to some answers and some accountability.

"I still, after five years, do not understand this. And I don't understand why there hasn't been some sort of justice brought upon this," said Danny Antonucci, an animator who worked side-by-side with Paul Boyd until the day Boyd was killed.

"That video is absolutely heart-breaking. It's heart-breaking. To see Paul crawling on his hands and knees and to have some ignorant person shoot a gun into his head, I mean, it's just insane.

Income Inequality Study Shatters Some Stereotypes Of The One Per Cent

In the months since the Occupy movement first popularized the rallying cry of the "99 per cent," top income earners have often been characterized as a men’s club of greedy bankers and out-of-touch millionaires, who bask in their riches as the lowly masses toil for pennies.

A new study on income inequality in Canada challenges some of those stereotypes, and leaves others intact. While members of the one per cent are overwhelmingly male, they are almost as likely to be doctors as bankers. And though they have indeed been taking a greater slice of the income pie, the majority are hardly layabouts, putting in more hours on the job than the average worker.

Authored by a group of University of British Columbia economists and slated for publication in the June issue of the journal Canadian Public Policy, the paper paints a diverse picture of the one per cent -- a segment of the population you may not know as well as you think.

How does a $774-million deficit become a $90-million surplus?

How did a $774-million hole in the city’s operating budget become a $90-million surplus?

Toronto is expected to finish the year with $90-million to spare. Just a year ago, Mayor Rob Ford’s administration was issuing dire warnings about the need to cut costs in order to plug a $774-million funding shortfall in the city’s 2012 budget.

Councillor Doug Ford says the extra money shows his brother the mayor’s austerity efforts worked.

“Through efficiencies we found savings, through labour contracts and throughout the whole system,” he said. “Anyone when we first got elected who said where’s the gravy? We’ve proved in 18 months where the gravy is and there’s barrels of gravy still down here.”

Ottawa’s environmental-review overhaul hits tough hurdles

The federal government’s insistence that cabinet should have final say over resource projects such as Enbridge Inc.’s (ENB-T40.88-0.02-0.05%) Northern Gateway pipeline is stirring opposition that could undermine its effort to streamline environmental approvals.

First nations groups in British Columbia are poised to launch legal challenges if the government intervenes in the ongoing National Energy Board review of the Gateway project through legislation now before the House of Commons.

And critics say the Conservative government is politicizing the entire review process by giving cabinet the power to overturn any future NEB ruling that blocks a resource development on environmental grounds.

The lingering gloom of recession

Politically, the recession has upset some systems and paralyzed others, hollowed out the political centre and encouraged street demonstrations in some countries to protest against elites, established ways and existing institutions.

How recession played out politically varied from country to country, and it was by no means the only factor in upsetting the political order. In some cases, as in southern Europe and to a lesser extent in Canada, it contributed to new political dynamics. In others, such as the United States, it accentuated trends already evident.

Economically, the recession enfeebled the state, creating new deficits and debt, and imposed burdens of joblessness, defaulted mortgages and widespread uncertainty on millions of people. Politically, the recession forced a debate about the role of the state, with many governments and financial markets demanding that it shrink, but those who depend on its protection or help demanding that it remain intact or get bigger.

Feds to unveil $10M in anti-terror projects

The government will unveil details today of the first six counter-terrorism research projects to be funded as part of a $10-million commitment made nearly a year ago to mark the 26th anniversary of the Air India bombing, Postmedia News has learned.

Last June, Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled a memorial to the 329 mostly Canadian victims of the doomed flight in Montreal and launched the Kanishka Project, a five-year, multimillion-dollar investment in new research to prevent terrorism.

Postmedia News has learned that the winning projects follow an initial call for proposals.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney will announce the first round of funding today.

A second call for research proposals recently closed and a third call for proposals is set to close at the end of October.

Original Article
Source: windsor star
Author: Postmedia News

Tory politics exclusive, not inclusive

Today, the care and feeding of "the base" means kicking everyone else out the dance hall's door.

"Narrowcasting" is the term used by American Republicans and Canadian Conservatives to describe how they win elections by tending to the base above all else.

Forget about building an ever-bigger tent. The wider your ideological net, the more watered-down your principles must become. "Narrowcasting," the ceaseless promotion of the "red meat" issues that animate your base -- in the Conservatives' case, issues like guns, prisons and punitive employment insurance rules -- drives your core supporters to work, donate and proselytize their friends.

The Conservative base is older, male, predominantly Anglo-Saxon, upper income, college educated and faith-based. It's strong in Alberta, the West and rural Canada. The NDP base is the opposite. It's economically vulnerable, young, female, secular, university educated and urban. It's strong in B.C. and Quebec.

Of mice, men, and tap-dancing chihuahuas

The dudes in the Ministry of Fear, alias the Prime Minister’s Office, have struck again.

Kootenay-Columbia Conservative MP David Wilks has been taken to the woodshed of Stephen Harper’s political re-education camp. That’s the place where you go in a man and come out a tap-dancing Chihuahua.

Is there a sadder spectacle in public life than a backbench MP who was almost courageous? Bad enough when you are only brave in private, and then only if you can find 12 plucky colleagues to back you up. But when you climb down all the way to the supine position after your “real” thoughts about government policy are Youtubed, it’s probably time to pack in politics and open a tanning salon. Even in these dear, dirty times, David, no one likes dancing to the rhythm of a grown man’s knees knocking.

New report backs up Mulcair's claim Canada's economy suffers from Dutch Disease

OTTAWA - On the eve of NDP Leader Tom Mulcair's visit to Alberta's oilsands, a new report backs his claim that Canada's economy suffers from a form of Dutch Disease.

A study released Wednesday by the Pembina Institute says Canada has come down with a unique strain of the phenomenon, dubbed "oilsands fever," that is producing near-term economic benefits that are often overstated.

The report says these benefits are spread unevenly across the country and could be hiding economic turmoil down the road.

Israel's blood diamonds: Why the free pass from regulators and civil society?

As members of the international diamond-regulatory system known as the Kimberley Process (KP) prepare for a meeting in Washington, D.C. on June 4, the chances of them agreeing to end the trade in all blood diamonds looks bleaker than ever before.

Last November, Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), a member of the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition (KPCSC), issued a communiqué stating, "We are making our full engagement with the KP dependent on the adoption of substantial and sufficient reforms such as those listed herein."

Talk is Cheap

The international conference in Bonn demonstrates the widening gap between words and action in Afghanistan.

In the second half of 2011, the Afghan government and its international allies were busy with talks at the Bonn 2 Conference (the 11th international conference in 10 years) and the OECD’s High Level Forum in Busan, South Korea, about how donors can effectively deliver aid. Unfortunately, the communiqués that came out of these international meetings were pages of discussions that offered no specific guidance for “walking the talk.” The resulting declarations are nothing but a rewording of oft-repeated, decade-old promises and agreements that have yet to be met.

Quebec’s new ruling class

For the last month, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Montreal in what might be described as a schizophrenic display of righteous, pacifist outrage and opportunistic violence. Beginning at about 8 p.m. every night since late April, they gather at Place Émilie-Gamelin, a squared-off chunk of grass and outsized public chessboards formerly best known as downtown Montreal’s go-to spot for public drunkenness and illicit drugs. From there, the crowd marches off in a direction chosen by whoever happens to be in front. Purposefully, no one knows where the protest march is going.

For the next several hours, the marchers wind through the city streets. They shout slogans—denunciations of Premier Jean Charest and cheeky Nazi salutes are de rigueur—and otherwise fill the street with bodies and noise.

The Commons: Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair exchange diabolical plans for EI

The Scene. The Prime Minister has a special gift for making his government’s policies sound altogether banal, utterly and profoundly unremarkable.

“We will continue to do our best to try and put some resources into helping people find jobs,” Mr. Harper said this afternoon, under questioning about his government’s proposed changes to employment insurance. “At the same time, for those who still cannot find work in their seasonal industries and seasonal parts of the economy where people have difficulty finding work, there will, of course, be employment insurance as a safety net for those people.”

But if Diane Finley’s smile did not assuage the opposition parties, what chance do Mr. Harper’s words? From the other side of the House, there is worry that seasonal workers will be particularly impacted. There is fretting that the unemployed will be compelled to take lower paying jobs. There is fear that those without work will be deprived of EI benefits. There are concerns that the Harper government didn’t consult with the premiers. There is even dismissal of the Conservative plan for more and better emails.“Mr. Speaker, there is not a single aspect of this plan that will actually help anyone find a job,” Thomas Mulcair fumed this afternoon. “What unemployed Canadians can look forward to are threatening emails from the Conservative government telling them what low-paying jobs they must now apply for, at least until they get kicked off EI and then they will not even be able to pay for their Internet connections any more. Can the Prime Minister explain why the Conservatives want to force unemployed workers to choose between a 30% pay cut or the EI benefits they have paid for and they deserve?”

Let’s give the protesters what they want

Three months in, it’s getting harder to dismiss the Montreal tuition protesters as a tiny bunch of malcontents. It’s true that they are calling for the perpetuation of Canada’s best bargain in higher education. It’s true that the active, on-the-street protesters represent a minority of the student population and a smaller minority of the larger student-age population.

But the protesters are not alone against the rest of Quebec. They have had substantial popular support at every stage of this dispute. And as the conflict settles in and becomes more bitter, support for the protesters has grown. A Léger poll for QMI last week showed that 43 per cent of respondents were “more favourable to the student position,” which the poll defined as a continued freeze on tuitions. That’s a nine-point increase in support in 11 days, thanks largely to a tough law the Charest government passed to increase restrictions and penalties for protesting. To sum up, after thinking about it for three months, close to half the population is with the protesters. So are many editorialists and the members of Arcade Fire.

Rookie cop takes heat for arresting off-duty officer

It’s an impaired driving case like thousands of others except it involves a rookie Toronto police officer who crossed the thin blue line and paid the price.

Const. Andrew Vanderburgh was “harassed and berated” by fellow officers because on Nov. 28, 2009, he arrested and charged an off-duty police constable with impaired driving and having a blood-alcohol level over 80 milligrams, according to an internal police disciplinary ruling.

Some officers also allegedly called Vanderburgh a “rat,” Justice Paul Reinhardt wrote in a pre-trial ruling.

Tories War on Science Hurts Us All

On May 1, a greeting card was mailed to me from a Canadian scientist who I had never met nor heard of before. This scientist continues to work in a field unrelated to my research and in a federal government lab in another province. Shocked by this week's news that the Harper Tories were closing Environment Canada's Experimental Lakes Area, cutting a smokestack emissions research group and a Department of Fisheries and Oceans contaminants program, I reread it today. Here is what it said:

    Dear Dr. Weaver,

    Just a quick note to say thank you for your efforts to make public the plight of federal government scientists. Restrictions on our ability to address the public are certainly in place and are being enforced. Like you, I suspect that part of the strategy may be to keep the public from knowing that we do anything to earn our salaries so that somewhere down the line, they will get rid of science in the federal government claiming that we don't do anything anyway...This attack on government science and scientists will have repercussions for science in Canada for years to come...

How prophetic this scientist's words were. But they are also deeply troubling.

Enbridge launches multimillion-dollar ad campaign to combat B.C. pipeline opposition

Enbridge Inc. said Tuesday it is launching a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign in British Columbia promoting its Northern Gateway pipeline project in response to stiffer opposition than it anticipated over the $5.5-billion Alberta-to-Kitimat proposal.

"You are going to see a much higher visibility for Enbridge over the next few days. In newspapers, in television and online," said Paul Stanway, manager of Northern Gateway communications for Enbridge. "It's become quite apparent that the debate has become a provincewide issue."

The same day Enbridge announced its campaign, which the company said will cost several million but less than $5 million, Greenpeace activists hung an anti-pipeline banner from the Lions Gate Bridge.

Montreal protesters shine spotlight on government's skewed priorities

When I heard about the student protests in Montreal, I swallowed the line that Quebec’s pampered youth pay lower fees than those in other parts of Canada but aren’t aware that education costs money. And then I went to Quebec. There, I heard a different story.

After weeks of demonstrations, clearly something more profound is going on. The protesters are forcing us to confront a crucial question: What is government for? Governing is about priorities. Students can’t help but notice they aren’t high on the list.

Governments all across Canada have no qualms about investing vast amounts of money to exploit “natural resources”, yet they all but ignore the most precious, our children. Young people will take charge long after current leaders are gone, and they’ll also be stuck with the ecological, social, and economic costs of the decisions we make today.

BIO-based agency will be cut back

A noted offshore research agency based at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography won’t close but its work will be curtailed, a federal spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research has assisted in such projects as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Its director, Ken Lee, recently received a letter telling him his job would be affected as part of cost-cutting at the DFO, according to a CBC report.

“Employees at Fisheries and Oceans Canada whose work may be implicated by changes at DFO were informed by managers that their positions may be affected,” department spokeswoman Melanie Carkner said in an email Tuesday to The Chronicle Herald.

Government should have learned lesson from Lyin' Brian

In light of Pinocchio's unfortunate experience, Jim Flaherty might want to check the length of his nose about now.

The finance minister asserted back in March that a majority of the Harper government's budget cuts would "relate to back office operations of government."

Two months later, it is clear that was an understatement.

The budget implementation bill - 425 pages in length - has hit like a tsunami.

It mandates the axing of 19,200 public service jobs and reduces program spending by $5.2-billion a year.

Spending reductions also will be realized from massive changes to the Old Age Security and Employment Insurance programs.

Flaherty's "back office" reference points to a growing credibility gap, resulting from the chasm between what Conservatives tell the public and what in fact is the truth.

Kyrgyzstan’s ex-leader calls for Canada’s help with democratic institutions

Born in remote Kyrgyzstan, in Central Asia, Roza Otunbayeva studied philosophy, became an academic and travelled widely as a diplomat.

But after leading Kyrgyzstan’s fledgling opposition, she never expected to find instant fame as president of a country on the brink of chaos, making life-and-death decisions that could save the tiny country of 5 million or pull it apart. Now, two years after the ouster of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev led to rioting that spread to the ethnically divided south, 62-year-old Otunbayeva has turned over power to a new democratically elected leader.

In Ottawa earlier this week, she spoke to the Star about her role in Kyrgyzstan’s turbulent past.

How Walmart rolled back Mexico's local markets

MEXICO CITY—The stalls surrounding the Mercado Xochimilco burst with squash blossoms, boxes of spiny gourds and mounds of huitlacoche — an edible fungus prized by gourmands and known colloquially as “corn smut.”

Inside, teenagers push wheelbarrows full of tripe, women hawk handmade tortillas and one reclusive vendor peddles frog-leg tamales.

Such markets dot the Mexico City landscape, serving places such as Xochimilco — a clannish borough famed for gondolas plying centuries-old canals and farmers growing crops on chinampas, or man-made islands built on lakes.

Questions of political influence swirl over ORNGE site

Questions are swirling as to why ORNGE officials sought to place a helicopter base at the Oshawa airport and if Finance Minister Jim Flaherty made an attempt to influence the decision.

The government committee investigating the ORNGE air ambulance scandal has heard testimony from Rick Potter, the agency’s former aviation boss, that putting a satellite operation in Oshawa was something he would not recommend.

But a decision was made to operate a base in Oshawa anyway, over Peterborough, and put another in Hamilton. Why Oshawa was chosen is an issue that is likely to come up at the all-party public accounts committee probe Wednesday.

Ten Years After Decriminalization, Drug Abuse Down by Half in Portugal

Drug warriors often contend that drug use would skyrocket if we were to legalize or decriminalize drugs in the United States. Fortunately, we have a real-world example of the actual effects of ending the violent, expensive War on Drugs and replacing it with a system of treatment for problem users and addicts.

Ten years ago, Portugal decriminalized all drugs. One decade after this unprecedented experiment, drug abuse is down by half:

    Health experts in Portugal said Friday that Portugal’s decision 10 years ago to decriminalise drug use and treat addicts rather than punishing them is an experiment that has worked.

    “There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal,” said Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction, a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the law.

    The number of addicts considered “problematic” — those who repeatedly use “hard” drugs and intravenous users — had fallen by half since the early 1990s, when the figure was estimated at around 100,000 people, Goulao said.

    Other factors had also played their part however, Goulao, a medical doctor added.

    “This development can not only be attributed to decriminalisation but to a confluence of treatment and risk reduction policies.”

Many of these innovative treatment procedures would not have emerged if addicts had continued to be arrested and locked up rather than treated by medical experts and psychologists. Currently 40,000 people in Portugal are being treated for drug abuse. This is a far cheaper, far more humane way to tackle the problem. Rather than locking up 100,000 criminals, the Portuguese are working to cure 40,000 patients and fine-tuning a whole new canon of drug treatment knowledge at the same time.

None of this is possible when waging a war.

Original Article
Source: forbes
Author: Erik Kain