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, June 06, 2012

Conservative robocalls defender under investigation for election offences

OTTAWA — The MP leading the Conservative government’s defence in the robocalls scandal is himself under investigation by Elections Canada for alleged election law violations related to voter-contact calls made by his campaign in 2008.

Elections Canada says in a court document it has reasonable grounds to believe offences were committed by Dean Del Mastro, who serves as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s parliamentary secretary, and by his campaign’s official agent.

In an interview on Wednesday, Del Mastro denied the allegations, which have not been proved in court. Del Mastro said his audited financial statements are all correct.

Earth reaching an environmental 'state shift': Report

Humans are so altering Earth's biosphere that an international team is warning "a state shift" could be just decades away.

They don't use the word doomsday, but they come close.

"Humans now dominate Earth, changing it in ways that threaten its ability to sustain us and other species," the researchers report Thursday in the journal Nature.

The researchers stress it is not known how close Earth is to a global tipping point, or if it is inevitable.

But they suggest that the planet's ecosystems could shift into a new state within just a few decades or a few generations if human population and consumption rates continue to soar.

Ornge paramedic tells committee he quit in disgust after patient died

TORONTO - A former paramedic with Ornge says he quit Ontario's troubled air ambulance service in disgust in 2009 after the death of a teenager from northwestern Ontario.

Trevor Kidd says had the girl had a hope for survival, Ornge "robbed" her of that chance by not properly staffing their aircraft or sending them in a timely manner.

The whistleblower says he raised red flags about Ornge with journalists and others, but no one believed him because of Ornge's "Mother Teresa" image.

Kidd's father, the mayor of Temiskaming Shores, even talked to former Liberal MPP David Ramsay in 2009 and other officials in the Health Ministry about the problems at Ornge.

‘What’s his plan?’ Mulcair asks after PM speaks of possible new European crisis

Opposition leader Thomas Mulcair questioned the government’s economic contingency plans should the global financial crisis deepen further after his party’s weekly caucus meeting on Wednesday.

“In 2008, everyone was taken a bit by surprise by the worst recession since the 1920s,” Mulcair said. “This time we’re facing a situation that everyone understands could be very difficult. So what’s the plan from the Conservatives? We have no indication.”

Mulcair’s comments came after the CBC aired an interview with Prime Minister Stephen Harper Tuesday night.

Tory MP wants Baird to consider yanking Canada out of UN

A Conservative backbencher wants Canada to be the first country in the world to leave the United Nations.

Larry Miller, the MP for Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound, says he’s upset the UN Committee Against Torture “voiced displeasure” with the Harper government’s refugee-reform bill, and sent a rapporteur on food security to Canada.

He doesn’t like the criticism from the UN and issued a statement saying he’s going to ask Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to consider whether Canada should take its ball and go home.

“If this is the type of action that the UN will be taking, then I think it is high time that we review our participation in the United Nations,” Mr. Miller said in a statement.

Has this government presided over the most environmental progress?

Is there any chance he’s got a point there? (I’ve asked his office exactly what he had in mind, and will post on the response.) Kenney mentioned in passing five ways the government has achieved this triumph: “through the Clean Air Act, through the restriction on toxins, through the increased enforcement of our environmental laws, through higher fuel standards, through the reduction in carbon emissions as a result of our plan…”

Very briefly, the Clean Air Act, passed in 2006, amended three existing laws, notably relaxing the greenhouse gas emissions targets agreed to by the previous Liberal government. By “restrictions on toxins,” I’m assuming Kenney is referring to “Canada’s Chemicals Management Plan,” which I don’t know much about, but seems a plausible approach to identifying and controlling harmful compounds. New North American fuel efficiency standards were indeed announced in 2010, but Canada generally follows the U.S. lead on North American auto emissions rules. I won’t hazard a guess about what Kenney means by “increased enforcement.”

Dawning of new ages sees Russia and China set realpolitik agenda

Vladimir Putin was “too busy” to attend the G8 summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama in Camp David last month, but the Russian President made it clear Tuesday that he has plenty of time for his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao. And the feeling is mutual.

The two men – who lead countries with large nuclear arsenals and veto powers at the United Nations Security Council – stood side-by-side in the Great Hall of the People and vowed, in Mr. Hu’s words, to “set the global political and economic order in a more fair and rational direction.” It was Mr. Putin’s first major state visit since his return to the Kremlin last month.

Why I returned to the corporate world

Like many of my generation (X, for the record), I often imagined setting up my own business.

I pored over inspirational business books and wrote scores of journals exploring my ideas. About two years ago, a perfect storm of timing, financial backing and family support created the opportunity for me to finally put my money where my mouth was and start an enterprise from scratch.

I knew that building my own business would be hard work and that it would involve many long hours and personal sacrifices. I also knew it would take time to establish a strong financial footing. What I wasn’t prepared for was how much my long-desired dream would teach me, and how it would expose the pros and cons of the working environment I left behind.

Atlantic premiers band together against Ottawa’s EI ‘void’

The four Atlantic premiers are speaking as one when it comes to their concern over federal changes to Employment Insurance. At a joint news conference Wednesday, the premiers said it is still not clear to them what exactly Ottawa has in mind and are planning to write Prime Minister Stephen Harper a letter asking for more detail.

“Right now it’s unfortunate that that information has not been provided because when there’s a void, there’s legitimately a lot of concerns,” said New Brunswick Premier David Alward, a Progressive Conservative who had previously been less vocal than the other three Atlantic premiers.

Google to warn users being attacked by governments

In a release that raises more questions than answers, Google announced on Wednesday that it will begin notifying users who may be the target of state-sponsored attacks.

“You might ask how we know this activity is state-sponsored. We can’t go into the details without giving away information that would be helpful to these bad actors, but our detailed analysis—as well as victim reports—strongly suggest the involvement of states or groups that are state-sponsored,” according to Eric Grosse, vice-president of security engineering at Google.

The notice was posted to the company’s blog on Wednesday. Grosse could not be reached to provide further details.

Jack Layton to be honoured with statue and ferry terminal

The Jack Layton Ferry Terminal is now an official part of Toronto, but residents will have another reminder of the beloved former councillor and federal NDP leader.

Councillor Pam McConnell told city council, which voted unanimously Wednesday to rename the Toronto Islands ferry terminal, that the Ontario Federation of Labour plans to donate a whimsical statue to honour Layton.

It will portray the longtime cycling advocate on the back seat of a tandem bike, she said. Kids and adults will be not only allowed but encouraged to sit on the front seat and “take a ride with Jack.”

Panetta Defends Drones In Pakistan

NEW DELHI — Just two days after a drone strike killed al-Qaida's second-in-command, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made it clear Wednesday that such attacks will continue as long as the U.S. needs to defend itself against terrorists that threaten America.

Speaking in India – on Pakistan's doorstep – Panetta unapologetically dismissed suggestions that the strikes could violate Pakistan's sovereignty.

"This is about our sovereignty as well," he said when answering questions from the audience after a speech at an Indian think tank.

Drone attacks create terrorist safe havens, warns former CIA official

A former top terrorism official at the CIA has warned that President Barack Obama's controversial drone programme is far too indiscriminate in hitting targets and could lead to such political instability that it creates terrorist safe havens.

Obama's increased use of drones to attack suspected Islamic militants in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen has become one of the most controversial aspects of his national security policy. He has launched at least 275 strikes in Pakistan alone; a rate of attack that is far higher than his predecessor George W Bush.

Paycheck Fairness Act Fails Senate Vote

WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a bill that would have ensured women are paid the same amount as their male counterparts.

The Senate failed to secure the 60 votes needed to advance the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have required employers to demonstrate that any salary differences between men and women doing the same work are not gender-related. The bill also would have prohibited employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with their co-workers, and would have required the Labor Department to increase its outreach to employers to help eliminate pay disparities.

Mortgage Fraud Investigation Pushes Forward, Hires Criminal Prosecutor

The investigation into widespread fraud on Wall Street leading up to the financial crisis will now have a proseucting attorney to help the effort. Virginia Chavez Romano,a former assistant US attorney in New York, was hired  by Eric Schneiderman, the New York attorney general and co-chair of the task force. She is not an official hire of the working group, but rather will assist Schneiderman in his efforts as co-chair.

Romano participated in the criminal indictments of Credit Suisse employees earlier this year for falsifying prices tied to collateralized debt obligations. This is just the sort of fraud the working group wants to go after, though you can look at Romano’s case history in two different ways.

Walker’s Win

For a little while on Tuesday night, thanks to the network exit polls, it looked like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker might actually be in a fight for his political life, that the outcome of the vote about recalling him, which had seemed assured for some time, could be in doubt. It didn’t last. By the time Tuesday night slipped into Wednesday morning, Walker—a Republican in a fairly blue state—had become the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall. He’d given his victory speech. And he’d racked up more votes than he did when he won his job in the first place, back in 2010.

“We’ll renew our commitment to help grow the quality of life for all of our citizens—both those who voted for me and those who voted for someone else,” Walker told the crowd that had gathered at his Election Night party. “Because tomorrow is the day after the election and tomorrow, we are no longer opponents. We are one as Wisconsinites.”

If only it were so easy. The battle over the Governor and his policies (and over those who supported them—Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, too, faced recall and won, and several seats in the state senate were contested as well) has opened wounds that will not be so easily healed. And for at least the next few days, the non-Cheeseheads among us will have to debate the question of What It All Means.

There are some implications for the Presidential election to consider, though perhaps not so many as Republicans would like you to believe, or as few as Democrats might suggest. If nothing else, the thing to remember is this: this vote was, ultimately, about Scott Walker, not about Barack Obama. But the amount of money that Walker and his supporters raised, the amount of enthusiasm they inspired, and the successful campaign they ran will all have Obama’s advisers sleeping a little less comfortably in the weeks to come.

Original Article
Source: new yorker
Author: Alex Koppelman

Recall Campaign Against Scott Walker Fails

Robert M. La Follette, the architect of the progressive movement that a century ago made Wisconsin the nation’s “laboratory of democracy,” recognized that the experiments would at times go awry. “We have long rested comfortably in this country upon the assumption that because our form of government was democratic, it was therefore automatically producing democratic results. Now, there is nothing mysteriously potent about the forms and names of democratic institutions that should make them self-operative,” he observed after suffering more than his share of defeats. “Tyranny and oppression are just as possible under democratic forms as under any other.”

Those words echoed across the decades on the night of June 5, as the most powerful of the accountability tools developed in La Follette’s laboratory—the right to recall errant officials—proved insufficient for the removal of Governor Scott Walker.

In Wisconsin, the Left Picked a Fight—and Lost

It's important to remember, as Democrats cope with their failure to topple Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in Tuesday's recall, that this was a fight they chose.

Unlike the vast majority of elections, which occur on a regular schedule, the recall was a fight the left picked on purpose. They picked it because they thought they could win. And they were wrong.

It wasn't even close. In the final tally, Walker led his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, by 53 percent to 46 percent.

Are Our Oceans on a Collision Course?

Back in 2006, a team of scientists from Canada, the United States, Sweden, and Panama published a landmark report in the prestigious journal Science on the state of the oceans. The researchers highlighted what they called an "ongoing erosion of diversity" in sea-life that, if left unchecked, would lead to the "collapse of all taxa currently being fished by the mid-21st century."

Stripped of scientese, what the report described was the real possibility of the ocean as a vast, fetid grey zone, not quite dead but no longer able to provide a significant amount of food to humanity. And not in some unimaginably distant future, but rather in just four short decades, around the time when your aughts-era infant will reach middle age.

The Nuclear Weapons Industry's Money Bombs

Employees of private companies that produce the main pieces of the US nuclear arsenal have invested more than $18 million in the election campaigns of lawmakers that oversee related federal spending, and the companies also employ more than 95 former members of Congress or Capitol Hill staff to lobby for government funding, according to a new report.

The Center for International Policy, a nonprofit group that supports the "demilitarization" of US foreign policy, released the report on Wednesday to highlight what it described as the heavy influence of campaign donations and pork barrel politics on a part of the defense budget not usually associated with large profits or contractor power: nuclear arms.

Only 13.5 Percent of Food Workers Earn a Living Wage

Americans love to talk about food–how asparagus is best prepared, which preservatives to avoid, which types of fish are in peril, where to find the best tacos or most delectable peach pies. Most of us spend far less time contemplating the people that pick, slaughter, sort, process, and deliver this 1.8 trillion dollar industry—a group of workers that makes up one-sixth of the country's workforce.

Unfortunately, the majority of these workers take home crummy wages and few benefits, according to a new report from the Food Chain Workers Alliance. Perhaps most strikingly, among workers surveyed by the FCWA, only 13.5 percent made a liveable wage (an amount FCWA defines as higher than 150 percent of the regional poverty level). And not a single agricultural worker of around 90 surveyed earned enough to live on.

Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Gets Support From 60 Per Cent Of First Nations Along Route

VANCOUVER - Almost 60 per cent of First Nations along the planned Enbridge (TSX:ENB) Northern Gateway pipeline between Alberta and B.C. have signed on to become part owners.

The announcement by the company comes amid a phalanx of opposition by some First Nations and environmental groups during public hearings.

But the agreements prove there is greater support for the almost 1,200-kilometre pipeline, said Enbridge spokesman Paul Stanway.

Quebec Student Strike Gets Lift From Occupy

WASHINGTON -- As Quebec's "student spring" continues to blossom, inspired Occupy activists have organized their own demonstrations of support across the United States, with many hoping to draw attention to mounting student debt in both countries.

University students in Quebec remain on strike to protest a 60 percent hike in tuition fees over the next five years, and the streets of Montreal are now filled nightly by the sounds of thousands banging on pots and pans. As negotiations between the three main student federations and the Quebec regional government remain at an impasse, American activists are demonstrating in solidarity with the activists in Quebec, attracting hundreds in U.S. cities from Oakland, Calif., to Washington, D.C. Many have taken after the Canadian protesters' clanging of the "casseroles" by bringing their own pots and pans to the actions.

German Bank Downgrade: Moody's Cites Eurozone Risks In Cutting 7 Banks' Ratings

BERLIN - Moody's rating agency has downgraded seven banks in Germany, citing risks from the eurozone debt crisis and prospects of weaker global economic growth.

The most prominent bank downgraded late Tuesday night was Commerzbank AG, Germany's second-biggest. Its long-term rating was cut to A3, with a negative outlook, from A2.

Also hit were DekaBank and DZ Bank, as well as three of Germany's public-sector regional banks — Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg, Norddeutsche Landesbank and Landesbank Hessen-Thueringen.

The German unit of Italy's UniCredit was downgraded to A3, with a negative outlook, from A2.

Moody's said its move was driven in part by "the increased risk of further shocks emanating from the euro area debt crisis in combination with the banks' limited loss-absorption capacity."

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author:   CP

Emphasis on oil sands called a ‘historic mistake for Canada’

A high-profile adviser on renewable energy to the European Union says Canada is making a huge mistake in placing so much emphasis on the oil sands as the key component of the country’s energy policy.

Jeremy Rifkin, a Maryland-based author and consultant, said in an interview Tuesday that focusing on the oil sands “is putting [Canada] back in the 20th century, when Europe and Asia are absolutely moving into the 21st century.” Because other economies are shifting dramatically to renewable energy, he said, “this is a really, really historic mistake for Canada.....[It] could potentially become a second tier country.”

Redford the Conqueror? Premier’s new staff will try to give Alberta international influence

EDMONTON - Premier Alison Redford is pushing forward with a major restructuring of her office, adding experienced political minds from Ottawa to make Alberta a bigger player on the national and international stage.

Redford’s circle of advisers now have more expertise in political communications and federal-provincial relations, moves that could help the province deliver its view more effectively to global decision-makers.

“The premier is building a team of advisers and support staff to help her with what she wants to achieve in the next four years,” Redford’s spokeswoman Kim Misik said Tuesday. “Just like when a CEO takes the reins at any company, it is his or her prerogative to make changes to staff or not.”

Protester sues ‘This ain’t Canada’ cop after York police board refuses to charge him

The York Police Services Board has blocked efforts to lay misconduct charges against an officer captured on YouTube telling a G20 protestor “This ain’t Canada right now” and demanding that he be searched.

In October, the province’s police complaints watchdog recommended three misconduct charges against Sgt. Mark Charlebois, who apprehended Paul Figueiras during the G20 summit two years ago.

But because the directive came well after a six-month deadline York Region’s police chief had to ask the board’s permission to lay the charges. (Under the Police Services Act, a disciplinary hearing can only be called within six months of the initial complaint.)

He was refused.

Oilpatch workers five times more likely to be a one percenter, survey reveals

CALGARY — What do a Bay Street broker and a steel-toed tradesman in the oilsands have in common?

A lot more than you might think.

Workers in the mining and oil and gas industries are five times more likely to belong to Canada’s richest one per cent, according to economists.

Among the top three industries for churning out the wealthy, individuals working in the resource sector make up 4.6 per cent of Canada’s elite, according to a recently released University of British Columbia paper.

U of A scientist, colleagues condemn research cuts

EDMONTON - World-recognized Alberta scientist David Schindler joined colleagues Tuesday in condemning Ottawa’s move to shutter the Experimental Lakes Area, where researchers unravelled the effects of acid rain on marine life and continue to work on the long-term ecological impacts of mercury and other toxins.

Scientists and students have long used the area in northwestern Ontario to study how watersheds work, the effects of sewage and human waste on ecosystems, and models for reducing acid rain and minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. Schindler was a founding director of the facility in 1968 and stayed there through the late 1980s.

MNA Amir Khadir arrested in Quebec City during protest

MONTREAL – Québec Solidaire MNA Amir Khadir was arrested in Quebec City Tuesday night during a protest against tuition fee hikes and Bill 78.

Quebec City police would not confirm the MNA for Mercier district, which includes Montreal’s Plateau Mont Royal area, was among those handcuffed and arrested in a mass arrest in the provincial capital. But TV news images showed him being escorted away by police.

Quebec City police Constable Marie-Ēve Painchaud said 65 people were arrested on the Côte de la Montagne at about 10 p.m. for blocking traffic. She would not confirm any of the names of those arrested. She said there were 67 tickets issued to the group of 65. One of those arrested was also ticketed for verbally insulting a police officer.

Christy Clark’s $1-a-year economic adviser quits to rally support for Premier

Jim Shepard, the former Finning and Canfor CEO, is quitting his post as a $1-a-year economic adviser to Premier Christy Clark to rally a citizens movement to save the B.C. premier at the polls in the provincial election next May.

It’s a new turnaround mission for Mr. Shepard, who came out of retirement in 2007 for an eventually successful effort turning around troubled lumber giant Canfor Corp. He retired in 2011.

From a stage at the Vancouver Convention Centre, Ms. Clark announced Mr. Shepard’s departure from her office before about 1,700 supporters - up from about 1,600 last year - attending the annual premiers’ fundraising dinner Tuesday night.

Elections Canada sides with Tories, orders NDP to cough up union cash

For the second time in a year, the New Democratic Party has run afoul of political financing laws.

Elections Canada has ordered the NDP to pay back money it collected from unions who sponsored events at the party’s national convention last year.

The party, which has criticized the Conservative government for a lack of transparency, offered no details on how much it paid back or to whom.

“As stated in the letter from Elections Canada, the New Democratic Party is in compliance with the Canada Elections Act,” said Chantal Vallerand, the NDP’s acting national director. “There will be no further comments on the matter.”

Censorship impedes military inquiry, official says

OTTAWA — Defence department censoring of crucial internal documents is impeding the search for the truth of why a young Canadian veteran killed himself, the chairman of a federal military inquiry said Tuesday.

In his first, albeit brief, public criticism of DND’s repeated blocking of documents related to the 2008 suicide of Afghan veteran Cpl. Stuart Langridge, Glenn Stannard said the censorship “flies in the face of seeking the truth.”

Defence Minister Peter MacKay has refused to allow the release of documents though has not publicly stated why.

Fisheries minister accused of misleading the House

OTTAWA — Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield was accused of misleading the House of Commons Tuesday after he suggested the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) still supports controversial and sweeping changes to the Fisheries Act.

The FCM, in a near-unanimous emergency vote at its annual meeting in Saskatoon on the weekend, passed a resolution stating the changes in the omnibus budget implementation bill "could reduce the act's ability to protect the environment."

The FCM, while stressing it still supports "common-sense" measures to reduce red tape for municipal governments, called on the federal government to remove and re-assess legislation in bill C-38 that impacts the environment.

Harper government’s dismissal of UN torture report absurd

Officially, Canada decries torture.

To that end, this country signed onto the United Nations Convention Against Torture in 1985, one of the first to do so.

I don’t recall anyone objecting to our joining this agreement. Nor do I recall anyone arguing that Canada’s obligations, as a signatory to this convention, were too onerous.

So it’s depressing in the extreme to see the current federal government dismiss out of hand the UN’s well-reasoned critique of this country for failing to live up to its commitments.

Fish Lake mine offers test case for Tory environmental rules

The proposal for a copper mine near Fish Lake, B.C., is back on the front burner. Once again environmentalists and first nations are pitted against non-native residents and the provincial government, with Ottawa acting as referee.

A panel has been at work on the file for a month. A decision is due in November. Opponents of the mine can take comfort in knowing that the new assessment will take place under existing, stricter, rules.

Proponents can take comfort in knowing that, if this decision goes against them, a third try might well go their way.

Conservatives Didn’t Lie About Canada First Defence Strategy, Says Jason Kenney

First it was the details regarding the proposed purchase of the F-35 stealth fighter, including a $10 billion accounting discrepancy in the cost.

Then came discrepancies in the cost of the Libyan mission ($50 million vs. $100 million) and questions about whether Parliament and the public was getting the full story on the price tag for that war.

Now there is the news that the Conservative government has known for at least a year (but kept quiet) that its Canada First Defence Strategy was “unaffordable.” That has prompted DND bureaucrats to recommend pushing the “reset” button to re-evaluate the plan’s “level of ambition,” according to DND documents.

F-35 production quality worries Senate panel

(Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday questioned the quality of production on the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, citing a "potentially serious issue" with its electronic warfare capability.

"The committee is ... concerned about production quality and whether it is sufficient to ensure the delivery of JSF aircraft to the U.S. and its allies at an affordable price," the committee said in a report accompanying its fiscal 2013 defense budget bill.

Italy has already scaled back its planned orders for the new, radar-evading warplane and several other countries are slowing their orders, citing budgetary pressures. Japan has warned it could cancel its order if the cost per plane rises from what it was offered.

Real dialogue needed about the fallout of the petro-boom

Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair’s claim that the Canadian manufacturing sector has been adversely affected by fallout from the Alberta petro-boom — through a mechanism known to economists as Dutch disease — set off a firestorm of strident attacks from Conservative politicians, Western premiers, and the media commentariat.

Mulcair raises a legitimate and empirically defensible — albeit sensitive — public policy issue, which should rightly spur a vigorous policy debate, not continued over-the-top-outbursts.

Dutch disease occurs when a resource boom causes a country’s real exchange rate to rise to the point where other traded products, notably manufactured ones, become too expensive to export, leading to the decline of those sectors.

'Province-worshippers' doom real Canada

Canada will never fulfil Prime Minister Stephen Harper's dream of it becoming an "energy superpower." Superpowers are coherent states capable of national policy making. They're not governed by a toxic combination of provincial autonomists and federal decentralists.

Frightened by the fury unleashed in Alberta over the original National Energy Program in the early 1980s, successive federal and provincial governments of all political stripes have avoided even putting the words national and energy together in one sentence.

Instead, Alberta Premier Alison Redford is now advocating a "Canadian energy strategy." Her idea was more or less embraced by the western premiers last week. She described it to TVO's Steve Paikin last winter.

El Stephano, northern bull-fighter

Watching the last days of this parliamentary session is like taking in the demise of a skinny-assed bull at the hands of an incompetent matador – messy, cruel, and slightly disgusting.

You know the bull will soon drop to its knees, pink froth at the nostrils, eyes rolling up inside the skull, instinctively thrashing the air with sluggish horns. It doesn’t know the contest is now a formality – like democracy in Canada.

Shut down in committee, de-financed by legislation, closed off in debate and out-voted on every item of the Harper government’s undeclared agenda (as measured against the party’s 2011 election platform), the opposition bellows and staggers along. The House of Commons is a grotty dust bowl where the bull always dies ingloriously.

Secret Memo Warns That Canada Cyber Threat Is Growing

Cyber attacks pose a greater risk to Canada’s economic prosperity than the government previously believed and the country lacks the tools to fight hackers, officials warn in internal documents obtained by Bloomberg News.

“All new knowledge obtained indicates the problem is more widespread than previously thought,” said a “secret”-stamped memo to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews from his deputy minister, obtained under Canada’s freedom-of-information law.

Canada is trying to bolster its defenses as countries deploy increasingly advanced technology to disrupt their enemies’ networks and gain access to trade secrets. Some of Canada’s biggest companies, such as Potash Corp. (POT) of Saskatchewan Inc. and Nortel Networks Corp., have been targeted.

UN tourism body says Canada quit more than two weeks before Mugabe issue arose

Sometimes, you just have to grin and bear it.

Foreign Minister John Baird stood smiling in a suit and tie, staring into a swarm of snapping photographers.

All around him, celebrating Africa Day at a downtown Ottawa conference centre May 30, were the top envoys posted to Canada of about a dozen African countries.

Dressed in traditional garb, Zimbabwean Ambassador Florence Zano Chideya, the dean of the African diplomatic corps in Canada, stood shoulder to shoulder with Mr. Baird.

For the cameras, they smiled. But earlier that day, Mr. Baird and his government expressed nothing but disdain for the government Ms. Chideya represents.

Veterans plan protest on D-Day anniversary

Canadian soldiers and veterans are planning a rally today on Parliament Hill — the 68th anniversary of the D-Day invasion — to mark what they say is the low standard of benefits for veterans of recent wars.

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy group said it wants to honour the soldiers who fought on the beaches of Normandy, France, and began the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

But the group's head, Michael Blais, also said it wants to draw the public's attention to how differently veterans are treated now.

No apologies for pricey limo tab for ministers at Davoscanda

OTTAWA — The Harper government is making no apologies for spending more than $20,000 to ferry three cabinet ministers around the tiny Swiss village of Davos last year.

Documents obtained by the NDP show that four vehicles were hired at a cost of just over $23,000 while the ministers attended an exclusive retreat for government and business leaders from around the globe.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, then industry minister Tony Clement and then international trade minister Peter Van Loan represented Canada at the annual Davos conference in 2011.

Critics find Tory intransigence over release of information on cuts perplexing

OTTAWA — The refusal of Canada’s top bureaucrat to release information on the nature of the Conservative government’s $5.2 billion in spending cuts is “unlawful” and prevents Parliament from doing its job to hold the government to account, says the parliamentary budget officer.

Kevin Page said he’s prepared to go to Federal Court as a “last resort” if his office and Privy Council Clerk Wayne Wouters are unable to resolve their differences over the timing and release of information about the cuts.

“Would PBO be prepared to go to court? Yes, if necessary,” said Page in an email.

Harper eager to quash anti-abortion motion

The Prime Minister’s Office is putting heavy pressure on members of the Conservative caucus to vote down a Tory MP’s effort to trigger a legislative review of when human life legally begins.

It’s unusual for a PMO to work against its own MPs’ motions and private members’ bills but Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are anxious to avoid association with any legislative activity that could be characterized by opponents as re-opening the debate over abortion.

MPs are privately being reminded that support for fellow Conservative Stephen Woodworth’s motion would be considered a vote against Mr. Harper’s wishes. Word being spread in the Commons lobby recently by senior Tories – not the PMO – went even further, saying a vote for Mr. Woodworth’s motion is a vote against Mr. Harper.

Amir Khadir arrested, our democracy under siege

Quebec Solidaire MNA, and co-spokesperson for the party, Amir Khadir has been arrested tonight in Quebec City. Video from TVA shows him in handcuffs and being led onto a bus with an unknown number of other demonstrators.

A message was posted on the Facebook page of Quebec Solidaire, the left wing political party for which Khadir is the only MNA, explaining that Amir left the National Assembly, heard casseroles and decided to join the completely peaceful march.

The demonstration was declared illegal, some part of it was kettled, arrested and loaded onto a bus. In a statement on Khadir's arrest, Quebec Solidaire says 65 were arrested alongside him.

Germany shows that renewable is doable

Germany recently reached a renewable energy milestone. On Saturday, May 26, the country met half its midday energy needs with solar power. On the preceding workday Friday, it met a third with solar. According to German renewable energy expert Norbert Allnoch, during those midday periods, the country’s solar plants produced 22 gigawatts of electricity, as much as 20 nuclear power stations running at full capacity.

Granted, those were sunny days, but Germany gets about 20 per cent of its overall annual electricity from renewable sources, including solar, wind, water, and thermal. A Reuters article reports that “Germany has nearly as much installed solar power generation capacity as the rest of the world combined and gets about four per cent of its overall annual electricity needs from the sun alone. It aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020.”

Drones Vs. Democracy

In the United States, our Constitution explicitly divides the president’s role as commander in chief in war from Congress’s role in declaring war. Yet, these links and this division of labour are now under siege as a result of a technology that our founding fathers never could have imagined.

Just 10 years ago, the idea of using armed robots in war was the stuff of Hollywood fantasy. Today, the U.S. military has more than 7,000 unmanned aerial systems, popularly called drones. There are 12,000 more on the ground. Last year, they carried out hundreds of strikes – both covert and overt – in six countries, transforming the way our democracy deliberates and engages in what we used to think of as war. 

The Commons: Jason Kenney again surveys the scope of history

The Scene. For the second time in two days, Jason Kenney was compelled to objectively explain for the opposition the extent of the Harper government’s unparalleled greatness.

“Mr. Speaker,” the Immigration Minister declared, “the reality is that no government in the modern history of Canada has done more to invest in giving the equipment necessary to our men and women in uniform.”

The general concept of “modern history” is said to describe all time since the end of the Middle Ages, or something like the last 500 years. In that sense, the governments that saw this country through the first and second world wars might quibble with Mr. Kenney’s presumption of peerlessness. If, on the other hand, Mr. Kenney meant something like “recent history,” he might be right. Of course, it might also be noted that none of this country’s other recent governments have spent so long at war.

NDP says Defence deputy minister Fonberg may be in contempt of Parliament for Public Accounts Committee testimony on F-35 fighter jets

PARLIAMENT HILL—The NDP has served notice at a Commons committee inquiry into the government’s controversial $25-billion F-35 fighter jet project that it wants the committee to report on a possible contempt of Parliament because of contradictions between testimony from the deputy minister of the Department of National Defence and Auditor General Michael Ferguson.

In a motion tabled at the Public Accounts Committee hearings into Mr. Ferguson’s politically-charged report released in April on the federal government’s F-35 procurement, the NDP raised the possibility on Tuesday that it believes the deputy minister of National Defence, Rob Fonberg, may be in contempt of Parliament because of his insistence in early testimony that Mr. Ferguson was wrong to tell the committee that Cabinet approved a total budget of $25-billion for the acquisition and operations of 65 F-35 stealth fighter jets two years before Defence Minister Peter MacKay (Central Nova, N.S.) announced the procurement plan in 2010.

Uniting progressives at the grassroots level — is Simcoe North alone?

OTTAWA—In its most extreme form, it’s a merger.

More commonly, it is known as “loose co-operation,” or collaboration, or “uniting progressives.’’

Whatever you wish to call it, talk of co-operation between Liberals, New Democrats and Greens keeps popping up like a stubborn weed in a springtime lawn, only to be rooted out by party headquarters.

But what if it was happening at the riding level, albeit informally, fuelled partly by a shared opposition to the Conservative omnibus budget bill — despite the lack of sanction from any head office?

Let’s look at one incubator, Simcoe North.

U.S.-Canada border security blueprint: “the next generation of integrated cross-border law enforcement”

OTTAWA—The idea of building a fence along the U.S.-Canada border has been officially ditched.

Instead, the United States’ new Northern Border Strategy looks to rely on more virtual eyes in the sky, boots on the ground and greater integration with Canadian law enforcement.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano released Tuesday the new blueprint, the first department-wide strategy for American policy and operations at the northern border.

The 20-page document foresees a far more fluid border — at least as far as law enforcement personnel and border guards go.

Joseph Stiglitz on Occupy Wall Street & Why US-Europe Austerity Will Only Weaken Economic Recovery

As European leaders scramble to address the sovereign debt crisis, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz argues the austerity measures pushed by Germany, the United States and international creditors are only "going to make the countries weaker and weaker." If European economies contract, Stiglitz predicts that "our economy [will] go down further into the hole. ... Those policies then increase the probability of our weak economy tipping over into recession." Stiglitz’s new book is "The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers our Future."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---

Joseph Stiglitz on "The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future"

Several months before Occupy Wall Street, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote "Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%," an article for Vanity Fair. He returns to the subject in his new book looking at how inequality is now greater in the United States than any other industrialized nation. He notes that the six heirs of the Wal-Mart fortune command wealth equivalent to the entire bottom 30 percent of American society. "It’s a comment both on how well off the top are and how poor the bottom are," Stiglitz says. "It’s really emblematic of the divide that has gotten much worse in our society." On Tuesday, Bloomberg News reported that pay for the top CEOs on Wall Street increased by more than 20 percent last year. Meanwhile, census data shows nearly one in two Americans, or 150 million people, have fallen into poverty or could be classified as low-income. "United States is the country in the world with the highest level of inequality [of the advanced industrial countries], and it’s getting worse," Stiglitz says. "What’s even more disturbing is we’ve [also] become the country with the least equality of opportunity."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---