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.]

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Colonel, the Soldier and the Caregiver

An unexpected blizzard roars out of the night sky to whiten the land and sink the margin between highway and field under a deepening slough of snow. Peering from the motel window at first light, I think, “We’re not going anywhere.” I’m traveling with a colonel from the Pentagon whose job it is to canvass the country and visit loyal but perhaps disheartened Americans who want to raise money and start organizations to “support our troops.” He checks them out, pats them on the back, looks into their funding, tries to get them more and offers words of encouragement about the importance of their mission. He gives the same talk everywhere, like a presidential candidate, in a tight-lipped, fast-paced monotone with an urgent edge to it that warns listeners not to interrupt. It’s not a conversation, it’s a talk—and it provokes a complicated response. It makes you feel sorry for wounded warriors yet secretly glad to be an American who is not a wounded warrior or related to one, and at the same time ashamed of yourself and the folly of your country and painfully sick at heart and sad.

Justin Trudeau confuses forceful debate for negative politics

In his effort to present himself as the appropriate leader for the post-Harper era, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau seems keen to reframe Canadian political debate in a profound way, depicting hard-hitting, substantive debate as negative, divisive politics.

It was striking that, after the Liberals beat the NDP in two Liberal strongholds in Monday night’s by-elections, Trudeau used the occasion to denounce the NDP as “negative” and “divisive.”

In attacking the NDP like this — in the midst of his own victory speech, no less — Trudeau appeared to be trying to stigmatize forceful debate, suggesting it has no place in political discussion.

Business as usual for tone deaf Tories

More than six months into the Senate spending affair it is possible that none of Stephen Harper’s otherwise combative senior ministers want to volunteer to risk a political limb in the scandal’s muddy trenches.

Even if they did, it may be that none of them would be willing to execute the masochistic marching orders emanating from Harper’s PMO that have so far only increased the government’s daily suffering in question period.

Former PMO staffers hire pricey law firms as RCMP probes Wright-Duffy deal

Three former staffers in the Prime Minister’s Office have hired high-priced Toronto law firms as the RCMP investigates a $90,000 cheque Nigel Wright wrote to Sen. Mike Duffy.

CTV News has learned that David Van Hemmen, Chris Woodcock and Benjamin Perrin have retained the legal services of three Toronto firms that charge hundreds of dollars per hour -- and taxpayers are footing the bill.

The federal government typically uses Justice Department lawyers, but outside lawyers can also be hired.

Britons protest over Israel plan to remove 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins

More than 50 public figures in Britain, including high-profile artists, musicians and writers, have put their names to a letter opposing an Israeli plan to forcibly remove up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their historic desert land – an act condemned by critics as ethnic cleansing.

The letter, published in the Guardian, is part of a day of protest on Saturday in Israel, Palestine and two dozen other countries over an Israeli parliamentary bill that is expected to get final approval by the end of this year.

Violent police crackdown in Kiev

Riot police have launched a violent crackdown in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, using batons and stun grenades to expel hundreds of pro-Europe protesters from the city's main Independence Square early on Saturday, according to witnesses.

Police moved in on protesters who were still camped on the square following bigger demonstrations on Friday night against President Viktor Yanukovich's decision not to sign a landmark agreement on trade with the European Union.

Activists Are Arrested Protesting Walmart’s Low Wages

Walmart employees and supporters protested in cities all across the country on Black Friday in opposition to Walmart’s low wages and poor treatment of workers. In some cases, protesters volunteered to engage in acts of civil disobedience and were arrested by police. Organizers expected 1,500 total protests in California, Alaska, New Jersey, Virginia, Florida, Texas, Minnesota, Illinois, Washington and Canada. In Secaucus, New Jersey, thirteen activists were arrested after sitting in the middle of the street to block traffic.

Canada Falls On Internet Speed Rankings

Canada has some of the slowest internet speeds in the developed world.

According to data from broadband research company Ookla, Canadians on average had the 38th fastest internet speeds in the world. Among developed countries, only a handful had slower internet speeds than Canada, among them Australia, New Zealand and Italy.

That represents a fall of five spots since this spring, when Canada ranked 33rd in Ookla’s survey.

Feeling social? If so, feds could be watching

OTTAWA - Big Brother is watching you — on just about every social-media platform you can imagine.

Tweets, public Facebook posts and YouTube videos could soon be subject to round-the-clock scrutiny by the federal government, a procurement document posted this week by Public Works and Government Services Canada suggests.

Welcome to media monitoring in the 21st century, when simply leafing through a stack of newspapers in the morning is about as antiquated as, well, newspapers.

Critic Slams BC Liberals' Slow-Leaking Liquor Review

The NDP's liquor critic is calling on the BC Liberal government to publish the B.C. liquor review instead of releasing recommendations about deregulating liquor sales in drips and drops.

When Parliamentary Secretary John Yap announced Nov. 28 that the government wants to allow liquor sales in grocery stores, Yap said it was among more than 70 recommendations in his report delivered Nov. 25 to Attorney General Suzanne Anton. The report will be released early in 2014, but Yap said more recommendations could be released in coming weeks.

Auditor confirms Sen. Gerstein's senior Deloitte contact named in RCMP docs asked him for sensitive info on Duffy investigation

PARLIAMENT HILL—A forensic accountant leading a Deloitte investigation last March into Senate expenses disclosed Thursday that sensitive information Conservative Senator Irving Gerstein attempted to obtain was the same that former PMO chief of staff Nigel Wright was seeking while he was planning to repay Senator Mike Duffy’s ineligible housing claims.

Gary Timm, a member of Deloitte’s forensics financial advisory team, told the Senate Internal Economy Committee that Deloitte’s managing partner for Ontario, Michael Runia, telephoned him last March to ask how much Sen. Duffy would have to give back to the Senate if he repaid four years worth of living and travel expenses that had been at the centre of a growing government crisis since December 2012.

Canadian woman refused U.S. entry because of depression

A Toronto woman denied a flight to New York as part of a cruise trip wants to know how U.S. border agents knew about her history of mental illness.

Ellen Richardson says she was told by U.S. customs officials at Pearson International Airport on Monday that because she had been hospitalized for clinical depression in June 2012, she could not enter the U.S.

Education Department To Renew Sallie Mae Contract, Despite Allegations Of Wrongdoing

Student loan giant Sallie Mae is currently under fire from lawmakers, federal regulators, consumer groups and student advocates for allegedly violating numerous consumer protection laws. The company is facing accusations that it cheats soldiers on active duty, engages in discriminatory lending, pushes borrowers into delinquency by improperly processing their monthly payments, and doesn't provide enough aid to borrowers in distress.

Monsanto, the TPP and Global Food Dominance

“Control oil and you control nations,” said US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the 1970s.  ”Control food and you control the people.”

Global food control has nearly been achieved, by reducing seed diversity with GMO (genetically modified) seeds that are distributed by only a few transnational corporations. But this agenda has been implemented at grave cost to our health; and if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) passes, control over not just our food but our health, our environment and our financial system will be in the hands of transnational corporations.

As NAFTA Nears 20 and the TPP Nears Birth, the Middle Class Nears Death

As the Obama administration continues to press for the ill-advised Trans-Pacific Partnership, it is worth taking a look at the repercussions of the North American Free Trade Agreement, nearing its 20th birthday on Jan. 1. The New York Times’ “Room for Debate” weekly battle of op-eds on Sunday trotted out the usual arguments from the free traders, who ignore the sufferings of American workers under NAFTA and focus instead on the amount of business that’s being done.

Federal government not ready to reduce pollution from oil companies

OTTAWA – The federal government isn’t ready to release regulations aimed at stopping rising climate-warming emissions from the oil and gas sector, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said Thursday.

“We want to get this right for Canada and when I’m ready to release this information that will be released publicly,” said Aglukkaq in response to questions from opposition New Democrats and Liberals at a parliamentary committee.

Environment Canada recently released a report on Canada’s emissions trends showing that annual carbon pollution from the oilsands industry, the fastest growing source of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the country, is pushing an international climate change commitment by Prime Minister Stephen Harper out of reach.

Gov. Scott Walker Pushed By Tea Party, Conservatives To Abandon Common Core Standards

Tea Party and conservative groups across the state of Wisconsin are calling on Gov. Scott Walker to lead the fight against the Common Core State Standards.

The Common Core State Standards have been adopted in more than 40 states and are being taught to the same benchmarks. While the standards are typically seen as more rigorous than what most states previously used, in Wisconsin, some critics are arguing the standards are too mild and represent an example of federal overreach.

What The Pentagon Means When It Says The U.S. Military Is 'Ready'

WASHINGTON (AP) — Warnings from defense officials and some experts are mounting and becoming more dire: The nation's military is being hobbled by budget cuts.

"You'd better hope we never have a war again," the House Armed Services Committee chairman, Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., said of the decline in what the military calls its readiness.

So should Americans be worried?

Egyptians Demonstrate Despite New Protest Law

CAIRO (AP) — Hundreds of Islamist demonstrators took to the streets on Friday in cities across Egypt, days after a disputed protest law was adopted and police forcefully broke up unauthorized gatherings.

Since a popularly backed military coup ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July, his supporters have been staging near-daily protests calling for his reinstatement, with Friday's weekly Muslim prayers a key time for mobilizing their largest numbers. The rallies have often descended into street clashes with security forces or civilians.

There’s Nothing Postracial About Richie Incognito or Craig Cobb

They're curiously phrased, those expressions of sympathy by Miami Dolphins players who have lined up to defend left guard Richie Incognito's violent behavior toward his teammate, offensive lineman Jonathan Martin. Incognito achieved particular notoriety recently for directing a hefty wet stream of racialized epithets at Martin. ("Hey, wassup, you half-[n-word] piece of [expletive]...[I'm going to] slap your real mother across the face.... I'll kill you!") This bullying was so relentless that Martin decided to resign from the NFL.

Michael Eligon, Escaped Mental Patient, Killed In Toronto Police Shooting

Video of the disturbing last moments of an escaped mental patient who was fatally shot by police has been released to the public.

The video, captured by a police dashboard camera shows officers screaming at escaped mental patient Michael Eligon before shooting him dead.

The video, captured in Toronto's east end on Feb. 3, 2012, shows Eligon walking toward a line of officers, wearing a hospital gown and a pair of scissors in each hand.

If we abolish Senate, why not the Commons

It’s a website designed to give us a laugh, but is accidentally revealing the broken state of things on Parliament Hill as this scandal-filled year in politics draws to a close.

In case you haven’t seen it, the website is pretty simple comedy. You merely have to type in a question, click a button, and you receive a recording of Paul Calandra, the prime minister’s parliamentary secretary, talking about something totally off-topic.

This is what Calandra, also the MP for Oak Ridges-Markham, has been doing almost every day since Parliament resumed this fall. He’s regaled us with tales of his daughters’ lemonade stand, for instance, and, memorably, Eugene, the Filipino immigrant who delivered pizzas at the Calandra family restaurant.

Mike Duffy audit: 3 things we've learned about Deloitte

More than a week after the latest RCMP court filings turned the spotlight on alleged communications between Conservative Senator Irving Gerstein and a senior partner at the auditing firm that investigated Senator Mike Duffy's expense claims, the two lead auditors responsible for conducting that review appeared before the Senate committee that ordered the initial investigation last spring.

In Africa, Canada's 'economic diplomacy' is nothing new

The Conservative government’s new strategy of “economic diplomacy” is largely just a formalization of what its diplomats have already been quietly doing on the ground in places like Africa.

While the government complains that its diplomats in “tweed jackets” should be buying “business suits” and devoting themselves to trade deals, the reality is that Canadian diplomats have been focusing on business and trade for years already, under heavy pressure from Stephen Harper’s government.

Friday, November 29, 2013

'The Deserters' -- These vivid stories of men who fled may finally kill the myth of the 'Good War.'

  • The Deserters: A Hidden History of World War II
  • Charles Glass
  • Penguin (2013)
When I was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1963, we joined the military with a symbolic step forward. The only one who didn't move was a Jehovah's Witness; I ruefully admired him as the bravest man in the room.

In those days, conscientious objection was only marginally more acceptable than draft dodging, and only outright desertion was worse. Our parents had fought in the Second World War, which had been a "Good War," a just struggle against genocidal evil. That Manichean struggle had carried on into the Cold War; we were enlisted in it whether we liked it or not.

Energy in, energy out: Getting off the fossil fuel treadmill

The European Union (EU) fuel quality directive requires a 6 per cent reduction in the greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of fuels used in vehicles by 2020. To help meet this target, the EU has calculated average GHG releases from biofuels, conventional crude, tar sands, and oil shale using a "life-cycle" approach, including emissions from extraction, processing and distribution.

Canada's federal government recently released a new report criticizing the EU's fuel quality directive: the Independent Assessment of the European Commission's Fuel Quality Directive's "Conventional" Default Value. The report does not challenge the EU's conclusion that development of tar sands and shale oil releases high amounts of GHGs.  It merely asserts that "some light and heavy conventional crudes have GHG intensities that are similar or even higher than those of crudes derived from natural bitumen," because of flaring "in oil fields where infrastructure is insufficient to handle the associated gas. " It cites Russia and Nigeria as countries where gas flaring increases GHG releases.

CSEC security tear down activist banner at 'spy palace'

On November 27 security guards at the construction site for the new $1.2 billion headquarters for the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) confronted a group of young people who successfully hung a 24ft banner reading "I SPY A WASTE OF MONEY."

Multiple security guards informed the comedians that they were on private property and that alarms in the facility had been triggered by their presence. The guards proceeded to film the activists, who responded by filming the guards and staring at them with two 3ft eyeballs.

America is the Stingiest Rich Country in the World

Over at the Economist, Steven Mazie directs me to a recent New Yorker piece on income inequality by John Cassidy. Its most revealing chart, Mazie says, is one that compares raw income inequality in various rich countries (as calculated by GINI scores) to income inequality after taxes and government transfers. In other words, it helps us see which countries do the most to fight the relentless rise in income inequality over the past three decades.

But I wanted to see that more directly, so I re-charted the data. All I did was calculate how much taxes and transfers reduced inequality in every country that had high inequality to begin with. Unsurprisingly, whether you use raw number or percentages, the United States is #1:

The United States is one of the richest countries in the world, with a top 1 percent that's seen its income triple or more in the past three decades. And yet, we also do the least to fight the rising tide of income inequality. Government programs in America reduce the level of inequality by only 26 percent. Nobody else is so stingy.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Original Article
Author: Kevin Drum

I Tried To See Where My T-Shirt Was Made, and the Factory Sent Thugs After Me

Aruna, a 19-year-old nurse I met in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is a lot like some of my friends in Washington, DC—bright, single, self-assured, loves her job. She speaks quickly and eloquently, not stopping to drink her tea and hardly ever even pausing to breathe. When I first meet her in Coimbatore, a city known for its textile industry, she is on her lunch break, wearing her freshly starched white uniform and a traditional red bindi dot on her forehead.

How Wall Street Has Turned Housing Into a Dangerous Get-Rich-Quick Scheme—Again

You can hardly turn on the television or open a newspaper without hearing about the nation's impressive, much celebrated housing recovery. Home prices are rising! New construction has started! The crisis is over! Yet beneath the fanfare, a whole new get-rich-quick scheme is brewing.

Over the last year and a half, Wall Street hedge funds and private equity firms have quietly amassed an unprecedented rental empire, snapping up Queen Anne Victorians in Atlanta, brick-faced bungalows in Chicago, Spanish revivals in Phoenix. In total, these deep-pocketed investors have bought more than 200,000 cheap, mostly foreclosed houses in cities hardest hit by the economic meltdown.

Conservatives muzzle key players from testifying on Duffy audit

OTTAWA — Conservatives in the upper chamber prevented one of two key players at the centre of a storm over Sen. Mike Duffy’s audit from testifying about what he knew, and were equally unwilling to let a top Tory senator testify as well.

The Conservatives blocked one attempt to call senior Deloitte partner Michael Runia, the auditor of record for the Conservative party on Elections Canada documents, to answer questions about a call he made to Duffy’s audit team seeking confidential information.

RCMP docs show 'how deep the rot was' in PMO

Alleged interference into an audit of Mike Duffy’s expenses “showed just how deep the rot was” in the Prime Minister’s Office, says Conservative communications consultant David Sachs.

The long-time Tory worked for former cabinet ministers Lawrence Cannon and Peter Kent, and now sits on the board of the Conservative Riding Association in Pontiac, Que.

Sachs told CTV’s Power Play Thursday evening that his disenchantment with the Conservative government and Harper “has been building over a number of years.”

PMO has hired three law firms to handle Duffy-Wright investigation

The prime minister’s office has hired three law firms to provide legal advice to current and former employees in relation to the RCMP investigation of former chief of staff Nigel Wright’s $90,000 payment to Mike Duffy.

The PMO didn’t provide an estimate of the cost of the legal fees, but they are likely to be steep. The lead lawyer on the file, Bay Street litigator Robert Staley, a partner at Bennet Jones, is said to bill in the $900-an-hour range.

The other firms are Miller Thompson, and Caroll and Wallace.

Cyberbullying Bill Accountability Needs Improvement: Privacy Czar

OTTAWA - The federal privacy commissioner says she has questions about the government's cyberbullying bill — including the lack of accountability and reporting mechanisms to shed light on new investigative powers.

Jennifer Stoddart issued a statement following an outpouring of concern from civil libertarians that the bill tabled last week goes too far in expanding police powers to probe online behaviour.

Group of Tory Backbenchers Pushing To Limit Prime Minister's Power

OTTAWA – A group of Conservative backbenchers is planning to do something they have only discussed in secret until now – they want to limit the Prime Minister’s power.

They are frustrated by the heavy hand of the Prime Minister’s Office, which controls how they vote, what speeches they read and which questions they ask. Sources say Ontario MP Michael Chong is expected to propose a bill next week that would remove a party leader’s ability to veto the candidature of a sitting MP in an election and give the caucus the ability to call for a leadership review.

The Turkey Lobby Helped Block Child Labor Regulations

When Congress moved to regulate most child labor in 1938, an exception was carved for the agriculture industry. Children as young as 12 are allowed to engage in dangerous farmwork, which has lead to dozens of deaths and serious injuries for America’s rural youth. Though the Obama administration’s Labor Department moved better regulate child farm labor, industry pressure forced officials to back down. Mariya Strauss published a deeply reported investigation into the matter for The Nation earlier this month.

Tough Thanksgiving for Food Stamp Families

Forget conservative fantasies of food stamp beneficiaries living high on the public dole and feasting on king crab legs—life on food stamps is anything but luxurious.

The average daily food stamp benefit is $4.44, which as you might imagine is almost unworkable. It’s very difficult for beneficiaries not to go over that amount each day, and data collected by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that 90 percent of benefits are redeemed by the twenty-first day of each month. So the last week of the month is particularly rough for people who rely on food stamps:

China's dispatch of jets ratchets up tension over air defence zone

Tensions have risen further over China's declaration of an air defence zone in disputed regions of the East China Sea after it sent fighter jets and an early warning aircraft to patrol the area.

The state news agency Xinhua announced the patrols after Japan, South Korea and the US all sent military aircraft through the zone in a clear challenge to the Chinese measure. Beijing had previously responded only by saying it had monitored the flights.

Shen Jinke, a spokesman for the Chinese air force, described Thursday’s dispatch of aircraft as "a defensive measure and in line with international common practices” in the Xinhua report.

China Military Sends Fighter Jets Into Disputed Air Space Over East China Sea

WASHINGTON, Nov 28 (Reuters) - China's military sent several fighter jets and an early warning aircraft on patrol into disputed air space over the East China Sea on Thursday, the Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported, quoting a spokesman for the People's Liberation Army Air Force.

The move raises the stakes in a standoff with the United States, Japan and South Korea over the zone. Japan and South Korea sent their own military aircraft through the air space on Thursday.

Saying Lord's Prayer At School To Continue For Now In S.E. Alberta

The practice of reciting the Lord's Prayer will continue for now at some schools in southeastern Alberta.

The issue came to a head earlier this month after a complaint from a mother whose son attends Dr. Hamman School in Taber, about 50 kilometres east of Lethbridge.

Postmedia’s Godfrey saw total pay rise 50 per cent last year

Postmedia Network Inc. chief executive officer Paul Godfrey saw his total compensation increase by 50 per cent in the last year, as he steered the company through a series of deep cuts intended to reduce the newspaper company’s reliance on print advertising.

Mr. Godfrey, whose contract was recently renewed for another three years, took home $1.7-million in total compensation in fiscal 2013 compared to $1.1-million the year earlier according to documents filed with securities regulators.

Income Inequality: Canada Does Surprisingly Little To Reduce Wage Gap

Canada is among the developed countries that do the least to reduce income inequality, according to an analysis from Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum.

Drum looked at the degree of income inequality before taxes and government transfers, and compared those numbers to the degree of income inequality after taxes and transfers, for various developed countries.

Tories block key witness on Duffy audit

OTTAWA - Conservative senators blocked a bid Thursday to have a key figure from the audit firm Deloitte testify about alleged interference into the review of Sen. Mike Duffy's expenses.

The move came as the Senate's internal economy committee heard from three other Deloitte partners about the audit they had done into Duffy's living claims between February and May.

Deloitte's Gary Timm confirmed what had been revealed in a police report last week — that Michael Runia, one of the firm's managing partners, called him to inquire about the Duffy audit. Runia was not a member of the audit team.

Canada's wrong-headed position on Iran

As a Europe correspondent in the 1980s I spent considerable time covering NATO manoeuvres and talking to officers about their plans to defend, at all cost, an area called the Fulda Gap.

That's a stretch of flat German lowlands through which Soviet tanks were expected to pour into Western Europe if the balloon ever went up. The East-West divide then was also awash in tactical nuclear arms and neither side trusted each other, with good reason.

Top spy won't answer questions about G20 surveillance

News that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government allowed the largest American spy agency to conduct widespread surveillance in Canada during the 2010 G8 and G20 summits isn't drawing a response from the defence minister or the head of Canada's surveillance agency.

John Forster, chief of the Communications Security Establishment of Canada (CSEC), and Defence Minister Rob Nicholson both pointed to international security and said they couldn't answer questions about top secret documents retrieved by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Where Is Media Hunger for Government Transparency?

Journalists must "take the gloves off by pushing governments to be more transparent."

Award-winning CBC News producer David McKie rang that fight bell in a column published earlier this month in J-Source.

But so far, many newspaper columnists and editorial writers appear to have left their gloves on when it comes to covering recent proposals to fix the country's broken access to information system.

Why Climate Pariahs Like Australia and Canada Matter

Another year, another climate conference. Another round of name-calling, blame-pinning and hand-wringing. Another set of vaguely worded commitments. Another pledge to do better the next time around.

In case you missed them, two weeks of international climate talks in Warsaw wrapped up last week. And yes, there was little on the surface to distinguish their "blurry" outcome, in the words of Politico, from the negotiations of the year before, or the year before that, or the year…

More Conservative hypocrisy on vicious cluster bombs

They call it Bill C-6.

Sounds innocent enough, though the matter at hand is anything but innocent.

The bill, now before the House, deals with nasty little weapons called cluster bombs.

They are explosives that release small and quite vicious little "bomblets."

Those bomblets sound almost cute, until you realize they take peoples’ arms, legs and heads off.

Victims of cluster bombs -- or cluster munitions -- include a great many civilians, including thousands of children.

'Undoing Border Imperialism' contextualizes urgency of migrant justice issue

Harsha Walia is a migrant justice activist trained in law, who is involved with the Vancouver chapter of No One Is Illegal (NOII), and in Undoing Border Imperialism she offers a unique blend of handbook and textbook. Walia combines academic discourse on border imperialism -- drawing on feminist studies, Marxist analysis, critical race theory and post structuralism -- with strategies for anti-oppression movements, the latter based on her analysis of the chronology and shape of NOII.

She also gives us 13 short narratives by migrants of colour, and these pieces -- variously tender, thoughtful, angry -- serve to humanize a theory-heavy narrative for those of us readers who aren’t active in or well-informed about these movements.

Walia states that borders, both physical and conceptual, are the outcome of an unfair global capitalist system, which, in collusion with imperialism and colonialism, causes global displacement and migration.

How scandal has become ingrained in our political way of life

The Prime Minister’s explanation once sounded so simple. Confronted last spring by news reports that his then chief of staff, Nigel Wright, had cut a $90,000 cheque to cover Sen. Mike Duffy’s dubious expenses, Stephen Harper said it was the first he’d heard about it, and his top aide was soon out of a job. But RCMP documents filed with an Ontario court earlier this month, as part of the Mounties’ ongoing investigation into Wright’s deal with Duffy, paint a much more complicated picture. As high-level Conservatives connived last winter over how to make Duffy’s expense embarrassments go away, Wright emailed Harper’s top communications advisers, telling them, “The PM knows, in broad terms only, that I personally assisted Duffy when I was getting him to agree to repay the expenses.”

Harper says he’s telling the truth. Let him prove it.

It’s time for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to call a public inquiry into Duffygate.

Former PM Paul Martin did that in the eye of the storm that was the ad sponsorship scandal. It was the only way to shore up badly-damaged public confidence in government. It also gave a measure of closure to public revulsion over serious institutional corruption — to the degree that was possible.

It was a hard call because Martin himself was not involved in AdScam, but knew full well what opening up that barrel of worms would mean to his tenure as prime minister.

Tory changes to accountability rules leave Harper blameless in Duffy affair

If Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not know about the cheque written by his former chief of staff to cover the improperly claimed expenses of Senator Mike Duffy, federal accountability guidelines written by his government suggest he does not need to shoulder responsibility.

When the Conservatives first took power in 2006, Accountable Government: A Guide for Ministers and Secretaries of State said that ministers were responsible for “the actions of all officials under their management and direction, whether or not the ministers had prior knowledge.”

Flaherty submitted pre-redacted expense claims in apparent violation of information law

OTTAWA — Finance Minister Jim Flaherty submitted travel expense claims that had been heavily redacted, with numerous “personal” items blacked out from his hotel bills before they were processed for reimbursement, in an apparent violation of the federal information law.

Eight of the hotel bills expensed to the Department of Finance by Flaherty in 2013 were altered to obscure the descriptions and prices of numerous line items charged to his rooms — items for which Flaherty was not paid back.

Joe Oliver: Natural Resources Ad Campaign To Cost $40 Million

OTTAWA - The Conservative government is spending $40 million this year to advertise Canada's natural resource sector — principally oil and gas — at home and abroad.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver revealed the figure Wednesday as his department seeks another $12.9 million to augment an international campaign designed to portray Canada as a stable and environmentally responsible source of energy.

That will bring NRCan's 2013-14 ad budget to about $40 million — $24 million for advertising abroad and $16.5 million for the domestic market.