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.]

Monday, January 07, 2013

Bernard Fellay, Head Of Traditionalist Catholic Sect, Says Jews Are 'Enemies Of The Church'

The head of a controversial Catholic sect says that Jews are "enemies of the Church," but the sect has denied any anti-Semitic intentions.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, declared Jews "enemies of the Church" during a talk that aired on a Canadian radio station, the Catholic News Agency recently reported. Fellay's remarks took place on Dec. 28 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Chapel in New Hamburg, Ontario.

The Hoax of Entitlement Reform

It has become accepted economic wisdom, uttered with deadpan certainty by policy pundits and budget scolds on both sides of the aisle, that the only way to get control over America's looming deficits is to "reform entitlements."

But the accepted wisdom is wrong.

Be Ready To Mint That Coin

Should President Obama be willing to print a $1 trillion platinum coin if Republicans try to force America into default? Yes, absolutely. He will, after all, be faced with a choice between two alternatives: one that’s silly but benign, the other that’s equally silly but both vile and disastrous. The decision should be obvious.

Idle No More's Hunger for Justice

Chief Theresa Spence is hungry. The Attawapiskat First Nation leader began a fast twenty-seven days ago to draw public attention to Canada’s Bill C-45. Critics charge that the omnibus legislation will challenge indigenous sovereignty and negatively alter the ways in which land and water are protected. Attawapiskat is in Ontario’s northernmost region. Edging the Hudson Bay, it’s plagued by deep unemployment and woefully inadequate housing. The only real employer is a DeBeers open-pit diamond mine, about an hour’s drive from where most people reside. Attawapiskat is just 600 straight miles from Canada’s Parliament Hill in Ottawa, but because road conditions are so dire you won’t find a map that will instruct you how to get there: it’s so remote, one has to fly in or out of major cities in order to get there.

Why I Am A Liberal

This past October, I participated in a debate at North Carolina State University sponsored by the Libertarian group Young Americans for Liberty. The YAL debates join a libertarian, conservative and a liberal. I held down the liberal pole. Why two positions to right of center and only one to the left? Good question, given that I find the potential breach within the the Democratic coalition—between, you might say, Keynesians and austerians, Krugmanites and Obamaites—more profound and potentially more portentous than that between conservatives and libertarians within the Republican coalition, but that’s an issue for another post. For this one, though, my inaugural post, the first of my thrice-weekly missives I’ll be blasting your way here at, you get a manifesto: my opening statement at that debate.

Lisa Jackson's EPA Resignation A Protest Against Approval Of Keystone Pipeline?

WASHINGTON - The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency resigned abruptly last week, reportedly to protest the Obama administration's apparent plans to approve TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline in the coming months.

The American environmental movement is abuzz following a New York Post report that Lisa Jackson suddenly quit the post because she doesn't want to be at the helm of the agency when the White House rubber-stamps the controversial project.

Anti-Spam Rules: Michael Geist Slams Most Recent Draft Of Regulations

MONTREAL - One prominent Internet law expert says Ottawa has backed down on elements of its touted anti-spam regulations after an outcry from business.

More than two years after the bill was passed, the government released another draft of the regulations last Friday.

Should aboriginal Canadians have their own seats in Parliament?

Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike and the emergence of the Idle No More movement show how utterly alienated aboriginal Canadians are from the mainstream political channels of elections, MPs and Parliament.

And yet the protests were triggered by a specific act of Parliament — Bill C-45.

The Invisibles: Migrant Workers in Canada

They hand you a soothing cup of Tim Hortons, pack frozen beef in factories, pick blueberries and apples on Abbotsford farms, serve fast-food meals and wipe tables, excavate mines and drill for oil in Western Canada, and raise your kids as if they were their own. Typically paid far less than Canadians, unprotected by labour laws, and disposed of when their contracts end, these migrant labourers have become ubiquitous while remaining all but invisible.

Under the Conservative government, the pool of migrant labour has expanded rapidly with almost no public discussion or oversight -- yet who benefits, and at what cost?

It's Official: Bitumen Mining Pollutes Northern Waterways

A new federally funded study on the tar sands has confirmed what a discredited industry-funded monitoring program could not: that pollution has now contaminated lakes as far as 90 km away from the massive mining project.

Due to "the absence of well executed environmental monitoring in the Athabasca oil sands" Environment Canada researchers cored the sediment of six lakes ranging from 35 km to 90 km away from the project.

In the sediment of boreal lakes researchers discovered that airborne pollutants from the tar sands production were now two to 23 times greater than levels deposited in the 1960s.

Alberta lakes show chemical effects of oilsands, study finds

A new study released today shows chemicals from 50 years of oilsands production are showing up in increasing amounts in lakes in Northern Alberta. And the effects are being felt much further away than previously thought.

The joint study between scientists at Queens University and Environment Canada looked at core samples from five lakes close to the oilsands mining and upgrading operations in Fort McMurray, Alta. They also studied samples from Namur Lake, 90 kilometres northwest.

Attawapiskat audit says federal funds spent without records

A newly released audit of the federal funding spent by the Attawapiskat First Nation has found significant documentation lacking for the $104 million transferred to the band between 2005 and 2011.

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence responded Monday in a news release, which dismissed the timing of the leaked audit as a distraction from the “true issues” and claimed it was designed to discredit her.

Stephen Harper, African Union Chair To Meet And Discuss An International Mission In Mali

OTTAWA - The head of the African Union is set to visit Ottawa this week.

Thomas Yayi Boni's meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper could bring a request for Canadian troops to be involved in an international mission in Mali.

The United Nations Security Council backed a proposal in December to send an African-led force of 3,300 soldiers into the country.

China: Controversial Forced Labor Camp System To End, Media Reports

BEIJING, Jan 7 (Reuters) - China will end its controversial system of forced labour camps, Chinese media cited the domestic security head as saying on Monday, a move that would mark a first step toward promises of reform made by new Communist Party chief Xi Jinping.

Chinese officials have pledged reform of the "re-education through labour" system, in place since the 1950s, which empowers police and other agencies to detain people for up to four years without charge.

Bank Of America, Fannie Mae Settlement: Bank To Pay $3.6 Billion To Settle Mortgage Claims

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bank of America says it will spend more than $10 billion to settle mortgage claims resulting from the housing meltdown.

Under the deal announced Monday, the bank will pay $3.6 billion to Fannie Mae and buy back $6.75 billion in loans that the North Carolina-based bank and its Countrywide banking unit sold to the government agency from Jan. 1, 2000 through Dec. 31, 2008. That includes about 30,000 loans.

The Big Fail

It’s that time again: the annual meeting of the American Economic Association and affiliates, a sort of medieval fair that serves as a marketplace for bodies (newly minted Ph.D.’s in search of jobs), books and ideas. And this year, as in past meetings, there is one theme dominating discussion: the ongoing economic crisis.

This isn’t how things were supposed to be. If you had polled the economists attending this meeting three years ago, most of them would surely have predicted that by now we’d be talking about how the great slump ended, not why it still continues.

Banks Foreclosure Settlement: $8.5 Billion Deal Reached Over Foreclosure Abuse Claims

WASHINGTON -- Federal bank regulators announced an $8.5 billion settlement with 10 large mortgage companies on Monday in a surprising deal that will end a much-derided foreclosure review in favor of a new program that authorities say will distribute aid to homeowners "significantly more quickly."

Casting Votes

Here’s a safe prediction for 2013: few people will pine for the Presidential campaign of 2012. Even Barack Obama’s most ardent supporters acknowledge that his victory provided little of the euphoria of four years ago. Not many Republicans have longed to hear from Mitt Romney since his swift journey to political oblivion. Anyone miss the barrage of Super PAC ads? (Those, alas, will probably be back in four years.) The pseudo-candidacy of Donald Trump? (Ditto.) But in last year’s spirited competition for the nadir of our political life the lowest blow may have been the Republicans’ systematic attempts to disenfranchise Democrats.

Hacker Group Anonymous Leaks Chilling Video in Case of Alleged Steubenville Rape, Cover-Up

We turn to Steubenville, Ohio, where members of a high school football team allegedly raped an underage girl and possibly urinated on her unconscious body over the course of an evening of partying in late August. The young men chronicled their actions on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. But after many in the town of Steubenville, including the high school football coach, rallied to the players’ defense, the hacker group "Anonymous" vowed to release the accused players’ personal information unless an apology was made. Anonymous has since released a video showing a male Steubenville high schooler joking about the alleged victim. We’re joined by three guests: Monika Johnson Hostler, president of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence; Kristen Gwynne, an associate editor at Alternet; and "X", a member of the hacktivist group Anonymous using a pseudonym.

Source: Democracy Now
Author: --

Protesters in China call for press freedom

Hundreds of press-freedom advocates have gathered outside the offices of a liberal Chinese newspaper at the centre of a censorship row to call for media freedom in China.

The protesters gathered outside the office of Southern Weekly in Guangzhou, capital of southern Guangdong province, on Monday calling for media freedom, a taboo subject in the country, holding banners and chanting slogans.

Now comes the real test for #IdleNoMore, Indigenous leadership and Canadians alike

It appears that the Prime Minister has finally decided that he should say or do something about the thousands of people who have been protesting his government’s policies every day for over a month, the hundreds running road and rail blockades, and the 3 people who have been on hunger strikes for 24 (in the case of Elders Raymond Robinson and Emil Bell) or 25 days (in the case of Chief Theresa Spence).

What he has decided to do is to call a meeting for January 11th to discuss “the treaty relationship and aboriginal rights, and economic development.”  All this he will do, he says, because "The Government of Canada and First Nations have an enduring historic relationship based on mutual respect, friendship and support.” And, “The Government of Canada is committed to strengthening this relationship."

Baird touts trade promotion as a key to diplomacy

Ask Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird how he wants the world to see Canada and he rhymes off a list: A principled player who fights for what's right; a country that isn't afraid to take tough decisions; an ally to those who champion freedom.

He pauses for a moment, as if remembering something.

"Also, a strong, economically good partner for trade and commerce," Baird says. "A big part of what we do now, more and more, is about economic development, is about job creation in Canada and abroad, the economic growth of Canada and abroad."

Theresa Spence, Stephen Harper and the moment of truth

Keep the Indians off the front-page.

That, in a phrase, is the Harper approach to aboriginal issues in Canada. With the exception of former prime minister Paul Martin, that has pretty much been the playbook for all federal governments — out of sight, out of mind. Mostly, he’s succeeded.

As every special event organizer in Ottawa knows, feathers, beaded shirts and drums are excellent grace notes on state occasions — provided there is no debate about who’s in charge in every part of the country or why aboriginals remain the poorest people in the land.

Why Canada Should Buy The Saab JAS39 Gripen E “Next Generation” Fighter

Editor’s note: Defence Watch reader Kyle Meema has researched alternatives to the F-35. In a two-part series running Monday and Tuesday he argues that Canada should purchase the Gripen fighter aircraft.

By Kyle Meema
Defence Watch Guest Writer

Part One:

Candidates: The Various Alternatives
Contrary to the assertions of politicians and officials[1], there are several viable alternatives to the F-35A. The Rafale, Eurofighter, Next Generation Gripen, and F/A-18 E Super Hornet are all very capable fighter jets that could serve Canada very well.

While the Rafale performs very well, it is hindered by its incompatibility with most NATO standard weapons, which Canada stockpiles. This means that Canada would be dependent on French munitions and our existing weapons could not be used. But for this compatibility issue, the Rafale would be a very strong contender. Though still a very capable fighter, the Super Hornet is also not the best of these alternatives due to an antiquated air frame and a relatively low top speed of mach 1.8. The two most promising alternatives are the Next Generation Gripen and the Eurofighter.

Saab has three versions of its JAS39 Gripen fighter jet. Of those models, I propose that Canada procure the “NG” (“Next Generation”, also known as the E/F) model  that is currently in development and scheduled to be introduced in 2017[2]. It is the third generation of the Gripen fighter. Based on the Gripen C/D airframe, the NG Gripen will have new and improved sensor technology, fuel capacity, engine, and potentially thrust vectoring. It is to the Gripen C/D what the F/A-18E/F is to the F/A-18A/B. It is a very capable fighter and the ideal candidate to replace Canada’s aging CF-18s.

*Note: As the NG Gripen is still being tested, some of the information in this article refers to the Gripen C/D performance. The NG Gripen is designed to match or beat the C/D in terms of performance and cost.

Narrowing Down The Alternatives: Gripen vs Eurofighter vs F-35A

Factor 1: Cost

The cost-to-performance ratio is what makes the Gripen so appealing. The Gripen C/D has very similar performance and technology of the Eurofighter, but comes at half the price. The Gripen costs $60 million per plane[3] whereas the latest Eurofighter costs $125 million per plane.[4] The F-35A, by contrast, is currently projected to cost $107 million per plane by 2017[5]. However, the Canadian government currently projects initial procurement costs for 65 F-35As at $9 billion [6], putting the initial procurement cost at $138 million per plane. That same $9 billion would buy 150 Gripens or 72 Eurofighters. This ambiguity in the true cost of the F-35A makes projections difficult, leading to uncertainty. However, whatever the true cost is, it will be enormous and not reflective of the F-35A’s limited capabilities. In terms of initial procurement cost, the Gripen is the clear winner.

Not only are the initial procurement costs of the Gripen low, it is also the least expensive modern fighter jet to operate at approximately $4,700 per flight hour[7]. Conversely, the Eurofighter costs $18,000 per flight hour[8] and the F-35A costs an enormous $21, 000 per flight hour.[9]

A fleet of 65 F-35As is currently projected to cost Canada $45.8 billion[10] over the course of a 40+ year lifespan. If $9 billion is to actually purchase the planes, then the operating costs for a fleet of 65 F-35As for 40+ years will be approximately $36.8 billion. The Eurofighter’s operating costs are 85%[11] that of the F-35A , therefore the operating costs of a fleet of 72 Eurofighters over 40+ years would be approximately  $34.6 billion[12]. The Gripen’s operating costs are 15%[13] that of the F-35A, therefore the operating cost of a fleet of 150 Gripens for 40+ years would be approximately $12.7 billion[14]. In terms of operational cost, the Gripen is the clear winner.

Despite the fact that these figures are estimates and will likely vary, the massive gap between the F-35A, Eurofighter, and the Gripen are difficult to ignore. The Gripen and Eurofighter cost projections are likely to be closer to reality given that it they are based on proven systems with much more fight time. There is no real world combat date on the F-35A and its true cost for Canada can only climb higher, particularly given issues such as the F-35A’s incompatibility with certain weapons and Canada’s CC-150 Polaris refuelling tankers, which are examined later.

Part problem with the Eurofighter and F-35A is that their dramatically higher costs do not translate into a proportional increase in performance and capability. The Gripen, however, has performance very nearly equal to the Eurofighter, but comes at half the cost. Even though the shortfall in performance is, as will be examined later, negligible, the money saved by procuring the Gripen could be put towards arming Canada’s Gripen fleet with the best weapons available, providing Canadian Gripen pilots with the best training, and leave room for future upgrades as technology improves. This, along with the increase in the sheer numbers of Gripen fighters Canada could purchase, would more than make up for the negligible shortfall in performance or capability. The F-35A, by comparison, is a relatively poor performer.

Other countries are rethinking their commitments and re-evaluating their options, such as Italy,[15] Australia,[16] and the U.S.[17] The Netherlands has cancelled their F-35 order altogether.[18] This means that the F-35 will likely cost more than current projections estimate. If other countries are rethinking or outright abandoning their F-35 purchases, Canada should take note and conduct serious review of alternatives.

Factor 2: Performance
With regard to specifications, the Gripen and Eurofighter are about equal, save for the fact that the Saab has obtained AESA radar[19], an asset the Eurofighter currently lacks[20], and the Gripen is a single engine fighter whereas the Eurofighter is a twin engine fighter. They both have similar power-to-weight ratios and wing loading capacities and, although the Eurofighter enjoys a very slight advantage, they are so close in performance that any advantage enjoyed by the Eurofighter is negligible, particularly when compared to the vast difference in price. Both fighters have very similar, armament, top speed, capacity, fuel capacity, range, sensor technology, sensor fusion, helmet-mounted display, situational awareness, speed, and manoeuvrability. American General John Jumper is the only person to have flown the Eurofighter and the U.S.A.’s top air superiority fighter, the F-22A, and was quoted as saying, “I’ve flown all the [American] Air Force jets. None was as good as the Eurofighter.”[21] The key difference is that the Eurofighter costs $65 million more per plane, but does not deliver an additional $65 million worth of improved performance over the Gripen. Both are very impressive and capable fighters. Though equal in performance, the cost of the Gripen makes it the clear winner.

By comparison, the F-35A is a poor performer. It is not designed to include supercruise capability[22] and can only maintain supercruise for a mere 241km.[23] Both the Gripen and Eurofighter have full supercruise capability at mach 1.2. [24] [25] The F-35A is also slow by fighter jet standards. With a top speed of 1,930kmph[26] (mach 1.6), it lags far behind the Gripen, Eurofighter, which can both reach speeds above mach 2.[27] [28] The F-35A is even slower than the Super Hornet[29] and F-16 Fighting Falcon[30] it is meant to replace.

Manoeuvrability is also an issue with the F-35A.[31] Its small wing design does not allow for quick manoeuvres using tight turn radii.[32] The Gripen and Eurofighter excel in the area of manoeuvrability,[33] providing an additional advantage in a combat situation.

Though the fact that the Gripen is a single engine fighter might be seen as a disadvantage, the fact that the Canadian government was so eager to procure the F-35A indicates that the single/twin engine difference is not a significant factor.

Another disadvantage that reduces the F-35A’s capabilities is its limited internal weapons capacity. With four internal hardpoints, the F-35A cannot deliver nearly as much in payload, particularly when compared to the Russian Su-35, which has twelve hardpoints[34], the Eurofighter, which has thirteen hardpoints[35], and the NG Gripen, which will have twelve hardpoints.[36] The F-35A can carry additional fuel and weapons externally using its six external hardpoints, but this negates the F-35A’s already questionable stealth advantage, which is examined later, and would not be advisable in a combat situation.

Factor 3: Compatibility and Weapons Capacity
The F-35A cannot yet carry the upcoming MBDA Meteor air-to-air missile; the most advanced NATO compatible air-to-air missile in the world, which is a major disadvantage in air-to-air combat, particularly in terms of engaging a target that is beyond visual range.[37] Plans to modify the MBDA Meteor to fit into the F-35A’s internal weapons bays have been proposed, but these plans are uncertain and adds to the already monstrous price tag. The Gripen and Eurofighter are both already compatible with the MBDA Meteor, along with virtually every other NATO compatible weapon available, giving them a significant combat advantage over the F-35A. Even if an F-35A compatible version of the Meteor is developed in the future, that would not increase the capability of F-35A to such an extent as to justify the exorbitant price and poor performance in other areas.

The F-35A also cannot carry the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missile as it does not fit in the internal weapons bay. It can be equipped on one of the external hardpoints, but this greatly diminishes what little stealth advantage the F-35A enjoys. In order to use internal weapons to take out ground-based targets, Canada would have to buy the Brimestone air-to-ground missile, pushing the cost of operating the F-35A beyond its already unreasonable figure.

This means that on retirement of the CF-18s, all ammunition that is not compatible with the F-35A’s internal weapons bay becomes practically useless. The RCAF would have to spend additional funds to purchase new ammunition that is compatible for use on the F-35A. However, the KPMG report states that the ammunition budget will be slashed from $270 million to $52 million,[38] which significantly limits the quality and quantity of ammunition Canada could acquire. The RCAF would have the funds to buy and maintain fighter jets, but lack the funds to actually arm them. A fighter jet without weapons is not good for anything other than giving the enemy target practice. The Gripen and the Eurofighter are compatible with all the weapons Canada currently stock piles, the future MBDA Meteor, and every other NATO compatible weapon. As the Gripen costs substantially less, the ammunition budget would not have to be reduced, providing Canada’s forces with the greatest flexibility to provide the right weapons for whatever task is at hand.

The F-35A also presents a problem in terms of integration into Canada’s existing air-infrastructure due to its method of midair refuelling: the “flying boom” method. The flying boom method is only used by the U.S. Air Force. Virtually every other air force in the world, including Canada, uses  the “probe-and-drogue” method[39]. Canada’s CF-18s and CC-150 Polaris aerial tankers[40] use this method. An off-the-lot purchase of F-35As would mean Canada could not refuel its fighters midair and they would have to land for refuelling, use an allied or private midair refuelling tanker, or be modified to use the probe-and-drogue method. Landing to refuel is impractical and severely limits Canada’s operational capacity due to its inflexibility. Using an allied or private midair refuelling tanker adds to the already exorbitant costs and means Canada cannot operate its fighter jet fleet independently. It reduces Canada’s operational flexibility by an unreasonable degree. Modifying the F-35A to use a probe-and-drogue system is possible, but it adds to the ever-increasing costs. As the a Canadian procurement of the F-35A would result in the infrastructure upgrade budget being slashed from $400 million to $244 million[41] funds to solve the midair refueling problem would be scarce. Much like with the limited weapons capacity and compatibility problem, not only could Canada not afford to arm a fleet of F-35As  properly, it could also not afford to refuel them using its existing infrastructure and equipment. The Eurofighter and the Gripen do not have these problems as they are compatible with all NATO weapons and the probe-and-drogue method. The Eurofighter and Gripen are equal in terms of compatibility, but the Gripen is the clear winner due to the fact that it is half the cost.

Factor 4: Sensors and Situational Awareness
Part of the reason the F-35A was developed was to provide excellent situational awareness to the pilot. This is achieved through a wide range of sensors, data link capability, sensor fusion, Link 16 data link, and a helmet mounted display. The Gripen C/D already offers all these features[42] and the NG Gripen will expand and improve on them.[43] For example, the NG Gripen will include the ES-05 Raven AESA radar[44], an upgrade over the C/D Gripen’s PS-05/A radar. The Eurofighter offers a similar sensor suite, but lacks the AESA radar that the Gripen and F-35A possess. The Eurofighter and Gripen lack the F-35A’s MADL data link, but it is of primary use for stealth aircraft and its usefulness compared to cost is questionable. The F-35A’s sensor features, while impressive on paper, have yet to be fully developed and are still being tested. The Eurofighter and Gripen sensor suites have been more thoroughly tested, so their capabilities are firmly known. The F-35A’s sensor technology is not so significant that it justifies the overall poorer performance in other areas and the vastly increased cost. It comes back to the cost-to-performance ratio. The F-35A simply costs too much and delivers too little.

About the Author:
Kyle Meema teaches business and law. In 2014, he expects to obtain his Master’s in Air and Space Law from Leiden University in the Netherlands.

To Be Continued Tuesday On Defence Watch.


[4] “Management of the Typhoon Project” National Audit Office, United Kingdom, March 2011.
[11] 18, 000 / 21, 000 x 100 = 0.85 or 85%—A-ticket-to-the-future
[12] (36, 800, 000, 000 x 0.85) / 65 x 72 = 34, 648, 615, 370
[13] 4, 700 / 21, 000 x 100 = 0.15 or 15%—A-ticket-to-the-future
[14] (36, 800, 000, 000 x 0.15) / 65 x 150 = 12, 738, 461, 540
[20] AESA Radar is planned to be introduced for the Eurofighter in 2015
[33] Williams, Mel, ed. Superfighters: The Next Generation of Combat Aircraft. London: AIRtime Publishing Inc., 2002. ISBN 1-880588-53-6. (page 82)

Original Article
Source: ottawa citizen
Author: David Pugliese

Shale Gas: Myth and Realities

Industry and government repeatedly claim that hydraulic fracturing is safe because it is a well-regulated technique proven in the field over 60 years.

It that myth or reality?

A good person to ask is Anthony Ingraffea, a short and engaging scientist who knows how to separate fact from fiction in the shale gas industry.

The Haiti that Canada Decided to Freeze

Just a week before the third anniversary of the catastrophic Port-au-Prince earthquake, International Cooperation Minister Julian Fantino announced that Canada is freezing aid to Haiti.

While CIDA reportedly denied that a freeze was in place, Haitian and UN officials (including Michaëlle Jean) have treated it as a fact. Whatever Fantino intended, he's caused confusion and alarm. The situation in Haiti has been terrible for decades, and the minister's remarks have only made it worse.

Federal government audit ‘severely critical’ of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence

OTTAWA—The federal government is concerned a damning independent audit of how federal funds are spent in Attawapiskat will inflame tensions in advance of Friday’s meeting between the prime minister and First Nations leaders, says a source who has seen the report.

The government, however, says it is not deliberately withholding the document and it will be released soon through “normal channels.”

Obama’s Cheney? "Assassination Czar" John Brennan Brings Legacy of Drone War and Torture to CIA Nod

Dubbed the "assassination czar," presumptive CIA nominee John Brennan has played a key role backing some of the nation’s most controversial post-9/11 policies, from the secret drone war to wireless surveillance. Brennan was a rumored pick for the job when Obama was first elected in 2008 but was forced to withdraw from consideration amid protests over his role at the CIA under George W. Bush and his public support for the CIA’s policies of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" and extraordinary rendition. We’re joined by Marcy Wheeler, an investigative blogger with the website Wheeler calls Brennan’s nomination "a testament to what kind of hard-nosed person Barack Obama has become and the degree to which his policies really are just a continuation of the Bush-Cheney policies."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Penashue records removed from election spending file

Letters shedding light on the election spending and deal-wrangling by a cabinet minister's top campaign official have been removed from a public Elections Canada file.

CBC News had reported on the letters in the course of an investigation into spending and fundraising by the campaign of Labrador MP and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue.

BC Tanker Traffic Prompts US Coast Guard Review

VANCOUVER - Concerns south of the border over oil tanker traffic from British Columbia have spurred a U.S. Coast Guard review of proposed increases in Canadian oil exports.

A legislative amendment proposed by Washington state Sen. Maria Cantwell and signed into law by President Barack Obama a couple of weeks ago gives the U.S. marine safety agency six months to conduct a risk assessment of the planned expansion of oil pipeline capacity to the West Coast.

EPA's Fracking Study May Dodge Water Contamination Frequency Issue

PITTSBURGH (AP) — An ongoing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study on natural gas drilling and its potential for groundwater contamination has gotten tentative praise so far from both industry and environmental groups.

Glenn Paulson, the EPA's science adviser, describes the project as "one of the most aggressive public outreach programs in EPA history."

First but not equal: Canada grinds to a halt as its native people hit out

Several of Canada’s key transport corridors, including bridges to the US and the rail line linking Toronto and Montreal, were blocked at the weekend – occasionally for hours at a time – by indigenous people protesting against conditions on Indian reservations.

The First Nations’ “Idle No More” campaign was conceived in October by four Saskatchewan women angered by perceived threats to indigenous people’s rights from new legislation. It has quickly gathered steam, seizing the national spotlight and drawing attention to broader questions about Canada’s often struggling aboriginal population.

Are tax havens robbing the government of revenue from P3s? Nobody seems to care

When British Columbia sets up public private partnerships (P3s) to let the private sector operate hospitals, roads and bridges, one of the considerations is taxes. However, when down the road ownership of the P3 private operator gets moved to a tax haven, it appears there is no subsequent examination of the impact on provincial revenues. In BC several of the province’s private partners in P3s have had their operations sold on to companies resident in tax havens like Guernsey and Luxembourg.  See here and here.

In other countries this has become an issue. Here it is ignored by both the media and the provincial government.