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, March 11, 2013

RCMP Receives Military Styled Armored Personnal Carriers

Not too long ago the new department of homeland security armored vehicles hit the streets of America. The vehicles are massive and are built for nothing short of all out war.

Now the RCMP is rolling out their new armored personnel carriers according to a Navistar Defense Canada press release:

Navistar Defence Canada, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Navistar Defense, LLC, today announced that it delivered on a USD $14 million contract from the Government of Canada to supply the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) with International® MXT™ Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs). The new vehicles will provide increased protection and rescue capabilities for RCMP officers and members of the public during high-risk situations. The contract to support the RCMP is the company’s first MXT vehicle sale to the police and security sector.

Here Comes The Sun: City In California Passes Law Requiring All New Homes To Be Solar

Sometimes if you want real change, you have to enforce it.

Think seatbelts. At one time, most people didn't wear seatbelts - didn't think we should have to. Now, it's crazy to think we didn't.

Or how about cigarettes. Back in the day, people smoked in the mall, at the office, in a restaurant, even on an airplane. Now, the very idea of it seems ludicrous.

Idle No More: Who Earns More Than FN Chiefs?

When I read that Stephen Harper’s salary was Number 6 on the list of Top 10 Political Leader Salaries, I was surprised.

Since he was at Number 6 on the list based on his salary of $296,400 (in US dollars) that he collected in 2010 as Prime Minister of Canada, I was certain that the salaries of the leaders of the United States of America, Australia and China had to be in the Top 5. If not, then undoubtedly British prime minister David Cameron and Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi would be in the Top 5 somewhere, being leaders of G20 countries with larger populations and economies than our own.

Eldorado Gold Protests In Greece Prompt Vancouver Denial

VANCOUVER - A Vancouver mining company says its planned gold mine in Greece that has spurred local opposition isn't a threat to the environment.

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets Saturday in Greece's second largest city of Thessaloniki to protest the Eldorado Gold Corp. mine set to operate east of the city.

Eldorado vice-president Nancy Woo says activists' concerns that the mine will pollute the environment are wrong.

She says the mine, which is set to begin digging soon, will follow the necessary European Union and Greek environmental rules.

Activists say the mine will put out toxic substances and throttle the local tourism industry.

But others living near the mine site on the Halkidiki peninsula say the project will pump badly needed jobs into the hard-hit Greek economy.

Original Article
Author: CP

Mortgage War: Rates Below 3% Pop Up As Lenders Ignore Flaherty's Warning

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty thanked Canada's banks on Friday for not lowering mortgage rates to match BMO's recently announced rock-bottom offer.

The minister had warned Canada’s lenders last week against launching a new mortgage war, after BMO brought back its 2.99 per cent rate for a five-year fixed term mortgage.

Interviewed: Icelandic activist who took down his government

In October of 2008, Iceland's economy collapsed. In that same month Hörður Torfason, an Icelandic actor and activist, stood out front of the parliament buildings asking two simple questions: what has happened to our country, and what are we going to do about it?

From there built a popular movement that would grow to sizes as yet unheard of in the tiny Nordic country, forcing the resignation of the government, and of the leadership of the financial authority and the national bank.

 A revolutionary folk hero at home, Torfason now spends much of his time touring the world, telling the bittersweet story of Iceland's Nordic Spring, and sharing tactics and strategies with activists in other countries.

Documents reveal pipeline industry drove changes to 'Navigable Waters' act

OTTAWA -- When the Harper government included a radical overhaul of the Navigable Waters Protection Act in the last omnibus bill, outsiders scratched their heads and wondered out loud where that idea had come from.

Documents obtained through the Access to Information Act show it came, in part, from the pipeline industry.

Bank Pay Rose In 2012 Despite Cutback Efforts

LONDON, March 10 (Reuters) - Compensation at the world's biggest banks rose last year, with 35 of them spending a combined 10 billion euros ($13.1 billion) more on staff than in 2011, figures compiled by Reuters show.

Bankers' remuneration has rarely been out of the spotlight over the last five years, as the industry's powerhouses were rescued from the brink during the financial crisis with hundreds of billions of taxpayers' dollars.

White House Changing Story on Anwar al-Awlaki? A Debate on NYT’s Inside Account of ’11 Drone Strike

The New York Times’ front-page account of the U.S. assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki has drawn criticism from critics of the Obama administration’s targeted killings overseas. In a joint statement, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights called the story "the latest in a series of one-sided, selective disclosures that prevent meaningful public debate and legal or even political accountability for the government’s killing program." We discuss the article and the White House assassination program with two guests: Scott Shane, national security reporter at The New York Times, and Jesselyn Radack, National Security & Human Rights director at the Government Accountability Project and former legal ethics adviser at the Justice Department.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Covering Hugo Chávez: "If Only He Ruled As Well As He Campaigned"

With the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, Latin America—and the world—lost one of its most polarizing leaders. Responses from the international community have ranged from devastated to celebratory, while the barrage of political postmortems in the United States has tended toward ambivalence (see here and here).

This isn't surprising. Chávez was a contradictory figure: a champion of the poor who globe-trotted in a $65 million Airbus; a folk hero who feted Hollywood royalty and retained one of Caracas' top fashion designers; an irrepressible showman whose recent private life remained a mystery. If at times he seemed like a throwback to an earlier generation of caudillos (most notably Fidel Castro, with whom Chávez shared an intense bond), he was nonetheless a populist, genuinely and rapturously loved by Venezuela's poor.

Historical letters not wanted at Library and Archives Canada, critics say

Many of his comrades were sick from fouled water after breaking camp on Lake Erie that fall.

But as his 21st U.S. Infantry Regiment prepared to attack Canada, — perhaps at Montreal, though Kingston and Prescott were also rumoured targets — Sgt. John Bentley took time in late September 1813 to write a four-page letter to his wife back in Thomaston, Me.

With a price tag of $1,500, that War of 1812 missive was offered for sale as a quill-and-ink first draft of our history.

Time for a 'Right to Vote' Constitutional Amendment

President Obama earned one of the loudest rounds of applause during his fourth State of the Union address when he declared, “We must all do our part to make sure our God-given rights are protected here at home. That includes one of the most fundamental rights of a democracy: the right to vote.” He then appointed a commission to “fix” the problem of long lines at the polls. That might be a sufficient response to the one specific concern the president has chosen to focus on. But it’s an insufficient response to the structural crisis of American democracy. While Obama assures us that our right to vote is “God-given” and “fundamental,” that right is neither defined in nor guaranteed by the Constitution.

Preston Manning On Tom Flanagan: Speaking For The Party Sometimes Means Shutting Up

OTTAWA - Conservatives gathered in Ottawa this weekend to learn how best to spread their party's message are being told one way is to know when to shut up.

The Achilles heel of the modern-day conservative movement is people who end up discrediting it when they speak their mind, suggested Preston Manning, the founder of the Reform party, which gave today's Conservative government its start.

Manning referred directly to the case of Tom Flanagan, a long-time party strategist who found himself swiftly ostracized last month after suggesting people who look at child pornography shouldn't be jailed.

Haiti's nightmare: Missing billions in aid, rebuilding left to the women, and a president protected by baton-wielding thugs

First there’s a tap on the shoulder. A huge palace-guard policeman in full body armour and a black balaclava uses a riot stick to suggest it’s time to go.

Then he swings the truncheon high in the air and it comes down with a sickening thud on the back of a demonstrator. Beside him a man lies groaning as blood drips from a deep hand wound.

With Liberals in rear-view mirror, conservative deep thinkers ponder greener look

OTTAWA -- While the Forum Research polling company was proclaiming that if an election were held today, Justin Trudeau would be prime minister, conservatives of an assortment of exotic and garden varieties huddled under their "big tent" in the Ottawa convention centre to worry about … the Liberals.

 Never mind Trudeau's numbers right now, it’s the Liberals' consistent popularity all the time that apparently troubled some of the conservatives at Preston Manning's mutual admiration society for would-be young Republicans and aged adherents of various loony right economic cults. (A few actual Tory operatives were at the two-day meeting too, identifiable by their lean and hungry looks.)

After listening Friday to sometime American presidential candidate Ron Paul scare them about what happens when you don't back your currency with something tangible like gold, or at least Kool cigarettes, the thousand or so conservatives, "libertarians" and Maple Tea Partiers at the "Big Ideas" event organized by the Manning Centre for Building Democracy (sic) broke into smaller sessions to consider some of those deep thoughts.

Egypt soccer riot: Protests rock Cairo as court upholds death sentences

CAIRO—Egyptian protesters torched buildings in Cairo and tried unsuccessfully to disrupt international shipping in the Suez Canal as a court ruling on last year’s deadly soccer riot stoked rage in a country beset by worsening security.

Saturday’s ruling enraged residents of Port Said, at the northern entrance of the Suez Canal, by confirming the death sentences imposed in January on 21 local soccer fans for their role in the riot in which more than 70 people were killed.

But the court also angered rival fans in Cairo by acquitting a further 28 defendants whom they wanted punished, including seven members of the police force, reviled across society for its brutality under autocrat Hosni Mubarak, who was deposed in 2011 in the Arab Spring demonstrations.

Security sources said two people, a man in his 30s and a young boy, died in Cairo from the effects of tear gas and rubber bullets. A total of 65 people were injured.

Saturday’s protests and violence underlined how Islamist President Mohamed Mursi is struggling — two years after Mubarak’s overthrow — to maintain law and order at a time of economic and political crisis.

Islamist groups and parties backing Mursi warned against a looming security breakdown and called on their followers to form popular protection committees to guard the streets and public property should police fail to do so.

The presidency said in a statement that the protests had not been peaceful and condemned violence against property. The cabinet issued a similar statement and called on Egyptians to unite and respect court rulings.

On Thursday, Egypt’s election committee scrapped a timetable under which voting for the lower house of parliament should have begun next month, following a court ruling that threw the entire polling process into confusion.

The stadium riot occurred at the end of a match on Feb. 1, 2012, in Port Said between the local side Al-Masry and Cairo’s Al-Ahly team. Spectators were crushed when panicked crowds tried to escape from the stadium after a pitch invasion by Al-Masry supporters. Others fell or were thrown from terraces.

Judge Sobhy Abdel Maguid, listing the names of the 21 Al-Masry fans, said the Cairo court had confirmed “the death penalty by hanging.” He also sentenced five more people to life imprisonment; others out of a total of 73 defendants received shorter terms.

In Cairo, local Al-Ahly fans vented their rage at the acquittals, setting fire to a police social club, the nearby offices of the Egyptian soccer federation and a branch of a fast food chain, sending smoke rising over the capital.

A military helicopter scooped up water from the nearby Nile and dropped it on the burning buildings.

“Ultra” fans, the section of Al-Ahly supporters responsible for much of the violence, said they expected retribution for those who had planned the Port Said “massacre.”

“What is happening today in Cairo is the beginning of the anger. Wait for more if the remaining elements embroiled in this massacre are not revealed,” the Ultras said in a statement.

In Port Said, where the army took over security in the city centre from the police on Friday, about 2,000 residents who want the local fans spared execution blockaded ferries crossing the Suez Canal.

Witnesses said youths also untied moored speedboats used to supply shipping on the waterway, hoping the boats would drift into the path of passing vessels.

Military police recovered five speedboats and brought them back to shore, but two were still drifting, one witness said.

Authorities controlling the canal, an artery for global trade and major income source for the Egyptian government, said through traffic had not been affected.

“The canal ... is safe and open to all ships passing through it,” Suez Canal Authority spokesman Tarek Hassanein told the MENA news agency.

Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, a popular Salafi preacher, condemned attempts by the opposition and youth groups to “burn the country down” as a pretext to create a power vacuum and bring back military rule.

“We will face any attempts by the opposition ... to bring back military rule. We have popular blocs to protect and guard,” Ismail said.

The Salafi Al-Nour Party and the Gama’a al-Islamiyya, blamed for a spate of violence in Egypt in the 1990s, made similar statements, calling on their followers to replace the police force should it pull off the streets.

Gen. Ahmed Wasfy, who heads the army division in Port Said, rejected calls for a return to military rule. The military is in charge of security in Port Said and other canal cities.

“The Egyptian armed forces are a combat institution not a security institution. No one can imagine the army replacing the Interior Ministry,” he was quoted on MENA as saying.

General unrest is rife as Egypt’s poor suffer badly from the economic crisis. Foreign currency reserves have slid to critically low levels and are now little more than a third of what they were in the last days of Mubarak.

The Egyptian pound has lost 14 per cent against the U.S. dollar since the 2011 revolution and the budget deficit is soaring to unmanageable levels due to the cost of fuel and food subsidies.

Original Article
Author: Yousri Mohamed and Marwa Awad

How a U.S. Citizen Came to Be in America’s Cross Hairs

WASHINGTON — One morning in late September 2011, a group of American drones took off from an airstrip the C.I.A. had built in the remote southern expanse of Saudi Arabia. The drones crossed the border into Yemen, and were soon hovering over a group of trucks clustered in a desert patch of Jawf Province, a region of the impoverished country once renowned for breeding Arabian horses.

 A group of men who had just finished breakfast scrambled to get to their trucks. One was Anwar al-Awlaki, the firebrand preacher, born in New Mexico, who had evolved from a peddler of Internet hatred to a senior operative in Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen. Another was Samir Khan, another American citizen who had moved to Yemen from North Carolina and was the creative force behind Inspire, the militant group’s English-language Internet magazine.

Canada falling behind on women on corporate boards

Canada is falling behind other countries when it comes to putting women on corporate boards, according to a report by TD Economics.

While participation in the labour force has increased significantly for women, that change has yet to be reflected at the top of Canada's largest companies, according to the report.

The obscure world of Vatican finances

News that German industrialist Ernst von Freyberg will take over as the new head of a financial body called the Institute for Works of Religion made a splash recently in the world's media.

Under normal circumstances, the attention might seem misplaced. After all, the Institute for Works of Religion, known by its Italian acronym IOR, is a relatively small financial body with just 33,000 accounts and only $7.6 billion in assets — less than some Canadian credit unions.

Toronto senior one of 90 allegedly targeted by home renovation scheme

Kennis Heath lay in her wrecked house, her life savings gone, slowly starving to death.

A Star investigation reveals the 76-year-old Toronto woman was one of a growing number of Canadian seniors victimized by fraud. In Heath’s case, it was a home renovation scheme that the province alleges has also hurt as many as 90 other seniors across Ontario.

“The elderly are targeted because they have a lifetime of accumulated wealth . . . and are particularly vulnerable because of their upbringing during a different time when one was courteous to and trusted strangers,” according to claims filed in a court action against Toronto builder Jack Singer and his associates, seeking to recover lost funds on behalf of victims, including Heath.

Passing Gas

Jim Wilson was shocked. Gilles Bisson was just pissed off.

The f-bombs were flying between the respective house leaders of the provincial PCs and NDP Thursday, February 28, just down the hall from where the Justice Committee’s deliberations into the cancellation of the Oakville and Mississauga gas plants had been short-circuited for the afternoon, all thanks to a motion by NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns to adjourn the proceedings.

Who’s driving transit?

The mayor’s office sent out an email to his supporters a few weeks back, as it does almost every Friday. As usual, the message was a collection of routine news concluding with a plug for his radio show.

But one paragraph did stick out.

“You have probably seen and heard a great deal of public discussion about transportation,” it said.

Firearms advocate's role in talks blasted

Gun-control advocates and opposition parties want to know why the Harper government has consistently included a prominent firearms advocate in Canadian delegations at international arms-control talks in recent years.

They believe Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) president Steve Torino's presence alongside Canadian diplomats is tied to what they say are Canadian efforts to weaken a new Arms Trade Treaty being negotiated at the United Nations.

Torino, whose organization represents 15,000 gun owners across the country, also co-chaired a government-appointed advisory panel that recommended making it easier to obtain and own handguns and assault rifles in Canada - a recommendation Prime Minister Stephen Harper publicly rejected.

Budget Cuts, Political Fighting To Hold Back U.S. Economic Growth, 95 Percent Of Economists Agree

WASHINGTON, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Likely government budget cuts and the prospect for messy political fights over fiscal policy will weigh on the U.S. economy this year and hold growth to a tepid 2.4 percent, according to a survey of forecasters published on Monday.

The National Association for Business Economics said that more than 95 percent of the 49 economists who participated in its latest quarterly survey believe fiscal policy actions or concerns would slice into gross domestic product.

Tories will try to quash Dauphinmania

TORONTO — Justin Trudeau, leader-in-waiting of the Liberal Party of Canada, made a rare appearance in the House of Commons on Thursday, standing to ask a question of the prime minister on plans to centralize job training.“Mr. Speaker, Canadians are worried about their jobs and their MPs who stay silent,” he started. “It is time the members opposite learned that they were elected by Canadians to represent the views of their … ”

This was too much for the Conservatives across the aisle, who felt Trudeau, whom they rarely see, was being hypocritical, so they drowned him out with catcalls and boos.

Mandatory Gun Ownership Provisions Under Consideration In Communities Across The Country

AUGUSTA, Maine — A town of 140 people in western Maine is considering an ordinance making gun ownership mandatory, the latest of a handful of communities nationwide to pass or consider such a rule even though the measures are widely considered unenforceable.

All three members of the Board of Selectmen in Byron favor it, and Head Selectman Anne Simmons-Edmunds said she expects residents to approve it at Monday's town meeting, a New England institution where townspeople vote up or down on municipal proposals.

Carl Levin's Senate Investigations Feared, Praised By Lobbyists Who Reaped Big Fees

WASHINGTON -- Carl Levin will be remembered as the powerful chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, a Michigan man who fiercely championed the auto industry and its unions, and a jealous guardian of the traditions of the Senate.

But K Street will remember the Democratic senator differently, and fondly, as an accidental rainmaker for lawyers and lobbyists specializing in corporate crisis response. Levin, who announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of 2014, will also give up the gavel of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, known to insiders simply as PSI -- "the most feared committee" in Washington, as one lobbyist put it.

Sequestration Cuts To Census Bureau Make Federal Government Dumber On Economy

WASHINGTON -- Not only do leaders on both sides of the aisle think sequestration is stupid, the automatic spending cuts that went into effect March 1 also will make the federal government dumber -- especially at understanding the economy.

Some of the counterproductive impacts of the $85 billion worth of cuts being implemented this year are pretty well understood. First, these cuts slow the economy and make it harder to reduce the deficit, according to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. They also cost the government money, because their across-the-board nature means agencies like the Internal Revenue Service must slash the same amount as other departments, even if it hurts the ability to pursue tax cheats. In addition, the Government Accountability Office, which brings back to the federal Treasury more than $100 for every dollar it spends, is set to lose about $27 million, making cutting waste harder as well.

Dow Jones Hits 'Record High' Thanks To Strong Performances From Smoke, Mirrors Sectors

This week, amid the hullabaloo over President Barack Obama's Deficit Dinner Diplomacy, and Sen. Rand Paul's 13-hour filibuster-cum-dissertation on drone strikes and civil liberties, financial news-watchers touted a milestone in their lives of Market Worship. We speak, of course, of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which on Tuesday hit an "all-time high" of 14,253.77. The good times rolled steady on through the week, and the Dow closed Friday at 14,397.07.

Will the Middle Class Shake China?

In 2002, the Chinese Communist Party faced a political puzzle: After half a century of denouncing bourgeois middle-class values, how could the political élite embrace the rising ranks of entrepreneurs, intellectuals, and technocrats that the country increasingly relied upon to drive its economic rebirth?

Then President Jiang Zemin unveiled an elegant rhetorical solution: from that day forth, he declared, the Chinese Communist Party would do whatever it could to promote the “New Middle-Propertied Stratum.” It was an ungainly euphemism—the Party still couldn’t bring itself to utter the term “middle class”—but the idea was clear, and overnight it was everywhere: editorialists heralded the “golden age” of the New Middle-Propertied Stratum and vowed that it would encompass more than half the country by 2020. A book published by China’s Police Academy hailed the middle class as the “the political force necessary to stability,” “the moral force behind civilized manners,” and “the force necessary to eliminate privilege and curb poverty.” In short, the police wrote, “It is everything.”

AF removes RPA airstrike number from summary

As scrutiny and debate over the use of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) by the American military increased last month, the Air Force reversed a policy of sharing the number of airstrikes launched from RPAs in Afghanistan and quietly scrubbed those statistics from previous releases kept on their website.

The Paid Sick Leave Battle Widens in the States

In recent months, more and more cities and states are requiring that employers give paid sick leave to their workers. It’s a broadly popular policy, and a necessary one—one in three American workers has no guarantee of being paid during an illness, including only 25 percent of part-time workers. Aside from creating even more economic vulnerability for workers, this can greatly increase the spread of seasonal flus, which costs businesses $10.4 billion every year, according to the CDC.

Like so many other issues, mandatory paid sick leave has been jammed up in Washington by big-business interests: Obama supported a 2009 Democratic bill in Congress that would have guaranteed workers at least seven paid sick days per year at companies with 15 or more employees. That measure was suffocated by Republicans, and opposed by groups like the National Federation of Independent Business.

Anti-bullying bill might violate Charter: MP Toews

Canada's Public Safety Minister and senior MP for Manitoba Vic Toews said in a letter posted on the Internet today that he believes the NDP’s Bill 18 violates Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The letter, a mass mail out to Toews’ constituents, was posted on Steinbach Progressive Conservative MLA Kelvin Goertzen’s Facebook page.

Toews said in the letter while as a federal minister he can’t take any legislative or other action on Bill 18, he does not support it because in infringes on freedom of religion.

"If the provincial legislature does not amend Bill 18 to address concerns of faith-based organizations, school and communities, the only remedy may be an application to the courts to decide if the legislation is compliant with Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms," Toews said.

Original Article
Author: Staff Writer

Filipino women demand an end to corporate mining on IWD

Today, on International Women's Day, a group of women held a flash-mob in front of the office of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. in Makati (a city in Metro Manila) in the Philippines. The Swiss-owned Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) has copper and gold mining projects in Tampakan, South Cotabato, Colombio in Sultan Kudarat, and in parts of Davao del Sur. At the end of their dance, they held up a sign stating "Women Say No to Corporate Mining."

Bitumen's Extraordinary and Popular Delusions

"At length corruption, like a general flood,
Did deluge all, and avarice creeping on,
Spread, like a low-born mist, and hid the sun.
Statesmen and patriots plied alike the stocks,
Peeress and butler shared alike the box;
And judges jobbed, and bishops bit the town,
And mighty dukes packed cards for half-a-crown:"
-- Alexander Pope

It has been an extraordinary couple of weeks for bitumen mania and related delusions as Canadian politicians and oil executives rally around the Keystone XL pipeline the way drunken bankers once talked up the ill-fated South Sea Company in the 18th century.

Bergen, Crockatt, Rempel say political parties don’t need quotas for female candidates, it's wrong

OTTAWA CONFERENCE CENTRE—The trial by fire fight for riding nominations strengthens political candidates and prepares them for office, and it shouldn’t be bypassed to get more women into politics, say successful female Conservative MPs.

“When I decided to run, nobody coddled me, and that’s what all of us are saying, nobody gave us any special treatment,” said Candice Bergen (Portage-Lisgar, Man.).

Alberta’s oil woes mean trouble ahead for Canada

Alberta’s bad news budget is not only a commentary on that province’s finances. It is a signal from the front lines that the resource boom — the boom that has kept Canada afloat during this global slump — faces deep trouble.

Provincial Finance Minister Doug Horner made it official Thursday: Thanks to falling oil prices, the government’s revenues are collapsing. Boom-and-bust Alberta is in danger of going bust and public spending is — again — being slashed.

Idle No More: Quebec Cree on epic walk to Ottawa picking up supporters along the way

On the frozen shores of Hudson’s Bay in January, a small group of Great Whale Cree strapped on their mukluks, pulled on their parkas and set out on an epic and frigid journey on foot to Ottawa.

Drawing inspiration from Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence during her fast more than 1,500 kilometres to the south, six youth and a 49-year-old master hunter decided they too wanted to do something to draw attention to aboriginal issues and joined the ad hoc actions of the Idle No More movement taking place all over the country.

The Scariest Climate Change Graph Just Got Scarier

Back in 1999, Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann released the climate change movement's most potent symbol: The "hockey stick," a line graph of global temperature over the last 1,500 years that shows an unmistakable, massive uptick in the 20th century, when humans began to dump large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It's among the most compelling bits of proof out there that human beings are behind global warming, and as such has become a target on Mann's back for climate denialists looking to draw a bead on scientists.

Today, it's getting a makeover: A study published in Science reconstructs global temperatures further back than ever before—a full 11,300 years. The new analysis finds that the only problem with Mann's hockey stick was that its handle was about 9,000 years too short. The rate of warming over the last 100 years hasn't been seen for as far back as the advent of agriculture.

Most Canadians see Economic Action Plan ads as Tory advertising or a waste of money

OTTAWA — Four years after the Conservative government launched its first Economic Action Plan advertising, a new poll suggests that Canadians have become jaded to the continuing barrage of radio and TV commercials.

More than half of those surveyed this week reacted negatively to the ads, calling them either political advertising, a waste of taxpayers’ money, or “junk.”

After anti-mosque speech in Ottawa: The importance of making space for Muslims

An anti-mosque crusader spoke to a crowd of 40 or so people in the basement of the main branch of Ottawa's Public Library on February 4. Coverage of the event was overshadowed on the evening news the following night by a lead story on the shortage of cheese curds following a fire at an eastern Ontario cheese factory.

 Rest assured, before the week was out both CBC and CTV News Ottawa confirmed in top stories on their websites and telecasts that cheese curds would be back on store shelves the following week. In the meantime, the Ottawa Senators hockey team stepped in with free tickets for down-in-the-dumps cheese factory employees.

ER doctors declare emergency in B.C. hospitals

Doctors from across the province say 19 of the busiest emergency rooms have chronic shortages, resulting in stretched staffing and poor patient care.

The emergency room doctors have aired their grievances on a website, calling for $10 million in extra funding from the province.

Alec Ritchie, a doctor at Lions Gate Hospital in Vancouver, says patients can wait for hours to get care.

Sugar industry's secret documents echo tobacco tactics

When Cristin Couzens went on the hunt for evidence that Big Sugar had manipulated public opinion, she had no idea what she was doing. She was a dentist, not an investigative reporter. But she couldn't let go of the nagging suspicion that something was amiss.

Her obsession started in an unlikely place, at a dental conference in Seattle in 2007 about diabetes and gum disease. When one speaker listed foods to avoid, there was no mention of sugar. "I thought this was very strange," Couzens said. And when a second speaker suggested sugary drinks were a healthy choice, she chased him down at the end of the conference to make sure she'd heard him correctly. "How could you possibly recommend sweet tea as a healthy drink?" she asked the speaker, who paused just long enough to say, "There is no evidence that links sugar to chronic disease," before he bolted out the door.

Alberta Budget 2013 Health Funding Is Actually Cuts In Disguise

The amount the province dishes out for health care is going up, and it plans to borrow money for health infrastructure, but doctors and nurses shouldn't expect any of that money will be going to them, said Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner after tabling the 2013 budget.

The Alberta government delivered a budget on Thursday that promises $15 billion in funding over the next three years, with $2.1 billion of that going to hospitals, family clinics and long-term care facilities.

Alberta budget 2013 marked by billions in deficit spending, service cuts

Alberta will soon join the ranks of the heavily indebted, its government announced Thursday as it tabled what has been billed as a “watershed” budget.

Although its economy is still strong, growth is high and unemployment is low, a decline in bitumen prices brought on by decreased pipeline capacity has thrown the province’s finances off the rails.

Alison Redford’s government announced it would cut spending and borrow billions to cope with a multi-billion-dollar shortfall.

Quebec senator repays $900 in housing claims; no word on Duffy’s $90,000

OTTAWA — A Quebec senator has repaid about $900 in what he called mistakenly claimed housing allowances, but there has not yet been any word on when a second senator will repay around $90,000 he has promised to give back.

Sen. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu gave a cheque to the Senate’s administration Thursday for $907, even though the Senate’s administration — and his fellow senators on an oversight committee — said he did not have to.

Time to put public back in public service

Over the past 30 years or so, it has somehow become gospel: not only should government be business-friendly, it should act like a business.

More and more businesspeople have been entering politics, and it has become conventional wisdom to treat citizens as consumers of government.

But maybe it is time, as Donald Savoie argues in his new book, to stop seeing government as a race to the bottom line.

Harper isolated as Latin American leaders acknowledge Chavez's regional importance

Politicians and dignitaries from around the world attended today's funeral for Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. This article surveys the response of Latin American leaders to the news of Chavez's death, constrasting that with the nearly identical statements of the Canadian and U.S. governments.

Tuesday afternoon Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez passed away, after a long battle with cancer. The announcement by Vice President Nicolás Maduro came just minutes after Chávez’s death and elicited an immediate wave of obituary pieces by pundits who described Chávez as "divisive," "authoritarian," "antagonistic" and "anti-American," many of them eager to rush the "transition" in the hopes that Chávez's political project would soon fall apart.

British women slip down scale on job security and equal pay

Women in the UK have lower job security and greater pay inequality than those in other developed countries, research shows. They are also less likely to be in work than their counterparts in other OECD countries, according to the report by PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PwC).

The Women in Work Index ranked the UK 18th of 27 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries in five areas of "female economic empowerment" such as pay equality, the female unemployment rate, and the proportion of women working full-time. The figures were from 2011, the latest year for which comparable data was available.

Four public officials admit selling information to Sun

Two former police officers, an ex-prison officer and another public official have admitted selling information to the Sun – the first people to plead guilty in relation to the investigation into alleged illegal payments by journalists.

Alan Tierney, an ex-Surrey police constable, and former prison officer Richard Trunkfield, both pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office at the Old Bailey on Friday morning during plea and case management hearings.

Vince Cable exposes coalition divisions over austerity

Political divisions over continuing austerity widened as the business secretary, Vince Cable, warned David Cameron that very serious damage will be done to British industry if the prime minister continues to insist only some departments will be subject to spending cuts .

In a fresh intervention, the Liberal Democrat also called for affluent pensioner perks such as winter fuel payments and free TV licences to be taxed, and proposes up to £15bn of capital spending on house building less than two weeks before the budget is due to be unveiled.

North Korea Ends Peace Pact With South As UN Sanctions Fuel Propaganda

SEOUL, South Korea — Seven years of U.N. sanctions against North Korea have done nothing to derail Pyongyang's drive for a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States. They may have even bolstered the Kim family by giving their propaganda maestros ammunition to whip up anti-U.S. sentiment and direct attention away from government failures.

In the wake of fresh U.N. sanctions leveled at North Korea on Thursday for its latest nuclear test, the question is: Will this time be different?

The Sequester Cuts' Impact Goes Deeper Than White House Tours

WASHINGTON -- The debate over sequestration this past week has come down to two questions: Was the administration exaggerating the impact of the spending cuts, and did they really need to shut down White House tours because of them?

It's been the predominant theme at the White House briefings, a constant subject of discussion on cable news and a topic of fascination on Capitol Hill. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) even took up the cause at a press briefing this week, saying: "I think it's silly that they have insisted on locking down the White House, which the American people actually own."