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.]

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Conrad Black Tax Battle: CRA Wants Media Mogul To Pay $3 Million In Back Taxes, And Maybe More

As if Conrad Black wasn’t involved in enough fights as it is, the former media mogul is now facing a battle with the Canada Revenue Agency over $3 million the tax collector says he owes the federal government.

The CRA is asking the erstwhile newspaper baron to pay taxes as a Canadian resident for 2002, though Black's lawyers say the agency had previously accepted that, for tax purposes, Black was a resident of the U.K. that year.

'Alternative' federal budget posits Flaherty's got it all wrong

 OTTAWA -- Canada's leading left-wing think-tank believes Canadians can have their cake and eat it too in the next federal budget -- more spending to create jobs while still moving toward balancing the books.

The proposals are contained in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' annual alternative federal budget, being released this morning, which Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has already dismissed out of hand, sight unseen.

Unpredictable North Korea poses serious threat, U.S. says

An unpredictable North Korea, with its nuclear weapons and missile programs, stands as a serious threat to the United States and East Asia nations, the director of National Intelligence warned Tuesday in a sober assessment of worldwide threats.

Testifying before a Senate panel, James R. Clapper delivered the U.S. intelligence community's overview of global threats posed by terrorism, cyber attacks, weapons of mass destruction, the months-long civil war in Syria and the unsettled situation in post-Arab Spring nations.

Kathleen Wynne stands by Yasir Naqvi over controversial book endorsement

Ontario’s first female premier is standing by a rookie cabinet minister who appeared to endorse a book that condones Islamic men striking their wives.

“(Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi) is going to reinforce that he does not support the position of the book,” Premier Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday, as opposition parties raised questions about his judgment.

“Any acceptance of violence against women is not acceptable to me.”

Junction Triangle fixer-upper attracts 40 offers and sells for almost $200,000 over asking

A house in the Junction Triangle area in need of an “extreme renovation” has sold for almost $200,000 over asking price thanks to a frenzy of activity that saw 40 people register bids on the home.

Seven potential buyers pulled out at the last minute Monday night as the listing agent prepared to deliver each bid to the home’s owners for review — some with deposit cheques of $100,000. The house sold for $601,500.

Experimental Lakes Area in danger of closing

The federal government is making plans to mothball the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) in northern Ontario because it hasn't yet found an organization willing to take over the world-renowned facility.

Money to run the giant outdoor laboratory is slated to run out on March 31. The federal government will relinquish control on Sept. 1 but won't do any science during the five-month period.

The New York Times calls for war on Canadian oil

It looks like the Keystone XL pipeline is coming down to a nasty war on Canada. In a stunning lead editorial Monday, The New York Times — which is inexplicably slated in June to receive a special tribute at the Canadian Journalism Foundation annual gala — told President Barack Obama he should “say no” to the pipeline that would bring more Canadian oil to the United States.

But the newspaper did more than that. The Times editorial, “When to Say No,” essentially urged Mr. Obama to declare a war on Canada’s oil sands. The Keystone decision, said the Times, is not merely about the environmental impact of the pipeline on flora and fauna as it runs through the United States. Nor is it about the alleged climate impact of the annual carbon emissions from producing and refining the oil that would flow through the pipeline and eventually to U.S. consumers.

The SWP and rape: why I care about this Marxist-Leninist implosion

Sexism on the left is the punch you weren't expecting. This week the Socialist Workers party, Britain's largest far-left organisation, is on the brink of collapse after a rape scandal. The scandal is not just that a senior party member was accused of raping a young female activist, but that the party responded by convening its own court, comprised chiefly of the alleged attacker's friends, to decide whether rape had occurred. They decided that it hadn't. At a special conference this weekend its members voted for the second time to uphold that decision.

Flatbush Riot: Vigil For Kimani Gray, 16-Year-Old Shot And Killed By NYPD Cops, Turns Violent

BROOKLYN — A candlelight vigil to mourn a 16-year-old boy who was fatally shot by police turned violent Monday evening, as frustrated attendees threw bottles at cops, broke shop windows and looted a Rite Aid, officials and sources said.

The 7 p.m. vigil started with heartfelt remembrances of Kimani Gray — who was shot and killed by two police officers in East Flatbush Saturday night after he allegedly pointed a .38 caliber pistol at them — but soon some of the teens at the vigil grew violent and began throwing trash cans, people who attended the event said.

School Maintenance Report Shows Need For $542 Billion To Update, Modernize Buildings

WASHINGTON -- America's schools are in such disrepair that it would cost more than $270 billion just to get elementary and secondary buildings back to their original conditions and twice that to get them up to date, a report released Tuesday estimated. In a foreword to the report, former President Bill Clinton said "we are still struggling to provide equal opportunity" to children and urged the first federal study of school buildings in almost two decades.

Clinton and the Center for Green Schools urged a Government Accountability Office assessment on what it would take to get school buildings up to date to help students learn, keep teachers healthy and put workers back on the jobs. The last such report, issued in 1995 during the Clinton administration, estimated it would take $112 billion to bring the schools into good repair and did not include the need for new buildings to accommodate the growing number of students.

Paul Ryan Budget Ignores Federal Pay Rate Freeze In Call For Employee Cutbacks

WASHINGTON -- The GOP House budget proposal released by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) Tuesday included a standard Republican talking point for long-term deficit reduction: Slim down the federal workforce and pare back workers' salaries.

But in making the case for a smaller, lesser-paid workforce, the proposal from the House Budget Committee chairman may mislead readers when it comes to recent federal pay. "Immune from the effects of the recession," the budget reads, "federal employees have received regular salary bumps regardless of productivity or economic realities."

GOP Budget Plan Promises To Repeal Obamacare, Cuts Medicaid

WASHINGTON — House Republicans unveiled their latest budget outline on Tuesday, sticking to their plans to try to repeal so-called Obamacare, cut domestic programs ranging from Medicaid to college grants and require future Medicare patients to bear more of the program's cost.

The point is to prove it's possible to balance the budget within 10 years by simply cutting spending and avoiding further tax hikes, even though the fiscal blueprint released Tuesday by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will be dead on arrival with the White House and Democrats controlling the Senate.

Did the NYPD Entrap Ahmed Ferhani?

Here’s what New York City authorities want you to think about the Ahmed Ferhani case: that after an eight-month-long undercover operation, the New York Police Department caught a dangerous “lone wolf” before he and his partner, Mohamed Mamdouh, could blow up a large Manhattan synagogue, and possibly the Empire State Building. Ahmed—driven by anti-Semitism, they say—was the mastermind behind a plot to terrorize Jews and Christians for the mistreatment of Muslims throughout the world.

Microsoft "Bait and Switch" Could Mean a Huge Increase in Foreign Tech Workers

A member of a powerful DC-based coalition of education and labor groups says Microsoft tricked him and others into opening the door to the Immigration Innovation Act, a federal bill that would promote the offshore outsourcing of American jobs.

"It was a classic bait and switch," says the source, a member of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Education Coalition, an umbrella organization of some 500 corporate, labor, and education groups that was cofounded by Microsoft. The source, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of jeopardizing his relationships with allies on Capitol Hill, described Microsoft's approach to the bill as "lobbying malpractice."

The White House Is for Sale Under Barack Obama, Too

On Wednesday night, at the swanky St. Regis Hotel three blocks north of the White House, President Barack Obama will schmooze with his biggest donors and most avid grassroots supporters at a "founder's summit" for Organizing for Action, the controversial pro-Obama nonprofit group. OFA will use the email lists, social networks, and cutting-edge technologies honed during Obama's reelection campaign to try to galvanize Americans in support of the president's second-term agenda.

But watchdogs and reformers are up in arms after the New York Times revealed that supporters who raise or donate $500,000 or more will score invites to quarterly meetings with Obama and other exclusive perks unavailable to run-of-the-mill Obama supporters. "Access to the president should never be for sale," said Common Cause president Bob Edgar.

Taxing our patience: With budget looming, calls are growing for federal tax reform

OTTAWA — Dan Braniff considers himself a savvy investor, quite knowledgeable about the federal tax system. The retired telecommunications manager once oversaw a multimillion-dollar budget, and still plays the financial markets to help sustain his post-work life.

But heading into tax season, the razor-sharp 81-year-old says even he uses an accountant to navigate an increasingly labyrinthine system to find tax relief for seniors.

An alternative budget: Balancing the books through stimulating growth, jobs

OTTAWA - Canada's leading left-wing think-tank believes Canadians can have their cake and eat it too in the next federal budget — more spending to create jobs while still moving toward balancing the books.

The proposals are contained in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' annual alternative federal budget, being released this morning, which Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has already dismissed out of hand, sight unseen.

Building the charlatan movement

Whoever decided to invite retired U.S. congressman and perpetual presidential candidate Ron Paul to the annual Manning Centre networking event must be perplexed. The Manning Centre has as its official goal: Building the Conservative Movement. Paul admitted others call him a conservative, but he did not want to wear the label.

Paul told the conference attendees: Like you I believe in liberty. As reported by Aaron Wherry, Paul opposes "interventionism," his own word.

His creed is free markets, and a hands-off state. No income tax, no social programs, and no central bank. He wants competition, even in currencies.

'Right to work' is a lie

The title might sound harsh, but there is no other way to say it. Creating legislation that takes away human rights in the workplace, and claiming that it is giving you rights, is deliberately dishonest. What it's really about is greed and low wages.

There has been much written and much hand wringing lately about social inequality and the ever growing gap between the haves and the have-nots. There is more wealth now than there has ever been. We don't have a deficit problem. We have a distribution of wealth problem. "Right to Work" legislation will make that gap much, much worse.

Desperate graduates work for free

Pay: Zero.

Benefits: None.

Experience: It varies. Some interns acquire job skills; others run errands, answer phones, file, photocopy and deliver documents.

Chances of being hired: minimal. Some employers explicitly say that an internship will not lead to a job; most hint it might or insinuate that graduates won’t get a foot in the door without proving they’re hungry enough to work for free.

Arctic scientists see Canada slipping on world stage

In Germany, in New Zealand, in the Canary Islands and at 21 other observatories around the world, instruments called infrared spectrometers are teasing apart sunlight to measure greenhouse gas levels in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Two dozen spectrometers make up the Total Carbon Column Observing Network (TCCON). The one in Eureka, Nunavut, is the most northerly of them all — a sentry in the Arctic, where extreme effects of climate change are rapidly altering the environment.

‘Reset’ button on F-35s won’t work

That horrible grinding, smashing noise you may have heard from Ottawa a couple of weeks ago was the sound of the Stephen Harper government’s grand F-35 dream self-destructing.

The controversial plan to equip the Royal Canadian Air Force with 65 of the absurdly costly F-35 fighter jets had been in trouble for nearly three years. The coup de grace came, I believe, in a CBC Television report on Feb. 27. CBC senior political correspondent Terry Milewski reported new information: that Ottawa could save $23 billion over the lifetime of the aircraft if it purchased the F-18 Super Hornet, built by Boeing, rather than the F-35 Lightning from Lockheed Martin.

Manning Conference makes one wonder how long conservative movement can keep from tearing itself apart

Cognitive dissonance is a term from psychology describing the state of mind of a person who holds two contradictory beliefs at the same time. The conflict between the reality conveyed by the senses and prior belief commonly gives rise to feelings of immense anxiety and frustration, which the patient attempts to resolve in various ways.

Then there is the Canadian conservative movement, which seems capable of convincing itself of any number of conflicting ideas without visible discomfort of any kind. Nowhere is this particular case of cognitive dissonance on better display than at the annual Manning Networking Conference, where the movement’s core gathers every year to congratulate itself on two things: the rightness of its beliefs, and the greatness of the government of Stephen Harper.

Toronto councillors want focus on issues, not mayoral distractions

Amid an escalating war of words between Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and a woman who accuses him of behaving inappropriately, several councillors say they want to see an end to the ongoing distractions at city hall.

Coun. Gloria Lindsay Luby said Monday that she would like the focus at city hall to be on city business, without being sidetracked by the latest allegations involving the mayor.

Kathleen Wynne in no hurry to set byelection dates

Premier Kathleen Wynne is on a byelection tour of southwestern Ontario to kick off March break, but she isn’t in a rush to pull the trigger on races to replace retired cabinet ministers in Windsor and London, Ont.

“We don’t have a firm date,” Wynne said at a campaign-style stop in Windsor on Monday, where former finance minister Dwight Duncan stepped down as the MPP for Windsor-Tecumseh last month.

She called Windsor “the best-kept secret in the province.”

Defense Department Spends Billions on Weird Research

Have you ever wondered what fish can teach us about democracy? Or how well babies interact with robots? Or contemplated the color of the feathers of the very first birds? The Department of Defense spends billions of dollars in research each year attempting to answer these and other arcane questions.

To be sure, many of the Pentagon’s research projects address much weightier and consequential questions and issues. But at a time when defense officials are warning of dire consequences to national security from the sequester, some of the military’s surprisingly costly research appears – dare we say -- frivolous or non-essential.

FDIC Secretly Settling Bank Cases For Years With 'No Press Release' Clause

At the request of rule-breaking bankers, a top U.S. regulator has for years settled bank cases in secret, raising the bar on just how far regulators are willing to go to help the industry they regulate.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which insures bank deposits in the U.S. and shuts down failing banks, has since 2007 repeatedly settled charges of banker wrongdoing by agreeing to "no press release" clauses that keep the settlements a secret, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Keystone XL: New York Times Urges President To Reject Pipeline

The New York Times has come out against the Keystone XL pipeline, in an editorial published in Monday’s paper.

“In itself, the Keystone pipeline will not push the world into a climate apocalypse. But it will continue to fuel our appetite for oil and add to the carbon load in the atmosphere. There is no need to accept it,” the Times opined.

Tories’ ad blitz for Economic Action Plan cost taxpayers $21M in 2011-12

OTTAWA — The Harper government spent $21 million on major advertising campaigns under its Economic Action Plan brand in 2011-12.

The latest annual report on federal ad spending shows Ottawa shelled out $78.5 million that year telling Canadians about everything from the switch to digital TV and the War of 1812, to elder abuse and anti-drug messaging.

Canada's Reckless Banks Inflate House Price Bubble

The whole issue of the housing bubble, its extent and whether there will be a soft landing as predicted by many wishful thinkers, has resulted in many interesting headlines in recent weeks -- including some high on the delusional scale. One suggested that house prices are a mere 20 per cent overvalued (if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you). Another that Mark Carney, having solved the housing bubble issue, was now moving on to an allegedly different issue: economic growth. Into this mix rode the cowboy of the big Canadian banks, the Bank of Montreal (BMO), with a replay of its irresponsible low interest rate of 2.99 per cent for a five year mortgage. The last time it did this, for a couple of months in early 2012, it scooped $7 billion in mortgage business.

What Preston Manning Didn't Say

Preston Manning's politics have always been out of step with those of the great majority of Canadians. But he is an unrecognized political wizard who has remade us before our eyes.

Manning is also the heir of the most successful political dynasty in our history. His father Ernest Manning took a lunatic-fringe Depression movement called Social Credit and turned it into a political force not only in Alberta but in British Columbia and Quebec as well. He ruled Alberta for 25 years, from 1943 to 1968, and made that province a one-party state that has endured for 70 years.

Capitalism at work in conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theories in the United States are as common as mass murderers. Nor are they the monopoly of any one ideology. Today, crackpots on the right have no doubt that Barack Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim who orchestrated the massacre at Newtown's Sandy Hook public school as a ruse to confiscate all guns from freedom-loving Americans while he raises a private black army to slaughter whites. You know I couldn't make this up.

On the left, meanwhile, it's widely believed that the 1 per cent plot behind closed doors to enhance their own influence and wealth while battling unions, environmental groups, social programs, dissent and any laws that regulate their behavior, regardless of the harm this causes the 99 per cent. So yes, many lefties are indeed paranoid. But that doesn't mean they're wrong.

Shaw broke employment law with contract workers

Two former Shaw Communications employees are blowing the whistle on how the telecommunications giant broke employment law for years.

Rob Browridge and Tasha Lowe say Shaw underpaid them by declaring them independent contractors when they should have been paid as employees.

“It’s really mean. It seems mean-spirited to me,” Browridge said. “The amount that I was getting paid was pretty brutal … with no benefits, with nothing.”

Say goodbye to effective Parliamentary Budget Office, feds about to destroy it, says outgoing PBO Page

The Parliamentary Budget Office is about to be destroyed if Parliament, the media, and Canadians do not stand up for it, warns Canada’s outgoing PBO Kevin Page, who says it’s a mistake for the Parliamentary librarian to be in charge of the office’s operational mandate and administration.

“It was an accident that the current PBO became a true legislative budget office. If Parliament, the media and Canadians want a true legislative budget office they will have to ‘stand up.’  The current PBO is about to go down,” Mr. Page told The Hill Times. “The process is very late. I am leaving in two weeks. We will have a budget very soon. The PBO will be in Federal Court on a reference opinion very soon. The timing of the selection process and the interim appointment of the librarian do not support the interests of Parliament. If Parliament, the media, and Canadians do not see what is unfolding and react appropriately—PBO will soon be an institution of the past. The risk is we go from the spirit of accountability to the spirit of a ‘sounding board.’”

Manning's Map to Victory

Preston Manning, like Al Gore, never quite made it to the top job. Like Gore, this has freed him to dispense inconvenient truths, like this one. "Conservatives are generally considered, and this by our friends, to be weak or disinterested on the environment -- the issue of greatest concern to many of our children and grandchildren."

A thousand conservatives from across the country are gathered in Ottawa for the Manning Networking Conference. Some shift in their seats. A few nod. Their leader continues. "Whether it's fair or not, the bad news is that this perceived deficiency on the environmental front has become a political and economic liability."

After Vowing Greater Transparency, Obama Admin Increasingly Censoring, Withholding Info From Public

A new report has revealed the U.S. government refused or censored freedom of information requests from the public more last year than at any other time during the Obama presidency. The Associated Press analysis determined that the Obama administration cited legal provisions for withholding information more often in 2012 than in any previous year — especially a rule intended to protect national security. The CIA denied 60 percent of information requests in 2012, compared to 49 percent a year earlier. We speak to Jack Gillum of the Associated Press and Alexander Abdo of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: -

Near Daily, a Child Dies or Is Hurt in Care of Province

Today, a child or youth in or recently released from the care of the Crown in B.C. is likely to die or be "critically injured."

That chilling conclusion is unavoidable after reviewing a succession of easily available public reports.

No more NAFTAs, no to the TPP: A call to arms from tri-national trade justice activists

The TPP is NAFTA on (insert performance-enhancing drug of choice here). That much we know. So what are we going to do about it?

In The Tyee, Raul Burbano (Common Frontiers), Kristen Beifus (Washington Fair Trade Coalition) and Manuel Pérez-Rocha (RMALC, Institute for Policy Studies) ask people across North America to help create a tri-national resistance movement against the TPP and other post-NAFTA free trade deals that "create rich people, not rich communities." They show the NAFTA legacy for what it is -- 20-years of growing inequality, precarity, income- and job insecurity, and environmental degradation, and shrinking expectations of "what people can do together for the common good."

Former Aussie PM's unintended message to Canadian progressives: Democratic coalitions work!

OTTAWA - Was former Australian PM John Howard sending Canadian conservatives a coded message about their future Saturday, or was his research just not up to snuff now that he's no longer a prime minister?

Howard is a Liberal, which in Australia means he's a conservative, which almost anywhere else would mean he’d be termed a neoliberal, which here in North America requires him to be called a neoconservative, which of course was the reason he was invited to be part of the closing act at Preston Manning's "Big Ideas for Conservatives" bunfest in Ottawa Saturday afternoon.

Still with me?

Canada's reckless banks need reining in

The whole issue of the housing bubble, its extent and whether there will be a soft landing as predicted by many wishful thinkers has resulted in many interesting headlines in recent weeks -- including some high on the delusional scale.

One suggested that house prices are a mere 20 per cent overvalued (if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you). Another that Marc Carney, having solved the housing bubble issue, was now moving on to an allegedly different issue: economic growth. Into this mix rode the cowboy of the big Canadian banks, the Bank of Montreal (BMO), with a replay of its irresponsible low interest rate of 2.99 per cent for a five year mortgage. The last time it did this, for a couple of months in early 2012, it scooped $7 billion in mortgage business.

Architect 'uncomfortable' with owner demand for parking on doomed mall's roof

ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. - The owner of the doomed Algo Centre Mall insisted on the novel idea of putting a parking deck above the shopping centre despite the reservations of the building's architect, a public inquiry heard Monday.

James Keywan, who designed the shopping centre, told the hearing into the deadly collapse of the garage that the owner-developer decided rooftop parking was the cheapest option.

"I'm very uncomfortable with that because there's retail space below," Keywan testified at the inquiry into the collapse last June that killed two women.

Signs banning protests by Harper's Calgary office questioned

Signs posted at the entrances to a shopping centre housing Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Calgary office have sparked some controversy.

The signs at Glenmore Landing in Calgary's southwest ban protesting on the property.

"Political or public protesting or demonstrating, soliciting, use of loud speakers or other similar devices, pamphleteering, loitering [and] skateboarding is strictly prohibited," states the signs, which were installed by the owners of Glenmore Landing.

Stephen Harper’s war on transparency

Stonewalling, foot-dragging and contempt for Parliament pay. At least that’s what the federal government appears to have concluded in the wake of the 2011 election. Toppled two years ago after being found in contempt of Parliament for failing to disclose fiscal information, the Conservatives were nonetheless rewarded in the polls with a majority government — a victory that has served as positive reinforcement for their modus operandi of obfuscation.

Things have only gotten worse. As Kevin Page, Canada’s first parliamentary budget officer, prepares to leave his post later this month, he remains locked in a legal battle with the government — the culmination of a year-long struggle to access details on the specific nature of the deep cuts contained in the last federal budget.

Flanagan’s ‘toxic’ comments left the PMO no choice

It took only a matter of hours for political strategist Tom Flanagan’s musings on Canada’s child pornography laws to set off a chain reaction of denunciation and dismissal, but fellow conservative commentators are hopeful it’s not the last they hear from the former Harper strategist.

It was a flippant response to an unrelated question about Mr. Flanagan’s philosophical views on the legality of child pornography that led to his demise as a leading public intellectual of Canadian conservatism. Within hours of his appearance at a seminar on the Indian Act at the University of Lethbridge on Feb. 27 which was posted on YouTube that evening and picked up the next morning by Huffington Post Canada and National Newswatch, he had been jettisoned by every major organization he’s become associated with since he emerged as a prominent force in Canadian politics more than two decades ago.

Jason Kenney and Tony Clement are the 2 Conservatives to watch

They are midway through a majority term, have ruled the country for seven years and for the first time in a generation control a majority of all legislative seats at the provincial and federal level.

They flood the airwaves with ads, control the country’s purse strings and have the luxury of a split opposition.

Yet the close to 1,000 Canadian conservatives who gathered for The Manning Centre’s two-day examination of their future still see enemies around every corner, plotters in every Twitter feed and evil in the halls of academe and the media.

How Raising the Retirement Age Screws the Working Poor

Those of you who are careful readers of this blog are already aware that in recent years life expectancy has risen way more for richer people than for poorer people. The basic chart is here. Today, however, the Washington Post puts this into more concrete terms by comparing life expectancies in two Florida counties that are right next to each other. St. Johns is a well-off coastal county, while Putnam is a more working class inland county. Here's their map:

The Drone Strikes We Really Should Worry About

Senator Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) 13-hour filibuster over whether or not the White House believes it has the authority to assassinate terrorism suspects within the United States raised the weary spirits of critics of the Obama administration's targeted killing program. But, advocates say that the focus on something that may never come to pass—drone strikes at home—should not distract from the problems with targeted killing as it is actually used.

"We ought to be more focused on the current program as it is today rather than what I see as a very hypothetical and not very likely use of force within the United States," says Raha Wala, an attorney with Human Rights First. "We have hundreds of drone strikes, thousands of people dead in a half a dozen or so countries around the world, with very little explanation from the administration as to the legal, ethical and operational basis for the program."

A Recommitment to the American Ideal That Labor Rights Are Human Rights

The makers of We Are Wisconsin—the critically acclaimed documentary about the 2011 Wisconsin Uprising and its aftermath—are sponsoring screenings of the film Monday in communities across the country as part of a National Day of Recommitment to labor rights.

“The day is the second anniversary of the signing by Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin Act 10, which ended 60 years of progress for Wisconsin workers,” note the filmmakers. “The Walker assault led to battles all over America, challenging us all to stand up for working families, and to organize to put our country back on the right track.”

General Electric Avoids Taxes By Keeping $108 Billion Overseas

The company with the most profits parked overseas is General Electric, according to a new Bloomberg analysis of 83 corporations.

GE said in a Feb. 26 regulatory filing that it was holding $108 billion in profits overseas as of the end of last year. That is up from $102 billion a year before. GE said in the filing that it reinvested most of these profits in foreign business operations and does not intend to bring those profits back to the U.S.

The practice of holding profits overseas has been highlighted as a strategy to avoid paying taxes. GE paid no U.S. taxes at all in 2010, according to The New York Times -- an allegation GE spokesman Seth Martin called "untrue" in an email to The Huffington Post Monday.

Clean Power Collateral Damage: Of Birds, Tortoises And The Transition From Fossil Fuels

Is kickstarting a clean-energy industry and accelerating a movement away from fossil fuels worth the expense of, say, a few desert tortoises or a collection of piping plovers? If so, how many of these threatened species would you be willing to sacrifice to build a commercial wind farm, or a utility-scale solar array?

It's a stark and oversimplified way to frame things, of course, but the exercise helps to highlight the reality that renewable energy has environmental impacts, too. It's a point that was raised with me recently by Eric Glitzenstein, an attorney representing, among other groups, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a determined and well-funded coalition of residents in and around Cape Cod who are opposed to the construction of an offshore wind farm in nearby waters.

Dwindling Deficit Disorder

For three years and more, policy debate in Washington has been dominated by warnings about the dangers of budget deficits. A few lonely economists have tried from the beginning to point out that this fixation is all wrong, that deficit spending is actually appropriate in a depressed economy. But even though the deficit scolds have been wrong about everything so far — where are the soaring interest rates we were promised? — protests that we are having the wrong conversation have consistently fallen on deaf ears.

 What’s really remarkable at this point, however, is the persistence of the deficit fixation in the face of rapidly changing facts. People still talk as if the deficit were exploding, as if the United States budget were on an unsustainable path; in fact, the deficit is falling more rapidly than it has for generations, it is already down to sustainable levels, and it is too small given the state of the economy.