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.]

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Why a change to your ballot would give the NDP an edge next election

If Canada adopted a preferential ballot for its federal elections, outcomes could be radically different – at least according to a new poll. And it would be Stephen Harper’s Conservatives who would suffer the most.

Preferential balloting, also known as instant run-off voting, alternative voting, or a ranked ballot, is a system used in many jurisdictions around the world. A proposal to adopt this method will be considered by Toronto’s city council in the coming months, and it is a system that is supported by Justin Trudeau. It was used in the federal NDP’s last leadership race, and will also be employed to select the next Liberal leader.

Sober second-guessing

Sometimes the stupidity of the Rob Ford camp and his media sycophants is just too profound for words. You’d think somebody, anybody, in what’s left of the mayor’s inner circle might have said publicly it’s time for the mayor to come clean about his drinking problem after the Star bombshell Tuesday, March 26, about Ford embarrassing himself at the Toronto Garrison Ball last month, showing up, according to numerous sources, drunk, stoned or both. So out of it was he that organizers reportedly asked his aide to get him to leave.

Canada has to deal with a different world

The return of the Canadian International Development Agency to the Foreign Affairs fold after a 45-year absence — an event that was strangely almost hidden in the 433-page budget Finance Minister Jim Flaherty introduced in the House of Commons last Thursday — is no small deal. The news certainly set off a good bit of chatter, and happily not all of it has been partisan, predictable and boring.

Supreme Court won't hear Canadian Press appeal in Tommy Douglas case

OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada has squelched an effort by The Canadian Press to lift the shroud of secrecy over an intelligence dossier compiled on socialist trailblazer Tommy Douglas.

The high court said Friday it won't hear reporter Jim Bronskill's appeal in his long-running fight to have more information in the Douglas file made public.

Paul Champ, the news agency's lawyer, said the refusal to hear the appeal was disappointing.

Harper accused of turning Canada into ‘North Korea of environmental law’ after UN drought treaty withdrawal

Green Party leader Elizabeth May says the Harper government’s latest treaty pullout is turning Canada into the “North Korea of environmental law” as the opposition angrily denounced the move to withdraw from a UN convention that fights droughts in Africa and around the globe.

“So upset Harper pulled us out of another global [environment] treaty. He’s making us a rogue nation. The North Korea of environmental law,” May tweeted Thursday.

U.S. B-2 Bombers In South Korea: Nuclear-Capable Planes Complete Training After North Korea Threats

SEOUL, South Korea -- The U.S military says two nuclear-capable B-2 bombers have completed a training mission in South Korea amid threats from North Korea that include nuclear strikes on Washington and Seoul.

The statement Thursday by U.S. Forces Korea is an unusual confirmation. It follows an earlier U.S. announcement that nuclear-capable B-52 bombers participated in ongoing U.S.-South Korean military drills.

The U.S. says the B-2 stealth bombers flew from a U.S. air base and dropped munitions on a South Korean island range before returning home.

The announcement will likely draw a strong response from Pyongyang. North Korea sees the military drills as part of a U.S. plot to invade and becomes particularly upset about U.S. nuclear activities in the region.

Washington and Seoul say they the annual drills are routine and defensive.

Original Article
Author: AP

Border Checkpoints: 2 Arrested For Refusing To Answer Immigration Questions Before Domestic Flight

A pair of U.S. citizens want to make a point about border checkpoints.

Omar Figueredo and Nancy Morales, were stopped at Brownsville/South Padre International Airport in Texas and detained for seven hours for refusing to answer questions about their immigration status before boarding a domestic flight this week, Democracy Now! reports.

Royal Mayo, Steubenville's Former NAACP President, Says 'Alleged Victim' May Not Have Been Raped

A former president of the local Steubenville NAACP seemed to blame the Steubenville rape victim for what happened to her when two members of the high school football team sexually assaulted her.

In an interview with the International Business Times, Royal Mayo said the girl came to the party with alcohol and intentionally left with one of her attackers, Trent Mays.

"They’re alleging she got raped; she’s acknowledging that she wanted to leave with Trent," Mayo said. "Her friends say she pushed them away as she went and got into the car, twice telling them, ‘I know what I’m doing; I’m going with Trent.’”

Canadian GDP Lags U.S., Japan And Germany: OECD

PARIS - A leading international economy body says the global economy is beginning to rebound, but Canada is lagging several other members of the Group of Seven countries.

The OECD estimates Canada's economy will grow by 1.1 per cent in the first quarter — much slower than the United States or Japan and below the G-7 average — but pick up steam and grow by 1.9 per cent in the second quarter.

FBI's Lawyer Says Modernizing Surveillance Law For Real-Time Online Snooping Is A 'Top Priority' In 2013

The FBI’s "top priority" in 2013 is to modernize surveillance law so authorities can monitor in real time the Web activities of Americans suspected of committing crimes, the FBI’s general counsel said.

At a luncheon for the American Bar Association in Washington last week, Andrew Weissman said that a 1994 federal law designed to help law enforcement conduct lawful surveillance was not keeping up with modern forms of communication.

'Racist' Nanaimo Daily News Letter About First Nations Sparks Outrage

A Vancouver Island community paper is under fire after printing a "racist" letter to the editor that says First Nations have a history that is "notable only for underachievement."

Don Olsen's letter in the Nanaimo Daily News on Wednesday mounts a pile of criticism on First Nations, saying they "never 'discovered' the wheel," that they never came up with a written language and that they "only 'figured out' a drum and a rattle for musical instruments."

The letter ends with: "Instead of finding their identity and source of pride in some folks who occupied the land 15,000 years ago. Let them stand or fall on their own account. Just like the rest of us have to do."

Stephen Harper doesn’t do budgets anymore

One of the little joys of the Harper government’s Economic Action Plan 2013 is a chart on page 298 listing “savings measures since Budget 2010.” There are a few lines listing the total value of all spending cuts from Budget 2010, a few for Budget 2011, a few for Economic Action Plan 2012 and some more for Economic Action Plan 2013. There is much to consider in the chart, but perhaps the most interesting is the news that the government of Canada no longer publishes an annual budget. In fact, it seems to have stopped two years ago.

‘Dirty, rotten bastards’ carpet bombing my riding: Pat Martin

New Democratic Party MP Pat Martin is accusing Conservative MPs of dirty tricks, saying they are using their free mailing privileges to flood his riding of Winnipeg Centre with partisan letters to his constituents.

“They are absolutely carpet bombing my riding with them, they’re just blanketing my riding with these things,” Martin said in an interview with iPolitics. “Dirty, rotten bastards.”

Former Quebec minister asks why no cultural exemption in Canada-EU trade deal

Louise Beaudoin, former Parti Quebecois culture and international relations minister (pictured), and Pascal Rogard, the head of France's Coalition for Cultural Diversity, are asking why Canada and Quebec have given up trying to negotiate a broad cultural exemption in the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Beaudoin, who helped draft the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, is in Paris this week accepting an award from the French coalition. She told Le Devoir that while France seems interested in a "horizontal" (across the board) exemption for culture, the Conservative government and Quebec negotiators have resigned themselves to listing every law or policy that should be excluded from CETA rules. The European Commission has won this battle. Everything that is not included in Canada's reservations for cultural policy would be liberalized.

PQ government in Quebec does an about face on the right to protest

Montreal--During last year's student strike in Quebec, including during the election it provoked in August/September, the Parti québécois and its leader, now Quebec premier, Pauline Marois criticized the infamous Bill 78/Law 12 that obliged students and any other protesters to seek police permission to hold public demonstrations. Upon its election on September 4, her government abolished Law 12.

Now the PQ faces a new right to protest scandal, but this time it has switched sides and is on the "you don't have the right to protest" side. The scandal involves petty municipal regulations that have come to be used by police in place of Law 12 to shut down protests. In Montreal, the regulation is "P-6." It is quickly becoming as nasty a symbol of capitalist repression as were the "Bill 78" and "Law 12" symbols of the preceding Liberal government of Premier Jean Charest.

Freedom of expression for federal librarians and archivists under attack

Although federal public servants have always had a limited right to freedom of expression (as compared to private sector employees), certain government employees have recently been subjected to increasingly strict policies, or codes of conduct, which govern their behaviour both in and out of the workplace. Two recent policies effectively restrict access to the media and participation in forums for intellectual debate -- such as conferences or teaching engagements. Contrary to what you might expect, these policies do not target employees in the justice, immigration or national defence departments, but rather scientists, librarians and archivists associated with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Department of Canadian Heritage. There are two reasons why Canadians should be concerned: 1) this continues a trend of the Harper government to restrict the public's timely access to valuable information from our experts on issues of national importance (which in turn negatively impacts the quality of our public discourse and ability to make informed decisions); and 2) some of these policies are unnecessarily restrictive and arguably in breach of section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms ‑- the right to freedom of expression.

Media coverage of Iraq War anniversary erases role of popular protest

When a U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq the forward-looking Canadian government stayed out of the war. And if you believe that I have a bridge for sale in Moose Jaw at an excellent price.

As part of the tenth anniversary of the invasion many media outlets lauded Canada's refusal to join the second Iraq war. Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien got the ball rolling by boasting that he never believed Iraq had amassed weapons of mass destruction and that staying out of the war "is a decision that the people of Muslim faith and Arab culture have appreciated very much from Canada, and it was the right decision."

Edie Windsor's fight for marriage equality in the U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments about same-sex marriage this week. On Tuesday, it was about the controversial California ballot initiative known as Prop 8, which has banned same-sex marriages in that state. On Wednesday, the case challenging the constitutionality of DOMA, the federal Defense of Marriage Act, was heard. That case is called United States v. Windsor. Edie Windsor, now 83 years old, was married to a woman, Thea Spyer. They were a couple for 44 years.

Rob Ford aide’s unsolicited offer to school: $10,000 to start new football team

One of Mayor Rob Ford ’s staffers emailed a Catholic high school on Tuesday with an unsolicited proposal to start a football team with “up to $10,000” from Ford’s foundation.

The use of taxpayer-paid city employees for non-city purposes is a likely violation of council’s code of conduct. In fact, Ford was found by the integrity commissioner to have violated the code in 2010 for what appears to be an identical issue: using his staff to assist with his foundation’s work.

NATO Won't Use Drones to Kill Hackers (Most Likely)

If you're a hacker living in your mom's basement causing trouble for a world power, can NATO call in an air strike to put a stop to your cybermischief?

That was one question raised this month with the release of the Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare, a NATO-commissioned handbook that could be the first step toward codifying the rules under which NATO members will wage cyberwarfare in future conflicts. The project had the input of the International Committee of the Red Cross and US Cyber Command.

Fracking's Latest Scandal? Earthquake Swarms

At exactly 10:53 p.m. on Saturday, November 5, 2011, Joe and Mary Reneau were in the bedroom of their whitewashed and brick-trimmed home, a two-story rambler Mary's dad custom-built 43 years ago. Their property encompasses 440 acres of rolling grasslands in Prague, Oklahoma (population 2,400), located 50 miles east of Oklahoma City. When I arrive at their ranch almost a year later on a bright fall morning, Joe is wearing a short-sleeve shirt and jeans held up by navy blue suspenders, and is wedged into a metal chair on his front stoop sipping black coffee from a heavy mug. His German shepherd, Shotzie, is curled at his feet. Joe greets me with a crushing handshake—he is 200 pounds, silver-haired and 6 feet tall, with thick forearms and meaty hands—and invites me inside. He served in Vietnam, did two tours totaling nine years with the Defense Intelligence Agency, and then, in 1984, retired a lieutenant colonel from the US Army to sell real estate and raise cattle. Today, the livestock are gone and Joe calls himself "semiretired" because "we still cut hay in the summers."

Critics fear government’s plan to consolidate websites is meant to curtail access to information

OTTAWA — The Conservative government is looking to consolidate more than 1,000 federal websites from dozens of departments into “a single entry point” — part of an online refresh that has critics worried the government will restrict information available to Canadians.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has requested the online overhaul, which has some major departments such as National Defence planning to slash its number of websites by more than 90 per cent by the end of July.

Canada’s foreign-aid goals are unclear

If partnerships between charities and mining companies represent the future of foreign aid in Canada, some of the key players will need a clearer road map about what the federal government wants to achieve.

And taxpayers should be asking for the same thing. Otherwise, the new Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) — which has just been folded into the department of foreign affairs — could become bogged down with some of the problems of the old CIDA, only with more private sector involvement. It would also represent a lost opportunity to get the best out of public-private partnerships.

Liberal leadership: Justin Trudeau takes aim at ‘negative’ politics

Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau blames a negative political climate for low voter turnouts in recent elections.

Interviewed by Toronto Star publisher John Cruickshank at Toronto’s Royal York Hotel on Wednesday, Trudeau took aim at those who would be his opponents if he wins the leadership race and assailed Prime Minister Stephen Harper and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair for what he called divisive politics.

ACOA bent hiring process for Tory

OTTAWA — Senior ACOA officials bent hiring processes so Conservative staffer Kevin MacAdam could apply for a management job, a Public Service Commission of Canada investigation has found.

MacAdam won the job in 2010 but the commission revoked his appointment late last year. The investigation has been sealed until now because MacAdam and other ACOA officials are appealing the commission’s decision in Federal Court.

Repression, homophobia and transgender policies in Iran

Because of Islam's many sects and a lack of centralized religious authority, there is no one opinion on the status and rights of LGBT peoples.

The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) notes that of the seven countries that currently have the death penalty for homosexuality, all are Muslim or predominantly Muslim states.

 In Saudi Arabia, governed by Shari'ah law, sentencing decisions for the crime of homosexuality vary, including a 2010 sentencing of a man to 500 lashes and five years in jail for having sex with another man.

“Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement”: Film Portrays Lesbian Couple Behind Defense of Marriage Case

The lead plaintiff in the Defense of Marriage Act case before the U.S. Supreme Court is an 83-year-old lesbian named Edith Windsor. She sued the federal government after she was forced to pay additional estate taxes because it did not recognize her marriage to a woman, Thea Spyer. Windsor and Spyer met in 1962, got engaged soon after, but did not marry until 2007, near the end of Spyer’s life. Their life story was captured in the award-winning documentary, "Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement," directed and produced by Susan Muska and Greta Olafsdottir. We air clips from the film.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: -

Testing the Right to Frack

The controversial Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, or FIPA, is still not ratified. It's hard to know exactly why that is given the Conservative government's enthusiasm for these corporate rights treaties. But the surprising strength and size of the public backlash to the China FIPA surely played a role.

One big reason people are so worried about this specific treaty (versus Harper's FIPAs with Tanzania, Cameroon, Zambia, etc) is how it will empower corporations from the world's largest consumer of energy and natural resources to sue Canada for hundreds of millions of dollars for delays in getting oil, gas and minerals out of the ground. Delays like a moratorium or ban on hydraulic fracturing, for example, or stricter environmental rules that make projects more expensive, will be vulnerable to investor-state lawsuits that can cost hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars at the end of the day.

Abortion politics masquerading as free speech

Far more journalists than usual crammed the hallway outside the Conservatives' weekly caucus meeting on Wednesday, drawn by the prospect of a handful of backbench MPs waging an open rebellion against the prime minister.

The issues: free speech and abortion.

Alas, the revolt never spilled into the hallways, where it would have been laid bare before camera and microphone.

Should international aid serve Canada's commercial interests?

The Harper government's plan to merge CIDA, the Canadian International Development Agency, with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has provoked considerable debate in foreign policy circles.

The key issues are whether the merger will result in a more coherent foreign policy, and whether it means Canada might be departing from its long-held positions on international aid.

Oddly, while the proposal emanates from last week's budget, the proposed merger was not mentioned in the budget speech but was buried deep in the Budget Plan, in a chapter entitled "Supporting Families and Communities."

Police ‘carding’: Human Rights Commission offers help analyzing legitimacy of street checks

Ontario’s Human Rights Commissioner is urging Toronto police to accept her organization’s help in investigating data gathered in police street checks, also known as “carding.”

The force began analyzing the data after a Star investigation based on the same information showed that officers stop and document black people at disproportionately high rates.

“If you’re doing something that is controversial for a legitimate reason, then let’s understand exactly what it is you’re doing and if it meets the goals of what you’re doing,” commissioner Barbara Hall said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Debate: Does Marriage Equality Reinforce a Conservative Institution or Support Social Change?

As the U.S. Supreme Court heard two major cases this week on marriage equality, we look at how the issue has divided some in the LGBT movement. Longtime activist and blogger Scot Nakagawa wrote a popular essay this week called, "Why I Support Same Sex Marriage as a Civil Right, But Not As a Strategy to Achieve Structural Change." The article drew so much traffic that it crashed his server, twice. We speak to Nakagawa and Marc Solomon, National Campaign Director of Freedom to Marry, one of the leading campaigns to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act. “The marriage issue, while very important and a step toward greater freedoms, is not the whole ball of wax. There’s much more that we need to fight for. I think we recognize that most people in our society do not live in traditional nuclear family arrangements,” Nakagawa says. “Most of us actually live outside of those arrangements and deserve to also have the protections of our government.” Solomon, who attended Wednesday’s Supreme Court arguments, responds, “There is a lot you’re saying that I fully agree with, especially the idea that marriage for our LGBT community is not everything. It is an important milestone. ... I think the challenge is to use the power and the momentum that we’re building through the marriage fights to secure other gains.”

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: -

The rise of the super-rich. Is the economy just going through a bad patch?

So the rich are different. What’s it to you?

Quite a lot, if you see some of the recent analysis of the growing gap between the 1 per cent and the rest of us whose chins are barely bobbing above the financial waves.

Chrystia Freeland’s new book Plutocrats: the Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else throws a hand grenade into the (hopeful) belief that the economic system is just going through a bad patch.

The personal is political for Mayor Ford, in good times and bad

I know something about drinking problems. I have struggled with one for my entire adult life. I continue to struggle with it today.

My extended family includes enough drunks to populate an AA chapter. I’ve had close friends and roommates who drag broken relationships, lost jobs, destroyed bodies, and jail terms in the long train of empty bottles that follows them everywhere they go. I’m familiar with alcohol abuse, and how, when you have a problem with it, it can infect everything.

Suncor Energy cancels troubled Voyageur oilsands project

The company says market conditions have changed significantly, challenging the economics of the project.

The Voyageur upgrader was part of a joint venture Suncor inked with the Canadian arm of France’s Total just over two years ago.

Suncor says it has acquired Total E&P Canada Ltd.’s interest in the upgrader for $515 million to gain full control over the partnerships assets.

Suncor took a $1.49-billion writedown on Voyageur in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The company says it will take a charge to its first quarter net income and cash flow from operations of approximately $140 million and $180 million respectively as a result of the decision.

Original Article
Author: CP

Onion Lake will flout new finance transparency rules

The Onion Lake Cree Nation will defy the federal government’s new law ordering First Nations bands to publicly disclose financial information, Chief Wallace Fox says.

The move sets Onion Lake on a collision course with the Harper government, which has said any band that fails to abide by the new rules will have its funding cut off.

Exxon Valdez anniversary sparks renewed pipeline debate in B.C.

OTTAWA—It was 24 years ago this past Sunday that the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound off the coast of Alaska.

But from the northwest coast of British Columbia to the House of Commons, the tanker spill is being debated anew.

Could it happen here?

Not a chance, says the country’s natural resources minister, Joe Oliver.

Stephen Harper would rather not focus on budget details

Megan Leslie stood to plead confusion. Within the budget, she said, were tax increases. But the Prime Minister, she recalled, had promised not to raise taxes. So why, she wondered aloud, had the Prime Minister allowed the Finance Minister to contradict him?

“Mr. Speaker,” declared the Prime Minister, “it is quite the opposite.”

Mr. Harper did not then explain how so. Instead, he alleged a number of tax increases that the NDP was apparently proposing.

Elections Canada wants greater punishment powers in wake of robocalls debacle

OTTAWA - Tough penalties for elections-official impersonators, beefier investigative powers and more voter privacy were among the ideas floated Wednesday in a long-awaited Elections Canada report in the wake of the robocalls affair.

While the report does not shed light on the identity of the mysterious figure known as "Pierre Poutine," the person behind a rash of misleading calls in ridings across the country, it does offer a number of suggestions aimed at preventing a similar episode in future election campaigns.

'Squat The Empties' Tweet In Vancouver Just 'A Dream'

A Twitter post from an advocate for the homeless hints that a takeover of empty condominium units could be a next step in the fight against gentrification in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Community activist Ivan Drury tweeted, "Building a ghost city #SquatTheEmpties" during a development permit board meeting Monday night at Vancouver City Hall, where a permit for a controversial condominium project at 557 East Cordova St. was approved.

Suncor Oilsands Leak: Landowners, Environmentalists Demand To Know What Spilled

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. - Oilsands giant Suncor says there was no bitumen in waste water that leaked from a burst pipe earlier this week.

An email from the company late Wednesday also says 350,000 litres of waste water leaked into the Athabasca River for about 10 hours.

Harper Government Withdrawing From UN Droughts And Deserts Convention

OTTAWA - The Harper government is pulling out of a United Nations convention that fights droughts in Africa and elsewhere, which would make Canada the only country in the world outside the agreement.

The federal cabinet last week ordered the unannounced withdrawal on the recommendation of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, ahead of a major scientific meeting on the convention next month in Germany.

"Skim-Milk Marriage": Justices Cast Doubt on DOMA in Case Brought By 83-Year-Old Lesbian Widow

Two days of historic Supreme Court arguments on the legality of same-sex marriage have concluded. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. DOMA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. The lead plaintiff in the case is an 83-year-old lesbian named Edith Windsor. She sued the federal government after she was forced to pay additional estate taxes because it did not recognize her marriage to a woman. We air Windsor’s remarks outside the courtroom along with excerpts of the oral arguments made before the court, and speak to Marc Solomon, National Campaign Director of Freedom to Marry.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: -

Obama's Crackdown on Whistleblowers

In the annals of national security, the Obama administration will long be remembered for its unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers. Since 2009, it has employed the World War I–era Espionage Act a record six times to prosecute government officials suspected of leaking classified information. The latest example is John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer serving a thirty-month term in federal prison for publicly identifying an intelligence operative involved in torture. It’s a pattern: the whistleblowers are punished, sometimes severely, while the perpetrators of the crimes they expose remain free.

Does the Cyprus Deal Really Herald the End of the Euro?

With the banks in Cyprus not due to reopen until Thursday, after an enforced holiday, it’s too early to reach any definitive judgments on the bailout agreement with the European Union designed to keep the Mediterranean island inside the euro zone and prevent its financial system from collapsing. But that hasn’t prevented some pundits from panning it, and arguing that it could well lead to the demise of the currency zone rather than its rescue. By imposing losses on large depositors in a big Cypriot bank that is to be wound down, the negotiators from the so-called “troika”—the E.U., the International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank—have created a time bomb that will eventually explode with disastrous consequences, the critics contend.

Government Departments Facing 10% Budget Cuts

Most government departments have been told to prepare for cuts to their budgets of around 10%, it has emerged.

Schools, the NHS and international aid will continue to remain protected but most other funding is expected to be slashed in 2015/16, government sources confirmed.

Look Who's Spending: It's Rich People—Of Course

Rich people are likely picking up much of the slack in consumer spending, with the rest of the burden taken up by those working in a "shadow economy" of under-the-table cash payments, according to some economists.

Working families have gotten slammed with a one-two punch of higher taxes and gas prices, yet retail sales hit a six-month high of 1.1 percent in February.

Most High Earners Aren't Cutting Back, Despite Higher Taxes

Before Jan. 1, many warned that taxing the wealthy would snuff out the recovery. If the wealthy had to pay more taxes, they would spend less, invest less and give less to charity. So far, it doesn't seem to be happening—at least not on a large scale.

According to a new poll, a majority of people making $500,000 or more (those paying the higher income tax rate) said that the tax hikes have not impacted their spending, charitable giving or investment strategies.

Keystone XL Risks Harm To Houston Community: 'This Is Obviously Environmental Racism'

Plumes of smoke, billowing in various shades from white to black, frequently fill the skies over the Manchester neighborhood of Houston. It's no wonder, said Yudith Nieto, that local children grow up thinking oil refinery stacks are "cloud makers."

As they get older, added the 24-year-old Manchester native, the children discover that they don't like those clouds. "They'll say the clouds 'smell nasty' or are 'not good for me,'" said Nieto. "It's kinda sad. But these kids get it. We don't give them enough credit."

Onion Lake Cree Nation threatens legal action against Ottawa over funding agreement ‘signed under duress’

Onion Lake Cree Nation is threatening legal action against the federal department of Aboriginal Affairs over new terms included in the funding agreement between Ottawa and First Nations.

In a March 18 dated letter to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, Onion Cree Nation Chief Wallace Fox says his community is seeking to enter into third-party mediation with the department to settle a new funding agreement.