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, April 08, 2013

Never mind the details: Fraser Institute's a leader in press release production

TORONTO -- According to a press release issued last week by the Fraser Institute, which is one of Canada's leading producers of press releases, government employees earn more on average than equivalent private sector workers.

One is tempted to respond by shouting, "It's the market, Stupid!"

After all, when you're comparing qualified professionals doing important public service work to unskilled workers in the retail sector, as the Fraser institute seems to be doing in this slapdash and amateurish "study," one would expect the market to set higher rates of pay for the workers with skills and necessary qualifications.

Public sector cuts will slash front-line services: analysis

OTTAWA -- The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says public service spending cuts have mostly focused on service delivery, contradicting the Harper government's assurances that cuts would spare front-line resources.

The agency predicts the public service will lose 28,700 jobs between March 2012 and March 2016.

Tolls, taxes the only way to pay for transit needs, Premier Kathleen Wynne says

Transit infrastructure in and around Toronto “needs tens of billions of dollars over the next 20 years” and new tolls and taxes are the only way to pay for it, says Premier Kathleen Wynne.

But in a major speech to the Toronto Region Board of Trade, Wynne on Monday stressed any levies must be earmarked to improve public transit and roads.

“I believe that any investments from new revenue must be entirely and transparently dedicated to transportation projects so that the cost is directly tied to a measurable result,” the premier said.

John Baird's murky trip to the Middle East

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is on a long visit to the Middle East. Like Canadian foreign policy in general these days, the exact purpose of the trip is a bit murky.

No doubt it will be another opportunity for Mr. Baird to demonstrate that the Harper government refuses to go along to get along, as he loves repeating. "We want to continue to promote Canadian values," the Minister says. That means "democratic societies that respect the rule of law," including the rights of women, minorities and gays. An ethical foreign policy, in other words, that won't sell its soul by co-operating with the likes of China, for example, except when it will.

My favourite story about Margaret Thatcher

Flora MacDonald, a Progressive Conservative elected in 1972, tells a story that illustrates something of what women politicians faced:

    "I worked twice as hard as anybody. You had to work hard. I had decided early in my career in the House that I would change the custom that only dresses were suitable, so one day I wore a pantsuit into the House of Commons. It was a beautiful pantsuit. I had bought it in France, and it was good quality. That became a front-page photograph right across Canada.

    Not long afterward, Margaret Thatcher became the leader of the British Conservative Party. She went to New York to do interviews, and on the way back she stopped off in Ottawa to meet Robert Stanfield, the leader of Canada’s Conservatives. He had a small luncheon for her, and after the lunch Mrs. Stanfield and Mrs. Thatcher and I were standing together. Mrs. Stanfield, who was always direct in her questioning, said to Mrs. Thatcher, 'Do people single you out as a woman because you may do something differently?' Mrs. Thatcher said, 'I’m not quite sure what you mean.' Mrs. Stanfield said, 'Let me give you an example. Flora here wore a pantsuit into the House of Commons, and it became a front-page picture across the country. Would that sort of thing happen to you?'

    Mrs. Thatcher replied, 'No, but then I would never wear a pantsuit into the House of Commons. You never can tell where the criticism will come from.'"

Margaret Thatcher died today and left a legacy that we are still trying to overcome.

Excerpt from Ten Thousand Roses: The Making of a Revolution, Penguin 2005.

Original Article
Author: Judy Rebick

Harper government 'action' for aging Canadians

The reaction of the National Pensioners and Senior Citizens Federation (NPSCF) to this year's federal budget is disappointment. Every year prior to the budget our executive board presents a brief in Ottawa to the government. The brief is developed from membership resolutions to our annual national convention. Seniors and retirees in clubs and provincial organizations develop these throughout the year for the convention. In our brief, we also reference global and national studies done by the United Nations, the Senate of Canada, Statistics Canada, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, chartered banks and numerous non-governmental organizations. After all this effort by thousands of Canadians, the evidence is clear.

RBC and the Harper government's double message on 'guest workers'

The Royal Bank of Canada is furiously spinning a story about who is really responsible for bringing in foreign temporary workers to replace some of its Canadian employees.

It is not us, says the Bank. It is the outsourcing company we hired, U.S. incorporated "iGATE," a company that does most of its business in India. We trusted iGATE to abide by the rules, the Bank's spokespeople say, and if they did not, you cannot blame us.

For those who were under the impression that most temporary foreign workers in Canada were picking fruit or slinging coffee at donut shops, the facts of the Royal Bank affair should come as a revelation.

Four reasons why Harper can cold-shoulder the climate

The brute power politics behind the Canadian government’s inaction on climate change are pretty straightforward: the Conservatives are rooted politically in the most regressive elements of an oilpatch that puts a higher priority on short-term profits and jobs than on our children’s long-term well-being.

But the fact that they get away with it politically is more puzzling.

Government by thugocracy

Up until this week, the only place Stephen Harper had seen ‘insubordination’ was in the dictionary. Now it’s in his caucus.

Yes, the Tories are trying to quell the mutiny in their ranks — “mutiny” now being defined as taking up the right to speak in Parliament if you are an MP. To be precise, one of Mr. Harper’s MPs objected publicly to being silenced by his own government.

Shedding 'socialism' bad move for NDP?

OTTAWA -- For the third time in as many policy conventions, NDP party brass are pushing to change the NDP constitution to tone down references to socialism and open the door to modern policies on resource development.

It is, inevitably, giving rise yet again to questions about whether the NDP is abandoning its roots, walking away from the core beliefs of supporters, in order to become a more palatable, less-lefty option for voters in Canada, the majority of whom sit in the mushy political middle.

Public service cuts more than advertised and to hit front-line services: report

OTTAWA - A new analysis from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives charges that the federal government has misrepresented its cuts to the public service, and predicts there will be more job losses than advertised and most will be in areas that impact public services.

The CCPA, a left-leaning Ottawa think-tank, said once all the numbers are in, the federal government will have eliminated almost 29,000 jobs and not the 19,200 announced in the March 2012 budget.

Enbridge, EDF Energies Buy Greengate Wind Farm For $600-Million

TORONTO - Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) and a subsidiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles have teamed up to buy the Blackspring Ridge wind generation project near Lethbridge, Alta., on a 50-50 basis from Greengate Power Corp.

The companies say Blackspring Ridge represents a $600-million investment in wind energy but financial details of the transactions weren't disclosed in Monday's announcement.

PMO Has Been Running Penashue Case, John Crosbie Says

Former Newfoundland and Labrador lieutenant-governor John Crosbie says he thinks the Prime Minister's Office has been directing the way questions about Peter Penashue's campaign spending have been handled.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Sunday set a byelection date of May 13 for the riding of Labrador, where Penashue is hoping to regain the seat he resigned just weeks ago amid an Elections Canada investigation into his 2011 campaign.

Lessons Maggie Taught Me

"I make up my mind about people in the first 10 seconds, and I very rarely change it." So The New York Times quoted Margaret Thatcher as saying on the day of her resignation. I would be happy to think that the statement was truthful, since within minutes of first being introduced to me, Thatcher lashed me across the buttocks with a rolled-up parliamentary order paper.

It happened in the course of an exchange of views about Rhodesia in the late fall of 1977, when she was still leader of the opposition and was pandering to the racists in her party and the electorate. Influenced perhaps by the fact that we were meeting in the Rosebery Room of the House of Lords, I made the mistake of bowing as if to acknowledge some point of hers, and she took swift advantage of my posture by shrieking, "Bow lower!" and plying the document above mentioned. Like the British electorate, now shaking itself after more than a decade of Thatcherite pouvoir, I often look back wistfully upon that spanking in the hope of decoding its significance.

‘Illegal we do immediately; unconstitutional takes a little longer’: Kissinger in new mass WikiLeaks document release

WikiLeaks has published the ‘Kissinger Cables’: its largest public release of documents in nearly a year, totaling some 1.7 million classified files, including information on the US’s secret diplomatic history.

A variety of files have been collected and collated, including from congressional correspondence, intelligence reports, and cables.

Is the Keystone XL Pipeline the 'Stonewall' of the Climate Movement?

A few weeks ago, Time magazine called the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline that will bring some of the dirtiest energy on the planet from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast the “Selma and Stonewall” of the climate movement.

Which, if you think about it, may be both good news and bad news. Yes, those of us fighting the pipeline have mobilized record numbers of activists: the largest civil disobedience action in 30 years and 40,000 people on the mall in February for the biggest climate rally in American history. Right now, we’re aiming to get a million people to send in public comments about the “environmental review” the State Department is conducting on the feasibility and advisability of building the pipeline.  And there’s good reason to put pressure on.  After all, it’s the same State Department that, as on a previous round of reviews, hired “experts” who had once worked as consultants for TransCanada, the pipeline’s builder.

Bobby Jindal Approval Rating Poll Shows Popularity Slump

NEW ORLEANS, April 7 (Reuters) - Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, one of the nation's most prominent Republicans and a possible 2016 presidential candidate, has fallen out of favor with local voters, and his bold plan to scrap the state income tax is running into trouble.

Jindal was re-elected to a second term with two-thirds of the vote in 2011. But his Louisiana approval rating was down to 38 percent in a recent poll, worse than Democratic President Barack Obama in one of the most conservative U.S. states.

Tax Lobby Builds Ties to Chairman of Finance Panel

WASHINGTON — Restaurant chains like McDonald’s want to keep their lucrative tax credit for hiring veterans. Altria, the tobacco giant, wants to cut the corporate tax rate. And Sapphire Energy, a small alternative energy company, is determined to protect a tax incentive it believes could turn algae into a popular motor fuel.

To make their case as Congress prepares to debate a rewrite of the nation’s tax code, this diverse set of businesses has at least one strategy in common: they have retained firms that employ lobbyists who are former aides to Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which will have a crucial role in shaping any legislation.

Reporters Say Exxon Is Impeding Spill Coverage in Arkansas

Reporters covering the oil spill from ExxonMobil's Pegasus pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas, are reporting that they've been blocked from the site and threatened with arrest.

On Friday morning, Inside Climate News reported that an Exxon spokesperson told reporter Lisa Song that she could be "arrested for criminal trespass" when she went to the command center to try to find representatives from the EPA and the Department of Transportation. On Friday afternoon, I spoke to the news director from the local NPR affiliate who said he, too, had been threatened with arrest while trying to cover the spill.

Texas Woos "Persecuted" Gun Companies

Various parts of America have at different times served as refuges for the persecuted. The North was a popular destination for freed and escaped slaves. San Francisco attracted gays. The Emerald Triangle and Appalachia became havens for pot growers and bootleggers.

Now Texas wants in on the action.

On Friday, US Rep. Steve Stockman, a Republican from Friendswood, sent the following message to "all persecuted gun owners and unwanted manufacturers":

    Come to Texas!!! The state which believes the whole Bill of Rights should be followed, not just the "politically correct" parts. Your rights will not be infringed upon here, unlike many current local regimes [sic].

How Walmart, ExxonMobil, and Coke Buy Latino Friends in Congress

In late February, some 70 guests arrived for dinner at a hotel near Washington, DC's Union Station. Nine members of Congress were there, including Reps. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), and Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Calif.), as was former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. Also in attendance were lobbyists and executives for Fortune 500 companies and big industry trade groups. Lonnie Johnson, a lobbyist for ExxonMobil, sat next to Hinojosa at dinner; Walmart lobbyist Ivan Zapien gave the closing remarks. Exxon, American Gas Association, Darden Restaurants, and Coca-Cola had underwritten the event. That was how, seven weeks into the 113th Congress—as lawmakers began work on immigration reform and a tax code overhaul—powerful corporate lobbyists scored premium access to politicians.

North Korea: Kaesong Industrial Complex Workers Recalled

SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea said Monday it will recall 51,000 North Korean workers and suspend operations at a factory complex it has jointly run with South Korea, moving closer to severing its last economic link with its rival as tensions escalate.

The statement from Kim Yang Gon, secretary of a key decision-making body, the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, did not say what would happen to the 475 South Korean managers still at the Kaesong industrial complex.

Political parties should be legally responsible for staffers, says Kingsley

Federal political parties should have a legal responsibility when it comes to the people they hire, including contractors, and how they are trained, says Canada’s former chief electoral officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley.

“You simply cannot say, ‘Well it’s this company that broke the rules and not us,’ when in fact it has an impact on the election. I’ve always thought there should be some form of responsibility attached to the party,” said Mr. Kingsley in an interview with The Hill Times. “If there’s a clear indication that they should have known better, if there’s a clear indication that they did not provide any kind of guidance, that type of thing, then there should be responsibility attached to the political party and that might take legal measures.”

Morale ‘rock bottom’ at CIDA, still reeling from feds’ budget cuts, policy direction

Details are still scarce and staff at CIDA are nervous about their jobs as the aid organization is still reacting to the news announced in the federal budget that it will merge with Foreign Affairs and International Trade, but one observer also says it is status quo for now.

“They’re not going to fire everybody in Hull … and give all the projects to the foreign service officers who are already overstretched. At least for the time being, all of these people are going to stay in Hull and keep working,” said University of Ottawa professor Stephen Brown, editor of Struggling for Effectiveness: CIDA and Canadian Foreign Aid. He spoke to The Hill Times from Duisburg, Germany, where he is currently senior fellow at the University of Duisburg-Essen’s Centre for Global Cooperation Research.

Majority of Canadians would vote for gay PM, except in Alberta, says poll

A new public opinion poll suggests a substantial majority of Canadians would vote for a gay candidate for leader of a political party and also for a party with a gay leader as the candidate for Prime Minister—except for voters in Alberta and voters who currently support the Conservative party.

Forum Research discovered the divide in a poll it conducted on April 2, in the context of a bout of recent speculation that Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) might step down before the federal election now set for 2015.

Take none of hewing, crying over private members’ business at face value

OTTAWA—There was a great deal of hewing and crying around the recent privilege appeals by a number of backbench Tory MPs concerning their access to both Standing Order 31 speaking slots, as well as the content of those prospective statements.

The story lines bounced between the random actions of a few rogue MPs to open caucus revolt, and a fairly consistent condemnation of anything seen to constrain the freedom of MPs to speak their minds. This sounds like fairly serious stuff, but in all things political, I would suggest that you take none of this at face value.

IMF enters the climate change debate

TORONTO—In a strongly-worded report, the International Monetary Fund has entered the climate change debate, calling on nations to curb their subsidies to the oil, gas, and coal industries and to tax carbon, moves which it says would free up funds for cash-strapped governments to meet other societal needs while encouraging a shift to urgently-needed cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

The report comes at a time when the Harper government is facing growing pressure to explain how it plans to meet its 2020 commitment to bring greenhouse gas emissions to a level 17 per cent below the level at 2005. A new study by the independent Pembina Institute contends that without significant new curbs on oil and gas emissions, the Harper government will fall far short of meeting its 2020 commitment—while the U.S. is within reach of meeting its identical commitment for a 17 per cent reduction.

Forgotten, but not gone

The central quest of Canada’s newly-awakened First Nations activists could hardly be more profound. What they are asking for, in various ways and different languages, is respect, recognition of the injustices they have endured and, amazingly, reconciliation with the non-native majority.

 GATINEAU, QUE.—Their complaints are said to be “nebulous,” their demands—which sound, more often, like pleas—unfocussed, and their political movement random and uncoordinated.

Federal Court could take another six months to decide on PBO

The Federal Court could take another six months to make a decision on the Parliamentary Budget Office’s high-profile battle with the government over its legislative mandate, but some are concerned that the interim PBO, Parliamentary Librarian Sonia L’Heureux, could withdraw the Federal Court application before then, killing the unprecedented reference.

“It’s a very real concern that the current chief librarian or the interim PBO might not see any ambiguity in their mandate in which case the reference to the Federal Court wouldn’t be necessary. That’s a real legitimate concern because if she doesn’t see her mandate the way Kevin Page saw his, then we’re no further ahead than we were in 2005,” said NDP MP Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, Man.).

Corporations still won’t circulate ‘dead money’

Eight weeks from now Mark Carney, the boldest and least stuffy governor the Bank of Canada has ever had, will be gone. It looks as if he’s going to lose one of his last battles.

Last August Carney appealed to corporate Canada to put the “dead money” sitting in its coffers to work creating jobs, investing in new products and updating its technology. Business executives reared up angrily at his presumption and kept socking away their earnings.

Results from Toronto marijuana study in 1972 still not public

In the winter of 1972, 20 young women took part in one of the weirdest scientific experiments in this country’s history.

For 98 days in a downtown Toronto hospital, their brains, hearts, kidneys, livers, blood and urine were rigorously tested and analyzed. A team of nurses kept around-the-clock records of their behaviour, which was logged at half-hour intervals. Were they sullen? Arguing? Laughing? Playing table tennis?

Most Canadians’ deposits not at risk if bank fails — but check CDIC protection

Some Canadians rushed to their banks to check their deposit protection after hearing about the federal budget released last month.

The government said it intended to implement a comprehensive risk management framework — “a bail-in regime” — for Canada’s systemically important banks.

In the unlikely event that a big bank depleted its capital, it could be recapitalized through the very rapid conversion of certain bank liabilities into regulatory capital, reducing risk for taxpayers, the budget said.

Rob Ford issues written defence of casino

Mayor Rob Ford has released an open letter calling a downtown casino resort a “golden opportunity” Toronto cannot pass up.

Ford's office released the letter to media outlets, including the Star, on the weekend rather than wait for City Manager Joe Pennachetti's major report on the casino opportunity expected to be released as early as this week ahead of votes by Ford's executive committee and then full council.

Anti-Semitic Attacks Surged In 2012, Report Claims

TEL AVIV, Israel -- Israeli researchers warned Sunday of a sudden upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks, topped by a deadly school shooting in France, noting a link to the rise of extremist parties in Europe.

The warnings emerge from an annual report on anti-Semitism in the world, released on the eve of Israel's memorial day for the 6 million Jews killed by German Nazis and their collaborators in World War II.

'Missing In Action': Congress Ignores America's Poverty Crisis

WASHINGTON -- At a time when Republicans on Capitol Hill are expressing outrage over canceled White House tours, something more deserving of outrage is taking place: tens of millions of the nation's most vulnerable are taking hits on all sides. The nation's poverty rate is frozen at a high of 15 percent. And lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, for the most part, aren't even talking about it.

"Missing in action," Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said of Congress' record on poverty.

Death of a Revolutionary

When Shulamith Firestone’s body was found late last August, in her studio apartment on the fifth floor of a tenement walkup on East Tenth Street, she had been dead for some days. She was sixty-seven, and she had battled schizophrenia for decades, surviving on public assistance. There was no food in the apartment, and one theory is that Firestone starved, though no autopsy was conducted, by preference of her Orthodox Jewish family. Such a solitary demise would have been unimaginable to anyone who knew Firestone in the late nineteen-sixties, when she was at the epicenter of the radical-feminist movement, surrounded by some of the same women who, a month after her death, gathered in St. Mark’s Church In-the-Bowery, to pay their respects.

New "concerned citizens group" has deep pockets and close ties to oil industry

Last week, a new ad promoting oil pipelines appeared ahead of my favourite new song on YouTube. It featured a pair of actors having a simulated ‘real-life’ conversation about the paradox between protecting the environment and future economic growth. After the female actor asks, “But can’t we have both?” the man responds, “but if we let pipelines and tankers into our environment, what safeguards to we have?”

A third, smiling actor steps onto the scene, and says in a reassuring voice: “Let’s look at the facts.” She proceeds to set the environment-versus-economy debate to rest with a series of stats about double-hulled tankers and the "99.9 per cent safety record" of pipelines.

Half of Canadians think Stephen Harper has a ‘hidden agenda’: poll

Two-thirds of Canadians believe Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government is too secretive and has failed to govern with high ethical standards, a new poll has found.

The national survey conducted exclusively for Postmedia News and Global Television by Ipsos Reid also finds that after seven years in office, half of the country still believes that Harper has a “hidden agenda.”

The polling results offer some politically disconcerting news for the Conservatives as they approach the midpoint — May 2 — of their majority mandate and as the Liberals enjoy renewed popularity associated with Justin Trudeau.

Has Canada's government been muzzling its scientists?

Canada's Information Commission is to investigate claims that the government is "muzzling" its scientists.

The move is in response to a complaint filed by academics and a campaign group.

BBC News reported last year instances of the government blocking requests by journalists to interview scientists.

Secrecy and ethics cast dark cloud on Stephen Harper’s government: poll

OTTAWA — Two-thirds of Canadians believe Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government is too secretive and has failed to govern with high ethical standards, a new poll has found.

The national survey conducted exclusively for Postmedia News and Global Television by Ipsos Reid also finds that after seven years in office, half of the country still believes that Harper has a “hidden agenda.”

Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013): Tariq Ali on Late British PM’s Legacy From Austerity to Apartheid

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died at the age of 87. Thatcher was Britain’s first female prime minister, serving three terms in office. Known as the "Iron Lady," Thatcher became synonymous with austerity economics as a close ally of President Ronald Reagan. She famously declared to critics of neoliberal capitalism that, "there is no alternative." Her long-running battle with striking British miners dealt a major blow to the union movement in Britain and ushered in a wave of privatizations. On foreign policy, Thatcher presided over the Falklands War with Argentina, provided critical support to the Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet, and famously labeled Nelson Mandela a "terrorist" while backing South Africa’s apartheid regime. We go to London to discuss Thatcher’s legacy with Tariq Ali, British-Pakistani political commentator, writer, activist and editor of the New Left Review.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: -

RBC Foreign Workers Report Sparks Discontent, Company Will Discuss Hiring Practices With Government

TORONTO - The Royal Bank of Canada was scrambling to explain its hiring practices to customers Sunday after a media report claiming the bank was employing foreign workers to replace Canadian staff prompted a flood of outrage.

Canada's largest bank (TSX:RY) said it has not hired foreign workers to take over the job functions of current employees, but said it uses outside companies as one of its strategies to improve "operational effectiveness."

Julian Fantino's Office Issues English-Only Communication Directive Twice

OTTAWA - The office of International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino twice issued a directive that all communication with his signature be in English only, even if the recipient was French-speaking.

Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser has agreed to look into the matter after a complaint from the New Democrats, who argue the order may violate the Official Languages Act.

Canada Budget Cuts Undermining Access-To-Information System: Suzanne Legault

OTTAWA - The federal budget axe may be chopping away at citizens' right to information about government, a parliamentary watchdog warns.

Suzanne Legault, information commissioner of Canada, says her office has seen a sharp rise in complaints about departments that take too long to answer requests under the Access to Information Act.

Luxembourg, European Union's Wealthiest Country, Eyed As Next Ticking Bomb After Cyprus

BRUSSELS — As the European Union's wealthiest country, Luxembourg could have been forgiven for thinking that it would never find itself on the bloc's financial risk list.

With just half a million people living on a tiny patch of lush land nestled between Belgium, France and Germany, Luxembourg is as tranquil as a buzzing financial center gets. Still, some of Europe's regulators and politicians have started wondering aloud whether its banks might be holding the 17-nation eurozone's next ticking bomb.

CEO Perks Packages Rose In Value By 18.7 Percent In 2012

CEOs are living the good life. On the company’s dime.

America's 100 best-paid corporate chiefs got an 18.7 percent boost in their perks packages, according to a survey of executive pay performed by Equilar for The New York Times. Those perks, which range from access to a private jet to company-sponsored security details to life insurance policies, were worth $320,635 on average last year, according to an Equilar analysis of the survey.

Afghanistan: NATO Air Strike Kills 11 Children

KABUL, Afghanistan — A fierce battle between U.S.-backed Afghan forces and Taliban militants in a remote corner of eastern Afghanistan left nearly 20 people dead, including 11 Afghan children killed in an airstrike and an American civilian adviser, officials said Sunday.

The Highest Paid CEOs In The Alberta Oil Patch Are Also Among The Highest Rated

When worker bees from across the nation were asked to rate their CEOs in an anonymous poll recently, it was an Alberta oil patch exec who received the highest ratings.

CEO Steve Williams of Suncor (TSX:SU) scored the highest of any Canadian chief executive with a 96 per cent approval rating from the Calgary company's employees.

North Korea Recalls Workers, Suspends Operations At Factory Complex Jointly Run With South

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Monday it will suspend operations at a factory complex it has jointly run with South Korea, pulling out more than 53,000 North Korean workers and moving closer to severing its last economic link with its rival as tensions escalate.

The Kaesong industrial complex just north of the Demilitarized Zone is the biggest employer in North Korea's third-largest city. Shutting it down, even temporarily, would show that the destitute country is willing to hurt its own economy to display its anger with South Korea and the United States.

Northern B.C. Medical System Threatens Lives, Critics Say

VANCOUVER - Jackie Inyallie didn't have to die, her family says, in fact they add the 24-year-old woman's injuries should have been considered "non-life threatening."

Her foster mother says what should have been a 90-minute ambulance ride four years ago, instead took five hours. Inyallie bled to death before doctors could save her.

Canada Big Bank CEOs: Institutions Prepare For New Leaders, Face New Challenges

TORONTO - Change is afoot at the big Canadian banks, as some of its top leaders near retirement age just as the economy runs into fresh challenges with the pace of growth.

Last week, TD Bank chief executive Ed Clark disclosed a succession plan that will lead to his exit in November 2014, but his move also raises questions about how the other big banks are planning for their next generation of leaders.

Syrian women who fled to Jordan tell of horrific rapes back home

AMMAN, JORDAN—The cell was small with iron bars across the door. Three women, all naked, were chained to each corner. Nour was stripped, taken to the fourth, and handcuffed to the wall.

Every day, for more than 60 days, Nour says she and the other prisoners were raped in one of Syria’s most notorious detention centres. Some of her attackers at the Palestine Branch of Military Intelligence in Damascus were in uniform, others in civilian clothes.

Federal government unveils power panel to boost number of women on corporate boards

OTTAWA — The Conservatives are making good on a budget promise from last year to create an advisory council to promote and boost the participation of women on corporate boards, a move welcomed by the official Opposition as a “step in the right direction” by a government it says has regularly let women down.

Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose announced the names of the first panel members in Toronto on Friday, a list that includes notable figures such as former auditor general and Bombardier director Sheila Fraser, Venture Communications CEO and Dragons’ Den judge Arlene Dickenson, former Ontario finance minister Janet Ecker, Canadian Federation of Independent Business chairwoman Catherine Swift and Sen. Linda Frum.

Assessing the danger

WASHINGTON -- North Korea is widely recognized as being years away from perfecting the technology to back up its threats of a pre-emptive strike on the U.S. But some nuclear experts say it might have the know-how to fire a nuclear-tipped missile at South Korea and Japan, which host U.S. military bases.

No one can tell how much technological progress North Korea has made, aside from a few people close to its leadership. And it is highly unlikely Pyongyang would launch such an attack, because the retaliation would be devastating.

The North's third nuclear test on Feb. 12, which prompted the toughest UN Security Council sanctions yet against Pyongyang, is presumed to have advanced its ability to miniaturize a nuclear device. And experts say it's easier to design a nuclear warhead that works on a shorter-range missile than one for an intercontinental missile.

AP Interview: American general thinks Taliban may be long-term threat in parts of Afghanistan

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - The United States accepts that a diminished but resilient Taliban is likely to remain a military threat in some parts of Afghanistan long after U.S. troops complete their combat mission next year, the top U.S. military officer said Sunday.

In an Associated Press interview at this air field north of Kabul, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he is cautiously optimistic that the Afghan army will hold its own against the insurgency as Western troops pull back and Afghans assume the lead combat role. He said that by May or June, the Afghans will be in the lead throughout the country.

Asked whether some parts of the country will remain contested by the Taliban, he replied, "Yes, of course there will be."

BC coal mine's temp workers 'exacerbate' concerns over Chinese investment: gov't memo

VANCOUVER - An internal federal review of a decision to grant permits to a Chinese company to bring temporary foreign workers from China for its British Columbia coal mine found the company met or exceeded all requirements.

But the November report notes that the sequence of events in HD Mining's application to bring 201 miners over from China for its Murray River coal mine leaves some questions as to the "genuineness" of the company in its search for Canadian workers.

Can We Patent Life?

On April 12, 1955, Jonas Salk, who had recently invented the polio vaccine, appeared on the television news show “See It Now” to discuss its impact on American society. Before the vaccine became available, dread of polio was almost as widespread as the disease itself. Hundreds of thousands fell ill, most of them children, many of whom died or were permanently disabled.

The Bitcoin Boom

On March 16th, the Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who’d been in office for about a month, announced a strategy to solve the country’s banking crisis. This plan, which would be funded in part by confiscating money directly from every single bank account in Cyprus—even the very smallest—met with instantaneous and violent opposition from the country’s citizens. Offstage, the European Union, led by a group of adamant Germans, Finns, and Danes, as well as the I.M.F. and the European Central Bank, pointed a cannon at Anastasiades’s head: if he didn’t move forward with this plan, the Cyprus banks would go bust and their hapless customers would lose pretty much all their money, instead of a measly 6.75 per cent. However, under great pressure from their constituents, Cypriot M.P.s rejected the proposal and sent Anastasiades back to the drawing board.